After a long rest in Southern Ontario it’s time to push on. Escaping the cities seems to take forever, especially in the sweltering summer weather. Finally I reach farmland, and hills!
I head for Owen Sound to meet Jon, a writer for the community newspaper. He’s arranged accommodation for me with Anne, the paper’s editor. At breakfast, a small group of us have a thought-provoking discussion about violence against women in Canada.
Next I venture to Lion’s Head, where Megan has offered me free camping space in the yard of her fabulous hostel, The Fitz. In the evening, we head to Tobermory in her VW Westphalia for some wine and live music by the water.
I soon head back to Tobermory on my own, and spend three days enjoying the town and the wonderful hiking and swimming in Bruce Peninsula National Park – a little vacation within a vacation!
Next I’m re-joined by Faez and we take the Chicheemaun to Manitoulin Island where I remark that the locals are as kind as Newfoundlanders. We’re informed that the island is known as “Freshwater Newfoundland.” Some of the folks we meet include Penny and Ed, who take us out for breakfast, and Nimkii, who gives us permission to camp on Native land. The whole island is experiencing a severe drought but the scenery is still breathtaking.
After Manitoulin I head to Espanola and begin my journey on Highway 17 – the road many cycle tourists describe as the most difficult and dangerous in the country. I’ll ride the 17 for over two weeks, but within the first few days I make it to Sault Ste Marie and the fantastic hospitality of its bike shop, Velorution. Velorution offers free camping and showers to cycle tourists, a great opportunity to meet others on the road and to tune up Marigold before tackling the rest of the country.