It took a lot longer to get on the road than I had hoped. Cleaning and packing, what to take what to leave, as it turns out these things take longer than an hour. You would think I would have learned this by now. So instead of being on the highway at 8am I left at 10:30 am. Not too bad.
Traffic was flowing well being it was Sunday so my first hour I made pretty good time. Until I couldn’t find my phone. Shit did I pack it in the wrong bag? Leave it outside? Was it still in the apartment that was now rented by my new tenants? Grrrrrrr that was so dumb. All my contacts for Winnipeg and Toronto are on that. And I cannot even call someone to check and see where it is. So frustrating. Ok so as soon as I see a coffeeshop or gas station I will stop and call. I had not seen one since leaving Regina so surely I will pass one soon. A half hour passed and no roadside stop. I started to get stressed. “Stop thinking about this Ellen” I kept telling myself, “There is nothing you can door.” That’s it I am pulling over and searching the car. I checked the glove box the back hatch, the sweater I was wearing all morning, all the cars little pockets…. wait my pockets… hello phone. I had to laugh out loud at this one. My baggy pants were hiding my phone from me. I did however notice in one of the car pockets I still had the key for the trailer that I borrowed from my neighbour Frank. Shit that needs to get in the mail tomorrow.
Well back on the road with a sigh of relief. ” Man I need a coffee” I have been driving for a while so I am sure there will be one soon. Let me tell you someone needs to jump at this opportunity. It was a 211 KM stretch with no coffee shop or gas station. WHAT! I need to invent a car with a coffee maker in it.
I got to Winnipeg in pretty good time and stopped off to see my friend Dawn who just moved back to north america from Cyprus. I say North America due to the fact she is visiting Canada and then moving to Mexico. (I love her life). We had a great chat about property in the Merdia while she fed me a home cooked meal. Her whole family was there so it was a hive of loving activity. I could have settled in for days. But instead it was hugs and hitting the road for me with thoughts of moving south in my mind.
My goal for the evening was Kenora I was making pretty good time and all was going well until the sun started to set. I noticed that my cruise control didn’t work when my headlights were on. And my dashboard light was not working. Humm in about 20 minutes I would not be able to see how fast I was going and could not set the cruise. So I decided to tuck behind someone going the speed limit and just follow them. I thought I found the right truck but he kept slowing down so when another fellow passed him going a bit faster I decided to pass him too. Except for some reason this bothered him and he sped up so I could not get behind the other truck. This was odd. I was not sure what to do . I didn’t want to pass the other truck and be unsure of my speed. Nor did I want to follow the fellow who was driving so inconsistent. So the only thing I could think of was just to squish in. So I did. Then this fellow turned on his brights. And he left them on as he rode my tail . This was quite ridiculous and went on until my turn off to Kenora. As I entered the exit I was saying to myself “please don’t take the exit” but then he did. For a minute I thought I should jump back on the highway and keep going this fellow is freaking me out. But just before I did this he did. Phew guess he changed his mind about road raging. As I exhaled a large sigh of relief I noticed overhead some beautiful green dancing Northern lights. So I pulled over for a bit to watch the show and let it calm my nerves.
So after I let my heart stop racing and was calmed by the sky’s beauty, I heading into Kenora. Now I don’t know if it is because I got there at night or if it was the ordeal I had just gone thru or if I was just in the wrong area but all the hotels felt … hoodish. So after driving around for a place to rest my head I decided I was wide awake and I should keep driving for a bit anyway so back to the highway. I ended my night of travel in Dryden. Here I had a revelation. There should be a hotel bed regulation. I mean if you are charging over $100 a night for someone to sleep in your bed, your beds should be upgraded at least every 10 years (I would say 5 really) I mean if you have a hotel and upgrade your beds every 5 years and your bed costs you $1000 that is only $0.55 a day for the $100 you are charging. And really lets be real folks, when rating a hotel, it is all about the bed. Now one would expect that if you are paying above $100 that it goes without saying the bed is going to be awesome. NOT THE CASE. This bed I was given for the night was hard bumpy and squeaked at the slightest movement. If I was not so tired I would have asked to switch rooms but I just drank my Guinness and fell asleep.
Although the bed sucked the breakfast made up for it. I fixed myself up a massive waffle at the self serve waffle bar with maple syrup and butter. Yummy. Then we hit the road. The clear sky made it the perfect day for driving. We made great time and I knew as dusk was creeping in we were going to make it to Sault Ste Marie to my favourite hotel Sleeps Inn, which has glorious beds for only $70. SWEET! As I started day dreaming about this we were just entering Wawa. Where years ago I had an interesting interchange with a Police officer. The story starts with myself and Australian friend pulling into the Wawa gas station. Being it was my turn to buy gas I went to get out my wallet. But it was no where to be found. I started to panic. This was the beginning of a 2 year long adventure and my passport was in my wallet. I felt so stupid. Where had I left it? My mind was racing. We last stopped in Marathon so Sarah paid for the gas and we hopped back in the car to drive back the way we came to see if anyone at gas station we had a pee break at found my wallet. I was in such a panic that when in front of us was a car turning left I pull over onto the unpaved shoulder to pass him on the right then we saw the lights fire up behind us. The cops were pulling us over. As the fellow sauntered up to the car I was looking at Sarah in disbelief. Such was our luck. “Licence and Registration Please” He coldly spoke. I handed him the later and said “I would love to give you my licence but you see I think I left my wallet in Marathon when we passed thru earlier today and that is where we are heading.” He walked back to the car with my registration then returned and asked me to come back to the car and then put me in the back seat. Like I was a criminal. Shit what was happening. Then his partner, who was older and much more easy to talk to asked me who I was where I was going and if I knew passing on an unpaved shoulder was illegal. Then I vomited out my story of the lost wallet and the trip being ruined if I don’t find it. I think I was talking at the speed of light. He asked me if there was any money in the wallet. I totally forgot that I had just taken out $100. “Yes”I shook my head back and forth as the memory set in “Yes there was about $95”
“Well” he said with a light air in his voice “I think you day had been rough enough” The young cops head snapped to look at his superior as if to say he could not possibly be letting this trumpet off. “So I am going to let you off with a warning however follow the rules on the way back there. Drive Safely” He passed me my registration and let me out of the car. My racing heart relaxed a little as I walked (trying not to run) back to my car.
When we got to Marathon my wallet was not at the gas station but there was a note. Stating that a wallet was found on the side of the road (I much have put it on the roof of the car) and a man noticed it as it looked like his wife’s wallet. He took it to the fire hall and that is where we went to pick it up. Not only was my wallet there but the $95 was also still in the wallet. We sent Michael and his wife postcards from everywhere we went on that trip. They saved my 2 year Canadian/Mexican/Australian adventure. It was only in it’s first month and would have abruptly halted if I didn’t have a passport.
As I was remembering this story a fellow driving on the other side of the road flickered his lights at me. Was there a cop doing speed check around the bend? Was it that young keen to prosecute fellow who now likely ran the Wawa division? I slowed down even thought I was going the speed limit already. Just to be sure not to get pulled over. But to my surprise it was not a cop at all but a moose. A real live moose on the side of the road. In all my travels across Canada I have never seen a moose on the side of the road. I was starting to think that all the moose crossing signs were a ploy by tourism Canada. But no here he was huge and calm eating the weeds on the side of the road. Such a beautiful sight. I kept my eyes peeled the rest of the drive but he was the only one. Not 20 minutes later a police car passed and I was sure it was the aged police man from 20 years ago. Was it?
When I pulled up to the Sleeps Inn I knew I would have a wonderful evening in my big cozy king bed with dreams of the regal moose spirit watching over my travels.
We got started late today. The dangers of getting a good bed to sleep in is you never want to get out of it. Again it was a perfect day for driving and it was quite uneventful. The view was glorious as the trees all had leaf buds on the end of their branches. The lakes and rivers along the highway were a gorgeous royal blue and fluffy white clouds randomly smattered the sky.
Not much to tell other than it was strange how Sam seemed to remember Toronto. She started to get excited when we pulled off the Don Valley on to Greenwood. She remembered our east end home. It is funny what they remember.
We got in around 8pm and went straight to Andrew’s where we would be parking the car. He has this cute little cinder block house on Harriet Street. It was at the bottom of a hill so it really feels like you are in a small town in the big city. He has built a book exchange right out front of his house and he knows all his neighbours. A rare find in this thriving metropolis. (on a side note he is selling if anyone is looking for a sweet fixer upper) Andrew was not home when we arrived but arranged for us to be let in, so here Sam and I waited for Bri to pick us up to take us to where we would be staying while in Toronto. Both of us were happy to be out of the car.
Day 4 and 5 Two days in Toronto
After a good night’s sleep we were awoken by children’s little steps and giggles. I made my way downstairs for coffee and to my surprise a kale omelette. Yummy. Bri asked if I would mind taking the kids to the park then next day. “they will not run off or anything on me will they” I asked. “No no they love the park” I agreed and we decided to go for a walk and at the end of it we stopped at said park. Everything was going great there was another child there to play with Bri’s eldest and her little one was giggling and rolling around then in comes the madness. Simon (the little one) bolts. Not just a little ways like across the field. Bri follows him and leaves Isaiah (the eldest) in the park with his friend. I turn to look at the friend and something is happening. He is moving funny. Well not moving really convulsing. Then it happens. A scene from The Exorcist unfolds. I kid you not this vomit was shooting out of this child’s mouth all over the park. But then his mom cleans him up and sends him back into the park to play. My mind is racing “What the Fuck is she thinking. That kid needs a hospital.” The kid seems fine and is now touching Isaiah and likely passing along the virus to him. Bri is making her way back with her little Forest Gump and she sees what is happening. She exhales a sigh and starts gathering up the boys and their things. She is so calm. I am loosing it a bit inside. “I agreed to do this alone tomorrow” goes thru my mind. “What have I gotten myself into?” I didn’t think she saw my stress as I hid it pretty good but she did say later. Tomorrow can be a backyard day instead. What a huge relief. Or was it….
That evening was the exact opposite of my day. I was attending a Star Wars themed burlesque show. The hosts of the show was none other than C3PO (who looked more like the lion king to me as she had a golden wig) and R2D2.
The whole night was a riot. But I have to say the highlight was when Rey aka Lucy Loop used the force to pick up her LED light saber. The crowd was hushed in awe then went nuts. I am a bit biased as Lucy is a friend of mine and the reason I was at the show but that was a show stopping move. I loved the whole night from little R2D2 righteous spirit to Princess Leia and her chains, oh and not to mention C3PO’s wit that slapped a few people in the face, but Lucy took the theme aspect of the night to a whole new level.
In the morning it was back to the babies. Wholly split reality batman. Oh my I could have used batman on this morning. I do not have the Child Whisper, nor do I speak baby. So when Simon was desperately trying to tell me what he needed I was coming up blank. Then when I figured out it was the tv I could not for the life of me turn it on. Stupid space tv controlled by a cell phone. What the heck was the answer here. Wait I got it… You tube saved the day. Bob the train I think it was. He commanded the room and silence was had until the sitter arrive who right away made lunch and fixed the tv. (well knew how to turn it on) She was my hero. I ran away with my tail between my legs to go and meet Shawn for lunch. Lunch at Sunset Grill is much more my speed.
That evening we enjoyed some live music in a health store basement and hula hooping in the back alley. Only in Toronto. I miss this wacky town.
On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again…. no… I totally could have waited a few more days but it was time to head home. The drive was really pleasant and uneventful really. Slightly overcast so easy on the eyes and the roads were pretty quiet. Until out of nowhere a young bear shoots out onto the highway about 100 feet in front of me. I had enough time to slow down and make sure not to hit her. She looked a bit sick to me as her fur was wet and scruffy . But then I don’t know anything about bears. In my rearview mirror I noticed flashing lights. I passed the bear and it shot off on the other side of the road. At that very spot the cop car pulled over lights still flashing. “What the heck is happening when a cop is chasing a bear?” I spoke this outloud to Sammy as it was just so strange. I continued driving as I didn’t want to be one of those irritating people who stop and get in the way of what was happening. I tried to find something on the news about it but there was nothing I could find so I am left with this headline from my mind. “Bear breaks into swimming pool and is chased out of town by local police”
Day 7 The home stretch
As we had made it to Riviere du loup for the night we only had 7 hours to drive making our last day quite easy. Memories of our cycling trip we had done in 2007 came to mind. I was trying to remember where we had stopped and it is interesting how the order had seemed to get mixed up in my memory.
Again the drive was perfect and we made good time. As we got to the bridge Sammy perked up and stuck her head out the window for the first time in her life. She is turning 11 this year. Who says dogs don’t learn new trick. Not that sticking her head out the window is a trick but I digress… Sammy was excited to be coming home.