Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Be My Path, Be My Guide, Day 9

Saturday, July 14, 2012
Winnipeg, MB
84,747 (378) (2,015)

I rode north along a county road from the State Park. I’d originally planned to go through International Falls and into Canada, but since I’d not made it much past Hibbing, I’d decided to continue west and enter Canada somewhere else.
As I headed westward, a detour took me hours out of my way toward the north, so I decided to just change my route back to the original plan, so I went toward International Falls after all, but I continued along the south end of Lake of the Woods instead of riding north of it.
When I stopped at Warroad, there was a giant Walleye. But I forgot to get photo. I saw a guy walking along the highway with a backpack and a guitar without a case.
It was very hot. Just before I crossed into Canada, I called Allison, because I knew I’d not be able to use my phone for a couple weeks. I stood in the hot sun and talked with her for a while before I fueled up and rode toward the Canadian border. Although I there was very little traffic along the 8 miles to the border, when I arrived there, I rode up behind a BMW R1200GS. He was only about 2 in line to the customs officer. I turned off my engine, and when the bike in front of me reached the officer, I could hear the exchange. He asked him if we were traveling together. A simple “no” didn’t seem to satisfy the officer, so he worded the same question in a several ways before he allowed the guy to go on. When I rode up next, he asked me exactly the same questions. “Are you traveling with this guy?” No “Where did you meet up on the road?” Right here. I rode up behind him 47 seconds before you met him. “You’ve never met this man before?” I’ve never spoken with this man. He then skipped all the alcohol and tobacco questions and asked me about “weapons,” “guns,” “handguns,” “side arms,” slightly changing his wording each time, to try and trip me up. He was always making eye contact and holding my passport where I could see it. Finally, he waved me through, and I rode on into 40 miles of nothingness and eerily straight road.
About 20 miles after I entered Canada, I stopped at a wayside and no cars happened by the whole time. The desolation and the wind in the pines was kinda spooky. There were flies buzzing, and a bird singing the bay of fundy song. He moved about like he wanted me to follow him. I think I was in a movie. Three years ago, I camped on the bay in Nova Scotia, and awoke in a thick morning fog with this bird’s song providing the soundtrack to the dim, white morning. The song was so strange to me that I rolled over in the tent and grabbed my computer, opened notation software, and took dictation from the bird. I notated his song so that I wouldn’t forget it. I have not heard that song since, until today.
I reached the Trans-Canada Hwy just east of Winnipeg, and planned to camp just west of the city. The light was very strange, and I rode all the way through town before I rode back out onto the prairie, and finally found my campsite beside the river.
I had been unable to get money from the ATM in Canada, so I was without cash. The man at the campground said that I could pay him after I found some money, but I assured him that cash was the only problem, I did have a card. He sent me into a grassy area over the hill from the main campground beside the river, and told me I was fortunate to be on a bike, because I could just ride all the way to wherever I chose to set up my tent.
I put my tent right beside the river, and began to relax. The trees looked as if they were painted about 5 feet from the ground, but I now know that the consistent line on all the trees was last winter’s snow line.
After I set up the tent, I showered and stretched out on the picnic table and stared into the sky. Between the trees, the sky was small, and there was actually a lot of light pollution from Winnipeg. I remembered thinking that even if I was far enough North to see the Aroara Borealis, there was too little sky and too much ambient light.
I was wrong.
The lights danced directly overhead. Brighter, dimmer, whiter, sharper…
I watched, overwhelmed, until my eyes got heavy and I climbed into the tent and fell deeply asleep.