Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I crossed into Canada and things got interesting pretty quickly. First, there was the driving on the left. This was more challenging than I thought since I was the only one doing it. Haha, just kidding. I didn't do that, but I did stop abruptly at the Bush Airplane Museum. Inside the museum, I knew it would be interesting when one of the first displays I see is a sports bra worn in space. Figure out for your self how that ended up in a Bush Plane Museum.
From UP and Canada

From UP and Canada

From UP and Canada

From UP and Canada

The museum had other items from Canada's history including this cool hand-cranked rail bike. It allowed inspectors to check tracks. Personally, I think it is a great idea. It just needs some space for camping gear....

From UP and Canada

Interesting four-piece canoe developed to fit inside airplanes. They don't use these anymore, now they just strap the canoe to the landing-floats. But when engines had little power, anything that interfered with aerodynamics was shunned.
From UP and Canada

They saw any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. They had two examples of bad landings. Wreckage displayed as found, minus victims.
From UP and Canada
From UP and Canada

I thought a lot about how to describe how Canada felt. The words, I'm afraid, will fall short. No where in the U.S. (that I have been) felt so remote, so far from the rest of the world. The places I saw and the people I talked to reflected the need to focus on surviving the winter. I stayed over night in Wawa, which is the native word for the Canadian Goose. There was no flare put into the design of the buildings, just simple structures made to withstand the rigors of winter that far north.
From UP and Canada
Canada has not wasted a lot of time paving roads. No criss-crossing grids of roads serving every square mile here. There is one paved road, several dirt road options, and a mess of ATV trails. Signs along the road constantly reminded me of the dangers of moose, though I never saw one.
From UP and Canada
I left Sault Ste Marie with a nearly full gas tank. But I did not notice how rare the gas stations were till I was low on fuel. I blame only myself, monitoring my fuel range in miles and distance to the next town in kilometers (Canada is all metric). Regardless of the reason, I found myself 60 kilometers from the next town with only enough gas for 25 miles. I wasn't panicking, but I had started making plans for panicking.
From UP and Canada
The reserve tank on the Ducati is a half gallon, and the bike normally gets about 46 mpg. So with the light on, I sweated the minutes. After 25 miles with the reserve light on, I expected to be walking (or camping beside the road) and every hundred yards (91.4 meters) with the engine running was a bonus to me. And then I saw a crew working beside the road. The choice was clear and I pulled in, humbly asking if I could buy a half gallon (two liters) of gas... Chuckles. "Another one. We get about two a week." Not everyone needed gas, but many have needed help. And all got it. They would not let me pay for the gas, and I made it to the next town with the reserve light back on, but the bike still running. The crew that gave me gas also gave me some advice dealing with the moose: If they are beside you in the ditch, hit your brakes and expect them to vear into the road in front of you.

The next day I learned the gas stations would be 60 or 70 miles apart for the rest of the trip. The Ducati was good for about 125 miles on a tankfull, so at 60 miles, I could skip every other one. At 70 miles, I could not. With no way to know, I ended up stopping for gas every time I got below half a tank.


I spoke with two guys near the end of there cross-Canada bicycle ride. They described seeing wolves in the road. Feeling very vulnerable on bicycles, they would wait a respectful distance till a car would come along and scare the wolves away. That worked, they said, till there were no cars. In parts of British Columbia, they waited a half hour without seeing a car at all.

From the town of Wawa, till I was well inside Minnesota, I rode in the rain. Normally not a big deal, but two days worth really wore me down. I didn't get pictures because I didn't want to get my camera wet. It may have been the only thing to stay dry. Boots with so much water in them I poured it out, leather gloves completely saturated. I had four layers between me and the rain, including two layers of waterproof raingear, and still got wet. And after several hours riding in 50 degree temps with water in my boots and soaked hands, I wished for something I don't think I'd wished for ever before. I wished I was in my van instead of riding. I must be getting old...

1 comment:

  1. Great post Will, nice to read all about it. Felt like I was there sometimes. I'll have to put that museum on my list for retirement, as I really want to see a sports bra that went to space...

    Happy Trails.

    P

    ReplyDelete