I was on the road by ten in the morning, which was a bit late, and by afternoon I was passing Kenora and Dryden. As the kilometres slowly ticked by I began to doubt my original enthusiasm about getting to Toronto, and especially Hamilton, by the early evening of the second day of driving.
I wasn’t passing Thunder Bay until evening, and to my surprise the gas stations I had passed a month earlier didn’t materialize; instead I had to go off the highway into a loop created when the new highway had been put in. There I found one of the few gas stations that had survived the general decay after the highway had avoided inhabited areas.
I was aiming for at least Rossport, and accordingly, since I knew I’d be pulling over for the night to sleep in the car, I didn’t pick up any hitchhikers. I saw two, and one of them, an old man with a bag and an orange vest, made me regret driving past. But I kept my resolve, for I’m on a tight schedule and I can’t be driving someone way off the highway to where they need to be for the night like the last time I drove through alone.
I was at Rossport earlier in the evening than I thought, so I stopped there for lunch and dinner, and then pressed on past Marathon. By this time it was dark and even though the moon occasionally came from behind dark clouds, it was getting difficult to see. In this area of western Ontario in particular, it is worth paying attention to moose, for they can loom up suddenly in your view and before you know it, your desperate feet are on the brakes.
I stopped in Marathon to wash my wind screen and the lights, and that helped enough for me to get past White River and to the Depew River rest area where at one-thirty I pulled in for the night.
I woke a number of times, as I struggled to get comfortable across the front seats, but by five in the morning I was chilly enough with my one thin blanket that I started the car and drove east. I was nearly the only one on the highway and I saw two moose by the side of the road, surprised at my appearance through the fog, but soon the morning sun burned away the mist and I was winding past Wawa and through Lake Superior national park. The park was as beautiful as I remembered, and I wound through Old Woman Bay and Sand River and Katherine Cove and thought about how many times I had camped along that road.
By the time I was close to the Sault, I was running out of gas again. The car can do, depending on conditions, nearly seven hundred kilometres on a forty litre tank, but I was scraping the bottom as I pulled into northern Sault and then bought enough fuel to keep going to south of Sudbury where I usually gas up at a reserve with people I like.
I stopped for lunch near Espanola but other than a break for reserve gas, I pressed on to Toronto, trying to make it to Hamilton by early evening. The Toronto crush was as my Toronto friends had described it. Traffic was heavy and even though I was traveling in the unpopular direction, it slowed me enough that after my two days of driving I didn’t arrive in Hamilton until seven-thirty. Luckily my sister was home and waiting, so we went right out to a Vietnamese restaurant where she ate little, given that she was sick with a cold, and I merely snacked.
It was dark by the time I left Hamilton for Mississauga, and late when I arrived even though traffic was light. I mistook the exit and went into the edge of the Toronto sprawl, but I was soon turned around and on my way back out there the westbound exit did exist.
I slept like the dead at my friend’s place after my abortive attempt in the car the night before, and once I finally rose, I began to organize the day. I had only a full day, so I met with a couple I’d missed on the last run through, and then came back to Mississauga where we were up late. I was leaving the next day, and although I rose early to say goodbye, I spent less time with my Toronto friends than I would have wished and missing seeing some people I would have liked to see.