Westward ho!

And just like that, they were gone.

Apartment emptied and truck packed, at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, October 6 I dropped the ignition of our hulking u-Haul truck into gear and, with my brother as my co-pilot, set a course westward.

For a better part of the afternoon, the weather was perfect. The sky was clear, the roads dry. It allowed us to appreciate fall in all it’s burnt oranges and reds.

Unfortunately, just past North Bay (our Mom’s birthplace, by the way), the rain started — and hard did it fall.

Two hours later, the sun fully set, the rain still pouring, we decided to call it quits in Canada’s Nickel Capital. We did not, however, see the giant coin.

A couple of things to note about our u-Haul truck:

  • The cab has almost no insulation, which has meant my brother and I have had shout whenever we want to talk to each other. (Advantage, u-Haul.)
  • The dashboard has neither a CD player nor a tape deck; nay, it features nothing but an AM/FM radio, which would have been catastrophic were it not for the excellent pair of iPod speakers my brother brought with him. (Deuce.)

***

After a *delicious* breakfast courtesy of Sudbury’s Hampton Inn, we were back on the road by the ungodly hour of 6:30 a.m., which I’m now convinced is why God gave us the Ramones.

We then took full advantage of the driving conditions and punched it west through to the Soo and then north along the shores of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron and Lake Superior.

By 5 p.m. we were coasting into Thunder Bay, which would have been a good place to call it a day were it not for the sign that told us Kenora — where my brother and I spent many a summer growing up — was a mere 467 kilometers away.

Emboldened, we soldiered on.

***

We did not, however, make it to Kenora.  With the sun setting by 7:30 p.m., the headlights on our u-Haul truck providing lacklustre illumination even on high, our enthusiasm quickly plummeted – almost as quickly as the rain then fell.

Upsala… Ignace…  Wabigoon…

Dryden.

With all the major motels completely booked, we had no choice but to hang our hats at the quaint Patricia Inn Motel.  The non-smoking room had the distinct smell of cigarettes; the bathroom could have easily been the scene of a murder.  Thankfully, the adjoining restaurant was still open – but, for reasons neither my brother nor I could imagine, was not licensed.  That the cheeseburgers we ate were remarkably delicious almost made up for the fact we had to wash them down with water.

***

6:30 a.m., Thursday, October 8.  Back on the road.  Still as dark as night.  Thankfully, we knew we were close.  So very close.

As we peeled out of Dryden, we knew we’d be home in time for breakfast.  And, sure enough, we were, arriving in Winnipeg at approximately 10:15 a.m.

Our journey had come to an end.  Yet, for all the kilometres we’d travelled, gas burned, roads travelled, I know the real journey, for me at least, has only just begun…

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