Monday, August 24, 2009

Sudbury Ontario to Sault Ste. Marie Ontario and Return

It's Mom's birthday today. I won't mention when she was born, but she has been 39 for more than a little while. I'm not a big one for cards and gifts so I decided to ride down to the Soo and see her today. Soo = Sault Ste. Marie, twin cities in Ontario and Michigan for those who aren't familiar with our geography. (I add this because someone from the south did ask the question not long ago.)

It was cool and damp when I got away at 7:57. There was heavy fog on MR 55 and the Highway 17 By-pass, beading on the windshield and dripping in my face. At the same time, it was beautiful in a ghostly way as the outline of tree, rocks and the ubiquitous blueberry vendors were barely visible along the side of the road.

The fog started to clear at the Spanish River, hanging 50 feet above the newly clear road. I stopped for gas and coffee at McKerrow and, when I came out, the fog was gone. Past Webbwood, a bike going the other way warned of police ahead but all I found was an OPP SUV talking to a CP Hi-Rail driver. The curves along the Mississagi River, the most fun along this stretch, are now marked with a 70 KPH limit, reducing most of the enjoyment we used to get in the old days. No matter because, as usual, I got behind another slow driver. When I finally moved to pass him, after the curves, he sped up by 20 KPH and stuck with me for a mile before backing down. I have no doubt that this reflex to speed up when being passed is unconscious in most drivers.

The rest of the ride was very nice. Sunshine but not too hot, little traffic and the Dixie Chicks playing. I was in The Zone, that place where conscious thought, often a vastly over-rated state, slips away and you ride in a state of total harmony with yourself and the road. You don't worry about where you are going or where you've been, just enjoy being in the moment. This is the moment when it is really about the ride and not the destination. It is a desired state but it sneaks up on you when the conditions are right. The more you pursue it, the less likely you are to find it.

The ride brought to mind the following quote:

"My father says almost the whole world's asleep. Everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to. He says only a few people are awake. And they live in a state of constant total amazement."
       --  Patricia (Meg Ryan) - Joe versus the Volcano

Of course, I did have to pause and consider where August had gone. We didn't travel much and my goal was to get out and play some golf. I played one round last year and none the year before. And now the month is drawing to a close and I still haven't swung a club. I have to conclude that, no matter how much I think I want to play, I guess I don't or I would have made the time.

I met a line of vehicles as I was leaving Desbarats, indicating there was probably a flagman ahead. Sure enough, just before the four-lane, I came to a spot where the highway was down to one lane due to work on the shoulder. They appeared to be applying sand. Atypically, the flag switched to Slow just as I got there so I didn't even have to put my feet down.

It took almost four hours to get to the Soo running a steady 18 KPH over the limit. This makes me wonder about the old days when three hours was a typical transit time and 2.5 was once achieved. Just how fast was I going? Of course, that was before K band radar, laser and big insurance surcharges.

I arrived just before noon and got to spend a few hours with Mom and my brother Dave (Rabbi). We talked about the family, past and present, and had pleasant visit. It isn't often the three of us can talk family affairs together without other people hanging around.

Leaving before 3:00 PM, I fueled and noticed that gas in the Soo was $0.999 compared to $1.035 in Sudbury. Once again, I wonder about the way they set the prices. Again, I had the sun at my back as I headed east, slipping back into The Zone easily. It's amazing how I can come right back from this state as soon as something out of order flags my consciousness. I got one of these on the straight approaching Massey as I followed two cars which had passed me. Suddenly, they took the shoulder as they met an oncoming car passing a transport with no regard for vehicles moving our way. The ones ahead of me, through fast action, averted a head-on collision and I checked up and moved right as the car reached me and cleared the semi at about the same instant. The driver was a young man focussed on the road and oblivious to traffic. But the, all's well that ends well.

I arrived back home at 6:15, just in time to mow the front lawns.

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