Day 95 Darlington to Port Hope, Ontario: Drowned Rats! - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

August 3, 2011

Day 95 Darlington to Port Hope, Ontario: Drowned Rats!

We woke up to the sound of rain on the tent and went through the standard routine of listening to the drops to decide if the rain was planning on stopping. We decided there was no hope, and so packed up in the rain.

We were surprised to find that Algy, although a duck, preferred to stay dry in his tent on the front bag.

Our campsite at dawn
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This is what we got for $36.75
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Algy is not much of a duck. Just because of the rain he stayed in bed
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We ourselves were not so sure that we needed our rain jackets. After all, we had been so hot for a week, why worry about a little shower?

Pretty soon the rain jackets were clearly needed, as the rain continued and intensified. Meanwhile we played cat and mouse with the Waterfront Trail, finding signs both missing and misleading. In one case, a sign clearly showing a right turn sent us on a 4 km wild goose chase.

How do you follow trail signs like this?
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Better go left!
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The rain continued, and the rain jackets that we had debated putting on now proved inadequate. These Cabela's specials are both clammy on the inside and now letting water through as well.

By the time we reached a truck stop off the 401, we were soaked and ready for a trucker's breakfast, just like back in Seattle in May. We pulled our rigs into a parking spot and chose a table which allowed us to keep an eye on them. Soon we were surprised to see two other cyclists with BoBs pull in beside us.

We could instantly tell from their REI rear bags that they were from the US. They turned out to be Russ and Chris, making the circle of Lake Ontario, out of Rochester, NY. They had also stayed at Darlington, but they had paid $42, because they wanted to charge their phones! Sheesh.

We left first, and continued to sniff out the route. We were using the cue sheets prepared at home, based on brianhedney.com and on Dodie and Sandra's research on Google Maps. Thanks, Sandra! - with your help Dodie recognized some of the tricks that would have fooled us on the ground. However, there was also the help/temptation coming from the trail signs. What do you do if a trail sign has a great big arrow to the right, while your sheet says go straight? A couple of times we followed the signs, and it ended in tears!

Russ and Chris had also researched the route, using in part a book on the circumnavigation that they found. They seemed a bit more successful than us. When they caught up to us we found they had somehow avoided the gravel beside the tracks and the mosquito infested push up the gravel hill in the provincial fishing conservation area. Hmmm.

Russ and Chris pull in to the truck stop
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Unintentionally artistic shot of Russ' flags
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A gravel portion of the trail
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Dodie heads into the jungle
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Russ and Chris catch up. They seem to go by in a blur, but actually it is just rain on the lense of my "waterproof" camera
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The rain continued to intensify, and was often wind driven. In May we had faced similar conditions, but then we had on long johns and waterproof pants, plus long sleeved shirts, fleeces, and long fingered gloves. Now we sported just shorts and a thin shell. Most of the other stuff had been mailed home, and other pieces were way deep in the dry sacks.

Dodie began to shiver, and also to lose power. I recommended eating some energy food, but she said she was too cold to stop. Now the rain really went crazy, and was just bucketing down, with the full bouncing off the road show. As we entered the outskirts of Port Hope I decided we needed to find shelter. There was a display unit for a housing development with a large sales centre beside it. The sales centre had a front covered deck. 'Let's go under there', I said. But again Dodie was resistant - 'that won't make me any warmer'.

Here is where 'god' stepped in to help. A large crack of thunder boomed overhead. Dodie turned and lurched for the shelter! Once on the deck we could see that the sales centre was open. I opened the door and apologized to the lady inside for potentially dripping on her floor. She said it would survive, and asked us in.

It quickly became apparent that we were much wetter and colder than might have been suspected. We had, in fact, been blasted by rain in skimpy gear for over five hours! The lady, Pat Bennett, and her colleague Lea scrambled to find tea and towels for us, as we dripped all over her floor.

We dripped all over the floor of the sales centre
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The bikes on the sales centre deck. (They ended up spending the night there.)
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Dodie rehab in the sales centre
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Pat saved the day!
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It turns out there was only one place to stay in Port Hope, and Pat got on the phone and tracked it down for us. Outside the rain continued as hard as ever. So Pat bundled us into her car (leaving the bikes on the deck) and ferried us to the bed and breakfast: the Penstowe. (The Penstowe is a Queen Anne Revival house built in 1885 by the president of what would be Canada Trust.)

Did you ever see the ad where a shipwrecked man walks out of the sea with nothing save his credit card, and soon he is wearing a tux and dining with a lovely lady in a luxury hotel (or something like that?). Well here we were, literally having hauled ourselves out of the gutter, now at the Penstowe, in a room with a four poster bed, jetted shower (a new one on us), satellite tv, two dryers, etc.

Shortly after that we were seated at what is surely one of the most elegant and best Thai restaurants in the East.

Our room at the Penstow
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Penstow hallway
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Penstow porch
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Downtown Port Hope
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The Thai restaurant
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Pattern on our table cloth
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Tomorrow Larry, the owner of the house, will drive us back to our bikes. It will no doubt be hot again and we will be back to making sure we have enough water bottles. But for the rest of today it's hot showers and hiding under the canopy of our bed in case the thunder returns.

Algy, meanwhile, slept through the whole thing, comfy on a bed of crumpled maps.

Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 5,783 km (3,591 miles)

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