F 1 D 0 -- 2001 12 20 at 12 01

Further than I thought.

I got a ride to the bus station.
Wizi is a great joker. I had no
clue when he said "I ain't going
all the way downtown!" That he
was kidding. I figured he was tired,
as he had just done the new moon
ceremony in his home.

Our timing was great.

While the bus leaves at 100am,
I wanted a nice seat. In fact,
if there are too many people,
being early can make a difference
whether you even travel. That means
I wanted to take my place in line
by 0001am.  I was successful.

Waay Successful. It was closer to
1100pm, so I spoke with the people
who saw me line up, and lined up
behind me.  After I confirmed we
were all going the same way, I 
locked my stuff to the rail, and
asked them to watch it for me as
I needed a walk.  

Actually I went to the Grey Region,
via long route. That is a cheap
cyber cafe and comix store. I figured
I'd not see email again for a while,
so I had a look.


Using bus: first come first served,
and when the bus fills to capacity,
which is 50-60, depending, you are
at the mercies of the dock master
if he'll bring another bus out.

I got on, no problem.  But there were
enough people leaving Toronto that
they had two buses filled to reasonable
capacity.  

Mine was labelled "Vancouver" and the
other was labelled "Sudbury."

We two buses stayed within half an hour
of each other. So we didn't do any of
the local stops, but waited up for the
other one, which did.

For those who know Toronto, and long
trips, the next factoid will seem so
humourous.  It took us more than half
an hour to get from the Downtown bus
terminal, to the Yorkdale Shopping Centre
bus station.  Uh, both in Toronto.

We picked up six people.

I was asleep and awake for 
the next few hours. Mostly
asleep. I was watching my
cel phone, trying to figure 
out the boundaries of where 
service happened.

Instead I woke up at the Parry
Sound rest stop. This didn't look
anything like the Parry Sound I remembered
from my youth.  My parents have a cottage
in the muskokas, and Parry Sound is a
city on the north edge. 

What I saw was a donut place on one
corner, a closed-for-the-night gas
station on the other, an open gas
station, with snacks (and cigarettes)
diagonally.

Cigarettes.  The guy ahead of me was
joking about how he was out of smokes,
and wanted to know if the driver could
help. "Sorry, we're stopping at a donut
place, and I can't wait." I didn't 
appreciate the humour in this until later.

By and by they were joking about how
the driver could sell smokes for 50c
a cig, and the price goes up with time.

I'm thinking it was 330am. Next stop,
Sudbury.

Again, I must have been asleep, as all
I can remember now is waking up. The
weather must have been mild, as I have
recollection of frightening snow each
time it happened later on.

We weren't expected in Sudbury until 
6am, but we were doing well. It was 525am.

A girl on the bus asks, "What do we do now?"
"Breakfast!" sings the driver.

Ah, more humour. The station was 
dead. Very dead. With time on my
hands, I'm not going to waste it.
If I'm not asleep, I'm touring.

I had a mind to use one of the
many taxis circling their prey.

Instead, I tried to figure out
which way to walk to head into
town.  I was lucky.

I found a Burger King. It was 
50% under destruction, adding a 
new wing. This one was special,
in my humble opinion.

Most fast food places I've seen
have a No Smoking policy. They may
have a lot of smokers, so they'll
open a smoking room.

This one was a smoke place, and had
a special Non Smoking room which
was kept locked. If you wanted in,
you had to ask, and be let into it.

How do you adorn such a nonsmoking room?

Easy. It had children's images on it.
The adult smoking tables were done in
wood. The children nonsmoking tables
were done in yellow and blue.

It was such a surprise to my ears to
hear people talk in Sudbury. Truly 
bilingual. The english is pristine.
And without any warning, mid sentence,
people speak in french, just as perfect.
They talk a bit, and switch again.

So many people ask me if we talk in
french in Canada, and I've always 
said that this happens in Quebec. Well,
people speak french in northern Ontario
as well.  And it sounded like the most
natural thing in the world.

I asked Bob at Burger King about why
the driver didn't drop us off at his
24-hour restaurant, instead of the awful
bus place.

"Only in Sudbury!", he chimes. A year ago
there was some kind of bus accident, and
one of the people hurt was a 16 year old
boy, who was being taken back to Toronto,
cancelling his holiday.  But the bus missed
its connection, leaving him in the station.
Ah, but the station closes! What's he 
supposed to do now?  Well, he found his
way to the Burger King, but Bob thought 
this was terrible.  He should have been
taken to BK, or allowed to sleep undisturbed
inside the bus station until the bus came in.
Something.  No, the trip was made as 
uncomfortable as possible. "If he were my
boy", Bob continues, "I'd have made sure
they flew him back home!"

Even with this extended chat with Bob,
listening in on BK chatters, and just
dragging my feet, I still managed getting
back to the bus station with more than an
hour to wait around.

I'm normally FREEZING this time of day.
But the weather was right, and I must
have slept ok.  I woke warm, and continued
comfortable, even in the darkest part of
night before dawn.

I was wishing other things near the station
were open. There was a Value Village, a Staples,
a Biway (yes, I know they should be closed, but
this one looked like it was still alive), a
builders supply (that opened by the time I finished
at BK), and a host of other big suburban places to
shop.  

This is where I met Dennis. He was on 
the sister bus travelling with us. He
had enough of an angry baby. It would
cry in a frustrated way just enough
to keep him from sleeping.

Funny. I suppose they checked the tickets
of where people were going. Now the bus
said "Winnipeg."  Fine.  I guess if
sufficient people board, this bus would
go all the way to Vancouver too.

Dennis is a student at McGill, and normally
flies home for each holiday. In an effort
to save money, and an experiment, he decided
to bus from Montreal to Vancouver.

Four Days of Bus!! That's not for everyone.

And I came to learn that the unhappy baby
was going all the way to BC too.

Dennis and I talked, and we 
decided that we'd tour as much
as we could every time the bus
stopped.  

Sault Ste Marie was a nice town.
I suppose "Ste" is actually a french
short form for "Sainte".  Also, many
readers may not know how this should
sound when pronounced.

"Soo Saint Marie", equal emphasis.

The main street (Queen) was everything
you expect from a small town. Lots of
places to run inside and see.

Oh, I wish I had my camera. A former
supermarket was used as a telemarketing
office.  That was a sight to see. A huge
room, filled with computers and a person
at each one, connected to the phone.

I looked to see if there were shackles
keeping their ankles from moving too
far from their desks.  Nope.  In fact,
they had a big contingent of smokers.

As we passed, we wondered why maybe
fifty people were outside this place.

It was a sight.

At the government boatyards were two
vessels.  One of them had an evergreen
tree atop a long arm.  It was set up so
that if you were driving along Bay Street,
you'd the tree "hanging" perfectly in
the middle of the road. No lights, but
still effective.

In the distance I saw a train station. 
They have a certain Look. Well, I was
wrong. This was a Used-To-Be Train station.

In fact, the whole area is called Train
Station.  Behind it was Train Station Mall.
Train Station Office Building.

No Train Station. Sigh.

Alright, Alright, they left the building
standing, but still I feel like it was
missing in action.

After we left the Sault, we saw
water on the left. It was nice.
Perhaps the most scenic part of
the trip, and moreover, it was 
still lovely out.  Still spring
time.  
 

It took a loooong time to travel.
Longer than I thought, although
the numbers are right.

Each time the bus stopped I got
off, and Dennis, the guy sitting
next to me, would wander off, and
see what kind of adventure we could
find in the short time allotted.

We switched bus drivers at White
River Junction.  I've even picked
up a post card from there.

I was *so sure* we were at white river
twice during this journey, and both
of them were bus stops.  The one
white river was PRIOR to the Sault.
The other one was near the end of 
the day, at the A+W.

He left the entire bus there to dine
at A+W, but I didn't feel like any
of that.

He went "downtown" to drop off some
packages, but wouldn't tell us anything
except that he wanted us (Dennis and I)
back at the A+W by 510pm if we knew
what was good for us.

Well, you don't have to ask us twice, and
the two of us marched through unfamiliar
town.

But along the way, we saw a store
which purported selling dry goods,
groceteria, hardware, and furs.

It looked all locked up. But that was
the back entrance.

Along the side wall was a mural, more
of the same!

So Let me Recap:
Back of building, original entrance to
general store, boarded up and derlict.
Side of building, painted wall in colour
showing a vivid picture of the same.

Front? That was a Home Hardware!  It
was vibrant. If I needed anything at
all I would have bought it. They had
ricemakers for 40.00, slow cookers for
50% off of the sticker price, and many
etc.  I was happy the store was alive,
although it was no longer a general store.

Nearby was the smallest LCBO (liquor control
board of Ontario; booze store) I'd seen.
They had Lamb's rum on clearance. Plastic
bottle for only 10.00 - I got one.

When we finally got back to the
A+W, others had finished eating and
our bus was nowhere in sight. We could
have taken our time.

But this was when the trip changed.

There was blinding snow on the highway
for most of the rest of the trip.

Two hours away, we got a call on the
bus' telephone, saying to lay over at
the agency at Terrace Bay. A truck had
turned over.  So we all waited.

This agency!! It was amazing.

To see it, you just see a small
convenience store, which also sells
bus tickets.

I asked for a telephone, which was
the "go into the door on the right,
just inside".

Well, not only was there a payphone,
but an entire BAR! A lounge, replete
with pool table, and many drinking
customers.

A similar experience happened when I
asked where the bathroom was.

I'm sent down a hallway, and I pass a
another huge secret.  A restaurant with
seating for 80, all open. There are
perhaps a dozen people visiting here.
This room is about food, not liquor.

But I was so taken aback!  None of this
is visible from the front. What I saw
was a lot of sleepy motel rooms, and
the convenience store and "office".
That's ALL I saw.

In due time, I'd hear men shouting.

The road block was clear, and this
was big news to everyone.

The bus driver herded us all back
inside, and off we go.

And the snow was gone again.

That's all I know.