Take it Easy – Take the Train

Winnipeg to Sudbury (Pt. 2), and Sudbury to Espinola. DAY: 108.13km. ODO: 3,347km. AVS: 23.4km/h. MXS: 57.5km/h. ATM: 4:36:31.

This train is clearly a union shop. I haven’t seen such a slothful lot of company representatives since the post office in the 70’s. The only exception is a young woman who is clearly new to the job, but I have no doubt that she will soon submit to the ways of her peers, lest she be ostracised.

They seem quite unhappy with their careers. At night, they sit around a table in the lounge car, gossiping about fellow workers (generally, whoever is not present at the time) or slagging their bosses. The guy that runs the concession stand is especially interesting. A stout fellow with baggy clothes, he bears a striking resemblance to Oliver Hardy, right down to the hairstyle. He sits on his stool staring into space until he gets bored enough to wander the aisles of the train with a tray of canned beer, shuffling his feet and reciting with monotone apathy “taking orders for alcoholic beverages”. Should anyone request a beverage of this variety, he sighs, puts his tray down, and pours the liquid into the cup with all the enthusiasm that one would pick lint off of one’s knee socks.

I dropped by his little canteen last evening looking for a snack. “I’d like a cup of tea, please, if you have any”, I asked with emphasised enthusiasm.

He didn’t move from his stool. “No one ever looks at the menu”, he said in no particular direction.
“Oh, there’s a menu. Great!” I glanced about in search of the document and found it taped to the side of the refrigerator at the height of my lower thigh. I glanced over it, and then looked at him and said “I’d like a cup of tea please”.

He looked at me as if I’d asked him to insert an un-lubricated can of Mountain Dew into his rectum and dance a jig, but he did not move. Finally, he exhaled laboriously and eased himself off of his stool. He gathered all the required ingredients as though he were auditioning for one of those white-painted street buskers pretending to be a robot, and then set the Styrofoam cup on the counter. “A dollar seventy-five”.

I gave him exact change and thanked him. He did not reply, just turned, eased himself back onto the stool, and looked away.

The train arrived at Sudbury Junction (on the north-east edge of town) at about 1:30. I had to unpack everything from the shipping boxes, re-attach my pedals and straighten the handlebars, and re-assemble my luggage, which was all badly packed in Winnipeg as I kept things in a backpack for the train that would normally have been stowed. Anyway, the point of all this babbling is that I wasn’t actually on my bike and riding until 3:00.

I needed an Ontario accommodation guide, and the only tourism office was apparently about six km south-east town, while my intended route was to the south-west. I rode downtown to seek out the Chamber of Commerce, often a good alternative. I picked up a couple of local guides, but decided to ride out to the real office anyway, despite the direction.

It was quite cloudy, threatening rain, and I did indeed get showered on, but it was light and brief. As it turned out, the tourist office only had guides published by industry associations, so only member campgrounds were listed, and the list is considerably less than exhaustive, with no national, provincial or municipal sites listed. Thanks again, Mike Harris. The private sector is doing a fine job.

As my plan was to cross Manitoulin Island, I rode west. By the time I left Subbury, after all the dicking around, it was about 5:00. My destination, the little town of Espinola, was about 80km. On the way I was hit with a couple more brief showers, but they were very short and light, and it was a warm night, so I didn’t bother with the rain gear. I arrived in town just after sundown and, since there were no campgrounds, stayed in a small motel.

Espinola, while not inherently unattractive, is a mill town (paper), and it smells like it. (Add a few bored adolescents, and you’ve got somewhere I don’t want to live).

Posted in , ,