Tunnel Vision

Trip Start Jun 05, 2013
Trip End Sep 26, 2013

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tip for any fellow travellers: don't wear a grey marl t-shirt when walking a mile through Downtown Toronto in the height of summer with two backpacks stopping any heat escaping beyond the confines of said t-shirt. I've never known my elbow to sweat before, but they say there’s a first time for everything; why does my mind block out these parts of travelling when I'm back home planning another trip? It must be that old adage similar to mothers forgetting the unbearable pain of childbirth upon seeing their newborn. It’s all worth it once you’ve had a shower and proceeded with the wanderlust experiences.

On the plus side, my overheating meant I fit right in at the bus station as I waited for my Megabus up to Kingston to start wwoofing at a farm where I stayed when in Canada in 2011. If you’ve no idea what wwoofing is then I’ll enlighten you (if you know exactly what it is I apologise for the boring explanation: feel free to skip along).  WWOOF is an acronym for worldwide opportunities in organic farming, although some people say it represents willing workers; I prefer the former because of my cynical connotations with people who are too willing.  In return for work on their farm, farmers around the world provide food and board for travellers such as me who want to see a different part of the country they’re visiting.  Apparently it originated in England, but I first heard of it in Vancouver, and was a way to provide farmers with the opportunity to go on holiday whilst their farms were left in someone else’s hands.  I spent a number of months on my last backpacking trip wwoofing across Canada, spending time at a sheep farm, a cattle farm, a lobster restaurant, and the farm I’m heading to now.  It provided me with insights into new walks of life in Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and on Prince Edward Island, unfortunately not all of them were great, but I won’t delve into that as my previous blog is still online if you’re interested enough to read on.

Once I’d cooled down I had to focus on avoiding eye contact at every possibility so as not to invite the other passengers to try and make conversation; I become a definitive snob when on the defensive about my appearance and get tunnel vision.  Unfortunately I was so focused on my assumption that people would dismiss me anyway that I didn’t notice the construction worker holding the door for me after I bought a coffee for the ride. Luckily I noticed at the last minute and ran to the door with my best English voice to apologise: it’s amazing how far a stereotypical toff accent with the odd 'gosh’ and ‘thank you very much’ thrown in can get you.  It’s just a good job I didn’t mention ‘bucket’ or ‘grass’ as my midland roots would have surfaced with a vengeance.   

The bargain Megabus trip proved a success yet again, costing just $14 to travel for three hours in the comfort of an air-conditioned double-decker with more reliable Wi-Fi than some charging hotspots.  As per usual I was privy to my fellow passengers’ stories as I eavesdropped on their loudly-told chronicles; this time it was the turn of a bloke who looked far too young to have a beard and had apparently cycled from Toronto to New York, and arrived at the exact time of a cycling rally.  Apparently he’d just stopped next to another cyclist and said ‘dude, what should I do now? I’ve just biked from Toronto’. Riveting.  I would have been more impressed by his five-hundred-mile journey if he hadn’t spent the previous half-hour detailing his exploits with a girl he worked with to someone he’d just met.  He might have had the beard of a grown-up, but he was making a schoolboy error in being so publicly nonchalant about her. 

My host Emily collected me from Kingston bus station, and threw in one of the most unwanted comments when arriving in a new place, ‘it’s really bad for ticks at the moment’.  Fortunately my mind was taken off the possibility of blood-sucking creatures burying into my skin with a jaunt into Kingston itself for some sushi at Sushi Ya.  Our ride home provided yet more distractions as Emily spotted two turtles trying to cross a busy dual carriageway, unfortunately one of them, a Musk Turtle, had already met its maker, but the second was saved from imminent death as Emily pulled onto the hard shoulder and ran back to collect the Painted Turtle.  I feared my own imminent death as I sat in the car waiting for one of the gigantic trucks hurtling past to plough into the back of the sitting duck that I was, but alas I was fine and soon had the turtle sitting at my feet with its head and legs retracted in a state of panic at its sudden change in environment. 

We made our way over the lake nearby their house and let the turtle out into its new home; Zelda the dog and I watched as he poked his head out slightly to take in his new surroundings, whilst Emily waded into the high grass to collect Cat Tails.  Rather than being the remnants of a feline genocide they were similar to Bulrushes, and apparently can be eaten when green before they reach the yellow pollen stage.  I took Emily’s word for it and after boiling for a few minutes we ate them with butter: I’m not really a convert as they didn’t have much taste, but it’s always interesting to try new things. 

As well as Emily and her partner Cameron, who unfortunately has a broken ankle after falling from a ladder onto a 2x4, there were another couple of wwoofers, Elle from England and Nils from Germany.  They’re both here on work visas, and I listened in awe as Elle revealed she learnt to ski whilst staying in Rosalind, apparently the best ski town in North America, over the winter, and had progressed to the ‘experienced’ runs by the time she left.  Since my one skiing lesson in Alberta last time I’ve not been convinced I could ever learn to ski, but hearing a fellow Brit had managed gave me a little impetus in case I ever find myself near a resort.  Rowing is definitely a safer option for someone who trips over their feet on a daily basis.

The bullfrogs calling outside kept me awake as I tried to tune my sleep effort to the sounds of nature rather than cars in Mississauga, but I don’t remember struggling for too long and that old selective narcolepsy came in handy once more.  
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Smith snr on

We are so glad a big truck didn't put an end to your blog, and hope you are too?

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