Mailed July 2 from Sudbury, Ontario
We are on the bumpy road to Sault Ste. Marie, 100 KM left . Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms is in the Discman. It is raining, so the view out the window is not quite as outstanding. We are driving along Lake Superior through a park, and it could not be any more beautiful surrounding us. It is a fun ride, and were getting 31 miles per gallon with our car.
Last night, we arrived in Obatanga Park, and paid for a campsite. The power was out there, so they had no running water. But we wanted to camp there. We found a nice, out of the way site and parked. We did the set up thing and Lars made dinner. It was weird but good. Stir fry meat, rice, and baked beans. We needed to find something to go with our meat. So this became one great stir fry. We washed dishes in the White Lake, where Winnie the Pooh came from. We went for a walk to the beach in the dark and then along the trails. It was a nice walk under a perfect ceiling of stars and tree-tops. When we got back, we sat by the campfire that we built earlier, but had only now really taken off. I played guitar and sang. Then we played Yahtzee. He won the first game, I won the second. We brushed our teeth and went to bed.
This morning, we woke at 10 AM. Lars cooked eggs and cheese together for breakfast (messed up omelets, we don't have milk or butter).
We are listening to Toto. I like them, I've only heard one song before. It is still raining bad. We are thinking of staying tonight in Sault Ste. Marie. We should be there soon.
Anyway, after breakfast we dismantled all and packed the car. Everything fits better now. We didn't get to take showers, so my hair is messy. We stopped in Wawa, looking for a diesel station and a post office. We saw their Canada Day parade. It was: Smoky the Bear on a truck, a police car, and whatever cars were slowed by them as they crawled through town. There was probably more, or was going to be more to the parade, but we saw none. We photographed the big metal goose and left. We've been on the road ever since. We are half and hour from Sault Ste. Marie.
Our visit to Sault Ste. Marie was ruined by the rain. When we got there we found a hostel in somebody's house for traveling foreign students, but while waiting around from 4 PM until the 5 PM check-in time, we decided that the town was not worth our while. We walked to the Duty-Free shop, because it was a border town. It was for people going into the US, so they kept asking for our license plate number. We did not get anything.
We went back to the car and decided to go on to another campsite somewhere east and out of that awful town. We stopped at Dairy Queen however, and bought hot dogs- their only real food. I also got a tropical blizzard, which was wonderful, and fitting with the rain. I have not had ice cream for a long time. Things fro me, food and drink, are more special if I don't have them very often at all. Whenever I have ice cream or pop or chips, I have a ball.
After D. Q., I drove and drove and drove. We finally (210 minutes) arrived at Sudbury. The drive was very much like to the Twin Cities from southern Minnesota, except without planted fields It was just grassland with smaller woods in between. At least smaller compared to the huge forests near Lake Superior. The trees are much shorter and Minnesota-like also. It is still beautiful, but does not inspire awe. That is, until we got to Sudbury. I will copy this down for you, but in Lars' travel book, it says that NASA sent astronauts to Sudbury to see what the moons surface is like. The mines and dust from them kill most of the vegetation. The town however is great.
Tonight, after we found a campsite near town and paid at the desk, I went to take a shower, for which I needed a special key. Lars set up the tent. We ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches after I got done. Lars didn't take one. I will take another tomorrow because if I don't I have a terrible time being hay. Lars set up the tent. We ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches after I got done. Lars didn't take one. I will take another tomorrow because if I don't I have a terrible time being happy about anything.
We went downtown, because we heard that there was to be a fireworks display at Science North, a weird building downtown. We got near it, and crowds of people were walking in a one direction, so we knew we had the right place. After looking for a parking spot for 15 minutes, we parked in a place behind an office or hospital building that was made for driving through, but was already blocked on the other side. We walked 4-5 blocks to Science North to watch. The fireworks were well done and big. It was Northern Ontario's biggest fireworks display. I took pictures when I could, but they might not turn out.
I've woken before Lars, the tent is on fire with sunlight and I just couldn't sleep knowing that a wonderful shower was so close to me. Unfortunately, my other clothes and shampoo are in the car and Lars has those keys. But it is a beautiful morning. I don't know what time it could be, but the sun is warm and seems to be about 9:30 AM in the sky or higher. I stuffed my blue sleeping bag and deflated my air mattress before I left the tent, to speed our departure, at least so we can get to a post office before noon. We have to be out of here by noon anyway.
There aren't many mosquitoes here this morning. The wind is pretty strong too. It drives away the stragglers.
Gatwick Airport, England
I picked up my luggage from Victoria and took the Gatwick Express to the airport, checked in, read my book and waited for the plane to take off. I finished my Frank Delaney novel on the flight home, met Jill at the airport and drank a Summit beer with her there. Then we went to her home and the club to get ready for the Counting Crows concert. It was fabulous and weird to be home, so suddenly and so much.
CROWLEY'S PUBLIC HOUSE, Kenmare
It is Luam (Monday) Meith eamb 2 (June 2), and we are sitting in Crowley's, talking about the history of this lovely town. This is one of few remaining original pubs in this town. O'Sullivan's up the street is the other. The door here is very original. There is a wooden entryway that takes away some of the accessible room inside, with an extra French door here. From the stools on which we are seated c#1, I see that behind the bar is a lathe floor for the beer to fall down into without slicking up the bar-keeps path. Five taps here, with lines going out hidden to the back atrium where a bicycle dripping with rust, hanging up on the wall for storage or decoration is on the way to an open air toilet for the men.
The women go upstairs, past hanging curtains. I imagined a luxurious sitting room, but it is probably through their living room. "We get by," the sixty-something woman behind the bar answers when asked how a bar like hers makes it competing with the others. Her husband died and left her the pub. Since, she and her daughter have worked serving very few without changing anything. I immediately admire her, and the daughter I had yet to meet. I'm glad I asked her the questions I did, and mentioned the things that came to mind, because she looks like my Grandma Delaney, rest her soul. Nearly exactly, but less defined features. Fun to believe they could be the same, finishing up her Daily Crossword. I believed, not looking at her, that she was the same face that brought me so much happiness long ago. We talked about farming in the area, the weather as compared to Minnesota, and the schools that some locals went to while they were growing up who knows how long ago. "They're from my sons and my daughters, they got it from their father" she responds when asked about the tarnished medals hung all over the bar shelves. Her children were all athletes. She says she "doesn't enjoy what she can't play." The room is very small, maybe enough for thirty drinkers. She insists she will never change it, "Couldn't stand for tearing the walls down."
A few new people swim in, pouring down the pints of Guinness. The group of the new-comers are from Cork. A musician among them says he used to play the boran in here. They are just come from the music festival at Ministry. I didn't recognize it at first, although they looked much the same, but a woman who came in at the same time as the group must be the pub owner's daughter. Their glasses are the same. But the daughter is much quieter. The mother is quite the talker with all these new Irish friends who've come in. She tells them how she appreciated the message from President Clinton. They take their beer outside to the bench in front.
The smoking daughter is rocking and fidgety. If she had been one of the athletes that provided the medals hanging proudly above me, it seems those days had past. She did not seem to have much in common with her mother, except this place. How old I wonder, was she, when she first climbed onto a barstool here, watching her father or mother with those distracted eyes. Was this life, that of a pub owner in a very small town along the sea, any better than the one I have lived? I envied that young woman in the same breath I pitied in her. Where could she ever go besides here? How have I ended up here, simply as a point in the endless trip that I intend to make of my life? Who knows about me or her?
Lovely. I'm feeling haply drunk on my pint of Heineken/Guinness mixed. Patient pub. Music, life and literature slip by as I swallowed the stories of the history of this sleeping country. Slight differences evade me in language, but otherwise, I felt as at home as I do in Decorah, lA, where I was born 25 years ago. Sam and I did some more planning.
PLAN: Tomorrow morn we'll head by bus to Killarney to rent bikes for Dingle, then head up north.
These plans get written down every day, and they should be erased because they are always wrong. By a stroke of good luck, while dancing that night at the Atlantic disco, I was not feeling like dancing at all. So I wandered around a bit in the dark streets in the night, whistling. When I returned to disco, someone introduced himself to me because he knew of the Americans come to visit Liz and Cathy. He, in turn, introduced me to Martin and Marian. I said I was headed for Galway next day, and Martin said "So am I." "Can we catch a lift?" I asked, and a strong friendship was born.