Road Trip Report: Day 2, July 13

I woke up today around 8am with the intention of taking a swim in the hotel pool, and promptly decided to just stay in bed. It was a good decision.

When I did finally get up, I went to meet my cousin, Emma, for breakfast at Zoe’s, just west of King and Spadina. It was a decent restaurant, and their $10 scrambled eggs seemed to come with about five eggs.

After we parted ways, I checked out of the hotel, loaded the car, and then changed the high-beam bulbs, because I had noticed last week that one had burnt out. I bought the bulbs, but didn’t get around to installing them. I figured now was a good time, because I might need them where I was going.

North.

For whatever reason, I decided that going to Sault Ste. Marie would be more interesting than going to Chicago, and the most interesting way to do that would be to take the ferry from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island, then cross the bridge back to the mainland.

I made a reservation at the Manitoulin Inn with a lady named Teresa, who was quite pleased to hear about my trip. She told me that she’s been through 48 states, and prefers Manitoulin. I then set out for Tobermory around 1pm. The weather was perfect for the drive, and there were only a few traffic holdups getting out of Toronto, though many of the long, straight stretches of one-lane highway were a bit slow, too. Some thoughts:

  • I haven’t been to Orangeville in about 15 years, so it was nice to pass through there again.
  •  I also passed a sign for the Nottawasaga Inn, which brings back memories from my engineering co-op terms at Agriculture Canada.
  • Just north of Shelburne, there are seemingly hundreds of wind turbines. I’ve never seen so many in one place, and it was slightly unsettling, though I’m not entirely sure why I feel that way.
  • That being said, I really liked Shelburne. It just seems like a very nice place to be.
  • The guys on Top Gear UK always complain about caravan (RV) drivers causing huge line-ups. After today, I understand that a little more.
  • My Miata is really, really great when you need to cross the dotted line to pass a slow-moving vehicle. Just sayin’.

Eventually I arrived in Tobermory, which I’ve only been to once before…actually, almost exactly 10 years ago with Jeff, Shawn, and Bijou. After parking my car in the ferry lane, I went to the wharf to grab dinner, and it all came back. I remembered the various little shops, the grocery store, the ice cream shops…clearly it had stuck with me more than I had thought. So, I’m really glad that I did it.

And it was strange to think that I’ll likely never be back.

You see, in the past, my road trips have always involved going from Point A through Point B to Point C, and then coming back through B to return to A. In this case, I’m just going to keep going from A-Z, and then through AA-ZZ.

I think that’s when it really hit me that this is a very, very big journey ahead of me.

Sidebar. A few times over the last month, I’ve seen these seat-back supports that are mesh on a wire frame, with elastic straps for tension and to wrap around the seat. I had considered buying one for the Miata (most recently at the CAA office), but hadn’t pulled the trigger. Well, while driving to Tobermory, I realized that I should have bought one, not for my posture, but for my sweaty back. Just as I did with my improvised glare shield for my GPS (which works well, but has a few flaws to be worked out), I started thinking about how I could make some kind of strap system using the materials available in my car. Well, as luck would have it, one of the stores happened to be selling the back support, so screw that. I put it in before we got onto the ferry, and so far I’m pretty pleased with it. We’ll see how well it works when the sun is beating down on me tomorrow.

Sidebar 2. As noted, the glare shield did what I wanted it to do, but I don’t think it’ll last the whole trip. I’m still pretty pleased about it.

Okay, where was I…right, big journey.

Amusingly, I had to jump-start someone’s truck just as the ferry was arriving. I think she was running her radio while waiting and killed it. No, I don’t have jumper cables, though I considered buying a portable jumpstarter a few times over the past month for this trip, and kept concluding that I wouldn’t have room for it. Another person had cables, and my car was the easiest to manoeuvre into place.

The ferry ride was pretty run-of-the-mill, and I didn’t realize that it takes an hour and forty-five minutes to get to the island. I’ve been on lots of ferries in BC and this wasn’t much different, but it was pretty cool seeing the sun set on the horizon.

Dusk was setting in when we debarked from the ferry, and I already had the 30-minute drive to the Manitoulin Inn programmed into my GPS. And good thing I have it, because I would never have found my way otherwise. I had to go down side roads and gravel roads and roads that kept rising and falling and ones that twisted and turned. I also nearly hit a fox, but my no-roadkill record remains clean. And remember those high-beam bulbs? Yeah, brilliant move putting them in earlier in the day, because I needed them. In the dusk light and the slightly weird fog hanging over the land, the road would just disappear with every hill, and I sometimes thought my car was just going to launch over the next one. But I got to the inn without issue, and it was probably some of the most interesting driving I’ve done in the Miata.

Cool moment: at one point, I looked up and realized that I was driving right toward the North Star.At least, I assume that’s what it was, and I don’t care if it wasn’t.

As for the Manitoulin Inn, they put me in a really nice room for $115+tax. And that’s where I am now, settling in for the evening and taking the opportunity to write this all down, because I’ve already forgotten lots of the things I thought about over the course of the day.

Russ