please come back to continue the journey as I update my writing
I will also update photos as they pertain to my adventure
photos are dispersed throughout the website
let me know how you like it...thanks~tau
The best feeling ever is when I’m camping all alone. There’s something special about being in the woods feeling close to God. It wasn’t always like that, I mean my relationship with God and all, our relationship has been rocky to the say the least. Thankfully these days we are thick as thieves. It’s good too, because I spend a lot of time alone. When I tell people about my travels I always get the same response; “you go alone?” and “aren’t you afraid? I’d be afraid.” I always tell them that if I was afraid I’d never go anywhere. We aren’t supposed to go through life being afraid! Even my dad was afraid that I’d be murdered! I told him that if I die I’d die loving and living my life the way I want it. I know people are afraid for me because I have a rare disease, I’ll just call AMC for now, that leaves me in chronic pain. One leg is shorter than the other and that’s what most people see, it’s much more complicated than that. Anyway, camping on my own is a huge struggle for me and that’s why I love it. I set up my tent, make some dinner then start a fire, chop up some wood with my hatchet if there’s wood nearby. After setting up camp I look back on all my hard work and smile, because I did it all by myself. That’s one of the reasons why I love to camp. The time has come, I’m preparing for my newest adventure. I’m driving across North America, mostly Canada. For how long I don’t know, I’m a free bird. My packing was all done at night, because my neighbors stick their noses in my business, but not this time. I want them to have lots to talk about during the summer while I’m gone. I’m going to leave like a thief in the night. The bottom line, I don’t want to tell anyone. For once I’m keeping my thoughts and plans to myself, realizing finally that my plans are no one’s business but mine. Anyway, the day has come and I am on my way to a newest daring endeavor. First stop hopefully are the Adirondack Mountains in upper state New York. Before I can get out of Massachusetts though, I have to drive over the Mohawk Trail to make one final stop, Wild Oats, the local health food store. I need unscented face soap and hair conditioner. That’s so the bears don’t smell me. I can’t run fast enough. My supplies are neatly packed in the back seat of my Chevy HHR. My one and only time I slept in this car was a nightmare. I drove up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It was dark when I got there so decided to sleep in the car, I mean that’s why I bought it. After putting air in my air mattress I realized air was escaping fast. Oh crap. By this time it was 11:30pm and I was scared. I drove to the closed town and got directions to the new Walmart, yuck, but I was desperate. Thankfully the store just started staying open till midnight. I had to speed. Fortunately I bought a new air mattress and slept well. I don’t think I checked out my air mattress, oops. Continuing on to Wild Oats, picked up my supplies and then get lost. After going here and there and everywhere I find my way. Next thing I know I’m in the Adirondack Mountains. The mountains along the east coast are definitely smaller than the ones out west, yet these Mountains are grand and understated at the same time. I’m driving slowly turning this way and that way looking at amazing homes on the opposite side of lakes with huge trees. I’m guessing the homes were built a couple of centuries ago. The little towns on the outskirts are busy with people doing their task at hand, but once I pass those populated areas the roads quiet down. I really enjoy driving through this area, and I plan on driving as far as these mountains will take me, yet before the Canadian border. This is the plan anyway, but I’m getting tired and want to stop soon. Before long I find a somewhat inviting campground, clean, well-groomed and empty. My stomach sinks. I read the information board and it was then and there when I realize why the roads are so deserted. The campgrounds are all closed until tomorrow. One day! Can you believe it? I never thought about that! Of course when I think about it now with the snow and all, it makes sense. Deep down I am still that California girl who never thinks about weather changing. Just one more day and everything could be different, but here I am. I want to have driven farther than here, but I’ve had enough. I drive around this small town named Long Lake and notice this cool motel where a car can drive down to the water, and maybe camp on the sand? I’m hoping they will be nice enough to let me put my tent up for just one night. NOT, I’m rejected. $75 bucks will get me down there, but that’s not happening. I just had a thought of me camping down there for a couple of days, enjoying myself, oh shoot I’m bummed now. The first day and there’s already a dilemma. A guy there at the motel tells me about an old guy who owns the motel on the corner and doesn’t charge as much. And it’s called “The Corner Motel.” Maybe he has a place where I can put up my tent. The old guy, and he’s pretty old, has a real sadness in his eyes. He would make a great grandfather. The first thing I asked him was if I could use his bathroom. I’m desperate. I did not expect to be led to the man’s private bathroom. I’m pretty sure his cleaning lady takes advantage of him, if he has one, because that bathroom’s pretty scummy. I prefer going out in the woods. The old guy offers me a room for $60, but I can’t come up with that. I have a limited amount of money so I need to be tight with the cash. We start talking and he tells me how expensive everything has become. He and his wife bought the motel many years ago and it was a good investment then, but now she is gone and he’s really old. I feel sad for the guy and I think he feels sad for me too. He’s kind enough to let me sleep in my car on the empty parking lot. The parking lot only fits 20 cars at best, so the potholes and uneven ground has me wrestling my car this way and that trying to find a level spot to sleep. No matter how I position my little ‘silver bullet’ in that tiny parking lot, I can’t get away from that noisy road. Privacy will never happen either. So I get neither, but the spot is free and I have a safe place to rest my body for the night. After giving up on the lopsided spot, I break out my stove and eat some delicious can food, which sounds and tastes more like dog food. I’m definitely not going to ingest any fluids so I don’t have to pee during the night. After that awful dinner I stick a throat lozenge in my mouth, and that helps some. Then I attempt to somehow give myself some privacy from that road. I put sticky Velcro pieces that I cut up, on the corners of my front window. Then I place the opposite sides of the Velcro pieces on my large scarf. I hope to keep out the looky loos with all my work, but ultimately it didn’t really work at all. Once I lay my head down I notice that the back window needs more attention than the front window, considering my head almost touches the back hatch. Jezz what was I thinking? I have this idea of wrapping some clothing around my head. Now that makes me laugh because I’m reminded of a Monty Python movie where people are running away hiding from the Romans. They hide behind these long drapes with their feet sticking out. If I can’t see anyone then they can’t see me. It’s all an illusion but I hope it helps me sleep. Even driving all day didn’t help me to sleep. I had planned on sleeping in my car at those certain times, like last night, but I didn’t take into consideration where I’d put my stuff. I ended up placing gear under my car, yet still most of it lay on the air mattress next to me. Luckily I don’t move around much during the night. Good thing since I didn’t even have enough room to turn over. The hardest part of the night was getting in the car. The backseat was the only way to get in, because the air mattress, which worked great, took up the entire space. The front seats were pushed forward completely. So you can visualize the situation, my one leg doesn’t bent but an inch, and both legs are very weak. When I open the back door to get in, my first thought is “I can’t do this,” but I have to. The mattress is somewhere around 6-8 inches thick, so I have a very small space to crawl in. I step up with my left leg with a little gusto and attempt to crawl in with only my arms. It doesn’t work but has to work, it’s the only way. I keep trying and trying until I get in. It’s a very small space to get undressed and settled. I will want to sleep in my tent at all cost. It was a long night to say the very least, but I’m trying to focus on the little things and that is, I did have a place to rest, if not sleep. It’s a lovely morning but I desperately need to hit the gas station. I feel dirty! It’s amazing how a little splash of cold water brightens the mood. My teeth are especially happy. I notice these two guys sitting at one of the table in the gas station, chatting and drinking their coffee. They are wearing Lion’s hats, like I am, so I introduce myself. We have this bond, so we start a pleasant conversation over the best way to the Canadian border. The one guy jumps up to go to his car and get his map, but I say “no, I’ll go get mine.” He sits back down and my gut knows what this guy must be thinking. He probably wants to be a gentleman so I wouldn’t have to walk out to my car. I’m a strong independent woman, and I like to walk. Plus doesn’t it make sense for me to mark up my map? Oh well, we chit chat over the map for a while then I drive away with fresh excitement over day two. I enjoy listening to NPR, or public radio, and lastly music. I like listening to the French speaking. I’m pretty close to the border when I see Amish selling well-made aprons which were delicately hanging on a rope between trees at a gas station. There are two Amish girls selling their handmade items and I have to take a look. Their horse has a droopy back and looks so sad there tied up under a tree with a bucket for water. It takes all my strength not to walk up and pet him. I love horses. In my dreams I ride a horse in an open meadow. Anyway, I want to buy an apron for $15 bucks, they are so well done, but bought a cookie instead. I’m so proud, but still wish I bought one of those beautiful aprons.
Into Ontario, Canada
Heading north, before long I’ll be in Canada. As soon as the road comes to an end I enter the city of Ogdensburg where there is an International Airport. I can see Canada on the other side of the St. Lawrence River. I’m thrilled because I’ve never seen that river or Ogdensburg. It seems like a peaceful riverside and border town. I grew up in San Diego, California so I have an idea of how it would be to live here. Canada is hugely different than Mexico that’s for sure. Mainly one country has money and the other doesn’t. One has paved roads and the other has mainly dirt roads. One has a corrupt government and the other doesn’t, I think. I’ll let you guess which one is what. I’m close to entering Canada and I’m exhausted already. I know the bridge is close, I guess and turn left and drive for twenty minutes or so. This can’t be right so I pull over and look at the map. I’m too far west, so I turn around and drive back but still can’t find the border crossing. Next thing I know I’m driving around in circles and cross over the small Oswegatchie river three times. This tiny river travels 137-miles from the Adirondack Mountains to the Saint Lawrence River here at the city of Ogdensburg. I love learning about geography, which was my favorite subject in high school. Regardless, I need to find Canada. I keep thinking that I am too far east so I turn around and try again. Finally I ask this young guy who sits beside me at a stop light, “How do I get into Canada?” Come to find out I’m only ten minutes to the east. Moving forward I finally see the bridge. Yeah! The bridge is green and makes this noise, bump bump bump bump bump bump bump. The cross over goes pretty quick, I have to remove my glasses and show my visa. It’s a first. I’m disappointed though that my visa won’t get stamped. I will need to go inside for that. Forget that as I blend in with all the fast moving cars. They all look like they know where they’re going, all except the silver bullet. Me and the bullet go straight as the rest turn right and around onto a busy freeway toward Toronto. All of a sudden it’s quiet and there are only a few cars and I’m lost again. I start talking to myself, which I do on a regular basis, “Man, it’s like I’m in a different country or something. Oh yeah, I am in a different country!” argh argh argh. The speed limit signs are in kilometers and after three years in the silver bullet I notice my car doesn’t show kilometers, “Why not?” As a result I’m following cars in hope they are going the speed limit. Feeling the need to look at my map, and go pee, I pull over into a restaurant parking lot. This place really stands out, because there’s nothing else around. At that moment I almost run head on into another American. Chaos! He comes right at me, way too close for comfort. Instantly I think that maybe it’s me driving on the wrong side. He quickly moves away and all is well. I was right after all; I’ve driven in Canada before. I have to sit in my car for a while to rest my pounding heart. After a quick break I’m back on the road. Unfortunately I’m driving on a road that has no exits, signs or speed limit. I feel a bit nervous when I see the sign “Ottawa.” That city is opposite from where I plan to go, but how do I get off this road? As time goes by I keep looking for signs and exits. I think back to when I could have followed everyone else to where they were going after crossing over the border, but I had to be different, that’s me. I like taking the small quieter roads were I can see how people live and enjoy my time driving. I don’t mind not knowing where I’m going as long as I’m going the right way. After a while I’ll get my bearings here in Canada, and on this trip in a whole, but in the meantime after thirty minutes on that nowhere road, I finally see a small sign written in French. I do understand that I’m on my way to Ottawa. Ottawa is tucked up in the north east part of Ontario, bordering Quebec and New York. I’d like to go there someday but not today. Not only do I not have plans to go there, it’s in the opposite direction of my planned route. Butterflies are fluttering around in my stomach, though I feel confident that everything will work out, it always does. For the moment I just keep on driving and driving without seeing a speed limit sign, any sign or where the hell am I sign. Then finally I see an exit and I get off that crazy train. After all that I cruise along roads that wind around and turn every which way. I’m in the country. Luckily I live in New England where roads were built around horse and buggy trails. So I’m familiar with these roads. The narrow roads are very neat, organized and clean. I’m lost again. I pull over when I see a couple out in their huge organized garden that’s about the size of half a football field. Please speak English I pray. “Hello, can you help me?” I yell out to them and they just stand there like I’m interrupting them. “Can you help me please, I’m lost!” I hope one of them will come over to me after I yell out again. Relief flushes over me when the man starts to walk over to me. I explain to him my situation and how I want to get to Parry Sound to camp. “Well you are headed the wrong way,” he says to me in a deep French accent that’s thankfully English. “Get your map out and we’ll figure out where you are.” We look over the map then he tells me how to get to route 43. His directions sound like, “Drive straight down here till you get to a T, turn right and go three farm lengths then turn left. Go down a bit until you see a curious intersection. Then go a bit more until you come to another queer then turn left there and you will be on route 43.” He repeats himself three times to me until I finally just say okay and thank you, and hope that I find my way. Once I’m out of earshot I burst out laughing. I’m somewhat concerned about route 43 instead of 7, but he saw my highlighted path, so route 43 it is. Unbelievably and thankfully I find my way. My Frenchman was surprised that I didn’t take the main, more popular road, toward Toronto then head north from there. Yes I’d probably be there now if I had, but my plans are always to cruise the roads less traveled; to experience the lay of the land. Before I know it I’m in downtown Perth. The area looks cute and clean and makes me want to stop and shop, but I am strong enough to keep moving west. Leaving Perth and I’m lost again, but I ask the mail lady and find myself driving down route 7 again and that’s that.
Route 7 reminds me of any busy Main Street in a good size city. I still don’t have any idea what the speed limit is, but it’s moving along. After a few more hours of this, my body starts hurting and feels like stopping. I’m not making it to Parry Sound after all, and that’s a big bummer. In the beginning I thought I’d make it to Parry Sound in one day, but wow I’m way off. Out of desperation I stop at Silver Lake Campground. There’s nothing special about the campground, except that it sits on a lake. And there’s nothing special about Silver Lake because it’s black as the midnight desert. And I know the desert well. I remember camping in the Mohave Desert when I literally couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I couldn’t get over it; I kept trying to see my hand! I hope the next two nights give me some of the pleasure that I had that night in the desert with my boyfriend Ray. At least I’ll be sleeping in my tent tonight. Before I even think about putting up my tent I have to rest. I’ve only driven about 200 miles in two days, and yet my body aches. Not sleeping well last night plays a big part in that. In such a short time not much has happened, except all the planning, packing, pressure of it all and that’s enough! My body suffers from chronic pain and right now I’m in misery times ten. I’m a tough gal, so nothing keeps me down for long. I’m a fighter. Right now I need to rest my body, but unfortunately I can’t rest my mind, because I’m worried about money. The campground charged me $36.00 a night to camp here and they won’t accept a disability discount. I had to pay full price. Crap! From the beginning on I plan on those discounts. I’m on a set income and I love to travel, not a good combination. I do my best to keep my budget tight by eating can food and nothing fresh, and I love fresh fruit. I call myself an appleholic. I figure in time I’ll get used to eating crap and maybe even lose weight, that’s not such a bad thing. Unfortunately cutting back on food is the only way I could tighten the belt so to speak. The biggest reason why I’m even here at all is my dad. He’s paying a huge chunk of this trip by paying for my gas, and the Canadians pay about $2.00 more for their gas than us Americans. Regardless of my money situation, I’m here at Silver Lake because I need to stop and rest. I drive around the campground a couple of times and settle on this quaint campsite that has a short incline onto a small flat area that overlooks the lake. There are a few oak trees for privacy, but still there’s not much of that either. I still have to setup camp so here goes. I think I’ll just work on automatic. I’m not too concerned about hammering stakes in the four corners of the tent, though bending over like that hurts some. My biggest issue is getting the gear from A to B. Here’s a quick overview of how I setup camp. First thing I do is sweep the area where I plan to put my tent. Then I look for rocks. I take my time with this, because I don’t want to put a hole in the floor of the tent. I have fun with this by using my cane as a golf club. The tent is 10x9 so it’s a fairly large space, so when I drag out the tarp I have to walk around and around to make sure the area is flat enough for the tent. Once I get that straightened out I get the tent. I center that and unfold it over the tarp. That’s when I break out the mallet! It’s a little easier than the hammer. Since my right leg doesn’t bend I literally bend in half while swinging that mallet. That’s a sight! I don’t want to think about that. After I hammer in the first stake I pull the second corner taunt. The opposite corner is next. Next I grab the poles. This part is challenging. Basically the tent is square, and there are thin strips corner to corner in the mark of an X. The poles are folded up and need to be unfolded into two long poles. This is a huge pain and the trick is to push and never pull the poles. This all requires a lot of balance, which I don’t have, and too much bending over and over. I push the first poll through that narrow strip until the poll is in pretty even. Same thing with the second poll until there’s a big X in the middle of the tent. The next step I have practiced many ways with my old tent during my last journey back in 2001. I’m just going to say it. Each end of the two polls has to be in each corner of the tent, and they need to be inserted into the round hole of the tent, on the ground. That’s when it gets tricky. It’s not easy. At this point in time I wish I had someone with me, but here I am. The bottom line, I’m able to put the tent up by myself and that’s all that matters. Somehow I’ve been able to teach myself how to manage the tent. I’m too tired to even think about the rain fly so I leave it off. Luckily there’s no sign of rain. It’s a lot of work but this is when I feel my proudest. The good news is that in time I’ll be able to set up camp fairly easily. I plan on being on the road for months and I will get stronger. And thanks to my dad I have this opportunity. He’s paying a huge chunk of this trip by paying for the gas for my car. And the Canadians pay about $2.00 a gallon more for their gas than us Americans. They sell their gas by the liter so I have no idea exactly how much more they do pay. My math professor would be cringing right now if she were here. I can’t help it, I hate math and I think I’ve told her that 100 times. She knows it. No need to worry about that so I’ll just kick my feet up and enjoy the quiet. Unfortunately you won’t believe what happened while I was admiring my campsite. A family with children setup camp right across from me. I want to die, because I really don’t like screaming kids. Their setup is weird; somebody they know is camping right above me. So the kids are running through my site to get to the one across from me. This one little boy slowly slides down the incline toward my site as I stand there watching him. His mother must have seen this happening and now is trying to tell him that he needs to go around, but he just says, “that’s okay I can do it.” I say to him “you can huh?” He says, “Yeah, I can.” I said “No, you can’t.” Precociously he says, “Why not?” I try to tell him that the area he’s crawling down to is mine, but I don’t think he understands. Before I knew it the gal above me was gone, thank goodness. Maybe she moved her site. Children of all ages have made many comments about my legs AND my shoe, which has a three inch lift. I found a tiny turtle in my campsite and almost stepped on it. I don’t know if I made the best move by thinking of the kids and how they would love to see the tiny critter, so I invited them over. “What is it, what is it?” They scream with joy. Once they see the tiny turtle they all freak out! Oh no, I did it. It does look kind of prehistoric and has a tiny tail, which is unique I think. I give it to their mother and they all walk away except one. This little girl looks at me and asks, “Why do you wear a big shoe?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. I tell her, “Because this leg is shorter than that one.” She runs away. I laugh and laugh and that puts me in a better mood. Later on the kids run up to me yelling, “It moved, it moved.” I walk over to see the little turtle with the crazy kids. While I’m there I hear that the kids are planning on killing the little guy. Fortunately their mother and I are able to convince the kids to put the turtle somewhere safe near my campsite and out of their way. They are all fascinated by the turtle and where the father is putting it, and then they are gone, all but one. This time it’s a little boy and he looks up at me and tells me that I’m getting old. “WHAT? What did you say?” I am dumb founded. My voice sounds a little angry I think. He looks up at me with sincere innocence, “You’re getting old aren’t you?” OMG this is a first! My quick response was “I sure hope not why, do I look old?” My words made the little boy blush or something, yet he’s still able to put out his words, “Well you have to walk with that” pointing to my cane. I stumble on trying to choose my words correctly. “Well I don’t know I’ve been walking with this cane for twenty five years.” Oh no, I said the wrong thing, because now he knows I’m old! I’ve been tired since I left home and now I know why. I have to move around. I take the time to organize my campsite and I’m so glad I did, because it looks great. Now I’m off to take a shower, which hopefully will make me feel great and clean…once it’s over. At home I take baths, because I have to hang on with one hand and bath with the other, and my legs are so weak. There’s always a little fear too, like what if I fall and hurt myself? I am thankful that I can bend over to wash my feet though, because there was a span of time, when I could only reach just past my knee. I had to use tools to dress myself, and ask strangers to tie my shoe. That day when I dressed myself with only my hands, I’ll never forget. I cried with delight. I called my mom to tell her about dressing myself for the first time in 18 years and she said, “This is a good thing Tracy.” Through my tears I said, “I am happy.” God rest her soul. I walk down to the shower saying hello to a few other campers. It’s a quiet morning. As expected that shower wore me out, but I do feel fabulous now that it’s over. I walk back to camp and tie a rope between two trees and hang my wet items. It’s still warm enough to sit and read for a while before the sun goes down. I don’t know why, but when I camp reading is my favorite thing to do. I focus on my writing too, but it’s reading that relaxes me most. The day comes to an end quick enough, and when the sun begins to set I fix some dinner; Mandarin oranges, canned of course, along with canned beets and canned corn...yummy. I hope these emotionally down feelings exist only because I’m so tired. I try to keep my focus on these marvelous trillium flowers that are everywhere. They are so rare back home. Come to find out the trillium is the Province of Ontario’s flower. I don’t even know the Massachusetts flower, oh maybe it’s the May flower, I’m not trying to be funny. California is where I grew up and their flower is the California poppy. If I had a smart phone I could look it up. Those trilliums are all over the campground and they are white too! I’d never seen a white one. They are gorgeous, and when I start crawling into bed I notice a pink trillium. Wow, what a gift. I’m amazed and excited to see them. I know that sounds crazy, I mean it’s just a flower right? I can’t help myself, I LOVE them! A friend of mine took me to this secluded place once, just to show me that flower. That day I fell in love with the trillium. That flower gives me strength down deep, but how? I don’t know how, but for some strange reason I know that I will sleep well and feel better tomorrow. “Oh I pray that’s true.” It’s been a long time since I’ve prayed. These wonderful feelings are the reason why I love to travel. The morning wakes me up earlier than I’d prefer, and I slept so cold. It had to be below freezing. My feet were so cold last night and I was wrong; I didn’t sleep better. I sat up and rubbed my feet and toes a few times, but I wore my ear plugs thinking that if I keep the sound of the road out, I’d sleep well. That noise ended up being the least of my problems. I didn’t hear anything, but the cold took its place. I certainly didn’t expect the coldness or I would have put the rainfly on my tent. I’m not sure if that would even make much difference. My day clothes are going over my night clothes, since I can’t bear to put those cold clothes over my bare skin. As I sit here enjoying my morning coffee, listening to route 43, I’m thinking about the day. I’m at my first campground in Canada and I’m not too happy about it. It’s not where I want to be. Exhaustion has me and I’m cranky. Seventy five dollars for two nights and the table is filthy. My three tarps are in use, one under the tent, one as a mat to keep my tent semi-clean and the last one is being used as a table cloth. I’m drained and already miss my bed. My thoughts linger on how this camping stuff is a lot of work! I might always be exhausted and the everyday tasks may overwhelm me. Because of my legs everyday stuff is more difficult. I watch people do the simplest things, and wish I could do those chores as easily. This won’t be the first time I’m in a difficult situation. I will overcome, because I’ve done it before so many times. Come on Tracy, quit the whining and be strong. I can do it. I know I can do it. Later in the day the sun shines down on me, but it’s still cold. Yesterday was so warm, what happened? The campground wants $7 for a bunch of wood, like seven pieces, so no to that. I do wish there was a fire roaring though. Instead I take a walk. The campground is a pretty small and there’s only one hiking trail. I didn’t try it, because I wasn’t sure if I could walk it or not. There’s a beach area but of course it’s pretty quiet. It’s not the best campground I’ve been at but it gives me a place to rest my tired body and mind. When I get back from my walk, my neighbors inform me that they looked up Parry Sound and it’s only an hour away; what? No. I’m shocked and disappointed if that’s true, because I could have driven an hour more. But before long my neighbor comes back over and tells me that he was way off, which I figured after looking at my map again. Parry Sound is more like five hours away. He looked it up on his smart phone. I wish my dumb phone was that smart. More than that my dumb phone also doesn’t even work in Canada! First it was my GPS and now my phone. When I ask some Canadians about their GPS, I discover that theirs work in the United States. “What’s up with that?” Considering that I had just updated my GPS before I left, I thought that it would work anywhere and everywhere. I’m really not that savvy about those things. Honestly I do feel a little vulnerable not having access to my phone, but I’ll be okay. I’m overwhelmed about the money I paid to camp at Silver Lake, I hoped that I would get a disability discount. I worry that money will affect my plans on traveling through Canada. I don’t know if I should stay in Canada, or go back to the states. There is just too much to think about, so I find my book and sit around and read most of the day and that eases the mind. I burn a candle like I always do, because it gives me a sense of belonging and warmth. Candle burning started back in 2001 when I met a man named Kerry at a campground in Louisiana. I lay my head back and remember that special time so long ago. Back in 2001 I traveled and camped around the United States. I had a major hip surgery that left me pretty weak, so I planned a camping trip. The trip forced my body to get its strength back, and it worked. For some reason I found that I had a connection to Louisiana and I’d never even been there before. I met Kerry there at Lake Bistineau State Park and we spent a lot of time together. The first night I was there, Kerry must have seen me try to start a fire. I couldn’t put my cane down to grab big handfuls of dry leaves, so I was going pretty slowly. Next thing I knew this big strong man grabbed all these leaves and got some of his own wood, and started a fire for me in about 5 seconds. He told me if I needed anymore wood that he had plenty. And he did, his wood was stacked a good 10 feet high. I planned on leaving the next day and I was sad, but I had to keep moving; we sat by his fire that night and talked for hours. We talked about compassion and what it meant. He asked if I had a heater, “no” so he gave me one. He was burning a candle as we sat there. He asked if I had any candles, “no” so he gave me a box of small candles. He also gave me a candle holder. That night Kerry told me about his love of candles. He spent a lot of time alone. He told me that when he lit a candle he was reminded how he wasn’t alone and was part of the universe. From that day on I also burn candles. That man was special, compassionate, not because he gave me things, but that he cared. I’ll never forget him. After talking with my mom about Louisiana, she told me that she used to go visit an Aunt who lived there. The only thing I remember her saying about being there, was that she spent time in a lake and had leaches in her stomach. Now that makes me cringe. I wonder if that’s why I have this connection to that state. Two days later I was in Central Louisiana on my way to the Winter House Plantation, the only Plantation that didn’t burn down during the Civil War. It was Easter Sunday, a warm day, and I was driving down a long dirt road. I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw that the sun was beating down on the candles. I reached for my cane and pulled them down and had to take a double take. I pulled over and saw that Kerry had rolled up a hundred dollar bill and stuck it in with the candles. What a great guy. I haven’t seen him since. Now in a different space and time, I look at my candle, and think about Kerry and those few days we had together so long ago. Only three days of my life, and yet it amazes me how important those days were. Besides the love of candles there were other things that Kerry did for me. Physically I was in bad shape, I couldn’t walk very well even with my cane, and I was in a lot of pain. I remember lying in my tent for hours and hours. When I did come out of my tent I was with Kerry. One day he asked me if I wanted to go out in his boat and do some fishing. Of course I did. I knew that it was going to be a challenge, but I trusted Kerry, and he said he’d be careful with me. First thing we did was get into his van. I didn’t know how that was going to work. I don’t remember now, but I did get in that van. I do remember more about the boat though. It was a small fishing boat. I remember putting my left foot, the better of the two, and the boat was moving and I got scared. He held my hand telling me he wouldn’t let go. I believed him and was on the boat. I only weighed about 100 pounds back then, and I was frail. I was 38 years old. He grabbed a pillow from his van for me to sit on in his boat. I sat on the front of the boat, facing Kerry while he was at the motor. He started heading out into the open water and the boat started bouncing up and down, along with me. He must have seen my face, because I was hurting. So he asked me if I just wanted to hang back and fish with in the trees. Oh yeah, that’s what I wanted to do. We fished for a while; I kept hitting trees with his lures. He would buzz over to the tree and pull the lure off the tree. Finally He said, maybe it would be best to just drop the line. Why didn’t I think of that? Mind you, I was on drugs. After a while we cruised around the border of the campground. It was a stunning area, and all those cypress trees! Growing up in San Diego, CA. we didn’t see many tree there, especially big trees. Then it was time to reverse the order of the day. It was harder that time, because the pain was pretty bad after sitting in that boat. The fishing trip was worth it, the entire trip was worth it. Later that night we sat around my fire, which of course Kerry made. He brought over shrimp and we talked for hours. The shrimp was awful; too much butter, but I didn’t say anything. That guy was a very compassionate man, person. I probably will never see him again, but someday I hope to. So that’s what I think about when I look at my candle. Now I have to attempt to eat something. A can of spinach is warming up. I don’t know about this stuff. When I was a kid I loved it, that was almost 40 years ago, but I’m giving it a try. I didn’t bring any refrigeration so as a result can food is on the menu. I love cranberry sauce, but with that high fructose corn syrup in it, it taste like crap, along with the spinach. “If I keep going like this I’ll lose more weight then I hope to.” Well the couscous taste good and I’m hungry, therefore I eat all of it. I’m a health food nut, but I don’t plan on eating like this forever. I’m not completely full, but I’m going to bed anyway. Usually I can’t fall asleep if I’m somewhat hungry, but this time I fall asleep pretty quickly. My sleep doesn’t last long though, because once again I wake up to cold feet. My legs are warm so why aren’t my feet? The weather was fairly warm when I first fell asleep, so I had my face and chest exposed so I was chilled. I had the urge to pee so I got up and used my urinal as quickly as possible. When I get back into my bag I’m shaking and quivering. It’s really cold outside. I’m trying to stay warm and rub my feet. It seems as if I can’t do both. I start to think about that round area of my sleeping bag, and what it’s for. I realize then that I can wrap that part around my head, pull the string and only my face is exposed. I’m thrilled about that, now I can sit up and rub my feet and still stay covered. Once again I keep the rainfly off, because there’s no rain in sight and I can’t see that it would give me any warmth. I could have tried though. Later on I might wonder “what was I thinking?” The night was long as I keep waking up to rub my toes. After warming up my feet I struggle to go back to sleep. I finally fall asleep and then I wake up again to rub my cold feet. It’s amazing what cold toes can do. A new morning always arrives, thank goodness, yet my body is tired. I’m not getting the sleep I need. The morning is clouded over and looks like rain. It’s time to pack up again. I make my coffee over my Coleman stove with my tin percolator. I am getting used to eating coffee grounds, but the caffeine is the only way to get my much needed energy. Plus I do love my coffee. I take my time packing the campsite. I grab my shower bag and walk down to the cleaning station. My neighbors, with all the kids are gone, and I don’t see anyone else around. It’s a quiet morning. A long leisurely shower sounds good, but I’m resistant of course because as you know it’s a lot of work. I have to shower if anything to wash my hair, and this time I use the handicap shower. The room is large and completely flat. I could tell that water is going to cover the entire floor. Then I realize I would have a new challenge ahead of me. I sit down on the seat below the shower head. The seat is large enough to put my straight leg up on it, which is a relief. I hold the shower head and push the button to start and scream, the water beat down on me from up above and it was cold. I thought I held the shower head in my hand! After the water warmed up the shower felt amazing. As a camper it’s easy to get dirty, even filthy. The brown water went everywhere as I suspected. It was a trick to get dressed afterward without getting my clothes soaked. I have two towels. So after drying myself I put that semi-wet towel on the floor. Then I sit down on the edge of the clean towel and dry off again the best I can. I had my clothes on a small wooden shelf by the door, so I have to get to them and that isn’t going to be easy. The room is maybe six by six, even six feet is a challenge for me to walk without shoes. To walk without my shoe, with the 3 inch lift, has become quite the challenge as I’ve gotten older, mainly because I lost the ability to move my right leg after my last surgery; nerve damage. Walking barefoot has become non-existent ever since; only to the bathroom and back. So there I am standing in this wet box. I manage to get dressed and all is well. I feel funny, but not in a laughable way, telling you about my challenge of showering and dressing myself. I guess because I don’t want to come across as being weak. I’ve always wanted to be strong and independent, and I am that. I don’t feel like I have something to prove, but maybe to myself. Anyway, I manage to dress myself, though I did get my clothes wet. I walk out of that shower room with a wet head, and ran into a sweet dog named Ember and her master. We had an interesting conversation about the price of camping. She told me “Camping used to be for the people and now it’s for profit. And gas too! We don’t understand why our gas is even higher than the States?” I understand Canada a little more and it’s not good. It’s true that it used to be fairly cheap to travel Canada, but not anymore. I ask her if Canada pumps their own oil and she got excited. “Yes! And all of us can’t understand why we have to pay so much.” I feel bad for her and wonder if the politicians here might be mixing with the politicians down south. I tell her, “I’m concerned how I’m going to travel through Canada. I might have to dip down into the states to camp, and then drive back into Canada.” She then tells me “We have Crown Land where you can camp for free, but my friend told me that you have to hike into it. You can’t just drive up with a trailer and camp.” I’m disappointed and tell her, “I can’t walk and carry my stuff in a matter of feet.” Her husband and kids call for her then and she was gone. I don’t even know her name, but she’s a passionate woman. I’m all packed and ready, so I stretch out the towels in the back. As I leave the campground I decide to stop and talk with the ranger ladies about the Crown Land. One young gal is so sweet; she looks for information on her smart phone, but can’t find anything. I spend an hour in there and she finds nothing, but she tried. I try again and ask her if I could qualify for a disability discount, it’s only available for disabled residence. I’m frustrated, yet move on to a gas station, hoping to find some good information there. I walk into the gas station and wander toward these five friendly guys. Those men were just consumers and goodhearted young guys who try hard to help me. The one who tries the most doesn’t have his glasses, so he keeps asking me, “What does that say?” The guys seem like childhood friends who are planning a fun day of fishing or hunting. I could tell they really care for each other, and now they care for me. We continue looking through all the maps when one map doesn’t show anything, the one guy moves on to another. There is no sign of the Crown Land anywhere. This one guy says, “They don’t want us to know the location of the Crown Land.” I joke around with him “You sound like an American, or at least this American.” After about thirty minutes or so it’s time for me to move on, though I begin to feel like one of the gang. I don’t want to leave; I like my new friends. Everyone has been so kind to me. I love Canadians. Finally I give up and just start driving. I begin to day dream about sleeping in my car at a Wal-Mart parking lot. I really don’t want to do that. I decide that I won’t do that. Putting all that searching behind me, I start getting excited that I’m finally on my way to Parry Sound. Since I got such a late start, who knows what the day will bring. My plan now is to keep driving and see how it goes. Eventually I drive through the clouds to a magnificent day, like the clearest day ever. I feel great and I’m enjoying the scenery which starts to become bare, yet so ever more enchanting. Spring is not here yet. I stop at a McDonalds to go pee, (and they are never enchanting) and spoke with a guy in line when I decide to grab a bite. We both hate the place, but I think he may even hate it more than me. He says to me, “Ever since they built this place,” which according to him was not too long ago. “My wife demands that I come here every day to buy a burger for her. She’s gained thirty pounds!” OMG, though I’m not surprised. I threw away half my order. I know better than that, it’s disgusting. So I put on Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and rock out for hours. I figure out my GPS! It still doesn’t work, but I find a way to change mileage to kilometers. The GPS also shows what direction I’m driving. I have been speeding since I entered the country. It’s still hard to believe that my car doesn’t show kilometers, especially considering that we are the only country that doesn’t use kilometers.
The GPS makes traveling easier, but doesn’t help making the drive any shorter. I’m pretty sure the drive is a lot longer than five hours, though the drive is just awe-inspiring yet way too long. The road is incredible and has very few cars on it. After leaving Silver Lake I drive on the main road about fifty miles until I make a right. After that there was nothing, I mean nothing for another forty or so miles. There are two towns on route 62, but you’d miss them if you blink. I think I did. I’m glad I don’t need gas right now. I am a hundred miles north of Lake Ontario and the population is minimal. Ninety percent of the population of Ontario, Canada is behind me. It’s weird. Both sides of the road are just trees, lakes and bogs. I can’t see any cars or animals, including humans. I love the peacefulness and the quietness it offers. Once I get into Bancroft I stop at an antique store that is actually a house. It’s an interesting place and when I walk in there’s a soft spoken man who was talking with a lady who had stopped by too. I walk around looking at all the stuff, moving my legs around. The man owns the place and lives in a house on the same property, the man finally tells me. Once the lady left we had time to talk about my travels and about his quiet life way outside the populated area. We talk about San Diego, where I was born, and where he had been long ago, during the sixties. When he walked me out to my car I gave him my peace sign necklace that I had hanging on my rear view mirror. I wonder now if the antique man wants to keep the necklace or try to sell it. It doesn’t matter now. I munch on nuts as I cruise along on route 118 now which should lead me almost straight into Parry Sound. I still have almost one hundred miles to go and the day is getting long. The sun is beginning to set, but in this part of the hemisphere it takes hours for that to happen. I’m enjoying my day tremendously, and now I’m within ten miles of Killbear Provincial Park, which is where I’ll be camping. I am ready for the day to end. I need the day to end, because pain is creeping in. I drive right into a park of some sort and I’m lost. The sun is still setting, but now I see the sun going down on water. It really is breath taking. I see a couple in their car and I ask them if they know of a campground in the area. At that time I forgot the name of the campground. They tell me that they are driving there right now so I can follow them. Cool, so I start to follow them until I get this sick feeling in my gut. I turn around and go the opposite way and I’m so glad that I did. I could have been killed! I end up having to drive another ten miles or so. Finally I see a sign for the campground, and yet still have to drive along this dark and narrow winding road. I start to feel a little scared, until I see a booth with one dim light. It’s there that I find out that there are only 2 sites left. I pull into my campsite after 10pm. I pop some pain pills and look around with my flashlight, attempting to find a flat area for my tarp and tent. The area isn’t perfect at all, but it will do. I struggle inside as I lay the tarp down, because I am hurting and so very tired. I hear people across from me playing cards, so I wonder if maybe one of them would be willing to help me put my tent up. I walk over and say, “I’ll give one of you ten bucks if you will help me put my tent up.” I feel a little foolish asking, but I’m in pain and know it is going to be difficult to put my tent up in the dark. There’s an uncomfortable silence as I stand there. I get the feeling that no one really wants to stop playing cards, and I don’t blame them. But then this gal stands up and says to me “I don’t want your money, but I’ll help you.” She comes over with her nieces and we have the tent up in no time. She’s a kind woman, and I sure appreciate her help; she’s a Godsend. I inflate my air mattress and throw everything into my tent. I didn’t put the fly on again, because I am too tired. I know it isn’t going to rain, and I need the sleep. As I lie there just beginning to drift off I hear this lady yelling. I don’t know if she’s still playing cards, but her voice is coming from that direction. Then I hear this young girl yelling and the older lady is telling her not to yell. I wonder where is got that from? Finally I sleep forever, and when I wake up I’m not sure if it’s good morning or good afternoon? The place was packed last night and now the place is empty! I wake up early, but instead of getting up I take my morning pain pills and go back to sleep and have a crazy dream. There is a group of us dancing and singing and this one gal pulls tape off her eye brows and then falls down singing. I broke down laughing, saying that soon she won’t have any brows, and then she’ll have to glue fake brows on. Then I wake up. Dreams are weird sometimes aren’t they? That one was really weird, but it wasn’t a nightmare like I have too often. After I wake up and look around my campsite, I see that it’s a great spot. I’m surrounded by oak, maple and pine trees. There are fallen trees, rocks and boulders too. (I hope to eventually climb those rocks, though that may be a dream too.) I want to walk around and pick up wood that has been left behind, but my body and mind are numb. I sit here drinking coffee, which isn’t giving me any energy, and watching my candle burn. I’m just sitting here numb. It took me 4 days to finally get here, and arriving on a Saturday night was definitely dangerous, so I’m relieved I even got a site. Waking up on a Sunday morning or afternoon, I still don’t know what time it is, and the place being empty is a great shock. It’s too warm to lie down, so instead I go out looking for wood. It isn’t easy or fun, but it gets my blood flowing. I start out by grabbing a few pieces and dropping them next to my fire ring. After two trips it becomes too hard on me, so I start driving around, putting wood in the back of my car…then my car gets all messy, but I have a shit load of wood. It has been hot and sunny most of the day, and then the clouds come rollin’ in; exactly when I find my fan. I’m pretty sure that if it had been cooler I would have slept most of the day. Instead I was sitting in my chair listening to a train in the distance and killing mosquitoes. I discover that my favorite drink, a dried Chinese fruit ‘Lo Han Kuo,’ goes bad after two or three days without refrigeration. So I try something new. I boiled up water in my cute little tin coffee pot, and just put half of the fruit in it and hope for the best. I‘m not drinking enough water, and my drink’s basically flavored water. The day before was a great day, but I didn’t drink much water at all. It dawned on me that I might be dehydrated. Maybe that’s why I feel so strange. I’m doing my best to drink water until I go to bed tonight. I’m also working hard at organizing my campsite again, eating, cleaning up and of course the fire. I just move around like a zombie. It is very strange. As soon as I finally sit down I hear lightening, and yell out loud, “It’s a light show!” I am so excited, so happy. I love lightning and the loud thunder. The thunder warns us and then all the animals warn us and the frogs start croaking. Then all of a sudden the night turns quiet. The only thing I hear are my ears ringing through the silence. It’s the strangest thing. The storm passes pretty quietly and then it starts to rain and the evening cools. Yes I did put on the rain fly. I’m so relieved by the cooler weather, because I can possibly get another good night’s sleep. So I crawl into the tent and broke out the flash light and bug zapper. I have to stay awake long enough to kill that last mosquito. I’m almost asleep when I hear that notorious buzzing sound in my ear; one moment I growl to myself, then the next moment I’m calm because I hear that other magical sound. Loons! I just love that sound. A few years ago I heard loons for the first time while camping in Nova Scotia. It scared me since I thought it was a wild animal. Then another time I was kayaking with some Loons who were playing in the water. I hung around and talked with them for a while until the sun started to set. I told them that I had to leave. I pulled onto the shore and looked behind me; one of the loons had followed me. Anyway, now you know why I love those loons, and yes I talk to all the animals. I kill that last mosquito and while finally falling asleep I’m thinking about the loons and once again I sleep great, thanks to the cool weather. Finally I wake up feeling like myself. I’m going to relax and enjoy the day. It’s still overcast and cool. After my morning business, coffee, breakfast (oatmeal and a can of fruit,) dishes and then put everything where it belongs. I’m camping in bear country, so I have to keep everything neat and clean. Last time I was here I became friends with a lady who had a run in with a bear. She was making breakfast when a bear walked up to her, so she grabbed her breakfast utensils and acted big. She did the right thing so the bear took off. You go girl! Physically I feel great and am excited about the day. I have the opportunity to view the entire campground differently than last time. The area seems very different than the last time I was here. It was summer time then and the place was packed. Now in the middle of May there are only three of us camping in my favorite campground. A sweet couple from Toronto is camping just a few spaces away from me. And there’s an RV quite a distance from us and we never see whose there. That’s it, just three of us in that campground. There are a few campgrounds here at Kilbear Provincial Park, each having their differences. The one thing each camp area has in common are their rocky shorelines. I’m in the same campground that I was in before back in 2001; the one where radios and generators are not allowed. I drive through quiet areas that are deserted. It’s early in the morning so I see several deer with their babies. The deer with little spots on them are the young ones and they are so cute. I keep driving around looking for other animals and at one point I walk onto this trail. The area is so neat and clean. It’s so quiet too. Then I realize I am alone, all alone and I start thinking BEAR! It’s that time of the year. And, I can’t run, of course you’re not supposed to run, yet fear starts creeping in. I instantly go for my car, and drive around Parry Sound. Last time I couldn’t do any sightseeing, so seeing Parry Sound is all new. It’s a pretty little city on the Georgian Bay, which is in Lake Huron. Tomorrow is my birthday so sightseeing seems like a logical thing to do. When I was here before I didn’t go into the town of Parry Sound. So this time I’m going to drive through the town which ends up pretty much round in shape, yet very small in area. I couldn’t ask for a nicer day. Parry Sound sits on the Georgian Bay in Ontario, which makes up most of Canada. Ontario is huge. Parry Sound is about ten miles away from the campground. It’s an amazing area. I love it here. I come across this cool swing bridge. I drive over it, park and take a walk back over to snap some pictures. The bridge is part of a single lane road and when walking over it, I see loads of birds living under there. The waterway is gorgeous and fairly tight. The appeal of the space looks like islands with sweet summer homes spread all over them. I want one! I have the opinion that once over the bridge I will be on an Indian reservation. I’m not sure what to expect so I turn around and move on. Driving back over the bridge I notice the Fire Tower that the ranger recommended that I climb. Right away I know that I am not going to climb up to the top. There are around fourteen floors, and even though I want to see the view, I can’t help but think about the pain. So instead I drive down through the city looking at the buildings. I watch the small water plane for a long time, trying to convince myself that it’s a good idea to put out $100.00, as a birthday gift to myself, and go flying over the water. It’s been a scary dream of mine for a while now. But I turn away and say no to me. Instead I treat myself to a $10.00 day before birthday dinner. I have clam cakes and escargot; I love that meal. That’s me, Champagne taste on a beer income. I head home because I know; I have to be careful, because walking and too much walking can equal a tired and achy body. I want to get a good nights’ rest, because I plan on taking off in the morning. I had such an enjoyable day and now that I’m home I’ll go say hi to my neighbors. He offers me his cell phone to call my brother, but I say no. That is so sweet of him, but instead I visit with them by their fire. Last night they hung up tarps everywhere, trying to keep the area dry, but when I left this morning I noticed that their tarps fell everywhere. It sure made a mess; but was a good idea though. Camping can be challenging and dirty that’s for sure. Earlier today I was at the museum, here in Killbear Park, just checking things out. The most interesting thing there was this stuffed beaver. He was so soft. Now I know why they used to make hats out of them. Somewhere they probably still do. It was pouring rain outside when I wanted to leave, and of course I didn’t have a rain coat. So as I stood there watching the rain, hoping for a letup, my neighbor ran out to her car and got a plastic raincoat for me. I don’t know what else to call it; it’s those plastic bags that turn into a raincoat that they sell for a buck. I didn’t even realize it was my neighbor until we talked about it by their fire pit. I felt so bad. When I wake up I decide to walk over to my neighbors and ask if I can use his cell phone after all. It was the best birthday present ever. My brother and I had a fantastic conversation; he takes a real interest in my journey and that makes me feel awesome. He seems to be the only one. When I ask him how he’s doing, he answers “How are YOU? How’s everything going?” I might be speculating on him being the only one who cares. Anyway, while talking I see a pileated woodpecker eating from the ground. They are very rare to see, so while talking to my bro, I take pictures and videos of the bird. Next to my brother, that bird is a perfect birthday gift. My brother has never heard of the pileated woodpecker, I never did until I moved to the east coast. Anyway, I found a picture of one in the camp magazine and taped it to the inside of my car. When I get to San Diego in a few months I’ll show it to him. There’s always a negative with a positive. I stood too long with that camera and the woodpecker. My foot started killing me right where the tendon attaches to the heel in the back of the ankle. Since my feet were fused as a baby there’s no pull/release there, so it’s always tight and hard. I pushed on it and it hurt like hell, but that’s the only way to relieve the pain. In fact that’s the only muscle I have from the knee down on both legs, so that muscle has to work extra hard. The pain has been with me for fifty one years; fifty one yikes. I sat for a while rubbing my foot, then felt better and was able to continue to pack up camp. My neighbors and I both left this morning, in opposite directions. We packed up in the rain and met up at the garbage and recycle bins. It was there that he gave me all their propane cans, four of them. Only one was full he told me, but the others had enough for a few uses. He told me that I could use them more than they could; they were on their way home to Toronto. They wanted to give me something for my birthday, but didn’t realize that they already had. We say goodbye to each other and I’m back on the road.
Happy Birthday to Me…
I’m on the way to the next campground. The light of day is stunning. The beauty around me is just impossible to put into words. The sun shines brilliantly with nature is at its best. The road is amazing. It looks brand new and most of the time there are just three or four cars on the road with me. It’s nothing like back home, until I drive into Sudbury. The weirdest little city I’d ever seen. There are cars everywhere and moving every which way. There’s no format to the city, and from what I can see pedestrians do not have the right of way. There’s this high rise that sticks out like a very sore thumb, because there aren’t any other high rises around. The building stands out not only for its height, but for how bad of shape it’s in. There are clothes hanging out of the windows or balconies. I’m sure it must be low income too, very low income. To me it looked like my version of China, or some strange city that I’ve never been to or where I don’t fit in. The layout of the city is so unusual too; there are no patterns to the roads. I knew that I fit in this different country, Canada, but here I feel out of place. Very few people speak French, but I really don’t know what to expect as I travel through Canada after today. Besides today, only one other time did I feel out of place in Canada, and that was in New Brunswick, and that was many years ago. I was camping and attempted to talk with the only guy camping in the same area as me, and when I spoke he just stared at me and said, “French.” I stared back and said “English.” And that was that. As I was leaving a few days later, he said to me, “goodbye.” I just laughed and drove off. Before I leave Sudbury though, I need to find a memory chip for my camera, since mine filled up already. I first go into a grocery store to buy an apple and is told about a mall that’s connected to the grocery store. See what I mean, weird? In that mall I find a radio shack, and they tell me that they only have one memory chip that fits my camera. It’s mine for $45. That’s a crazy amount and I don’t want to pay that much, but I need the chip so I buy it. I think that guy took advantage me; some people think all Americans are rich. I paid $15. Back home. I don’t know, but I’m relieved to be out of Sudbury and on the road heading west toward Sault Ste. Marie, along the North Channel of Lake Huron. It’s a very large lake. Rain materialized after leaving Sudbury. I don’t mind driving in the rain, but I keep driving and driving and the rain only gets worse. It’s really pouring and according to the news on the radio there’s no letup in sight. The weather unfortunately is getting in the way of viewing Lake Huron. I’ve put my tent up in the rain before, but never like this kind of rain. It’s a challenge just to drive through it. I push and push through the rain until I can’t push anymore. I stop at a tiny motel hoping the price will be cheap enough to stay. He says $60 but I push for a discount. He tells me that when he saw me, he decided to give me that $60 discount. I tell him that it’s my birthday, and he says okay, $55 and I take it. He’s a compassionate man. He holds the door open for me and asks if he could help me in any way. I told him “no,” but I sure appreciate the offer. While soaking in that fabulous bathtub I think about heaven. And the bed is heavenly too. I read the bible some on Sunday, and made tentative plans to myself on doing that every Sunday. I lost my faith after my mom died, but recently started going back to church in hopes of getting my faith back. You know that saying “fake it till you make it?” That’s what I’ve been doing. I feel at ease so I fell asleep while watching television and got an early start the next day. Yesterday was a long rainy day, but a short day considering the car’s mileage. I’m making the decision right now not to worry about the mileage; in fact I think ‘why worry about anything, especially where and when I end up in a day. I’ll just be where ever I end up.’ I fear the consequences of a stupid decision, and I don’t want to rush. My journey is to view and enjoy nature all over North America.
On Top of Lake Superior
May 23, 2013 looks like a perfect day in history. I’m rested and ready for an exciting and productive day. The day’s weather is a perfect 50˚/55˚ with puffy clouds. I figure I’ll make it to Thunder Bay and the Kakabeka Falls at some point. Finally passing through Sault Ste. Marie, but I’m having a hard time staying on the road through Canada instead of where the road wants me to go, which is south into Michigan. I took that road before and I tell you, that’s one impressive bridge you have to cross over. It’s where Lake Huron and Lake Superior meet. I end up weaving in and out of a residential area to eventually find route 17, the road that’s taking me up and over Lake Superior. I’m thrilled to explore an area I’ve never seen. The Trans Canadian Highway is an amazing road with incredible views, like it was just built. There is no oil on the road at all! Everywhere I look I find myself talking out loud, “Oh wow, wow, look at that!” There are lakes, rivers, streams, mountains, bridges, trains, and bogs. There would be flowers I’m sure if it was actually spring time. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen such wide open beauty. All this elegance just brings peace to my heart. I love life and I’m so happy to be here. I’m starting to get into the hang of traveling and I couldn’t be happier. Along the way I stop at the most imposing information center I’d ever seen. The building is in the middle of nowhere amongst mountains on a road that weaves narrowly through them. I just had to stop, but of course I had to use the bathroom. I’m glad that I stopped too, because the inside is as attractive as a movie stars home. The bathroom has granite counters and wall to wall stone. It’s immaculate too. I’m so blessed to have seen the view of the crystal clear water over Lake Superior. I walk down to the water’s edge to take pictures. There’s no beach parse`, yet there is some white sand with driftwood lying around. The water looks like the ocean; no sign of land. Continuing along the narrow road, there are large trucks mingling around with me. Provincial Parks are placed along route 17 of Lake Superior. I’m going to try to make good time today. I imagine the area would be quite busy during the summer, but now it’s incredibly peaceful. I’m feeling pretty great and have the energy to keep driving. Thunder Bay is my destination, but who knows whether I’ll make it there or not. The road begins to narrow and becomes quite rugged too. I’m just in ah. At one point I pull over onto this flat dirt spot. I get out of my car and look out over the edge. I’m above a valley. I see train tracks in between hills and valleys. I’m so impressed with the beauty; I just want to cry. I really do feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere land. I finally drive off and not for long. I see this small bridge from the corner of my eye and I want to get there. I pull off the road, park and attempt to walk down to this bridge that was calling for me. I walk very gingerly, because the last thing I want to do is fall and hurt myself. I keep visualizing me falling and hurting myself and no one sees me; I’m lying there all day long. Oh boy. I do make it to the bridge. I think it might be used by snowmobiles. I don’t know, but I’d like to be one who crosses over it with my snowmobile. Oh it’s so nice to dream. The walk back to the car is a little scarier. I keep losing my balance and my boots stick in the mud. All this work just, because I wanted to walk over a bridge that crosses over small dirty ponds. I’m tired now, but still glad that I made it down to that bridge. I continue on, but start to feel very tired.
Rainbow Provincial Park
When my eyes start to get dry and tired, I begin looking for a place to stop. I see this small campground right on the water. The trees are bare; the entire campground is bare. What was I thinking when I left on this trip in the middle of May? When I pull into Rainbow Provincial Park I think about the money, and devastated when I see the price. I count on getting that discount; now I’m stressed. I start talking with this lady and her husband. She notices that I’m upset and crying over the price of camping; I think I’ll move on I tell her. Instantly I’m tired, achy and irritable. The older lady seems concerned for me and I’m touched. She talks to me like a mother would do, “You stay here honey, don’t leave, I’ll be right back.” I don’t know why Killbear Provincial Park is different; I knew that I wouldn’t have to pay much. Now, just like Silver Lake, I’m in a tough bind. The sweet lady walks into the office, while I sit in my car. I am trying to calm myself by looking around the small campground. It’s right on Superior Lake and there are RV’s and trailers, which I hate. I only see one tent, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen here. I know that I need to stop. I close my eyes and wonder what that strong headed woman is doing or saying to the camp host. She comes back and knocks on my window, “Everything’s okay now honey, you just go on in there and she’ll take care of you.” So here I am at Rainbow Provincial Park, and guess what? I am qualified for the disability discount of 50% off. I am so relieved and I think about that $35.00 that I could use right now. There are only three tent sites and they are stuck in the corner. None of the sites are nice, but I pick the flattest one there. The ground is hard and there are no trees, just prickly bushes. No flowers anywhere, just cold bare land. The campground has a laundry room and a shower so this gives the campground a star. After setting up camp, I go walking around looking for that sweet lady, but she is nowhere to be found. I never see her again; she might have been an angel. I wish I could have given her a big hug. When I get back to camp, I hang up the wet items left from Parry Sound. The campsite looks okay, but it’s getting cold. I take a quick walk then make a cup of hot tea. Spring definitely has not sprung. As I look out onto the water, I notice a stunning moon rising, along with pink and blue skies. The moon is supper full. I get my camera out and start taking pictures. I move around and notice many people with their camera’s out. This will make a gorgeous picture for my wall. It’s early evening and no one is sitting by their fire, because it’s freezing out, literally freezing. No wonder that woman seemed concerned when I told her that I would be sleeping in my tent. I wasn’t concerned at all, but I’m starting to think that maybe I should be. I can see my breath from my nose oh no!
The coldest night yet
I thought that I came prepared for the cold weather, but now I’m starting to doubt it. In my sleeping bag my hands are cold, but only because I’m trying to read. My feet are toasty warm though. I’m so tired. Everything is starting to catch up to me again. The greatness of the day yesterday eventually hits me like a two hundred pound weight; when I get tired by body starts to shut down. The distress, setting up camp in the cold with tired achy legs; it’s too much of a challenge for me. Setting up the tent, bending over to hammer in the tent stakes takes too much effort in the cold. It’s all becoming too much for me. I stretch out and close my eyes and fall asleep. I think that I am well adjusted to the cold weather, I’ve been living in Massachusetts for many years now, but when I can’t warm up, it becomes a problem. I get settled into bed perfectly, but during the night I keep waking up having to rub my cold toes. No matter what I put on them I can’t warm my feet up. I try a variety of items, like my flannel scarf, slippers and even gloves; I can’t get them to stay warm. My feet are so cold that they hurt. I rub and rub until I think they are warm enough, then attempt to fall asleep…fast. It doesn’t work. When I wake up I go straight to my car to warm up. My feet are so cold and numb that the heat actually hurts them. Everyone I speak to, who lives around here, are surprised that spring hasn’t gotten here yet. The trees are bare and when I looked closely I can see tiny little buds. Maybe another two weeks they will start to open. I left in May for this journey, because I wanted to avoid all the crowds, but never did it occur to me that the weather would be so cold. I brought warm clothes, and my sleeping bag is “supposedly” capable of handling temperature as low as -10˚. It wasn’t that cold last night, but it did get below 32˚. I always thought my poor legs, having bad circulation and all, would have a problem with the cold. The legs weren’t too bad, but my feet and toes can’t handle the cold at all. I drive around just to get my body warm. I’m on top of Lake Superior you know? As I drive around I see a variety of islands out there, covered in pine trees. Even with the cold, the beauty is breathtaking and huge, like standing on a stool in the middle of the ocean. The only way I can stay somewhat warm is to walk around. Beside the campground is a good size river that flows into the lake about a hundred feet out. That’s a fast flowing river. No clouds today so the sunlight dances on the water like diamonds. I spend a lot of time in my car taking pictures. Even though it’s bare it still takes great pictures. I’ve taken a lot of great pictures from my car. At this one site though, I get out of my car and stand there looking at the mountainside and how it comes down to the road and then hits Lake Superior, and between the two lays the campground in the little artsy town of Rossport. The little town is so small that it isn’t even on the map. I really wish that I’d taken the time to back track to the sleepy railroad town of Schreiber. When driving through that town it seemed like something was wrong about the place. It gave me a strange feeling. It looked like an old bare mining town with no flowers or trees. The homes were laid out and built in a cookie cutter format. A few homes were built right on a lake, and I imagined that whoever lived there made more money than the others, just like any other government job where the workers live isolated from their families in the middle of nowhere. That being said, I don’t know anything about what goes on there. I did just find out that the little town of Schreiber was known for its burial of nuclear waste. Just recently the government stopped the burial of nuclear waste. You’d think that would be a good thing, but they received $800.000 over the past four years and now that money has come to an end.