Sunday, 19 June 2011

Warren, Michigan – Trailer trash

“Ain’t ya frightened, you bein’ such a little thing, an’ all?” said the Georgian lady in a southern drawl when I told her I was cycling mostly alone across the world. Graham and I had been invited to join her group around the campfire in a trailer park. As we’ve now camped in a few trailer parks, we proudly consider ourselves to be trailer trash!

Since we crossed into Canada at Niagara Falls, we’ve spent several days cycling west across the north shore of Lake Erie which Canadians confusingly call the southern shore as it forms the southern boundary of Ontario and Canada. Throughout this long journey by bicycle across many countries, I’ve been met by overwhelming kindness and courtesy. So I don’t know what’s wrong with Ontario but I’ve never experienced so many acts of aggression, just because we’re riding bicycles! Take, for example, the guy who rolled down his car window to shout expletives at Graham or the pickup drivers who deliberately pulled into the gravel shoulder ahead of us to throw up dust into our faces. Then there was the nutter who started screaming at me for yelling at a dog. The dog had come bounding out of a property as I cycled by and was snarling too close to my ankles. I stopped, shouted at it and it scuttled off. But then the next door neighbour appeared screaming at me for shouting at the dog. I had to raise my voice above the wind so, just when I was minding my own business, I found myself shouting at a guy who was shouting at me for shouting at a dog that was trying to chew my leg off! I’m bemused by it all … and glad to be back in America!

This madness aside, cycling across Ontario was quite pleasant, though never wildly exciting. We rolled across a big, flat landscape of brown, freshly-ploughed fields, of seas of wheat waving in the wind and of neat rows of orchards. The vistas were dotted by attractive red barns and dominated by giant wind turbines. The turbines should have given us a clue about the prevailing weather conditions! We fought horrendous headwinds for days, grateful to pull into pretty lakefront towns every now and again for coffee for some relief. It wasn’t until the last couple of days that we picked up a tailwind that sped us to the US border and rocked the little ferry that took us across the narrow but choppy St Clair Channel. On a hot afternoon, we celebrated our return to US soil with McDonald’s milkshakes!

I’ve cycled now to Warren, just north of Detroit, for a special reason – to visit an uncle and cousins that I’ve never met. My Uncle David moved to North America over 50 years ago, raised a family here and worked as a mechanic for General Motors. Despite the years passing, he still has a strong Dundonian accent and still misses Scotland! He is putting us up in comfy beds in his cosy family home. It’s a step-up for trailer trash like us!

More photos and words on Flickr.

3 comments:

  1. Pauline
    We are following your adventures with much interest. When you arrive in Seattle get in touch with us, we would like to bring you up to Victoria to show you some true Canadian hospitality, not what you were exposed to in Ontario.
    Neil & Sharon

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  2. Thanks, Neil and Sharon, Looking forward to getting to Victoria, should be end of September or early October. I visited Vancouver Island many years ago to hike the beautiful West Coast trail but never made it to Victoria - it's been in my sights this time around. pauline

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