Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Day Eight

Day 8: July 3, 2011; Distance covered today: 93 km; Distance so far: 612 km.

Last night, it rained very much. There was thunder and lightening, not only in the sky, but in the campground as the campers were blasting music from 9 till 1 am. There were two parties, one for the kids at 9, the other for the grown-ups staring at 11pm. The people camping next to me asked me to join them in the party area, but I was too beat to do anything. I just wanted to get some rest. 

In the morning, I woke up very early, but it took me a rather long time to pack up since my tent was all wet and I wanted to wait for it to dry. After breakfast, I biked east on Highway 89. I didn't know when I missed Airport Road, so after going east for a couple of hours, I started toward south, to Toronto. I was biking between farms, gardens, and country roads. The wind was not bad so I was doing fine except for the fact that sometimes I didn't know where I was so I had to ask for direction or do some zigzag (The last leg of the trip on the map is not the accurate route back to Toronto). I got home at 4:30. My first trip by a loaded bicycle in Canada came to an end. Like any other adventure, before even finishing one, you think about the next one. So...what is the next trip going to be? I have already started thinking about a trip from Jasper to Vancouver. Let's see..

The High Points of the Trip:
Airport Road
Highway nine to Lion,s Head 
Camping in Primrose the last night
Visiting Mahyar and Carol
The hike in Flower Pot Island

The Low Points of the Trip
Highway 89
Looking for a campground in Lion's Head
The heat before Owen Sound

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Day Seven

Day 7: July 2, 2011; Distance covered today: 75 km; Distance so far: 519 km.

I couldn't sleep well last night; my camp spot was too close to the noisy road. I promised myself to bring earplugs on my next trip.

I woke up very early since I was afraid of getting caught in the rain. I don't want to pack up in the rain. So, I had a quick breakfast because I didn't have much to eat anyways. Very soon I reached the very same campground I had stayed in Primrose before. I didn't want to wild camp because I needed a shower so bad. 

Before I went to the campground, I stopped by a creek in a park to see the possibility of bush camping. When I stopped at the parking area, I saw a man in the driver seat of an SUV. He started a small talk with me. I told him that I was looking for a spot to camp for the night. He said, "Yeah, there are a lot of people here around this creek; there are some who fish, some who hike, and a lot of of people who come here for a BJ. I would love to get one!". I was shocked at what he said. This guy was sitting in his car, waiting to run into someone to give him a BJ?! "Where are you from anyways?", he looked at me and asked."The Middle East, Iran". I enunciated these words very clearly and dragged the word "IRAAAN". "Oh! Yeah, there are people hiking and fishing here", he said nervously with a change in his tone. Then he looked away. There were lots of horse flies so I took off toward the campground with no more words between me and the guy.

At the campground, I had a really relaxing time: I took a shower, had some tea, laid down on the grass in the shade and had a nap before I made some dinner. I think I am going to sleep well tonight. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Day Six

Day 6: July 1, 2011; Distance covered today: 91 km; Distance so far: 444 km.

I got some sleep last night. My spot was not bumpy; it was very flat with a lot of tall grass under my tent, making the floor cushiony. It wasn't very cold either. In the morning, I woke up very early, fried 6 eggs and had them with tea. I had to leave immediately since I was on a private property. I didn't want to get into any trouble. I had just left the farm and been riding on a side road to get to the main road when a guy yelled, "How did you like my farm last night?" I thought he was confronting me for my stay on his property, so I apologized and told him that I did not leave my garbage or make fire on the farm. Then I showed him my plastic bag full of garbage which I was carrying to dump in a garbage can. Little did I know that the guy was actually asking me whether I liked it or not. He then asked me to stay in his house next time I am traveling. 
The Ride back toward Wiarton

The ride toward Wiarton was beautiful, but about 10 killometers before and after the town, the road got narrow with no shoulder. The traffic got heavy too. I missed the turn to Owen Sound, but I still was in the right direction. I could still go south. Around noon, it got scorchingly hot; so hot that I had to pull over, take my shoes off in the shade. After a few minutes, a guy came out of the property in from of which I had stopped. We had a little chat and he offered me some cold water and a bottle of freezing lemonade! It revived me. I then decided to bypass Owen Sound specially since I didn't want to stay in an expensive campground. Besides, I wasn't sure if I could find a free spot there. It was now the long weekend in Canada. So, I kept on going toward south. After  a couple of hours, I stopped at a road-side cafe for some refreshment. I liked the cafe so I stayed a little longer for a hamburger and charging my cellphone. The owner of the cafe offered me to pitch up my tent in his backyard, but it was only 5 o'clock. I still had a lot of time to ride. So I hit the road again. 

At about 7 pm, after checking out a few places on the road, I found a good spot for camping for the night. By  then, it was so hot that I could not bear it anymore. 
Waiting for the Tea; Surprisingly, no Mosquitoes 

I made some tea and decided to skip the dinner. When it got dark, there were so many shining flees and bugs flying in the area in front of my tent. It was such a beautiful scene. Coincidentally, it was first of July, and I could hear fireworks in the distance. But I had my own kind of fireworks in front of my tent with natural lights of shining bugs. It looked amazing. 

My Camp Spot

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Day Five

Day 5: June 30, 2011; Distance covered today: 50 km; Distance so far: 353 km.

I woke up many times, shivering with cold. Normally, when you are tired, you wish for a long hours of rest, a long night, but I was cursing the long night: "Why is this f... night so long?" 

The Trail in the Visitor's Centre

When it got bright enough to see outside, I crawled out of my tent and made breakfast--not because I was hungry, but because I was cold. After breakfast, I tried to rest for a while, but I had to get going. So, I packed and sneaked out of the bush. then, I went to the Visitor's Center. There was a museum there. They showed me a documentary on Bruise Peninsula. Afterwards, I took a hike in one of their trails. There was a short and a long trail. I took the longer one. It took me two hours to complete it. 
Flower Pot Island 

 After the Visitor's Center, I went downtown to take a ferry to Flower Pot Island. I missed the boat by one minute! So I went to the Princess Hotel to eat Soflaki which Mahyar had strongly suggested. I ordered a beer, a salad and a Suflaki. I had just started my salad when I saw a long hair in it. I wanted to call out for the waitress and ask her to change it, but I didn't. I ate half of the salad, and then I called her. She apologized and came back with another full plate. I am sure she would have trashed the salad had I not eaten the half. 

After lunch, I went to Flower Pot Island. It was really beautiful. The rock formations on the shoreline were stunning. I completed the hike to the lighthouse and back very fast and had a lot of time for myself to sit by the Flower Pots and relax my feet in the pristine cool water. 
Relaxing on the Flower Pot Island

It was about 3:30 when our boat ducked back in Tobermory. I decided to get going. So I bought two bananas, some water, some muffins, some yoghurt, and hit the road. The wind was not so bad so I soon riched Lion's Head where I checked the only campground. It was disappointing--crowded, small, noisy, with no privacy. I decided to see the possibility of bush camping, somewhere close to Bruise Trail. I biked to the trail , but I couldn't find even one small clearance to pitch up my tent. As I was wheeling my bike on the trail looking for a spot, the mosquitoes where eating me alive. I was slapping my face, head, laps, everywhere for the bites. At the end, I escaped the trial. I had gone into the trail for quite a distance, but no dice. As I was giving up and debating on the camping in the horrible campground, I stopped to check one narrow path diverted from the trail into the forest. It lead me to a farm, and there I saw a possible spot for my tent. It was a private property, but I had no other choice. I had less than 2 hours of daylight.
Cooking Dinner

Now, in the sanctuary of my tent, I am away from the blood suckers, satisfied with my gourmet food with yoghurt and lots of tea. Apart from that, I have a minor stomach bug, which is normal among cyclist. 
Drinking Tea, without Mosquitoes

I so much need to get some sleep tonight. I hope it is not cold.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Day Four

Day 4: June 29, 2011; Distance covered today: 67 km; Distance so far: 303 km.

I woke up at about 8:30, checked e-mails, and fixed Mahyar's bicycle. After breakfast, I took Highway 9 north. It was so beautiful and quiet. Only every 10 minutes or so was there a passing car. I took a couple of pictures and shot some video. After a short stop in Lion's Head for a sandwich and tea, I left for Tobermory. The road to Tobermory was a tough one: a strong headwind. Late afternoon, I arrived in Tobermory, I had checked whether I could wild camp on the way, but I hadn't had any water for dinner. So, I had decided to go to the town. 

Toward Lion's Head on Highway 9

Close to Tobermory, I saw two cyclists who were camping with their families in a park called, Land's End. I went there to see how much it was to camp...38 $ plus tax! "Forget it. I am gonna camp in the bush". I thought. I didn't have any time left. It was getting dark already. So I got some water and hit the road. Just a few hundred meters outside the park, I sneaked into the forest and camped there. Not a good spot at all, but there was no choice. There were millions of blood-thirsty mosquitoes. I had to make something quick and sneak into my tent. So I made some soup and prepared to get some sleep. And by "prepared", I mean the same innovative way of keeping myself warm. 

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Day Three

Day 3: June 28, 2011; Distance covered today: 53 km; Distance so far: 236 km.

Necessity is the mother of invention. I found a way to fight the cold. Since I didn't have my sleeping bag with me, and it was very cold, I tried to find a way to keep myself warm enough to be able to sleep. I "literally" wore anything I could put on or wrap myself with. I put on two pairs of socks with two waterproof bags covering my feet up to my knees; I wore my cycling shorts, pants, and my waterproof nylon pants; I had my underwear wrapped up round one of my hands, and my handkerchief around another with two plastic bags on top; I also had two T-shirts, a flees jacket, and a windbreaker on top; on my head, I wore a thin hat and a scarf. Still, I would wake up in the middle of the night shivering with cold! It was a lot better than last night though! I could get some sleep! The picture below shows my innovative outfit.

I wore anything to keep warm

It rained all night, and in the morning, the sky was very gray, but I was determined to leave; there was no way I would pay another 37 dollars for this "spot". I had planned to go to Mahyar's in Wiarton. It wasn't very far, only 50 km., but I had head wind to slow me down. Besides, the road was the worst so far, busy with no shoulder. I arrived at Mahyar's at 1:30 and stayed for the night. How lucky I was to stay indoors last night. It was freezing.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Day Two

Day 2: June 27, 2011; Distance covered today: 90 km; Distance so far: 183 km.

Day two actually started last night! I couldn't get enough sleep because of the cold. How stupid of me to pay 250 $ for a light down sleeping bag and then decide not to bring it at all. I cursed myself and Arash who told me not to take my sleeping bag. 
In the morning, while literally shivering with cold, I got out of my tent and made tea. It warmed me up a tad. Bad luck didn't end there; after taking a long tiring time to pack everything and load the bike, I had to unpack everything again except for the tent to look for my sunglasses. I unpacked everything but the tent. I couldn't find my sunglasses anywhere. It was too late already so I loaded the bike again and hit the road at 10! 
As soon as I started on highway 89, I realized that the truck drivers on this road did not have any sympathy for cyclists. I encountered two really dangerous incidents already, and it was only a few kilometers into my day!! I had to change my route so I did. I asked some locals and and took highway 10.
Things started to get better: the wind was blowing from behind, the road was flat, and the scenery breathtaking. What else does a cyclist want? For lunch, I stopped at a roadside restaurant which happened to be Indian. I had some time to look for my sun glasses; I had left them in the tent! Live and learn. Like every simple lesson on bike trips, you pay a relatively high price for your mistakes. Lesson learned:"check the tent before packing it, and put everything in its place, every little thing".

It was about 7 pm when I got to Owen Sound, and now I am in my tent hoping to get some sleep tonight. I have paid 37$ plus tax for a little spot to pitch up my tent for tonight, but my next door neighbor, who a huge RV and a Jeep, pays the same price. This is outrageous. 

Taking a Rest in a Roadside Comfort Area

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Day 1: June 26, 2011 ; Distance so far: 93 km.

Today is the eighth anniversary of my arrival in Canada, my second home. It took me eight years to be able to start bike touring again. What a journey it has been for itself!

It had been two months that I had been looking for a touring bike. I finally settled down on a Surly Long Haul Trucker.
My Bicycle

The Journey:
At 5:30 this morning, I took a shower, had breakfast, and hit the road. Since I hadn't been touring for 8 years, I didn't know how many kilometers I could cover a day, but much to my surprise, I was doing pretty well. At 3 pm, I hit my target: Primrose (there is a link to the route below). There is a private campground just on the corner of Primrose and highway 89. It is a very small campground, but the staffs are very friendly. I am paying  27 dollars a night for a spot for a tent. That's ten dollars cheaper than provincial parks. I pitched my tent and waited for Babak and Mehdi to show up! They had planned to catch up with me and have lunch. Their plan was absolutely fine by me since they were bringing marinated chicken to barbecue! There is nothing better than biking for the whole day, taking a shower, and then devouring on chicken Kabab.

They have left now, and I am in my tent, getting ready to sleep. Below is the link to my route.
Airport Road