29 July 2007

We had a nice, relaxing day sailing on my family's boat in Midland. There was no wind, so we motored out to Beausoleil Island. We went for a walk, a swim, and had some sandwiches and beer with my dad. The day was beautiful, and it was nice not to have to do anything and just relax. The wind picked up in the evening, so we put the sails up for the trip back to the marina.


28 July 2007

Nirvana, Dan and I went out for breakfast and cake to Futures, where I spend a lot of my regular, non-cycling life, mostly eating and hanging out, but also writing papers and marking tests. Dan and I went for a long walk around the city, stopping at the Moonbean in Kensington Market for some smoothies, before heading down to the CN Tower. We didn't feel like spending money or time to go up to the top, but we took some pictures from the bottom. We had sushi on Queen St., and then headed back to Mississauga.


27 July 2007

We went downtown today, and Dan hit up a library to update his blog, while I had coffee with my old roomie, Lauren. Later on, we went out to the Ferret and Firkin, and later the Madison, with a bunch of my friends from Mississauga and Toronto. I had an amazing time, and it was incredible to see everyone before we set off again, even though it was all much too brief for my liking. Thanks to all who came out! A special thank-you to my lovely Nirvana, with whom we spent the night.


26 July 2007

Today was the first of four days we'll be taking off in Mississauga and Toronto. Dan and I drove to Niagra Falls, took some pictures, and drove back. We had dinner with my parents, and then dessert with the Holmes family (Mike, Maureen and Rhian)--probably our biggest fans--and Laurlei, one of my best friends. Maureen made the most delicious blueberry pie I've ever had, and it was amazing to see everyone again!


25 July 2007

Knowing we had our biggest day yet ahead of us, we tried to set off early today, but didn't end up leaving Wiarton till 8:30ish. The ride was slow and hard. There were lots of hills, and not the fun kind, either: it seemed like we were climbing far more than we were descending, and the descents weren't as rewarding as they should've been. The traffic was heavy, and the roads really bad. All day, we took only two longish breaks for food, as well as a few shorter ones. We just didn't have the time to fanny about the way we normally do on breaks, so we didn't. The worst part was the head wind we had all day long, that wouldn't let us go any faster than 18 or 19 km/h most of the time.

We took Highway 1--Mississauga Road--all the way into Mississauga. We had planned on arriving before nightfall, but ended up riding in the dark for about an hour and a half. I was pretty terrified at first, since the northern country parts of Mississauga road don't have streetlights, and although we did have lights on our bikes, I was worried that we weren't visible enough. But, we made it, and arrived at my parents' house at about 10:15. They were waiting on the doorstep for us, armed with a camera and Canada flag. We had some yummy, homemade lasagna and apple crumble. Our legs are going to burn tomorrow.

[The picture was taken in Wiarton in the morning, just after we got up]


24 July 2007

Today we got to take the ferry across to Tobermory, placing us quite close to Mississauga and Toronto. We cycled across the Island in the morning, and hopped on the 1:30 ferry. The ferry ride was quite cool--we got to cut in front of all of the cars to load our bikes, and were the first ones off in Tobermory. We met Basil, a Trinidadian man who used to work in the same place as my dad. He was so full of life, and a pleasure to talk to.

As soon as we hit Tobermory, we were on the road again, big time. The plan is to hit Mississauga tomorrow, which means we'd have to get to Wiarton, or preferably even further, by tonight. We were exhausted by the time we finally hit this groundhog town, and just couldn't go any further.

We decided to camp in a municipal park again, but this was not as simple as it was last night. The Wiarton park was crowded with people, and had a campground right next to it. We waited till after dark to set up our tent in its most remote corner.


23 July 2007

Since we had run out of food, we started the day off with a Timmy Ho's breakfast. We both had plenty of energy ofter our lazy day yesterday, making the cycyling fast and fun. We wanted to use the internet, so we stopped in a small town called Massey to find out whether the next town, where we wanted to have lunch, had a library. The tourist info centre in Massey was the best one yet--the people were super friendly, and treated us to some cheesecake and iced tea. They suggested an alternate route to the next town, which we were glad to try to get away from the traffic.

The back roads from Massey to Espanola took us through about 30 km of beautiful countryside with trees, rolling hills and pretty little farmhouses. I'd love to live in one of those houses one of these days. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures, but this little piece of country was one of my favourite yet.

The final 60 km into Little Current--the edge of Manitoulin Island--were quite tough. The roads were winding, terribly narrow, and mostly shoulderless. The hilliness was most unwelcome near the end of such a long day.

We finally arrived on the Island at about 8:30. We were pleased to see that the tourist info centre had a nice, grassy area and picnic tables--perfect for camping--but were disappointed when the young punk working there had the nerve to tell us to cycle an extra 10 km to the nearest campsite. Obviously, he didn't understand that we had neither the energy nor time to ride that much further. And, of course, we weren't about to pay money for a proper campsite.

Fortunately, the friendly staff in the ice cream shop next door directed us to a lovely municipal park nearby. Dan focused his energy on settend up our tent and starting dinner, while I washed in the lake. It was a lovely spot, and nobody seemed to mind that we were campling there. Success!


22 July 2007

We had a pleasant little wake-up call this morning--music blaring from the school's outdoor speakers. Apparently, people in Desbarats work on Sunday mornings, as workers had come in to remove asbestos from inside the school. Luckily, they didn't mind that we had camped, and even let us use the bathroom.

Early into our ride, we saw yet another bear crossing the road ahead of us. "How mundane," writes Dan. We cycled just 14 km into Bruce Mines, one of my favourite towns so far in all of Canada. It was small, but well-kept, and had a beautiful park right on the waterfront. We did laundry, had showers and ate a lovely breakfast part two. While Dan was in the shower, I met a really friendly couple from Sault Ste. Marie, who would have gladly had us stay at their place, had we not already passed through. Darn. The woman had cycled across Europe, and was really excited for us about our trip.

It was all downhill from Bruce Mines. And (unfortunately) I mean that figuratively, not literally. It got quite hot, and we just had no energy whatsoever to get moving. We stopped at a gas station and sat there for about an hour, before finally getting ourselves going again. Since our policy is not doing anything we don't feel like doing, we decided to call it quits early. We stopped in a lovely rest area on the Mississagi River, just outside of a town called Iron Bridge. Although camping is technically not allowed there, we were joined by two RVs and one other tent in this spot. We washed in the river with the new biodegradable soap we bought earlier this week, and had an unsatisfying dinner of KD and hot dogs. (We felt like we had to have KD at least once on this trip, and found it on sale for just 66 cents a box.)


21 July 2007

Camping wild last night was pretty awesome (and free!) so we decided that's what we'd try to do from now on. Today, we cycled through Sault Ste. Marie, where we hoped to find a laundromat and bike shop. We were quite disappointed--everything was so spread out and hard to find, and for a city that size, places closed really early on a Saturday. Needless to say, we didn't accomplish anything, and rode off disappointed. In the evening, we stopped to talk to Jukie Daly, who is walking across Canada for a women and children's shelter. Check out his story here.
As we were talking to Jukie, I glanced over to my left, and saw a bear charging across the road, right for us! I was shocked, and hardly knew how to respond. Luckily, as soon as he saw us, he went right around and into the forest. It was quite the encounter--if only we still had our camera out!

We stopped for the night on the grounds of a local high school in a small town called Desbarats. It was located on a quiet road off of the highway, and ideal for our purposes, as it had a nice field and picnic tables. Unfortunately,though, the lake was a distance away, so for the second night in a row, we didn't get to have showers. Surprisingly, we didn't smell so bad (at least we didn't think so), but there was definitely a thick layer of sunscreen, sweat and grime covering us, head to toe. It wasn't very pleasant sticking to those sleeping bags, but it's all the same once you fall asleep.


20 July 2007

Again, we woke up a bit late this morning, and slowly, but surely, got ready to start cycling again. Surprisingly, it wasn't nearly as hard as we thought it would be--we had a nice breakfast, said our goodbyes to the guys, and before we knew it, we had cycled a quick 40 km. The weather was beautiful, and we just had ridiculous amounts of energy. We were riding through Lake Superior Provincial Park, one of my favourite spots in Canada so far. Because it was such a nice day and we were so unbelievably pumped, we cycled about 110 km before stopping for a sandwich break at around 7. It felt like nothing, and if it wasn't for the fact that it was eventually going to get dark, we would have kept going for miles and miles. But, it was getting dark, and we had to find a place to set up our tent for the night.

Finally, we got up the courage to skip the campsite and just camp where ever we please. After a few unsuccessful tries, we chose a beautiful spot just off the highway on a rocky beach. We got there just in time to watch the sun set, build a fire, and have an impromptu meal of fire-roasted hotdog bagels with tomato, mushroom and green pepper. Mmmmmmm....

We lay around by the fire looking up at the stars for a while before finally getting to bed. What an end to an amazing day!


19 July 2007

We slept in a bit after the late night we had yesterday. When we woke up, it was still raining outside, and it didn't look like it was going to let up anytime soon. Will easily persuaded us to take a day off in Wawa, and the five of us cross-country cyclists went out to breakfast to the same place we had dinner at last night. Our waitress, Jenny, had been there since 5 AM, even after we kept her there so late last night. What a woman!

After breakfast, I spent a few hours on the computer in the library, while the boys lounged around in the (bigger) hotel room we were going to spend the night in. Later on, we had another pizza and beer dinner at the restaurant, where Jenny pulled through for us yet again. It was awesome to have finally met some fun, young, like-minded cyclists. I was quite glad to have taken the day off.


18 July 2007

We wanted to get to Wawa at a decent time today, so we got up fairly early and started getting ready. We had placed our cooler in the women's washroom overnight, as we usually do, to avoid attracting wildlife; however, when I went inside to bring it back to our site this morning, it was gone! Dan and I were quite worried, as all of our food was in there, and the next town was still 40 km away. I posted a notice in the bathroom, hoping that someone could give us some info or return our cooler. Luckily, a woman came by and filled us in--she had found medication in the cooler (I'd been taking some for joint problems), and was worried that children might get into it, so she gave it to the park warden. Her concern was fair, and we will be sure to store that medicine elsewhere next time. We were just glad that we'd be able to get that cooler back!

The day was gloomy, and we had absolutely no energy riding into White River on empty stomachs. Breakfast part two was a godsend, and we managed to hit the road by 12:30. Not far from town, we encountered another cycle tourist on the side of the road. Matt is a student from Montreal, who spent a year in BC and was now cycling home. We cycled the rest of the way to Wawa with him, and spent our lunch break talking to yet another cycle tourist from Montreal, who was heading west to Vancouver.

When we arrived at the info centre in Wawa, we discovered that the grocery store was closed, and the nearest campsite was about 4 km west of town. We decided to just have dinner at Tim Hortons, and pitch our tent somewhere on a field or in a park after we finished. When we pulled into the Timmy Ho's parking lot, we saw two more cycle tourists, and talked to them for a while. Matt and Will are not your typical cyclists: we found them sitting on the curb, having coffee and smoking cigarettes. Neither was decked out in cycling gear, and both had Canadian Tire bikes with massive trailers. Matt's was adorned with a Canadian flag and a pirate flag, while Will's had an "Ocean to Ocean for MS" banner on the back. Will had started his journey in New Brunswick in the beginning of May, and picked Matt up in Kingston, where they're both from. They're cycling across to raise awareness and money for multiple sclerosis. Check out Will's website at

Will and Matt were mostly camping, but they were spending the night in a motel. They invited us over for showers, and then the five of us went out for pizza and beer. Will and Matt are the most laid back cyclists I've ever met. They work hard, but have a lot of fun--just the way a trip like this should be done! And they're doing it for a good cause.... which makes me regret not getting our act together and doing the same.

Just as we were getting ready to leave the restaurant, a massive storm began. There was thunder, lightning, and hailstones the size of golf balls. I've never seen anything like it! We still hadn't set up tents, so Will and Matt invited us to spend the night in their motel room. The five of us walked back in the rain, and managed to all squeeze into the tiny room for the night.


17 July 2007

Today was a really long, painful day. We set off later than planned, and had bad luck finding a place for breakfast part two--one gas station restaurant was too expensive (defeating the whole purpose of breakfast part two) and the next was closed down. We were forced to ride into Marathon, almost 5 km out of our way down a big hill. After eating, we lazed around for quite a while, falling asleep a few times on a picnic bench, before finally forcing ourselves to get back on the road.

We arrived in White Lake Provincial Park at around 8:30, and we were absolutely exhausted. Dan talked to a man from Montreal who was cycling across the country with his son on a tandem, and we passed out in our tent.


16 July 2007

Today was potentially the most relaxed riding day we've had yet, and definitely one of the most beautiful. After a cold morning, we got off to a late start, but we didn't mind; we enjoyed the coziness of our sleeping bags, as well as our small but delicious breakfast part one. We stopped for breakfast part two at a tiny motel restaurant, and then continued on to Rossport, a small village on the coast of Lake Superior. There, we had the best desserts of our trip--I had a coffee-flavoured ice cream cake with an amazing chocolate crust, and Dan a raspberry flan with loads of whipped cream.

Riding along Lake Superior was spectacular. Its waters are crystal clear and Caribbean blue, and in some places you can see for miles into the distance. We stopped at one lookout point, and talked to a nice couple riding across the country in their motor home. Then, as we were about to set off, a huge posse (as we like to call them) of motorcycles pulled in. Dan and I have encountered many motorcycle tourists on our trip, and we mostly just laugh at them--they're always decked out in full leather attire, and they emanate a teenaged look-at-me-'cause-I'm-so-cool attitude. But these bikers were really nice to us. Many of them (there must have been about thirty of them all together) approached us to chat, and were impressed that we were using leg power, rather than engines. One of them commended what we were doing, but said it broke his personal motto: "If it doesn't burn fossil fuel, I ain't ridin' it". It's a shame that people have that kind of attitude; but, all the same, they were great people with a journey of their own. This little encounter definitely changed our conceptions of bikers.

The extreme Ontario hilliness really started today--we'd have long, steep climbs, followed by massive descents--but we didn't mind. The climbs really give you a sense of accomplishment, and the drops are amazingly fun. I love pedaling as fast as I can down them, and trying to beat my own speed personal bests. Currently, my record is 64.4 km/h; we'll see if I have the guts and leg power to beat it.


15 July 2007

We set off a bit late today, and the morning's ride was stressful, at least for me. We had gotten new tires and chains at the bike shop in Thunder Bay, and were charged a whopping $25 each for labour. I realised not long into the ride that my gears were completely out of tune, and it put me in a really bad mood. We stopped at the Terry Fox memorial lookout, where we met two men who had both cycled across Canada before.

Breakfast part two--which we devoured at a truck stop restaurant--really cheered me up, especially since we had pie and ice cream for dessert. The remainder of the ride was fairly mundane, but went by quickly.


14 July 2007

We did some laundry today, and took the bikes into the shop. We both got new tires and chains, so hopefully bike problems will be minimal for a while. Now we have spent hours on the computers at the college, since we have free internet access. Updating blogs is a time-consuming and mind-numbing process. I'm glad that I (mostly) remember to write things down on paper before transfering them to the blog, because otherwise it would literally take the whole day to remember things and get the entries written.

After we pick our bikes up from the shop, we might just go and see a movie. It's been a while since we've done that.


13 July 2007

We set off just slightly late this morning, and had a pleasant, sunny ride into Kakabeka Falls, about 60 km east of Shebandowan. We had the best breakfast part two of our trip there--it included bacon AND sausage, as well as grilled mushrooms and tomatoes! We were feeling lazy, so we also had some ice cream, before finally heading off. The weather had worsened, and we were having bike problems again. This time, though, Dan had yet another flat! I gloated as he changed the tire, and we cycled the rest of the way into the city.

It turned out that the info centre that, according to our map of Ontario, Thunder Bay was supposed to have, didn't exist. We had to cycle around for a while to figure that out, and eventually went to city hall and got some help there. We ended up staying in a residence in Confederation College, for only $15 a night! We got there around 4, were exhausted, and still had lots to deal with. We decided that this called for a day off in Thunder Bay, so we paid for an extra night and went to bed after grocery shopping and dinner.


12 July 2007

Today everything that could have gone wrong, did. Well, almost everything. We set off with the ambitious goal of cycling the 200+ km to Thunder Bay today. Since the area between Atikoken and Thunder Bay has few places to stop for a rest, we had decided to skip breakfast part one (we had some snacks instead) and hit the road right away, and then have a real breakfast in a restaurant in Quetico North, a mere 40 km away. We thought the morning's ride would be a breeze--it tends to be--but we could not have been more wrong. It was cold, windy and rainy, and the cycling was tough.

Our breakfast was delicious, and since it was still raining, we sat around for a while willing the rain away. We had the best pie of our trip--a huge slice of apple crumble with two (!) scoops of ice cream--and relaxed for quite some time. It was still raining when we decided to hit the road, but we sucked it up and left. But before getting going, we had to make a quick stop at the camping store across the street. We went inside, and were greeted by Doug Chapman, another one of those positive people who love life. He owns the store, as well as an outdoor education centre in Thunder Bay. We really enjoyed talking to him, and told him about our situation with propane: the stove we have only works with a certain type of propane can, one that you can only really get in cities with ultra-specialized camping stores. Miraculously, Doug had a few in stock. But when we realised just how much we were spending on these cans, and talked to him about how frustrating it was not to be able to get them anywhere, he had just the solution. He gave us a brand new (used) burner, that works with the standard propane bottles that you can get absolutely anywhere! AND he gave us a bottle of propane with it! What a lifesaver--Dan and I were contemplating getting a new burner, but now we didn't have to. The best part about it all was that giving us the stove made him just as happy as it made us, if not more.

Needless to say, we didn't make it all the way to Thunder Bay. In fact, we were lucky to even make it to Shebandowan. The weather kept changing on us, and it seemed like we were constantly having to stop for something. First, I got a puncture--nothing surprising there. But this wasn't any old puncture--I must have really run over something big and sharp, as there was a giant hole in the middle of my back tire! I repaired the tire with a few patches, and hoped that it would get me to Thunder Bay.

Not very long after that, I got another puncture--number eight--this time in the front. Again, we pulled over to change the tire. I also decided that it would be best to switch the front tire with the back, since the back was much more worn out from all the weight I've been carrying on it. What an ordeal it all was!

We made it as far as Shebandowan, after a grueling twelve-hour day. Tomorrow we will have a half-day ride into Thunder Bay, and take the rest of the day off.


11 July 2007

We had a late start again this morning, since we didn't get around to laundry last night, and still needed to get some more spare inner tubes from the bike shop. We only hit the road around noonish. The area between Fort Frances and Atikoken is very remote, with nothing but a small convenience store and gas station in Mine Centre. It started to rain down on us just as we approached this little store, and we were thankful for the makeshift seating area and microwave inside. We cooked ourselves some chili, and it managed to stop raining when we were ready to set off again.

The latter 80 km of our ride were brutally painful. We just wanted to get there, eat food, and sleep. We approached Atikoken in the late evening, first stopping in at the info centre located just next to the highway. Tamara, who was working there, was very helpful, and even drove us to our campsite when it started to pour again! No, we didn't cheat--the campsite was 3 km off of our route, and we will pick up where we left off tomorrow morning.


We woke up this morning to pouring rain. We'd been having such good weather lately, so we'd forgotten that it's not always bright and sunny when you're cycling across the country. The morning was absolutely miserable. After sleeping in till well after 9, we forced ourselves out of the tent and moved all of our stuff into the nearby picnic shelter. We had a meager breakfast, and then took forever to get all of our stuff together and hit the road. When we finally did, the weather wasn't as bad as we expected. We cycled over 60 km in about two hours, with a nice tail wind to help us along. After a breakfast part two in Emo that really dragged on, we cycled the rest of the way to Fort Frances, the geographical half-way point of Canada!

As soon as we arrived at the campsite, Dan got his first puncture of the trip! For once it was his bike, and not mine, that had the flat. After changing Dan's tube and eating dinner, it turned out to be quite a late night for us.


9 July 2007

I really enjoyed today's ride, particularly in the morning. Northern Ontario is quite scenic--you're always riding through vast forests, alongside jagged cliffs and between sparkling lakes. And the number of wildlife you encounter is astounding: this morning alone we saw five deer, two foxes, and even a bear! Neither Dan nor I had ever seen a bear before, and both of us have been quite paranoid about running into one. But it wasn't bad at all--we rode right by it as it was meandering in the ditch on the side of the road; when we looked behind us, it was walking across. What a sight!

Caliper Lake was absolutely amazing. We had the best campsite of our trip--right on the lake and surrounded by huge trees. We walked ten feet to the beach, went swimming, and were just perfectly content.


8 July 2007

After the beast of a day we had yesterday, a day off was much needed and well deserved. Everytime we have a day off, we always try to get everything we need to get done sorted out in the morning, so we can relax in the afternoon; but we always fail, and end up spending all day doing laundry, groceries, dealing with bikes, etc. Today was no different. We had completely forgotten it was a Sunday (you really don't need to keep track of days of the week when you're cycling across the country!), and that things tend to be closed or only open for a limited time on Sundays. When we arrived in town at about 10, we discovered that most things didn't open till about noon. So we wandered about for a little bit, and then dealt with our stuff.

At the local bike shop, Dan finally got some solid advice about his headset (the part just below the handlebars)--which had been creaking really loudly for a while--and I got a really good pair of gloves for cheap. But the best part was the words of wisdom we received when we asked about a certain chaffage problem caused by too many hours on a bike seat. We'd both been experiencing this problem for a while now, but it hadn't gotten bad until just recently. For me especially it made yesterday's ride almost unbearable. The mechanic at the shop told us we could buy some expensive, specialized creams, but there was something that would work just as well, at a fraction of the cost: diaper cream. I was willing to give anything a shot, so we went to the drug store and bought some. I sure am glad that we did! What a relief!

After finishing the rest of our chorse, we relaxed on the beach for a bit, made dinner, and headed to bed.
Oh, and yes, Geuvdjelian, I copied you with that picture.... but one of my Flickr contacts did it first!


7 July 2007

We had an early, but slow, start this morning. The winds just weren't on our side, and the ride seemed to drag on and on. About 70 km before the Ontario border, the forests and hills began. With the forests came flies--lots of them. At first, they didn't really bother me. But as we rode deeper into the forest, both their number and annoyingness increased drastically. They'd swarm around your head, often hitting you in the face, and bite you in the ass. At one point, I just couldn't take it anymore, they were driving me absolutely insane. I picked up the pace, and we booted it as fast as we could to a general store about 10 km away, where we bought some bug spray (ours had run out). I think this was one of the most horrible parts of the trip, and definitely where I did my hardest pedaling.

We took our lunch break in Whitehawk Lake, just before the Ontario-Manitoba border. Outside the restaurant, we met a guy from Selkirk, a town just outside of Winnipeg, who was really into cycling. Inside, he came over to out table and introduced us to his wife. Both were very impressed by out trip, and bought us our lunch!

We took a long time to hit the road again after lunch, and once we did, it got really hot. As we entered Ontario, the landscape became increasingly hilly, which was fun, but tough. At one point, after we had climbed a hill with a construction zone at the end, a car had pulled over. A woman got out, walked over to us, and handed me a bag of frozen strawberries. She had tears in her eyes, and said, "Here are some frozen strawberries. My father's going the other way. I don't know why I'm crying" and then walked straight to her car. I was dumbfounded, and barely managed to thank her. It's amazing how kind so many people are. This woman was obviously upset about something, yet she still took the time to stop and give us those berries. They were quite refreshing--pretty key on such a hot day.

The ride into Kenora was the longest and toughest of our trip. My feet and ass were aching, and we just didn't want to move on. It was a relief to finally reach Kenora, on Lake of the Woods, and go swimming.


6 July 2007

Today's ride was meant to be under 160 km, but got lengthened because our route incorrectly led us down a gravel road, which we followed for 3 or 4 km before realizing it was the wrong one. Our lunch was the latest we've had yet--95 km into our ride! Getting going again after lunch was tough, as the temperature had risen to 32 degrees Celsius. The sun was beating down on us, and those long, straight prairie stretches were quite challenging. To make matters worse, I was beginning to get really, really sleepy. There's nothing worse than riding in extreme heat when you feel like you're about to fall asleep. After a quick break in an air-conditioned convenience store, I had much more energy, and we raced all the way to Beausejour with few breaks. Our campsite there had the most mosquitos we've experienced yet, but made up for it with a river and a beach. We went swimming, had showers, and then cooked ourselves a delicious meal to finish off the day.


5 July 2007

We stopped in a town called Gladstone for breakfast part two today. We ate in the local hotel/motel, where we talked to our waiter and the manager for a while. They were quite impressed with our trip, so when we went to pay for our meal, the manager told us not to worry about it. Free breakfast + poor, hungry cyclists = AWESOME. part from that highlight, the ride into Portage was rather uneventful, but peaceful and scenic. I've decided that I quite like Manitoba--it's much more colourful and interesting than Saskatchewan, and there are more trees.

There wasn't much to see in Portage itself, but we had a great time there. We stayed in a campgroud that was basically just a big field scattered with some trees and the odd picnic table. When we arrived there at around 3, there were only two other tents set up. We soon found out that both belonged to cycle tourists, one a guy who was traveling west on a recumbent bicycle, and the other an Australian couple also cycling across Canada from west to east.

Ever since my bike fell over a few days ago, the gears just havent been in proper working order, so I was glad to find out that there was a bike shop in town, and a good one at that. Mike's Bike Shop was located in a residential neighbourhood and run out of a small garage. The mechanic there--grandson of the one and only Mike--fixed my gears quickly and easily. Dan and I had some fun trying out some of his cruiser bikes, and I got another spare inner tube. When we were ready to leave, I had my wallet out to pay for the inner tube and labour, but the mechanic didn't charge me! Instead, he gave me a souvenir--dust caps (for my inner tubes) shaped like bullets! Manitobans rock!


4 July 2007

For some reason, we had insane amounts of energy this morning--we cycled the 64 km into Minnedosa in little over two hours! Going so fast for such a long time was so much fun. I was riding directly behind Dan, and in my head we were racing in the Tour de France. Because we had a few things to take care of in town, we decided to call it a day and set up tent in Minnedosa, rather than going any further.


3 July 2007

Again, another solid day of cycling. We finally crossed the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border, again on a small, quiet country road. So far, I'm really enjoying Manitoba. Its slogan is "Friendly Manitoba," and its people have been living up to it--everyone's always smiling, waving and saying hello. The countryside is beautiful--much greener and less flat than Saskatchewan, with a number of deep valleys. I realized today how much stronger I've become since having started this trip--the climbs up and out of the valleys were challenging, but not impossibly so. I had a much harder time with similar climbs in BC.

Our campsite in Shoal Lake was the cheapest yet--$12! It was such a nice, calm campground, on a small lake (in which I went for a dip) and free firewood. What more you you ask?


2 July 2007

Today was the first solid cycling day we've had in a while, and it felt really good to get back into the swing of things. It was hot, but bearable, and we had a pleasant ride down small country roads with very little traffic. Our campsite in Esterhazy was well-maintained and cheap--just $13 a night, a steal of deal!


1 July 2007

The plan for this morning was to take off as late as possible, taking advantage of our hotel, a pollen-free zone. We had the best breakfast of our trip so far at the hotel, checked out, and then did some laundry and cleaned our bikes in town. By the time we had finished doing all of those things and (yet again) having ice cream, it was quite late; we were feeling much too lazy to get going again, so we decided to spend the night at the local campsite (Dan's allergies were acting up a bit less now), and really get going again tomorrow.

The campsite was the place to be on Canada Day--the local radio station was broadcasting from there, and fireworks were scheduled for later in the evening--so it was packed with people. Nevertheless, the site manager found a spot for us, hidden away in the bush, where it was to be much quiter at night than the rest of the site. Since it didn't include a picnic table, he gave it to us for free.

After putting up our tent, we went swimming in Echo Lake, where Dan managed to cut his foot on a sharp rock. Luckily, we've each been carrying first aid kits, and they came in handy. Dan's cut was on the ball of his foot in a place he couldn't see, right below his pinky toe; so, it became my job to clean it out for him. Normally, I'm not grossed out by the sight of blood. But having to clean this cut was truly a challenge. It was a few millimetres deep, and filled with tiny rocks and grains of sand that were embedded well inside. At first, the idea of having to really dig into the wound to get all of those bits out was highly unappealing. But soon enough, I became increasingly able to forget that it was blood that I was touching, rather than, say, the filling of a cherry pie. It helped to realize that it really wasn't hurting Dan all that much, and I got the hang of it. It was actually quite rewarding to pry out those bits, one by one. Hooray for Dr. Agnes!

Once I had bandaged Dan's foot up, we decided to head into town for some dinner. Not far from our campsite was the Bistro on Boundary, serving French-Canadian cuisine. Michaelle Jean once ate there, and Monique, the owner, was quite proud of that. We had the best meal of our trip at the Bistro--turkey dinner and wine follwed by saskatoon berry pie for dessert. We felt quite classy eating such good food and sipping our wine, but our class wasn't reflected in the price--only $9 for the dinner (just the turkey part)!

After our meal, we just couldn't be bothered to watch fireworks with the masses, so we listened to them from our tent instead.


30 June 2007

When we woke up this morning at 5:30, there was a massive thunderstorm going on outside. We stayed in our tent to let it pass, so we left a bit later than expected. About 3 km into our ride, Dan realized that one of his pedals, which had been coming loose since yesterday, needed fixing. We backtradcked, heading back into Regina, to the bike shop where I had gotten my bike repaired yesterday. By the time we had finished with the shop, we were already hungry. So, a mere 20 km into our ride, we stopped for breakfast part 2, at a Chinese-Canadian restaurant in Pilot Butte.

Small towns in Canada tend only to have one restaurant. And, three times out of four, it is a restaurant just like the one in Pilot Butte: "serving Chinese and Canadian cuisine." These restaurants are great--they are always run by a friendly Chinese couple, who usually have kids that run around in the back, or sit at a table and colour. You can order anything from a burger and fries to chop suey and chicken fried rice. And you only get chopsticks if you ask for them; these restaurants definitely cater to the rural, Western crowd.

After lunch, we had some ice cream, and by the time we finished, it was already 2. We were feeling quite lazy, but somehow managed to get ourselves moving. The ride into Fort Qu'Appelle was not pleasant. About 20 km east of our destination, Dan had an extreme allergic reaction, a "hay fever attack," as he put it. To make matters worse, my back tire decided to slowly release all of its air. Rather than waste time changing the inner tube, we stopped every 5 km or so to pump it up. But just as we were descending into the Qu'Appelle Valley--yes, Saskatchewan has valleys!--Dan had had enough of his allergies. His eyes were so itchy that he was going kinda crazy (I was quite worried), and even his nose was swollen! I told him to ride ahead to the nearest campsite to splash cold water on his face, while I walked my bike into the valley. It turned out that the nearest campsite was actually just an RV park, and Dan's condition was only worsening. We went to the nearest inn, where Dan could have some refuge from the evil pollen, and spent the night.