CATAWOPINO

On the way to Manitoulin Island

Since our departure from Montreal, we knew that we would pass through Manitoulin Island. After pedaling for more than 1200kms, we have now arrived on the biggest freshwater island in the world! It is from our hammock, in a campground where we are staying for a few days, that we are taking the time to update our blog 🙂

We have been on the road for 3 weeks, and there is now some form of routine in how our days are spent. We always try to leave early in the morning to avoid the heat of the early afternoon during which we pause. We usually stop pedalling between 6 and 7pm, as soon as we find somewhere to plant our tent (in a campgroung, a field, or even the front lawn of several generous Canadians). We eat a fresh/cold meal for lunch (so that we don’t take all our cooking gear out), and a delicious warm meal for dinner (pasta/rice/instant noodles + hard boiled egg/canned tuna/hot dog sausage in a different combination each day).

We have cycled on several « Highways », and mainly Highway 7, also called the « Transcanadian Highway ». The name speaks of itself, and we probably don’t need to describe our faces when we had some « Oversized Load » trucks transporting houses or pieces of bridge take us over at high speeds. Happy to still be alive after nearly 40 kms on this busy highway, we then decided to go for more secondary roads and trails. Although these were often more hilly, added some distance and often weren’t paved, they were much more pleasant to ride and offered us a more beautiful scenery.

Much more pleasant until… the deer flies. These annoying little bugs swarmed around us by hundreds as soon as our speed came below 20kms/hour (which was actually most of the time) and bit us constantly, leaving some fairly impressive spots on our skins. As the Canadians say, you can feel’em taking a chunk of meat out of you! 🙂 Although Tracy has become incredibly efficient at killing them while riding (her personal best bordering 15 deer flies/minute), they end up making us hesitate to get back on the highway.

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With a very strong headwind against us most of the way, and this cruel deer flies/busy highway dilemma, it’s with a fairly low morale that we do our our shopping at the grocery store in Tweed. This is where we meet Scott P., a musician who spends half of the year in Canada and half of the year in Mexico. We get along pretty well, and after 5-10 mins talking about our plans and our route through Ontario, Scott offers to help by putting us in contact with the people he knows along the way. To start this off, we send him an e-mail from outside the public library (free wifi, yay!) and immediately get a reply telling us he had already contacted several people and was waiting for them to get back to him. His generosity and cheerfulness really motivates us, and so we ride to Peterborough as if we had wings on our backs ! Another e-mail check and we have the confirmation that Doug, Scott’s brother, can host us on an island located on lake Simcoe.

Doug and his wife Pat received us like royalty on the island, where motorised vehicles are not authorised. Doug greeted us with the phrase « Welcome to paradise ! », and it is indeed in paradise that we stayed with them for 2 days, walking around the island, swimming in crystal clear water, canoeing, talking around the fire, etc. Doug even let us drive the boat for a while ! It turns out that pretty much everyone in their family is a musician, so we spent quite a bit of time listening, playing, and talking about music, which was fantastic. Doug and Pat are absolutely marvellous hosts and our stay at the cottage will remain in our memories.

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It is with a sad heart but more motivated than ever that we leave the island, hoping that we will stay in touch with them. On our way to Owen Sound, after asking a farmer (Steve) if we could plant our tent in one of his fields, we got offered a pitch of grass on his front lawn, some cold beers, a warm shower, and a fun night talking with him and his wife Judy 🙂 A few days later, it is in a house that we are invited, hosted by Ernie and Dinah, our last stop before taking the Chi-Cheemaun ferry to Manitoulin Island, amidst the loud roar of all the Harley Davidson motorbikes surrounding us. The island is 160 kms long, so we have plenty of things to see !

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