The Towering Guardians

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June 25, 2022, St. John’s- Some days, like today, present themselves with two themes. At L’Anse aux Meadows, to which I was directed to go, way back nine years ago-and again in January of this year, the focus was on connecting with the spirits of the past-both First Nations and Scandinavian. As I headed towards this oldest European city in North America, predating St. Augustine, FL by four decades, my focus was knowingly on its modern aspects-especially Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, where I am spending the night.

In between the northwestern and southeastern areas of this vast island, there is much of both natural and human accomplishment. The most striking example of the former are Newfoundland’s two National Parks: Gros Morne and Terra Nova. The first was easy to stop and appreciate. There are several areas visible from the TransCanada Highway. Terra Nova, on the other hand, has no safe turn-offs from which to photograph, along the highway. It was also very foggy and rainy as I passed the lovely park. I’m getting ahead of the story though.

Here are a few scenes from Gros Morne and two other places along the Viking Trail, between L’Anse aux Meadows and Deer Lake. First is River of Ponds, a mecca for fly fishermen.

Next, came the ocean, at Parsons Pond.

The beauty of the north is indeed rather stark, with lots of rainy days, foggy nights and as someone commented, low light-even in summer. I am fortunate to have been raised far enough north that these things are not so much a factor in my appreciation of this sort of beauty. Then again, I also enjoy lower latitudes.

What I did not enjoy so much was the rain, fog and wind while driving between Gander and St. John’s. I saved time and money by getting a handheld sandwich from a convenience store in Springdale, a bit west of Gander. That was a good thing, because the inclement weather started right around the aviation center. Some may remember that Gander was important to connecting with the rest of the world, during 9/11/2001. It is still a bustling-and growing community.

St. John’s has welcomed me, even at this late hour (midnight), and I am settling in to a university dorm room, single occupancy. Thank you, Memorial University, for this Summer Accommodations Program.

Vikings, Beothuk, Bogs and Fog

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June 25, 2022, St. John’s-

L’Anse aux Meadows Along the northern tip of Newfoundland, there once lived at least three nations of people, who were lumped together by the Viking fishermen, upon their landing at Quirpon Island and the nearby mainland, and called Skraeling, after the term they used to describe the Inuit of Greenland. The term variously means “wearer of animal pelts”, “wearer of dried skins”, “barbarians” or even “weaklings”.

At first, the Vikings stayed on Quirpon and at the sight now known as L’Anse aux Meadows ,a corruption of the French L’Anse aux Medee, which means “Medea’s Cove”, after a ship Medea, of the French commercial fishing fleet that docked in what is now Gumper’s Bay, in the 16th and 17th Centuries. The Vikings first settled here in 990 A.D. and went back to Greenland in 1050. so their artifacts being here at all are an extra treasure. Whether they also went south to Cape Cod is still up for debate.

The above scene shows the boggy area that greeted the Vikings. They had to choose their steps very carefully. Visitors today have nice boardwalks on which to tread.

My first walk was on Harry Youden’s Trail. He was a fervent supporter of unearthing Viking relics in this area, which was one of his favourite places to walk and meditate.

The above sculpture was commissioned by UNESCO, when L’Anse aux Meadows was designated a World Heritage Site.

Below, one of several mementos left by Harry, creating both a personal and “Fae” ambiance.

Note the ventilation ducts. The Norse used them, and here’s why:

One of the few women in the settlement group was a sailor’s wife, who was also a sale maker. As she was not sewing sails all the time, she busied herself with creative projects, like this above.

I spoke for several minutes with the docent who portrayed this busy woman, as well as with the woodworking and cook docents. All of them emphasized the constant work that needed doing, twelve hours a day, seven days a week, in this novel environment. All of the settlers longed, constantly, for “home”-Greenland.

NEXT POST: The road to Deer Lake (with Gros Morne National Park along the way)

The Long Range and Its Bounty

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June 24, 2022, St. Lunaire-Griquet, NL- After privately observing Baha’i Feast last night, in what may have been the first time that’s happened in Doyles, I noted a more gregarious Mr. Devine offering me his thanks for the visit and a suggestion of going over to Cape Anguille, the westernmost part of Newfoundland. This, I did, even waiting for later to have a brunch of sorts.

There are two points of interest, in particular, at the juncture of the Grand Codroy with the Atlantic. Cape Anguille (pronounced An-GWILL) Lighthouse is an active station, and thus off-limits to entry by visitors. It may be freely photographed from the exterior, though.

I followed Mr. Devine’s recommended route, going around clockwise, to Searston Beach, where the Grand Codroy actually meets the Atlantic. It has a one-lane bridge, with a wooden base and steel siding/underpinning.

Once back on the Trans-Canada Highway, I noted that the quality of the road varied, as it does in many places where the climate can be harsh. Newfoundland, like much of the Northeast, is said to have two seasons, “July and Winter”. This day, however, the area of the Long Range Mountains is quite pleasant, and the rest of the island promises to be so, for the next few days.

Reaching western Newfoundland’s commercial hub of Corner Brook, I found a bustling, surprisingly frenetic traffic scene-and had to be as “on guard” as in any good-sized community, these days. I stopped for lunch at a Jungle Jim’s, which is Newfoundland’s chain of gourmet burger places. There, I learned of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Roe vs. Wade, about which I will keep my own counsel-though the issue of how to approach pregnancy, and any complications therefrom, should be strictly a matter between a woman, her mate (if one is involved) and a competent medical professional. The meal itself was of modest portion and quite good, as one would expect of a successful sit-down chain.

I continued on, towards L’Anse aux Meadows, the site of a Viking settlement of the 13th Century, A.D.-about which more in the next post. Photos of astonishing Gros Morne National Park will also wait until then. It took all I had, in terms of time, to get to my motel, St. Brendan’s, in this little village just shy of the monument. I took in the village’s lovely harbour, after enjoying a nice dinner at The Daily Catch, where I made fast friends of the owner and one of the docents at L’Anse.

With that, I get ready to lay down and sleep, at the colourful and welcoming St. Brendan’s Motel. As there were too many other guests out and about, when I was there, I leave you with their stock photo.

St. Brendan’s Motel, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Newfoundland. (Courtesy of St. Brendan’s Motel.)

Ferry to Province # 10

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June 23, 2022, Doyles, Newfoundland- I got up and out the door, at Fair Isle Motel, as quickly as possible-making time for a decent breakfast at The Herring Choker, in the village of Nyanza, about eight kilometers east of Whycocoming. The place specialize in natural fare, so I did nto feel the need to eat again, until dinner.

Arriving at the ferry gate, in North Sydney, I had to wait for another party, whose documents were apparently not in order. When it came my turn, I was through the gate in short order and ended up in the last parking slot on Level 3. My reserved seat, up on Level 9 of the ship, was a window seat on the ocean. The service on this vessel was excellent, with a little treat of soft-serve ice cream, in mid-afternoon, and a fine dinner of cod au gratin, salad and steamed vegetables about two hours later.

So, I watched the departure from Cape Breton Island and the arrival in Newfoundland.

Thus, around 6:30 p.m., Newfoundland Daylight Time. This time zone is 1/2 hour ahead of Atlantic Daylight Time, which is observed in the other three Atlantic provinces, on the eastern North Shore of Quebec and in its own mainland section, Labrador. Atlantic Daylight Time, in turn, is an hour ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. So, when it’s 5 p.m. in Boston and Buffalo, it’s 6 p.m. in Shediac and Sydney, as 6:30 p.m., in Port aux Basques and L’Anse aux Meadows.

Newfoundland & Labrador was the last Canadian province I had not visited-and it’s also the last to have become a part of Canada. In 1949, still beset by economic difficulties, the people of the then-British colony voted, albeit narrowly, to become a part of Canada. The first Provincial Premier was Joseph Roberts Smallwood, who led the province until 1972. It was he who spearheaded the vote to approve confederation with Canada. He was a champion of hydroelectric power and promoted pulp and paper milling as a means to expand the prosperity of the average person in the province. His policies, like most, had mixed results.

I am staying, this evening, in a lovely cottage, part of Codroy Cottage Country, overlooking the Grand Codroy River, which empties into the Atlantic, not far from here. The cottages are as modern, and tech-savvy, as any in either North America or Europe. I am pleased to see the level of comfort that the people of this valley seem to enjoy, though the owner of a store across the street from the cottages pleaded with me to buy something from his grocery. I needed a few things, and so obliged him in that way. The Devine family, who run Cottage Country, present a cordial, if reticent, demeanour. This is fine, as I’m only a guest here for one night. I must say, though, that this would be a fabulous venue for a week’s stay.

Thus has my five day initial visit to Newfoundland begun. So far, it’s lovely! (As for the photos, I found a venue where I could upload them, with no fuss, elsewhere. CC has good WiFi, but motels in Atlantic Canada tend to be limited, in their uploading capabilities.)

Cape Breton, High and Low

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June 22, 2022, Whycocomagh, NS-I had originally come here to this island of both intense and sublime beauty, to honour the First Nations people who keep the flame of dignity and well-being, for all creatures, alive and well. The person who I was hoping to meet, along those lines, had to work extra long hours and our meeting is deferred until next Wednesday. I did meet a young First Nations lady who works for Parks Canada, and who processed my admission to Cape Breton Highlands. I also encountered a road crew of Miqmak people, who were clearing what appeared to have been a serious rock slide, on the Cabot Trail.

Cape Breton is defined, topographically, by two features: The mountains of the Highland region and Bras D’Or Lake (Pronounced “Brah Dor”, though a local wag once had a restaurant he called The Old Brass Door, situated on the lake shore.), representing the forces of uplifting and nurturing. The lake, a salty offshoot of the Atlantic Ocean, extends virtually the length of eastern Cape Breton, from St. Peter’s, in the southeast, to Sydney Mines, in the northeast.

Here are a few views of Bras D’Or, from near Fair Isle Motel, where I am staying, and a viewpoint close to the Cabot Trail’s southern entrance

Bras D’Or Lake, near Watogomah First Nations Community, NS

Less than twenty minutes later, the view changed dramatically, as the clockwise route around the Cabot Trail beckoned.

View from Cabot Trail, near Nyanza, NS

The road ran out, briefly, just shy of Margaree, as the aforementioned crew had me turn around and use a short detour. Once back in the Margaree region, views of a healthy river and the Atlantic were abundant.

Here is a view of the Margaree River.

Margaree River, near its namesake town, Cape Breton Island

Next are some views of the coast, in western Cape Breton.

Margaree Harbour, NS
Margaree Harbour Beach
Beach at Cheticamp Island, NS

The three main communities of Cape Breton are the Miqmak First Nation, the Scots and the French-speaking Acadiens, distant cousins of Louisiana’s Cajuns-those who left Atlantic Canada, after the French and Indian War of 1756-63. The Acadien communities, such as Cheticamp, are very much thriving today.

Paroisse St. Pierre, Cheticamp

It was time to go up into Cape Breton Highlands, so after gassing up, in Cheticamp, I went to the Park Visitor Center, where the young lady I mentioned earlier greeted me warmly and sold me the admission pass. The mountains themselves were not long in providing a warm greeting of their own.

Here is Grande Faillante:

Grande Faillante, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Next is La Bloc.

La Bloc, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Sorry to have to do this, but the photos will have to stop here, so that I may get this out. Something is blocking my uploading of photos, regardless of which platform I use (whether Chrome or Firefox). I had to fight to get these last two photos posted. Wanting to keep this series going, so, for now, let words suffice. When I get this issue resolved, photos will be posted of the rest of Cabot Trail.

From La Bloc, the Cabot Trail goes on to the glorious greens of French Mountain and MacKenzie River Valley. The view of Pleasant Bay, from the top of the switchbacks to its north, is nothing short of breathtaking. Green Cove, between Pleasant Bay and Ingonish, allows for clambering and being as one with a smoothed mass of boulders, jutting out into the sea. There were many doing just that, including a mother and daughter who sat in meditation, as the rest of us took in the clifftop view of the Atlantic. The scene would repeat itself at MacKinnon’s Cove and at North Beach, in Ingonish.

By the time I reached Tartans and Treasures, in Dingwall, it would have been easy to identify with the “cranky” Scottish owner (“Patrick was a saint, but I ain’t”)-but the scenery is too soothing, so I got a second wind and kept on, past St. Ann’s and the “north” junction with Highway 105, which took me back to Bayside, which was full with golfers and day fishermen, as well as tired waitresses-who nonetheless took my order-the last one of the evening. The chowder was again superb. Getting back to Fair Isle, I got laundry done and am now ready for a good night’s rest.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Newfoundland.

Unrecognized Truth; Unparalleled Beauty

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June 21, 2022, Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia- As I was finishing up a full and sumptuous breakfast, at Comfort Inn, Fredericton, I got a message to go to the Legislative Assembly House, in the New Brunswick capital’s centre. Not knowing why the message was insistent, I went there after checking out of the motel. I had heard that today was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as well as Solstice.

There was a modest, but growing crowd, in front of the Assembly House. A leader of the Maliseet Nation, Allan Polchies, gave a direct, though open-hearted invitation to the Premier of New Brunswick to re-instate the terms “unceded and unsurrendered” into Truth and Reconciliation documents, especially those dealing with the revelations of abuse and neglect at Boarding Schools and Day Schools for First Nations children, across the Dominion of Canada (as well as in the United States), over the past 150 years. My take: No matter what the relationship between people, there is always room for improvement. This is especially true of ties between people of different cultural and ethnic groups. No one can truthfully say: “I’ve done enough already. Put it to rest!”

I took in a bit of the scene around Fredericton, underscoring what Chief Polchies was stressing in his talk. The land, the water, and all forms of life are more sacred to a good many First Nations people than they are to those who have a transactional view of this life. I am a mutt, so to speak, and can’t boast physical lineage that leaves me with more than 1/64 First Nations blood. Quantum, though, does not have anything to do with genetic memory, and my bent has always gravitated towards forests, nature, even flowing water.

Here is a view of the St. John River, flowing through Fredericton.

Below, are some scenes from Wilmot Park, west of the Town Plat.

Rail bridge, across St. John River, Fredericton

Next on the itinerary was Shediac, a town on the east coast of New Brunswick, from whence my paternal grandfather’s Acadian forebears moved to Lynn, MA, when that city first became industrialized, in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

Here a few Shediac scenes. The town is a vibrant summer getaway, for both urban New Brunswickers and people from Montreal and Quebec City.

Pascal Poirier was a Shediac native, who was Canada’s longest-serving Senator, putting in 48 years, 6 months and 17 days. He was a scholar of Acadian history, putting to rest many myths about his native ethnic group.

Entry to Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac, NB
Exercise incline, Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac
An image, creating an image, Shediac Centre
Shediac Harbour, on Northumberland Strait

As I sat on a lone park bench, watching the gulls and a small amount of marine activity, it occurred to me that the sea will not be far from my awareness, for the next eight days. With that, I got a couple of dozen gluten-free cookies, from Culinanny Bakery, in Shediac’s Centre-Ville Mall, to hopefully give to friends in Cape Breton, and headed off to that storied island.

I had a couple of small surprises, along the way. The Cobequid Valley, of western Nova Scotia, has a toll road, operated by the Provincial Transportation Authority. It’s the only non-bridge toll that I’ve seen in Canada, thus far. A young man walked out of a donut shop, barefoot. I have not seen “no shoes” get service in a food shop, until today.

A far more pleasant surprise awaited in the small village of Whycocomagh, one of the first communities one encounters on Cape Breton, approaching from the west. Bayside Restaurant offers some of the most delectable seafood chowder I’ve ever tasted, anywhere. Essentially, generous portions of fish and assorted shellfish, milk and onions-no potatoes. The other ingredients are Chef Charlene’s secret. My lodging for tonight and tomorrow night is equally superb: Fair Isle Motel, with a large kitchenette as well as firm, chiropractor-approved mattresses. The hosts are a wonderful family of seven.

Tomorrow, I will experience the Cabot Trail-at least the automotive part, and hopefully meet up with some local Baha’is.

Borders and Discipline

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June 20, 2022, Fredericton- The Senior Agent, at the border crossing in Jackman, Maine, had a few questions of his own for me, after the line inspector was finished-as much because things were quiet there, as because my itinerary seemed a bit unusual. It’s always an eyebrow raiser, when a traveler is entering a country primarily to save time and distance, before leaving again-albeit for a week or so. After asking his questions, and getting satisfactory answers, followed by a physical inspection of my vehicle, he sent me on my way, with wishes for a safe journey.

I learned long ago to not be ruffled by official queries, as I have nothing to be ruffled about. In a world of smugglers, grifters and flat-out liars, the well-being of people within a country depends on those who staff its borders. When I reached my second border crossing of the day, at St. Croix, New Brunswick, I was asked to complete an acccesscan application. That being done, in about thirty minutes, I was likewise sent on my way. The officials were congenial, while determined to help guard their country from as much of COVID as they could.

A disciplined person should not have to fear the law-though unfortunately many people of colour, however well-disciplined, still have to. That significant fact aside, the majority of peace officers, including those on the borders, do a fine job-and the time some of us must spend waiting for them to do their work properly is a relative trifle, compared to the time that would be wasted, in the event of chaos.

The drive out of Montreal was fairly smooth. Traffic was not bad, save for some slowing along Quebec’s many road and bridge repair projects. I passed by a few spots in the Eastern Townships (originally a largely English-speaking part of Quebec, lying between the St. Lawrence River and the United States border, and now pretty much evenly-divided between Francophones and Anglophones). There is Lac Boivin, which I will hopefully visit some day. There is cheerful Sherbrooke and the town with the ominous name of Magog. There is Lac-Megantic, which I visited several years ago, and which endured a deadly runaway train accident, in 2013. My main goal, however, was to return to the U.S., cross Maine and get to this capital city of New Brunswick. Even with the above-mentioned events, this happened.

The interior of Maine was the scene of some of the harder periods of my life, in the mid-to-late 1970s. I was a somewhat brasher, cruder person then, and there were few people who saw through that exterior. So, I crossed the state on Highway 6, through Piscataquis and northern Penobscot Counties, stopping only to get gas in the town of Greenville, dinner outside Howland and for this scene of Moosehead Lake.

There are many miles to go yet, but I am almost halfway through this journey.

Fathering, without Paternalizing

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June 19, 2022, Montreal- Today was a fitting confluence of observances: Father’s Day, celebrating the best of those who help raise a next generation and who continue to offer guidance to the men and women they helped rear, and Juneteenth (which will be officially observed tomorrow, as a National Holiday in the U.S.), wherein paternalism, the opposite of good fathering, took a well-deserved hit, with enslaved people in Texas finally getting the word that they had been freed-more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation-and two months after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee’s Army, at Appomattox.

The concept of a person making decisions FOR other people has been with us for at least 10,000 years. It has many permutations, and will die hard. We are, however, entering an Age of Fulfillment, in which individuals are growing into humans who can make their own decisions. There will be a lot of mess involved-that’s the nature of growth. Mistakes will happen, at all levels, yet hopefully lessons will be learned. Those who see life through a progressive lens can be just as authoritarian as their polar opposites who seem to want to turn back the clock.

Paternalism, or excessive maternalism, for that matter, serve to debilitate the very people one secretly wishes would stand up and do what’s right. The rub comes, when the domineering one realizes that maybe the children or teens are doing precisely what is right-for their lives. Teaching people the thinking process is far more valuable than pontificating on what to think.

My Father’s Day, with a son who is away in a training exercise, was spent being proud of what he is achieving. I also returned to a city that taught me some hard lessons, four years ago-at exactly the time when I learned them. This year, Montreal was far easier to navigate. I had the satisfaction of visiting the shore of Lake Ontario, at Kingston, where I spent last night, and the north bank of the St. Lawrence River, at Prescott, Ontario (“That’s PresCOTT, there, Yank!”). I also was able to put the Saturn in a highly secure garage for the evening, once arriving in Montreal. Father’s day, my way, was capped by a wonton supper at Chef B.Lee, on St. Catherine Street, in the heart of Montreal’s Asian Food District (“Chinatown” would be an inadequate term here, as Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese eateries are just as common).

It’s been a good day, all in all. Here are a few scenes from the course of the journey.

The most important aspect of this park, however, is the newest and oldest, at the same time: The Alderville First Nation, a Mississauga Ojibway band, blessed the area with one of its artists and healers, Terence Radford, who created a Spirit Garden for Lake Ontario Park. All the Great Lakes are sacred to the Ojibway, so this blessing of Lake Ontario means a great deal, both to the Ojibway people and to their neighbours in the larger community.

THIS strikes me as the real reason I stopped overnight in Kingston.

A while later, I stopped in Prescott, ON. This town has a nice River Walk, focusing on the St. Lawrence, so I took a walk along a short part of it. Here are views of the river and of Fort Wellington, a British fort during the War of 1812, built to defend shipping from the American troops stationed across the river, in Ogdensburg, NY.

This was a cool find. In the 1960s, Leo Boivin (“That’s BwaVAN, Yank!”), was a respected member of the Boston Bruins. Kids were always calling me “Leo”, though quite honestly, I couldn’t stand up on skates, for more than two minutes. As Leo was a native of Prescott, the town named its community center after him, when he passed away, last year.

Tonight, I am here, at Montreal’s Auberge St. Lo, formerly called HI (Hostels International) Montreal. It is a very comfortable and accommodating place, with the study room where I am writing this post.

Loving the Balance

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June 18, 2022, Kingston, ON- I found myself here, near the shore of Lake Ontario, an underrated gem of a Great Lake, which I will visit briefly tomorrow, before driving to Montreal. It was a choice: Visit Kingston and get some down time tonight or plow on to Ottawa, have maybe three hours max in the capital city and “enjoy” what would eventually feel like a hamster wheel.

There is always a short-term financial balance to keep, and I at least have that down. I spent some time in London, this morning and early afternoon, in both business and sending out positive energy. Changing currency is a chore for many. I consider it an act of respect for the host country, for as long as we humans need to have different currency in each nation-or region (Euro Zone).

Another “business” action is joining online Baha’i gatherings. If I can do this, even from a distant location, and while maintaining silence, as is necessary in a public space, such as a coffee shop. then the energy shared across the space between locations is worth it.

Whenever I am off on one of these quests, suggestions come from well-intending friends and family. Invariably, unless the hint is close to my itinerary, either distance-wise or time-wise, I file it in the “later” sleeve. Ottawa will wait until another time; as will two or three days in Toronto, the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and Quebec City (both of which I have visited), the Gaspe, Prince Edward Island (been there, also), the southern part of the Avalon Peninsula on Newfoundland, and St. Pierre & Miquelon, France’s last bit of “mainland” North America.

Time and spiritual energy determine the balance, and it is a many-splendoured thing.

Here are a few scenes from London’s marvelous Covent Garden Market- worthy of a place alongside Boston’s Faneuil Hall/Durgin Park, Seattle’s Pike Place and Chicago’s Navy Pier. I am sure many of you could add a dozen others to this list. Remember, I am referring here to London, Ontario. The Market was recommended to me by a bookseller, whose shop, City Lights. is across the street. He also suggested Saga Coffee House, just west of his shop. Both recommendations are spot on-as is the book store.

As I was working on my laptop, a little girl pointed out the lanterns and flowers, which she found “astonishing”. Yes, they certainly are!

Anna Turkiewicz is a Polish emigre, who runs this excellent old style delicatessen. She seemed a bit worn down, and shortly after I took my lunch order to the table, she took a break for herself. It is a hard row to hoe, this food business. Ontario apparently also has a coin shortage, and supply chain issues, much like on the American side of the border. I did what i could to be supportive.

The grounds are given some thought, by the City, as well. Here is a decorated lamp post.

There is much joy in keeping a balance.

Two Sides, Same Team

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June 17, 2022, London, ON- The DEA squad carried out a seamless check on our line of traffic, at a contraband check on the U.S. side of Ambassador Bridge (between Detroit and Windsor). The agent who was checking my vehicle asked to pop the “trunk” and was given the go-ahead to open the hatch on Saturn Vue. His dog-partner found no contraband, and I was on my way to the Canadian side, where a thirty second query as to my travel plans sent me en route to this Ontario namesake of the Titan on the Thames. (There is a Thames River here, as well.)

I left my friends, the Schroeders, around Noon, having tended to laundry and a couple of errands at establishments near their home. Saturn Vue got an oil & lube, a new air filter and scrubbed headlights, at a Jiffy Lube nearby, then I was off in search of I-94, which for some reason was unknown to Google Maps. A kind librarian in Buchanan, MI, directed me to the only entrance she knew to the Interstate-which was in Benton Harbor, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Out of the way, yes, it was, but I sensed that a full drive across that beleaguered state would at least unleash some healing energy. At least, that is my hope, having said a bunch of prayers at a Rest Area, outside Battle Creek.

It took four hours to cross the Wolverine State, and another forty minutes to go through the border crossing, most of which was the security check mentioned above. The process made me glad that I had done laundry before crossing-if only to not disgust our canine friend.

Once on the 401, I looked for a place to pull off for the night. I did drove from Tilbury to Chatham, on a back road, taking in the small town Friday night scene of a small group of teens, making the best of a weekend evening in Tilbury. They looked happy, at least. In Chatham, I spotted a small motel, with one car in the lot (a red flag of sorts, this being Friday night and all. The proprietor apologized, in advance, for the room he was letting me check, prior to lettting it out (another red flag). I found it was flea-infested, though the lights, TV and shower were all working. The final red flag was that he had no credit card reader, but he would gladly do an “e-transaction”, if I would just tell him my bank account information. Hmm, where have I heard this before? I bid him good night, and drove clear to London, where the Super 7 Motel had a fine room available, and there was a jacuzzi. I enjoy a bit of luxury, every so often, and this spa was made of marble, working perfectly.

Tomorrow, I will hopefully connect with a group of friends online, and look about London further, before heading towards Ottawa. Friends in Toronto have already said they are unavailable, so I will stay away from the metropolis this time. On both sides of the border, though, we are one team.