July 20, 2008

7/20/08 Wiarton, ON


Rain. Wet tent. Mosquitoes. Same, same, same.

But I'm still breathing, still biking and still have my dashing good looks and sparkling personality so I guess it's still a good day.

The plan was to bike to Manitowaning and hope to get something for breakfast. Then get to South Baymouth early so we could buy our ferry tickets. For a Sunday morning we really didn't expect much traffic. Cloud cover kept things dark and cool. And mostly the road was flat, passing a few farms and a lot of pastures.

You could tell the rain was making it hard to bail hay. Manitoulin Island is the world's largest fresh water island but when you look at it on a map, most of it seems to be covered with lakes. Unfortunately from our road it looked like it went through rural Missouri as we didn't see any water.

Turns out Manitowaning was too small for even a gas station, so we pushed on. We actually made pretty good time reaching South Baymouth. And by this time we were famished.

One of the first places we saw for breakfast was Carol & Earl's Restaurant. And outside were two other loaded bikes. I introduced myself to Ralph, from Niagra ON, and Ralph, from Germany, who were just finishing up a week-long tour of the island. Then I tore into a helping of French toast smothered in maple syrup.

When we came outside it had already started to sprinkle which it did on and off for the next couple of hours. We had several hours to wait for the ferry that would take us to the Bruce Peninsula so I just walked to a few of the shops and the lighthouse.

Lighthouse in South Baymouth

As we queued up for the ferry, and later over lunch, I got a chance to talk more to Ralph and Ralph. Their mothers grew up together and German Ralph was visiting for Niagra Ralph's sister's wedding. And since he had come all this way, they whipped up a quick bike trip. It turns out Niagra Ralph was an ESL teacher (and his wife still is) and he had worked in Japan. So we chatted a lot about my upcoming trip to Mongolia to teach English.

By the time we loaded up onto the ferry, the blue sky opened up suddenly and it looked like we were going to have a great afternoon.

On the ferry

We didn't get back on the road until almost 4pm after getting off the ferry and saying goodbye to the Ralphs. (PS Happy Birthday again Niagra Ralph - the big five-o).

Ralph & Ralph

I think it is a measure of how worn out mentally I am when I didn't say a word when Mike suggested we do another eighty kilometers. That would get us to the campground about 8pm, extremely lake for us. There were a few other options but I went a long with it.

Physically I guess I'm in pretty good shape by now. But when your mental state is worn out, the body just doesn't function at 100%. I spent most of our evening ride through fields lit up by the setting sun frustrated and angry at the world. I even began chanting the Buddhist mantra "om mani padme hum" just to try and stop the discursive thoughts from taking root.

Lots of farms and wind

When we finally reached the campground, the office was closed. But a few of the seasonal campers directed us to where we could set up our tents. By the time I was unpacked and showered, it was almost 9pm. I decided to skip dinner and just eat some of the snacks I still had in my food bag.

Like many campgrounds across Canada, everyone was friendly and curious about the bike trip. One guy gave us some route advice for tomorrow. And another couple gave me a lot of encouragement for my Mongolian trip too.

Tomorrow we should reach Collingwood, home of my friend Suzanne. Taking at least a day off (no errands either!) and try to improve my mental state as I know we are in for more rain in the near future. It will be great to catch up with Suz and meet her husband and kids.