Day 44 – Serpent River to Manitoulin Island. The campsite was shrouded in mist when I awoke, which was a shame since my washed cycling clothes on the line, which were virtually dry when I went to sleep, were now freshly soaked again. You’d have to wait ages for the sun to burn off the mist and dry everything off again, including the tent, so as usual I packed up all my damp gear, had breakfast and hit the road.
- Today’s Distance (miles/km): 81 / 130
- Time in saddle: 7h 25
- Max/min temp (°c): 40°/21°
- Climb/descend (feet) : 2043 / 1998
- Calories used:
- Cafe time: 2h 55
We got talking around the campfire last night (many thanks again, Bill, Catherine, Stacey and Dave) about Lake Superior, and I mentioned the Edmund Fitzgerald, the huge ship that sank on the lake in 1975. They told me that there was a Gordon Lighfoot song by the same name, and after Brad dug out his Bluetooth speaker we listened to it there and then. It’s a sort of folk-song story-teller type number, full of colour and detail about the night of the storm that sank her.
Once the sun had burned off the mist, it promised to be an absolute scorcher. It was very humid and a baking sun broke through from about 9am. Having planned a long cycle in the cooler air first thing today, I only lasted for around two hours before the heat drove me into an air conditioned diner for a second breakfast.
I crossed the beautiful Serpent River, which suddenly changes character at this falls right beside the highway.
The day just got hotter and hotter, with everyone I met commenting on how hot it must be on a bike. Often it’s not as bad because of the breeze, but when you slow down to climb a hill, or stop for a breather, you boil. I passed lots of interesting places today – one motel showed what can be done to a forecourt and a boring expanse of wall if you really put your mind to it:
There was a very friendly lady working the STOP sign at the start of a construction zone today, asking me about my trip and so on. She asked where I’d started and I told her, the Pacific, and when she asked me where I was headed, I said “Wendy’s”, which was true having just seen a sign and it being well past lunchtime. She told me it wasn’t far, had air con and wifi. After she had waved me through I cycled for a while until I passed another worker by the roadside, and I heard her walkie-talkie crackle into life: “Cyclist coming through…crackle… he’s heading for Wendy’s…crackle…let him through…”. She saw I’d heard and we both laughed.
I saw this sign today. I’m a bit worried about what might have been going on in there.
After lunch at Wendy’s (salad! And chips) I turned right off the transcanada for the first time in a while and headed south for Manitoulin Island, aiming to catch a ferry tomorrow over to Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. The change of road, of towns, and of scenery was huge.
If you ever wanted to develop an awareness of geology, you could do worse than to cycle for days and days through the igneous rock territory of Lake Superior, then head down here to Manitoulin Island, to be met by the same cutaways on the highway, but made of thick and crumbling sedimentary layers. Honestly, it just stops you dead in your tracks! Although I’m interested, I wouldn’t really count myself as someone who would be that attuned to rock variation, but that seems to have changed since living on a bicycle.
Geological time can do your head in. It’s a bit like the vast spaces of Canada; it’s hard to really grasp a sense of scale. Go back in geological time a couple of clicks and it’s not The Great Lakes, but The Great Lake, singular. Go back a couple more clicks and it’s The Great Glacier, covering almost the entire North American Continent, flattenening and compressing the land in the middle whilst depositing a great wealth of minerals. And when it finally melted at the end of the ice-age, the story of The Great Lakes began. Before this trip, I had personal experience of only Lake Michigan (well, Chicago really, but I did walk on the lake once when it was frozen), Lake Huron (Georgian Bay, sailing with Susie’s father Morley, and staying by the beach for a week together with his wife Dinah), and Lake Ontario on countless occasions on our summer trips. The lakes are very nearly still fully connected too, but Erie and Ontario are a bit stand-offish down there on the right. Niagara Falls joins them together.
There are days when the effort it takes to cycle the final stretch is so worth it. The campsite that I’ve finally arrived at this evening, as well as being beautiful and right by the water on this stunning island, is well known locally for its home-cooked food, so after the usual setting up and showering (bliss) I got over to the restaurant and ordered a big plate of liver, bacon, onions, mash, gravy, served with corn, coleslaw and a fresh bread roll. It’s unlicensed so I drank endless glasses of iced water like a good boy. I’m now waiting for my homemade Bumbleberry (a mix of blueberry, cherry and raspberry) Pie and ice cream. Sleep is not far off.