On the road to ... the Soo

It’s a late start to the day at The Hacienda. There’s no reason to rush, nor rhyme per-say as to why one wouldn’t want to leave this sliver of paradise; where the only important time is considered for is the mouth-watering meals Helene creates in the kitchen. The night before, Mark had sold me on the homemade Belgian waffles, complemented by the finest syrup Ontario has to offer, local seasonal fruit, homemade jam, and fresh whipped cream. Let’s be honest, how could I’ve said no.  I’m typically one who minds their diet fairly 

closely but when on an adventure such as this, why not live as though every day is our last? Respectfully it could be, and in a very ordinary sense, we all gamble on the defaulted entitlement of assuming there’s a tomorrow with our name on it. Anchored in the belief that what we don’t do today, will, of course, be done tomorrow. Whom we don’t reconcile with, or speak the heartfelt truth of our admiration and appreciation to – we’ll obviously have all the time that the never-ending tomorrows might bring, and of course, we bet on it, liberally.  With such a self-soothing mentality at the forefront of my guilt-free mind, my ears wiggle at the sound of Helene’s voice calling my name for breakfast. My nose catches a whiff of my Belgian fantasies come true and darts in the direction, as if a younger Jax, minus the tremors.

Upon seeing the detail-oriented presentation in its simplicity, it became evident to me that Helene’s work in the kitchen was much more than a complimentary meal. There was pride in the way guests were taken care of here and, for some reason, it meant so much more – I think because it wasn’t a large franchised operation that the love of what she did could be seen, felt, and tasted much more readily. With every bite, a sip of coffee, and OJ, I could feel Tlaloc’s smile grow bigger from the other room. I could almost feel my sense of self-worth grow as I started to fondle the dream of this becoming everyday life. Helene’s voice brings me back to reality as I remember where I’m at and who I am; not ready for that white picket fence just yet! We chat a little bit about the day’s events and wedding their hosting to come. Helene gazes out the large-circular window towards Walter and Libby as the older couple sit in the morning light, smiling, talking, enjoying just being with one another in a beautiful place. I see a smile start to creep up on

Small hamlets and random storage buildings seemed to litter the roadside in between gas stations. Driving in, the rain was scattered, beading against my helmet as I was torn between pulling over to put on my rain gear or bet on my luck against the ominous clouds up ahead. In the moment it felt as though – I – Was the sure bet. Motley Crew had “Kickstart My Heart” as Calebra tore open the belly of the countryside and if one was being honest, a little bit of cloud coverage and rain was a welcomed changed from the unrelenting sun and heat. We had gotten held up by at least an hour or more due to construction on the Trans-Can. It seemed even in the boonies of Canada’s backcountry there’s no escaping roadside maintenance – which I suppose is better than not maintaining the roads at all.

IMG_20210716_155114.jpg

It was three and a half hours to Sault Ste. Marie (aka the “Soo”), a laugh in the face of the eight hour initiation we experienced just days before. The weather was clear and the ride was motivating – perhaps my appreciation was emphasized by my stagnation up until this point but it seemed the further I drew from home the more scenic my path became. Bumping along the well-worn road, the rock faces grew, the bush weaved into itself with greater density, open fields were becoming fewer, and views were held pedestal high when traversing a bridge or hugging a body of water. Coming around bends and christening hilltops was always very aesthetically rewarding and sometimes required a moment of tentative bracing lest the wind scorning a meadow or lake tempted to take off your head unexpectedly. Definitely, an awakening experience from the serenity one becomes enchanted by when lost to a never-ending stream of tarmac.

Helene’s face.  It infectiously sprouts one upon mine. It brings me great solace knowing that there are people like this out here in the world, people who take deep pleasure in caring for others and are not so superficially motivated by monetary gain, but by emotional fulfillment as well. Often we’re lead to believe the numbers of such quality people have dwindled over the years of economical pursuits and industrialized chaos but I have the strong inclination that that’s far from the truth – I would hate to believe anything less.It takes even less time today to saddle up. Baby was sparkling new, thanks given to the rain god, and after a quick wipe down we’re good to go. Jacks came trotting up, requesting a few final tosses to which – I hadn’t the heart to decline. After a few and a little bit of tug-o-war, Helene came out for a final send-off and we were back on the road.Having landed only to take flight the next morning, we hadn’t much time to sightsee and were sure to tag the big nickel on the way out. The Dynamic Earth Museum itself was closed due to Covid which was a bit of a letdown, but what could one expect when traveling during a great global pandemic.

IMG_20210715_105652.jpg
IMG_20210715_104812.jpg

I make it into the Airbnb just in time as the rain comes flooding into town behind me. Once unpacked and settled in for another single night stay, I begin to feel a growing excitement to experience the city, its people, and cuisine. Somehow the road had swept away my memory of the times and the fear-fueling pandemic at hand. My memory was quick to return once I started researching the area for local eateries and that indoor dining has yet to reopen. Disheartened, though still hopeful in finding something unique to experience I had found a sushi joint with an item that stood out amongst the rest: The Legendary Dragon Ball. My mind began to race with Kamehameha’s as I tried to decipher what such a food item could consist of; an avocado ball stuffed with faux crab meat and sprinkled with sesame seeds. As a lover of sushi, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of this before.
 

 

The next day I pack up and headed to another location within the city. Stopping at White Fish Island to go mountain biking for an hour, it was the first fat bike I had ever ridden, and quite enjoyed the ride. The swollen tires gripped gravel and mud the same with no loss of stability or traction. I had felt slightly encouraged after the experience to consider one of my own in the future. The trail in itself was quite beautiful, historic in that prompts lay mounted along the trail educating passersby of the utility the island served as indigenous communities had formed a hub for trade upon it. Signs forewarned of deer, bear, and moose, all of which I was grossly unprepared for. Due to the limits in storage capacity a motorcycle is hindered by, the size of my duffle bag riding bitch unapologetically left little to no room for any backpacking supplies. Thus, when it came to stops, I often had to place faith in the goodness of man that my things would still be situated and attached to the bike in the exact way I had left them. The most one could do besides stashing them at that evening’s place of rest, was configure the method of attachment in such a way that it would take considerable time to make off with the loot. Thankfully, that never happened.

IMG_20210715_115047.jpg
IMG_20210715_121758.jpg
IMG_20210716_142430_387.jpg

A couple days were spent in the Soo, riding around and finding hidden beaches located off the shoulder of the two-lane highway and taking naps under big loonies. There seemed to be a fad around oversized coins as if someone had a hole in their pocket. Besides indigenous historic sights, patios seemed to be the next best thing. The smell of the water streamed in through the trees. Carefully sectioned wooden planks made way for the towering trees shielding the patio. Their blossoming flowers jump from the branches and into my curvy glass of the local brewery’s IPA. String lights dangle overhead like monkeys swinging between branches, partially hiding the dragon mural that decorated the alley way. The hops of the brew linger on the tongue, having me feeling as loose as one should be travelling across the country. Unspoken brewery had a rather unique Kimchi grilled cheese sandwich that was absolutely amazing.

 

IMG_20210717_125634.jpg

Wawa was the following rung in the ladder. A short, sweet visit as sit seemed like a town many simply passed through – not much was there besides a big goose and info regarding a number of the sights situated around Lake Superior. I was in the parking lot drinking from my water bottle when a family of four parked next to me in their ruby red minivan. We had struck up conversation during their snack break, the kids meekly poking their heads around the sliding side door to stare at the rugged dirty man chatting with their folks. I was informed that their nephew was one of the local OPP and forewarned of traveling north of White River after dark. Almost on a weekly basis, families were killed by people trying to make good time in combination of moose believing the lack of headlights on the road meant safety and assured  a leisurely crossing. For better or for worse, I had absolutely no intention of traveling at night – I simply valued sleep far too much to warrant that kind of masochistic deprivation. It’s not much further to Wawa from the goose monument. An early dinner at the local eatery “The Viking” meant I could get some extra writing and editing in and a night’s rest at “The Big Bird Inn”.

IMG_20210718_173236.jpg
IMG_20210717_150751.jpg
IMG_20210717_150838.jpg

Continue the Adventure .... 

Coming Up ...

Can you Guess
where we we head next?