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August 2019
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A helpful hint

Just in case no-one had realised, but if you click on the ‘Title’ of each of my ‘Posts’ then you get a location map of where I am ending up each night.

I’ll shut up now and go to bed.

Day 7 – 22nd August

Glad to be leaving Wawa – in fact the best thing about it is the road leading away.

The skies are overcast today and it threatens rain – there was already a load during the night.  The ride starts off okay and I stop to get a couple of pictures.

August 22, Cotton Lake   August 22, Cotton Lake (1)

As soon as I get on the bike the rain starts slowly.  Withing a few kms it has got harder – and then it gets harder still.  It’s like this until I reach Marathon where I have a very forgettable lunch.  However, it then stops raining.  I’m just hoping it will hold off until I reach my destination of Rossport.  It does, and miracle of miracles, it’s now sunny and comfortably warm.  Whilst I was riding through the rain I thought to myself “I do hope there is a reward for me at the end of today”.  Well I couldn’t have wished for a better reward – Rossport is absolutely delightful.  It’s small, quiet and in a beautiful location.  What’s more the Rossport Inn where I am staying looks pretty good too.  When I arrive there at 3.30pm there is a note saying that the owner will be back at 4.30pm.

So I hop over to the tea shop – the ladies there took me for a ride – what I mean by that is they said the cake wasn’t too big …. it was ENORMOUS!!  But very delicious – however by the time I’d finished that it was time to head back over to the Rossport Inn.  1 minute later Ned, the owner, showed up on his old BMW motorcycle and sidecar.  Very laid back, and he turned out to be a great guy.

August 22, Rossport Inn   August 22, Rossport Inn (11)

I have to admit that after the days ride I’d had I was feeling pleased with myself that I’d booked this place in advance.  Totally recommended.

Day 8 – 23rd August

I was sorry to leave Rossport – it’s a nice place to be.

The road out was pretty much the same as the road in – some great views and the roads are good, apart from what appears to be a continual, nationwide maintenance programme.  I was held up at one set for about 20mins.  Good job I wasn’t in a rush, but the guys car sticker kept me amused though …

August 23, Bumper Sticker

 

I got to Thunder Bay and visited the Terry Fox Memorial – it’s actually a Scenic Lookout.  Lesley was telling me about Terry Fox.  In short the guy was an amputee (leg) which was caused by cancer.  That is effectively the start of the story – what he did was to start out on a Marathon run across Canada – which puts my journey into perspective a little, doesn’t it?  He left Newfoundland and got as far as Thunder Bay.  It’s also where he died, and so although he didn’t actually complete the run he did raise a load of dosh for Cancer Research.  For this he became a national hero and was awarded Canada’s highest honour.  His legacy continues to this day.  Hats off to you Terry!

Thunder Bay is so-so … but then I have to be honest a lot of the towns along the Highways are pretty non-descript – it what occurs in between them that makes this country such a spectacle.  I ventured to Kakabeka Falls which were pretty good – whilst there I parked next to a group of Harley Davidson riders up from Minnesota.  I did this just to make for a decent picture of Kermit!  I thought I was living a bit dangerously though – it had crossed my mind that I would get back to the bike and find it lying on its side.  Nope … they were a real friendly bunch of guys and very interested in the trip.  In fact I think I made them all a bit jealous.  They left in one direction, and me in the other.

August 23, Kakabeka Falls nr.Thunder Bay 

Right, which way should I go now?  One road toakes me to Kenora and a straight run through to Winnipeg, and the other takes me to Fort Frances which is a crossing town to the USA.  I chose the latter.  Don’t ask why, I just did.  It was a great ride – I had the road virtually to myself for close on 200kms – but enjoying it too much has one of 2 consequences … either the cops get you (they didn’t this time) or you use the fuel a bit quicker than you would like … which it did!  Not too much of a disaster as the Reserve Tank got me to a little place called Atikokan where I was able to fill up.  This got me to Fort Frances – the town is not worth a visit … but …. leaving there the next day for the journey to Winnipeg via Kenora and past Lake of the Woods was good compensation.  Why do I keep getting surprised about how astoundingly beautiful this place is?  It could be that we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that only British Columbia has fantastic scenery and that I expect something less from the rest of the place – just how wrong can you be?

Day 9 – 24th August

I wasn’t too sorry to be leaving Fort Frances – it’s there for a purpose … just not mine.  However, I have to say that the run over to it from Thunder Bay yesterday was pretty good although the weather was cloudy and it was a bit chilly – although for the firat time I had to use ‘Reserve’ on the fuel front, but that got me to some fuel 20kms down the road.  On getting in to Fort Frances I just dived into the 1st Motel I could find – it wasn’t the kind of place you would have booked in advance knowing what it was like.

Sunday 24th was at least sunny and fairly warm.  Getting out of Fort Frances was quite straight forward and although not spectacular it was a little more scenic.  As I picked up the road North to Kenora things got better.  I headed out past ‘Lake of the Woods’ through Nestor Falls and Sioux Narrows.  These are both small resort towns revolving around boating and fishing – and pretty little places they are too.  ‘Lake of the Woods’ is worth the visit – it’s one of the smaller lakes.  But like most things, you could drop Wales into it I reckon (now there’s a thought …)

It surprised me a little just how quiet the roads and the towns were … okay it was a Sunday morning, but when I turned up at Nestor Falls and went down to the Lake it was as if everyone was still tucked up in bed fast asleep – by now it was about 10.45am.  Hey ho, it’s nice and quiet and I’m not complaining about empty, well surfaced roads when I’m on a bike, and so it was all the way to Kenora.  Arriving there, I think this place might have been a better choice for my stay last night.  Too late.  I grab something to eat on the way up to Winnipeg this afternoon and prepare for a bit of a slog.

As it turns out it wasn’t too much of a slog after all, and I get to Winnipeg in reasonable time.  I find my way to Downtown where the Hostel is I’m staying at.  First impressions are good – a guy in a Pick-Up draws up next to me at some lights and asks me where I’m headed.  We have a good little conversation going when the lights turn green and I’m off.  My next encounter with the locals is not quite as welcoming … I’ve pulled over to the side to check the Street Map to figure out where I’m going.  Once I turn the map the right way up I quickly figure out where I had been going wrong. I pull away, but 20yds down the road 3 youths decide that visitors to their city are something to be abused.  They step into the middle of the road and one tries to grab me as I approach them.  I accelerate, make a double swerve and I’m through them.  It turns out their bravery does not extend to standing still when they see a bike accelerating towards them with no intention of stopping.  Can’t say I blame the idiots really.  Maybe they just wanted to enquire about my health … maybe my support crew had radioed ahead for someone to organise a “Welcome to Winnipeg” event (just like Ewan and Charley usually get).  Could it be that I was just being a discourteous and ignorant visitor?  My instincts tell I don’t think so somehow.  I play safe, just in case.

I dump my gear at the Hostel, have a quick change and head out for something to eat trying not to look like a tourist.  For some reason the ‘Best Ethiopian Restaurant in Winnipeg’ doesn’t hold great appeal.  Downtown Winnipeg does not feel like a friendly place … it almost feels like I am being targeted; some guys call out to me from a car.  I’m looking up at the skyscrapers.  “Hey man, what you looking up there for?” one of them shouts out.  A few minutes later a First Nations individual on a bicycle stops me to ask if I have 2 dollars for the bus – on a bike?!  “Sorry mate – I don’t have a penny of change” and I continue on my way.  It’s only 8.30pm and it looks like every restaurant is already closed.  Do they know something I don’t?  By 9.00pm I give up the ghost and walk back to the hostel thinking I’ll have a quick beer before retiring for the night.  I open the door to the  hostel bar. “That’s $5″ says the surly girl sat at a desk.  Enquiring as to why they may be wanting to relieve me of this sum of money she tells me it’s because there is a band on from out of town.  “Are they any good?” I ask.  “Don’t know – haven’t heard them before”.  “So”, I confirm ” you want $5 from me so that I can come into your bar to buy a beer and to be bludgeoned by some awful music?”.  She realises she’s on to a loser with me and tells me to go straight through.  The beer wasn’t great, but it was better than the band.  I still can’t figure out why they thought that $5 would buy someone a ticket to the gig of a lifetime.

At the start of the day I had 2 plans – stay 2 nights in Winnipeg and 1 in Saskatoon, or vice-versa.  After the welcoming committees reception in Winnipeg it may not surprise you which option I took.

Let’s hope Saskatoon is a little friendlier.

Day 10 – 25th August

Good-bye Winnipeg – don’t let the door whack you in the face on the way out of my life.

Right, this is going to be a short post.  The day is long – 750kms long in blistering heat.  It must have been touching 40c.  The roads are long, straight and flat.  The scenery is about as exciting – but as a newcomer to the prairies they are kind of hypnotic at first, quickly followed by comotose.  I exaggerate – oh, alright I don’t …

There are subtle changes to them as you go along – sometimes they are flat and red … or flat and brown … or flat and green.  Oh, there’s a tree – how novel.  Occasionally there are some (very gentle) rises.  Sometimes I come to a junction and have to change direction.  The very strong cross winds keep my concentration levels high though.  The blasts of headwind I get from the approaching trucks has an affect akin to a whack on the head from an elephants trunk with an irritation up his nose – this is particularly true if I somehow forget to face downwards at the appropriate moment in order to avoid being blown half the way back to Winnipeg.  “How refreshing” I think to myself every time this happens.  But it’s good fun also - in retrospect … strange how that always seems to be the case in such circumstances.

There were 2 things that were keeping me going:

1. The longer I travelled the further I left Winnipeg behind (are you getting the theme of this yet?)

2. By making it to Saskatoon in 1 day , rather than stopping in Yorkton, meant I could have a ‘day off’ before another longish ride to Calgary

This was ‘a good thing to do’

I arrive in Saskatoon, which has an altogether friendlier atmosphere.  I meet Tammy, the housekeeper of the Lodge I am staying in.  She’s young, blonde, pretty and friendly.  I’m older, married and confusing her with my futile attempts at humour (actually I think she found me quite amusing in an English kind of way).  I have a change of clothes and head off Downtown for something to eat – hopefully.  I find a nice looking Greek restaurant with an even nicer looking young, blonde waitress called Jenny.  She’s from Regina, a little south of Sask (I’m sounding almost local now!) and studying Criminolgy at Sask Uni.  She asks if I’m travelling and so I bore her with my tale - although not too much because she tells me that she’s travelled Europe but she would love to hop on the back of my bike for the remainder of the journey.  I suspect that had she done so a) my reputation would have multiplied several fold amongst my biking buddies, and b) there would have been little hope for my physical well-being on my return to the UK.

I wander back to the Lodge and have a much more restful sleep than for a couple of nights.

I’m thinking about why Sask has more appeal than Winnipeg … but struggling to figure it out. Not!

Nighty night.