WebSTAT - Free Web Statistics


Cross Cancer Institute


The Journey


Trip Log

Bikers Corner

Cancer Links

Status Reports




About Me

Guest Book

View Guest Book


First and Second day (Wednesday and Thursday, May 21st and 22nd)

At the second kilometer I asked myself “are you nuts? Turn around and go home!  At last the time has come, and the good byes, and the details and the weather. So, I kept going, the third kilometer, the fourth, the…..

The temperature was 4C and sunny but cold. As I wrote before, I am riding with my summer gear (in preparation for Israel) but slowly you get used to the cold and after your fingers freeze over the throttle you don’t feel a thing. I’m leaving the city and on route.

10 years ago, while working on my pilot’s license in Canada, I had to navigate to Vegreville and continue from there. I worked on my map, prepared my course, times, winds and everything needed. I took off and according to my calculation; I was supposed to be above the place. Looking through the window – I saw nothing. I tensed. Four minutes later I descended above a road, looked at the road sign, identified where I was and continued. Once back home, as it turned out, I had been right above it. So, Vegreville is approximately as big as a watermelon. In my “misguided mentality, each and every small town in Canada is at least the size of Beverly Hills. Because of this misperception, I had actually missed it. And go figure – in Vegreville there is a huge tourist attraction which is a large statue of a Ukrainian Easter egg. I sent all my friends there to see it, but memories of this embarrassing experience have kept me away from it. At last I cracked the Vegreville egg. And on the road leading there were two (2!) speed traps. No, I wasn’t caught but it is an interesting thought to keep in mind when passing through needy towns.

From Vegreville… on to Saskatoon (because that is where the road leads). You don’t have many options. If you turn left, you may find yourself at the North Pole. Saskatoon, named after dark purple, sweet, wild, berries, is not the capital of Saskatchewan. Regina is (named after a British Queen I think). On the way there you go through Lloydminster which is also known as a Canadian border city. They even have a sign to indicate the border.  There is one small detail – it’s the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan. Half of the City is in Alberta and the other half in Saskatchewan. There is no Provincial Services tax in Alberta. There is one in Saskatchewan. So they made the city a ‘no PST zone’ and that’s the end of the interest in the city. I fill gas and keep on going.

Approximately an hour later, I see some black clouds. Something looks weird as they come and go. The prairies are notorious for violent storms that come out of nowhere.  It is still dry so I don’t stop for my raincoat but I have this uncomfortable feeling that I will be in light cloths in the middle of the rain. It’s a boring road but at least I can press the throttle. To my surprise, I am between clouds all the time. I decide that my brother is taking good care of me (hey, everyone has his own superstitions). I look to the right and I see a green/black cloud with a weird shape and its changing. And then it starts raining. And, what is weirder is that it appears to be coming from the ground up and about 3 meters above the ground, the rain goes to the left.  Its cadence is uneven. I decide that this is a good photo opportunity and stop on the shoulder to take my camera out. As I am opening my gas-tank bag’ I hear this low noise, one heck of a wind starts to blow and you can see a rotation in the clouds and this ‘rotation’ simply put – crosses the road ahead of me. Now, nothing would have given me greater pleasure than writing that I was cool about it and took pictures like it was no big deal. But… I made a u-turn (which by the way is a taking your life in your hands at the best of times never mind when you are facing winds such as these) and open the throttle all the way. I try to stabilize my bike and instead of looking at the road ahead I am checking the mirrors all the time to make sure the ‘thing’ doesn’t get me. My GPS recorded a speed of 187 km/hr. I was sure I rode faster but who am I? 17 km from there (please note, the middle of nowhere), was a gas station. Once there, I already felt somehow more secure and stopped my bike. A girl stepped out of the office to ask me if I needed gas. I said “no thank you” and could have stopped there so as not to look foolish.  But I had to tell her that I just came to find shelter because I was scared. I knew tornados didn’t occur in such a cold temperatures (it was 19C), but that is what it looked to me like. Of course she gave me this piteous look and didn’t even bother to patronize me with a comment like “oh, really?” She just gave me the ‘stupid tourist’ look and turned to go back into the office. As she was doing so, the sound started again and in a matter of seconds it looked like the clouds were all moving together. Suddenly, scrambling across the road, not more than 20 meters from where she had stood, an old barn was just lifted in the air and turned to pieces. I will not quote what she said but it was enough assurance for me that it was an unusual phenomena. I have no idea if it was a tornado. Usually they would have said something on the radio so I assume it wasn’t. But it really doesn’t mater. It was SCARY!!! There were more storms following, but I decided that there would be no way I would quit on the first day and so I just continued. An hour later spring had returned as though nothing had ever happened.

Because the road repair season here is very short (ice, snow, etc…), I wasted hours waiting while they paved the roads. If that bugs you, imagine millions of mosquitoes covering you the minute you stop. It is amazing. That’s why they are so afraid of West Nile Virus here.

Another hour goes by and I stop to take a beautiful picture of cows, laying on and eating grass. Probably their last meal as two hours later it comes across the news that the original source of the Mad Cow Disease discovered in Alberta the day before, had come from a cow here in Saskatchewan. God bless their souls.

End of day.  I Arrive at Yorkton which is near the border of Manitoba. 888 km of riding today. I find a motel, buy donuts and find myself disappointed with the computer.  I try to clean the bike as much as possible from the dead mosquitoes (5,532 of them) to ensure that I have room for the new ones destined to explode all over the bike tomorrow.  At midnight, I let the computer win.

Thursday 5:45am. I check the computer only to face the same disappointing result. I prepare the bike and decide that I’ll have breakfast after riding 200km. I loose an hour today as a result of changing time zones so time is precious. It’ cold! Only about 8C but it is a great (fast) way to wakeup. I put a new CD in the player and off I go. Brrrrrrrr.

I travel on empty roads for hundreds of kilometers. Cold winds and white foxes who cry over their friends who tried to cross the road only to be DOA’s, are watching me. I slow down as this area is full of deer and this is the dangerous hour. Last year I had a close encounter and I learned my lesson. Ahead of me, the sun is about a meter above my head. I am on a road that looks like it’s from nowhere and going to nowhere.  Ahead of me is a valley with a winding road uphill. Not a soul around. It is an agricultural area and every farmer here owns land the size of a small town and there is not one house on the horizon. Everything is green. Trees, grass, fields, rivers, and in the middle, on a black strip of road I’m on the motorcycle. You can’t describe the feeling. You lean the bike into the turns, 140km/hr and you know you are safe because you can see straight through to Paris!  And, you just sing. Two hours later, every now and then you start seeing a bike or two but they disappear as fast as they come. I stop in some tiny town in Manitoba for breakfast and find out it’s already 12:30pm. Time flies. Bye Saskatchewan (and to the sticky zone).

Manitoba is quite boring (sticky). OK, very boring. The only event that causes me to smile is seeing a truck hauling a house that is just about 10cm higher than a bridge it’s trying to go under. The two drivers are measuring and measuring. I would have measured too…but, before I left with the house…before having to drive 350 km out of the way to get onto an alternate road. Later, I am amused by a truck belonging to the CNR (Canadian National Railway), riding on train rails. I leave Winnipeg late as I had to find postcards and I become conscious of the time and speeding. 45 km more to the U.S border.  There is a police car in front of me. I slow, he slows. I speed, he speeds. He waits for me to pass him and even looks back at me and I don’t have a clue what he wants from me. Suddenly, I notice I have no gas. I mean NO GAS. With the combination of low light and concentrating on “law enforcement” I have not to paid attention and I am worried. We come to the border and to the left there is a gas station. I signal left and so does the cop. I turn after him and immediately drive into the station. I am sure he thought I was playing a game. I see him about to turn back to the gas station and from the office out comes a nice guy (that I realized late is also a biker). He looks at the cop and doesn’t understand either what is going on. Then, just as the police car turns in, the guy grabs my radar detector and runs with it to the office. Now I really do not understand what is going on. Am I in dreamland? As it turned out, in Manitoba radar detectors are illegal and I was riding with it all the time. The cop in the car was frustrated, looked around and left. Picture. (sticky). Bye Canada. See you next week.

U.S Immigration went surprisingly smooth (very smooth) and the guy even smiled! Probably came from Canada. I start the bike, the GPS is off. I turn it on. The GPS turns itself off. On. Off. Now I am worried (and it is easy when you are tired). I stop at the side of the road and try again.  Still nothing. I decide that there must be a simple explanation and continue. All of my waypoints are on my GPS. Of course I have maps but they are not in place and without street details it is complicated and time consuming. 60 miles later I stop at a rest area. I call Garmin and the “smart guy” on the other end of the phone tells me to send it in because it is under warranty. Sure, I will cancel my trip and wait until they fix it. So he tells me to reinstall the software. Well, I don’t have the software with me. Only then, is he willing to instruct me on how to reset the system. I lost all of the data (not the maps) but I have a working GPS again. I will re-key in everything tonight.

Conclusion…. I’m in Fargo (North Dakota). If you didn’t see the movie – run!!! Pictures from real life!!! I took a room in a more expensive hotel to try to connect to the internet via the local network, just to discover that I am missing a part to my network card. Tomorrow is a new day. I am a day ahead of schedule  so maybe tomorrow I will ride a little bit less and visit more places. I have to be in Chicago on Saturday.