After a few delays and a lot of built up anticipation, we were ready and excited to finally greet the road. The house was sold and my belongings were either donated or traded for some shiny quarters. It was sad to part with the past eleven years of my life, but it was also liberating.
Being accustomed to comfort, convenience and close relationships with my friends and family, it will take some adjusting to this new lifestyle. I will miss many things and people, but the toughest thing I am currently dealing with is being separated from my cats. I can’t yet forgive myself for leaving them. Mama is 16 years old and Belle is 11. Although they are safe and being well taken care of by my mom and brother, I hope they will be ok for the next few years.
August 20th, 2011 was day 1 of our adventure. We packed up our gear, exchanged hugs with loved ones and rode through Hamilton one last time until we return.
Good ol’ Hamilton is where this adventure was born. With a population of half a million, it is just the right size for comfort. Known as “Steel Town”, Hamilton is an industrial city located in southern Ontario at the center of the golden horseshoe. With an escarpment separating the upper and lower parts, it is also known for having over one hundred waterfalls.
From Hamilton, we headed north to visit with Rocky’s dad. The weather was beautiful and traffic was flowing for the first few hours, but the roads quickly became congested with vehicles and clouds began to turn the skies grey. It didn’t take long before we got hit with a lot of rain. We chose not to stop and we continued north until the skies cleared. The ride wasn’t as bad as I imagined it could be, but my butt was definitely sore.
Larder lake is a really small town with less than 1000 people. We arrived with just enough sunlight to catch a glimpse of it’s beauty. Rocky’s dad, Conrad, and his wife, Lorrain, have property that faces the lake. The view is perfect after a long day. We were spoiled with our own apartment above Conrad’s garage and we stayed a few days to spend some time with him. I now know where Rocky gets his charm from.
Three nights and many beers and cigarettes later, we awoke to dark clouds and packed up to ride towards Timmins, Ontario. We went on route to visit with more of Rocky’s Family. His cousin Brandon had offered us a place to stay for the night, and Brandon’s wife Tracey prepared a yummy dinner. Wine, candy and a lot of laughs made for a great night. It is a short but sweet visit in Timmins.
On August 24th, we spent a long day on the road. We saw many gold mines, forests and lakes. The roads were busy with construction and trucks, but I always enjoyed when a truck full of freshly cut lumber left it’s scent. We rode towards Lake Superior and set up the tent near the waters edge. Our first night in our new home was beautifully located, and the thunder helped me to sleep at night. The following day we prepared for another long ride along Lake Superior. We now regret rushing to make up distance because we didn’t take any pictures of the stunning scenery. “Ontario, yours to discover!”
The following day, we made a trip to the university Rocky went to, and took a break for a couple of hours to wash and shower at the recreation center before getting back on the road. By sunset, we reached a town called Ignace and set up the tent on the side of the road. I have to admit, I didn’t want to set up camp there. It was beside a motel truck stop on a small patch of tall grass under a street light. It was an odd and random place, but I slept well.
Having planned and thought about this trip for so long, the anticipation had me wishing that time would somehow speed up so that I could finally realize this journey that had lived inside my head for all that time. In the month or so leading up to our departure date, there was still so much to do that I found myself needing more time to ready ourselves for the trip.
Our original departure date was set for July 23rd, but delays in selling Paula’s house and getting my full “M” motorcycle license set us back about one month. This was somewhat frustrating, but, at the same time, was a bit of a relief. The delay allowed us to better prepare, tie up all loose ends and spend more time with Mama and Belle, and our families and friends.
Our date of departure finally arrived, and we set off from my mother’s house on Kitty Murray Lane in Ancaster, Ontario.
We said good-bye to our families and finally hit the open road. The weather, heading off, was warm and sunny. My motorcycle, Almeida, and I were not accustomed to riding with so much weight. Halfway between Toronto and Barrie, the traffic came to a stall, and was stop-and-go for about, what seemed like, two hours. When it finally broke, we were hit by a torrential downpour. We rode through the rain and the sun finally broke through the clouds as we rode into North Bay. Shortly after leaving North Bay, a bird, flying up from the center of the road, met my forearm and its demise. 656km later, Paula, Almeida and I pulled into my father’s driveway just as the sun was setting. It was nice to arrive after my longest day ever on the bike. All three of us welcomed a good rest.
We spent three nights with my father and his wife. For one reason or another, my father hadn’t been around for much of my life. During these three days, I felt that I got to know more of my father than I did in the first 33 years of my life.
Our next destination was Timmins, Ontario to stay the night with my cousin, Brandon and his wife, Tracy. It was a short ride of roughly 150km, with a brief stop at a bike shop in Kirkland Lake, where Adam, a mechanic at Northern Freedom, helped us changed our clutch oil. That evening, we had dinner and wine with my cousin, his wife, my Aunt Marianne and her husband, Jean.
We left Timmins the next morning to try to make up some distance. Over the next few days, we stopped in Marathon and Ignace, Ontario and, for the first time with no place to stay, we had to find spots to pitch our tent.
Heading out of Ontario, I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t gotten out my camera much to take photos of the scenery. This was, in part, because I had been trying to make up some time and distance and, trying to get use to the riding, needed to concentrate much on the road.
Our next stop: Alberta.