Birds And Animals Of Canada - The Man Who Biked To Canada (With No Complaints) - CycleBlaze

June 10, 2016

Birds And Animals Of Canada

Caliper Lake Provincial Park, Ontario

After a great week of riding to this point, I was left with one more impression of northern Minnesota before crossing the border.  I made a quick stop at International Falls' only bike shop which, typical of the north country, doubled as a store that sells hockey equipment.  The shop had lots of sticks and pucks and skates and pads and face masks, but it didn't have the brake pads I needed.  "That's okay," I wanted to say, "I can probably figure out a way to ride another 300 miles to Winnipeg without stopping or slowing down."

I survived the interrogation conducted by the polite, but stern, Canadian Customs Officer without a glitch, and the country made a very positive first impression.  After obtaining some Canadian cash at an ATM, my first order of business was to visit a grocery store.  I rounded up some goodies and when I checked out the cashier said:

"That comes to $9.01."

"OK."  I handed her one of my fresh new $20 dollar bills and then I instinctively started searching my pockets for a penny.

Immediately recognizing me as a clueless American, she spoke up.  "No, we don't have pennies here anymore.  We just round up or down to the nearest five cents.  So that will be nine-dollars even."

"Wow!  I love Canada already!" I exclaimed.  (We'll see how I feel next time when my bill is $9.04.)

I made a couple more purchases before heading into the Canadian interior and each time I felt ridiculously confused by the currency.  Their dollar bills are coins.  Their $5, $10, and $20 bills feel more like plastic than paper, and parts of those bills are clear.  At the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) Store, I almost accused the clerk of ripping me off because I gave her a $20 bill for an $11.00 bottle of wine and all I got back was a $5 bill and a couple of coins.

Aside from the money--and the road signs that gave distances in kilometers--Canada was not much different than northern Minnesota.  Canadian houses look just like American houses, the people drive the same kinds of cars and trucks, they shop in the same kinds of stores, and they have the same kinds of food in their grocery stores.  And, at least on "The King's Highway" 71, there were still countless fishing boats and billions of trees.

Fresh Canadian $20 dollar bills.
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Mike AylingG'day Gregory
I love your writing style.
We have had those plastic bank notes here in Oz for a long time now.
They make great tyre boots to get you home when you get a large hole in your tyre or tire.
We also got rid of our pennies/cents a while back and the smallest coin is now five cents, the same as Canada. However we have enthusiastically embraced EFTPOS so if the bill is $1.04 that is what you are charged. The downside is that charities are noticing that their collecting boxes are getting a lot less coins being donated.
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1 year ago
Gregory GarceauTo Mike AylingG'day to you too, Mike,

Thank you for the message, for the compliment, and most of all, for the very practical idea of using Canadian currency as an emergency tire boot.

If my budget ever allows me to do a bike tour overseas, your country/continent would definitely be my first choice. I love your animals and landscapes, and I also like how the people say "G'day!"

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1 year ago
Canadian currency after spending a couple of the $20s.
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The King's Highway was pretty nice.  The shoulder sucked, and sometimes there was a lot of traffic, but it was still nice.  It was better than nice--it was groovy.  It was especially groovy when I spotted two small deer up ahead walking on the gravel beside the highway.  I formulated a plan to quietly pedal right up to them and say "on your left" as I passed.  The deer would nod in appreciation.

The deer still look pretty small in this picture, but I was excited about how much ground I had gained without them noticing.
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I did get closer than I REALLY expected, but by the time I pedaled up to the spot where they are now, they had disappeared into the flora on the left.
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The groovy road with hills and a billion trees.
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Bicycle camping--Ontario style.
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It was a warm day--about 83-degrees--and . . . {Holy Crap!  As I am writing this at my lakeside campsite, I just watched a seagull swoop down and grab a fish out of the water.} . . . I could feel the sun burning my skin.  I am very happy to have reached the Caliper Lake Provincial Park where I got this site with a cooling breeze coming off the lake.

The seagull incident reminded me of something I saw earlier on today's bike ride.  A bald eagle was being chased by a little black bird.  I assume the eagle must have gotten caught raiding the black bird's nest and was being chased away.  Why, I wondered, didn't the eagle, which is a much larger bird, turn on the black bird and stab it with its huge talons?  I've seen hawks being chased and pecked by smaller birds before, but this was the first time I've ever seen America's National Bird, our symbol of freedom, flying away in fear.  Nature has many awesome puzzles.

Several towering trees surrounded my campsite.
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Today's ride: 65 miles (105 km)
Total: 499 miles (803 km)

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