Walk Across Canada – Days 35-37

This post is a compilation of my daily field notes on Facebook.  If you would like to see them daily, you can follow me here.

Day 35 – Walk Across Canada

After I set up my tent last night, I spent ten minutes chasing down and killing all the black flies that managed to get inside when I launched myself through the open door. I shook my hair and a couple more emerged. Luckily, they’re easy to spot and kill. They just walk along my tent screen calling out my name and then I press my finger against them. They seem relieved that it’s over.

Later, as the light was dwindling, I watched the 50 or so mosquitoes just beyond the edge of my screen probing for a weakness in my tent defence. I’m afraid of accidentally rolling against the screen in my sleep where their little stingers might get me. Of course, it’s nice to have the attention of so many females. Even if we aren’t the same species.

I’m so happy to be walking with Margaret O’Dell today. She drove all the up from Pickering, Ontario, just to spend a day hiking with me. So cool.

Margaret and Al

At lunch, I asked Margaret what she thought so far about walking on the highway. Easier than she thought, she said. Nervous about trucks going by, but got used to it. Feeling an ache inside her foot from walking on an angle all day along the shoulder of the highway. Rain is a nuisance, but not too bad. The real test begins because we have completed 37 kms and still have 18 kms to go.

Ok, we’re at the finish after almost 55 kms and I asked Margaret again how she feels. She says she has lots of energy still, but her feet are sore. She was very happy to sit down in her car.

The good life

From my perspective, Margaret did an awesome job. We kept a very fast pace, better than 6 kms per hour, even on the difficult shoulders.

Margaret wanted to know what percentage of the walk across Canada she completed. It was about 0.9 percent.

Way to go, Margaret. Woohoo!

On another note, Kitty has suffered an injury. She lost a part and can no longer fold herself. Poor cheetah. Sniff.

Good news. I’m having a shower tonight, the first since Petawawa. Margaret’s brother, Simon, and his wife, Kim, are hosting me tonight. Thanks guys!!

Day 36 – Walk Across Canada

Thanks again to Margaret for walking with me yesterday, and to her brother, Simon, and his wife, Kim, for hosting me. You guys are awesome!

Margaret dropped me off where we ended yesterday and I followed highway 55 west. Highway 55 is the old highway 17. I’m not allowed to walk on the 17 bypass, so highway 55 was on the agenda for the morning. The shoulders of the highway were extremely difficult to navigate. Al was bouncing all over the place cursing in German. And Kitty was growling. For the first time on this trip, two dogs ran out on the highway after me. All other dogs I’ve seen that are not ties up have stopped at some imaginary line by the highway. But these two didn’t. Luckily, all turned out well and Kitty didn’t have to chew them up into little pieces.

I passed the Big Nickel, a major tourist attraction in Sudbury. By some quirk of fate though, I completely missed seeing it because I had my head down and was watching the traffic. Just goes to show that things can be missed, even at the pace of a walker.

Along highway 17

I haven’t done a lot of mileage today. I wasted time at the Tim Hortons in Lively, and then I met up with my old high school buddy, Steve Kramp. It was awesome to see him again, even though the visit was short. He was driving a company vehicle that has a GPS that is always being monitored. While we were chatting, his supervisor messaged him, “Are you lost?” Hehe.

Later, my new favourite massage therapist, Sylvie, let me know she was in the Sudbury area. We chatted away much of the afternoon about French Canada, our crazy friend Leo Lavallee, and life. I must have been lulled into a sense of security, because when Sylvie said she has a portable massage table in her car and would I like her to get those knots out of my legs again, I said, “Oh sure.”

Sylvie, my new fabourite massage therapist

But soon there will be pain, and then there will be screaming. And I don’t think I have enough jujubes for the counter attack.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very appreciative of a massage. I always feel better the next day. But the pain. Oh, the pain.

Looks like a low mileage day. Until tomorrow.

Day 37 – Walk Across Canada

You know that feeling when you see your dental hygienist, and she asks you if you’ve been flossing, and you know you haven’t, but you’re wondering if you should say you have been flossing because that’s supposed to be the right answer, and you’re not really sure if she can tell the difference, but if you lie, you might be caught? And then you confess and scream out, “I promise to floss regularly in the future!” And then you break down and cry from the shame of it?

It was like that yesterday when Sylvie gave me a massage. Back in Montebello, she gave me some cream and showed me how to massage my own calves so that I wouldn’t end up with tendinitis. As she was massaging my calves this time, she said, “Dave, have you been massaging your calves like I showed you?”

Of course, I hadn’t. Not even once. I didn’t answer for a moment because I was wondering if she was asking because she already knew I hadn’t been, or if she was just asking out of curiosity. I had to answer carefully because at that moment her fingers were on a knot in my calf, and she could either loosen it gently, or she could make me scream.

I opted for the truth. “NO, BUT I’LL TRY TO DO IT EVERY DAY IN THE FUTURE!” Please don’t hurt me!

My favourite highway – wide and paved

I must have given the right answer because she was easy on me after that. Honesty really is the best policy, both with a massage therapist and a dental hygienist.

The one thing I’ve noticed after having a foot massage is that the whole next day feels like I’m walking on moss. The feet feel lighter and softer and I have a little extra lilt to my step.

I achieved a minor milestone today when I passed Espanola. Espanola is about the 1/3 mark of this journey, which means I only have to walk two more times what I’ve already walked to get to Vancouver. That makes me happy.
And I missed mentioning another milestone yesterday when I passed the 2,000-km point on this journey. Still averaging a bit over 55 kms per day. And I’ve managed to gain back about 7 pounds of weight. Woohoo!

1500 kilometers to the Manitoba border. Bring it on!

It was a gorgeous day today. The sun was shining, there were big fluffy clouds to provide shade from time to time, and for most of the day, the wind was strong enough to keep the bugs off me without impeding my progress.

And everyone was friendly today. Lots of people waved as they passed by me, people chatted me up at the truck stops, and everyone I talked to had a kind word to say.

I passed through a little town called Webbwood. It’s a tiny little town of 600 and has a nifty little general store with friendly owners. But what makes Webbwood so special is that it is the home of Canada’s first woman mayor, Barbara Hanley.

It’s getting close to 7 pm and I’ve walked for 8.5 hours. But there’s lots of daylight left and I’m feeling good, so I’ll put in another hour or so of walking.

Until tomorrow, my friends.

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