I Wanted To Begin This Journal Entry With Reverence—And I Have


Life Is A Patient Teacher, Especially For Those Who Never Learn

Aug. 20, ‘82

When the boat docked, the wind didn’t seem quite as bad. At times, while bicycling, it was even at my back. When I arrived in Swift Current, I was definitely ready to camp, though. When I was sitting on some steps in front of a store, two bicyclers, a boy and girl, pedaled up to me. They told me about a free campground three miles up the road. The guy was having the same kind of knee problems that I was having, but his were worse. He was in the process of getting a bus ticket back to Michigan. He also told me that the retail brewery just around the corner was closing, so if I wanted anything, I’d better hurry. I thanked him and made it through the door just as it was being locked behind me.

I rolled into the free campsite about a half hour later. Sure it was free, but as I looked around and saw all the trash thrown on the ground, I was not impressed. As it turned out, I found out that the reason the campsite was free was because the owner of the property wanted to keep trespassers off the rest of his property. That idea was swell, but broken glass and beer caps substituted for grass, and although there were some large poles lying around for firewood, you needed an axe to cut them up. (The next day I was told they were put there to keep people from burning the fences.) Anyway, I was not down on the guy; after all he could have been like everybody else and just cursed the trespassers.

That morning I was on the road by 7 am. It was cloudy and looked like rain. Just before the cloudburst, I took shelter in an old garage. When the rain let up a bit, I climbed on my bicycle and began to ride. The bicycling conditions were hilly, wet, and windy. By late afternoon the weather had cleared, but biking was still hard. My knees had been sore ever since Niagara Falls; a lot of it probably had to do with the fact that I had been keeping an 80/90-mile a day pace. Sault St. Marie was now in range.


Aug. 21, 1982

Well this is it, the last night of my trip–a sad occasion. I have a super campsite, however, I’m just south of Wolverine, Michigan, on top of a hill in the woods with the beautiful view of the sky. Blending into the horizon there are shades of yellows, blues, violets, and grays, and in the southwest there is a descending slivered moon. I passed a lot of good-looking campsites before I found this one. One was a State Forest Campground, and another was a park that offered free camping. I didn’t want to be around people tonight. Tonight, it’s just between me and Ma Nature and she’s quite a lady, and has been this entire trip. It’s getting too dark to write, but I wanted to begin this journal entry at a time of reverence, and I have. Tomorrow I will fill in the rest.

Aug. 22

I’m drinking coffee at McDonald’s in Gaylord, Michigan. I am quickly approaching the final mile of this trip.

Biking the Trans Canada, on my way to Sault Ste. Marie, was just what I expected it to be—horrible. The condition of the highway was good. That surprised me, but the traffic was heavy, and some of the trucks were not sympathetic to the bicycler. I ran off the road twice. I can’t remember the last time that happened. I’m not sure if I’m losing my nerve or if the trucks were really that bad. I arrived in the Sault under pouring rain around 6 p.m. I had been fighting a head wind all day long, and I was very tired.

I needed a place to stay, so I went to the University. Lake Superior State University was accommodating. I stayed in their dormitory guestroom for $5.50. That’s where I met Tom. He’s a musician by trade, hitchhiking his way to Toronto. I felt better after a shower, so when he suggested that we go to the bars downtown, I was up for it. Well, we met a couple of girls, and one beer led to another until the bar closed. Tom left with his girl; I wasn’t so lucky.

I went looking for my bed, and wasn’t sure how to get there. I finally stumbled into my room around 4 AM, but not before I scared the heebie jeebies out of the poor woman who was walking in front of me. I was trying to figure out how to get back to the university, so I tried to catch up with her to ask directions. I didn’t notice that the faster I walked the faster she went until it was too late. She ran into a house where there was a party going on, and, as I passed that house, I was greeted by some of the guys who had come out on the porch to ask me a few questions. I basically told the fellows my situation, and I guess they believed me because they gave me directions to the university.

Early the next morning I woke up irritable. After straddling my bicycle seat, I wanted to be anywhere except peddling into the cold, damp, weather. I was mentally and physically wasted, and all because the night before I followed my nose from beer to another. The beer did all my talking on that night except for that tiny little voice in the back of my head that kept repeating, “You should be sleeping, you should be sleeping.” Life is a patient teacher, though, especially for those who never learn. I didn’t even like the people I was with. The only good that came out of last night was my resolve not to repeat it. Anyway, I will remember my Sault Ste. Marie “night out on the town” as one of my many unnecessary mistakes.

After three or four hours of morning biking, things got better. The sun came out and the wind was at my back, not to mention that I was getting closer to home. I still had a hangover, though, so, as good as it got, it could’ve been better. By the end of the day, the beautiful lakes, streams, and countryside, not to mention the sparse traffic, all went into the feeling of reverence that I experienced on that hill just outside of Wolverine. As I have already noted, that campsite was especially nice. This morning, however, I awoke to rain, and lots of it. And, since this is my last official bicycle day, I have chosen to ride in it. My parents are expecting me home by late afternoon, and my visiting cousins (I have been informed) are sticking around until I get there. This rain is the worst I have bicycled in on this trip, and it doesn’t appear as if it will let up. All I can say is that in another 50 miles I will have a warm place to dry out. That is a good thought, and the best reward!


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