So I awoke to Pauly reminding me what a lazy shithead I can be in the mornings, as I had had several attempts at trying to gain a bit more sleep. I looked out the window, and saw that although there was still snow on the ground, it was sunny, and plenty nice enough to thumb a ride. Paul was leaving with our planting crew boss the next day, so we spent the morning packing our bags, making lists and getting in the 'mindset'. Treeplanting requires this, and as this trip continues, you will see why...
His Mom made yet again another amazing breakfast, and I wolfed it down as always. It was just past noon, and it was time to get on the road. I had lined up a couchsurf in the Soo,(Sault Ste Marie) and even though it was only 3hrs away, wanted to ensure I had enough daylight to make it there.
We packed B1 and B2.2 into the van, and headed west, to where I would hitch out. Hugs and kisses for Pauls Mom, as she is like a second Madre to me. She always made sure I was full and everything was good for me. I wrapped my arms around big Paul and promised him wild stories when we would reunite out in BC. He laughed, because he knew it was true, right Paul?
The weather was alright, somewhat windy, but pretty drab and grey. I waved goodbye to what was again my last sight of familiarity. I walked under the overpass and found me a great spot to hitch, where all the westbound traffic funneled, and there was a wide shoulder for cars to pull over. I propped up the bags, and pulled out my sign. I stuck my thumb out, knowing it was my ticket to another trek of shenanigans. I was just about to pull out my camera, and snap a photo of the beginning of my trip, when a car pulled to the side. It was about 1.5 minutes of waiting. A red pickup backed towards my spot, and when I approached the window, a man Id put at just over 40 smiled and said he could take me about 30 mins down the road, to another busy junction that would be good to hitch from. I took it.
Dave was a contractor, just finishing work, on his way to help his buddy fix his dirt bike. He was pretty cool, told me he used to hitch in his day, and we exchanged some stories. Most of his were involving a stumble drunk walk home after a party, hitching from small town to small town. He was born and raised in the area, and told me some neat info about the region. Like how the native reserve nearby served as the bootleg of all things illegal for everyone and their mother. He dropped me off at the junction, outside of Lively Ont. The weather was worsening, and the rain clouds were moving in. I thanked him with a handshake, and wished him well. My bags are much heavier on this trip, as I need more equipment and clothing, so it was a pain to walk from the junction to a spot where cars could pull over. Walking with these bags I quickly learned will not be fun. Its like brushing your teeth with sandpaper.
I again, plopped the bags down, and assumed the hitching position. Friendly smile? Check. Hair out of face? Check. Sign and thumb out? Check. I waited about five minutes before remembering to take a photo. Just as I was doing so, a man driving by was pointing behind me. This often happens, as people do this to let me know they would pick me up, but they're only going a block or two up the road or something.. When I turned around, there was a car backing towards me. The small silver Kia had Nova Scotia plates, which excited me, as I knew they were almost certainly crossing the country. When he rolled down the window, the jolly fellow told me he was going to Thunder Bay. I told him I would go as far as the Sault with him, and he said hop in. Trevor was a Mi'kmaq Native from Cape Breton on his way to Edmonton to work on the oil rigs. He was a nice man, far from the Natives I was used to seeing in Ottawa. We spoke of this, and the decay of Native American culture, and he had some startling arguments. He lived on a tiny reserve with his wife and two children, and left every summer to go and make his earnings to provide. I respected him immensely for this. He had no choice but to leave home to make the money he required, as there was little to no work where he was from. He sacrificed seeing his family for 5 months, to work is bollocks off 10hrs a day, and he told me he sends it all home, leaving enough to buy himself cigarettes and very cheap food. He told me horror stories that I had already envisioned about the boys and men on reserves, and how they resort to crime and drugs. He said he enjoyed a cold beer as much as the next guy, but knew that family was more important. He was a proud man, proud of who he was, his family, and his life. It was infectious. I told him how I was leaving someone very important to me, and we talked about this for a while. He had just left Ottawa that morning, and was hoping to get to 'Tunderr Bay' by nightfall. He had a very thick Native accent, although I'm not sure if they qualify as an accent. Deep voice, slow speaking and enunciated, he spoke like an old Chief in a western movie. To be honest, it was sometimes hard, as although he spoke well, it was slow. I'm like the hyper active puppy, yapping away at a mile a minute, and he said he had a tough time with my 'accent'. We had a good laugh at this too. I suggested he go through the US at Sault Ste Marie, and pop up in Winnipeg, as it shaves about 10hrs off the looong haul through Ontario. If you have ever driven from southern Ontario to Thunder Bay or further, you'll know what I'm talking about. The 18hr drive of nothing but rocks and trees, trees and rocks gets a little monotonous to say the least.
He liked my idea, and took my suggestion since he had a passport. I didn't know how they would treat his chainsaw in the backseat at customs, but told him he should be fine, since he was only cutting through without plans to live or work Stateside. He dropped me off near the border, and I was actually pretty tempted to go across with him. I wasn't sure how they were there, but I'd heard they're stricter than a Nun in a Catholic high school, so decided not to risk hours of interrogation, as I would be hitching across.
I walked to the information centre, which of course was closed. I would soon learn the entire city shuts down conveniently at dinner time. I then walked to a nearby hotel to suck their Internet powers. I contacted Kyla, my host for the night, and told her where I was. As lady luck would have, she lived just around the corner and walked over to meet me. She was a super cool girl, who later told me she was 38 when I would have but her at 24. She helped me carry my body bag to her house, and we talked about surfers, and traveling. She was a long time snowboard rep for some of the biggest names in the industry, but left it all to pursue her love of art. She owns a really cool house downtown that reminded me of a hostel, the way it was decorated. I immediately felt at home with her, she was easy to talk to and could relate about traveling as she had done quite a bit herself. She let me take my pic of bedrooms, and I of course chose the one with the bigger bed, as I'm a sprawler.
We hung out on her big comfy couch, and talked about anything and everything. She had an 18yr old son, and we talked stories of 'boys being boys', among other things. Her cat Rita, named after Bob Marley's wife, was the first cat I have ever actually liked. I HATE cats. They're weird and useless in my opinion, but her cat was so entertaining. It was a grey kitten who was wilder than a German moustache competition. When dinner time came, she whipped up this awesome veggie pasta dish, and I inhaled it, as I hadn't eaten since early breaky. I went up to check my emails and such, and was trying really hard not to fall asleep. I went back down, and we kept our great convos going, and threw on some music, while I looked through some of her books. She told me how she was raised by parents who were uber hippie(a family photo of her father proved right; he looked like Willie Nelson mixed with post-India Lennon) She was such a cool person to hang out with, she had great stories, and a wealth of knowledge. It was getting late for the both of us, so she called it a night, while I went up to check my emails, and of course the daily football news. I fell asleep rather quickly, and loved the big warm bed, despite its creaky complaining.