Thursday, July 12, 2007
July 8th - 12th, 2007. Nothing.
More hanging out with the family - swimming and chilling out and relaxing. Yesssss. And of course, my aunt wouldn't let me leave without filling my feed bag full of goodies.
July 7th, 2007. Distance: 131 km, Odometer: 4935 km.
Goderich - Sarnia, ON
I underestimated the distance into the city today which had me in later than I expected, but it was alright since the ride was enjoyable and scenic with more wind mills and farm lands. More head-winds again today and I'll be glad to switch directions after Sarnia to finally get some tailwinds again. I am now visiting with my family in Sarnia and it's great to hang out with my uncle, aunt and cousins who are treating me like a king! I've never ate so well in my life and their hospitality is encouraging me to move in forever. It's been a long time since I've been here last so being here makes up well for the few hundred kilometer detour!
July 6th, 2007. Distance: 82 km. Odometer: 4804 km.
Port Elgin - Goderich, ON
Leaving the campground this afternoon wasn't easy. Sonja, the owner, kept telling me that I should stay a few more days, at least, Nick and Daniel (father and son) were doing yard work around their site, which I helped out with at first and would have loved to continue all day, and Martin (a guy my age) wanted me to stick around for a few morning beers. I did have a shot of brandy, though, early which the Croatians called an 'eyeopener'. It was difficult to leave and their generosity was difficult to take. When I was packing up, questions of 'Are you leaving?' sounded almost like I was insulting them, or that I was being hurtful. Lucy donated to the hospital and Dave gave me money "just for the trip" which I hated taking but his insistence pressed me to. What was I supposed to say when they asked "When are you coming back?" other than "I have no idea." I felt, honestly and sincerely, that I was leaving family and it startled me to thing that I had only met them 18 hours before. Of all the wonderful things I learned about CCroatia and if the people there are only a fraction as kind as the people I met yesterday and left today, then Croatia is the newest country to join my "top 5" place I have to visit.
The ride today was peaceful once I tuned into CBC radio. Before then, the crappy shoulders and traffic were getting unbearable. But the scenery is beautiful with corn fields, wind mills and small dainty towns everywhere. And there are campgrounds all over - great for touring. I'm in Point Farms Provincial Park tonight, right on Lake Huron. The park is full with families and kids running around and I love it. It reminded me of all the campgrounds I stayed at that were completely empty and I enjoy them this way much better. I went to the beach and sat on a rock, still emitting heat from the day's sun, reading my book until the sun set over the the lake.
July 5th, 2007. Distance: 122 km, Odometer: 4723 km.
South Baymouth - Port Elgin
Got on the ferry early this morning and met a few nice people also into cycling. It isn't everyday that a guy climbs into the huge boat on only his bike, so I guess people noticed and a few approached me. The highway at first wasn't any good, with a lousy shoulder and pairing that with heavy traffic, I rode along potholes all afternoon which quickly made my bum sore. Luckily, I found a series of side roads that go along Lake Huron which were quiet, peaceful and recently paved - a cyclist's dream. Another cyclist's dream occurred when I rolled into the New Fairview Campgrounds, outside Port Elgin...
The owner, Sonja and I chatted while we were working out my accommodations for the evening and when she learned what I was doing and how I was fundraising she was sincerely impressed and refused all payment for the site. Sweet! I thought. A few hours later, after setting up my tent and eating, Sonja visited me with some dessert. Turns out she's Croatian and this dessert was something I've never tried before and it was tasty. She and I chatted about her life and how she was met with fantastic hospitality when she first arrived to Canada with a new-born in her arms. She told me how she couldn't believe that there were such nice people in the world and she told herself that she's want to do the same to other people and that I was her chance. I was flattered. She then toured me around the grounds while introducing me to all of her friends and family who were staying there. Her family was just as impressed with my endeavour as Sonja was and they invited me to stay with them for the evening, which was filled with Croatian food, Croatian music and stories around the campfire. They never let my bottle of beer be empty for more than a few moments and we stayed up into the night talking about their home country. To these people, it was just another night around the campfire with their family - aunts, uncles, cousins. But for me, because it was completely unexpected and completely from the generosity of the owner I was overwhelmed with the great time we were having.