Home > Day to Day > Mr. Earl Arnold saved my butt…and Owen’s, too! –’ Fort Francis to Atikokan

Mr. Earl Arnold saved my butt…and Owen’s, too! –’ Fort Francis to Atikokan

Today’s blog starts at the end (nearly) of the day.

Throughout the past three days Owen and I have performed the Biker’s Butt Boogie, which looks a lot like doing deep knee bends in reverse – the rider rises from the seat  and freezes, suspended over it, before settling back, gingerly, onto said seat. This dance is all about relieving the pressure from one’s delicate parts. For Owen and I, this ordeal started four days ago, likely due to the long riding distances and high temperatures.

So when we pulled into Atikokan just before 4 pm and I saw the big blue “H” I knew what we needed to do: exercise our healthcare rights! We cycled up to general admissions and I mingled with the inmates for a while, before being directed to the Emergency department. (I said “inmates” because, when I wanted to leave, I was instructed to enter a 7-digit code so that the exit door would open!) At Emergency I was told to hurry to the downtown clinic, a couple of km away. Where there is also a pharmacy. So after getting checked in and waiting for half an hour I was told I had arrived too late to see the doctor. And that I could see her at the hospital’s Emergency department (LOL) … after 8 pm. Well, this was not going to happen! So as a last resort  I went downstairs and asked for the pharmacist, having described to the cashier the trip and what ailed me (and Owen.)

Earl —  muscular, stocky and fit — has a ready smile. He introduced himself as an avid cyclist…and the pharmacist. He asked lots of questions about the ride, expressing admiration and positive envy. Then we got down to ‘the problem’. Turns out that using Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion was exactly the wrong thing to do. What we needed to do was to (1) dry the affected area using biker’s rash ointment (aka diaper rash cream) and also dry out our shorts using Johnson’s Baby Powder. Earl proceeded to pull out a large container of the latter and two tubes of the former – scented and unscented – and said that he wanted to contribute those items as a gift! I introduced him to Owen who was waiting with the bikes. And then Earl made yet another generous offer: ‘If you need any parts, I have a whole stock, since there aren’t any bike stores anywhere around here. Just call. I am in the book. I will bring them out to your camp!’ WOW! Earl, you rock!

So now back to the beginning. Last night we stayed in Fort Francis, on the shore of Rainy Lake. Rainy, ha! The weather was balmy … even though clouds had been rolling in the whole afternoon.

During the night I woke a few times convinces it was pouring outside. Not so – it was the sound of the waves lapping on the shore. But in the morning it was clear that the question now was “when”, not “if”, it would rain.

Rainy Lake now seemed a perfect name – shrouded by a thick blanket of clouds and mist, in every shade of grey. And under this cover we soon resumed the up-and-down routine of climbing and descending hill after hill after hill. I was almost longing for the Prairies, where the daily total elevation change was measured in a few tens of meters at most. Here we were ascending and descending many hundreds of meters, with no end in sight.

A siren from behind. A police jeep, lights and siren blaring, roared past us at top speed. A few minutes later came a second cruiser. Then five more police and emergency and ambulance vehicles! I envisioned a scene out of a Godzilla movie, with buildings and cars on fire, lava pouring out of huge cracks in the earth… Sometime later one of the police cars came screaming back, followed by an ambulance. We never saw the cause of all this commotion – we assumed it came from a direction and road other than the one we were on.

And now for something completely different. Yesterday’s standout animal experience was a large grouse, in all shades of brown, that exploded into our path and proceeded to run alongside us, puffed and threatening – I assume to distract us from a nearby nest. Today it was huge turkey vultures, ugly yet majestic, that reluctantly left a carcass and flew off when we rode by to perches on top of tall trees, like sentries in watchtowers, awaiting our passing.

Both Owen and I packed extra food and water, suspecting that there might be few if any services along this desolate stretch of road. And this ‘better safe than sorry’ approach was vindicated – the two ‘quasi-settlements’ along this 150 km stretch seemed abandoned, or dead.

We stopped for lunch by a beautiful lake. It looked so unspoiled that I imagined we could be the first people to ever set foot on its shore. And a minute after we set off we noticed that the wind had suddenly picked up and that the cars heading our way had their wipers on. We quickly stopped and donned our rain gear — just ahead of a flash downpour. It was over very quickly but we kept our gear on, just in case.

More pedaling, more Biker’s Butt Boogie, and there was the sign to Atikokan. And its hospital. And the rest, as they say, is history. Which brings me back to Earl Arnold. His spontaneous generosity is the latest example of ‘the good’ I have experienced on the ride so far. Long may it flourish!

“Fueled by Equator Coffee!”

imageLake view pre-lunch
imageLake view post-lunch — notice Nature’s rendition of “headwind”, in the form of bending reeds…

Categories: Day to Day
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: