June 11
Tobermory to Gore Bay, Ontario

I had to be up early, so I set my alarm clock for the first time in months,but I didn't really trust it, so I seemed to awaken about once per hourfrom the time I went to sleep until the 6:00 AM alarm time. I was up andin the bathroom when the alarm went off. I t worked.

I packed everything back on the bicycle and headed over to the ferry.I was so early that I ate breakfast and then decided to ride into the RoyalBank branch a few blocks inland to use the automatic teller machine to getsome cash. The ATM box was slightly different from the ones I was used to.As I pushed my bank debit card into the slot, something felt wrong. I hadnot bothered to wear my glasses and as a result had managed to push my cardinto a crack between the card slot mechanism and the ATM case. My card wasin the ATM case, but not in the machine, so there was nothing I could doshort of prying open the case to retrieve it. Of course the bank was closed--itwas 7:00 in the morning. I wrote a note to the bank on a deposit envelopeand managed to slide it through the door to the bank. I asked the bank tomail the card to me at home. The office adjacent to the bank branch housesthe Ontario Provincial Police, so I went there and reported my problem.The lady there gave me the telephone number of the Royal Bank and advisedme that this branch would not be open until Friday, June 12. There was nopoint in delaying my departure and waiting for the 1:30 ferry; there wouldnot be anybody at this bank branch today.

I proceeded to the ferry.

This is a very nice ferry. The bow and stern of the boat open up likea large fish to swallow up and spit out the vehicles. I was told to proceedin the line of cars into the car deck and on through to the stern, thento secure my bicycle to the wall. I found some rope and tied the bicyclesecurely to pipes, so that it would not move even if the seas were rough.I grabbed my cameras and computer and headed to the deck for some departingTobermory photos:

I spent the entire passage editing photos and the next thing I knew Iwas at Manitoulin Island. My bicycle was unharmed by the peaceful crossingand I was the first person off the boat.

I proceeded immediately to a telephone booth, where I called home andto the Royal Bank headquarters. The woman with whom I talked advised thatthey would indeed mail my card to me at home. I inquired at the ferry terminalabout potential destinations and routes, then took off.

The route I chose put me along the southernmost trajectory initiallyand off the main roads.

There were no shoulders but the traffic was light.

In a 22 mile stretch between Tehkummah and Providence Bay, I was passedby only 5 vehicles. That is LIGHT traffic. The terrain was hilly and dottedwith wetlands.

As I was riding along, I am amazed that I was able to see an anomalousspeck on the phone wire.

It was a stationary hummingbird, actually perched on the phone wire.Hummingbirds seem seldom to stop and rest. The fences here are unusual.They seem to be left over from Abe Lincoln's split rail era.

Actually, this area was served by the Hudson's Bay company not that longago.

The roads were not bad, but at some points there was construction anda rider with skinny tires would have had a bit of a problem.

I think that if it wasn't such a gray day, Providence Bay would havebeen quite pretty.

I stopped in Providence Bay for lunch. The restaurant was clearly thelocal hangout--everybody knew everybody but me. One of my writing professorsonce suggested that eavesdropping was a useful tactic for authors to employin getting ideas for fiction. As I sat eating my sandwich, I was treatedto one of the better eavesdropping feasts ever imagined. First, there wasa fellow (about 22-25 years old) just back on leave from his job as a laborerfor the railroad. When people would ask what he was doing back, he wouldexplain that he worked 10 days on then 4 days off. He noted that his crewwould be ferried to and from the work sites on a work train, a 15 hour ride.He explained that he was working 18 hour days and getting paid handsomely,but that with his work schedule, he had no opportunity to spend any of hisearnings, so he was just paying off the debt on his truck. He went on totell his friends from Providence Bay just how rushed his work was; thatthey would have to complete their track work between trains or hod up thetrains, a practice very much frowned upon. It was an interesting opportunityover the course of an hour to hear all about working on the railroad.

Then that group departed and another came in--sitting at different tablesbut carrying on a conversation. The news of the day was the arrest of somelocal man for abusing his children. They all knew him and one commentedhow one of the children always seemed different--afraid of something--"andnow we know what." He suggested that "somebody get a shotgun andput it to the son of a bitch's head. Abusing your kids is not excusable."They then went on to discuss the legal system. If I were a fiction writer,I'd have all sorts of idiom and food for thought. But, I am a bicyclist,so off I went.

About half a mile out of Providence I saw a blob in my mirror and couldn'tinitially place what it was. As it drew nearer, I realized that I was seeinganother loaded bicyclist.

David, a construction contractor from Toronto, had a couple of days freeand decided to park his truck on Manitoulin, then ride his bicycle for acouple of days. He was heading for Gore Bay. The fellow at the ferry terminalhad suggested that Gore Bay would be a good place for me to go for the night,but I was aiming for Evansville, further to the west. We rode with a greattailwind and talked. I was pleased to have another cyclist to talk to. Wetalked so much that we rode right past my Poplar Road turnoff and I washeading for Gore Bay too. David was not as experienced at long distancecycling as me, but he came close to keeping up with me.

Like me, David was equipped with tent and sleeping bag, but we zoomedinto Gore Bay and asked for accommodations recommendations. Phyllis Cook'sThorburn House Bed & Breakfastcame highly recommended by both of the sources we consulted. It was on theexpensive side, but well worth it. The accommodations were first-class.

It was indeed a very nice B&B. Phyllis is obviously a woman withgood taste and her home is beautifully appointed. My experience with B&Bsis very limited, so I was a bit nervous about my place in such an imposinghome. I did not feel comfortable straying into the common areas until Iinquired of Phyllis about her expectations.

After showering, David and I walked to a restaurant, where we joinedthe B&B's other guest, Bill, a management consultant from Montreal,for a very nice dinner. We were all the adventurous sort and we talked aboutsome of our exploits. In their youth, David (around 30) and Bill (closerto my age) were convinced (probably by the Beach Boys) that they were destinedto be surfers. Bill drove his MG to Big Sur and David went to Australia.They both did some surfing and got it out of their system. They both enjoythe outdoors as much as me. Bill has a boat on Lake Champlain and Davidhas rented a 40' sailboat for a vacation there later this summer.

50 miles

  
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