It was a long day – 12 hours on the road – but miracles beckoned me left and right. Small, dark blue lakes with expanses of white lilies. Two Mennonite women riding their bicycles in long flowered skirts, one with a helmet over her bonnet. Towering slabs of vertical rock, turned pink in the early evening sun. Life was so big.
And then there was Bruce Mines, a tiny town on the north shore of Lake Huron just east of Sault Ste. Marie. I thought it was pretty special that they’d named a place after me. And there’s a sign for Bruce Bay! Gosh, I’m everywhere. Even though I couldn’t see any further evidence of Bruceness as I drove through, my rich fantasy life kicked into gear. What if there’s a Bruce National Bank? Or “Get your oil changed at Bruce’s!” Or Bruce’s Family Restaurant. I bet they were all hiding just a block off Main St.
Along the north shore of Lake Superior, with its grand vistas and mini-islands, the road swooped, dropped and climbed. I could feel my body move with Scarlet as we floated along at the speed limit – 90 kph (55 mph). I got very excited when I looked in the rear view mirror to see a semi-trailer pounding down the slope behind me. Every 10 kilometres or so, there was a passing lane but meanwhile friendly drivers were on my tail. I decided to not let them dictate my well-being. On I went at 90. Then the passing lane, and the semi would blast up the hill beside me, its huge white mass blocking the entire world to my left. I loved the power, the speed, the impossibility of that beast roaring past me. Up and up and up. I tell you, I just about had an organism!
Then there was my bladder. I had neglected its needs when I stopped at Pancake Bay for a decadent chocolate peanut butter waffle cone. They had only one size – huge! Anyway, there I was motoring towards Thunder Bay with a liquid problem – one was building up and the other was running out. The arrow on my gas gauge was moving towards the E. Meanwhile I was discreetly pushing my thighs together.
I reckoned in White River that I had lots of gas and could just zoom on through. The sign said 85 k to Marathon and Scarlet told me I had 107 left. Piece of cake. Surely no self-respecting retired person would stop at the station in White River. C’mon, Bruce … push the envelope. So I pushed, in one respect, and contracted in another. Then another sign – 60 (compared to 80). More squeezing. Gosh, this was turning into an heroic quest. Later it was 25 and 40. I had visions of 10 k left, 5, 1, and even limping into Petro-Canada on my last fumes, with Scarlet coughing to a stop only feet away from the pump, with the nozzle just able to reach the gas tank. Ahh. What would I do without fantasy? The truth was that the digital display read 18 when Marathon and I united. That’s okay. I had fun.
I have to admit that my first stop at the station wasn’t for gas. I stood at the appropriate spot for quite a long time. It would be indelicate of me to share the details so I don’t think I will.
This morning, I’m visiting the Terry Fox Memorial before winding my way through the woods of northwestern Ontario to emerge on the Prairies at Steinbach, Manitoba. I’ll let you know all about it tonight or tomorrow morning. I hope you’re enjoying my journey. I sure am.
P.S. 1 … Nothing But Driving
P.S. 2 … 83 seconds, while pales in comparison to my 130 seconds achieved just off the I-75 in Michigan in 1990