Wow, I'm really starting to rack up the states, and it feels like I'm getting somewhere. The journey has been start-stop, circuitous and inconsistent thus far, but in the last week I have really made some progress into the heart of America. Much of it has been spent in Iowa....and as always with these things it has been a mixed bag; a more multifarious week in my life I have rarely had. As has become a happy trend to my travels, the people I have met could not be any nicer. Many nights I have been welcomed into the homes of locals or directed to a safe place to pitch my tent. Always appreciated, I have come to value this kindness even more so during this storm season - something which wasn't really on my radar of the 'highly dangerous' to be watched and feared.
The force of some of these mid-Western storms is unbelievable, and they move with a speed and power more awesome than anything I've known before. Twice now I have seen the front approaching from the south and had to weather it out in a well-placed barn. Others have come at night and left me thankful that my tent was pitched low and under cover. The greatest devastation however was to be reserved for my final night before rolling into Sioux Falls.
This should be seen as a map of good intention, which is my speciality. Thus far I have met with mixed success in executing said plans, but I'm okay with that. I believe it to be healthy. Still, pretty crazy stuff looking at it like this, eh? This'll take me as far as Seattle, and from there I'll do a loop up to Vancouver and then back down to start my journey on the Pacific Highway.
It was somewhat inevitable that I should feel inclined to issue an apology to Michigan, and so here we are. Of course I am delighted about this fact, as you will remember that the point of this trip is to have great experiences, not to badmouth states with offensive generalizations.
Rolling out of Flint, Lily and I riding together for the last day, the stubborn ruggedness of the roads relented and following highway 21 I encountered nothing more exciting than a flat and relatively well paved surface. The headwind buffeted us from the North-west, and the trucks crashed past at full speed, but by now I had realized this comes with the territory and my immature mood of the previous days dissipated. Nothing much passed by other than fields and an occasional tree; indeed the most noticeable characteristic of the landscape was it’s lack of any feature which could be deemed memorable. The perfect condition for entering into the ‘zone,’ and that is exactly what I did, awaking some sixty miles later to find myself in somewhere very much resembling the place I had left that morning. What luck, then, that I was to be rescued from this ignorant view of the territory as colourless and commonplace, of the hideous crime of being mundane, or ‘average.’
It's a shame the extent to which I have developed a hatred for Michigan, considering how much I like saying the name.
The only pleasure I have taken from each mile I pedaled over the last two days is that it has taken me a few steps closer to getting the hell out of this state. This is a rant, and will not be in any way an accurate reflection of anything other than my need to vent. There is no video; there are very few pictures. Survival remained just about within my grasp; keeping my sanity was touch and go.
I have spent 36 hours here, and until I until this evening when I arrived at a lovely house with nice people, the only remotely enjoyable time I had in Michigan were the hours spent asleep. Even they weren't that great.
"There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured, and generous-hearted people." - Winston Churchill
Well, I am in Canada. Warm, generous, exciting, diverse, infuriating at times. It's a country which has given me cause for much mixed emotion. For sure though, 95% of that emotion is variations of positivity. Arriving over the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, I was greeted into the country with a warm welcome, a quick scan of my passport and sent on my way. All my worries of delays and visa questions were quelled just like that, despite my sweaty, unwashed cyclist's demeanor. I'd applied for an extension to my US visa which I needed in order to have enough time to cross the country, but the hitch was that I had to send off my original I-94 form, which is essentially the little slip of paper that declares how long I am allowed in the country, if indeed I am at all. Luckily for me, I am, and even more happily I have been granted my visa extension, but temporarily missing this stapled slip could have caused all sorts of problems. It didn't - Canada was pleased to have me, and I couldn't have been more delighted to be there.