DAY 6: Port Burwell to Waterford, Ontario

While Jim, the B&B owner, said he normally made breakfast for his guests at 9:00, just for us, he showed up with a European continental breakfast at 8:00. We were up and ready.

We sat at the dining room table consuming coffee, toast, jam, cheese, and Polish sausage with Jim, his wife Mary Beth and two guests from Hamilton from 8:00 until past 10:00. Mary Beth had relatives in Ferndale and Chelsea, Michigan. We talked at length about the differences between Canada and the USA. As I saw it, Canadians value security (the social good) over liberty (individual freedom) and in the US, that balance is reversed. As Canada matures, however, individual rights seem to be strengthening, while at the same time, the Canadian government does a better job of caring for its people. Nobody, for instance, is left behind by the Canadian health care system. A recent Macleans magazine survey asked subscribers which country had the higher standard of living. I didn't see the results, but have no doubt that Canada is the higher of the two. The life style of Canadians is less stressful, more oriented toward outdoor recreation, and the cost of living is lower.

Like I'm sure most Americans traveling abroad these days, I felt compelled to separate myself as an individual from my government, and especially George W. It is painfully obvious that the US is seen all over the world as an arrogant bully nation run by an intellectual incompetent. The notion that "we" could elect "The Terminator" to be California governor (as reported on that morning's news) didn't help a bit.

I found myself wondering how hard it would be to migrate to Canada.

We could have stayed at the B&B talking for days, but needed to get back on the road.

tobacco country

wind power study


detour around the detour

pleasant riding

numerous orchards

Port Rowan

Port Rowan

"punting" monument

unusual whirligig made of drums


pleasant riding

heading north toward Waterford

crops ready for harvest

I don't think we actually pedaled away until almost 11:00. Bright sunshine and much warmer temperatures prompted us to stop almost immediately to don sunscreen. Then we stopped again at a detour. There road was completely blocked because of erosion damage, but Jim and Mary Beth suggested that we climb around the roadblock and ride on through. While we could see the damage, it didn't look dangerous to cyclists.

The blocked area was only a few hundred yards long. As we hauled our bikes over the berm at the other end, a lone cyclist approached. He was unencumbered with gear and moving along at about double our speed. He said that he had been to Hamilton to see some of the racing and told us it was great.

As Wendell was riding from a stop on the shoulder a few miles later, his front tire caught in a trough at the edge of the pavement and he fell. The heavy BOB trailer he was hauling behind his bike seemed to preclude him from any effort to recover. He fell hard. I'm sure the fall was embarrassing

We faced several very steep hills climbing out of river valleys along our lakeshore route. Without an inclinometer, it was difficult to gauge the steepness, but I think some were 10% or more. Our V-Rexes weren't geared low enough for loaded touring, and I was babying the knee that had been operated on last winter, so we were forced twice to walk our bikes up hills. On one hill, my forward momentum halted so abruptly that I couldn't unclip from my right pedal and I fell hard on the pavement, slamming my helmet against the pavement. It is incredibly embarrassing to fall with a loaded touring bike. I'm supposed to be a pro at this sort of riding. As I fell, I looked back to see a woman driver holding back from passing Wendell. The embarrassment was the worst of the fall.

When I first got the V-Rex earlier this summer, it came with toe clips. Preferring clipless pedals, I took a set off my Cannondale and put them on the V-Rex, then rode to the library to see my wife. As I stopped on the sidewalk outside the library, I couldn't unclip and fell over sideways with both feet locked in place. Rust that had developed from storing the Cannondale in the garage caused the Shimano cleats to bind. They held on so tightly that I had to take my shoes off and pry them off the cleats. Luckily, nobody saw me fall that time.

Getting back on our way, Wendell and I stopped for a couple of slices of frozen pizza and butter tarts at Port Ryerse. We expected to stop at Port Dover for more to eat, but as we neared Port Dover, we realized that we were on Simcoe Road and it became apparent that we needed to turn north toward Simcoe, Waterford and Brantford. We changed course a few times as traffic got too intense. Blue Line Road, for instance, didn't look like a major thoroughfare on the map, but it was. We got off it as fast as we could. Without really intending to, we bypassed Simcoe.

Waterford house

Waterford Library

Waterford Library

At home in Michigan, harvest time had long passed and frost had already set in. There was no second crop. The Niagara Peninsula is in a warmer climate zone, and it was clear that no frost had yet occurred. A second crop was ready for harvest. We saw cauliflower, cabbage and other green leafy vegetables.

Recalling Waterford as a large town of Victorian houses, I certainly expected a B&B. Though we'd only ridden 68 miles, darkness was rapidly approaching when we reached Waterford. Without luck, we asked several people on the street where we might find a place to stay. A couple of folks told us that there was a campground west of town. We rode there. The entrance to the Waterford North Conservation Area was closed and only the exit was open. We saw several people camped there, but we couldn't find anybody in charge. We decided to head back to town, get some takeout food, return to the campground and stay there for the night. Nevertheless, when we got to town, we asked people again about a B&B. One suggested that we see Yin, the Chinese restaurant proprietor, for suggestions. He said there was a B&B and called them for us, but said nobody was home. Buying Chinese take-out – Beef and Broccoli for me, General Tso Chicken for Wendell – we rode back to the campground.

All the campers we could find said there were no electrical hookups in the campground and nobody seemed to know anything about getting a campsite in the private campground. Wendell needed electricity for his CPAP machine. On a reconnaissance ride through the campground, I noticed that there was an LED light on a pop machine in the pavilion area, so surmised that there was power there. On inspection, we found that I was right, that there were a couple of outlets, so Wendell decided to camp on the band stage in the pavilion and I headed off a hundred meters or so toward a point of land jutting out into a lake. Though there weren't any bears around, concern about small animals burrowing their way into my tent for my food prompted me to suspend it from a nearby tree. By the time we got our tents set up and sat down at a picnic table to eat our dinner, it was nearly totally dark. The food was excellent. But, of course, my wife contends I'd say that about road-kill when I was bicycling.

I tried to retire to my sleeping bag around 8:30, but it was too early to go sleep and I was uneasy about our circumstances. We were camped in a closed campground. Some of my bicycle tourist friends "wild camp," but twenty-five years as a lawyer made me particularly sensitive to property rights and I just didn't feel comfortable using somebody's property without prior permission. I felt vulnerable to assault in my tent. Deciding that I'd wait until a later hour before retiring for the night, I headed over to Wendell's tent. We sat on the stage and talked.

Wendell camped on stage

Ed's tent

suspended food

Around 10:00 a pickup truck drove toward us shining its bright lights at us. Three big men came toward us, one of whom was spewing expletives at us. He said that he was the campground owner and that he couldn't believe we had the gall to camp on "his" stage. Wendell explained his medical necessity. I explained that we had ridden our bikes from Michigan, were very tired, had been told that he was a nice guy who would be glad to accommodate us, and that we had no other option. With that, Izzy calmed down and introduced himself, saying the night's stay was on him. He let us remain where we were and offered us coffee in the morning.

68 miles

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