Walk Across Canada – Days 38-40

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 38 – Walk Across Canada

I camped about half a kilometer outside Massey, Ontario. As I wandered into this little town, I saw that there was a breakfast and lunch diner called The Back Home Bistro. It was 15 minutes before opening, so I sat in a chair at a Paris-style outdoor table to wait. This bistro is the kind of place where the owner/chef comes out of the kitchen to say hello to the guests. This owner’s name is Barb, and we chatted about my trip, early retirement, and how delicious the veggie omelet was. All of the food was tasty, and although the decor might suggest a high-end restaurant, the prices were diner prices. What a great place to start off the day.

Along highway 17

I walked by the town of Spanish, which made me think of the town of Espanola, which I walked through yesterday. Espanola is a cool name. In fact, I would live there just so I could tell people I live in Espanola.

I imagine a conversation with a stranger:
Stranger: Where do you live?
Me: Espanola.
Stranger: Ooh, that sounds very Mediterranean.
Me: Like fire in the blood, baby!! (Hehe)

The black flies were just awful all day. But I still stopped at a picnic spot in Serpent River. Legend has it that the water monster, Mishebeschu, has an underwater den near the mouth of Serpent River. I didn’t see it, but I know it’s there somewhere.

Another great view in Northern Ontario

The last 2.5 hours has been cold with a steady rain. I found a place to camp, but my fingers are frozen, so I’ll post this now and try to warm up.

Day 39 – Walk Across Canada

Ooh, it was one of those nasty wet mornings when I had to pull on my still-soaked shorts after dragging myself out of my warm sleeping bag. But I absolutely would not change back into that wet t-shirt. No way!

It was the foggiest morning so far on this trip, which was problematic because on highway 17, I need to grab the skinny bit of asphalt whenever I can. But this morning, I had to move all the way over onto the thick gravel part of the shoulder. Drivers just weren’t able to see me until the last few seconds. And I also discovered that there are a lot of drivers who do not have their daylight headlights on, even in really foggy weather. Oh, for shame.

The island in the mist

I explained this to Al, but his only contribution to my rant was, “Did you know that light is both a particle and a wave?”
“Yes, Al, yes, I did know that. But if the headlights aren’t on, there is neither particle nor wave.” Darn scientists. Hehe.

Once the fog cleared, it turned out to be a nice day. I walked through Blind River in the fog, but when I got to the North Shores, it had cleared up. I stopped at a picnic area and laid out my dripping-wet tent to dry. I also hung up all my clothes from yesterday and aired out my sleeping bag. I ate four peanut butter sandwiches without even blinking. I was watching Al. He didn’t blink either.

Right now, I’m in Iron Bridge. What a cool name. Much better than Rickety Old Bridge or Plywood Bridge. ‘Iron’ Bridge builds confidence.

The bridge over the Mississagi at Iron Bridge

I’m gulping back a half-litre of chocolate milk while eating a couple of 490-calorie butter tarts with pecans, and just watching the world go by. So relaxing.

For most of the day, I’ve been walking along the Mississagi River. It’s been extremely pleasant, reminding me of lazy days as a boy hanging out down by the creek. But the iron bridge in Iron Bridge crosses over the Mississagi and I won’t see it again.

It’s about 7:30 pm now and I’m sitting on a nice rock on the side of the highway eating almonds, peanuts, and M&Ms. The bugs haven’t found me yet, so life is grand. Some drivers are beeping greetings to me. It happens more often when I’m taking a break than when I’m actually walking.

I’ve done my 9 hours of walking, but there’s light left and I’m ready and able and full of calories. Another hour at least.

Day 40 – Walk Across Canada

I started my morning off today like every morning since I noticed I had lost a lot of weight – with a concoction made of a scoop of Vega, a scoop of protein powder, and water.

I have to psych myself up in order to choke this concoction down. It’s really disgusting. Not disgusting like brussel sprouts or finding a dead newt in your pocket. But disgusting enough. The powder never fully dissolves in the water, so there are always a few bits floating on top. I drink the whole cup in one shot, pour a bit of water in the cup to rinse it out, and then drink the rinse water too. Blecchh.

Bottoms up.

I followed it up this morning with a butter tart with pecans, which is the opposite of disgusting. Eating a butter tart is like eating a little miracle. Not a miracle like being able to turn gold into something more valuable like, say, cookies, but a miracle nevertheless. The taste buds wonder if they have just died and gone to taste-bud heaven. “Nothing could be this wonderful,” say the taste buds. “Please keep eating them!”
Too bad the arteries look on in horror as I take a bite. Poor fellas.

I stopped at a grocery store in Bruce Mines, a town famous for being the location of Canada’s first copper mine. A local woman, about 60, born on the dining room table of her home and still living in the same house, chatted me up. She said that highway 17 is extremely dangerous, which I know to be true. “You must have done research on the high volume of deaths of cyclists and pedestrians on this highway,” she said.
Well, no actually. The only research I did was to pull out a map of Canada and draw a line from Halifax to Vancouver.
The woman told me the bugs will get worse. Wawa is the worst area. “People have literally been killed by swarms of bugs in the Wawa area,” she said. “You have to be careful.”
Hmm, I guess the Wawa Tourist Committee left this little tidbit of information out of their highway advertisements.
Personally, thinking of all the ways a human could die, I would prefer that I wasn’t killed by a swarm of bugs. Although it would make a heck of a story.

An old bridge off highway 17

I’m just passing Echo Bay. The town itself is off the highway. I’m about 30 kms from Sault Ste. Marie. I had fun with a blackbird earlier. He would chirp at me from a telephone pole, and then as I passed, he would fly a big arc to get to the next pole I was coming to, and then chirp at me again. He did this for about 7 or 8 telephone poles. He was probably just protecting the eggs or babies, but it was a nice exchange with nature.

Another 45 minutes and I’ll look for a place to camp. Until tomorrow.

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