(Day 29) On changed routes and connections that help us find our way...

It was to be a short day.  It was to be a direct ride to Winnipeg.  But plans change...

The day began slowly for a change.  Some emails to Calgary seeking tires.  A conversation with Anna and another conversation with Mom via Skype, another cup of coffee and it was 7:30 AM.  The day was getting old!

I started loading the bike and as I did Ray from Indiana came over and struck up a conversation.  We had a short conversation about government and law makers and when he found out what I did it seemed as if I was "one of them" and that kind of closed off the conversation for him... but a few minutes later Ernie came along.

Ernie is from the Twin Cities area and as we talked the conversation shifted to what I did.  I handed him my card and he said, "You must see all kinds..."  I replied that yes, I do, but that I try to see them all as I would hope someone would see me - a human being with the potential to change.

He was quiet for a moment and then he said, "I've been a member of AA for 22 years... and then shared with me some of his journey.  It was a humbling conversation.  It ended with these words, "Its not who tells us to what way to walk that matters, but who walks with us as we walk."  He then shook my hand and thanked me for all that Chaplains do in prisons.

With the bike packed I rolled a little ways down the road to the Cafe where I had enjoyed supper the night before: a full turkey dinner for all of $7!  Breakfast was of the same order.  The special was 2 pancakes with 2 sausage links and orange juice and coffee for $5.  Couldn't go wrong right!!  I couldn't finish all of the pancakes!!

With my belly full it was into the saddle!  The plan was to angle northwestward up into Canada via Minnesota 11 and cross in at Longworth.  But people you meet along the way sometimes have you change your route!

It was around Manitou, MN where I met Ralph the owner of Nelson's General Store.  Ralph informed me that the route I had planned was pretty boring once I passed by Baudette, MN and that it would be a much prettier ride if I crossed into Canada at Rainy River and went around the east side of Lake of the Woods.  Pretty.  I like pretty!  He added that the roads had some twists and turns and elevation changes too!  I was hooked.  The only downside was that it would be an additional 200 or so kilometers.  No problem!!

Crossing back into Canada in at Rainy River was a mere formality, however, for the first 120 KM I was ready to go back and tell Ralph that he must have been thinking of a different road.  It was flat and as boring as I know the next two days across Manitoba and Saskatchewan will be!!  And then it all changed!!

Once I passed Chapple the road became much more interesting.  And it was a lovely day.  Cool with a bit of a breeze, no traffic and lots to look at along the way.  Before long I was passing through Nestor Falls... but I just had to stop!  What a beautiful country!  Float planes, lakes dotted with islands, rocks and trees and trees and rocks - Canadian Cottage Country at its best!

After a brief beauty appreciation interlude it was onto Sioux Narrows where again I had to stop and take some pictures from the bridge!  Awesome.  I just missed catching a shot of a float plane landing.  Awesome!!

As I continued on #71 I was getting a little hungry.  I was planning on stopping at a park along the way and making some soup... so, I stopped at Rushing River Provincial Park expecting to be able to find a picnic table and make my soup.  Imagine my surprise when I was confronted with a ticket machine and was told that I would have to pay $5.25 for the privilege of spending 0-2hrs in the park!!  No.  Not in this lifetime!!

I continued into Kenora where I gassed up and found a little park on the edge of a lake.  Here I make my cup of soup and savoured a Kit Kat bar as I watched the children play in the playground.  I hate to say it, but I didn't leave the bike and make my way down to one of the picnic tables because there was a guy wandering around the park and he didn't look like he was up to any good.  I said hello and he walked away from me looking into the windows of cars in the parking lot.  Enough said.

Out of Kenora and onto Highway #17, westward until it turns into the #1 at the Manitoba border.  I was getting weary.  Not my whole self - just the part I sit on!!  I made two stops between Kenora and Winnipeg.  The first one was at the Pine Grove rest area where I got my dog fix by holding a Dalmatian while a lady took her toddler into the washroom.  The second was at the junction of the #302 at a little fruit stand where I bought a quart of strawberries and walked around the parking lot eating them!!  Yummy!!

A half hour later I was driving into Hank's driveway where I was welcomed by his wife Linda and children Teresa and Issac.  Hank was firing up the BBQ as I arrived and I was again spoiled with a wonderful meal - NY Steak cooked to perfection!! So tender a steak knife was not needed!!  French Fries, Corn and Cherry Pie for dessert!  Thanks so much Linda and Hank and family.  It was great to share some conversation with you!

Hank shared with me a couple of the text books that he is using in the Prison Chaplaincy course that he is developing for the Salvation Army.Chaplaincy, one by Tom O'Connor and another by a priest, Gregory Boyle who works with gangs in Los Angles, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.  Two quotes from this book are sitting with me as I head off to bed:
Faced with broken humanity, we are called to allow our hearts to be broken by the very thing that breaks the heart of God. 
Success and failure ultimately, have little to do with living the gospel.  Jesus just stood with the outcasts until they were welcomed or until he was crucified. 
I think back to my conversation with Ernie this morning and give thanks for the one who allowed their heart to be broken and was thus able to walk with Ernie on his healing journey... and may Ernie and I and all the rest of us continue to allow our hearts to be broken so that we can walk with others who are struggling.

562 KM for the day.  Tomorrow, Winnipeg to Dauphin 350 KM or so.  A short day... unless someone along the way suggest a more scenic route!!

...on the Sabbath Road...


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