Day 43 – Sault Ste. Marie to Serpent River

Day 43 – Sault Ste. Marie to Serpent River. On and on we go, never really stopping and never going back. I see a lot as I go but never get to stay and explore much. And each new town is gone before I even know I’m there as I set off for the new challenge. I love a nice motivational phrase to get you fired up before embarking on something. In the music world, there’s often an ironic version of this as you prepare to head through the stage doors and out onto the stage. A few favourites:

1. Unknown artist, heard going onstage with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (in the “Let’s Paintball” voice from the Fast Show) “Let’s symphony!”

2.The orchestral manager of the London Mozart Players for many, many years, David Wilson (I joined in 1985 and he did it then) always stopped us chatting and got us out there with lusty (strong Welsh accent) “We AARRRE going on!!”

3. David Alberman, violinist with the LSO and contender for funniest guy in a tailcoat, always says, with mock grimness, “See you on the ice”

4. The most common, said everywhere as you hesitate on the cusp of greeting your adoring public: “Shall we?”

I’ve been invoking my own mantra at the start of the cycling day lately, “Let’s Trans this Canada!” but sometimes it doesn’t do it for me, so I revert to the more extreme and bossy “C’mon! Canada won’t cross itself!”

  • Today’s Distance (miles/km): 103 / 167
  • Time in saddle: 7h 38
  • Max/min temp (°c): 36°/16°
  • Climb/descend (feet) : 1872 / 1869
  • Calories used: 5099
  • Cafe time: 2h 30

On the subject of never going back, I remember seeing an interview a few years ago with two young American guys who had landed the job of writing the screenplay for the new James Bond movie. They were familiar with all the usual Bond calling-cards: vodka martini (shaken not stirred), tasteless gag at the demise of the Bond villain, all zippers to be undone with a magnetic watchstrap etc, but one rule surprised them. They were told, when plotting out Bond’s movements, “Bond never goes back”. The storyline can, and other characters too, but not James. I’ve not checked this out myself but suspect it might well be true. Any opinions out there? The person who would probably  know is my brother Oliver, who’s a resident of Florida but currently enjoying a short stay at his old Cambridge college, Churchill, which leads me seamlessly and shamelessly on to plugging Ol’s new book, just out in paperback, “Espionage in British Fiction and Film Since 1900“. 

Almost as soon as I’d left SSM, the peace and quiet returned, with lots of river views, forests, and houses set back amongst the trees. As I crossed a long bridge, I saw this painted on the railway bridge running alongside:

I’m guessing that this protest has been there for a while, predating the more PC and respectful “First Nation”. I saw a beach name the other day that I meant to pass on to Susie, but forgot, so I’ll do it now. Almost since I’ve known her she has sung a song that her half-sisters Selena and Joanna taught her on one of her childhood visits to Canada. I can hardly bring myself to write it, since she now sings it mostly to wind me up. It’s a kind of nonsense song, or so I thought, and it begins with a call-and-answer “Cumalada cumalada cumalada vista” and gets to the line “Ishkibible-oten-toten-mobo-oh I can’t remember the rest”. Check out this beach I passed outside Thunder Bay the other day Susie, Selena and Joanna:

I just need to find “Oowallawallameany Beach” now.
The evening I got the cab back from Low & Slow in Sault Ste. Marie, the lady driver, when I opened the rear door, said “Don’t feel like talkin’, eh?”. It made me think of FOTB Gill Kent’s late father Brian, chief photographer with the Vancouver Sun for many years, whom I got to know when the Guildhall Strings were stationed in Vancouver for a month in 1986, playing at the British Pavillion of Expo 86. Brian and Gill’s mum Rollie would ferry us everywhere by minivans, hired for the occasion. Several times Brian greeted me from the minivan, engine revving, with a cheerful (Aussie accent) “Morning Ben! How about joining me up here in the high-impact zone?”

The flags finally got a proper clean yesterday, left to soak for a while in the bath. They came out looking, well, similar but slightly fresher. I do hope that they all make it back home. (Note the floor towel used as a plug due to the absence of a proper one)

If you laugh at a tv advert in our house, someone (probably me) might well say “You laughed!”, meaning “They got you!”. I confess that there’s an ad showing here that gets me every tine. Dad is feeding baby in his high chair, baby’s face is covered with food, dad thinks he’d better clean up baby before mum gets home so goes to find wipes, comes back, finds baby’s face miraculously clean all over. Shot of confused dad. Back to smiling baby, and in the background you can see a cute dog, who, after a couple of beats, licks his chops. “You laughed!”. At least I can’t remember what the ad is for , so they didn’t completely get me.

I’ve finally found out what the gravel beach beside the road is for. This horse and cart had no trouble at all negotiating its varying depths of gravel, from deep to deeper, and the horse seemed to loving the soft landing. 

I passed a fine small marina en route today, but I’m not sure of the name. It was so peaceful at the end of the pier, with people cleaning up their boats and gutting fish. This was a spot I would happily have spent the morning just sitting, reading, drinking coffee.

“My, she was Yar!”
I think this would be more in my price range, and it was called “Pass The Buck” (Torn):

One of two other things made me slam on the brakes today:

And after all the clam/calm fuss yesterday, how about this?:

More from the “Signs that are funny” dept. – the point of an apostrophe between letters is to repla’e a letter, so this is a perfectly legitimate use, IMHO.

The site here in Serpent River is another good one, with lots of space, a shop open until late, great showers and an outdoor pool. I was met by a young lad doing a few very impressive wheelies on his bike, and I threatened to have a go on mine. Once the tent was up and I’d showered, I had a therapy session in the pool on my shoulders – backstroke is the best thing ever for that! Then back at the tent I was greeted with a “knock-knock!” from neighbouring camper Stacey (mum of Brad doing wheelies), asking if I’d like to come over for a burger tonight. I was so touched by them thinking to invite me, and accepted before she’d finished asking. Stacey and her husband Dave plus Brad and Cass their two kids (don’t forget the rescue chihuahua Jack who can open a grill with his teeth if there’s food inside), from Philadelphia, were travelling with their relatives Bill and Catherine from near Windsor, Ontario. We had a great evening chatting about learning music at school, their jobs, and enjoying the superb home made burgers courtesy of Bill, (who also turned out to be a guitarist) and I really enjoyed being the temporary part of a family camp out. The uke made a brief appearance, plus a short uke-club-style tutorial for Brad and Cass (sorry guys, I can’t help it). They had a fire going and they taught me how to make a proper “s’mores”, using my Swedish toasting prongs for the marshmallows for the first time on this trip! I had to say goodnight a little earlier than I would have liked, since there’s always quite a lot to do before turning in. Thanks so much for a great evening here on the edge of Lake Huron guys!

15 thoughts on “Day 43 – Sault Ste. Marie to Serpent River

  1. Ben; Little did you know as you passed them that I left an architectural trail in S.S.Marie, Sioux
    Lookout, and beautifull Timagami Lake long long ago,long ago.
    You are about to round the great Georgian Bay, north and eastern coasts,where for many years we cruised in Manana.
    Spanish pronunciation, please. You are now getting into fancy cottage and boat country;we love it, and hope you do. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Love from Mayta and Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can just see you now, sailing up the coastline, Jerry at the helm like Jack Aubrey, and with Mayta, like Stephen Maturin, espying the coastline for a good place to stop (for dinner, not iguana-chasing) I’m in Tobermory enjoying the local brewing company restaurant. Bx


  2. What a treasure trove of pensees from apostrophes to obscure songs to distance and time and never going back. It’s mindblowing enough just inking in the line of your journey and remembering the Rockies, a life time ago, and the prairies, and, and….
    Beautiful pic of horse and trap. Ithink it might be a Surrey, without the fringe on top?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You mustn’t mention “the surrey song” mum, because for some unknown (to me) reason, it makes me choke up. The same as I Could Have Danced All Night. No idea why but it has the power of strong liquor. Finally got the means to post the blog today after a few days of frustration. How is everyone? Spk soon Bxx


  3. Another cornucopia of a blog, Ben, filled with the most interesting stuff. Another century, too – bravo on both counts! I think you deserve an even bigger Muskoka chair after your Herculean efforts on the bike.

    Vancouver (and Boundary Bay) are in good shape – thank you for thinking of us. But our hearts go out to our fellow British Columbians who are suffering with the terrible wildfires
    and hot, dry weather.

    Loved your reminiscence of Gill’s dad, you really caught his warmth and sense of humor – qualities of the man we miss. Thank you for that.

    Keep the blogs coming – our day isn’t complete without a new post.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great work on the century again! ‘Let’s trans this Canada!’ Might require a rainbow flag for that one…?


  5. Hello Ben!
    “No no no, not the vista!” Hope you didn’t have that song on a permanent loop in your brain after seeing the Ishkabibble sign! I’m reminded of a song that Susie taught us at around the same time (think she and a friend made it up during French lessons):
    “N’oublie pas le bas (n’oublie pas le bas)
    I’ve got a cochon rose (n’oublie pas le bas)
    And that is you! (Toot! Toot!)”

    On the subject of orchestral musician catchphrases, we had something we always said to each other during orchestra rehearsals when things didn’t go, shall we say, quite as planned. We worked very often with M. Jurovskij, an old Russian who’d been living in Germany for 40 years, something which affected his English syntax in quite a fabulous way. (“In this moment, a little one too few it was”, for example). We were playing the dress rehearsal of a Shostakovich symphony with a huge trumpet solo, and the principal trumpeter made a few mistakes. Maestro cut off the orchestra and, after a moment of profound silence, said: “In the concert, we can only hope”. “We can only hope” became a very useful and well-used rallying cry for the woodwind section. Hope they still use it (left the orchestra 4 years ago).

    Have a great few days of cycling; can’t wait to see you here in Toronto soon!
    Lots of love,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that one, thanks Joanna. Stories relating to you keep cropping up in the blog! Must be the closing in on Toronto… Many memories prompted by it for me too. Vilem Tausky, Czech conductor and ex-international goalkeeper, after listening to the orchestra tune up in rehearsal: (with utter contempt) “Ha! Everyone’s a soloist”


    2. I love that story, Joanna! Also love it that you remember my very childish song…

      Do you remember
      ‘My boyfriend’s name is Larry
      And he comes from Cincinnati
      With a pickle on his nose
      And 14 toes
      And this is how my story goes’
      from the same trip? Funnily enough, Ben, it was during car journeys to and from Manatoulin Island (see next blog) that we shared these favourite songs as we first go to know each other (Selena too!) and I’ve just realised that it was EXACTLY 40 YEARS ago that I was in Canada for the first time, meeting all my amazing new family. I was 13, had never travelled alone before and was extremely homesick for the first few days. After a month, I had grown about a foot (yes yes, the growing slowed down after that) and didn’t want to leave. And that’s been the same ever since: I HATE to leave at the end of a trip.
      We should have anniversary celebrations this year!

      See you very soon, Joanna.

      Lots of love XXX

      Liked by 1 person

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