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.