Everything had to be double checked before I left the cottage. The last thing I wanted to do is have the cottage burn down because i left velvetta cheese cooking in the oven. So once I had made my rounds I locked up and jumped on the old aluminum horse and rode on out of town.
Downey rode into Kenora the night before and would be meeting me at the junction of hihway 71 and 17. I remember hoping I wouldn't have to wait long for him and hoped he wouldn't wait long for me. Turns out we didn't need to wait at all. We had arrived simultaniously at the junction, like salmon swiming upstream to mate, we were in perfect synchrony (except there would be no mating, unlike the salmon).
The day was hot. Hotter than any we had experienced to date. At eight in the morning droplets of sweat were already rolling down my back. By the time Downey and I met up I had already drank both bottles of water (over a litre) and was thirsting for more. My body was acting differently than I was used to. Things that normally would take little effort would exasperate me. I didn't crave any food, just water, and my body was perpetually dripping sweat.
At about 12pm Downey and I realised heat exhaustion was a real risk. Since we were in the land of lakes it was decided every 20k we would jump in to cool our bodies down. The first lake we came across was right next to the highway and it had a rest area right next to it for truckers. What a great place to jump in, I thought. When the coast was clear I took off my biking apparel and jumped in the lake as naked as a jay bird. the water cooled my burning flesh and euphoria came over me. the healing properties of this lake were only overshadowed by the beauty of its shores. As I frolicked in the lake Downey jumped in as well. We were relaxing in the water when all of a sudden I heard Downey yell:
"O my God there is a dead dog in here!"
"joe not kidding there are skeletons in the water!"
"Downey do not ------- tell me that ----!"
Seconds after realising we were swimming in a lake full of skeletons (I imagine its where they dump their road kill) panick struck Downey and I. We swam for shore yelling and tried to clamber out of Death lake. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw Downey's naked body ungracefully trying to scramble up a particullarly smooth rock, trip and fall back into the lake and exclaim in all seriousness:
"It's got me! The slime has got me!"
I do not doubt that there are a couple of motorists that witnessed two men with very defined tan lines running panicked and naked from Percy lake on highway 17. Count yourself lucky that you know the whole story, because to the motorist we will most likely remain a mystery for life. A story to be passed on from generation to generation, probably.
The day was continued in the same routine, although a little tweaked. The lakes were checked for bodies beforehand and we made sure not to flash anyone else driving by. We managed to keep our water stores filled by stopping frequently at restaurants and gas stations.
Our next resting place was near the government docks in Vermillion Bay. I slept uneasy as I dreamed that during the night, skeletons from the lake near us would rise and drag us back in.