The Long Way Around travel blog


Oh Ca-na-da....

well we managed to sneak across the border yesterday morning and are once again in the country of my birth. the thing I love about traveling is that you never know what you are going to get, you can have all the expectations in the world, but the reality can be quite different. time and time again this concept has rung true.

on this trip I arrived in New York City, this huge metropolis that expected to be rude and impersonal. but I found it to be warm and endearing. as we crossed into Canada at Niagara Falls I was hoping to find the Canada that I love, clean, beautiful, friendly and enchanting. but expectations have a nasty way of turning on you...

The Canadian side of the border was a shock to the system. the relaxed country living in NY state gave way to congested streets, anxious drivers, strip malls, stripper bars and fast food. as we peddled out of town my heart sank, I love this country but not all of it. I was hoping to show my Kiwi friend the best of Canada but instead we stumbled into the worst of it, as I said expectations can be a bitch...

Leaving the city and onto the open road wasn't much of an improvement. where the roads in America were wide, freshly paved and rimmed with a shoulder you could drive a Caddie on. up here in the Great White North, there isn't a shoulder at all and most often the edges of the road are a minefields of potholes and frost heaves. Add to that drivers who seem to enjoy passing within inches it makes me long for the bike lanes, respectful drivers and pristine pavement of Midtown Manhattan!!!

with all that in the mix there was a brutal headwind to welcome us to Ontario. progress was slow and our spirits were only slightly higher. there is a concept that I have experienced in running marathons that I call the Grey-World, when the pain of keeping the body moving becomes a constant it eventually fades into the background of the mind. like a toothache or fingers getting too cold in that first autumn storm, the pain transitions to a dull numbness. when you get into grey-world the scenery passes by like you are observing from the safety of a car and your legs just seem to function on their own. you are taken along for the ride and the mind goes to a different place, a place where thought moves from the present to a purgatory of kinetic meditation. like the endurance of a sweat lodge or a waking dream the inhibitions of the present tense are removed and conscious thought moves to the deeper reaches of the mind. in many ways it is the real goal of endurance athletics - but like all things in life worthy of aspiring to the road can be a bit painful...

after cranking out 130km the day before we only managed to endure half that when we pulled into Dunnville on the Lake Erie shore. it was a micro town that seemed to be between the ice fishing season and the mud-bogging festival. there were three hotels - a nice looking one that was full, a grim roach-motel that was closed and a cinderblock bomb shelter that had but one room left. but with 30km to the next town into the wind, we decided to opt for the hovel. despite the fact that the accommodation was pretty grim, we were thrilled to have it.

over a surprisingly good Chinese dinner we hatched a plan - we would wake up super early and hit the road in the wee hours. in an attempt to beat the wind out of bed and cover some serious miles before it picked up in the afternoon. at 6am we emerged from the Bates Motel wearing all the clothes we had and pushed off into the morning fog and thankfully calm conditions.

but as I was saying expectations can come back to haunt you. while we desired to clock up some serious km's it was not to be. the combination of the days on the road and a nasty cold on Andrews' part caused us to have a bit of a rethink. after a valiant effort on Andrews behalf and 60km we decided to call it a day in Simcoe at an oasis of a Holiday Inn complete with Hot Tub. it has been paradise! we are going to take a rest day here tomorrow and hit the road again the next day, continuing westward.

The definition of adventure is an undertaking where the result is uncertain - we wanted an adventure and that is what we have experienced. there have been surprises, challenges, disappointments, triumphs, setbacks, suffering, elation and comradeship. and to be perfectly honest I wouldn't have it any other way...

~Scott

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