Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Trip Day 2

Day 2
We woke up to nice weather this morning, a bit chilly but not too bad. Said our goodbyes to Mary and we were off to Canada. 

We headed into Minnesota passing through Duluth and across the Richard Bong Bridge which is a curved bridge over the Saint Louis Bay. Once in Duluth there was a chill in the air along with the dampness of the lake. We stopped at  a gas station and put some warmer clothes on.
We arrived in International Falls and got a bit confused because the Hwy 11 we wanted to take seemed to be in Canada on our GPS. After a bit of map searching we realized that there was a Hwy 11 on each side of the border. Back on the road on our way to Warroad, MN. On our way there we could see the Canadian side pretty much the entire ride. We didn’t want to pass into Canada on the Ontario side because we are going to Ontario in July, so we thought we would save it. Looking at the Canadian side was pretty cool, we could see homes in Canada with a view of the States from their backyard deck. We did see one Border Patrol officer sitting on the side of the road. That has to be one of the most boring jobs out there.
In Warroad, we stopped and got all our papers ready to go into Canada. Arriving at the border I pulled in first with Isaiah close behind me. We shut off our motorcycles, mostly so Isaiah could hear what story I gave the Border Patrol officer as we didn’t really get our story straight beforehand. Entering Canada was too easy. “What brings you to Canada?” “Vacation.” “How long will you be here?” “Till Monday.” “Passport?” “Here ya go.” “Any Alcohol Tobacco or firearms?” “Two packs in my luggage and a half pack in my tank bag.” “Have a good time.”
Next Isaiah. “Passport?” “Alcohol Tobacco or Firearms?” “No.” “Are you with him?” “Yes.” “Have a good time.”
We get into Manitoba and stop at the nearest gas station. We stop and come up with a plan on where we are going and what we are doing. We looked at the gas station and weren’t sure if Manitoba had weird laws like New Jersey where you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas. Unsure of the place we decided to move on and hit the next gas station. Big mistake in Manitoba. There isn’t much there. After about 80 miles of nothing we started getting worried that we were going to be buying gas from a local farmer. We finally got to a gas station and proceeded to make ourselves out to be complete idiots. We pulled up to the pump and it didn’t have a typical look to it. It had a keypad with some random question buttons. No credit card swipe or anything like that. We went inside and the girl behind the counter grabbed some greasy gloves and told us that she would pump our gas. We asked her if she had to and after a long strange look she said no. I then asked if we had to pay before pumping and once again she gave a strange look and again said no. We awkwardly walked out and pumped some gas. Now gas in Canada is measured in liters and was $1.23 Canadian per liter. Turned out to be about $5.00 U.S. per gallon. After our awkward gas stop and a Coke we kind of guessed which way to go and headed out.
After riding for a while and getting a bit confused we came up with a great idea. Buy a map! We stopped at another gas station and went in to find a map. We found a nice atlas and asked the attendant for a place to camp. He finally gave us our first taste of the typical Canadian accent. He asked us how soon we needed a campsite and basically offered for us to camp behind the gas station. He then told us about a campground in St. Malo. We asked him if it was open and he said, “Oh Yeah, it has a beach and everything.” Well we’re not sure if it is considered beach weather in Canada when it is 50 degrees out or not but the offer of a beach was pretty humorous to us. Standing outside the gas station we saw a few bikes roll past on the road and gave a few waves. It was strange that I didn't give it much thought before but we really hadn't seen any bikes traveling till then. A lot of local riders and one Ural on our way to Ashland but that was it. Onward to St. Malo feeling peppier about our day since we have a destination.
Arriving at the campground we were greeted by a lady who sold us our park pass. She then directed us on to another building where we could purchase our campsite. This was a bit strange as I am accustomed to doing it all in one building. No matter; we weaved our way through the park until we arrived at the next place. This place was crammed with forest rangers. They had four sitting at the front counter and at least another four in the back room. They were what I would consider the picture perfect Canadians. Great accents flowing all around. They picked us a campsite near the bathrooms and away from other campers. The catch was that we could only have one vehicle parked at the site. This meant one of us had to unpack the bike and park in the nearby parking lot. For some unspoken reason I got to keep my bike at the site. We made our way to the site and took notice of where the wood guy was. Not having any Canadian dollars I was hoping to get lucky purchasing firewood. The rangers from earlier said we could get money exchanged at a bank in town but it was already after 6 pm and I doubted the banks would be open that late on a Saturday, although I don’t know what Canadian banks keep for hours. We unpacked our bikes and I went to get wood while Isaiah went off to find the parking lot for his cycle to sleep in for the night. Pulling up to the wood guy I announced right away that all I had were U.S. dollars. He shrugged and said “he had no problem with that.” I purchased three cores from him and right away he went to work tossing them on my bike without question. He also gave me a bunch of kindling wrapped in newspaper. Take a note American campfire wood sellers, we need something to get the fire going with.

Settling down to a fire and some canned beef ravioli we heard some girls start singing campfire songs across the way. We finished dinner. Girls are still singing. Go to the bathroom and come back. Still singing. Shoot the shit around the fire. Still singing. Thunder and lightning with a drizzle of rain. They are still singing. They sang for hours.
What surprised us was the fact that we could still see outside and it was coming up on midnight. Not bright out but I could see my bike clearly 30 meters away.
Girls were done singing and night was upon us so we headed off to bed.