Hudson Bay, AB to Winnipegosis, MB
7-29-01 Arriving in Hudson Bay I stopped at a little local diner for dinner, parking my bike on the side of the building as usual. What I failed to notice was that this little diner had a drive through that circled the building and my bike was in an awkward spot. Moving my bike out from the line of cars I apologized to two guys in an old jeep covered in mud from the riders' heads to its wheels. Waving, they drove off into the town. The road I was on ended in a thick forest... I had missed a sign somewhere. Looking around for someone who was outside, I started down a side road where a man and his son were walking. The jeep from the diner passed me, waving and laughing as our paths crossed again. They drove on and I asked for directions from the pedestrians. When I reached the correct road the jeep pulled up along side me. This time he had meant to find me. "Where are you going to stay tonight?" "I'll just find a place in the forest." I replied, looking a little impatiently at the western horizon where the sun was quickly setting. "Why don't you stay at my place, and not have to worry about the hassle of setting up a tent. The guest room is already set up as a friend just left today."
Loonie was full of energy and after we fixed my trailer's tire and fender we stayed up late talking about life in Northern Canada. He had been stung by a wasp the day before while in "pig pen" the jeep, and the sting was getting worse instead of better. The next morning, the doctor was shocked at his body's reaction to the wasp sting, as even his breathing was constricted. They injected him with anti-histamines and anti-inflammatories and sent him home - he was not to go to work as it would be too dangerous to be on these drugs around the high voltage machinery of the Weyerhaeuser mill. The wind was howling and he suggested I stay another day and wait until the wind calmed down. That afternoon we headed out into the forest in pigpen, bouncing along tiny snow mobile paths that wound through to various friend's cabins. Pigpen, without a roof or doors was the perfect foraging tool. We putted our way along the paths we'd stop under cherry trees and next to raspberry patches and eat to our hearts' delight. He let me drive back to the main road - the first driving I'd done since Vancouver, and 4X4 driving is my favorite type of driving. I was in heaven. That night we had a Ukrainian traditional meal of perogies - a handmade type of pasta similar to ravioli filled with sauerkraut or potatoes and cheese.
7-31-01 About an hour after I left Loonie's place the next morning, a car pulled up along side me. The driver yelled out "Drive by cheese!" I turned to find Loonie holding out a bag of cheese I had accidentally left in his refrigerator that morning. He had bumped into his doctor at the gas station who told him to take the rest of the week off, as his hands were shaking too much to be safe around high voltage wires. He promised to pick me up the next day and take me to Flin Flon, a neat little town far to the north.
Continuing on for the day, I entered reservation land. Two boys pulled up along side me on their bikes, wondering where I was from and where I was going. One of them had a flat tire, but wanted to ride with me for the next 15 k to the next town. I was worried he'd ruin his back wheel if he didn't fix the tube, so we went to his house to fix the flat. Three dogs ran out to defend the horribly run down house. One of them growled for a while at me as I made every effort to convince it that I wasn't afraid of it, and thus it shouldn't be afraid of me. Children were running all around the area along with a variety of ragged looking animals. One little girl was especially proud of her rabbit, a black ball of fur with large eyes. I felt very odd in that area, as if I was being watched by many hidden eyes. I focused all of my attention on Dwanye with the flat tire and his friend Merv. I fixed the inner tube with my kit and then had Dwanye figure out how to put the tire back on his bike. Soon we were on our way from National Mills to Barrows (about 15K!), a trip they made everyday during the school year. The scene was a funny one, me with my packed bike accompanied by two kids on rusted ten speed bikes and three dogs running behind. I felt a little like Forest Gump "And I just started biking..."
8-1-01 After 100 km (actually 96.29) Loonie drove by in "Justa6", a black rare Buick of which there were only 1600 made. We stashed my bike away in the forest and packed my bags into the car and away we went to Flin Flon, a city where the houses are built on the rock, and gardens are little rings of flowers built up around the boulders. We stayed at Baker's Narrows campground, a camp on a lake with six loons. That evening, just after sunset, the loons filled the air with a song so thoroughly it was difficult to tell where they actually were. We quickly went to sit on the boulder overlooking the lake where the moon was reflecting in the still, purple lake, waiting for more sounds from the loons, but were treated only with the chirping of crickets and the buzz of mosquitoes.
8-2-01 Entering Manitoba was entering a land where there were very few people. While this was generally true throughout Canada, here it was more true than ever before. I stopped for lunch on the shores of lake Winnipegosis, where the opposite shore was only a faint blue on the curved horizon and yet there were no people or towns in sight. Pelicans soared overhead, their huge wingspan bright white with their black wingtips seeming to guide them into the heart of the thermals above. Along the road, teenagers had written testaments of their love to each other with white stones laid carefully on the red-orange slopes. My bear-can became a form of public transportation for the local insects with passengers as stately as the giant dragonflies who would stay until nightfall, and as temporary as the horseflies who I wished would remain riding and avoid flying around my head as I was trying to pedal. My eyes are always searching the side of the road for bears and moose though they are far and few between. At one point on this day I did notice something pitch black on the side of the road. It was the size of a large coyote, thin like a cat with its back arched high, but with the form of a mink. It slinked quickly across the highway as I approached. I wondered about this animal, asking all the locals who might know what it was, but no one had any idea what the odd animal was. It was a few weeks later when I described it to my Dad that I finally had the answer to the mystery - a wolverine!!