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Sunday, 7 August 2011

July 21: Upsala to Thunder Bay

  There are three kind of people on this earth, those who can count and those who can't. If you have been keeping a tally of the miles we do in a day you'll see our forward momentum was brought to a grinding halt when we hit the Ontario boarder. With each passing day my stomach would go in knots as Downey and I would time and time again fall hopelessly behind schedule. This is a fact that did not escape our attention but rather was at the forefront of our minds. The truth was that if we were not cycling through lightning storms, we would be cycling through humid heat that was nothing short of suffocating.
   Let me give you an example. During the heatwave that passed through Ontario during this time I could drink 8 to 10 750ml bottles of water in a day and only urinate once. If the threat of dehydration was not enough, keep in mind our perfuse sweating affects more than just our water retention. It would also get in our eyes hindering visibility as well as soak our shirt and shorts, which lead to rashes and a ride so painful that we would be uable to sit for a day or two.
   when we woke up in upsala it was going to be another day hotter than the pits of hell itself. That, along with the fact it was extra humid from the previous day's rain made the ride a difficult one. Luckily, Thunder Bay was not far away and the day's discomforts stayed relatively minor.

   Downey and I desperatly craved a shower and a room with air conditioning. The idea of a motel seemed like a good investment, even on our tightest of budgets, if it meant a night of unbroken sleep. When we arrived in T-bay (as the locals call it) I wasted no time in locating cheap hotels.

   "Excuse me Officer" I said to a police person. "Where is the part of town where no one wants to go? Like where there are hookers and crack dealers and such?"

   "Are you looking for hookers and crack? Because I should not be the one to ask" He replied

   "No, we're looking for the cheapest motel or hotel" Said I.

   "Well you'll be in the right side of town, but trust me... you do not want to go there"

   "We've covered that"

   We headed to the rough part of T-bay which I will take the liberty to call T-bag. Downey said it best when he mentioned that as the road conditions deteriorated, so did the people. After some time we found ourselves in the core of vice city. The cop was right, we did not want to be here.
   We pulled up to a hotel. A cop car and a white van waited outside one of the rooms while some officers stood watch and other officers entered and exited in white coveralls.

   "O right on, the police are here. Now we know it's safe" Explained Downey, in a sarcastic tone.

    "We're biking across Canada for charity, were looking for a cheap room." Said I to the proprietor of the motel.

    "72 bucks, plus tax" He replied.

    "Can you come down on that price at all?"

   "Nope" He replied.

   I left in frustration and walked over to the police officers and asked where the cheapest hotel was. The officers looked suprised. One said:

   "This place must be cheap, like fifty bucks. Go ask this guy"

   "We already did, its 72 plus tax"

   "What? No man, this place is way cheaper than that. At least it should be. And I know for a fact there is at least one room free, after we clean up here."

   I did not wait to see what "clean up here" entailed, although my imagination painted a fairly vivid picture. We checked out more hotels in the area, all were booked or out of our price range. Finally we left the neighborhood. We still had not located a place to sleep.

   "I'm just going to ask at some random house, I am desperate"

   I cycled up to a home with a camper. I figured if they have a camper they must know some of the hardships we face. The doorbell was answered by the barking of two small dogs. Not a bad sign, I thought. The owner at least cares enough to give these dogs a decent life. A woman answered the door.

   "Can I help you?"

   "Yeah, I could not find a crack den motel cheap enough to stay in. Can I stay at your house, grab a shower maybe?" Ok, that's not actually what I told her, but it would not have been a lie if I did. Instead I decided to take the charmer aproach.

   "My friend and I are cycling across Canada for charity. We wanted to know if we could sleep in your back yard." I prayed she would not be repulsed by the desperation in my voice.

   After a brief pause she replied:

   "Do you guys want a shower too? Maybe a beer?"

   Hallelujia! We did, and that was exactly what we had.

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