Day 1 - July 1st Canada Day
Distance travelled for the day - 731 km
Total distance for trip - 731 km
To celebrate Canada's 150 birthday I am riding my motorcycle across our beautiful country. This has been a dream of mine since I was a child, time to cross it off my bucket list.
I've been planning this trip for more than a year, imagining my route from city to city. Here is a map of the plan. First stop is Sault St. Marie.
I left Toronto at 11 am after a morning of packing and organizing. I had planned to leave earlier but it was raining. So I decided to wait. When the first rays of sunshine peeked through the clouds I was on the road. Traffic was light in the city and I was full of optimism about what lay ahead.
Then I got on the 400 hwy and hit traffic full stop. Bumper to bumper for two hours, inching my way up the highway. Apparently no one wanted to stay home on Canada Day. Stop and go traffic is irritating in a car but it is brutal X10 on a motorcycle. Shifting gears up and down, balancing at a crawl, all the while baking in the sun. I got off at the service station in Barrie. This is a photo of the traffic.
The service station was bursting at the seams with people, everywhere. The restroom line was snaking around the seating area. Every fast food counter had a long line and yet people remained in good spirits. A woman even tried to engage everyone in an impromptu sing-a-long to Oh Canada. A handful of people joined in and they saw it through to the end with lacklustre applause from the rest of the folks. I admired their patriotism and tenacity.
I took my burger to go and ate it standing beside my motorcycle in the parking lot trying to escape the chaos. The traffic finally subsided when I turned up the 400 to Gravenhurst. It was smooth riding right up to Sudbury.
I stopped in Sudbury for a coffee and a bite to eat. I also decided to find the famous nickel. Google maps has made travel amazingly easy. The Nickel was 7 mins away and closed in 15 minutes.
There were a lot of tourists there even though the attraction was scheduled to close soon. There was even a tourist bus. Standing in front of the Nickel attempting a selfie were 3 young international students from India. I offered to take their picture and after one of them wished me Happy Canada Day. These students are part of our future, they were studying engineering and one of them will likely be a startup founder one day.
Looking north from the Nickel were some ominous dark clouds. I was traveling north and worried I would be caught in a torrential downpour. Thankfully the rain held off as I raced down the highway and managed to outrun the clouds. The air was fresh and crisp with the scent of pine. It was glorious.
With the sun setting I started to get cold. I rode my bike with determination to get to Sault Ste. Marie. The heavy traffic had put me behind but I had a hotel reservation and a plan. I kept telling myself that I'd be there soon and my biggest worry was running into a moose. This is a true danger in Northern Ontario. There are signs posted everywhere warning travellers to beware of moose at night. Or even in the day.
When I stopped for gas I chatted with a fella who had just come from Fort McMurray. "Don't drive at night. There are too many wild animals. Watch out for moose," he said. "Running into one of the them is like running into a brick wall. I drive a truck and I'm afraid." Good thing it stays light out well past 10 pm in July. That said I was on high alert.
By the time I got to my hotel at 10 pm I was shivering and had lost the feeling in my finger tips and toes. The light sprinkling of rain along the way added to the chill. Lucky for me the hotel had an outdoor jacuzzi. I am not typically one to go for public pools and such but this time I made an exception. I needed to warm up fast and what a better way than under the stars.
First day. Mission accomplished.