Difference between revisions of "Travels With A Donkey Slashed Out Moped"

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Robert Mosurinjohn claims to have traveled 7500 miles across Canada on his moped.  This has never been independently verified, and there is no evidence to support it apart from some pictures of a heavily laden Tomos Targa.
Confirmed .. http://www.mmic.ca/images/content/PDF/Upshift%2025.pdf .. see story Slow Motion Traveller
Travels With  A (Donkey slashed out) Moped
Through the (Cevennes slashed out) Curves of Space and Time
Dedicated to Modestine,
and all Donkeys and Beasts of Burden  Everywhere,
and remembering Robert Louis Stevenson.
Chapter One
“As I wandered through the wilderness of this world.
                                                    John Bunyan
      A winding, hilly, semi-wilderness track running through 160
miles (270 Kilometers) of rock-hard, rugged, creek and river
terraced, Blueberry and Evergreen emboldened landscape inhabited
and ranged by Black Bear, Coyote, (wolf? Cougar?) Wild Turkey,
Loons, Monster Muskies, hermits, hillbillies, fishers, hunters,
summer cottagers, water gypsies travelling the Trent-Severn and
Rideau Canal systems, tourist operators, road gypsies, truckers,
artists, sellers of genuine and imitation handicrafts, miners,
loggers, and those most fortunate of human beings known as Tree
Huggers and Nature Freaks' is a reasonable description of Highway
7 connecting the city of Ottawa, which is part of Canada’s Capital
Region, with a lesser city of Peterborough, Ontario.
      While this Number 7 wildland was not nearly as wild as Grizzly
Bear lands that I would moped in before my trip was done, this land
can be as dangerous as some of the world’s savage, large cities, so
the short, siren call of the Ontario Provincial Police Cruiser coming
from behind me, and obviously signaling me to stop my slow-
moving moped on the highway’s gravel shoulder came as no
surprise.  The O.P.P. patrols here are concerned as much with
the non-traffic related safety of individuals as they are with
enforcing traffic laws, and hitchikers have told me stories of being
picked up along wild stretches by the O.P.P. and driven into one of
the small, isolated communities where the hitchhiker could ‘thumb’
in more security.
      When planning my moped-camping expedition a concern I rated
above traffic competition was roadside encounters with bears who
could view my small, low profile and quiet progress as a young
moose or fawn, in which case my slow acceleration and 30 m.p.h.
top speed would provide little security as bears can run equally fast.
A fresh story from a geologist friend elevated my bear fears.  It
seems my friend’s geologist friend was stooped down taking samples
when a bear, with one swipe of a paw, heheaded the geologist. 
Bears are evidently capable of great stealth, and I have been
persuaded not to wear Khaki in the bush, my normal outdoor attire
being a long sleeved white shirt which identifies me either as a
human or the hind end of a white tailed deer.  It seems we can run
but we can’t hide in the bush.  However, another reason I wear
white is to make myself more visible to hunters, who only rarely, I
assume, shoot deer in the ass.
      During my trip’s 7,500 miles of road running, much of that on
rural roads, I was a great curiosity to creatures either wild or
tamed, and also to most humans.  I did have have four intimate
encounters with bears on my trip, two of them while riding, as well
as equally thrilling encounters with other animals wild and tame
such as the wild west prairie stallion with his mare who answered
my high spirited ‘whinny’ with a race beneath the Big Skyprairie. 
Birds in the west also enjoyed racing me, I having three or four
such experiences and being fully persuaded that each bird was in a
high-hearted contest. I also unintentionally stampeded two herds of
cattle and one herd of horses; and during a midnight run beneath a
full moon on an almost vacant prairie highway in southern
Manitoba I found myself very cautiously, very slowly maneuvering
my way between huge, ghostly forms of cattle which had wandered
their way onto the pavement.       
      On Ontario Number 7 Highway, though, on this first day of my
trip in late May, I had corralled an O.P.P. officer’s attention because
my heavily-laden, low-powered moped and me had for many
minutes been blocking the progress of a gargantuan motor home
driven by a modern pioneer pilgrim explorer who had insufficient
experience piloting his or her behemoth to allow necessary distance
between us to allow me to reduce my already slow speed sufficiently
to make a safe exit from the paved portion onto the dangerously
soft, sand and gravel shoulder. When I say this motor home was a
giant, I can add that in my opinion as a professionally trained driver
the motor home was wide enough to have rated a police escort on
this narrow highway. My driver’s education is not minimal, with its
professional leg coming during my pre-Peacenik stint with the
Canadian Armed Forces during which I drove troop-carrying trucks
towing artillery pieces.  I must say here that my Militia stint did
little to prepare me for the moped trip, except make the vehicle
greatly preferable over hiking long, long, long, long distances
carrying heavy loads; but if my moped had been towing an artillery
piece I would have been justified in saying “Blast this motor home!” 
It took the entire width of the lane, and he was following me so
closely that I thought he must be trying to improve his gasoline
miles-per-gallon performance by either: hoping the tiny low
pressure vortices created by my passing through our atmosphere
would suck his beast along in the manner race car drivers follow
their competition nose to tail where the partial vacuum drags them
along, saving gasoline needed for ferocious passing attempts; or the
motor home driver was attempting to reduce his gasoline
consumption by sucking any unburned hydrocarbons from my little
exhaust pipe directly into his voracious carburetor.  His gain would
have been small, because despite my heavy load of camping and
cooking gear, water, spare gasoline and two-cycle oil, tool kit and
spare inner tube, food and clothing for two seasons, my 1.9
horsepower engine propelled me at a constant 130 highway miles
per gallon, leaving practically nothing in its exhaust of value for
anyone, but also, by the way, harming nothing either, because
modern 2 cycle (also called two-stroke) engines use precision
pumps to inject minute amounts of specialized oil into the gasoline
just ahead of the combustion chamber, and most of the unburned
oil condenses in the muffled exhaust pipe instead of being emitted
as oily smoke like the old style, gas-oil premix engines.  Since my
trip ended I have switched to synthetic two-stroke oil which is
advertised as being even more environmentally friendly, as well as
not being so inclined to rob power by slow buildup of carbon in the
exhaust port and exhaust pipes.  Also since my trip ended I have
become aware that there is almost a ‘culture of disconnection’ of the
oil injection system among some mopeders who see oil injection as
being prone to failure, thereby putting the engine at risk of seizure. 
I became aware of the disconnet philosophy when I engaged in
internet chat on the Moped Army site.  Our debate reached no
concensus, some individuals preferring to mix their own oil and gas
to eliminate any risk of oil failure, while others including myself
retaining ours while viewing the main risk of failure coming from
forgetting to fill the two cycle oil reservoir, and properly maintain
equipment.  If I wanted to carry on the small animosity which
developed during the debate I would say that the disconect people
used risk of failure as an excuse for their addiction to gasoline
sniffing, but I don’t want to carry that animosity on so we can
pretend I never made that statement. 
      Environmentalism is one reason I will not disconnect the
injector which measures precise amounts of oil into the gas, and
environmentalism, as well as economy, makes my moped my only
choice of personal, motorized transportation at this time.  I am
afforded that luxury because I don’t have any other need for a
motor vehicle.  Of course a bicycle would be even more
environmentally friendly, and for the past two decades, until
purchasing my moped, had been my only wheels. Three decades
ago I toured 1500 miles on a 10-speed bicycle, but now my 60 year
old, slightly damaged knees will not allow a return to long
distance bicycle travel.
      So then, there I was on Highway 7, almost being devoured by a
wheeled monster, its driver sitting so high above me, and so
unprofessional in attitude, that had I slowed to a speed sufficient to
allow my narrow (2 ½ inches) tires a safe exit onto an extremely
narrow, very soft shoulder, he or she probably would have run me
right over, me becoming a soft bump not unlike the pavement’s
frost heaves.  To make matters worse, this stretch of particularly
twisting and hilly highway prevented the motor home from passing.
To the driver’s credit he or she did not once lean on his or her horn
in aggravation; and relief for motor home and I eventually came in
the form of a long, steep incline, the grade of which gradually
slowed not only my moped but also the monster. Coming at the
right time was a widening and firming of the shoulder, and I, with
my moped long ago having automatically downshifted to first gear,
and now speeding along a about seven miles per hour, very
thankfully pulled off, the motor home rumbling slowly past. I then
activated my turn-signal indicator light to prepare for a return to
the pavement, and at that same time came the O.P.P.’s brief siren.
I stopped, dismounted, set my bike up on its ‘ upside down Y’ type
kickstand, and removed my helmet. I was not worried about
legalities because I had all necessary licensing and insurance, and I
knew that mopeds are legal on all highways in most provinces in
Canada except on multi-lane restricted access roads like 401, 417,
etc. The Province of Manitoba does have some archaic laws
concerning mopeds, which before I learned they are no longer
generally enforced, led to a wonderful detour through rugged
country on a road which could in some parts be described as being
paved, and which made Highway 7 look like an expressway.  My
small worries about this O.P.P. officer concerned my hairy-faced,
hippy appearance’s potential for strumming an anti-war song’s
discord into the officer’s heart, if this particular officer were of the
‘For God, King, and Country We Shall Fight and Die” kind of
uniformed marcher .. especially if he or she thought I might have
anti-war herbal formulas in my baggage.  I no longer use
recreational drugs, but a search would mean unloading and
reloading all my equipment .. not that I had any equipment to hide
.. I had purposely avoided possible ‘dangerous weapons’ charges by
leaving my long-bladed hunting knife which I normally wear in the
woods for protection from wild animals with my expedition canoeing
equipment.  I felt somewhat naked in the Moped Forests without
that knife, a situation I can avoid if I do another wheeled voyage
because my spiritualy minded brother Ron Christmas-gifted me this
year with the only seeming necessity I lacked on my trip, that being
a hunting knife equally strong and sharp as my long-bladed version
but with a slightly shorter blade which would be seen as acceptable
by law enforcers. 
      I suppose there are some of you readers who are thinking I am
making too much of a knife as a weapon of defence against a bear,
but one recent demonstration of wilderness self-defense occurred
on an Canadian Arctic island, where four canoe-campers were
attacked by a Polar Bear, one of the men almost certainly saving the
lives of his male friend and possibly of two female companions by
repeatedly stabbing the bear as it was mauling his friend. The bear
ceased the attack and wandered away; and fortune smiled down
upon the four when they found fast transportation to an arctic
hospital. Another example told me by a Canadian Armed Forces
medic who spent tours of duty in the Arctic was of a modern Inuit
woman of senior citizen age single-handedly killing a Polar Bear
with her knife after the bear had slashed its way into her tent.
According to the medic the large hump on the rear of the Polar
Bear’s neck is brain, and of course the woman knew that and
thrust her knife there.  I met that medic while I was on a canoe
voyage up the Ottawa River, and while my self-defence equipment
included a home made bear spear.  The medic thought I was rightly
inclined to bring the spear, which I carried whenever walking in the
woods.  My personal experience in confronting a bear with a knife,
and I don’t brag or say I was brave when I relate this, even though I
did act precisely as any red blooded hero would have acted, came
30 years ago when I possibly saved myself and a young woman
companion from a Black Bear on a narrow trail in the Rocky
Mountains outside of Jasper, Alberta by instantly attacking with my
hunting knife honed with my loud yell when the bear made a close
and surprise appearance coming out of thick brush. The woman
screamed and jumped behind me, attracting the bear’s curiosity,
and unleashing instantly in me what can only be described as the
most primal instinct. In the same flash of insight that told me with
the woman behind me I stood no chance of outrunning the bear ..
well, the ‘thought’ that I should attack did not occur to me, my
attack initiating itself without advantage of intellect, that power
coming into play only when I found myself running towards the
bear with my hunting knife held high over my head, knowing I
stood only one chance, and that was a thrust through the bear’s eye
into its brain. The bear’s primal instinct of self preservation showed
clearly on its face, and faced with fight or flight, it ran off. My lack
of courage after my adrenalin response persuaded me to not
continue on the trail, and we returned to the main area of camp,
where I commenced to trembling, and not from cold. Of course, a
large bear’s favourite method of killing large game is to sneak up
quietly and with one swipe of a paw decapitate its target, this
applying equally to deer, small moose, and humans, so the first
defense against bears has to be awareness of how to keep them
away. Fear of humans prevents most bears from thinking of us as
normal prey, but cases of mistaken identity do occur, such as the
geologist in Northern Ontario.  For that reason I almost always
wear bright coloured clothing in the woods, while on a moped,
a rider’s bright clothing assists drivers in avoiding running you
      Here on Highway 7, my danger was that I might be faced with a
Police Officer who may have gotten out of bed on the wrong side
that morning, or who was tired and grumpy after a long shift, or
who may professionally view my considerable load as unsafe, and I
could be ordered off the road. The rear of my vehicle carried a
saddlebag on each side, with an aluminum-framed backpack
standing upright on the luggage carrier. All was very safely properly
and safely secured; but my tent and sleeping bag I had fastened in
one bundle across the front fender, below the headlight. This
bundle did not interfere with turning capacity, and was doubly
secured by strap and bungee cord on each side, and triply secured
with a strap around its centre. However, I had no idea what the
officer might think of this arrangement, which was, really, not
much different from some touring bicyclists’ loadings, but mine was
a motor vehicle, not a bicycle. I was also a little concerned that this
officer might not have full knowledge of my legal position. During
consideration of purchasing my moped I had phoned the Ottawa
City Police Department and had asked if mopeds were legal on
highways, and had been given a negative answer. I doubted the
accuracy of that officer’s knowledge, and secured a second opinion
from the Ontario Government website, where I learned the legalities,
including licensing and insurance, and the requirement to travel as
far to the right of the travelled portion as possible.
      This officer was a gentleman, in a reasonable mood, and I was
respectful of his duties and person. He listened respectfully as I
explained my desire to ‘make way’ for the motor home, but how
dangerously close I had been followed, and told the condition of the
shoulder, and the narrowness of my tires, etc., with all being well
received, and I thought all was well with me in the officer’s mind. It
was then he said, “Kind of overloaded aren’t you?”
      This being my first few hours of this trip I had no experience as
to how my heavy load would affect my moped’s durability, but my
only concious concern was how well my tires would bear the weight,
so I responsed in an offhanded, hopeful way, “Not too bad.” The
officer smiled. He didn’t bother asking me for my driver’s license, as
my vehicle was properly license plated, and he said something like,
‘I guess you’re okay.’ Many police officers are also motorcyclists,
and among motorcyclists, I learned on my trip, anything
roadworthy with two wheels and a motor was honoured with
inclusion in the fraternity. I did not ask if the officer was a
motorcyclist, but we shook hands and he turned to return to his
cruiser. He partially turned back, though, to ask, “how far are you
going?” My hoped-for destination by moped was Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan, about 2,000 miles. I planned on going on to my
brother at Victoria, but possibly by hitchhiking or Greyhound Bus
as I thought I might be fatigued at Saskatoon, or that the moped
just wouldn’t make it through the Rocky Mountains. I did not
elaborate that to the officer, though, and my answer of ‘Saskatoon’
brought a slightly disbelieving shake of the head along with a small,
tight lipped smile. He then returned to his cruiser and drove off. I
mounted up and continued thankfully on, this officer becoming the
first of many people met on this trip who would bring to flesh and
blood the statement of Robert Louis Stevenson’s which he included
in his dedication to his book, ‘Travels With A Donkey In The
Cevennes’, “… and the best that we find in our travels is an honest
friend.” Stevenson’s donkey became such a friend in their 12 days
of travel that he wept after he had sold her - Modestine being her
name. My moped has no name other than moped, but that name is
especially respectful to me now, having carried me through 7,500
miles on some of Canada’s roughest terrain available to a
conventional wheeled motor vehicle, including twice through the
Rocky Mountains and other mountain ranges of Alberta and British
      Stevenson’s walk was through 120 miles, while I estimated my
moped’s equivalency miles, calculating 1.9 horsepower against a
300 horsepower car, and factoring in my load and me, 350 pounds,
or twice the weight of the moped, weighed against a load in a car
double the weight of the car, comes to roughly 1.5 million miles –
and that without mechanical breakdown. In case of breakdown,
though, I had an honest friend in Baird McNeil of Russel, Ontario,
just outside of Ottawa, a fellow poet and grandfather who had told
me before I started out, “If you get in trouble, call me.” Baird’s
simple and heartfelt offer brought me great comfort, because, unlike
Stevenson, who had financial backing from his well-to-do father, my
fiancial backing was small, being my guaranteed government
income’s spendable portion after payment of room rent, or about
$525 per month.  I had no savings in the bank, and no property to
sell. With this small amount I must, for three months, pay all
expenses, and overcome all adversities.  I had no experience
repairing my moped, so necessity caused Faith to be put to the test
.. and Faith proved Faithful.  If I were to pay for camping each day
of the month that amount would easily be $600; but as it turned
out I paid only four night of camping, three of those being in
Canmore, Alberta, where I found employment at construction
labour at $I00 a day for two days, and where each night at the
Wapiti tent site run by the town cost me only $10, and which
included showers and wonderful companionship with summer
travelers and modern hippies. In case of dire emergency I carried a
credit card with a ‘0’ balance (Okay .. I lied about going on faith .. I
had my credit card, but faith stilled proved faithful because my
balance at the end of the trip was, I think I remember it being, only
about $150.00 .. that partially due to kindness of strangers who
became new friends and one old friend who deposited $100 into my
bank account on my birthday.  Thanks again, Lou. 
      Besides the financial advantage, Stevenson also had it up on
me by being 28 years old while I was 60. I was, however, one up on
Stevenson because while we both had respiratory health problems,
his battle against those problems which he came close to
overcoming inspired me to carry on through my own life of physical
affliction.  (Did I tell you that I was diagnosed with prostate cancer
a few years back?  It’s sometimes difficult to remember what I’ve
written, especially while rewriting.  I battled the cancer without
surgery or drugs, and appear to be somewhat successful, as I’m still
alive and travelling.  This cancer together with a couple other
physical afflictions are what earned me my government
      I hesistate to say this because I do not want to make more of
myself than I already have, but I think it completely fair to say that
Stevenson, with his great sense of humanithy and strong sense of
adventure, would have enjoyed meeting me during my trip .. he was
probably the kind of person who genuinely enjoyed meeting anyone
who was in a reasonable humour.  I certainly would have enjoyed
meeting him as one of the writers whose books and lives had
contributed to my unescapable sense of adventure and acceptance
which has carried me at times penniless through my last three
wilderness decades. Especially I would have enjoyed meeting Robert
on his trek with his Modestine, who he grew so fond of that when it
came time to part from her, in selling her,  he wept openly.
      I feel some affection for my moped, as well as for my canoe,
with which I had two long, solo adventures. However, I am unlike
some people who give affectionate names to their automobiles,
‘Mabel’ being an example for that faithful family car; and to their
canoes, ‘Spirit of Firewater’ for a canoe fierce enough to brave the
boiling, foaming waters which rise to the Happy Hunting Ground as
smoke .. mist .. spray  .. and it is for those reasons I avoid
whitwater when possible .. and during the rare occasion I brave
whitewater my prayers rise as fervent mist to the eternal Creator
and Saviour.  So, to my canoe and my moped I have not given
names beyond ‘canoe’, with a small, affectionate ‘c’, and ‘the
moped’. However, I do feel some kinship with both, being one of
those people who think that even inanimate objects like rocks may
be blessed by or with spirit .. and while I do get careless, my
maintenance of canoe and moped is careful, especially as they have
served me so well, and seemingly with such intimate faithfulness,
on such intense adventures. On my bicycle adventure 30 years ago
I did name my 10-speed ‘Blue’ .. which suited it reasonably well
because of its colour. I could not think of naming my moped after
its colour, as Yellow signifies cowardice, and my brave moped
proved from my first ride to be anything but cowardly. I suppose I
could have named it ‘Sunbeam’ but then the kitchen appliance
manufacturer of that name, not knowing of my little moped’s 
heroism, might have ridden after me with dark intent.   
Chapter Two
First Day of Trip
      On Thursday, May 17, 2007 I was at home in Ottawa,
Ontario, a city I had returned to from travels often in the previous
decade because Ottawa had become home for my daughters Kayren
and Kimi, their husbands Steven and Elias, and granddaughters
Sage who is 20 and a Journalism student at university, and
Gabrielle, 5.  About six months prior to this day grandson Tobias
had ‘arrived’ in Ottawa; but May 17 was for me and my moped
departure day. 
      Two of my travels during that decade had been by canoe,
the first a six week, 300 mile trip solo trip, the second a three
month, 750 mile expedition, this also being solo.  I had been little
prepared for my first trip, my only previous canoe travel being a
three or four day paddle of a few miles on the Trent Canal near
Peterborough, Ontario.  Despite my lack of mechanical education
I thought I was considerably better prepared for my moped jaunt,
having bicycled 1,500 miles through Northern Ontario 30 years
before, and having 45 years of drivng experience.  However, those
experiences did nothing to warm me of the effects of being in a
constant, motor-driven wind of 30 mph during cold, wet weather,
and not having the heat-generating bennfit of exercise which comes
with pedaling a bicycle.  I will write more on Hypothermia a few
paragraphs later. 
      My destination for this first day is the small city of
Peterborough, where a third daughter, Kathi, lives a live separated
from her husband Ralph, and my third granddaughter, 10 year old
Jade who lives with her Dad Ralph.  While this first stretch of
highway, Number 7, is worthy of a month’s exploration for someone
not familiar with its curves, hills and secret places, I am familiar
enough with its terrain and people, having hitchhiked, driven, been
driven by family and friends, and Greyhound Bussed the route
countless times.  I hope to make it to Jade’s home before dark. 
      This first day will be a test of my vehicle and load, to see if I
really should continue on towards Saskatoon.  I have tested the
bike on short jaunts of from two to four hours, and just the day
before departure day tested the bike fully loaded; tut this first day’s
ride will test the comfort of my well padded, homebuilt seat, a seat
which is a necessity because although I am feeling reasonably
healthy after recovering from an initial debilitating onset of prostate
cancer five years prior, I still have the disease, and it sometimes
discomforts me.  My seat consists of  seven inches of sculpted and
waterproofed foam rubber securely taped to a toilet seat .. yes, a
toilet seat, a white one, which the seat’s hinged lid still attached
and equipped to add support to the backpack.  I conceived of the
toilet seat idea during ‘a moment of comfortable meditation’, one
might say, and the invention is mothered of necessity, as for me at
my age alone, without consideration of health, the standard moped
seat was impossibly hard and narrow for a journey of longer than
half an hour at a time.  By using an electric drill to make pilot
holes through the seat’s hinge, and by screwing into the holes cup-
hooks,  I can separate lid from seat, which is necessary because my
new seat sits atop the original, hinged moped seat, and the two
seats have to lift together on the original seat’s hinges to give access
to the 1/3 litre, two-cycle oil reservoir which I must refill at
intervals of about 500 miles.  My seat gained me much comical but
respectful notoriety among riders of the Big Bikes, the Harleys and
Gold Wings, met along the way .. the respect increasing the further
west I travelled from Ottawa.  The seat was respectable from a
safety viewpoint because it was well fastened with Canadian
Television star Red Green’s favourite tool, Duct Tape, and further
constrained to the bike with bungee cords which I could release
easily to lift the seat.  The seat was so comfortable that although I
made part of my progress on the first three days by alternately
sitting and then standing on my pedals as I rode,  by the fourth day
I felt no rear end discomfort whatsoever, excepting the normal slight
swelling of the prostate which comes with fatigue late on days when
I have exerted myself strenuously physically or emotionally. 
      On this first day I rise at 4 a.m.  The previous evening’s sunset
was a yellow band on the western horizon .. as sure a foretelling of
strong winds the next day as the ‘red sky at night – sailors’ delight’
prophecy holds true for good weather.  Temperatures are near
freezing,  with thick, black clouds threatening rain.  I consider
postponing as I load my gear, but will watch the sky for weather
signs.  I can’t afford to postpone many days, because my medical
disability income is dependent on my not being absent from my
home province of Ontario for longer than 30 days at a time, except
by way of permission granted.  I have been given an additional 30
days out of province for the sake of a visit to my sister-in-law in
Saskatoon who was also living with cancer, and also because I have
a note signed by my doctor stating my mental health will benefit
through family visits to my brothers in Saskatoon and Victoria. 
Mental and emotional health are keys to overcoming cancers, and it
has been almost five years since I saw brother Ron and Rick. 
Despite some strong efforts to succeed in employment and career,
my life has not resulted in financial security, and my years-long
state of continual near poverty, together with the cancer, has led to
serious depression.  Medical attempts at countering the depression
were as futile as my career attempts, because after drug
experiences in my 20s I opted out of drug therapy, waiting six
months for a psychiatric appointment only to be told by the
psychiatrist that she would not work with anyone unwilling to
undergo drug therapy.  It was a brief interview.  I had also declined
conventional treatment for my cancer, as surgery was
recommended, and surgery could have left me wearing a urine bag
strapped to my leg, making me incapable of the kind of labour-
intensive employment my lack of higher education permitted.
      So .. I have to comply with government regulations .. and my
time table calls me to be crossing the Ontario-Mabitoba border by
June 1, which will allow me 20 days to get to Victoria or brother
Ron’s birthday, 10 days in Victoria and wilderness environs where I
hope to locate counter-culture friends I had lived in the wilderness
with 20 years ago, and who I have not seen or talked to since, and
one month back to the Ontario border.  Mileage from Ottawa to the
fishing resort/lumbering/mining village of Kenora, Ontario, near
the Manitoba border, is about 2000 kilometers.  This works out to
40 hours of straight riding. However, through my day trips with my
moped I have learned that 40 hours of straight riding translates,
without the inconvenience of flat tires, mechanical or other
problems, to 120 hours of riding with rest breaks and meal times,
and as daylight hours are still short these 120 hours translate into
about 14 days, and as I want to visit in Peterborough for two or
three days, and possibly ride down a short hop south to rarely seen
but heart-warming friends in the Lake Ontario town of Port Hope
before heading due west, I really don’t have any extra days to
postpone with.  
      While I vacillate on this planned departure morning ouside the
rooming house, apartment building I live in, my upstairs neighbour
Alexander rises and comes outside.  Alex has huge outdoor
adventure experience, having kayaked down Russia’s major rivers,
and it is from him I learned the yellow sky forecast for wind.  We
chat.  Alex had been very encouraging at another departure, last
year’s three month canoe voyage.  His sense of adventure is strong,
but his adventure now is his financial poverty which, despite
astounding professionalism and early success as artist and art
teacher, fails to surrender to his three art degrees from St.
Petersburg, Russia, where  Alex spent considerable time at The
Hermitage, Russia’s premier art gallery.  Alex is almost my age, and
has suffered a heart attack which would have killed an ordinary
man, but Alex is built like a brick shithouse as the saying goes, or
like a bull is another way of picturing Alex’s physical strength, but
even so the doctor at the hospital said Alex was fortunate to have
been so drunk at the time of the attack, because the alcohol is what
saved his life.  Alex is unconventional.  His refusal to give into what
is in his view ‘commercialism’ in art hinders his finances. 
      Ordinarily, financial boundaries related to class structure
separate people who have achieved outstanding accomplishments
from those like me who have achieved little, but without money the
barriers of class distinction are reduced, and because of that
reduction many of the people I have met in my life of near poverty
seem to have been transported from fantastic realms I could not
have imagined.  Alex is a fine example, his utilization in art of space
(and that is not a pun for what will come) in artistic vision had been
utilized by the Soviet Union’s Space Program with Alex’s assistance
in designing the interiors of space capsules .. as documented by a
photo of a younger, smiling at work inside one of the capsules.  In
fact, I am remembering that it was visions of art which introduced
Alex and I to each other in a fantastic way, he having had
completed and exhibited in Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings a series
of paintings called Canadian Visual Symphony not long before I,
with my just completed and to this date unpublished novel
Symphony for the End of the World, moved into our rooming house. 
Symphonic, classical music is a bonding interest between Painter
and Author, as well as a long interest in extra terrestialities .. space
ships and space people .. and so we had plenty to talk about during
our meetings in the common kitchen of our residence, as well as in
Alex’s room which he also used as his studio.  My room was smaller
and crowded, and perhaps that’s why Alex only visited once. 
Besides our common interests and near poverty,  Alex and I also
share history of failed marriage, and living separated from
daughters.  By Gosh – we had a LOT in common, and it really is no
wonder we became friends.  He and I, provided with sufficient cash,
could possibly have played the leading men in the recently
released movie ‘The Bucket List’ about two senior citizens with
terminal diagnoses who go on wonderful ‘last adventures’ .  I say
could possibly have played those parts, because my own sense of
artistry would not permit me to participate in the movie unless one
or more of the adventures was giving a large share of resources to
places like soup kitchens and food banks, which in my experience
are much more than absolute necessities for the underprivileged,
they are also probably absolute necessities for anyone of financial
privilege who wants to experience value in their lives.    I haven’t
seen the movie, but Hollywood is not big on movies featuring Food
Banks and Soup Kitchens, so I doubt if I would find myself as a
lead in the movie.
      Despite our strong friendship, Alex and I did not share a lot of
time, he being busy either while working on paintings, or busy
suffereing from hatred for his life as an artist, or busy with his
daughter, or an occasional art student.  I always had lots of time to
spare because my hobby of writing was a recreational pursuit only,
and because I had given up on serious relationships with women,
and because family and friends in this our modern, narcistic age
are so self centred that I seriously wonder if anyone shares their
time with anyone .. anyone except true saints, married couples who
have been together past 30 years, and romantic couples new to
each other (and I wonder about those couples also).  I have talked to
countless people during my travels, and find my situtation is
absolutely common in not having family or friends telephone to say
hello, or knock on my door for a tea, and despite the friendship
between Alex and I he never once knocked on my door as a surprise
visit, but I was always enthusiastically welcomed into his room
unless he was at work,  Nonetheless, Alex briefly considered coming
with me on last year’s canoe voyage .. a sudden and total change
from his normal reply to my invitation that he was too busy with
work, and a cue I was too slow and possibly narcistic to pick up on
.. although to be fair to myself my 16’ canoe was really too small for
two large men with gear necessary for an extended voyage.
      But this is Moped Trip Departure Morning, and joining Alex
and I at dawn is our other large friend Les, short for Leslie.  We are
all near the same age, all single, and we would be called
‘exceptionally physically strong’ men, in our younger years, I the
lesser of the three.  Les alone has hung onto the bulk of his
physical power, partly because he is slightly younger, and partly
because he earns his income as a furniture mover.  Less is a
companionable and joyous and generous beer drinker while off
work, Labbatt’s Blue being his Les’s exclusive brand of beer, and
besides standard ‘Blue’ T-shirts he has a T-shirt which proclaims
“The Man” on the shirt’s wide, upper chest portion with an arrow
pointing upward to Les’s face, as opposed to “The Legend” with that
lower wording accompanied by an arrow pointing downward to, you
know, towards the manhood.  Like Alex and I, Les has survived the
trauma’s of marriage failure and separation from children, and has
also survived a months-long coma, and these experiences have
gentled him, as it does with most intelligent men, and despite Les’s
huge arms, barrel chest, and ham-sized fist (okay, I exaggerate the
fists a little, but not much) he is, because of his ham-sized heart
and laugh, one of the few people in our world who can wave his
hands two or three inches from my face without causing me to
flinch, even after he has had a few beers.  Les, Alex and I have lived
as close neighbours for about three years, along with our friend
Abdul, our building’s custodian/security man/and chief of security
for a major television station, who joins us that morning for a brief
hello and goodbye as he departed for his full time employment. 
During the month prior to my moped departure Abdul returned to
his native Uganda to remarry.  During his absence I had fullfilled
his building duties, except for security which I refused to get
involved in despite the low risks, and had earned an extra $100 to
accompany my departure.  I envy Abdul his hoped for marriage
happiness, but after failing that institution twice, I have little desire
to cause another lady suffering.  Besides, I have come to know
myself now, and what woman would I have anything in common
with .. sleeping under the stars whenever possible .. being content
with a canoe and moped and sleeping bag beneath a tree instead of
a motel, houseboat or motorhome.  I know there are women on our
planet who enjoy the outdoors, but probably 1 in ten million would
enjoy it as I do, and being women of nature they almost cetainly
have the wisdom of nature which tells them the opposite sex may be
attractive, but beware .. Beware .. Beware.  So for me, marriage or a
permanent companion seem impossibilities, but I would greatly
have loved to be at Abdul’s wedding.
      Less, meanwhile, having long ago heard of my moped plans, 
has also long ago firmly decided that yes, I would make it to B.C. …
“Bell’s Corners” he has said many times in his Quebecois accent
with his mighty laugh; and he repeats his evaluation and laugh that
morning.  Bell’s Corners is a hamlet on the road to Saskatoon, but
lies comfortably within Ottawa’s boundaries.  In the week prior to
departure I have come to wonder if Less is part prophet, as my
moped has developed a serious tendency to enter phases of
sputtering, major loss of power, and then recovery.  I had
encountered somewhat similar sputtering in the first, early spring,
cold weather week of operating the brand new moped two years
before, but had eliminated a carburetor freezing problem by
insulating both the gas line and the carburetor cover.  Now, the
moped has only 2,000 miles on it, so I don’t suspect a major
problem, but without sufficient mechanical knowledge, and not
enough budget to afford a mechanic, I can only clean the spark plug
and make sure the gas line from the tank is clear, and pray.
    Another friend and neighbour in the building, Dennis, gave me a
spiritual sendoff which carries a promise of success the evening
before, and now the strength and warmth of Les’s and Alex’s hearts,
and Abdul’s also, if he was or wasn’t there that morning, push the
black clouds to one side, and a bit of blue appears in the east.  The
blue grows slightly larger, and I decide to leave, with my first
horizon line being Les’s B.C.  I barely make Bell’s Corners, with the
engine developing its sputtering, sputtering, sputtering.  Despite my
windproof rain pants and rain jacket I am cold and very
discouraged as I sputter into B.C. where I consider turning back,
but find a Tim Horton’s (for any of you readers who may not be from
Canada or neighbouring U.S. states, Tim Horton’s is a franchise
coffee house found all across Canada) for coffee where I spend an
hour waiting for the morning to warm up, then change my spark
plug .. and with that the problem disappears.  I have since learned
that dirt may have been plugging the carburetor’s ‘jet’ and cleared
itself, or the plug I put in had a different gap better suited to cold,
wet weather.  In the weeks before Departure Day, around the same
time the sputtering developed,  I had put in a new plug gapped
5mm according to the maintenance pamphlet which came with the
bike;  but in changing plugs I had used the original plug, and have
learned just a few weeks ago through an internet Service and Repair
manual that the proper gap is .8mm.  The pamphet had been
misprinted.  I had no further mechanical problem, other than tires
going flat, until coming near London, Ontario on my return, when
the carburetor’s fuel filter suddenly became nearly blocked.  Dirty
gas, I guess, and this has been a recurring problem which is easily
solved in five minutes by removal of the filter and cleaning.
      At Less’s B.C. the clearing of the sputering is accompanied by a
clearing of the sky, and I motor on greatly encouraged.  I had added
wind protection for my face by wearing a pair of ‘Grinding Goggles’ 
over my spectacles, those goggles I have now replaced with a pair of
ski googles which are not only warmer and more comfortable, but
tinted enough to cut glare.  I found my $100 ski goggles in a
used clothing store for about $2.00.  Mentioning ski goggles causes
me to think about snow, and the thought of snow causes me to
think this is a good place to skip ahead of my arrival in
Peterborough to tell the risk of wind chill in riding a motorbike.  The
first week of my trip was blessed by sunny skies and warmth; but
the second week was cold, windy and wet, causing some suffering
and risk which I thought I eliminated through purchase of
additional weatherproof clothing.  The extreme danger of Wind Chill
I learned effectively though only three weeks later as I rode into the
mountain resort village of Jasper, Alberta while nearly going into
convulsions from hypothermia.  The weather had been cold and wet
since leaving Saskatoon three days earlier, but I had been fooled by
being so warmy dressed that I did not consider myself at risk, and
rode on as my internal body temperatureslowly lowered over the
last two days.  That kind of cold also numbs the brain, and
prevents proper consideration for the situation .. but I was not so
‘out of it’  that I did not think of using my moped’s pedals, which
freewheel when above about three miles per hour, and I furiously
revolved my pedals both forward and backward as I rode the last
four hours.  I considered finding a hospital as I approached Jasper,
but as I rode past the village’s welcoming sign the sun burst forth
bringing immediate warmth.  I found a Laundromat which had coin
operated showers, and spent about eight dollars in their warmth.  I
then put my laundry into a machine and went in search of a full
meal.  When I left Jasper about fours later the sun was still shining,
and I was confident that I had learned a lesson in not overdoing the
      Jasper is next door to B.C. British Columbia, but a long way
from my first day’s first stop in friend Less’s B.C., but soon that
hamlet and indeed the city of Ottawa has been left behind, and I am
on Number 7 Highway with the moped running perfectly, the day
increasing in warmth, my stopping for coffee at the village of Perth,
then continuing to the hamlet of Maberly, where artist-friend Liisa
Rissanen lives in her isolated dwelling surrounded by Beaver ponds
and bears.  I had met Liisa at a literary reading series at a time
when Alexander was too deeply involved with his own painting to
take on my small commission of designing a cover for my novel,
which I hoped to self-publish, so it was Liisa who assisted me with
my cover, and we had ended up under the covers.  It should come
as no surprise that when I did have a few copies of my wonderful
novel printed my publishing ‘House’ unincorporated was the ‘Shelff-
Publishted Preschh’ with logo of a hand-cranked printing press
the deck of which supports a large bottle of what is either wine or
printer’s ink depending on your taste.       
      “How…” you may ask, “… could anyone impoverished afford to
have 50 copies of a book printed?”
    Answer:  I’m frugal.
    At Liisa’s I am welcomed onto the property by a wonder-
fully friendly pet dog, and then unwelcomed by another snarling,
barking, threatening guard dog who despite my gentle entreaties,
does not befriend me.  Nevertheless, the toothy threat is not great
enough to deter me from knocking on the door, although knocking
was not necessary as the unfriendly dog’s barking was louder than
my knock.  Liisa was not home, and I fastened to her door a note of
‘Howdy from The Moped Poet On Tour’ (yes .. this novelist and poet)
to her door.  I’m eager to regain the highway, and leave the
homestead at nearly full throttle down Liisa’s declining, packed-
earth laneway, thrilling quietly to myself as the friendly dog runs
alongside, accompanying me until well after we have turned onto
minor pavement, the pet veering off as I round the 90 degree
downwards curve leading to the larger pavement of Highway 7.
      For someone in a car or truck, Maberly is about an hour west
of Ottawa.  For me, as I have explained earlier, one automobile hour
means about three moped hours, and this approximated the pace
throughout the trip, except when I wanted to make quick time,
‘coming into Saskatoon’ to my elder brother Rick and his wife
Sandy, or running south on the Rocky Mountain’s Thompson
Highway towards Vancouver to try to make that day’s last ferry to
Victoria, where my youngest brother lives alone.  Those two long,
more steadily motoring days were propelled by the immense family
instinct which may have been primary motivation for the trip.  My
sister-in-law’s cancer diagnoses absolutely compelled me to visit
this woman who I had loved like a sister from our first meeting. 
While planning the trip I realized I might also be able to renew old
friendships with people I had not seen in almost 20 years.  The
priority of ‘touring’ was not unimportant, but I had gone back and
forth across Canada several times, and when planning this trip
came to think that the travel might actually be monotonous. 
However, because of my inability to pay for camping places in
regular campgrounds, I knew I would be spending intimate nights
in secret, free camping places within ‘mother nature’s land’, and
have always been moved to a higher spiritual plane by such close
contact.  This contact had become as much a necessity for me as a
psychiatrist who could work without drugs, because my trip was
also the ancient quest undertaken by many .. a quest to reafirm my
faith in the Creator of the universe, that Almighty and wonderful
spirit known by some as God.  My faith had been crushed by
deteriorated relationships with my daughters; for while my family
affection and relationships with brothers, sister, Mom, Dad, aunts
and uncles had strengthened as I approached Senior Citizen years,
my relationships with my daughters and grandchildren had become
almost non-existant.  Through many conversations with men and
women my age I have come to realize that most adult children of the
ages of late twenties through the fourties are simply too involved
with their own important and frivolous priorities to have their
minds and hearts engaged in their parents lives, except perhaps on
a mandatory ‘welfare case’ basis.  The affection between my
daughters and I had always been so strong that it served as a
foundation for my faith in a loving Creator, so when I came to the
slow and painful realization that I was no longer a part of their
conscious mental processes, and could find no way to involved
myself in their consciousness, my faith in God suffered a crushing
blow.  At the same time, like most adults who spend time reading
newspapers, the details of ruthless wars and mass murders
committed by I.B.C. (International Babylon Corporation) had
shocked me into an almost catatonic state.  Contributing to my
condition were the almost daily reports of individual acts of violence
by normal people gone over the edge.  Add onto those things the
uncertain future our planet holds as it is battered by the results of
Babylon’s State of Lust, and, like many people who might be
reading this, I had become so troubled that normal conversation
could not find voice.  I know that animals, both wild and tame,
when shocked by traumatic injury, can find mental relief by retreat
into the protection of bushes, perhaps that’s why I was often glad,
almost transcended, to escape conversation no matter how
pleasant, and motor once again onto the wilderness of the
highway, attempting to remember the words of Christ telling, ‘the
kingdom of God is within you.’ 
Chapter Three
      About two hours after leaving Liisa’s I stop at the hamlet of
Kaladar for a restaurant lunch.  My moped carries groceries and
cooking equipment but as I want to make Peterbrorough before
nightfall I don’t want to take time to cook.  I also need a short break
from riding.  At Kaladar’s truck stop I chat with a trio of motor-
cyclists, the first of countless such chats with are both entertaining
and informative.  During this chat I learn that Highway 7 is blocked
by a motor vehicle accident about one hour’s ride ahead.  I must
take a detour on Highway 37 South, a few miles past Kaladar,
knowing this will change my goal for the day’s ride from
Peterborough to the town of Port Hope on Lake Ontario,
where I have lived several times, and where after 35 years of having
first moved there still have close friends.  It is between Kaladar and
Highway 37 where I have the motor home-police officer incident. 
Highway 37 South runs through the pretty, lakeside village of
Tweed, which for many years boasted on its welcoming sign “Tweed
.. If it’s good enough for Elvis, it’s good enough for you.”  Elvis may
finally have exited the building, or simply moved, for the sign is
now absent.  I stop at the village’s beach for another chat with a
motorcyclist, and to assess Tweed as a possible place to live.
I have respiratory allergies and asthma, and the motor vehicle
generated air pollution of Ottawa is necessitating a change.  Tweed
is also reported to have the highest ratio of single women to men in
Canada .. either single women were gullible enough to have believed
the welcoming sign, or I am disbelieving enough to disbelieve it.
      Leaving Tweed, I run through beautiful, farmland of rolling
hills, then turn at a crossroads known as Roblin onto quaint and
very quiet roads.  These take me into Frankford on the Trent Canal,
a village I visited fourty years ago with my Dad and his wife
Lorraine.  Lorraine, who was one of the few genuinely stable and
encouraging influences in my life, has passed on, leaving a huge
void for everyone. At that time of the visit with Dad and Lorraine my
Aunt Florence had lived in Frankford, and when I reach that village
I stop at a coin-operated telephone (I took no cell phone on my trip)
and call Dad for the sake of old time memories.  Florence lives in
Winnipeg now, and I hope to see her as I pass through Manitoba.
      Quaint roads take me to Lake Ontario’s town of Trenton, where
a wrong turn takes me down a hill so steep, and where my
judgement fails me so miserably, that I am unable to stop at the
stop sign at the bottom of the hill.  By the grace of non-presence of
police I am saved from marring my 40 year, infraction-free driver’s
license record.  A turnaround and assistance from a pedestrian sets
me on the right road, and this is the first of hundreds of times I
receive assistance with direction, for despite having good highway
maps, and a strong sense of direction in an environment with open
vistas, I become quickly disoriented when in even smaller urban
      Along Highway 2 now, is the village of Colborne, where as
teenagers living in Cobourg, my brother Jody and I struck out on a
hunt for girls.  I meet some friendly women now, though, and their
friendly male friends, and I enjoy conversation and a tea.  Even
though it is approaching dusk when I leave Colborne, I cannot pass
by the Cobourg beach without putting my feet on its sand.  This
beach was teenage playground for a couple of years.  Port Hope is
six miles away, and I get there at dusk, stopping first at the
Ganaraska Hotel to see if my friends Fox and/or Hollywood are
having a beer in their normal watering hole.  ‘Fox’ is Gary Fox,
most famous for having been one half of the ‘Foxy and Roxy’
(Roxanne) hippy lovebird couple of the early 70s.  Both Foxy and
Roxy moved along in our society’s normal, but sad pattern, to
parenthood with someone else.  Fox has two grandchildren now,
but still resembles the generally stone lad barely a man who with
me who was also often stoned but now both of us in  a canoe
borrowed from the canoe manufacturer Fibrestrong at which we
worked together, ran without the least benefit of whitewater
education the foaming Ganaraska River’s mad spring whitewater
rage one successful time, skimming the concrete underside of the
main bridge in town with the tops of our heads, a bridge which
shortly afterwards in a flood not much stronger than we ventured,
was destroyed much like the borrowed canoe when Fox and I
attempted a second attempt, swamping early,  and then watching
the canoe bend itself bow to stern before flushing downriver as we
scrambled to shore.  I don’t think we were even wearing lifejackets. 
      Hollywood .. yes .. a movie should be made .. Hollywood’s
(Hollywood the man .. not the movie) real name is, believe it or not,
not known to me after having known him for 30 years.  This
genuine gentleman gets his name from his tall, dark, handsome,
muscular appearance .. he really should have been a leading man
in the movies, he could never have played the bad guy, far too
handsome (I say tongue in cheek, as Hollywood bad guys always
look like some poor guy who’s been in a car accident) but instead
works in an auto assembly plant in Oshawa, while Foxy has been
promoted to Manager of the Port Hope Legion.    The spirits of
friendship between The Fox, Hollywood and I are so kind that on my
unannounced return from the west three months later, when I am
taking off my helmet in the Legion’s parking lot, Fox steps out the
front door for a breath of air.  That moment also happens to be very
close to Fox’s quitting time, and we are enjoying a draft beer on the
Legion’s patio when Hollywood makes a surprise appearance, he
having had plans to be away from Port Hope for a few more days. 
Also showing up unexpectedly is a friend close to Fox and
Hollywood, and known to me, this friend making up a golfing
partnership I will tell you about shortly. 
      On this departure day, though, Fox and Hollywood aren’t at
‘The Ganny’, and a couple of fellows at the bar tell me Fox is not at
work either.  Port Hope is a small town, and Fox is known by most
residents.  I phone Fox’s telephone and get no answer, but leave a
message that I’ll try his phone and door in the morning, and ride
to Port Hope’s West Beach where I plan on tenting in the shadow of
Canada’s uranium refinery, once known as Eldorado, and famous
for its radioactive contamination of several sites in Port Hope.  As a
young and foolish man I attempted growing marijuana on
Eldorado’s dumpsite outside of town, but thankfully the crop failed,
thankfully because I might have been tempted to market it under a
brand name like ‘Radiant High’, and probably would have been
busted, and spent considerable time in jail.  Yes .. thankfully the
crop failed, and I came to see that while the herb appears to have
medicinal value as a tea, it is not a substance to be played with, or
illegally merchandised.
      There is no natural, radiant glow in the sky when I get to the
beach, night having fully fallen, and moped and me have to ford a
shallow creek to get to the isolated stretch which served as home for
me many times, one duration lasting from early May to November 4. 
During that sojourn my brother Ron and his wife separated and he
moved in with me, and then I met a woman who was living in her
car in the parking lot of the beach.  The woman moved into our tent
as my lady friend.  That two-man pup tent was cozy, with my small,
white, German Shepherd-Samoyed mix taking the last vacancy. 
The four of us, during the last two weeks of tent home life, would
wake up to frost an inch thick on the inside tent walls, and it’s still
one of Ron’s favourite reminiscences to tell how Timberline would
come into the tent after a successful, nighttime frog hunt in the
swamp and lay on our feet while crunching his meal.  In the last
week of tent togetherness I made another of my continual blunders
and told my lady friend I did not want to continue our relationship,
and she and I went separate ways.  Ron and I had made a trip into
Peterborough in the last week of October, and I had arranged for a
small apartment near my daughters’ home.  During that visit to
Peterborough I noticed that a very cute young woman in a pet shop
appeared very lonely, and I pointed her out to Ron.  This was Paula,
who Ron was quick to ask out, and ended up marrying.  Alas, Ron
and I were not great husbands, each failing in each of our
marriages.  In that summer of living in the tent I had visited
Peterborough regularly to see my daughters, and Paula liked to
relate that when I visited the pet shop I taught the shop’s large
parrot to curse.  I suspect she mixed me up with another mixed up
hippy as I wasn’t particularly fond of cursing in those days, having
discovered that in the person of Jesus Christ was wonderful
example as to how to live a life while living as a hippy on a beach
with a lady.
      Back on that beach on this first night of my latter days’ moped
trip the uranium refinery’s electric lights are blocked by tall bushes
surrounding the area I choose to pitch camp in, so it is in near total
darkness I set up camp.  That sleep comes easily after I pour about
two ounces of brandy and sip it slowly, and my sleep lasts
comfortably until 4 a.m., when I awakened shiveringly cold.  I set
large flake rolled oatmeal (the precooked crap just doesn’t make a
genuine, strengthening breakfast) and apple pieces cooking on my
camp stove, and then using my flashlight look for firewood, which I
am surprised to find a good pile of close beside me.  I assumed this
wood had been prepared for a beach party planned for that long
weekend, but I felt no guilt using half of it to build a warming blaze. 
After I had eaten my oatmeal and was well warmed the first faint
light of dawn encouraged a small walkabout for old memory’s sake,
and it was by that small dawn light combined with the light from
the still blazing fire that I discovered the other tent camp partially
hidden in some bushes about 75 feet behind my own.  I realized
instinctively that the firewood I was burning belonged with that
tent, and I could only hope the tent’s occupant was the forgiving
type.  I returned to standing by the fire.  Shortly afterwards I heard
a rustling from behind me, and I knew it was the tent’s occupant
coming towards me.  I did not turn around, not wanting to make
any appearance of ‘self defense’, and was joined side by side at the
fire by the dark figure of a tall male.  I didn’t turn to face the
stranger, and he, too seemed content to simply stare into the fire. 
Not too much time had passed, though, before he said in a non-
threatening way, “You’re burning my firewood.”
      “I was cold,” I replied, knowing that this obvious outdoorsman
would appreciate how thankful I was for the firewood.  “I set up
camp in the dark and didn’t see your tent.”
      He waited a few moments before saying, “Nice fire,” with
warm appreciation.
      “Yes,” I agreed.  Then, after a short pause, “my name’s Bob
Mosurinjohn.  I lived on this beach a few times .. a few years ago.”
      The stranger turned to look at my face, which I turned towards
his.  He looked searchingly at me, then, after a momentary pause,
he said as to a long-lost friend, “Bob!!”
      While it was obvious that this fellow knew me I couldn’t
remember him.  My gypsy existence had camped me in too many
places, meeting far too many people for quick remembrance.  As
well, a brain concussion in my early teens hinders my ability for
facial recognition, a factor which contributed to the unsuccess of 
career attempts.  By the way, my gypsy existence comes naturally,
and despite genuine efforts to settle down to normalcy, unceasingly. 
I have Rom blood, my great grandfather having been Gypsy from
Bukovina, a small area which is now part of Romania.
      “I’m sorry, I said, but I don’t know who you are.”
      “Paul!” he said, “Paul Workman.”
      Of course.  Paul had not been one of my closest friends, but
he had tented many times on this beach, enabled to do so by
income gained from his own slight handicap resulting from an
accident.  I supppose Paul and I would be called hoboes by
some people .. hippies by others .. bums by a few; but we thought of
ourselves as Freaks of Nature .. people who loved the outdoors so
much life meant little without that enjoyment.  Living on a rough,
unused beach which was closely bordered by swamp, small trees,
and a high embankment which supported twin railroad tracks
which were the source of clickity clack music and long, locomotive
horn blasts seemed as natural for us as planting a uranium refinery
here had been by the Canadian Government.  It was here, also
naturally, that I had discovered glow-in-the-dark fungus which
makes midnight finding of dead, dry firewood as easy as breaking
branches off dead trees.  It was also here that I saw the once
bountiful Redwing Blackbird population decimated by emissions
from, no, not the uranium refinery, but from a plastics factory
which was established in more recent years.  Those emissions had
made the beach undesireable as a home, even if the rent was free,
and I hadn’t lived there for almost two decades, although I had
tented briefly.  The beach held incredibly strong memories for me,
not the least of which was camping with my wife and children
before our family breakdown, and with my three daughters
following the breakdown.  My adult daughters treasure those
memories also, and we have returned with the third generation for
brief visits.
      On this same beach in the early dawn of my trip’s second day
Paul Workman returns to his tent to sleep after thoroughly
warming himself, and I break camp and load my moped.  I’m
concerned about beach sand getting on the chain and sprocket, and
after I get to the road I clean what I can.  With my stomach full of
oatmeal restaurant coffee alone is sufficient to take me to 7:30 
a.m., when I ride to Fox’s apartment.  Serendipitousness as
always is strong between Fox and I, he coming out his apartment
building’s front door as I ride up.  He, with Hollywood and friends,
have a golf day planned, and again serendipitously, they plan on
stopping at a restaurant in the fishing resort village of Bewdley on
Rice Lake, on the route to Peterborough, before golfing on the other
side of the lake.  We agree to meet at the restaurant, where I take
directions to the golf course.  My granddaughter Jade won’t be
home from school until after 3 that day, so I could spend a few
hours with Fox and crew at the golf course.  The road around the
lake is longer than I think, with long, steep hills which slow my
speed, and when 1/4 around I change direction for Peterborough
where I can spend a few hours in quiet rest.  In Peterborough I
purchase a steak and green pepper to go with my cooking onions,
and set up a kitchen on a concrete pier on Little Lake.  A woman is
sunning herself on the pier and we chat .. with sparks of attraction
obvious .. but I’m not interested in possible complications at this
time of life, so I douse the sparks within me and turn up my naptha
stove’s cooking flame, finish my chef’s job, and enjoy my meal. 
      I ride up to Jade’s house just as she rides up on her bicycle. 
She and I have a relationship based on strong family affection and
love for the outdoors, she being a fisher and camper.  I had lived in
her home for the spring and summer months five years before,
when my daughter Kathi was still residing there, and Jade and I
went-a-fishing, and also went a-canoeing on Little Lake.  A framed
photo of the two of us in the canoe has been propped on a shelf in
their living room since then.  I’m writing this in the same room I
lived in then, having moved in again two months ago.  On my
moped trip stopover Jade’s Dad Ralph and I and Jade spent a
couple of days together, and I went for coffee with Kathi and her
new partner.
      When I lived here the first time Kathi and I and Jade would go
shopping malling often, but I’ve been living here for three months
this time and have only seen Kathi when she comes to pick up Jade
for visitations even though she and I almost always share a warm
and genuine hug when she comes for Jade.  I think she and I are
both at a loss for words with each other.
Chapter Four  ----  Trip’s End So Soon?
      Despite the bone marrow renewing warmth of a grandaughter’s
love, my shivering cold night on Port Hope’s beach has persuaded
me that before I leave Peterborough I must make an addition to
my sleeping gear, which consisted of a too-lighweight sleeping bag
and cotton bedsheet safety pinned inside and serving as a liner.  At
the Canadian Tire store I purchase an inexpensively flimsy,
emergency ‘space blanket’ of plasticized aluminum, and at a charity
store purchase a second cotton bedsheet.  I use double sided tape
to stick the space blanket and bedsheet together, and will spread
this over my sleeping bag, with the cotton side down for clinginess,
and also for absorbing moisture vented by my bag.  This proves to
be a great improvement in warmth, relatively durable, and easily
folded, but the space blanket was too flimsy, and I replaced it after
one month with a more expensive, sturdier model pinned to the
bed sheet with large safety pins.  That arrangement is lasting
      I ride away from Peterborough along Highway 7 West, with the
trip going so well I start to flash hippy ‘Peace’ signs with my left
hand (my right hand gripping the throttle) towards people who view
me and my loaded moped as a curiosity.  I think it is at Oakwood,
a tiny village, that I get unpeaced.  I had stopped for a stop sign or
red light, having had pulled to the right to allow any vehicle which
might come up behind me to make proceed unhindered by my slow
acceleration.  When I proceed, it is at full throttle, and I am doing
about 20 miles per hour and still to the right when the pavement
turns to firmly packed gravel shoulder.  Just after I have checked
my mirror for traffic behind me, and have turned my handlebars
towards the pavement, my rear tire goes almost instantly flat.  It’s
not a blowout .. there is no ‘bang’, which surprises me because the
air deflates the tire almost instantly, resulting in a wild swaying and
sliding on gravel of the heavy back end, necessitating a desperate
kicking and bracing with both my feet on each side as needed, and
equally desperate manipulation of the handlebars to counter the
sway and slide.  Even though the tire didn’t ‘bang’ by heart is
banging as I come to a safe stop.  This situation had been
aggravated by the weight of me and my load.  I weighed 195 lbs
when setting out, with about 100 pounds of load.  Most of that
weight is over the rear wheel.  I have learned since that with
motorcycles, the front tire almost never goes flat, but it is nearly
always the rear tire, and such was my experience throughout the
trip, with a dozen rear flats, but not one front flat.  I did meet a
rider who told me of having had his front tire blow at 170
Kilometers an hour, and who, because he was at that time young
and strong with intense reflexes, managed to keep his bike upright. 
I wasn’t a young man now though, and my flat, even though it
resulted in no apparent harm or damage, but coming on only the
second day of my trip, was very frightening, especially when I
considered what might happen at 30 miles per hour in heavy traffic,
and especially if the front tire blew.  Once I had come to a safe stop
my lack of courage, as with the bear, showed clearly in thoughts of
turning back to Peterborough, and then to spend the summer on
the beach in Port Hope.  As my heartbeat subsided I looked around
for an out of the way place to fix my flat, and chose a closed
building suply storefront across the highway which had a small
parking lot lined with railroad ties.  I pushed the bike across the
highway, set it up on its kickstand, and went for a walk to a corner
store as much to relax myself as for a cold drink.  Returning to the
bike, I sat and drank my orange juice, relaxing further, and still
questioning whether to turn my trip around.  First things first,
though, and I went at the repair.  A moped’s rear wheel is not much
different than a bicycle, and I was fortunate that the tube repair kit
in my toolkit contained two, plastic, ‘tire irons’ for bicycles which
were strong enough to last through a few changes of my moped tire. 
Before the trip was over, though, I purchased a genuine tire iron
from a motorcycle parts store.  These genuine irons I recommend as
making changes much easier, especially recommended when you
are fixing a flat on the side of a busy highway with cars whizzing
past when you need all the ease you can get.
      I had never changed my moped tire, and recommend that
anyone with a moped give themselves that experience before
necessity makes for a difficult learning experience.  I made my
chore easier by setting the moped on its kickstand atop one of the
railroad ties, this raising my work about 12 inches.  I had the tube
out and had established that the flat was not the result of a
puncture, and it was then that a pedestrian passerby, and a
motorcyclist, came along and told me that friction of the tube
against the tire had caused my problem.  He also told me Baby
Powder rubbed onto the tube and into the tire would reduce
friction, and I have found his advice to be true, riding from
Winnipeg to London on my return trip without having one flat, and
when I had a flat at Kitchener it was from a puncture.  Baby
poweder, though, makes roadside repair of a used tube impossible
unless there is an abundance of water to wash the tube with, and
also an abndance of dry, warm air to evaporate all moisture from
the tube, moisture acting like baby powder to prevent glue and
patch from adhering.  I now carry two spare tubes, a practice begun
north of Regina on my return trip when a biker stopped to offer
assistance during another tire change, he running into Regina and
back, and despite my successful repair, presenting me with two
new tubes, charged only to Regina hospitality.  Oh the comfort
those two tubes brought.  Tire wear is critically important to
monitor, I learned on my return trip, when a puncture caused a
change during which when I examined my tire I discovered an area
had worn down to the cords.  This could easily have resulted in a
blowout on the busy Trans Canada Highway,  although a blowout
anywhere is to be avoided at all costs.  I now carry a spare tire, a
good recommendation whenever you ride, because while spare
moped sized tubes can be had at many motorcycle shops, moped
tire sources are rare, a bike shop in Victoria having to order one for
me from Quebec.  I personally know only two tire sources, Mr.
Moped in Toronto, and the Great Canadian Motorcycle part store on
Main Street in Winnipeg where I purchased a tire on the way west
and again on the way east.  There in Oakwood I discovered no
serious abrasion damage had been done to my tire during its back
and forth slide over gravel, and thanks to small, my bicycle tire air
pump  I was soon enough back on the highway, and not heading
back to Peterborough, but determined by my lack of serious
consequences of the flat, and equipped with the new knowledge of
Baby Powder, to roll westward on.
Chapter Five
    This chapter begins remembrances possibly less accurate in
geographical detail than they should be because I stopped making
notes in my trip log .. my journal.  You may question why I ceased
making notes.  The answer is that somewhere along the road
between the start of the trip and this chapter’s point in history I
abandoned my goal of publishing this story .. in fact, I abandoned
my long held dream of being a published writer.  Why that dream
was left behind is not totally clear to me now, and whether the
dream is alive at this time is also unclear, and unimportant ..
however .. I have been encouraged by friends and family to think
this story has potential for publication with small financial reward,
and as a source of entertainment for readers, so I have resumed
writing and rewriting, and have contracted with my daughter
Kayren to be not only my Marketing Agent, but my power of
attorney in accepting or rejecting offers from publishers.  I gave
Kayren that authority because she will be investing time and energy
in marketting, and I did not want to disappoint her efforts by my
rejection of an offer.  Normally a verbal agreement would suffice
between Kayren and I in any matter, but for the purposes of
declaring my income to the government office responsible for
directing my income I need a legal document showing that she and I
will be sharing 50/50 both income and expenses.
      So, my journal had died, and one reason it died was because I
wanted to be free of cumbersome hindrances which would keep me
from enoying this trip on a nanomoment by nanomoment basis ..
no regard for past or future – only Propinquity – the propinquity of
this poster -
Latter Day’s TOUR de 2007
A Pilgrimage in Propinquity Seeking
Fullfillment of felicitatiousness
And Fruits of Freedom
Specializing In: hippy/beatnick/classical/rap/Revelations
‘Please Request a Reading:  Donations Move Me’
      Yes, that poster, copies of which I carried with me along with
copies of some of my own favourite poems which I could busk ..
perform on the street for money .. when opportunity presented
itself.  I designed the poster so I could cut two posters from one
sheet of paper .. knowing I could enlarge it into a single sheet if that
marketing strategy seemed appropriate.
    Regarding the fancy words ‘propinquity’ and ‘falicitatiousness’,
please , dear reader, on’t be fooled for a moment into thinking I
have an unusual memory for exotic words, or that I was so
impressed by the writings of O. Henry, as monumentally 
impressive as they are, that I took to writing with a Thesaurus on
my desk.  I own no thesaurus, and my memory is frail.  I found
those words as I normally find rare words, through miraculous
movements of pages and spirits as I search my Highroads
Dictionary seeking far simpler answers like how to spell words
which elementary school graduates have no difficulty with.  What
necessiates my often use of a dictionary is simple inability at
remembrance of whether to use (as an example) a single s or double
ss .. as simple as that.
      Simple .. yes, but I must invite anyone with a love for language
to try to find a copy of this Nelson’s Highroads Dictionary,
‘Pronoucing and Etymological (whatever Etymological is, I haven’t
looked that word up yet .. let’s see, ‘an account of the origins of the
word’ .. so now I know something you probably knew ages ago, and
which I also may have known in a time of livelier brain syanpses
and more well connected neurons) .. and speaking of ages gone by,
my little volume which measures only 4” x 6” is so ancient that
‘vacuum-cleaner’ is listed in the book’s supplement, while
‘computer’ is totally absent.  In searching those things out, I
discovered that according to this dictionary, a computer should not
really be called a computer at all, because ‘compute’ derives from
the Latin root computare, ‘to think’.  A computer does not think (or
at least computers have programmed us to believe they do not
think) however, somewhere along that word’s lineage computare
‘thinking’ was made almost synonymous with ‘counting up’, as
evidenced by ‘computation’, a counting up.  Perhaps the change
came when a peasant or a far earlier age found time to do some
computare  in a combe, which is or at least was a hollow among
hills, and just then The Tax Man came along in command of his
company of combat-minded enforcement officers wielding sharp
swords as reminders to that unfortunate peasant as well as we his
compeers that while we can all commiserate as we comingle without
comfit, yet our comportment must be compliment with the order to
cease computare in our thoughts about anything other than
computing our tax burden according to the service of the sword
without compensation except that we are free, once we pay, to
attend compline.  Yes, that blessed, last, church service of the day ..
of our age .. of this planet before it is made anew and in which
righteousness dwells.
      Perhaps my propinquity caught up with me here and now at
my desk as I am rewriting this chapter, because if I had not
printed the year of my voyage on my poster, the historical date of
the trip seems to inconsequential for my conscious mind to make
note of .. I seem to have risen above the noxious tock .. Ohhhhhhhh
I can’t even bear the thought of that four letter word in its most
common meaning .. so I will mention it in a more pleasant form, the
four/four or 2/4 or rhymic time of music, a musical CD from my
brother Ron playing on my little laptop as I type this .. ‘standing
beneath an orange sky with my brother and sister’ .. but then,
perhaps it’s the beer I just enjoyed .. or the memory of the woman
in the office building this morning telling me that since I started my
part time janitorial job there the building’s been so much cleaner,
in my opinion resulting from a combination of the cleaning
company’s staffing problems solved by me coming along at the right
time with the knowledge that a quick wipe of the bathroom’s
chrome faucet with a paper towel partially wet with Windex makes
the whole bathroom shine .. shine .. shine .. as life says to
us .. shine.
      So, my memory is not shining .. and I even forget my exact
route east towards Lake Simcoe.  I think it was up Highway 46 to
Bolsover, 33 and 6 to Dalrymple, up to Washago (I am examining a
map) and I do remember 13 to Torrance, only 20 miles as the crow
flies but probably double that mileage because of its twisting,
curving, hillocky, treed, wild, nature which was one of the best
roads of my trip .. and then the road runs through what becomes a
dry plateau infested with the worst blight of Tent Worm Caterpillars
I’ve ever seeen .. honestly gruesome in the infestation’s extent, with
almost every small tree being destroyed,  the plateau being so dry
that not many large trees were present, probably all having been
cut a hundred years ago, with the area too arid to rebound .. an
appropriate place for a song to come on about ‘wave over wave and
a three masted schooner and no other life than a life on the sea’
and yes, my brother Ron, Newfies that we is, Newfies that we Arrr
Bye we’s Newifes in our Gypsy Ukie Romanian Irish English and
who knows what more… on this road, 13, with no villages or
crossroads marked on the provincial map, and except for cottages
and a few homes, and a small, isolated school where I stopped to
ask directions of a totally suspcious lady who obviously wished I
was nowhere in sight, probably because she might have been alone,
alone, alone in the fearsome corridors with a hairy beast me ..
so a quick exit I made from the school and back onto the road
which is which not much more than a made-for maximum moped
throttle thrills country lane through beautiful Muskoka land. I took
13 because Highway 11 was marked as controlled access on my
map, but even afterwords when I learned from locals that bicycles
ride 11 all the time, the lesson of getting off the highway onto the
byway paid big dividends throughout the trip, I seeing far more
countryside in its beautiful state in a safer and more leisurely
manner than I would have by staying on major routes. On this
lonely road, at an intersection with a lonely railroad track beside
which sat a lovely, lonely place to camp, I met a woman walking ..
I met a woman walking alone, to be more exact, but, “I met a
woman walking” sounded more poetic, as ‘waling alone’ evokes
possible loneliness or fear, negative image, and I wish not to be
negative .. for postive is far better.  To me it was obvious that the
woman was not only lonely, but single as well, and receptive.  Now,
this revealing of my mental processes might put me at risk of
investigation by law enforcement officers who could be persuaded to
view be as a stalker, and I would not overly resent an investigation
of my life, because 'stalkers' are said to have the same impressions
of their romantic interests .. that they are lonely, and show interest
in the stalker . . but this woman did not appear to be afraid, and
as we chatted she put me at ease so comfortably that I briefly
considered asking if she would like some company at her cottage .. I
say “briefly considered” because it was brief indeed, and would far
overstep normal etiquette .. so I changed my approach to beiefly
considering mentioning that I could camp at the lovely spot by
the railroad track that night if she were inclined to return for a
small drink from my brandy flask .. but again, the thought was
brief .. for even though it would in no way overstep etiquette I was
on a far more important mission than having a fling.  So after a
pleasant fantasy (stroke out fantasy) conversation I was onward. 
      Trans Canada 400 into Parry Sound is identifed as 
Controlled Access on highway maps, and I paralleled it on 69, that
highway being the old Trans Canada, and the old Trans Canada
continuing on as Trans Canada 69 past Parry Sound where 400
ends, at Parry Sound.  Notice how ‘parallel’ and ‘Parry Sound’
both start with Ps .. this is coincidental .. however, in searching out
the double ll position I found ‘parvenu’ .. an upstart.  So, is Parry
Sound an upstart?  I can’t say because I passed by the town after
also passing by or going through Rosseau, Glen Orchard,
Horseshoe Lake, Gordon Bay, Fool’s Bay, Cala.  I can’t remember
exactly where I camped, but I try to stay near water .. a good spot
can often be had on the riverside at a bridge, where construction
crews had to have flat space for their equipment, and often there is
an passable path for walking or moped leading from the roadside to
the campable spot by the water, that spot normally owned by
provincial governments, so that private property owners can’t kick a
camper off, if they are so inclined, which they aren’t so inclined very
often unless they own a for-profit camping park nearbye, but those
private property owners can phone enforcement officers, and in
some areas in Northern Ontario campgrounds are so important to
the local economy, or at least to the municipal government of that
locality, with the mayor or councillor owning campgrounds, that on
rare occasions you and I will see 'No Overnight Camping’ signs
posted along roadways which border fantastic lakes and rivers ideal
for free camping.  There are countless free sites available, though,
like atop a rock cut where I set up camp as dusk dropped.  I had
been deliberately searching the roadside for a deer trail or mostly
hidden vehicle track for awhile when I saw what I needed .. a track
for vehicles carrying hydro pole maintenance crews, and leeding off
the highway up a relatively steep/modest slope to the top of a
rockcut .. a ‘rockcut’ being where highway builders have blasted
deeply into a rocky hill to allow the road to run relatively level. 
This camp, I thought as I walk-motored my moped up the trail,
would be uneventful .. but it turned out to be beautiful, with  a
large, level, grassy area for my tent, and a lake two minutes by hike
down a wooded slope.  Sharing this campsite was a large turtle
laying her eggs where the sun would warm them right at the edge of
the cut.  If the hatchlings went the wrong way they would drop off
the edge almost onto the highway shoulder, but of course they
would not make that mistake, their instincts somehow taking them
down the wooded slope to the lake. It would be a rough trip for
those feeble newborns probably as big as a dime or a quarter,
stumbling over sharp rock and debris from the trees .. but
enough of them would almost certainly make it to the lake to create
another generation. 
    The route from Parry Sound to Sudbury is simple enough, stay
on Trans Canada 69 until Trans Canada 17 .. but getting around
Sudbury without going onto the busy Controlled Access section
required careful navigation, although here again the effort was well
worth the result, the road 55 less travelled taking me into a
wonderland of waterfalls, lakes, and old railroad trestles.
Ahhh .. Suddenly I know. I have just come from a break fromwriting
.. I was watching the movie of Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina on
television .. I recognized in those passions the reason why I cannot
remember details of the trip to Saskatoon beyond thechange of tire
at Oakwood .. except the turtle in the cycle of birth .. the worms in
the cycle of death .. the forbidding of the the beauty and freedom of
life of free camping in places of grandeur that comes with the love of
money being the root of all evil .. it all came to me suddenly that my
mind was encompassed by a fire of passion .. a far higher vision
than anything I passed through .. and that goal was the well being
of my sister in law Sandy. I was armed with prayer .. I am armed
with prayer .. not that I am Peter or Paul, John or James, Stephen
or any of the apostles, but like Jesus Christ they taught me to pray
.. and to believe .. and with Saskatoon as my goal as I rode the
roads small or great, and camped in beautiful places or meager, my
passion and prayer was for my sister in law’s health .. that was the
vision and the passion and goal. Yes .. and having been reminded of
passion, I won’t delay to share the passion of joy with you who are
reading this .. the joy that as I rode up Saskatchewan’s Yellowhead
Highway about 100 miles from Saskatoon, I suddenly knew that my
sister in law would be well .. and so it was that when I telephoned,
before arriving, I was told that the cancer was not in the lymph
under the arm after all, but was restricted to the breast, and that
treatment was expected to be effective .. and so far, seven months
later, that has held true .. and the prognosis for the future is
excellent. But are we, that is, is the world, out of the woods yet, as
the saying goes, now that we are on the prairie, so to speak? No
when you become intimate with the prairie you will find there are
plenty of woods on those prairies .. you will see if you go there ..
and we are never completely out of the woods until we reach eternal
heaven. By the way, I lost a good deal of respect for Leo Tolstoy for
his ending of Anna Karenina’s life. Hecould have had Anna’s
husband, who depicted himself as a Christian, pray and have the
love of his wife restored him .. but I have read a little of Tolstoy’s
life, and I see in Anna’s death Tolstoy’s own vengeance on all
women who have injured him and those he loved .. in efect his
hatred murdered, along with Anna, every beautiful young woman in
the world. Shakespeare had different motives for killing Romeo and
Juliet .. passionless motives .. he knew full well stage and scene of
bloody marketplace, and knew golden curtains rise and set on blood
and tragedy. Shakespeare’s goal was simply money .. but of course
he caused the deaths of countless young people who imitated
Romeo and Juliet by killing themselves. Those authors’ sins are
Chapter Six
      Okay I’m back in the memory groove after having phoned
sister-in-law Sandra in Saskatoon and having her good health
reconfirmed .. well, I’m in a partial memory groove .. I can’t
remember details like names, and right now I sure wish I had been
making notes, because while at Blind River and stopped for a cup of
tea, sitting at a bar in a licensed restaurant/motel and chatting
with the bartender/owner, a friend of his offered to share his twin-
beded motel room with me.  Actually, the spare bed in Jack’s room
was taken by a friend of his also working strike security, but on
opposite shifts.  It was a generous offer, especially as a
thunderstorm had been forecast; but I’m wary of strange men,
having been molested both as a boy and as a young man.  Even
though I now have friends who are bisexual my relationship with
them is clear in that I am straight and will not welcome advances.  I
don’t have that advantage with strangers, so I was honest and told
the gentleman I don’t completely trust situations as he was offering,
and that I would think over his offer as I gassed up.  He told me he
understood my hesitation told me to take all the time I needed. 
While gassing the moped I observed certain signs of bad weather
moving in, and while that didn’t threaten my comfort or security I
did not want to pack a wet tent in the morning.  I returned to the
gentleman’s table, whose name I really wish I could remember, and
accepted his offer.  I’ll call him Jack, and that very well might have
been his name.
      Jack was a retired railroad engineer having spent his career in
the north, now working security for the railroad during a strike. 
There was little danger in the strike, pretty much gone are the days
of rail tampering and potentially violent face offs between railroad
bosses and union men.  A strong fraternity holds things together
on the rails, each knowing the other faces grave hazards in his
work, and each respectful of the other’s position.  I had worked on
several railroad track maintenance gangs swinging a spike-driving
hammer, and had hopped freights while travelling both for pleasure
and on my way back and forth to work, so as Jack and I lay abed
after a shower drinking beer a common thread of discussion spun
out of steel rail, fast freights, cabooses, beautifully isolated northern
rail camps, the distant and melodious sound of a railroad engine’s
long-wailing horn awhistle and echoing off tens of miles of hard
rock and evergreen trees, and of course huge fish and Black Flies. 
Besides working at odd jobs to stay busy, Jack volunteered at a
children’s cancer camp, and it was after we had discussed cancer
for a while that I told him I was on my way to Saskatoon because of
cancer in the family, and also confided my own affliction.  Jack then
was honest about his heart problems and diabetes.  Ohhh .. the
long calling horn of advancing age.  That new movie The Bucket List
again comes to mind.
      Sleep came .. the awesome storm came .. morning came .. the
shift change came.  I was up and out of bed of course and at
breakfast before my bed’s owner returned.  We had a short chat,
but he was soon off to bed, and I was on my way, riding a dry
moped which had weathered the storm under the motel roof’s wide
overhang.  Such an unthankful fellow am I that I don’t think I took
Jack’s address .. oh yes I did, Thunder Bay, but I didn’t look him
up, with my mind focused on Saskatoon at the expense of almost
everything else. 
      When I got to Sault Ste. Marie I detoured towards the shipping
locks for a looksee, but didn’t get to see them as they’re situated on
the American side, and I didn’t want the hassle of border security
for a fifteen minute tour.  On my return trip I did attempt a border
crossing to test my elegibility for entrance to the U.S., a test
necessitated, I thought, because I have stood at microphones and
denounced the international war machine, which sets me up as
potential for denial for crossing into the U.S., which would not be a
great problem except that I wish to visit mother who retired in
Hawaii, where my inheritance is going towards 75 stray cats for
feed, vaccination, dental surgeries, and rendering incapable of
procreation.  An interesting result of that border test when it came
was that I was told I would have to surrender the Eagle feather
which I picked up off the beach on Vancounver Island and which I
flew on my packpack.  People within the borders of the U.S. are not
permitted to possess Eagle feathers, except, I am sure, for
aboriginal religious purposes.
      The border would have to wait, though, and on the way out of
Sault Ste. Marie I stopped at the huge Canadian Tire store, where I
exchanged the sleeping bag I had purchased at an Ottawa
Canadian Tire especially for this trip.  The original bag gave out on
the second night, coming apart at many seams.  To be fair, it
was a cheap bag, $25, and one I would not have ordinarilly
purchased excep for the fact that it rolled into a small bundle
suitable for my moped’s front fender.  I had hoped for a year’s use
from the bag.  Canadian Tire staff at the Sault treated me fairly
considering I had no sales receipt, but the bag was recognized as a
Canadian Tire brand, and I was given a $10 credit which went
towards a reasonable quality Woods bag with a flannel liner and a
price of $40.00.  Although this bag was bulkier than I preferred it
bundled well enough with my tent, space blanket, and cotton sheet
to fit comfortably under my headlight, allowing my light to
illuminate the road and be seen by oncoming traffic, therebye
maintaining my moped’s legal status.  I packed the bundle in to
what was supposed to be a waterproof nylon dry bag for boaters,
but that bag had lost its waterproof quality, so I put the entire
bundle into a heavy duty, bright orange garbage bag.  Even with the
two bags, this bundle became fully waterproof only after I learned to
put the rolled end of the drybag into the permanently sealed end of
the garbage bag.  Constant rain and wind of 30 mph, I discovered,
got rain into seemingly impossible places.  The bright orange bundle
enhanced my road safety by attracting the attention of oncoming
drivers; but I was always wary of oncoming drivers in line with each
other not seeing me and pulling out onto my lane to pass.  Real
security could only come through the Almighty God’s potection of
course, but I had to do my part in maintaining utmost diligence.
      So far most of the highways I had been riding had been
through wild enough territory, but leaving the Sault on 17 Trans
Canada in a due northerly direction I came into what most
Ontarians consider the true north (although the Innuit and
Yukoners might laugh at that statement).  Symbolic of this country
is the five mile hill not far out of the Sault, which is downhill as you
head north, and this leads you into the first encounter with
seemingly countless vistas of sand beaches curving in huge bays,
big sky, vast waters, vast forests, and low mountains.  This is what
makes the north shore of Lake Superior famous far and wide ..
although this first stretch is from a geographical sense not the
north shore at all, but is the first of the two eastern shores of the
north shore.  This first stretch of road is also famous for ice cream
stops as it is a popular tourist destination. 
      Not far beyond the five mile hill the town of Montreal River,
which is not farm from the entracne to Lake Superior Provincial
Park with its 60 miles stretch of highway without one commercial
stop with the beautiful Old Woman Bay at its western end.  I would
need to camp for the night before I rode through the park, but I did
not want to pay what I consider the exhorbitant fees for provincial
campsites, and before I got to the park I saw a slight vehicle
track running into and out of a relatively deep, sandy ditch, with
the lake visible through trees on the other side of the ditch.  I took
the track, and discovered beautiful campsites in a long, narrow
strip of what was almost certainly provincial highway property. 
However, there was a small chance the land might belong to an
almost derelict motel on the other side of the highway, so I
backtracked, and asked about the situation with the motel
operator, a woman slightly older than myself, who operated
the motel year round with her life partner.  The motel office was
cramped with boxes overflowing with used books for sale, the
books obviously being a winter pastime for the operators.  This lady
told me, yes, the campsites were free for the taking, being on
highway property, with lots of people camping there.  I thanked her,
and looked over the books but could find nothing to buy, and
returned to the lake where a miracle of God was just waiting to
happen.  All that day, as I rode past sand beaches along the
highway, I was thinking that when I stopped for the night I would
need a large, flat, metal something to put between the sand and my
kickstand to prevent the kickstand from digging with one fork or
the other into the soft sand and causing the bike to topple.  My
loaded moped is vulnerable to wind even when parked on
pavement, and here on sand at the edge of a lake known for big
winds, it was a high risk.  So I needed a solid footing for a
kickstand, and being familiar in a small way with the providence of
the Almighty Creator I was not entirely surprised to find exactly
when and were it was needed, obviously placed there just for me,
right beside a fire ring of stones, an old and battered, sufficiently
thick aluminum frying pan of the right diameter to take the forks of
my kickstand.  That pan lasted through most of my trip, being
replaced eventually with a thicker version which had lost its handle. 
Also obvious at this place, although not at my particular capsite,
was the ingratitude of some humans as evidenced by a natural
hollow in the lay of this fantastically beautiful beach setting having
been filled with trash.  What would have prevented the campers
and picnickers from loading their garbage into a bag and then into
the trunk of their vehicles was beyond me.
    Nevertheless, the place as a whole was beautiful, and I had been
on the road long enough to need a good break, which I took there,
spending the next cloudly, partly drizzly day resting and cooking
and eating and walking brief explorations, and talking around a
driftwood fire with a family of two adults, a couple of young teens,
and a younger child.  The teen girl and her Dad were brave enough
to get into the icy water for a swim, but I was not brave, suffering
even from standing ankle or knee deep and washing myself. 
Superior is one COLD lake, being very deep, and containing
according to different written sources either one-tenth of one-fifth or
one-third or one-half of the fresh water in the world . . I have also
read Lake Baikal in Russia, which is much deeper, contains one-
third of the world’s freshwater.  In any case, Superior’s latitude and
depth make it cold, and for normal people generally unswimmable
until July or August .. so this father and daughter are brave indeed.   
That family were the only visitors at that spot on that stop, but on
the return in early August the place was packed with tenters and to
a lesser extent, swimmers, as the water was still cold.
      I can’t remember if I spent one full day or a second full day at
that spot, but when I packed up and rode north I was well rested,
and I needed to be, because grey sky and low temperatures
continued with drizzle off and on.  I bought a bright orange toque at
a small trading post somewhere before entering the provinicial park,
but thought I was well prepared with gloves.  Nevertheless, by the
time  I stopped at the northern end of Lake Superior Provincial Park
after that 60 miles of no commercial stops, my hands were so cold I
could barely open them from around the bike’s steering grips. 
Another trading post sits near the north end of the park, and I had
a big breakfast there, and was fortunate to find a pair of heavy
leather gloves which I greased with Arctic Dubin on the back side ..
not greasing the palms or front of the fingers to avoid making my
grip slippery.  With the weather wet and cool I think I decided to
bypass Wawa without stopping, continuing on to White River, where
I discovered the scarcity of Banks of Montreal throughout the north,
that discovery giving me small fiancial worries.  Still, I had my
credit card for emergencies, and the weather turning colder and
wetter used my card at Marathon to purchase a pair of rubber
‘gumboots’ or gardener’s boots together with a high quality pair of
wool socks.  Somewhere along this stretch I also purchased a good
pair of lined, waterproof pants for warmth, and tossed in the
garbage my unlined pair which I had purchased at a used goods
store for one or two dollars.  At Terrace Bay I restocked my
groceries at a supermarket, coming out of the store to a steady and
heavy rain which lasted a long time, with me standing under the
supermarket roof’s overhang talking with a native fellow who
needed encouragement away from his abuse of alcohol and drugs.  I
did encourage him, and we shared a lunch from my groceries.  He
gave me his address on a reserve close to Terrace Bay, and
although I intended on visiting him on the way back I somehow
passed it by. 
      I had not wanted to spend nights in towns, but at Terrace Bay
the rain would not let up, and close by the supermarket was a
roofed structure which at one time may have housed a flea market
or farmer’s market.  A municipal vehicle stopped in the parking lot
during a brief lull in the rain, and I approached it and asked if
anyone would mind if I pitched under the roof that night.  ‘No one
would mind,’ I was told, and I did pitch, and spent a dry night,
moving on in a drier morning .. a morning in which because of my
recent clothing purchases I thought I was well prepared for riding in
almost any weather short of a blizzard.  Weeks later, as I rode
perhaps in a state of hypothermia into the village of Jasper in the
Rocky Mountains, I had learned I may have been prepared well
enough clothing wise, but wisdom wise I was still scantilly clad.
That story comes later. 
      If memory serves me correctly it is the winding and
mountainous stretch Highway 17 from Rossport to Lake Helen
which displays the most beautiful lakeshore vistas along the north
shore .. and we really are on the north shore now, running east and
west.  Along this stretch I came to a pair of hitchhikers, a young
man and woman from Quebec, he on his way to the fruit harvests
in the Okanagan, she on her way to work motels or restaurants
catering to tourists.  We had a brief chat, I not wanting to hinder
chances for someone to pick them up, and I gave them a very
thankfully received $20 bill .. or was that $10.  I hope it was $20. 
She in turn honoured me by taking my photograph .. so The Moped
Poet is also known in La Belle Provence.  At Thunder Bay I stopped
to find a motorcycle shop to buy an inner tube, and here, the shop’s
operator looked at my rear tire and expressed the opinion I should
go no further unless I could find a new one, which no one in
Thunder Bay could provide.  Seeing my obvious disappointment he
said, “… well, maybe you’ll make it to Winnipeg.  Yes, sure, you’ll
make it to Winnipeg.”  I also determined that I would, and at a
picnic stop outside of town reduced my tire’s burden by reducing
weight .. leaving some (spared but not spare food items like half my
brown rice and lentils along with a clean bundle of (not spare, but
spared anyway) clothing on a picnic table used by truckers.  I
believe I also dumped some water, and I slightly deflated my tire so
the wear would be spread over a wider area of tread. 
      I had intened to head due west on Highway 11 from Thunder
Bay, and attempt a U.S. border crossing at Fort Frances.  This
route would take me to a part of southeastern Manitoba which on
highway maps shows as an original prairie grassland reserve, and
which at that time of year might be wildly abloom with huge
varieties of edible rooted flowers like the Orange Lilly which had
been a staple of aboriginal diet, and which is practically non-
existant on the prairies today.  However, my balding tire together
with banking considrations caused me to take the shorter Highway
17 route WestNorthwest (WNW) towards Winnipeg.  On May 30 I
rode into the scenic village of Kenora on the beautiful Lake of the
Woods, my first stop being a motorcycle shop on the edge of town,
at which I enquired about moped tires, and was told I would
probably find them only at Winnipeg.  The bike shop owners
were great to talk with though, and on my return trip I stopped
again to say hello.  My official welcome to Kenora was made by the
mayor himself in a parking near the Public Library, the mayor
having taken an interest in my vehicle and journey.  I did not,
however, receive a key to the city.  Kenora does have a Bank of
Montreal, though, and because of Direct Deposit I was able to
clearn the balance on my credit card which I had been living on for
a few days.  I also had lunch in a restaurant at which a young lady
and her family were celebrating a newborn, and I gifted the mother
with $10 or $20 to celebrate with.  This I did partly out of gratitude
for the mother’s race, for it was the aboriginals of the west who had
saved my great grandfather and his family from starvation in their
first winter homesteading in a Manitoba river valley, a site I would
visit and spend two nights camped at on my way to Saskatoon, that
visit recounted not long following this chapter. 
      Kenora was a reminder of my younger days when I was
motivated by compassion to try to assist the desperate, drug and
alcohol addicted plight of many aboriginals in our society .. a
compassion fueld by memories of my own bondage to addictive
elements, and my delivery through a miraculous rebirth which had
held the knowledge of eternal salvation.  Not long after my rebirth I
had crisscrossed much of Canada, stopping in Kenora more than
once, handing out ‘Jesus Saves’ booklets and tracts and small
copies of gospels and Revelation.  Regardless of the fraudulent
images broadcast on television and radio, being Born Again is not a
Satanic origin, but according to scriptures simply means the
beginning of genuine faith in Jesus Christ .. and I recognize
Muslims as being in that faith, as while they do not hold Christ as
the Son of God, they do recognize him as the Messiah who will
return and destroy the anti-Christ empire now ruling this planet. 
      At Kenora I carefully folded and tucked a receipt from my
purchase of gasoline into a safe place in my wallet, that receipt
providing proof for government officials that I had been in Ontario
on that day, my income elligibility dependent on my not being out of
Ontario for longer than 30 days, or as previously approved.  In this
case, I had been approved for an extra 30 days out of province.  On
June 1, when I purchased my new tire in Winnipeg, I placed that
receipt alonside the Kenora receipt, as proof of when I crossed the
border.  I did the same thing on my return, and the government was
satisfied with those receipts.   
      I clearly remember the beautiful, roadside, lakeside camp I had
between Kenora and the Manitoba border .. a spot where I chatted
with a wonderful retired gent whose home was just across the
bridge.  I also had a lovely walk in a lovely woods at that camp,
the  woods concealing an attempted home built out of an old 18
wheel trailer, but which had been long disused.  I remember a good
sleep .. and also the next morning’s pleasant ride to the border. 
What I remember most clearly, though, was standing at the large
‘Welcome To Manitoba’ sign pondering whether to obey the letter of
Manitoba’s moped laws, which would have allowed me to go no
further, as there were no dirt roads running west from the border at
that point, or depending on the spirit and grace to  into illegal
territory as a fugitive.  The plight of Kenora’s alcohol and drug
addicted segment of population was a call to return, but my own
spirit was no longer adequate for such a calling, and the calling of
my own family’s necessities was equal or stronger.  I decided I
would run in the spirit of grace.  Trans Canada 17 turns into Trans
Canada Number 1 at the Ontario-Manitoba border, and after a few
miles on Number 1 I turned off onto 44.  Now THAT was a good
decision even though the decision to get off the Trans Canada
because of archaic laws turned out to be unnecessary.  All the
highways in Manitoba are now used by bicyclists, and it would take
a very mean-spirited police officer, or one dealing with a mean-
spirited mopedist, to order a ]moped onto the dirt roads legislated
for them.  By choice I did end up on some of those dirt roads, and
they were very pleasant  experiences.
Chapter Seven
      Highway 44 was indeed a wonderful ride.  It runs through
Whiteshell Provincial Park, which is gated at both ends, but no fee
is required if a person is just passing through.  My genuine intent
was to pass through, and I was allowed to do so.  The road is
paved, but rough and narrow, winding and hilly, running through
wild, forested, fishing and hunting country.  The name of the park,
Whiteshell, together with the village of Whitemouth which I went
through west of the park, conflicted with Shellmouth, the village
nearest my great grandfather’s homestead.  Those names caused
some confusion later in the trip when I attempted telling curious
people farther west where I had been, and I eventually just crooked
my thumb and said, “back there,” which generally brought a
satisfied laugh.
      Was it at Whitemouth where a gas station/fishing store
operator told me of an off road camping spot not far past the
willage?  That was where I spent the night, anyway, in a clear-cut
off a dirt track within  the vast boreal forest.  The dirt track led
seemingly endlessly north and called me to go exploring for a few
miles, crossing a railroad track at right angles, and passing a late
model vehicle parked somewhat in the bush.  When I turned
around I had become familiar enough with that vast, untamed,
sandy country to easily understand how Canada became a huge
exporter of marijuana to the United States.  In fact, just before I
turned into my tent for the night I made a walk down the slightly
wet road to the pavement of Highway 44, where in that decidedly
out of the way place two vehicles were stopped, and where two men
and one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen were
discussing something in quiet tones.  Transplanting time?  I
became familiar with another of nature’s elements that night in my
tent when I was plagued with the crawling annoyance of the Tick,
something my time in the woods to that point in life had somehow
avoided.  The prairie river valleys, particularly the Assiniboine, is
now overrun with Ticks, which despite their disease potential, don’t
in reality seem much of a threat, seeming to carry the same threat
as being stuck by lightning, but the tiny-legged crawling of which is
certainly an annoyance when trying to sleep.  A Tick looks like a
tiny, flat bodied spider, and easy identification can be made in their
resistance to being squeezed to death between thumb and
forefinger, that task being almost impossible because of their
armoured body.  It’s easier to fling them out the tent door than to
kill them, and that’s the best procedure anyway, because they are
so abundant that killing enough of them to bring relief for sleep
may cause their corpses to emit enough of an odour to attract
carnivorous creatures.  Another discomfort that night came with
increasing air temperatures, which caused me to sleep the first part
of the night outside my bag, but under my cotton sheet. 
      The next day I rode 44 to the town of Beausejour which is
slightly north east of Winnipeg, where I spent a couple of hours
fretting while trying to organize myself.  Telephone calls into
Winnipeg had failed to discover a moped tire, and I did not want to
enter Winnipeg unnecessarily because the main roads in appeared
as Controlled Access on maps.  I thought I might do better in
Saskatoon, mapping a run up Highway 6 on the east side of Lake
Manitoba, then crossing the lake at 235, on to Dauphin, then on
and on and on and on into Saskatoon.  However .. I was told that
wild Highway 6 is not a well travelled road, and not a good place for
a tire blowout with no spare and my tire looking worse and worse. 
One Beausejour citizen offered to take me into Winnipeg to search
for a tire, but I did not want to take that person’s time, and to tell
the whole truth, I was also leery of leaving my moped unattended
for a few hours, even though it was locked.  My faith was not great
despite the abundance of people west of the Manitoba border who
introduced themselves to me with words like, “Hey man, do you
know Jesus?  Are you saved?”  This unmistakable, western
Canadian bible belt continues well into British Columbia. 
    I decided to continue straight west without going into Winnipeg,
but turned north into Selkirk when I heard of a motorcycle shop
there.  The operator of that shop got on the telephone and located
a tire for me at The Great Canadian Motorcycle parts store in
Winnipeg.  I turned my bike around for Winnipeg, finding the
shop not far from where I had lived for six months at a Salvation
Army hostel at Logan and Main during my era of evangelism.  Oh
how I wished I had some spare spirit as I rode past the destitute
denizens of Main Street, but I saw that a large church was
intimately available for them if they wanted to avail themselves, and
I merely purchased my tire, asking the owner to please order more,
as I was to return in two months.  The shop owner has been in that
location, I believe it was, 30 years, and it’s easy to imagine him
being able to replace any part for any motorcycle ever built.  It was
at that shop I also purchased my genuine tire iron, but only on my
return trip after having provided myself much unnecessary and
frustrating labour.  Tire changing should not be quite as
frustrating as it was for me, but on one of my first springtime rides
after having purchase the bike I had ridden into a deep pothole,
denting my rear rim into a slight out of roundness which made
difficult putting the tire on perfectly rounded.  I eventually learned
to Baby Powder the wheel’s rim as well as the tire’s bead, which
allowed the rubber to slip against the metal without grabbing, and
I also learned to mould the tire while under-pressurized onto the
rim.  I also learned that if the tire still failed to bead itself to the
rim, over pressurization can cause the bead (the tire’s edge) to pop
into roundness.  In all of this, the tire iron would have saved me
much sweat.  Potholes, by the way, are a good reason not to buy
motor scooters with their higher acceleration and smaller diameter
wheels, the front wheel dropping into the pothole causing the
scooter to flip.  A rider in Ottawa had been injured exactly in that
way shortly before I left on my trip, his bike becoming a total write-
      Daytime air temperature in Winnipeg had soared, and I
decided I would not try to change my tire in sweaty discomfort, but
would pray for a safe trip to Saskatoon, where I could change it at
my leisure.  The new tire rode behind me where I attached it with a
bungee cord to the backpack.  My Dad’s sister Florence lives in
Winnipeg, but I failed to get her on the phone, and left a message
that I would try again on my return. 
      I intended to take the quaint Old Trans Canada 26 west from
Winnipeg to stay off the busy multi lane Number One, but I had to
take a multi-lane ring road as far as 26, and that was a ride made
interesting because of the rubberlike squigglies which ran for miles
along the shoulder.  These were, I believe, evaporated drippings
from a muncipal waste shipping truck which had a bad leak. 
whi.n interesting ride.  Along here was also the roadside, inter-farm
binder twine line which crosses and criss crosses Canada in every
direction and allows farmers who have all tied into the line to speak
into tin can telephones and bemoan the price of beef, corn, corn
whiskey, the price of holidays in Arizona, etc.  This line is evident
on the surface in places in Northern Ontario, but there it often
disappears as if the farmers have taken to airwave communication. 
      After a few miles of rubber turds I turned onto the wonderful
blessing which is the Old Trans Canada, how quaint and rural it is
in today’s modern age, that highway leading me to a verdant, well
treed green space on the banks of the Assiniboine at which I knew I
should make camp, but perhaps family desire had gotten ahold of
me, and I talked myself into travelling past that spot about three
miles before turning back to its comfort and beauty.  A young family
was fishing in the creek which ran into the Assinaboine, a father
with a son and daughter.  I could not identify the man’s accent, and
he identified himself as a Hutterite who had left the Colony.  I spent
the following day resting, with my Hutterite friends coming again for
fishing, and also with an invitation for me to go home for dinner.
Theirs was a wonderful home life and the woman of the house’s
cooking was of course wonderfully Hutteritish, and after supper I
was taken on a back roads tour and introduced to Gumbo roads,
they being mud roads made famous by the western Canadian
country music band (sh’r ‘nuff wish I cud thinka th’r name y’all)
which recorded ‘My Truck Got Stuck’ and in which several other
trucks get stuck trying to pull out the stuck truck but the Hutterite
truck in the song did not get stuck because the Hutterites in the
song were too smart to venture into the Buffalo turd and fish
exrement mixed with waterfowl white goo and silty clay and which
when mixed well together is Gumbo and which was found on the
bottom of the big lake which once covered much of the prairie and
which I had an intimate experience with on my return trip.  In the
middle of the back road tour I was taken to a Hutterite Colony to
meet the children’s grandparents.  Unfortunately, our visit was as
short as it was pleasant/unpleasant, for the headman of the Colony
was in a dispute with the grandparents’ son, who was my host, and 
who according to that Headman’s precepts was not welcomed onto
the Colony.  I was able to ease my host’s anger by reminding him
that God will repay justice if necessary to the Colony’s headman
unless that man repented of his hard heart.  I learned on my trip
through the west that if a traveler meets fishermen who are
enjoying a beer or something stronger while fishing, and those
fisherpeople speak with an accent difficult to identify, they are
almost certainly young Hutterite men who have left the colony to
live and work in the ‘outer’ world.  I fell in with such a group not
long after the first family, and we had a great time, they happily
sharing their beer and stronger drink, with two of the young men’s
father having escaped his Colony for the day, and also enjoying
more than one drink.  These fishers did reasonably well that day,
considering the pollution of most of the rivers and lakes east of
Alberta.  Catfish is a favourite haunter of the Assiniboine, and two
normal sized cats were caught, and then a huge one which nearly
pulled the strong young man off his feet and into the river.  This
fish easily weighed fourty pounds .. not a record catfish by any
means, but cats are well muscled.  I learned that the prairie rivers
once ran clear as glass, with Sturgeon plentiful; but after decades of
farmers plowing soil, with accompanying farm runoff, the rivers run
as mud, and are of course loaded with chemicals and fertilizers.   
My own fishing gear consists of a telescoping pole and kit with lures
but I had left it in Ottawa, unable to find enough space on the
moped, or at least a place in which the pole would not have been
threatened with breakage.  I would not have been able to use my
gear past the Ontario border anyway without purchasing expensive,
non-resident licenses, and my trip involved enough natural
stimulation that I really didn’t mind not fishing all that much. 
Shortly after I had departed Saskatoon I read a newspaper report of
a 64 pound Rainbow Trout being caught in the huge, dam created
Lake Diefenbaker.  That is a big Trout.
Chapter 8
The Old Path
      Highway 26, the old trans Canada, parallels the new Trans
Canada Number One as both highways come into Portage la Prairie.
Number 26 ends by running into Number One just past Portage,
and five miles beyond that Highway 16, the famously beautiful
Yellowhead Highway begins.  The Yellowhead runs from there
through to Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Jasper, just beyond which it
splits into Yellowhead west continuing on to British Columbia’s
Pacific Ocean port of Prince Rupert way up there at the bottom of
the Alaska Panhandle.  The Yellowhead also turns south just past
Jasper as the Thompson Highway Numebr 5, and runs almost to
Vancouver.  The Yellowhead is being promoted as The New Trans
Canada because of tremendous shipping potential with goods from
Asia entering Prince Rupert and run by rail and truck down the
Yellowhead into the U.S.  However, that potential may never be
reached because global warming has opened up the Northwest
Passage, and if that passage is ice free every year as it was this
year, shipping will just naturally take that route.  The Yellowhead is
a highway in transformation, with widenings and shoulders being
paved in anticipation of increased use, but despite it having been a
major highway for many decades, Saskatchewan’s poverty relative
to the rest of Canada has results in the highway being often narrow
with gravel shoulders .. and those conditions, together with large
numbers of transport trucks, make slow travel on the Yellowhead
somewhat risky, although  in truth the number of transports never
approached what I had been told by locals to expect.
      The Yellowhead proved interested for necessitating my first
true, roadside camp, when shortly after I left Portage a storm
approached, dropping a soft rain but threatening much more. 
Prairie Thunderstorms can be truly frightening events, and the
shoulders of the Yellowhead offered no protection from high winds
would sweep right off the prairie.  I turned off onto a gravel farm
access road, and found a high bank which was situated for
protection.  Here, only about four feet from the gravel edge, I
pitched my tent.  A farmhouse with buildings lay within one-eighth
mile of me, and I was a bit worried that western hospitality which is
a truce fact would nonetheless be strained by my setting up of
camp.  I wasn’t bothered by anyone though, and only three or four
vehicles passed my spot in the 12 or 14 hours I was camped.
      The next morning I rode on, first to the town of Russell which
serendiptuously my poet friend Baird McNeil had once lived, and
which was to be a site for a family gathering for some of my own
family in early July.  From Russell I phoned Dad, getting further
directions, and rode to the crossroads of Shellmouth which is
almost on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border,  where I roamed
back roads asking people in vehicles for directions, until I finally
stopped at a farm, where upon my enquiring, the entire family gave
up what they were busy at and got out maps and made telephone
calls, and where I made one more call to Dad, and, as dusk was
near, finally the exact homestead location was located.  Now the
riding became very interesting indeed, as I had to get to the
homestead before dark.  First back to the paved road, then down
another paved road which led down a long, steep hill to the river
and a bridge.  I missed by turn at the bridge and was somehow
partly up the long, steep hill on the other side before realizing my
mistake .. back down the hill and across the bridge to turn left turn
onto a gravel road past a sometimes used campground, and then
up a rising, twisting, gravel road past the goat farmer, then up and
up twisting and downhill but mostly up, twisting and finally turning
left onto a wagon track  which made a long, gradual descent down
past the spring which was told me by an Austrian in his pickup up
who had just moved into the area, and not far past the spring a
place where the roadside trees cleared briefly allowing entrance
onto a grassy lane of sorts which had been kept mowed by farmers
leasing the land over the last decades, and by foot now, out of true
reverence, not wanting to disturb history with the sound of even my
quiet motor, down the grass lane to where the trees opened onto the
valley and .. the original, windowless, log house and barn.  This was
history as it should be, living history.  I was deeply moved. The
valley was the quietest place I have ever been in, with only a small
river at its lowest elevation hidden by forest, and therefore emitting
no sound of running water.  There was also almost no wind blowing
to create sound during my two days there.
      The log house is still standing squarely and strong, with only
two small openings in its wood shingle roof .. those shingles being
almost paper thin.  How well protected this valley was for the house
to stand all these years.  Great Grandfather Jorge with his wife
Maria originally came from the city of Czernowitz, in the region of
Bukovina, which is reported to be the most beautiful area
of Europe, and which is famous for gospel scenes painted on the
exteriors of its Orthodox monasteries.  Mountainous Bukovina was
once independent but has been overrun during many wars, and is
now situated in Northwestern Romania.  Great Grandfather Jorge,
who I am sure was drafted into the Austrian army,  had built his
new home over a root cellar, and upon a strong stone foundation.
This cellar, which provided ventilation so the floor and timbers
supporting the walls did not rot upon their stones, was one of the
reasons the house still stood.  I am not a carpenter by any means,
but I have made my living with tools, and I recognized in the entire
house such careful craftsmanship as to be .. awesome.  A shallow
well lined with stones sat beside the house, and a log barn with
sagging walls and collapsing wood shake roof sat on the other side
of the grassy lane.  Another building with tin roof and sawn lumber
also occupied the property, it probably having been put up by a
subsequent owner or leaser of the land, but everything was long
unused.  A gravel company had bought the entire property when
the Shellmouth River dam was to be built, and still owns the
property, but where the gravel was dug from I never discovered,
having seen a few gravel quarries, and not being terribly interested
in that part of the property’s history.  I wanted to get to the river,
though, from which Dad remembers his grandfather and father and
other men returning in winter with a large wagon on skis loaded to
capacity with frozen fish.  I pitched my tent near the barn where I
would get best benefit of morning sun, and after cooking a meal
went to bed, unfortunately, with the Ticks .. the place just
swarming with them, as is the entire valley of the Assiniboine with
its tributaries.  The infestation is a modern plague created by
modern farming practices which resulted in the decimation of
wildlife which would have controlled the tick’s population numbers.
One of the reasons for the pure quietness of the Shell River Valley
at the homestead’s location is, despite the abundance of woodlands
and water, the rarity of birds.  The aboriginals, I understand,
burned the prairie in the spring as a method of fertilization and as
weed control, this killing most of the Ticks, with this practice at first
being practiced by settlers, and then abandoned. 
      The next day I went for a walking tour.  A farmer had leased
the land for planting, and I walked around the field to get to the
woods on the other side.  Had I walked straight across the field I
would have come to the still visible wagon trail leading to the river,
but I missed it, and got to the river by the method known as
bushwhacking, making my way through very thick brush and
woods.  Almost any goal other than my ancestral river would not
have been worth the effort and risk, and except that the valley walls
in the woods were steep enough to easily determine up and down I
could have easily gotten lost .. but I just kept going down .. down ..
down through the brambles and past the trees and around the
springs and marshy places and down finally to the river .. not much
more than a large creek .. but a river, with a river’s music and air,
and clean water, probably clean enough to drink, although I didn’t
venture it.  On the other side of the river, set halfway up the valley
in a small clearing, was a farmhouse, with its laneway leading from
up above.  I walked along the river, first upriver, but quickly
realizing instinctively that I was going the wrong way, and then
down.  Within minutes I came to a ford .. with clear, level areas on
each side the ford.  This was where the homesteaders crossed the
river with wagons and horses.  This was where they would have
come to load up with fish.  I walked to the centre of my side of the
river’s clear area and turned to face uphill, and sure enough, there
was the old path .. wide enough for a wagon, still clear enough for a
wagon.  Perhaps the local farmers sometimes run their tractors
across the river at this place.  I walked downriver a very short way,
enjoyed the sound of the small rapids, and made my way back to
the homestead up the wagon trail.  Later that day I rode my
moped around the sparsely populated neighbourhood’ .. finding
beautiful Ukrainian and Romanian Orthodox churches almost next
door to each other, and being preserved more as historical artifacts
than operating churches, each church with their grave yard.  My 
great grandfather and his wife Maria were almost certainly buried
in St. Elias’s, but there was no trace of a Mofsurivzscean headstone,
that being close to the spelling of Great Grandfather’s name on his
Austrian Army discharge papers.  The old wooden crosses in St.
Elia’s yard had been burned years ago in a grass fire.  An
anglicized spelling appears on a historical plaque there, and I spoke
with another graveyard visitor/local historian who told me that a
pronunciation for our family name would probably have been
Monsoronchon, but I doubted that pronunciation from the original
spelling, and probably no one in North America knows the real
pronunciation as Ukranians and Romanians, even though they
intermingled closely, were prone to enmity, and each nationality
would, if necessary, change the pronunciation of their names when
finding themselves surrounded by neighbours from the other
nation.  Another factor in pronunciation was that a friend of mine
who was born in Poland and lived much of his adult life in Eastern
Europe has through family photographs identified my great
grandparents Jorge and Maria as Rom Gypsies, so original
pronunciation becomes even more clouded.  My younger
brother Jody, in a few of his pictures, could easily pass for a Rom
just stepped down from his wagon home, and although my physical
appearance totally denies the Gypsy race, leaning towards a cross
between the English of my mother, and with my unibrow eyebrows
which meet over my nose, the Turks who also occupied Bukovina
for long periods of time) I have a Gypsy spirit which prevents me,
despite great efforts, from settling down in one place for longer than
three years, often moving after 18 months at one address .. and
then there is the violin, which I have affinity for, having taught
myself to play a few simple tunes.  I put the violin to good use
during my canoe voyage of three years ago when I met some
picknickers originally from Bukovina but then living in Montreal,
my violin and their homemade fruit vodka providing dance music,
and there on the banks of the St. Lawrence Seaway’s Beauharnais
Canal the dancing was wild and Gypsy like .. with all of us greatly
moved to post dancing, quiet nostalgia.  My Dad’s parents were an
example of that intermingling, his Dad being Ukranian but
speaking both languages, his mother Romanian and speaking only
Romanian, that being the household language.
      Today’s new settlers to the Shell River area are not Gypsies,
Romanians or Ukranians, however, but Austrians .. and I attempted
following directions from memory to the home of the Austrian
who had assisted me in finding the homestead, and who had told
me about the clear spring, but if I found his address he and his wife
weren’t home.  On that tour I discovered where a crossroads village
had once been, but whose only reminders was one old building and
some timbers.  In all of my road running in that area I did not find
one mention of the natives without whose assistance the first
explorers, traders, and pioneers would never have survived.  I
visited the goat farmer, who confirmed that many Austrians were
taking up residence on land the Romanians and Ukranians were
vacatingHe had told me, and the goat farmer confirmed, that When
I returned to the homestead a neighbour, I think the one leasing the
land, had come to visit me, hearing of my presence from the family
who had located the place on the map for me.  This same gentleman
had given my Dad and his brother a ride to the homestead a few
years before, and of course remembered them.
      Before I move on, I would like to demonstrate the isolation of
the pioneers by the three mile walk to school my Dad, his brother
and sister had; and by the example of Dad’s mother, who although
born and raised in Saskatchewan, learned no English.   
      Yes .. beautiful isolation in some senses .. but what a terrible
isolation it could have been for women alone with children and
separated by miles from the nearest neighbours, with husbands
who must have been dead tired at the end of their days of
exceptionally hard labour.  Women from Czernowitz in Bukovina
may especially have felt the isolation, having come from a highly
artistic and social culture.  Life was not all hard labour though, and
and Dad remembers gatherings of music and dancing.  While some
families were fortunate in the pioneering, my own only became
fortuante enough to have prospered a short time, building a second
house when my grandfather and his wife married .. and of course
that was where Dad and his siblings were born.  I don’t know the
order of difficulties, but their house burned, and of course the
depression burned up what resources were left, and my grandfather
left the farm for hard labour in Winnipeg, shoveling coal at an
electricity generating plant, and working as a labourer on railroad
maintenance gangs.  It comes as no surprise to me that I spent time
doing that same thing, without conscious knowledge of
grandfather’s labours.  He and I may have worked on the same
stretch of track in far western Ontario.  Dad, when he was fifteen
years old, was working full time as a dump truck driver building the
Trans Canada Highway in Northern Ontario, and then moved to
Hamilton, where he began his career in Tool and Die.  He has lived
in Ontario ever since.
      I would like to have one more day in the beauty, tranquility,
and family roots of the homestead, with the pure spring providing
rare and perfect water, and with much left to explore.  The ticks,
however, decided my moving on, as I was unable to walk anywhere
in the long grasses or woods without picking up dozens of them. 
They were so pervasive that while sitting for coffee at a restaurant
table a couple days later, I felt a tiny bump in my beard on my
chin.  Yes, it was a tick, partially buried.  I pulled most or all of it
out and crushed it underfoot.     
      Leaving the homestead was therefore not painful an experience,
and I turned north on 83 to the small town of Roblin, where I had a
pleasant conversation with a pickup truck driver at the gasoline
pumps, telling him of my visit to the homestead.  This gentleman
finished his business first, I taking time to refill my oil reservoir,
and when I went in to pay for my gas I was told it had already been
paid for, by the pickup driver. 
      At Roblin lived a relative who had written our family history
into a book, although it is only now, six months too late, that I
became conscious of the fact that she lived in Roblin.  Also at
Roblin was the childhood home of my poet friend Baird’s wife
Nylene.  I had phoned that couple from Russell, but I was at Roblin
too early in the morning to chance waking Baird and Nylene in
Ottawa.  From Roblin I turned west onto 5 and then 10, where
along some part of those roads I found an old, parallel road
bordering forest, the road now used by farm vehicles, and along this
road I had a very nice encounter with a pair of deer.  That road was
so enjoyably free of traffic for the first few miles that I would have
stayed on it for as long as it ran, but it’s surface changed too often
from smooth, hard packed dirt to roughly broken pavement, and I
finally surrendered to the thought of sharing a road with other
traffic and returned to the highway. 
      I picked up The Yellowhead again at Yorkton, and rode into
Saskatoon the day before my 60th birthday.  Of course first day of
my trip to this day I had been filled with prayer for my sister-in-law,
and I believe it was on this final stretch into Saskatoon that I
suddenly knew my sister-in-law was going to be okay.  On arrival in
their city I phoned Rick and Sandy, telling them I was there, and
receiving joyous confirmation that Sandy’s cancer was not in the
lymph after all.  I told Sandy that before I came to their home I
wanted to launder all of my clothing, she not seeing any point
to that until I mentioned the Ticks, when she instantly changed her
mind.  Finding a Laundromat was a large chore, as I had arrived
close to 8 p.m., an hour at which for one reason or other most
Saskatoon Laundromats close.  I phoned around until finally
finding one which stayed open until 9, with the owners so kind as
to delay closing their business an extra 20 minutes until my long
process was complete, and I thanked them with an extra $10.
      It was of course with great happiness that I arrived at Rick and
Sandy’s home, where Sandy’s prognosis made all well and happy,
and where my 60th birthday was celebrated the next day, June 7. 
Sandy is retired from hospital administration, and as a hobby
generating  enough cash to pay for that hobby she paints portraits
of pets onto rocks, so one of our beautiful walks together was along
railroad tracks looking for suitable stones.  Sandy and Rick have
been married over 40 years, and are one of the only truly happy,
married couples I have ever known, their respect for each other,
and their genuine affection for most people, being a huge reason for
their success.
      I can’t remember if I spent three or four days with Rick and
Sandy, but during that time I helped them do yard work, and
changed by moped’s tire, finding that the Almighty God’s mercy had
carried me on the old tire despite some of the tire’s steel foundation
wires sticking out of the bald rubber.  I was never that deliberately
careless again.  It was a cool, drizzly morning when I left Saskatoon,
and if time constraints weren’t a factor, I would have stayed another
day, hoping the rain would stop.  My brother Ron’s birthday was
June 20, though, so I had to reach Victoria by then.
      My trip to Edmonton was almost uneventful except for two
things, the first being the fantastic vistas.  West of Saskatoon The
Yellowhead seems to sit atop a high elevation, with the mighty
Saskatchewan River paralleling it first on the south, and then on
the north, so that for many miles the view is enormous.  Somewhere
on this stretch, or did it occur in Alberta, with the highway four
laned, that on the opposite side of the road was a tourist attraction
of a Ukranian or Romanian pioneer village.  I carefully checked my
rear view mirrors, and far, far back on the prairie horizon I saw
vehicle headlights.  Their was no traffic coming towards me, and
normally I would have had plenty of time to move across all four
lanes, but I had just crossed the first lane when instinct caused me
to hesitate long enough to check my mirrors again, that hesitation
undoubtedly saving my life because that vehicle which should still
have been halfway to the distant horizon when the car blew past me
at what had to be at least 120 miles per hour .. double the speed
limit.  I would have been killed instantly of course, and not gotten
to view that pioneer village.  I hadn’t been frightened by the car, as
it all happened to quickly for fright, but it did serve another lesson
in defensive driving.
      The view through the city of Edmonton though,  was
frightening, as all I could see was taillights and headlights on the
Yellowhead which turns multilane and carries traffic stop and go
and madly through the city, not peacefully around, and with that
city in the midst of an economic super boom, traffic does not
progress leisurely .. the only comparison I can make is to my
experience on a narrow, two lane stretch of New York City
expressway.  The traffic was so dangerous and fast that
upon my approach to an overpass I was forced in a last second
decision onto the sidewalk,  which was bordered by a railing,
preventing me from returning to the pavement.  I made the long,
curving passage slowly and safely, with the absence of pedestrians
making for no surprises. 
      Past Edmonton and on its way to the Rocky Mountains The
Yellowhead gradually gains elevation through relatively dry and of
course hilly country which I find difficult to describe, not nearly as
prosperous as much of the west, with small villages, forestry,
mines, lakes for cottages, and seemingly unprosperous farm.  I had
passed an old barn which was particularly photograph worthy but
was separated from it and its parallel access road by about 200 feet
of grassy hill, with the next highway intersection at least a quarter
miles ahead.  Being in ‘the west’ on my motorized pony for so had
given me a tiny bit of attitude of the raw, cowboy; and that instinct
overcame common sense in my desire for a photograph and the
next thing I know there I am angling my moped up the grassy hill,
which was a lot rougher than it looked, my bike bucking and
kicking and it was all I could do to stay upright, but I kept my
throttle full and my balance keen and I gained the barn.  After
taking the photo I rode the gravel road to where it intersected
another gravel road, and at that intersection was surprised to see
not far down the road an old Orthodox church outside of which a
few people were moving about.  I rode towards the church, and
slowed to a stop near some vehicles.  As I slowed I noticed a
mechanical sounding clack-clack-clack-clack-clack which seemed to
be in sync with my motor, and I was afraid my cowboying had
caused serious damage.  My arrival had attracted the attention of
the churchgoers who walked towards me, and I to them, thinking to
look at my bike after a chat.  The  people were descendants of
original settlers, sons and grandsons of people buried in the
churchyard.  We did chat, and I gained a bit more knowledge of the
Romanian Ukranian side of my heritage, and then, with people and
vehicles which included a pickup truck departing, I examined my
moped.  Before I had departed from Ottawa I had securely fastened.
in a relative sense, a short, telescoping style umbrella on the left
side rear of my vehicle, between the wheel and the saddlebag.  As I
had cowboyed roughly up the hill this umbrella had jostled out of
its fastenings, and had bounced into the wheel, where it was firmly
stuck while bent at a right angle.  If my wheel was of the wire
spokes type it would not have survived, as the cast spokes were
scored at least one-eighth inch deep close to the hub.  I removed
the umbrella, which was now trash, and motored thankfully on. 
Somewhere along this stretch I also found a small, old Anglican
church at which I stopped for a photo and a rest.  Behind this
church’s graveyard was a large, open pit mine .. although what they
were mining I don’t know.
      In the final approach to Jasper Provincial Park there are two
railroad towns, Hinton and Edson.  On the western outskirts of one
of these towns (I can’t remember for sure which one) and in the
grass and scrub between the pavement and the forest, I saw what I
at first thought were three black dogs stumbling awkwardly towards
the highway.  My first thought was that they were clumsy for dogs,
but I didn’t take much more thought to them, proper thought
coming quickly enough when I saw that they ran up to a Black bear
which was lying on its side a few feet off the gravel shoulder.  I
knew right away that the bear had been struck by a vehicle, and I
looked at the ‘dogs’ again and confirmed my suspicion that they
were cubs.  I slowed my moped, looking for signs of life in the bear,
and after passing her by about 70 feet, parked my moped.  The
cubs were now nervously nuzzling their mother, and I picked up a
stout stick and slowly approached.  The cubs took notice of me and
ran for the woods, staying just inside the trees.  The bear was not
moving, not breathing that I could tell, and blood was on the
ground at her mouth.  I was just about to prod her when a Ministry
of Natural Resources or Provincial Park pickup pulled slowly off the
pavement about 200 feet ahead and approached slowly, obviously
searching for the bear.  I signaled the Wardens and they drove up,
the passenger side Warden asking me if the bear was dead.  I
answered that I wasn’t sure, and he got out of the pickup with his
rifle, walked up to the bear, and prodded her with his rifle’s muzzle.
      ‘There are three cubs,’ I said, nodding towards the woods. 
They’re just inside the first trees.  Can you guys do anything for
      ‘Zoos won’t take them, so we have to shoot them.  They’d starve
to death otherwise.’
      ‘You have a tough job,’ I said.
      The officer with the rifle said, ‘This won’t be pleasant.  We’d like
you to get on your bike and ride away.’
      I saluted the officer and did as he preferred, after asking for
and receiving permission to take a photograph.
      The rest of my ride into the crown jewel of Canada’s Rocky
Mountain, the village of Jasper, was relatively uneventful except I
arrived in the village trembling from cold and almost in hypothermic
convulsions.  Much of my ride from Saskatoon had been in cool,
wet weather, with temperatures dropping as I gained elevation, and
with my speed dropping from increasing gradient.  Before I had
gained the village I had passed what appeared to be a turnoff into
some sort of structure which possibly offering warmth I made a U
turn in the highway without even checking carefully behind me to
see if traffic was coming.  The structure I had seen turned out to be
a way station for, I believe, a gas or oil pipeline.  An employee
arrived at the locked gate at the same time as I did, but I wasn’t
smart enough to ask if he would let me warm up inside.  I was off
the wind of the highway though, and when I thought I had warmed
up sufficiently I took to the road again, coming finally into Jasper
just as the sun broke through the clouds, and after a long and
unpleasant ride made dangerous by my dropping internal body
temperature.  I found a Laundromat which also offered showers,
and spent several  dollars standing in a warm shower.  It was only
after I had warmed up that I started my laundry, and then went
looking for a restaurant, forgetting for the moment my guideline of
‘reasonable prices’, and settling for the first hot meal I could find.  I
did have a credit card, after all.
      I had to escape the boundaries of Jasper National Park or pay
either hefty camping fees or a fine for illegal camping, so I did not
do any tourist things in the village except visit the path to what 30
years ago had been a short duration but very pleasant  home for me
in the form of a free campground for hippies and employees in the
tourist industy.  This was the Jasper Free Camp .. a unique
cultural experience where open door privies were the norm, and
where walking naked was acceptable and commonplace.  This was
the camp at which I attacked the bear with my hunting knife. 
When I had been doing my laundry in Jasper the Laundromat’s
owner and I engaged in conversation, and when he mentioned the
need for affordable housing for employees of the tourist operators I
suggested he set up another Free Camp, which led to him saying
that his father, and the original owner of the laundromat, had been
instrumental in setting up the Free Camp. 
      I had ridden west from Jasper many miles when I had the need
to lean backwards against a tree .. this being my favourite way of
relieving loads when privies are not available.  Keeping your back
to a tree, particularly a large tree, can be a small form of protection
when you are thus engaged, much preferable to making yourself
very small and vulnerable by squatting.  The need for protection
becomes evident with signs like the one I was leaning relatively
close to, ‘Warning, Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Cougar, Wolf Habitat’. 
However, before leaning against the tree, check upwards, as small
bears sometimes climb trees, and on a Pacific Ocean beach later in
my trip I came face to face with a bear, he eight feet above me, and
hissingly angry that I was preventing him from descending. 
Thankfully I was not leaning on the tree at that time and was able
to make my departure quickly.  Oh yes, one more thing, despite
examples to the contrary published by supposedly experienced
campers .. never, ever, ever take anything resembling food or drink
into your tent other than water .. and don’t wrap your sleeping bag
around yourself while you’re eating breakfast, and when you’re
cooking breakfast stay upwind from the cooking pot so you won’t
smell like a bear’s breakfast, and if you do get food odours blown
onto you wash your hair, and as another precaution which helps
me relax at night when bears roam looking for food I always leave
my day clothing which may have food smells in a plastic bag
outside my tent’s sleeping compartment.  Experts are divided about
the advisibility of hanging food in packs on ropes from high tree
branches, and I never do that, but make sure my food is stored in
double sealed plastic systems like a bag and a Tupperware
container, and stashed nowhere near my tent, and preferably not in
the canoe if I am canoeing because a bear can trash a canoe quickly
.. but we are mopeding on this trip, not canoeing, although a canoe
would have been nice to have on the next part of my trip.
      I can’t remember if the beautiful, boggy plateau from which the
westward flowing Fraser River and the eastward flowing Athabasca
seem to flow from (I’m not a geographer) is situated in Jasper
Provincial Park or in eastward neighbouring Mount Robson
Provincial Park, but it is indeed a beautiful plateau .. a spiritual
experience equal to seeing the huge mountain peaks themselves.
I had one of the most beautiful camps of the trip at Mount Robson,
on the rushing headwaters of the Fraser River, a no cost campsite
which required only a little searching.
        From the plateau the descent is wonderful in its peaceful
gradient and scenery, and leads to the village of Tete Jaune Cache
where the Yellowhead splits to run northwest to the Pacific, and
south, after a few miles picking up and following the North
Thompson River.  It is interesting that at Tete Jaune Cache the
Fraser turns northwest for many miles before turning again towards
the south, finally joining the combined water of the North and
South Thompson at Lytton on the Trans Canada Number One.  This
is a truly awesome junction .. and for me, had I not been an avid
geographical reader for much of my life, a hobby which gave me
small introductions to rivers like The Amazon, the joining of the two
mountain rivers would have been unbelievable in its scope until I
saw it for myself, as in my days following the Thompson south and
then west I had come to view that river as gargantuan in itself.
      A couple of days before Lytton, though, I had another flat tire,
this one causing me to camp for the night on the very side of the
highway.  Fortunately, British Columbia highways provide many
stopping places for truckers to check their brakes and rest, and so I
had a wide lane of pavement between me and the highway.  I also
had a guardrail separating my tent from the stopping lane.  That
flat was particularly troublesome, I not being able to get the tire
round on the rim, and so it was after two false starts of bump,
bump, bumping along that the third attempt, enhanced by my
desperate move of taking a large rock and pounding the offending
dent in the steel rim, was not perfect, but at least I was able to ride
the few miles into the town of Kamloops, where I was hailed by a
rider on a motorcycle who was also a freelance writer.  So it was
that the first part of my trip was published in an on line motorcycle
mag.  Before leaving Kamloops I stopped at a custom motorcycle
shop to find the owners having an similar wheel problem but with a
greater magnitude.  The shop owners told me I was welcome to
change my tire inside their shop, but the light outside was brighter
and suited my tired old eyes, and that’s where I made my change
using the shop’s tire iron, but only after finding a drug store and
purchased Baby Powder, something I had forgotten to buy in
Saskatoon, and with the aid of the powder making both tire and rim
slippery, achieving a perfect roundness.  While I was working on
my repair biker who had been visiting the shop offered to drive me
around to a few other bike shops to search for a new tire and tube,
but none were available, and so I was again riding on faith when I
departed Kamloops.  Kamloops is interesting for its scenery and the
mountain goats which inhabit surrounding hillsides, as well as the
city’s climate which makes it a ‘sunshine town’ in winter with above
average temperatures in summer.  Kamloops is particularly
interesting, though, for the length of the highway’s steep ascent
westward out of town.  The grade was so steep I had to walk beside
my bike a long way as I used the throttle to power the rear wheel. 
This was the first time on the trip I was required to do so, but not
the last.
      From Kamloops there are two routes leading to Vancouver. 
The Coquihalla Highway is a recently built multi-lane express toll
route running southwest at high elevation, and deducting, I am
told, about six hours from the Kamloops-Vancouver run.  I have
never taken that highway, and everyone I talked to in Kamloops
suggested the old Trans Canada Number One, both for scenic value
and for safety, as the Coquihalla is used heavily by transport
trucks.  Transports were no problem to me until the last day of my
trip as I rode into Ottawa, but I did not want to pay the toll, and I
was told the old highway was a beautiful ride for motorbikes.  Thus
I headed slightly northwest along the Thompson River which had
been joined at Kamloops by the South Thompson.  Not far west of
Kamloops lies long and narrow Kamloops Lake, with the highway
running alongside, and through villages like Cherry Creek and
Savona.  This is sparsely populated, dry country, wildly beautiful,
and the highway climbs and dips, climbs and dips.  The views are
spectacular.  Shortly after leaving Kamloops Lake the mighty
Thompson River curves sharply south, with the highway going on
west for a short time before running into the beautiful small town of
Cache Creek on the banks of the southward flowing Bonaparte
River.  Just beyond Cache Creek the Bonaparte and Thompson join,
and soon after the highway is again running alongside this mightier
Thompson.  Fifty miles south of Cache Creek the Thompson
somehow disappears into the mightier Fraser at Lytton, and this
huge river makes it way south through the majestic Fraser Canyon,
with the highway again alongside, and where at Hell’s Gate a tourist
attraction has been developed with a cable car ride over the
frightening turbulence of the river.  River and highway continue
south until coming to Hope, where the river and highway turn west,
and where the Coquihalla ends, but where once again a traveller
has a choice of highways, the old Number One, running north of the
river, or the new multi lane Number One running on the river’s
south side.  For anyone wanting to view scenery and meet people I
think the answer is generally the same in every country, stick to the
slow roads, and I do so.  Weather wise I was comfortable from
Jasper to Hope, but as I turned due west nearing the Pacific
temperatures dropped and rain began.  I turned onto the dirt road
of a native Reserve, and was welcomed to camp in a certain place
where there was an abandoned building with solid roof still
standing, but the structure was thickly surrounded by brush and
difficult to get the bike through, and very wet besides, and I chose
to go on.  Where I spent that night I can’t remember, but the next
day took me to Vancouver, and on the road to the ferry, which I
hoped to catch before its last departure of the day.  I abandoned
that quest not far from my goal when I came to one of B.C.’s many,
beautiful, government-established roadside stops equipped with
outhouses and even washrooms, and frequented by truckers and
tourists.  Officially there is no overnight tenting allowed at these
often park like settings even though truckers and tourists in motor
vehicles overnight there, but I understand the rule is not often
enforced unless the privilege is being abused in some way.  To
avoid any unpleasantness with authorities I searched this large
and particularly park like place until I found a circle of the
exceptionally large trees once common in British Columbia, but
now rare, in the centre of which had been placed a picnic table. 
The rain had stopped, and the trees were closely spaced, and thick
enough, that little rain had come through.  Besides my moped’s
advantage of high gasoline mileage its small size allows it to be
easily hidden, and after cooking and eating a good meal on a picnic
table in plain sight, and then having a good walkabout and chat
with other travelers, and then a wash in the washroom which had
hot running water, I secreted my bike in the grove, unrolled my
sleeping bag, and laid myself down on top of the picnic table.  My
sleep was disturbed only by the beautifully soft sound of rain on the
trees in the night .. with an occasional drop falling onto the
waterproof thermal blanket over my sleeping bag.
Chapter 9
Another Birthday
      In my first week of travel after departing Ottawa I ensured that
I breakfasted well, with my normal breakfast being either 
restaurant sausages and eggs 2 or three times in a week, or
campsite oatmeal and/or Red River Cereal cooked with apples ..
and not the ‘quick cook’ oatmeal with reduced nutrition, but the
genuine large flake, horse sense and horse food, strength-building,
low chloresterol oatmeal.  My experience in living outdoors had long
ago taught me that a good breakfast provides real energy along with
nourishment, warmth, and satisfaction .. and that those things
together make for health and reduced stress.  However, during my
second week of cool, wet weather I neglected breakfasts for the
practice of getting underway early and stopping for a coffee in a
warm restaurant or cafe .. and then breakfasting late in the
morning.  I found this coffee routine was a great way of getting sick
and short tempered, so I went back to breakfasting, following the
same routine as in the first week. 
      As I headed for the ferry outside of Vancouver I was especially
thankful I had eaten a good breakfast because British Columbia
road signs in this stiff necked neck of the woods are the most
confusing of anywhere I have travelled, with my appraisal of those
road signs confirmed by other travelers.  For instance, on Trans
Canada Number One on the south side of the mighty Fraser River I
came to a large sign saying ‘Ferry to Victoria  Next left’.  I turned left
at the next left, and was taken far away from my destination.  That
was okay, no problem really, as my brother in Victoria was working
that day so we could not have visited anyway, but finding my way
back to the road to the ferry was not easy.  I had ridden a long way
trusting in the road sign before determining I had probably taken
the wrong road, and I did not enjoy the feeling of being lost for the
first time on my trip, especially because I have learned that
strangers genuinely want to be helpful but can’t always be relied on
for directions.  I was also low on gasoline as I had planned on filling
up when the ferry docked in Sydney on Vancouver Island. Of course
my one litre metal container of gas for emergency was tucked away,
but that was good for only 25 miles, and my wrong turn had taken
me south almost to to the U.S. border, with no gas station on my
side, and I had no desire to go through the border crossing process
simply to buy $5.00 worth of gas.  I was helped in regaining my
compass bearings by motorists, pedestrians, and a member of a
highway repair crew who did not fail me with their directions, and
after much turning and turning I rode a long, quiet, rural road back
to the highway to the ferry. 
    There are at least two ferry routes to southern Vancouver Island,
but it is the most southerly Tawassan ferries which takes you to,
no, not British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria which is a major
port for tourist cruise ships and whale watching, but after a
beautiful cruise threading through the Gulf Islands, you are
unshipped at the lesser port and very pretty town of Sydney, from
which Victoria is gained by the continuing Trans Canada Number
One.  My shipboard cruise was made in beautiful sunshine,
because as I was boarding the ferry the sun broke through the
clouds, and southern Vancouver Island was blessed, after many
days of unusual late spring rain and cold weather, with a week of
sunshine and warmth perfectly suited to tourists and mopedists
coming to celebrate birthdays with brothers.
      The 600 miles length of Vancouver Island is not strange to me
except in its northernmost extremity, as I had lived on the island a
few times, and Victoria is fairly familiar, as my second wife Jeani
and I lived outside of that city and worked frequently in it almost 20
years ago.  I also lived in the city itself for about four months after
Jeani and I ended our marriage.  Almost all the farmland on
Vancouver Island lies between Sydney and Victoria, and this
beautiful country I became intimate with through my post-marriage
breakup employment as a herder of a dozen sheep who were part
of a larger job as Caretaker on a private estate.  My intimacy with
this farm country came not from an intense geographical
knowledge, but from the experience I had one day while picking
stones off a hillside on which the sheep were grazing.  Just a few
days before I had disentangled a ewe’s legs from hale bay binder
twine left lying carelessly around by either the former caretaker or
the owner or by someone but definitely not by me as one of my
major concerns was for the sheep not finding twine which they
might be tempted to chew on, having it get stuck in their throats or
worse.  In the process of disentangling this ewe who was huge with
pregnancy I had to wrap both my arms around her belly, and you
might say we bonded, yes, we definitely bonded, at least she to me,
because when it came time for her to drop her lamb she left the
flock and walked directly to me, stopping about 30 feet away, lying
down, and delivering.  I was moved through wonderment of the
affection and intelligence within God’s creatures.  Yes, the ewe
was not stupid .. because this was Eagle and Cougar country, and
bear country, and probably Coyote country if Coyotes had reached
Vancouver Island .. and while it is well known what a predators
with four legs would do to a lamb or a fawn, it is not as well known
that Eagles will also kill both, and this ewe had come to me for
protection during her most defenseless moments.  Yes .. that kind
of intimacy is well remembered. 
      Other memories are more difficult.  One reason I had not
returned to the west since my marriage breakdown was the
trauma of that separation.  I had suffered a serious emotional
breakdown, being zombie-like for many weeks, wandering the
streets of Victoria with as much capability as a days-old lamb, but
with no impulse to skip for joy.  During my weeks of planning my
trip I had actually experienced fear of what I might find within me
when faced with old scenes, old scents, the sound of ocean waves ..
the sight of the coastal mountains .. so it was with surprise that I
felt no pain as I rode through these memories, surprised because I
still dream of Jeani, with one of my most recent dreams involving
her and I being together again, and her giving birth to our child,
yes, at our present ages.  Crazy old me!  Boy child or girl I can’t say
.. but the happiness in the dream was so real that it stayed with me
for days following, and perhaps it left only because I didn’t have the
nerve to try to find Jeani’s phone number and call her, offering her
a chance for the baby that she and I had not had when married,
that absence for Jeani becoming more than she could bear, and in
my mind at least that absence was what caused her to leave and
seek other options .. and tther options she tried, two more
marriages providing only two more divorces.  She and I both had
nothing to lose by my phoning her after that dream .. but after
almost a year I still have not made the call .. much to my mixed
emotions and thoughts.
      Leaving sorrows and cowardice and unbelief and possibly but
probably not wisdom behind .. or did I leave wisdom behind when I
did not make that call .. in any case we return to the present reality
of what was happening seven months ago.  My brother’s cabin
cruiser’s home berth is at Oak Bay Marina, Oak Bay being a
wealthy Victoria neighbourhood where I had worked as a
handyman before the position on the private estate.  To get to Oak
Bay by moped I had to turn off Number One onto lesser roads, and I
did so, but my memory was not sharp, and the roap map unsure
also, and signs were laid deliberately in the customary southern
B.C. manner of trying to confuse tourists so badly they will turn
around and get back on the ferry and leave the quietness quiet
again.  So it was that at a traffic light or stop sign I asked the driver
beside me for directions. 
      “Follow me into the park up ahead,” he said, and I did.  This
was Douglas Park, a reserve of the huge trees native to Vancouver
Island, and the setting was so peaceful that the stranger (I’ll call
him Guide Jack) and I fell into casual conversation, I finally asking
him if he knew Sombrio Beach, which was for an automobile about
one and one half hours northwest of Victoria, and where and I had
lived more than once in a primitive, driftwood shack community of
hippies and surfers.  Guide Jack said yes, he knew Sombrio, and I
then asked if he knew Steve and Barb, the couple who had lived on
the beach with their many children, Barbara giving birth to three of
the children on the beach which had no electricity and no running
water other than what came down the mountainside in waterfalls,
creeks, and what is known as Sombrio River but which is not more
than a creek.
      “Their goat pissed on my leg,” Jack said, laughing.
      I was able to balm Jack’s potentially hurt dignity by saying, “I
ate that goat.”  We both had a good laugh and I asked him if he
knew if Steve and Barbara were still in the area.  I already knew
that the Sombrio community was destroyed, most of the shacks
burned by the government, but a few shacks burned by the owners
themselves as they did not have the heart to see them burned by
strangers .. Steve, Barb, their children, and Rivermouth Mike being
among those who burned their homes beause the beach was being
made part of the Juan de Fuca Trail which runs northwest to the
longer West Coast trail at Port Renfrew.  By the way, there was a
documentary video made about Sombrio and it is available by
typing a word search on the Internet.
      Of the present whereabouts of Steve and Barbara, Jack said he
had no idea where they might be as he had not been back to
Sombrio for a few years because, he said, the beach’s peace and
quiet had been destroyed by an influx of crowds and boom box
noise of partyers.  My brother had already told me that situation
with the beach, but I was determined to go there anyway, and to
find Steve and Barb if possible, as I had first met them about 25
years ago on my first visit to Sombrio, and as we had become such
close friends that two of their young children, Dawn and Jesse, 
would accompany me on walks ‘up the trail’ to the topside for berry
picking.  My wife Jeani and I, with her young son Adam, had lived
on the beach in a shack I had built, Steve and Barbara’s children
and Adam becoming close companions. 
      At this time I feel I must, I for the sake of you readers as well
as myself, and I am fraught with hesitation here, but I must tell you
the bad news so that the loss may be less for you later .. before you
become as attached to Steve, Barb and family as I became, and I
will .. when I find words.  And please don’t think I am using a
literary technique of building suspense, the tragedy is too great for
that .. the loss too painful.  Steve and two of the children I had
become so close to, Jesse and Dawn, my berry picking friends, were
gone from our planet, Steve through cancer, and Jesse and Dawn
each in single vehicle accidents on the beautiful West Coast Road
which carried us all so many times between Sombrio and the village
of Sooke where we did our shopping.  Jesse and Dawn’s older
brother Clearlight who I had only met once had also died in another
accident.  There .. it’s done, I’ve told it, and this time is like every
other time in the telling, tears filling my eyes .. unable to continue
      Okay .. my eyes are mostly dried.  The memories of the beauiful
people have been revisited.  How could they not be beatiful?  Being
born on a beach .. living with nature so intimately that like Leah,
younger sister of Dawn and Jesse and also born on the beach,
says in the video .. “the trees that I hung out with” .. harmless
people, gentle souls.  I thought of making the above paragraphs a
separate chapter, but that might cause unnecessary empty space ..
unused paper .. a waste of resources which was not necessary in
the mentality of the beach people.  So I will go on to Oak Bay,
which I gained by following Guide Jack who drove slowly enough to
allow me to follow.  I think it was at the entrance to the university
that he and I parted, he having told me in advance about the turn,
and signaling me when it was time to make it.  His directions were
sure, and I rolled into a village which is so genteel and civilized as
to have drivers who actually stop at crosswalks for elderly
pedestrians .. like a different world, really.  My first destination
was to locate a Starbucks Coffee Shop brother Ron had told me
about, and I then set out on an unsuccessful attempt to find a coin
operated telephone to let Ron, who would be off work at that time, 
know I had arrived.  A bookstore not only provided a telephone,
but another almost stunning serendipitousness which came with a
almost fiery light after I explained to the saleswoman that I had
just come from Ottawa by moped, my words leading up to the tinder
of  her asking,  “What neighbourhood are you from in Ottawa?”
      Recognizing in her voice a certain familiarity with Ottawa I
responded, “Mechanicsville.”
      To which she ignited the tinder by responding, “Oh my gosh! 
I’m from there!  My Dad was born there.”     
        Do you think Ripley’s Believe it or Not would be interested?
      If I had a heart for romance at that introduction I don’t know
what this chance meeting could have led to, but my heart, I had
come to realize, was still involved in a 25 year romance which had 
survived several other failed relationships since my marriage
ended, so I have come, finally, to an easy peaceful feeling when
putting aside thoughts of potentialities as far as lovely ladies are
concerned.  The woman was near my age, and we both marveled at ‘
‘coincidences’, but I suspected her state of mind was similar to my
own as far as romance went, either that or she was involved in a
faithful relationship, and neither of us made the least attempt to
flirt,  I making my call and thanking her for her assistance, and still
marveling at the power which leads to ‘coincidences’, walked to
Starbucks to await my brother … and that’s all the story for tonight,
for I am writing this late at night .. all for tonight as even though I
find it easy to discount romance I’m tired and somewhat lonely and
need to go to bed.
*    *    *    *
      Oh the joy of seeing brother Ron over coffee at Starbucks!  Ron
then returned to his boat while I did visited a Laundromat so I
would not make an unkemt entrace to the marina.  During my
canoe voyages I had stopped at marinas and found patrons and
staff welcoming, but I was much less scruffy looking then, and even
marina people have their limits as to ease in putting off suspicion.
      Ron and I spent the rest of the day on his cabin cruiser
drinking beer and whiskey, sleeping aboard each night through the
visit, and the next day we motored onto the Pacific while celebrating
his 56th birthday.  Both Ron and I are moderate drinkers generally,
having learned many times not to overdo alcohol, so operating the
boat under the influence of one birthday beer was neither sin nor
crime.  I have forgotten the sequence of events, whether the
shipwreck came first (ha ha .. gotcha with that one eh .. there was
no shipwreck) but I have forgotten the sequence of events, whether
it was that first series of days and nights on board, or the second
series when I had returned from Sombrio Beach, but on one boat
outing when we were accompanied by a friend of Ron’s we
attempted setting a crab trap, but something went amiss, and I
think the amiss was perhaps our advancing age reducing our ear’s
hearing capabilities, because Skipper Ron commanded his pal
and/or me to the wheel while he went to loose the trap, to which
was tied a long rope with a marker buoy on its end. Ron had
instructed us to call out a required depth as registered by the
electronic sounder, and Ron’s pal and I both loudly called the
depth, I expecting my brother to immediately drop the trap, but he
delayed for several yards with the bottom dropping rapidly. 
The trap’s marker float almost disappeared under water, and we
should have immediately picked the trap up again and reset it at a
shallower depth, but we did not, as Ron said the tide was at its ebb,
and the marker was visible enough to warn boaters.  The next day
Ron and I went in search of the trap at low tide, but the trap was
gone, almost certainly carried out to sea or worse, the tide may have
still been on the rise somewhat and could have completely covered
the marker buoy, and the rope could have come in close proximity
with a boater’s propeller, which may or may not have been big
trouble for that boat. 
      Besides losing the crab trap during our visit(s) Ron and I also
sea-motored to the main harbour of Victoria where he had lived
happily on board his boat for quite some time, until huge
houseboats hemmed his view on every side.  By a quirky twist of
fate this is the same harbour Ron’s ex-brother in law Kent had lived
on board his own boat when I was a zombie in the city.  I had met
visited Kent once, but was too ‘out of it’ to make return visits.  On
this trip to Victoria’s harbour my partying with Ron had revived
some dormant instinct or other and I greatly desired ‘friendship’
with a beautiful mermaid with long red hair who was playing her
accordion for money, busking it’s called, but the desire was mutual
only to the point of her giving me a smile of respect for the elderly ..
at least I think that was the warm glow I saw in her eyes. 
      The ocean around Victoria, with islands and bays and
mountainous horizons, is perfect for boating, perfect that is for
educated and/or experienced boaters; but the inexperienced can
get  themselves in big trouble very easily, and even the experienced
have their troubles.  On one circumnavigation of an island Ron and
I could barely make headway against a tidal current even at full
throttle, and on another sunny afternoon in an effort to save fuel we
were running parallel with large waves which resulted in my
making prayer that Ron knew his boat well enough that we
wouldn’t be capsized.  Ron told me he had experienced worse
waves than those on a previous trip with his pal and was totally
confidant in his boat’s abilities.  Nevertheless he finally plotted what
I considered the better course because it decreased rocking
dramatically, running out to sea for a considerable distance at an
angle to the waves and then running in again also at an angle.  This
increased the distance traveled which resulted in higher fuel costs,
but it also eliminated the small chance that a rogue wave would tip
the boat.  Rogue waves are real events even if they are extremely
rare.  I had had a frightening experience on these same waters with
Jeani and her son Adam in our canoe at Race Rocks, just northwest
of Victoria.  The ‘rocks’ are tiny islands, and tidal currents through
the rocks are said to be the strongest in the world.  We had been
fishing at ebb tide when currents were not running, but the tide
changed without my noticing, and I had to use all my skill to get us
to safety by rock hopping, going with the current and ducking into
the back eddies behind the islands, planning our next move from
there, etc., etc.  The ocean’s tides have been the doom of many
boaters, and in particular I remember the story of the canoeists on
Hudson’s Bay who had successfully navigated down the northern
rivers, and were paddling down the coast when they were stranded
by a receding tide far out on a mud flat, and then drowned when
the tide came in again, their canoe not being able to loose itself
from the mud’s grip.
      My time on the ocean with my brother was wonderful though,
especially as we could celebrate the part of our recently uncovered
family history which tied us by our mother’s blood with both
Newfoundland’s seafarers as well as Portuguese seafarers, the two
people being joined in Portugal Cove in Newfoundland.  Ron and I
had really never wondered why both of us held a lifelong love of
being on water, and my eldest daughter’s internet search discovery
of our heritage was no real surprise, merely confirming what we
already knew, that we were big water people .. the small lakes of 
Algonquin Park holding no lure for me, but a trip down the Ottawa
River to Montreal and then up the St. Lawrence Seaway seemed as
natural as taking a shower.  Special things seemed to happen
when Ron and I were together near water, such as the unforgettable
sunset on the last day of our tent home on the Port Hope Beach, for
instance, and the weather in Victoria being  so perfect and the sky
so clear that Ron saw distant mountains for the first time, and that
after almost 10 years in Victoria.  I can only thank the Almighty
      Ron had added an extra day to his normal three day ‘weekend’
in celebration of his birthday, but even with that too soon it was
that Ron had to return to work, while it was time for me to head for
Sombrio Beach; but before I left Victoria I stopped at a motorcycle
shop whose operators ordered a moped tire which would be waiting
when I returned from Sombrio.  I don’t know why I didn’t
just phone the Great Canadian Motorcycle shop in Winnipeg, except
perhaps I thought the local shop could get a price which didn’t
include shipping the tire from Winnipeg.  As it turned out I paid
three times the price I had in Winnipeg, but the tire was four ply
instead of two, and took me many miles more than the cheaper tire
before giving out just past Winnipeg.  I put on a lot of extra miles
returning from the west because I took time to tour and adventure
rather than coming straight through .. but the stories resulting
from that trip were undreamed of  as I motored towards Sombrio.
Chapter Ten
      Sombrio Beach is reached from Victoria by driving west or
north or west northwest or northwest or north northwest and
sometimes south on a switchback to the quaint village of Sooke 
which is famous for its hippies and the Sooke Harbour House
restaurant  which pleases expensive tastes.  Jeani and Adam and I,
immediately before our breakup, were offered the rental of a house
near the Harbour House, the rental property having a large, solidly
fenced yard with lots of green grass and sunshine and shade which
would have seemed relatively close to heaven for the rabbits we
raised for food, and which we probably could have marketted to the
Harbour House.  Our rabbits would easily have been allowed to
roam free in the yard, as grass was so abundant they had no reason
to go to the trouble of digging under the fence to seek greener
pastures.  Sale of our bunnies would have nicely supplemented our
property maintenance business’s income, but Jean had firmly
decided to end our marriage at that point, and I saw no point in
renting a house for myself when my home was to be a lovely one ton
truck tarped Covered-Wagon style.  I returned to Sombrio for a
time, but too many changes in my life and at Sombrio had
occurred, including the logging road, parking lot, and influx of
people whose life on the beach was accompanied by boomboxes and
big dogs .. making silence and barefooting opportunities difficult.
Drugs and alcohol were also rampant on the beach, whereas they
were vitually absent before the logging road allowed easy access.
      I garnered an unedeserved reputation during that visit to
Sombrio by not retaliating after taking several punches to the head
from a slightly deranged fellow who had been smashing headlights
in the parking lot.  I had been sleeping in the back of my truck
because the parking lot was quieter than the rocking and rolliong
beach, and I stuck my head out and quietly asked him why he was
doing damage like that.  He responded by beating on the top of my
head, that being the only target I presented to him, his blows feeling
like feathers falling because the blow of the marriage breakup had
left my skull numb.  When he paused in his blows I lifted my face
and saying “Hit me some more if it makes you feel good.”  I suppose
I should be glad he didn’t pick up a rock and send me to heaven,
but my words seemed to calm him down, and he might also have
become afraid of this guy who could take such a beating without
being harmed or angry.  Like I said .. I was numb.    He looked at
me quizzically, and stepped back, and I stepped down from the
truck, and I asked him again why he was damaging the property of
the people on the beach.  Actually, I saw his hand as an avenging
angel released by God from the prison of Hades to teach respect for
the boomboxers and dog dirt bringers.  I think I recall he did no
damage to Steve and Barb’s vehicle, and I know he did no damage
to mine.  He and I had a chat in which I encouraged him away from
anger, or at least away from sinning during anger, and our night
ended quietly.  A couple days later Barb looked admiringly at
me while recounting to someone how I had not retaliated .. and I
said I couldn’t take any credit, that if he had hurt me I might have
gotten angry and the tale would have a less happy ending.  I think I
met that same guy later, in Victoria, and talked him into returning
to his family in Ontario.  Like I said earlier, my visit to the beach
was brief.  I couldn’t bear the changes, and I left for a tour of the
Gulf Islands where I had some adventures working at odd jobs with
lovely people, and waking up one morning to see two lovely naked
ladies strolling close by.  Unknowingly I had parked for the night at
the edge of a popular nude beach, at which I had posted my
sign saying something like ‘Jesus is Life’  This was before my
emotional breakdown, and I had returned somewhat to an
evangelical lifestyle.  The ladies looked at me, at the sign, back to
me.  All I could say was, “Jesus didn’t come to condemn.”  And one
of the women responded affirmatively.
      This moped trip was different.  I was not evangelizing.  I had,
though, at Victoria, with permanent magic marker drawn three
crosses on my bike’s cowling, under which I printed ‘Glory to God’
as a way of expressing my gratitude for my safe trip.
      As I road towards Sooke I knew conditions at the beach
were no longer suited to a life there, but I had to see the scenery
which had several times been home to my Gypsy soul, I had to
smell the waterfalls, and I had to hear the BOOM of Canon Rock. 
Canon Rock, from which you can harvest Mussels and Gooseneck
Barnacles for dinner, is a house-sized boulder which lies offshore at
the division between east Sombrio and West .. or North Sombrio
and South, depending on how a person wants to name the two
beaches, although the commonest identies are East Beach and
West Beach.  Canon Rock is famous for its BOOM because when
tides, currents, and waves are right, the waves strike the front of
the rock with such force that a BOOM is heard for miles.
      Canon Rock, though, was yet ahead when I stopped at Sooke
and ‘asked around’ for Steve and Barb.  One of the persons I asked
said he had heard that Steve had died.  Of course I simply would
not allow myself to believe that to be true.  Steve was a strong,
strong man .. a surfer .. a survivor.
      At Sooke I also sought out a tailor, as my hooded yellow rain
jacket’s zipper had broken, and that jacket was one of my most
important survival items.  The tailor lived and worked on the far
western end of the village, and when I drove into her yard I was
greeted by a small herd of the small deer common on Vancouver
Island .. deer which were almost pets to the owner, and in the wild
are tame and curious about people, but not tame enough to allow
people to pet them.  After discussing the deer, and again asking
about Steve and Barb, and I believe it was here that Steve’s death
was confirmed to me, I was given the price of having a zipper
installed, and decided a new rain jacket would be more cost
effective; but fortunately a sewing shop was close by and I
purchased a strong zipper, strong thread of a good quality, and
needles with eyes sufficiently large enough to allow my eyes to put
see the thread’s way through the needle.  These I packed into my
gear.  I also purchased groceries and wine. 
      Leaving Sooke I carried the pain of the certainty of Steve’s
death, although I can’t remember if I knew about the children yet,
and I was going to say here that  not all the beauty riding the
mountainside and oceanside of West Coast Road with its hills and
sharp curves and dips and Rainforest and roadside waterfalls and
rock and ocean shoreline and sounds and scents and fruitfulness of
nature can .. I was going to say not even all those beauties can ease
the pain .. but they can .. and to say otherwise would be a
disservice to the lives of those people whose flesh, blood, spirits
and love grew from the intimacy of living their entire lives close to
nature.  Nature is goodness .. even in its wildness and sometimes
seeming cruelty nature is layered and woven with gentleness,
stitched and flowered and embossed with kindness, lies itself down
willingly in peace and rest, and rises up majestically with meaning
and intelligence and purpose.  So it was designed to do .. to reveal
God and a visible part of his glory.  Nature also breathes change .. a
tree falls to earth and slowly converts to new soil, new flowers,
ferns, new trees, with parts of the tree perhaps providing housing
for creatures and people .. and children.  Nature changes.  And so
do we change.  I can’t say Steve an the children died .. my faith in
eternal life through Jesus Ch