The Rurus - Adventure Before Dementia

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Month: July 2016 (page 1 of 3)

28/7/16 “Buen Camino”: Oakville to Oshawa – 111 kms

DSC03356-1280x853Please don’t go was Albie’s facial expression as we mounted the rig to get back on the road. He’s just a dog but all the same, making eye contact watered up the eyeballs!

DSC03365-1280x853We exited Oakville by way of a road that had some of the most expensive real estate money could afford. We were wonderstruck. The mirror pond lake water was just picture perfect too. We had to wobble the rig on purpose to remind us that we were not dreaming what the eyes were seeing. By then, they had dried out after Albie and what we saw was real. And surreal.

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DSC03376-1280x853So it was head down, bum up and legs pedaling around the lakeside trail. Our goal today was to get to downtown Toronto; bike through downtown Toronto; and leave out the other side of downtown Toronto. No rush yet cycling in built up suburbia seemed to have us cover the distance quite easily.

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Thank you half baked chocolate chip cookie with a dollop of ice cream last night, it must be the reason!

The city itself had a heart that was beating life no matter which way the head was pointed. It is worthy of a visit longer than we gave it justice. The CNTower at 553 metres in stature was quite remarkable but the round building reflection on the windows of a square building took the pic of the day.

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DSC03397-1280x853Stopping for bite to eat at Eggsmart to meet Sonya from Iran was so entertaining, the belly laughing made our sunny-side up eggs scramble. Another look of disbelief from Sonya and a panic concern for our safety for which on assuring her that the traffic was fine; we established that her concern was that we would get murdered from freedom camping. She admitted that she has an addiction and watched so many murder movies, she was genuinely concerned for us. By now, we were laughing at her versus with her!

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More of the lake trail took us by the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant. All the kids coming out of the water on a nearby beach we think were sunburnt however, the bird that flew in front of us was red feathered and that wasn’t sun burn.

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DSC03411-1280x853Then there was the riding over a bridge on the path to pass two on-coming women walkers. Throwing a smile resulted in salutation that ended in more belly laughing and grimaces. One of them Suzie had lived and attended Sacred Heart Girls College in Christchurch way back between 1974-1976. We learnt that she has walked both the Camino de Santiago walk in Spain and ran with the bulls in Pamplona (as we have). Both Suzie and Jane now participate in fundraising activities involving physical exercise, both inspiring people we happen to just bump into on a bridge on a random part of the lake side trail. “Buen Camino” was exchanged.

What could possible happen before finishing todays riding.

It happened on a busy congested road two kilometres from the end. A car slowed down and making eye contact, the driver said, “Hello again, I met you in Owen Sound.” A quick flurry of words whilst holding up the traffic behind before he turned off. Of all the places to just bump into someone we met five days ago in a city that has over 5 million people.

There went those eye balls welling up again!

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27/7/16 Impossible to Forget: Oakville Rest Day 3

DSC03314-1280x853Taking another day of rest to complete chores and prepare for our departure, there was time to soak up some rays on a lilo in the back yard pool; return to The Crepe Kitchen for a crepe as we promised the Peruvians; and even a nap as the bodies have relaxed so much from our day job of cycling. Soreness is still carried at the top of the calves and we put this down to all the walking we have done over the past three days.

However, we endured and didn’t let that stop us from venturing down to the local for a farewell dinner and pint.

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Two new experiences resulted, meeting Kari’s Mum (Lynn) and Dad (Doug); and eating a half baked chocolate chip cookie with a dollop of ice cream for desert. It came out in a hot skillet (not the parents but the desert) and unfortunately, they are too big to carry on the rig (again the desert) so the only option was to eat the whole thing in one sitting. We ended up with having that bloated feeling after having eaten too much and no one was prepared to roll us back up the road. We had to walk on our strained pained lower legs, ouch!

A slight detour to visit the Oakville Cenotaph beforehand and then it was quiet time to reflect on the couple of days visit to the Cuss-Doyle house hold over a cup of tea.

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Like other visits to friends before, we have been made to feel so welcomed with hospitality way beyond our expectation. There is optomism that we will be able to return the appreciation spirit as friends down under.

Finding a little something as a ‘koha’ to Kari, Declan, Marlowe, Jude, Sam and Albie, the word’s say it all:

Truely great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget.

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And Sam, “see you later alligator, in a short while crocodile” … hopefully.

26/7/16 Same Planet, Different Worlds: Oakville Rest Day

DSC03279-1280x853Into the ‘Top Men Barbers’ we entered, it was hair cut time. His name was Anas and originally from Syria having now resided in Canada for just on four years. One can only imagine how one must feel about another persons home land in turmoil if one has never visited it – same planet, different worlds.

Our conversation became more relaxed and interactive over the brrrrrrr of the shaver, the clip of the scissors and the squirt of the masculine scent signalling the renewed appearance was complete. After Anas discovered we had cycled from Vancouver and continuing onto St Johns, a smile about how biking the five kilometres to work has him exhausted was shared.

Anas mentioned he can do it in fifteen minutes and asked if it was quick. “Of course it is” I replied. I followed it up with, “but what is the rush and you should take a different route each day”. Why? “Because life is at it’s best when you slow down and look up to observe cloud formations passing; or hear birds in song; or see squirrles play; or taste bugs when they inadvertently fly into your mouth”. Anas shared how he spoke to his father about his new wheels (bike) however, the best bike he has ever had was the first one his Dad gave him. He used to ride it everywhere all day long. If you could only see his reflective look in the mirror that I was seeing, his grin was from ear to ear.

Even more so when we discovered how we had both lived in Dubai at the same time. But even more so when we discovered that someone I had worked with during my time in Dubai was from his village in Syria (Ramzi) and that Ramzi was a good friend of his and his brother! Our paradigms had shifted to one of same planet, same world.

Anas worked his magic on Claire’s mop as well which lengthened his smile time. As we went to settle the bill, Anas invited us back to his house for dinner so as to meet his wife and two small children. Unfortunately, we had to decline due to already made plans but became FB friends for a rain check this time. As we shook hands to bid farewell, it was agreed that in most parts it’s not about the destination when one travels but more so about the journey. More so the people you meet and conversations had.

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Our bike was also at the doctors getting a check up and service. We had to show calm at letting our rig out of site for a night. It was the same emotion as having your child stayover at a friends for the first time. We were waiting for the call to go pick up and hence our Oakville down town walkabout.

DSC03304-1280x853Needing a cuppa, we found this lovely spot called ‘The Crepe Kitchen’ where we met the owners sporting aprons, Ana and Eduardo from Peru. It didn’t matter that we didn’t order anything to eat as our beverages were made and delivered, by then we had sparked up another conversation about their migration to Canada some years back. Of course made easy when they had momentarily stunned looks learning about our journey. I tell ya, it stops people in their tracks.

When Ana had first arrived into Canada, her first job was as a kitchen hand and answering the phone. Speaking limited English with her first boss regularly standing over her when taking a call, she said she spent many a time in the toilet petrified of all incoming calls. It was the one place she was safe from gazing boss eyes! The journey from then to now was certainly a same planet, different world one. Their working as a husband and wife team exuded confidence and belief extending customer satisfaction through the ability to converse with us as customers.

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They made fantastic travel agents too wetting our appetites to want to point our noses toward the bottom of the Continent we are on.

Most certainly biking from here to there would have us exposed to the same planet, different world experiences.

Can you imagine the conversations one would collect a long that journey?

When ever you travel from A to B the next time, no matter where on the planet – throw away the map and take it slower. The world is your oyster if you stop to converse with fellow beings. That is where a journey can be at it’s heart beat best.

Cheers Anas, Ana and Eduardo.

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25/7/16 The Excitement Button Was Still Pushed To Play: Niagara Falls

Kari had already departed for work having left multiple messages about making their home our home. It was shortly after the morning salutation with Declan that he advised us that he was taking the day off and asked how would we feel about driving down to visit the Niagara Falls.

The excitement button was still pushed to play.

To view a steel mill in real time shouldering the shore was astounding.

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DSC03160-1280x853As was the Welland Canal. It’s a ship canal connecting Lake Ontario with Lake Erie enabling ships to ascend and descend the Niagara Escarpment and bypass the Niagara Falls. Approximately 40,000,000 tonnes off cargo are carried through the canal annually by a traffic of 3,000 ocean and Great Lakes vessels. This would be the same route taken for the Ship Liner we saw docked at Little Current a week or so back.

DSC03159-1280x853Storm clouds gave us another display of lightening bolts and thunder claps with the sequential down pour as we approached Niagara.

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They straddle the international border between Canada and the United States. The combined falls (Horseshoe Falls; American Falls; and Bridal Veil Falls) form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, with a vertical drop of over 50 metres.

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Renowned for it’s valuable source of hydroelectric power, it is also renowned for it’s beauty with the moisture rising up from the water spray below being 100 times more surreal than the moisture that drizzled from above.

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Just as well.

When you see, hear, smell, taste and feel mother nature’s beauty as was being experienced, the eye moisture was that of an emotional one – a tear of heartfelt happiness for the opportunity extended.

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They were certainly beautiful.

24/7/16 Today: Primrose to Oakville -96.9 kms

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Today, we arrived into Toronto.

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Today, we have cycled the equivalent of two times the length of New Zealand we have previously ridden (4810 kms).

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Today, we met up with a couple we first met 9 years ago whilst holidaying in Fiji, Declan and Kari and children Marlowe, Jude, Sam.
One hell of an exciting day, today.

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23/7/16 Would You Like to Rent the Room for One Hour or Three Hours: Owen Sound to Primrose – 92.3 kms

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DSC03044-1280x853The on-coming traffic was hideously bumper to bumper because of it being another scorcher in both high temperatures and humidity. Folk were escaping to the beaches on the peninsula as we pressed forward toward the Toronto exodus. Were we the hideous ones?

DSC03057-1280x853A tonne of red bricks and mortar moulded into all types of two storey farm houses amplified the countryside haze and the townships ridden through provided some shade to allow the salt to dry and solidify on the skin. We passed a number of small cemeteries where headstones were all bunched up – where did they lay the deceased bodies to rest?

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Reaching Shelburne by mid-afternoon, we hadn’t booked ahead for accommodation and there was still 24 kms to go under the heat till our planned nights stop in Orangeville. The route into Oakville (Toronto) tomorrow wasn’t decided as far as which highway to cycle so we decided to get some peace of mind and make a couple of calls to secure a night spot to rest at before we again hump it forward to end the days ride.

Motel one 4 kms up the road – no vacancy. Motel two, three or four contacted in Orangeville the same, no vacancy. Oh dear, we thought it would have been an easy find and therefore another one was tried. We were asked, “Would you like to rent the room for one hour or three hours?” When we mentioned the whole night, we were politely informed that it wouldn’t be available till 6pm! Later we saw reviews that it was a crack house and brothel!

Reminded us of our nights stay at Mamara Englesi in Turkey whereby it was a brothel, but that is another story.

The key was to not to panic and stopping at a supermarket for some supplies in case we found something out of town; a friendly employee pointed us to a camp ground (Primrose Park) 4 kms out of Shelburne toward Orangeville.

DSC03086-1280x853The owners Will and Rose Travis made us so welcome having previously ventured down under to New Zealand. It ended up being the best camping experience to date leading up to the head torch light being extinguished for sleep.

Made easy because it was our third time having pitched the tent!

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22/7/16 Willie Emerging: Tobermory to Owen Sound-109.7 kms

DSC02982-1280x853By the end of today’s kilometerage, we had consumed two Poweraid’s during the riding and one immediately after the ride. It had nothing to do with the feast of fish and chips yesterday neither!

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The mercury in the thermometer rose to above 30 degrees celcius with high humidity. If this continues, we both will look like biafrans in no time at all through the last of the fat cells dispersed through bodily fluid loss.

We have considered starting under the cover of darkness in the early hours of the morning before the cockadoodledoo. However, the increase in traffic volume today in both directions due to us nearing city suburbia, made the road riding safety awareness also rise in the ‘stay upright’ barometer. That and balancing as the road verge has narrowed to a sparrows fart width.

Ironically, the conversation how one would spend the life insurance payout was also resurrected today. From memory, way back on day two neither of us would spend it on cycling across Canada, that was for sure. It’s funny how things change. All the Harley Davidsons that give us goose bumps as they rumble past these days has had us kind of fall in love with them. Perhaps spending a small amount of the life insurance on one to then rip across the land of the maple leaf has gained some traction! Perhaps something we should do together when we complete this journey. Perhaps.

Then there was the conversation about turning around when we finish and cycle all the way back! At least one of us was focusing on safety while the other was delarious through de-hydration!

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DSC02993-1280x853Do you remember us meeting Dave who was cycling in the opposite direction and was the extreme minimalist? Dave is also an artist and today we had the pleasure of seeing a piece of his sculptor work ‘Willie Emerging’ over looking Colpoy’s Bay. It was very inspiring and the location in Wairton was just superb. We took shelter under the shade to rest, consume and gaze at the Willie emerging. Cheers Dave.

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DSC03020-1280x853A power nap just happened after we settled into our abode to absorb the air con temperature. The roar of the Harley rumbles pulling up roused the consciouness and again, the goose bumps. A bunch of riders had arrived to share our parking space except our chariot was parked up inside our room. It likes the air con as well strangely enough!

English accents were swapped and questions exchanged about the differing life on the road as bikers.

Hmmmmmmm, just perhaps!

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21/7/16 Manitowaning to Tobermory – 33.2 kms (56.3 kms by ferry)

“We could make the 9.10 am ferry if we pushed it” was the statement. It was just on 7.30 am and we only had 31 kms to cycle.

The original plan was to catch the 1.30 pm ferry. Something kicked in and we were off powering it. Until the first incline where we started to question why were we rushing? What was the matter with the old plan? Jeepers, the barns look mighty fine today for a picture so we should be stopping to snap them.

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DSC02920-1280x853Up hill started to instill self doubt that we didn’t have it in us to do it. We were heading south too which meant getting closer to the equator! The first time humidity opened up the sweat pores and beads trickled down sides of faces and back spines. Keep pedaling. We can do it.

The closer we got to South Baymouth, on-coming traffic indicated that the ferry had berthed; it was 8.50 am and we had 5 kms still to go. There was no stopping to rest the legs and butts; no banana or muselie bar.

Have I mentioned the head wind was a bastard yet? It too tested our resilience.

DSC02932-1280x853Our friend Ken left after us and usually steams passed us. But not this race. And as we tied a knot on the bike against a pillar in the hold of the ferry, Ken too rode on-board. He was no sooner off his bike and the sound of the gang-way bridge and ferry doors began the departure ritual.

It was 9.10 am and we had made it.

We had made it.

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The ferry ride took just over two hours. It too took on the white caps from the head wind whipping across Lake Huron. We disembarked in Tobermory which was also our end destination today. We now had time on our side after the morning tour de Manitoulin because our accommodation wasn’t going to be ready until mid-afternoon.

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It only took two corners to decide what to do to fill in some time. It was a sign. ‘All you can eat fish and chips for $14.95’. And so we gave it a nudge … seven fillets and two scoops each!!!!! A different kind of resilience. Fail!

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However, this lovely little lake side harbour township attracted heaps of looks and salutations with more gazes of bewilderment at both the tandem rig set up and the journey itinerary.

DSC02956-1024x1536Furthermore, there is no comparison between Tobermory and two sea-side towns on the West Coast of the South Island – Hokitika and Haast. This chap approached us with his dog to converse. Fabio Corvaglia was a Primary School Teacher and had lived in both places between 1992 and 1994.

It was an enjoyable exchange of words: he remembers that everyone was called by their nick-names – Shorty the Cray Fisherman and Dif the Mechanic. His postal address was Fabio, Haast, New Zealand and he always received his mail. In Canada, you ask for a pitcher of beer – when he asked for that at a Hokitika pub, the barman drew a picture of a beer!

I asked what he missed about New Zealand. The people which was quickly followed up by ‘meat pies’.

We sympathized with Fabio. About the meat pies. And the people naturally.

But let us say the feed of fish and chips evaporated any aspect of meat pie cravings whatsoever.

We made the 9.10 am ferry.

The push was well worth it.

20/7/16 The 1913 Erection That Swings: Espanola to Manitowaning – 83 kms

It’s not what you think!

DSC02879-1280x853The Little Current Swing Bridge is a swing bridge that connects Highway 6 traffic between Goat Island and Manitoulin Island. The abutment and piers were built in 1912 and the bridge structure erected in 1913. On the hour between dawn and dusk for 15 minutes, it swings open to allow water craft to pass through. A ship Liner sitting at a dock at Little Current had us somewhat dumbfounded. Where had that sailed from?

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It was very cool to watch this piece of heritage do it’s swing thing.

Yesterday, we hung a right onto Highway 6 to head south toward Toronto.

DSC02904-1280x853A ‘You Are Here’photo overlooking Georgian Bay (Lake Huron) had us meet a couple touring in their camper van with an invitation to visit them for a bed stopover when we pass through Quebec Province. We look forward to a ‘We Are There’ picture in due course.

It was a full smorgesboard of riding conditions and terrain today with some wicked ups taking the omph out of the legs sooner and therefore, ending our distance earlier than anticipated at Manitowaning. Not to complain, the ice cream nourishment was welcomed pending the arrival of our cyclist friend Ken. He too purchased a cone and one couldn’t have him sit there eating alone. So what if two ice creams were consumed in succession!

Berthed at the Manitowaning marina was another large passenger steam ship, the SS Norisle. It was the first one constructed in Canada after WWII and is now a floating museum. If we hadn’t of taken a right instead of a left, we would never have discovered this piece of heritage at all.

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There is never a day that passes where one isn’t awed with moments of impromptu warm fuzzy emotions. The invite to stay. The swing bridge. The ship liner. The passenger steam ship. The two scoops of mint and chocolate ice cream!

That last one was more of a cold fuzzy twice over.

Yep, it is what you think … oink!

19/7/16 The Eyes Themselves Sent A Message: Serpent River to Espanola – 77.8 kms

There will always be similar landmarks in most towns we cycle through.

A Post Office; a cemetery; a church; a gas station; and the like. In most towns.

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However, the one landmark that we have always found or sighted in practically every town or community is the Cenataph.

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Monuments dedicated to those fellow beings who went to war and lost their lives to protect our freedom.

Whether it be cycling across Canada. Or jumping in a puddle. Or reading children a bed time story. Or eating a Big Mac at McDonalds.

We stop at Cenataph’s at every opportunity to read the commemorative narrative; filter down the names of fallen inscriptions; or stand in silence to just let the mind wander. Perhaps to be grateful. Perhaps to ponder if two surnames are related. Perhaps to reflect on our walk from Istanbul to Gallipoli to participate in the ANZAC day services back in 2011. Perhaps to pay respect to the freedom we sometimes may take for granted. Perhaps all of the above.

The Cenataph’s we have seen have been many in a number of towns in different countries. All monuments have had their prominant importance.

Today’s one in a town called Massey was different. The Cenataph had photographs of the men and women who gave their lives.

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Today’s one though was the first time a monument was looking back at us.

This blog post is not intended to be a sombre one. Instead, we were happy to have taken the time to stop, look and read.

In fact, you didn’t even need to read a damn word at all.

The eyes themselves sent a message.

Make the most of it. That being your freedom.

Today.

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