Day 45 – Green Acres, Manitoulin Island to Tobermory, via the ferry! This really is a stunningly beautiful island, a natural garden of wild flowers, varied bird life, rolling hills and wide, wide lake views. Anyone feeling adventurous??
- Today’s Distance (miles/km): / 54
- Time in saddle: 3h 19
- Max/min temp (°c): 20°/14°
- Climb/descend (feet) : 781 / 755
- Calories used: 1707
- Cafe time: 1h 42
I know I would have slept like a log last night after that great supper if it hadn’t started raining in the night, which woke me up, which got me wondering if I’d really shut everything up tight before I went to bed. Nothing for it but to check. If anyone was still watching re-runs of MASH in their huge motor homes around 2am and happened to look outside, they would have seen a rather damp Englishman in just his boxers (no point in getting dry clothes wet, and at least it’s not cold!), wearing a headtorch and a baseball cap, grabbing washing off the line and tightening up bicycle panniers. Well, you might have thought, I’m glad I’m in here, not out there. Back in the tent I dried off and listened to the latest Tour de France podcast which transported me straight to a dream involving, not surprisingly, cycling. That’s all I remember.
I mentioned, in an earlier blog, Upsala, Ontario, and a trip to Sweden for (Susie’s half-sister) Joanna and Esse’s wedding in Småland. The morning afterwards we packed up our car, not forgetting to also pack up our two very little ones, Sam and Jacob, and set of for a week of camping by the sea on Ōland, a small island just a road-bridge away, south east of the mainland (can’t find the key for the correct spelling!). Manitoulin Island keeps reminding me of that wonderful spot, where apparently the King and Queen of Sweden take their summer holidays because it has hardly any mosquitoes. Like Oland, there is very little topsoil here and the trees don’t grow much higher than a double-decker bus (that imperial London-centric measurement). Wild flowers and grasses proliferate in the moist climate, creating perfect bouquet after bouquet beside the road to take the edge off the effort of cycling to South Baymouth for the ferry. If you stop mowing any patch of grass here it seems that you get an instant wildflower garden:
Heading the other way, I met Tim. He’d come from my destination, St John’s, Newfoundland, but was ending his trans-Canadian trip at his home town of Vancouver. He’s retired but used to work for Save on Foods supermarkets, whose produce weighed my bike down throughout BC and Alberta. We swapped experiences for a while, talked routes, life away from a bicycle, weather, then got a picture each and headed on our separate ways. I’m crossing fingers that the westerly wind that carried me through the Prairies so fast will have transformed itself into an easterly one by the time that Tim gets there.
(For bike-types, you can just see the unusual chunky bar end shifters, normally seen on straight bars. The bike was bought from the man who runs a famous cycling website, crazyguyonabike.
Just as I arrived at the ferry pier in South Baymouth, the predicted heavy rain started up and I was kindly allowed by all the nice, dry motorists to head to the front of the queue to get my ferry ticket:
Then I dashed across the harbour to the Authentic Belgian Waffle Company for a second breakfast of bacon and eggs with a huge pile of proper Belgian waffles and syrup. And great coffee and company, thanks so much Steve and Tammy Reynolds, who own this place, for making me so welcome. Steve worked in the mining industry in Sudbury and is expert in local geology, which was fascinating, describing the immense sloping sheets of limestone on the island, creating areas of deeper soil briefly afterwards, before the next outcrop of rock breaks through again. There are excellent fossils everywhere, he told me, all you have to do is look. They are also both involved with a Children’s Charity in Honduras, where I sponsor a child through SOS Children’s Villages, and had made the trip down to the capital, Tegucigalpa, so we got in a discussion about the area, the famous Copan Mayan Ruins and their amazing guide who took them to a site that no-one knows about (there are issues concerning water usage) and about my grandfather’s extraordinary experiences down there in the early 1930s, of which much more another time. I told them about the fantastic two-volume book published in 1843 by John L. Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, and urged them to read it. I urge all the Friends of the Blog to do the same. The story is absolutely gripping, described by Edgar Allen Poe as “Perhaps the most interesting book of travel ever published”, and a bit like reading an H Rider Haggard-type adventure, but it’s all true. Stephens was the first person to realise the age and significance of the Mayan ruins of Copan and the Yucatan, and did the first surveys of the sites, having “bought” the land for a handful of dollars from a local Don. I picked them both up for £0.01p second hand on Amazon. They’re almost worth reading just for the very fine etchings of the ruins by Fredrick Catherwood, who sadly did not survive the trip.
Thanks also to Tammy for help identifying the pair of large birds I saw wandering through a grassy field. Sandhill cranes, apparently, and sorry about the very grainy photo. Through my binoculars they looked great!:
…and useful tips on good cycling routes down through the Bruce Peninsula and on into the Greater Toronto Area from Steve! So glad I stopped here. Whilst I was inside the most enormous downpour started, making it feel very cozy and comfortable to be inside chatting and eating and drinking coffee. I’ve booked a motel tonight to avoid the likely further soaking this evening:
This was my first ferry journey since coming back to sunny Tswassen from Vancouver Island all those weeks and miles ago. Nothing cheers me up like a nice ferry journey, and I was in a pretty good mood to begin with. The best paint job I’ve ever seen on a ferry adds to the pleasure of this crossing, which takes about as long as Dover-Calais:
You can see that bikes go right to the front of the queue, and are loaded first. So I got a prime spot upstairs with (another) coffee and comfy chairs. Normally I’d be out on deck, but I’m pretty well supplied with open-air experiences at the moment so instead I enjoyed the windless calm of the upper-deck lounge, and a nice view back to the Waffle place and lighthouse in South Baymouth. My ukulele is close at hand, as ever, should the ferry encounter any unexpected difficulties between here and Tobermory.
A new section, called “Oh come on, this is getting ridiculous”
Second ridiculous thing was this coincidence last night. After braving the rain, and before sending myself to sleep with the cycling podcast, I briefly tried a tv series I’ve downloaded about Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott. Right at the start she’s standing on a high wooden diving board, about to dive into the river, and her motivational cry to herself to pluck up the courage to do it?