Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day Five—Long, Lonely Road

Cool. It was very cool this morning when I went outside. 50 degrees; it felt wonderful. I’ve been so hot that having weather this cool is excellent.

Had Breakfast at the little place next door; it was very good. Eggs, potatoes, and ham. Lots of all of that stuff. More than I could eat, which is unusual. I almost always eat all of my food, but this morning’s breakfast was just too much.

Got the bike packed, checked out of the Tee Pee Motel, and got on the bike to ride around the town a little before going to Voyagers National Park. It felt good to ride.

The town looks pretty industrial to me. The housing looks like 50s and 60s with a few newer ones scattered around. Most are ranch-style, but a few are two story or story and a half. There were a few nice ones, but most were pretty nondescript. Sorta depressing. Recalling what the owner had told me when I checked in, the town is shrinking in population. Boise, the big papermaker, is the big employer, and other industries are leaving, and, along with them, the youth are going to places they favor. Sad, but true for many small communities in Canada and the USA.

Having seen enough of the town, I rode the 10 miles to Voyagers National Park. Boy was I disappointed. Basically, it consists of a boat ramp. A nice one, yes, but there was nothing there but the boat ramp and a visitor’s center. There’s more stuff at Falls Lake near Raleigh than there was in this park. I guess if you’re into fishing, it’s a great place to be. Rainey Lake apparently has some great fishing.

Turned around and went to the road into Canada. What a MESS! I’ve crossed a number of borders, but none were like this one.

First, you have to pay to cross a bridge to get to the border checkpoint. Only $2, so no big deal. Only, I dropped a glove where you pay. Had to get off the bike to pick it up. Cars and trucks behind me did not appreciate that at all. Got back on the bike and discovered that I could not find the other glove. Got off the bike again, looked back, and it was on the ground about 15 feet before the pay station. Walked back and got it.

Rode 100 yards or so to the border crossing. Waited my turn, and when the light turned green, pulled forward. The officer asked the usual questions about where I was from, what I was doing there, where I was going, etc. No problem. I seemed to pass. But wait, he then told me to pull forward off to the left under the shed. I did, not quite sure why.

Got under the shed with a few other vehicles and waited, wondering what this was about. In about 5 minutes, an officer came to the bike and asked the same questions as asked before. He then asked me to open all the cases on the bike. I did. He then opened each thing to see what was in it. Dirty clothes, Clean clothes. Overnight bag. Gadget bag. Topcase had to be emptied. When all this was done, he simply said, “You may repack and go”.

I guess I somehow looked like a terrorist or something. Never had to do any of this on the bike before, but he got to see everything I had on the bike. Glad I had nothing to hide! But it left me a little unnerved.

From that point on, the only thing I did the rest of the day was ride. The road, Hwy 11, is called the “Trans-Canada Highway” and goes a long way. The speed limit is almost always 90kph, but sometimes drops when going by a community.

I rode for about300 miles on this road, and did not see the first wildlife worth mentioning. Crows and birds. And one field mouse running across the road. Saw a beaver lodge, but no beaver. No Moose. No deer. No rabbits. No eagles. Nothing! And I looked a lot. I don’t understand…

Got to Thunder Bay about 4pm, checked into the motel and unloaded the bike. Got dressed again and got back on the bike. I wanted to see Lake Superior. I had not traveled almost 2,000 miles to not see the big lake. It wasn’t as easy as I hoped it would be. It took 3 different attempts to find the water. I rode mile after mile in huge industrial areas close to the water, but could get only a glimpse every now and then.

Finally, I went down a road that looked promising. It ended in a park on the lake. I got off the bike, took off my riding gear and took a few pics of the water and the bike. Then as I always do when I’m in new waters, I walked down to the water and took a few steps in it and diped my hands in it. Warmer than I thought it would be. So, I’ve now been in Lake Erie (years ago) and Superior.

On the way back to the motel, I noticed that I had been over 280 miles and the fuel light was not on yet. So, I rode around some to see how far I could go before the light came on; maybe a new record?? I came to a weird bridge. It had 3 sets of traffic--one each way for cars and a train in the middle. The car lanes were 3 meters wide, and the place where car wheels rode was metal. Not corrugated, but slick plates of steel! Sorta like the old covered bridges, but metal plates instead of wood. I stopped before going on it, screwed up my courage, and rode across it with no problems. The wild card was that there were speed bumps in several places, so you had to slow down to cross them. After crossing it, I had to do it again because there was no other way back into the city.

Then back to the motel to put the bike up for the night. Came inside with the rest of the bike things, put on my tennis shoes and walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner of nachos and cheese. Only fair; nothing special. I wanted something different, but their choices didn’t look good, and I was too tired to walk somewhere.

Then back to the room to get a shower and blog.

Tomorrow—Back to the USA


  1. Hope it's easier crossing the border back into the US. Would like to hear more about the bridge when you get back.

  2. Pretty interesting about the search...
    Maybe you'll see some more wildlife. Sounds like a great trip so far!