I’ve been in Kingston, Ontario for the past 2 days resting as my body is just not able to keep up with long periods of riding anymore – I’ve been burning myself out, and it is likely a combination of weather, energy, and the fact that my stove has been out of commission for the past couple of days after I noticed it leaking fuel everywhere nearly causing a fire in the outhouse I was cooking in.
It took me an awful long time to get out of Toronto after writing the last post. It’s a huge city, with big snarls of traffic getting in your way, causing you to stop at every light, and lose your bearings on as to where to go to next. It took me about 30km of my journey to finally find a course out of the mess and started following something called the ‘Waterfront Trail’. It’s a 600km stretch of trail that closely follows the shores of Lake Ontario (sometimes throwing you into parks, residential areas, even commercial districts) from Niagra all the way to Quebec. It helped keep the traffic down, and I ran into many cyclists who gave me tips on as to whats coming next as I went through the cities of Ajax and Oshawa before stopping in the Darlington Provincial Park to set up underneath a tree as I heard rumors of a thunderstorm coming that night. It was 25 degrees in my tent at 10pm, as Southern Ontario is undergoing a bit of a late heatwave, and I sweated it out before going to sleep. Dinner was changed due to the stove meltdown so I munched on whatever was left in my pannier, typically Salami, Cheese, and Crackers. I’m still working up to eating the emergency can of herring fillets that has been banging around since June. The storm came with a wallop at midnite, and my whole tent lit up multiple times for the few minutes that I was awake, trying to muster up the energy to turn on the field recording to share the sounds with you – alas I was too comfortable to move.
Come morning, the rain had cleared up, however I put on my rain gear just in case and proceeded to eat the remaining bits of fruit in my bag before setting forward. I caved and ate at a restaurant for breakfast out of pure hunger, and got a chance to charge my laptop up as I drained the battery pretty good the night before tapping away in the dark to other cycle tourists who were also tapping away on their keyboards in their tents! The road I took crossed over the 401 Highway, a busy stretch I wouldn’t dare ever ride on and I zig zagged north and south of it past multiple Nuclear Power Plants, parks and plaques outlining the area I was in. History was starting to show its head in the towns of Newcastle, Port Hope, and Brookside with buildings very old made of brick still standing, and tonnes of monuments. I eventually made it to the town of Carrying Corner – which is on the edge of Prince Edward County where signs advertised that I could ride on the “Loyalist Parkway’, a trail put in place that was used in the 1700s when people defected from the United States. It also housed the oldest road in Ontario. I was planning on setting up at my 100km mark behind a water treatment station, but decided it was nice and sunny and I had some energy left in me – riding another 30km through the county stopping a few times hoping for a good place to sleep, eventually
leaving them all even though the graveyard was appealing as I found power. I found some headstones from the 1700s still standing – amazing! There were some pretty houses and obviously lots of money in this farming area, with a tonne of orchards and little storefronts advertising organic goods in the trees while strange-looking planes I’ve never seen before took off and landed not too far away in Trenton, a Canadian Forces base, which is well-known for it being the first stop in Canada when we have to bring home troops who have fallen in battle. Once I hit the end of the county I had a choice, either cross a huge bridge over into the city of Belleville, or turn south back into the county and see what adventures I could find. Instead, I plowed straight ahead into an acreage up for sale and pitched my tent, letting it air out. I tried a new technique earlier in the day of dismantling the inner tent in hopes of keeping it dry and it worked! It probably added an extra 3 minutes onto my setup time, so I will continue to do this on wet/dewy days.
I headed over to the pub across the street for a few beers, charge-o-ramas and dinner, talking to the bartender for a bit before a man and woman approached me querying about the mess of electronics (my portable office) setup on my table. I told them a bit about my story and they gave me their number to offer refuge if I needed a place to stay in the next couple of days. I told them I had already setup my tent, but went along anyways with them back to their place leaving my bike and gear behind and stayed awake till way too late (3am) chatting and laughing. They were great people and I’m glad I took the time to get out of what I had originally planned to do. Morning came too quick however at 7:30 and I was back at my tent packing it up preparing for the ride ahead of me. It was an extra 12km if I took the southern route, which included a ferry along with a much nicer scenic route continuing to follow the great lake of Ontario and I went for it. I made good time till about 3pm 70km in when I lost my energy, stopping at a grocery store in the town of Bath trying to muster up energy to keep going to Kingston only 20km further. I eventually made it in time to stop in at a few bicycle stores before their closing and see what they offered, and to chat with random passerby’s on the street of this very historic town which was once the Capital of Canada. I also spied a bicycle that had 29 seats on it! Used for charity, they were already full for their next ride so I didn’t get a chance to participate in this mechanical monstrosity and moved forward to my hosts house, who I found on Couchsurfing.
The hosts – Maxine and Joanna live in a very old building close to the water offering me a private room, great internet access and a hot shower. Not to mention great company. I spoke at length with Maxine who is completing Graduate studies, recently moving here from Edmonton. I taught her a few things about her bicycle and some computer things and mostly have kept to myself, tying up loose ends, and relaxing, as when I woke up this morning every muscle in my body was screaming. I took the time to find out what was going on with my stove and used the Annual Maintenance Kit that I purchased almost a year ago in San Francisco to make it work again – an O-Ring had gone stale and was the culprit, but now everything works as good as new again as I went ahead and changed all the other parts as well.
Kingston is a neat city.2 universities, A military installation, and a tonne of correctional facilities surround it and the amount of people walking/cycling around is amazing. It’s also the first place I see where the ratio of women to men seems to be 10:1! I did some cursory reading on Wikipedia that says this is also the area where the most people with PhD degrees live – and it makes sense, Queen’s University is highly regarded and has hundreds of years of history.
I’ll be up early in the morning heading over to North Gower, a small community south-west of our capital city of Canada, Ottawa to visit some friends that I haven’t seen in a while – well not true, I saw one of them last week in Toronto briefly, but that doesn’t count. I’m also going to let my hair down and go to a music event that may go late into the night and plan on doing the tourist thing checking out the Parliament buildings, Royal Canadian Mint, and picking up some goggles to replace my lost sunglasses (3rd pair!). I’ve also been pondering a change in the direction of where I’m going next, but I need a few days to think about it and see if I really have balls the size of China.