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    Help from Strangers

    September 11, 2016

    When I awoke on Sunday morning, I made my usual cup of chai.


    Scott and Lynn were getting ready for their trip to the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.


    We had several good laughs before our departures with Lynn taking pictures and a new couple (who were joining the two of them) sharing more interesting crossing the border stories.  


    I also met Lynn's cousin: Raymond.


    They offered more ideas with regards to places to see along today's route.


    Last night, the navigation route had been set.  I would be taking Lake Shore Road which essentially turns into 7 and 21.  


    At Goderich, I would pick up 8 into Kitchener.


    Skies were blue in the morning with some cloud coverage.  It was chilly, so I bundled up; however, I opted out of wearing gloves.


    Just before 9 a.m. I said goodbye to all five adults and ventured off into more of Ontario.


    The ride itself was a mixed bag.  


    Along the first leg, it was cold and the headwinds were strong.  


    A few times, I bent over my gas tank to give my neck and chest a break.  A few times, I could feel the wind whipping my motorcycle around.  A few times, I thought my numb fingers might fall off.  A few times, I saw more of those wind turbines across the landscape.


    On the plus side, speed limits were reasonable -- 70 to 80 km per hour.


    (Obviously, speeds dropped as you approached each small town.)


    Roads were smooth.


    I experienced very little traffic.


    When I passed through Goderich, I decided to have breakfast.  


    It was a lucky move because I had missed my turn (through town) to pick up 8.  (Only later, did a fellow rider point that out to me.)  


    The diner was called Flippin' Eggs. 


    I walked into the place and saw that they accepted cash only.  I had some Canadian money thanks to an earlier currency swap with my airbnb host.


    I walked into the restaurant, and stopped at the restroom first. 


    It was a good thing I did because when I saw a solo motorcycle rider complete with jumpsuit and helmet, I asked him if he'd like to join me for breakfast.


    Paul -- a business/speech writer from Toronto -- was camping and riding in the "rural" parts of Ontario.  


    Looks like I was in the right area for motorcycling.


    We scrounged up our cash and managed to have a decent meal for around $15 in Canadian dollars.  


    During breakfast, he helped me navigate my way into Kitchener (my cell service was awful). Then, we spoke about careers, real estate, and of course, riding.


    Following our breakfast we did the typical: I'll show you my bike while you show me yours.  


    It's not really something people do with their cars, but motorcycles are different.  


    They are sort of like your children.


    I shared my url with Paul, and I was on my way back into town.


    (Oh, I stopped to take this photo, too, where the Maitland River meets Lake Huron.)    



    Because Paul encouraged me to "top off" my gas tank, I did.

    Off I went along a new route:  Route 8.


    It was magnificent! 


    I absolutely loved the second leg of this trip.  


    The weather did help: it had become warmer as it approached noon.


    Route 8 was pretty much a 4H dream.  


    Farms and farms and farms.


    I saw goats and sheep and dairy cows and cattle and horses and miniature ponies.


    Poultry and flower farms, too.


    Let's just say that if you want to show your children where food comes from in Ontario, drive them along Route 8 from Goderich to Kitchener.


    My only regret is that I did not stop to take more pictures.


    Tough to do on a two-lane highway; plus, I was having too much fun on my ride.  


    In Stratford, I did what I would call a slow drive by to admire all the boutiques and restaurants.  I think they were having some sort of garlic festival.


    In hindsight, I should have stopped to admire more of the town.


    Sometimes, when traveling alone, you make choices that you just have to trust.


    The drive-by (going up and down a couple of times) was enough.


    I began to see signs for Kitchener and made a slight right to jump on 4 (which runs parallel to 8).


    That decision was spot on because I could see the congestion picking up on 8, and I was able to drive along a heavily Mennonite-run farm area.


    Some of the farms dated back to the mid 1800s!

    Following a few u-turns, I was able to find my airbnb host's duplex. 



    Unfortunately, she was not home, and I did not have any access to wifi, nor did I have any T-mobile bars.  


    I arrived around 2:30 p.m., but did not officially enter the house until around 5 thanks to her neighbor's help!


    I saw Kerstin leave when I pulled up, but did not get a chance to ask her for wifi until she returned -- which was closer to the 5 p.m. hour.


    So, what did I do during that time?


    I unpacked all my stuff and placed them in the patio in the backyard.


    I walked to the gas station for potato chips and water.


    When I returned, I picked up all the weeds that were in Victoria's back patio area.  


    I also made a fire in her fire pit.  


    When I saw a room with a door, I opened it to find a washer and a dryer, so I did laundry, too (with my own detergent).


    Finally, her neighbor returned.


    I asked to use her wifi.  


    In the meantime, she let me into her home, and we chatted for a bit.  She made me a salami and tomato sandwich on rye bread, and gave me a bottle of water.


    I suppose I would have walked to another neighbor's home had it not been for the amazing Kerstin.


    She played "mom" and helped me out of what some might call a pickle.


    Once I was able to login, I accessed Victoria's code.  


    I thanked Kerstin (a German emigre), and said goodbye.


    When I entered the airbnb location, peanut butter cookies nakedly rested on the kitchen counter.


    I helped myself to one... then, two!  


    Good thing, Victoria said (in a text) to help myself.


    I settled into my surroundings, caught up on emails and phone calls, and crashed.  


    The ride must have exhausted me because I was in bed around 8 p.m.


    I did get a chance to meet my host named Victoria (a soon-to-be-mother and archaeologist).  (Big fan of her name, too.)  


    Then, we said good-night; my room was next to hers.


    Not exactly what you might consider a lively day; however, I would call it somewhat interesting.  


    I met two strangers:  both of them provided help for nothing in return.

    Until we meet again, my friend.
















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