On the way to Thunder Bay

July 4, 2012

July first

Sunday is already a blur, I rode from North Bay to Sault Ste Marie, a bright sunny day. I ended up at the Glenview cabins and camping place at about 5 PM very tired but in good spirits. I set up camp quickly and headed to the shower. Aaaaaaahhhhhhh… that was worth every penny of the fee for the camping ($30)

My plan is to get some firewood and make a fire to ward off the mosquitoes so I can play some guitar. So I walked back to the office with my computer as they had a bit sitting room with wifi and electrical outlets so I can charge my phone, GPS and laptop which were are running low on power. I did all the correspondence, wrote the blog and looked at routes. After a while I got my wood, some paper and matches and went to my site.

So I was heading to my camp site which was a ways from the office’s comforts, carrying laptop, back pack, crate of wood, when a group of young kids was approaching from the other direction. They were heading for the swimming pool wearing swim suits, carrying towels. Somewhere in my mind I was wishing one of them could help me… I didn’t believe it could happen but one can always dream…

As we approached each other, a slim dark haired kid asked me : “Would you like some help carrying this to your site?” He was so impossibly polite…

“I would LOVE to get some help, I am so very tired!” I said.

So the kid got the wood crate told his friends to go to the pool, he was going to join them after helping me. Then another one of his friends decided to tag along.

“Thank you so very much.” I said meaning it wholeheartedly.

“Oh you are welcome!” he said. And we started to chat. He was part of a group of boys going to paddle Sand River from the top to the bottom. “do you know Sand River?” he asked.

“No, I don’t.”

“The group came  from Minnesota.”

“How is Minnesota?” I asked.

“Oh I’m not from Minnesota, I’m from Huston, Texas”

“I’ve been in Huston, it rained so hard, there were frogs all over the streets in town, I had never seen that before in my life!”

We talked about Huston’s rare rains and how it floods the city, we talked about motorcycles then we got to my camp site.

“So what is your name?”

“Harrison” he said, and his friend’s name was Dany.

I said something about the guitar and he told me he played cello. Then he asked me if I was Jewish because I was wearing Fazilet’s gift which is the hand warding the Evil Eye, Turkish people have this symbol everywhere. So he walked away to go swimming with his friend. What a neat meeting. I felt a strange kinship for this kid with a beautiful soul.

Dinner was some cheese, (Bombel Babybel wax wrapped pieces are quite convenient) an apple, half a bagel and peanut butter and water. I then started the fire. The wood was nice and super dry so it caught really fast. The sun at this point was disappearing behind the trees and dampness started to set in. I got the Go guitar out and started to play.

I started to get into it, relaxed, breathed. The fire was roasting nicely and the bugs stayed at bay, frustrated by the smoke.

Life.  A jewel to hold through the twists and turns, said Asbjorn. This jewel is shining a deep warm red tonight. I look up and the moon shines and icy white fire into an indigo sky where stars already peer through. The trees shiver in the breeze, the highest branches still catching the light of sunset and glowing a green-gold color. It’s breathtaking.

“This is my life.” I thought.

These moments of pure magic. Pure simplicity.  Oh the gifts.


July 2nd 7:30 AM

I wake up.  I get the luxury of taking another shower and that feels like a million bucks. After that I sit at my camp table and set out to meditate for an hour which feels incredibly good. My alarm warns me time’s up. I tear up camp. Bring down the tent, roll up the sleeping mat, pack up the bike again. I slip into the leathers. Time to go.

I had seen a sign for Starbucks the day before, I thought I’d go there to check routes on the internet. I rode downtown only to find out that Starbucks is in a grocery store and the grocery store is closed on this Canada Day holiday, so it’s Tim Hortons’s again.

I had debated going the southern route, cross the border and go up towards Winnipeg but I suddenly felt that it wasn’t the thing to do. Don’t know why but it was very powerful. So I took the Northern route. Highway 17 North. As I progressed it really felt like it was exactly the right thing to do. And funny enough each time I looked at the speedo, clock, the numbers were such : 10:10 , 11:11, 11:22 and so on. Strange sometimes.

I rode on. Kilometers go by in large numbers, compared to miles. All of my last vehicles had miles on the odometer, this bike has KM. It is a bit confounding to see so many of them go by. That factor has made me get close with the gas supply. I was going when suddenly the yellow warning light came on. 50KM to go until empty. Uh oh… It feels like the middle of nowhere and I’ve just passed a couple of service stations, maybe 50KMs back… can’t really turn back…  and there are no signs indicating “last station for the next …KM”

Oh crap… Oh crap… well, all has been good so far, I feel the Gods are with me. If I run out it’s because it must happen. But still, I’m watching the signs like a hawk, but all the signs point to Wawa, 120KM away. I can’t make this distance on what I have left. In the mean time I rolling up and down the hills and curves at 125 KM\hr… You should slow down, my brain says, conserve. But my heart says : this feels so great, this all feels right, go on, go on, never fear.

This goes for about 20 Kms, then I see this faded out sign : something, something, gas, store, 1 KM

And there it is, just around the bend, a funky looking amalgam of decrepit buildings, I don’t see the tanks yet but I turn in, and… there they are, with a sign saying : “last gas before Wawa”

I pull up to the tanks, they are so old… with the long arm on the side that you have to pull down. I get off the bike. Then I start laughing, laughing some more. And I feel so good. It’s impossibly sunny and beautiful. Lake Superior is a blue jewel across in the distance, the bike shines in that light, I open the lid and stare at the emptiness inside, I start filling up. The attendant finally shows up.

“Am I glad you are here! I was just about empty. I thought I had really messed up this time!”

The man laughs, he looks tough and rough, teeth yellow. His whole body language speaks of not wanting to be there, reluctance and wolfishness. I laugh some more and he laughs too. I said :

“ I guess you hear that often”

“yeah!” and we both laugh some more.

The bike’s tank is full, I walk towards his register, I hadn’t looked at the total amount for gas… “How much?” but I had ear plugs in, I heard $24.50.

I give him $25 he gives me some change back. He had wrongly punched $225 dollars in the till and his brow was knotted with annoyance as he was looking at the numbers.

I walk back to the bike and think, that is too much money… I look at the number on the tank : $20.40

This guy just ripped me off. I pondered… I could go back… then decided to let it go.

I went to the bathroom and got back on the bike. I didn’t care. This was so perfect. My tank was full, my heart brimming over with a “in the moment” high. I rolled down the parking lot and onto the road all the way to Wawa, still laughing at my near out of gas experience.

In Wawa, I thought, lets eat something. I pulled all the way into town, skipping Tim Hortons, for a change. In town I saw the three bikes from the boys from Montreal, it won’t be the last time today.

I rolled down main street looking for a restaurant that looked appetizing…  not much luck.

I parked my bike next to another one.

I got off the bike and the owner of the bike came over.  The usual bike comments were exchanged, I asked where was the place to eat here as there was a couple of restaurants around.

“This one he says.” Then the questions about where you’re from and where you’re going. He was on his way to Alabama, he lives in the area and was about to leave on a bit of a journey. “Do you mind if I join you to eat?” he asks. Not at all.

We went in. his name is Ray, was raised around here, in fact he knew everyone in the joint, to whom he introduced me as “ this is Danielle, I just met her outside the door, that’s how far back we go.” everyone laughed.

We chatted for a while.  He tells me at some point that a while back he was snowmobiling on a lake, thought he could make it across, but couldn’t then he drowned.

Obviously he survived the drowning.  He said :

“Since this incident, everyday is a gift, I’m just happy to be alive.”  It was profound in simplicity.  The way this happy go lucky chap had pretty much died and came back and now enjoyed life, every moment of it.  We talked for a bit longer and I started to feel I had to keep going.  Time was ticking away and the many miles still separate me from Winnipeg.

“but I don’t want you to go!” he says. Funny sometimes, you meet people and there is the question about getting to know more or just moving on.

“I will see you again!” he says “ And I’m always right about that!”

We took photos and I was on my way. The road was really good for a while, I kept going too fast for the speed limit but it was just like a magic carpet ride, leaning over the bars, this bike allows me to be completely relaxed, it’s so responsive, I started to play with it, see how it reacts to different things. My beautiful thoroughbred. I rode until Terrace something or other. Stopped to eat. The waitress was so nice to me.  There was WIFI in there so I found where I was going to sleep, a hostel in Shunia, minutes from Thunder Bay, $20 a night, I elected to go indoors as there might be rain tonight and I’m not sure about the worthiness of my tent in the rain.

I made it in good time.  Tired but content.

The thunder storms hit a couple hours later.  I was glad to be clean, warm, indoors with a good bed.


6 Responses to “On the way to Thunder Bay”

  1. bobskoot Says:


    I keep thinking about lubing your chain. Should be done every 1,000. kms. You didn’t mention anything about it.

    a long time ago I drove through WAWA. I passed the last gas sign and turned around to fill up before heading to Toronto. I drove at night and the moon over Georgian Bay was so beautiful. It was summer and I still remember that scene. That terrain is similar to British Columbia.

    sweet dreams as you listen to the rain drops

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    • Thanks Bob, my chain has received love and attention all along the way. Today I actually cleaned it and the whole bike thoroughly. Showroom clean that is.

      My worry right now is that a valve adjustment should be done kind of right now as per the manual recommendations. Some tell me I can wait but after the splines on the BMW for which my instinct from the beginning was that I should have had them done when I got the bike when everyone was telling me I could wait… and finding a good mechanic to do this around here… if you have advice about this I’d like to hear it!

      Yes, I had the same thought about the scenery, it looked a lot like BC. It was gorgeous and I had perfect weather to witness it all.

      take care!


  2. Aren’t the enchanted times a true grace. May your days remain magical.
    Circle Blue

  3. Crystal Says:

    It’s funny Danielle. Asbjorn has said a few things to me that keep ringing in my ears too. I think he may be the smartest guy I know. I’m glad you met Harrison and I am sure you will run into a few more angels in your travels. I’ve really been trying to take the bad with the good lately…it seems they are without a doubt intertwined. It doesn’t feel like it in the moment, but when I look back the struggles always seems to have happened to allow for the good to take place. I think of you often! Good things are coming, I can feel it.
    Love ya!

    • yes Ozzy is an amazing person and his words always hit some higher frequencies, notes, energies and states of understanding. Yes good and bad, it’s always just a matter of viewpoint. I love that you are feeling good things coming in my future. I kind of do too. It’s been a wild ride. But then I like riding and I like wild things so I should never complain.

      All my love to you. I can’t wait to see you again.


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