Before leaving Wallaceburg last Thursday, I had a nice chat over breakfast with Ronnie and Zoe, a delightful couple from South Carolina who were part of the sag-supported ACA ride across the country.
I hesitate to add this bit but they were doing the ride on a tandem and were quite enjoying themselves (maybe Rachael won’t see this post). They were very friendly and a lot of fun to talk to; hopefully I’ll see them again someday – perhaps in DC or maybe out on the open road!
And then, for the last time, I headed out of the motel ahead of Roger. Our leave taking was brief as befits men of our generation but it still felt sudden and unsettling as I pedaled away knowing that the next time we saw each other the trip would already be inscribed in the past, which felt wrong because there was yet so much more to come before either of us was home again.
Happily, physical exertion annuls introspection, so within a few miles I was merrily cycling away through the Canadian countryside. I took a route that led me along the (other) Thames River:
After a self-catered dinner in my room, I descended to the lower depths of the inn to squander my remaining Canadian dollars in the basement pub where I met Brenda:
She was funny and brassy and flirtatious in a good-natured way and we got along well. Her luck or taste or choice in men seemed suspect given her five marriages – I cannot guess what Samuel Johnson would have had to say – but her spirits were undiminished. She and her son are close and each has the other’s name tattooed upon them in Russian – in keeping with her heritage.
And the next morning, I was on the ferry first to Pelee Island and then to Ohio. On the first leg, I met Stanley, John and Clarence, who had biked some 200 miles in a couple of very long days in order to spend the weekend camping on the island.
Over the course of a rambling conversation touching upon the US election, the rise of China and the eternal lament of young men without women in their lives, the lads told a curious tale about their common experience with the part time job of chicken catching in the area where they lived. It is a job that is reviled and done out of necessity because though it pays well it is done by hand in the wee hours of the night in the dark when the chickens are docile and not easily disturbed. The job consists of walking silently through the “Chicken Run” concentration camp and seizing up by the legs two chickens in each hand and packing them into crates. This goes on for hours and evidently reduces the worker to a zombie-like state through its repetitive tedium. It seemed almost a rite of passage with them – before any of them were old enough or had the connections for more skilled work this was what they did because it was one of the few things on offer.
I left them on the island, and while I waited for the next ferry, I took a few pictures of the boat that had brought us from the mainland: