Tuesday, 23 August 2011

July 29th: Rattlesnake reserve to Huntsville

   "You guys should get out of there!"

   O no. Its the last think you want to hear first thing in the morning. Michael, Andrew, Mel and I were only in the most early stages of waking up when we heard these words yelled at us from a bearded man not far from the place which we were staying.

   "O we will move right away. We didn't know it was private property. Sorry about that" responded our newly found friend Andrew.

   "Its not private property, that is a rattlesnake reserve. Didn't you guys see the signs?"

   Nobody had seen the signs. We had arrived very late at night and come to think of it we did have to jump a barrier to find our camping spot. The idea that we were on a piece of land specifically designated for the deadly noisy snakes woke me up more effectively than coffee and red bull combined. With a bit of extra drive in my step I quickly disassembled all of my bivy, threw everything in my paniers and then helped the others do the same, all the while keeping an eye out for the belly crawling critters who would swallow me whole in a second. It was not the most relaxing morning we've had.
   I couldn't help but find some humour in our situation. When we had everyone back to the safe side of the fence and out of harm's way, a quick look at the fence confirmed that there were in fact plenty of warning signs saying in detail what was waiting on the other side. Signs marked with "Warning: Rattlesnake Reserve:" and "Do not Enter: Rattlesnakes" were clearly posted everywhere. It is a marvel that not one from our traveling gypsy caravan saw any of these warnings. I suppose when we had stopped for the night we were all very tired and honestly, I didn't even know we had rattlesnakes in Canada! This is a lesson I would have been happy to learn by reading it or being told, rather than by experience.
    The four of us stopped by the nearest restaurant, which was owned by the bearded man who had warned us about the snakes in the first place. A nice coffee in the morning along with a few eggs goes a long way. A good breakfast, with the fact that I was not suffering from a poisonous snake bite gave me the impression that we had a nice day in ahead of us.
   When we set out on the road the sun was still coming up. We had to make it to a town that was about 180 km away and Andrew and Mel had taken to waking up early every morning, not something that Downey and I did on a regular basis. We were awake much earlier than usual and were on our bikes and making great time like we had not done in weeks.
   The destination for the day was Huntsville, Ontario. It was the hometown of Andrew, our new friend and he along with his partner Mel felt compelled to invite Downey and I over for a meal and a place to sleep. Andrew explained to me that over the course of his journey he had been invited time and time again into different peoples homes and showered with charity and now he felt that it was his turn. Downey and I did not find his offer of a warm bed and meal hard to accept, and so our destination was slightly changed.
   Not surprisingly, the day offered it's share of obstacles. The sun was hot, our tires went flat from time to time, we became hungry now and again. When we had to eat we ate, when we had to drink we drank, and when we had to go, we went. An interesting side note on the last point: Andrew explained to me that with a slight downhill you can actually shift your body into a position where you can urinate and continue biking all at once. Since I consider myself a student of the life I had to learn this new maneuver. It is something I would learn to perfect with time, but easier said than done at first. If there is any advice I can give to anyone who is trying to pee and bike at the same time it's this: First, you need to be a male for this to work. Secondly, make sure your slight downhill is actually a slight downhill and not a flat. There is nothing worse than having to start peddling while peeing. Take my word for it, it is not recommended.
   Huntsvillle is a huge vacation town. The town can be compared to Tofino on Vancouver Island. It is bustling with tourists and party goers. When we first arrived we wasted no time in jumping in the lake and cooling off. Andrew's step-father owned a outdoors shop right near the docks we were jumping off of and came out to meet us. It was nice to see the reunion of families. It made me think of my own family and how I had been greeted by them back in Winnipeg. Andrew's step-father was very happy to have Downey and I over for supper at their house that night and told us to leave our bikes at his shop so he and his team could repair them and insure us a successful trip. Downey and I accepted the offer and then went to Andrew's house for supper.
    We had a great time. This family especially could sympathize with what we were going through. Their own son had been gone for a good amount of time and they were more than willing to do anything to make our stay enjoyable. If there was any comfort they could afford us they would. I slept on the floor of the living room and felt at home. Not that I normally sleep on the floor of my own house....

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