Sunday, June 5, 2011

Seven - UP

Where was I? Oh yeah, Ottawa. So I sat in the sports bar while the Canadians crashed into each other on the freeway, then I headed West. Next town over is Arnprior. I just wanted somewhere cheaper than Ottawa but ended up in a pretty little town with a river, a weir and a very small beach. I also discovered a speedway track but wasn’t allowed to use it.
The motel owner was the first true North American Indian I’ve met. His name was Rajeev and his family came from Delhi.
Friday. The local kids are having a party on the beach with a wicked slip’n’slide down the slope. Doubt they want me joining in though, so it’s onwards and West-wards. It’s a long drive on the Trans-Canada highway, which has it’s scenic moments, but also a 90kmh limit. So I crank the stereo and try to stay awake.
Impossible to capture the scale of the scenery out here with snapshots, my photos have become a collection of scenic picnic tables to at least show that I’m eating with some beautiful backdrops, if not so many random conversations. (The diners and restaurants were hitting my wallet and my belt!)
Sore from a long day, I’m seduced by the lure of Sudbury’s Holiday Inn and their pool. It’s not going to be cheap but I’ll pay it.
“One hundred and fifty nine dollars plus tax.”
OK, I feel fine, I’ll keep going.
A bottle of coke, a mint aero, some bouncy music courtesy of Darren Styles and I don’t mind being back on the road, even the road obliges me with a stretch of dual carriageway.
When I reach the next town I’m very glad I didn’t stay in Sudbury. I find a nice secluded motel by Lake Summetorother with a small beach and picnic area. My head is hurting after the long drive so it’s a quiet night in. They’re showing Titanic on the movie channel, and it reminds me of the good times just a few weeks ago on the QM2.
Saturday, and it’s still 240 km to go down route 17 until I reach Michigan. As I pass through another tiny town I spot some hitchhikers. Back in England I wouldn’t even dream about stopping. But out here it’s different, and these three look very young and harmless, besides, I’m here for an adventure, and to meet interesting people, so why miss the opportunity?
So I carry on past them.
But they’re smiling and having fun, and I’ve just passed a garage and could use some fuel. So I turn around and go back to fill up, which means I get a second look which confirms they’re kids, not some grizzled lunatic from the movies!
Julien explains that they’re students from Quebec and are heading out to British Colombia to pick fruit for the summer. He speaks good English so we can talk about a lot of things. Oralie speaks less English so she is put in charge of the ipod. Angelie sits quietly in the back, so I assume she doesn’t speak much English, or she’s thinking “this guy looks like the grizzled lunatic from the movies”
They’re sleeping in tents and cooking their own food which reminds me of the thunderstorm last night. Luckily the weather is growing warmer during the day, but I don’t envy them. By the time I drop them off in Saul Ste. Marie we’ve had a good chat about life on the road, and I’m wishing them well for their summer. I gave them my blog link so hopefully they’ll post a reply and let me know how they get on (…and how to spell their names right!)
We part ways because I’m heading back into the US of A and state 44, Michigan. Once again it’s fun at the border, trying to give concise, direct answers to questions like:
 “Who do you work for?”
But they let me back in and suddenly it’s big wide interstates and 70mph limits. I drive across the Mackinaw bridge, twice. It’s a nice bridge and I’m not heading down to Detroit, but I want to see Mackinaw City as it’s mentioned in one of my absolute favourite songs about the open road – Bob Seger’s “Roll me Away”.
It’s no wonder Bob hit the road.
I’m heading for scenic highway 35, on the North West coast of Lake Michigan, but highway 2 is also pretty scenic, so I stop in Manistique. There’s a boardwalk along the lake so I can finally have a run. I make it to the Lighthouse and back and am very glad the “Econolodge” has a hot tub.
It’s Saturday night and game 2 of the Stanley Cup (it’s an ice hockey thing) so I head to the local bar and grill. As I arrive I’m passed by a guy with a headband, short shorts and a ghetto blaster. Which means either they’re a bit behind the times here or it’s a party! Luckily it’s a 30th birthday bash with a brilliant 80s theme, so I eat my toasted patty surrounded by backcombed hair and neon outfits, with awesome  80’s tunes blaring out. I even get photographed by some guys writing a book on the “UP” which is what they call the “Upper Peninsula”, so keep an eye out for me on
When I return to the hotel I’m still relatively sober, so I start blogging. Then the lights go out…

1 comment:

  1. Hey Paul!! It's Julien, it's so nice to see a part of my trip from your point of view. Anne-Julie, Aurélie and me finnaly got on the other side of Canada a week after you pick us up. We stand together for a little while and had a lot of fun. Then we split up and met again later in the summer and they went back home in august. Finnally I've been given a Bicyle and decided to ride down the coast. I end up in Los Angeles 2 months ago and decided to go back home. So now I'm in Québec just waiting to go back on the road!!! Take care