Yesterday was a rough day. When paddling, it usually takes 10-12 hours of pouring rain to soak you thoroughly, but with the bike and trailer portaging set-up, full saturation happens in a matter of minutes. The first bike was named Taj, the boat Casco, and the second bike Taj II. But all together? I just call it the 'Contraption'.
Biking south from Ogdensburg, New York, I passed quite a few Amish folks in buggies, and for the most part they waved and smiled- making them the most pleasant road companions I've had yet. But at one point, soaked to the skin and pushing uphill in a place otherwise known as the pit of despair, one of the buggy drivers actually pointed at me and laughed.
Since Mattawa (where I was constantly singing 'Mattawa' set to 'Panama' by van Halen) I beat down the Ottawa River for four days to Pembroke, collected my bike and proceeded across Ontario making a series of guest apperences on the Madawaska River and the Mississippi River, though I only really made any distance on the Rideau Canal. The Rideau runs fron Ottawa to Kingston and Lake Erie and was built basically to avoid the United States when it was still feared that we were going to make Upper Canada the 14th state- believe me, we tried.
I biked on to Prescott and the border crossing, where oddly enough I was not allowed to bike or walk across the border, but had to paddle and then get yelled at for 'dodging the border patrol'. If by walking into the border check point with my passport is 'dodging' then I'm guilty.
Another great aspect of this week has been the wonderful hospitality I've encountered- more so than the previous five months combined. There was the girl at the burger stand who's sympathy with soaked paddler had her sending her mother into the park to check on me, and eventually bringing me dinner. The campground owners who brought tea and muffins to a sore and bedraggled boy, along with good conversation on everything from African politics (they were of Rhodesian extraction) to travel, family and the like. And finally Jim and Donna in New York, who opened their home to me when all other doors seemed to be closing. As the trip comes to a close, life is good and the spirit of hospitality is alive and well in this part of the world.
I am in Tupper Lake, New York now, and tomorrow morning I'll meet my brother and we'll do a short paddle together before he heads back to Manhattan and drops me off in Albany. In 2007, I paddled from the Adirondacks to Maine, and I'll be counting a section of that trip to bridge the distance. In two days, I'll start again in New Hampshire on the Androscoggin River and paddled 3-4 days down to the sea at Portland Maine. So close.
Back in Ontario, I had the pleasure of walking past the Time Travelers Motel in Petawawa. I couldn't help but laugh- I wondered if they get much business there if the motel is only for time travelers. I can't imagine many people who regularly travel through time see eastern Ontario in 2010 as much of a destination. Just sayin'.