Day 3: Ontario, the end (finally!)

2008-07-11

09h00 Rushing River Provincial Park (ON)
12h00 Winnipeg (MB)
270 km

The Rain! (Note the capital R!)

It’s raining lightly throughout the night but a breach of an hour or so gives me the chance to get up, change, store the tent and prepare the bike.

Traveling this way is really different. I am totally at the mercy of the weather and nature itself. Everything is so wet.

First lesson: always take clothes for the next morning in the tent! Not so easy to look for clothes and then change in the cold and rain! I quickly lose heat and I must get dressed rapidly to stay warm and a little dry.

My first night in the woods is not so easy but was relaxing and was appreciated. I guess I’ll set up a routine and that things will improve with practice!

Encouraging point, I’m already quite ahead of my travel plans and have little road ahead of me today to get to Winnipeg where I think to spend the night. 250 km! This is nothing!

O course, nothing is so quite easy on a motor bike!

Temperature drops below 10 degrees and rain starts to fall quite hard! But when I say rain, I do not mean light rain that is soft and warm, I am talking about drops of a liter straight from the last glacial period! I stop for gas in Kenora (ON), which seems to be a beautiful little village surrounded by lakes but as the rain is abundant, I cannot really allow myself to visit further.

The cloud cover is so dense that it’s literally pitch black (well you know, dark…!) After 45 minutes, here I am in Manitoba! As I promised myself, I must take a picture of the sign but what a rain fall! I take my courage with both my hands and I stop on the roadside for 1 or 2 shots! But not in the rain, under an electrical storm!

2008-07-11 Winnipeg 02.jpg

It’s impressive to see how the border crossing means a change of scenery. Almost instantly, I go from winding road surrounded by lakes to a 4 lane motorway, so straight you wouldn’t believe it! Driving, despite the heavy rain becomes so easy! I engage the cruise control and relax quietly, taking a shower! Seriously, my system doesn’t work very well because I am literally wet to the bones.

The water is going through my jacket (BMW Rally 2 Pro), my Shell (Shell North Face), my heated vest (Widder) and wets my sweater! My gloves are not long enough and let the water in. I will have to adjust myself to this and find solutions because it worries me a little for the northern part of the Adventure. For the first time I really wonder what I’m doing here!

An old friend of mine, Nigel, who I will visit in Calgary (AB) at the end of the trip, is from Winnipeg (MB) and offered me to spend the night at his mother who still resides here.

Winnipeg isn’t a tourist destination as such but is still significant for me. In 1985, I spent the summer at the University of Manitoba for an English immersion class. It was my first trip by plane and finally, my first trip without my parents! I wanted to see the city hoping it would remind me of nice memories!

Ivy (Nigel’s mother), native of Jamaica, greats me like a king. What kindness. It is not so evident because first, I am completely wet, and it seems she was expecting me because she had prepared a typical meal just for me. The problem is that I am not sure to stay as Winnipeg because of the rain, and if I were to stay, I would have likes to visit the area and have dinner in town.

2008-07-11-Winnipeg-04.jpg

I take a few minutes in the basement to call Nadine (my girlfriend). She’s so excited to talk to me that she’s trying to say 4 things at the same time! We already look to change plans with the airplane ticket because I realized that we could join in Vancouver instead of Prince Rupert as expected. If the preceding days are an image of what’s to come, I am sure that She did not like the route between Prince Rupert (BC) and Vancouver (BC), mainly because of the cold and rain …

After the conversation, I go back and chat with Ivy tell her that I will finally continue my way because weather is not very good to visit the city.

I still make my way to the University of Manitoba. Incredible, I can’t remember anything! Yet the buildings are historic and most importantly, superb … The eyes of a 16 year old does not see the same things that an old 40 year old guy!

Then I go towards Downtown. Nothing special except that miraculously, within minutes, the blue sky is emerging and rapidly, the weather obliges me to stay for the evening and night!

I return to see Ivy and dismantle the bike again. Not so obvious. My system is certainly not tuned because I wast too much time to load and unload my things. I need to seriously evaluate and rethink my strategy accordingly.

Lunch hour approaches and Ivy had prepared 5 kg of Jamaican chicken, especially because it smells so good, I can’t allow myself to refuse her invitation!

Wow, Nigel was right! It’s so good! Thanks Ivy!

Then I leave for Downtown. Upon arriving, I see 4 motorcycles parked on a sidewalk near a big building. I obviously decide to join them to avoid paying parking or simply having to return every 2 hours to put money in the parking meter. I change clothes, store everything and lock the bike, put the alarm system and feel ready to attack Winnipeg! Obviously, I did not notice the tiny sign reading: Location for Canada Post employees only, a security officer rushed to warn me!

He is very nice and ask me where the hell I’m going like this with a plate from Québec! Finally, we talk for 30 minutes and obviously, he lets me stay and offer to check out for my stuff!

Finally, the visit can begin! Bizarre, Winnipeg reminds me of a mixture of Denver and Chicago, much smaller course! Unfortunately, what is most striking is the begging, especially natives who are very present downtown. That I remembered at least!

Quick Tour of the Forks, St. Boniface, Exchange District. The city is a little dead. Probably because I am used to crowded streets of Montreal or because my travel usually get me in places like Paris, Barcelona or Buenos Aires!

2008-07-11-Winnipeg-28

Fortunately, one thing is relatively similar across the world: Irish Pubs! After 2 or 3 beers, the city seems more alive! Thereafter, I go next door to a beautiful bistro name Yes Bistro (Not complicated !!!). I am pleasantly surprised by the meal and fauna of the place. Not bad either for wine, well appreciated after a few days of fasting! I am on vacation after all! Small note, my super Steak frites was served with Ketchup! Ok, I am no longer in Montreal!

Already time to go back to Ivy’s (it is after midnight !!!). Tomorrow, big day, I want to push and try to get to Edmonton! 13 hours and more than 1300 km … I don’t know if I will make it.

À voir!


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