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

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Travels With  A (Donkey slashed out) Moped
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Through the (Cevennes slashed out) Curves of Space and Time
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Dedicated to Modestine,
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and all Donkeys and Beasts of Burden  Everywhere,
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and remembering Robert Louis Stevenson.
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Chapter One
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“As I wandered through the wilderness of this world.”
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                                                    John Bunyan
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      A winding, hilly, semi-wilderness track running through 160
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miles (270 Kilometers) of rock-hard, rugged, creek and river
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terraced, Blueberry and Evergreen emboldened landscape inhabited
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and ranged by Black Bear, Coyote, (wolf? Cougar?) Wild Turkey,
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Loons, Monster Muskies, hermits, hillbillies, fishers, hunters,
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summer cottagers, water gypsies travelling the Trent-Severn and
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Rideau Canal systems, tourist operators, road gypsies, truckers,
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artists, sellers of genuine and imitation handicrafts, miners,
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loggers, and those most fortunate of human beings known as Tree
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Huggers and Nature Freaks' is a reasonable description of Highway
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7 connecting the city of Ottawa, which is part of Canada’s Capital
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Region, with a lesser city of Peterborough, Ontario.
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      While this Number 7 wildland was not nearly as wild as Grizzly
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Bear lands that I would moped in before my trip was done, this land
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can be as dangerous as some of the world’s savage, large cities, so
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the short, siren call of the Ontario Provincial Police Cruiser coming
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from behind me, and obviously signaling me to stop my slow-
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moving moped on the highway’s gravel shoulder came as no
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surprise.  The O.P.P. patrols here are concerned as much with
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the non-traffic related safety of individuals as they are with
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enforcing traffic laws, and hitchikers have told me stories of being
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picked up along wild stretches by the O.P.P. and driven into one of
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the small, isolated communities where the hitchhiker could ‘thumb’
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in more security.
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      When planning my moped-camping expedition a concern I rated
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above traffic competition was roadside encounters with bears who
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could view my small, low profile and quiet progress as a young
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moose or fawn, in which case my slow acceleration and 30 m.p.h.
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top speed would provide little security as bears can run equally fast.
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A fresh story from a geologist friend elevated my bear fears.  It
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seems my friend’s geologist friend was stooped down taking samples
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when a bear, with one swipe of a paw, heheaded the geologist. 
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Bears are evidently capable of great stealth, and I have been
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persuaded not to wear Khaki in the bush, my normal outdoor attire
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being a long sleeved white shirt which identifies me either as a
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human or the hind end of a white tailed deer.  It seems we can run
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but we can’t hide in the bush.  However, another reason I wear
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white is to make myself more visible to hunters, who only rarely, I
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assume, shoot deer in the ass.
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      During my trip’s 7,500 miles of road running, much of that on
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rural roads, I was a great curiosity to creatures either wild or
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tamed, and also to most humans.  I did have have four intimate
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encounters with bears on my trip, two of them while riding, as well
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as equally thrilling encounters with other animals wild and tame
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such as the wild west prairie stallion with his mare who answered
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my high spirited ‘whinny’ with a race beneath the Big Skyprairie. 
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Birds in the west also enjoyed racing me, I having three or four
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such experiences and being fully persuaded that each bird was in a
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high-hearted contest. I also unintentionally stampeded two herds of
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cattle and one herd of horses; and during a midnight run beneath a
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full moon on an almost vacant prairie highway in southern
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Manitoba I found myself very cautiously, very slowly maneuvering
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my way between huge, ghostly forms of cattle which had wandered
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their way onto the pavement.       
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      On Ontario Number 7 Highway, though, on this first day of my
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trip in late May, I had corralled an O.P.P. officer’s attention because
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my heavily-laden, low-powered moped and me had for many
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minutes been blocking the progress of a gargantuan motor home
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driven by a modern pioneer pilgrim explorer who had insufficient
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experience piloting his or her behemoth to allow necessary distance
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between us to allow me to reduce my already slow speed sufficiently
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to make a safe exit from the paved portion onto the dangerously
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soft, sand and gravel shoulder. When I say this motor home was a
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giant, I can add that in my opinion as a professionally trained driver
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the motor home was wide enough to have rated a police escort on
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this narrow highway. My driver’s education is not minimal, with its
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professional leg coming during my pre-Peacenik stint with the
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Canadian Armed Forces during which I drove troop-carrying trucks
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towing artillery pieces.  I must say here that my Militia stint did
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little to prepare me for the moped trip, except make the vehicle
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greatly preferable over hiking long, long, long, long distances
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carrying heavy loads; but if my moped had been towing an artillery
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piece I would have been justified in saying “Blast this motor home!” 
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It took the entire width of the lane, and he was following me so
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closely that I thought he must be trying to improve his gasoline
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miles-per-gallon performance by either: hoping the tiny low
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pressure vortices created by my passing through our atmosphere
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would suck his beast along in the manner race car drivers follow
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their competition nose to tail where the partial vacuum drags them
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along, saving gasoline needed for ferocious passing attempts; or the
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motor home driver was attempting to reduce his gasoline
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consumption by sucking any unburned hydrocarbons from my little
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exhaust pipe directly into his voracious carburetor.  His gain would
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have been small, because despite my heavy load of camping and
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cooking gear, water, spare gasoline and two-cycle oil, tool kit and
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spare inner tube, food and clothing for two seasons, my 1.9
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horsepower engine propelled me at a constant 130 highway miles
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per gallon, leaving practically nothing in its exhaust of value for
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anyone, but also, by the way, harming nothing either, because
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modern 2 cycle (also called two-stroke) engines use precision
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pumps to inject minute amounts of specialized oil into the gasoline
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just ahead of the combustion chamber, and most of the unburned
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oil condenses in the muffled exhaust pipe instead of being emitted
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as oily smoke like the old style, gas-oil premix engines.  Since my
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trip ended I have switched to synthetic two-stroke oil which is
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advertised as being even more environmentally friendly, as well as
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not being so inclined to rob power by slow buildup of carbon in the
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exhaust port and exhaust pipes.  Also since my trip ended I have
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become aware that there is almost a ‘culture of disconnection’ of the
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oil injection system among some mopeders who see oil injection as
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being prone to failure, thereby putting the engine at risk of seizure. 
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I became aware of the disconnet philosophy when I engaged in
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internet chat on the Moped Army site.  Our debate reached no
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concensus, some individuals preferring to mix their own oil and gas
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to eliminate any risk of oil failure, while others including myself
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retaining ours while viewing the main risk of failure coming from
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forgetting to fill the two cycle oil reservoir, and properly maintain
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equipment.  If I wanted to carry on the small animosity which
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developed during the debate I would say that the disconect people
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used risk of failure as an excuse for their addiction to gasoline
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sniffing, but I don’t want to carry that animosity on so we can
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pretend I never made that statement. 
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      Environmentalism is one reason I will not disconnect the
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injector which measures precise amounts of oil into the gas, and
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environmentalism, as well as economy, makes my moped my only
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choice of personal, motorized transportation at this time.  I am
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afforded that luxury because I don’t have any other need for a
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motor vehicle.  Of course a bicycle would be even more
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environmentally friendly, and for the past two decades, until
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purchasing my moped, had been my only wheels. Three decades
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ago I toured 1500 miles on a 10-speed bicycle, but now my 60 year
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old, slightly damaged knees will not allow a return to long
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distance bicycle travel.
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      So then, there I was on Highway 7, almost being devoured by a
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wheeled monster, its driver sitting so high above me, and so
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unprofessional in attitude, that had I slowed to a speed sufficient to
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allow my narrow (2 ½ inches) tires a safe exit onto an extremely
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narrow, very soft shoulder, he or she probably would have run me
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right over, me becoming a soft bump not unlike the pavement’s
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frost heaves.  To make matters worse, this stretch of particularly
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twisting and hilly highway prevented the motor home from passing.
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To the driver’s credit he or she did not once lean on his or her horn
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in aggravation; and relief for motor home and I eventually came in
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the form of a long, steep incline, the grade of which gradually
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slowed not only my moped but also the monster. Coming at the
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right time was a widening and firming of the shoulder, and I, with
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my moped long ago having automatically downshifted to first gear,
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and now speeding along a about seven miles per hour, very
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thankfully pulled off, the motor home rumbling slowly past. I then
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activated my turn-signal indicator light to prepare for a return to
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the pavement, and at that same time came the O.P.P.’s brief siren.
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I stopped, dismounted, set my bike up on its ‘ upside down Y’ type
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kickstand, and removed my helmet. I was not worried about
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legalities because I had all necessary licensing and insurance, and I
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knew that mopeds are legal on all highways in most provinces in
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Canada except on multi-lane restricted access roads like 401, 417,
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etc. The Province of Manitoba does have some archaic laws
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concerning mopeds, which before I learned they are no longer
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generally enforced, led to a wonderful detour through rugged
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country on a road which could in some parts be described as being
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paved, and which made Highway 7 look like an expressway.  My
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small worries about this O.P.P. officer concerned my hairy-faced,
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hippy appearance’s potential for strumming an anti-war song’s
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discord into the officer’s heart, if this particular officer were of the
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‘For God, King, and Country We Shall Fight and Die” kind of
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uniformed marcher .. especially if he or she thought I might have
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anti-war herbal formulas in my baggage.  I no longer use
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recreational drugs, but a search would mean unloading and
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reloading all my equipment .. not that I had any equipment to hide
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.. I had purposely avoided possible ‘dangerous weapons’ charges by
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leaving my long-bladed hunting knife which I normally wear in the
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woods for protection from wild animals with my expedition canoeing
 +
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equipment.  I felt somewhat naked in the Moped Forests without
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that knife, a situation I can avoid if I do another wheeled voyage
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because my spiritualy minded brother Ron Christmas-gifted me this
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year with the only seeming necessity I lacked on my trip, that being
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a hunting knife equally strong and sharp as my long-bladed version
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but with a slightly shorter blade which would be seen as acceptable
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by law enforcers. 
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      I suppose there are some of you readers who are thinking I am
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making too much of a knife as a weapon of defence against a bear,
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but one recent demonstration of wilderness self-defense occurred
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on an Canadian Arctic island, where four canoe-campers were
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attacked by a Polar Bear, one of the men almost certainly saving the
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lives of his male friend and possibly of two female companions by
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repeatedly stabbing the bear as it was mauling his friend. The bear
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ceased the attack and wandered away; and fortune smiled down
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upon the four when they found fast transportation to an arctic
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hospital. Another example told me by a Canadian Armed Forces
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medic who spent tours of duty in the Arctic was of a modern Inuit
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woman of senior citizen age single-handedly killing a Polar Bear
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with her knife after the bear had slashed its way into her tent.
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According to the medic the large hump on the rear of the Polar
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Bear’s neck is brain, and of course the woman knew that and
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thrust her knife there.  I met that medic while I was on a canoe
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voyage up the Ottawa River, and while my self-defence equipment
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included a home made bear spear.  The medic thought I was rightly
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inclined to bring the spear, which I carried whenever walking in the
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woods.  My personal experience in confronting a bear with a knife,
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and I don’t brag or say I was brave when I relate this, even though I
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did act precisely as any red blooded hero would have acted, came
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30 years ago when I possibly saved myself and a young woman
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companion from a Black Bear on a narrow trail in the Rocky
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Mountains outside of Jasper, Alberta by instantly attacking with my
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hunting knife honed with my loud yell when the bear made a close
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and surprise appearance coming out of thick brush. The woman
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screamed and jumped behind me, attracting the bear’s curiosity,
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and unleashing instantly in me what can only be described as the
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most primal instinct. In the same flash of insight that told me with
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the woman behind me I stood no chance of outrunning the bear ..
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well, the ‘thought’ that I should attack did not occur to me, my
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attack initiating itself without advantage of intellect, that power
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coming into play only when I found myself running towards the
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bear with my hunting knife held high over my head, knowing I
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stood only one chance, and that was a thrust through the bear’s eye
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into its brain. The bear’s primal instinct of self preservation showed
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clearly on its face, and faced with fight or flight, it ran off. My lack
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of courage after my adrenalin response persuaded me to not
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continue on the trail, and we returned to the main area of camp,
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where I commenced to trembling, and not from cold. Of course, a
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large bear’s favourite method of killing large game is to sneak up
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quietly and with one swipe of a paw decapitate its target, this
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applying equally to deer, small moose, and humans, so the first
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defense against bears has to be awareness of how to keep them
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away. Fear of humans prevents most bears from thinking of us as
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normal prey, but cases of mistaken identity do occur, such as the
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geologist in Northern Ontario.  For that reason I almost always
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wear bright coloured clothing in the woods, while on a moped,
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a rider’s bright clothing assists drivers in avoiding running you
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over.
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      Here on Highway 7, my danger was that I might be faced with a
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Police Officer who may have gotten out of bed on the wrong side
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that morning, or who was tired and grumpy after a long shift, or
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who may professionally view my considerable load as unsafe, and I
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could be ordered off the road. The rear of my vehicle carried a
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saddlebag on each side, with an aluminum-framed backpack
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standing upright on the luggage carrier. All was very safely properly
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and safely secured; but my tent and sleeping bag I had fastened in
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one bundle across the front fender, below the headlight. This
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bundle did not interfere with turning capacity, and was doubly
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secured by strap and bungee cord on each side, and triply secured
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with a strap around its centre. However, I had no idea what the
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officer might think of this arrangement, which was, really, not
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much different from some touring bicyclists’ loadings, but mine was
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a motor vehicle, not a bicycle. I was also a little concerned that this
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officer might not have full knowledge of my legal position. During
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consideration of purchasing my moped I had phoned the Ottawa
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City Police Department and had asked if mopeds were legal on
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highways, and had been given a negative answer. I doubted the
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accuracy of that officer’s knowledge, and secured a second opinion
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from the Ontario Government website, where I learned the legalities,
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including licensing and insurance, and the requirement to travel as
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far to the right of the travelled portion as possible.
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      This officer was a gentleman, in a reasonable mood, and I was
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respectful of his duties and person. He listened respectfully as I
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explained my desire to ‘make way’ for the motor home, but how
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dangerously close I had been followed, and told the condition of the
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shoulder, and the narrowness of my tires, etc., with all being well
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received, and I thought all was well with me in the officer’s mind. It
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was then he said, “Kind of overloaded aren’t you?”
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      This being my first few hours of this trip I had no experience as
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to how my heavy load would affect my moped’s durability, but my
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only concious concern was how well my tires would bear the weight,
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so I responsed in an offhanded, hopeful way, “Not too bad.” The
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officer smiled. He didn’t bother asking me for my driver’s license, as
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my vehicle was properly license plated, and he said something like,
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‘I guess you’re okay.’ Many police officers are also motorcyclists,
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and among motorcyclists, I learned on my trip, anything
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roadworthy with two wheels and a motor was honoured with
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inclusion in the fraternity. I did not ask if the officer was a
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motorcyclist, but we shook hands and he turned to return to his
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cruiser. He partially turned back, though, to ask, “how far are you
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going?” My hoped-for destination by moped was Saskatoon,
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Saskatchewan, about 2,000 miles. I planned on going on to my
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brother at Victoria, but possibly by hitchhiking or Greyhound Bus
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as I thought I might be fatigued at Saskatoon, or that the moped
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just wouldn’t make it through the Rocky Mountains. I did not
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elaborate that to the officer, though, and my answer of ‘Saskatoon’
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brought a slightly disbelieving shake of the head along with a small,
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tight lipped smile. He then returned to his cruiser and drove off. I
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mounted up and continued thankfully on, this officer becoming the
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first of many people met on this trip who would bring to flesh and
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blood the statement of Robert Louis Stevenson’s which he included
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in his dedication to his book, ‘Travels With A Donkey In The
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Cevennes’, “… and the best that we find in our travels is an honest
 +
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friend.” Stevenson’s donkey became such a friend in their 12 days
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of travel that he wept after he had sold her - Modestine being her
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name. My moped has no name other than moped, but that name is
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especially respectful to me now, having carried me through 7,500
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miles on some of Canada’s roughest terrain available to a
 +
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conventional wheeled motor vehicle, including twice through the
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Rocky Mountains and other mountain ranges of Alberta and British
 +
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Columbia.
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      Stevenson’s walk was through 120 miles, while I estimated my
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moped’s equivalency miles, calculating 1.9 horsepower against a
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300 horsepower car, and factoring in my load and me, 350 pounds,
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or twice the weight of the moped, weighed against a load in a car
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double the weight of the car, comes to roughly 1.5 million miles –
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and that without mechanical breakdown. In case of breakdown,
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though, I had an honest friend in Baird McNeil of Russel, Ontario,
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just outside of Ottawa, a fellow poet and grandfather who had told
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me before I started out, “If you get in trouble, call me.” Baird’s
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simple and heartfelt offer brought me great comfort, because, unlike
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Stevenson, who had financial backing from his well-to-do father, my
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fiancial backing was small, being my guaranteed government
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income’s spendable portion after payment of room rent, or about
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$525 per month.  I had no savings in the bank, and no property to
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sell. With this small amount I must, for three months, pay all
 +
 +
expenses, and overcome all adversities.  I had no experience
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 +
repairing my moped, so necessity caused Faith to be put to the test
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.. and Faith proved Faithful.  If I were to pay for camping each day
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 +
of the month that amount would easily be $600; but as it turned
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out I paid only four night of camping, three of those being in
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Canmore, Alberta, where I found employment at construction
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labour at $I00 a day for two days, and where each night at the
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Wapiti tent site run by the town cost me only $10, and which
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included showers and wonderful companionship with summer
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travelers and modern hippies. In case of dire emergency I carried a
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credit card with a ‘0’ balance (Okay .. I lied about going on faith .. I
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had my credit card, but faith stilled proved faithful because my
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balance at the end of the trip was, I think I remember it being, only
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about $150.00 .. that partially due to kindness of strangers who
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became new friends and one old friend who deposited $100 into my
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bank account on my birthday.  Thanks again, Lou. 
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      Besides the financial advantage, Stevenson also had it up on
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me by being 28 years old while I was 60. I was, however, one up on
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Stevenson because while we both had respiratory health problems,
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his battle against those problems which he came close to
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overcoming inspired me to carry on through my own life of physical
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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
 +
 +
income.
 +
 +
      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
 +
 +
ride.
 +
     
 +
      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
 +
 +
settings.
 +
 +
      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
 +
 +
wonderfully.
 +
 +
      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 -
 +
 +
 +
 +
‘POET ON A MOPED’s
 +
 +
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.
 +
 +
 +
Revelation
 +
 +
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
 +
 +
great.
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
 +
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-
 +
 +
off.
 +
 +
      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
 +
 +
them?’
 +
 +
      ‘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.

Revision as of 13:11, 11 August 2008






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

over.

      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

Columbia.

      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

income.

      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

ride.

      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

settings.

      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

wonderfully.

      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 -


‘POET ON A MOPED’s

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.


Revelation

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

great.











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-

off.

      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