Saturday, August 16, 2008

London to (well that is up for interpretation)

I am writing from Niagara Falls this morning, and a nights sleep changes the perspective on a great deal of things. Yesterday we started the day in London, Ont. and decided rather than planning a new route we would just bring Chris down to the original route we had planned. Everything started out well, Justin and Chris on the bikes, totally pumped. Scouting ahead and found the town of Norwich, where Anna and I found the coolest Dutch market (actually, I think we were the only English speaking people in the town). We loaded up on some surprises for Chris and Justin (chocolate spread, pear spread, coffee wafers, fresh bread, brandy snaps). We headed out to our planned 15-20 mile meeting spot. They showed up in great spirits, used the nearest tree, topped off water bottles, grabbed some snacks, and reviewed the next set of turns, and off they went. The next stop was a bit more interesting, we were on the Six Nation Reservation in a playground where we found the perfect picnic pavilion but also we received a phone call about a wrong turn, Justin and Chris added a few miles to the route because they were sure they were not supposed to enter the Reservation. By the time they got to this stop, they were ready for lunch. The two had been keeping an 18 MPH pace all morning complaining of only two things, the false flats, and the amount of rogue dogs that have forced them into oncoming traffic. Our next stop was in the center of Oshwaken, a bit short on miles, but the best place before the push into Hamilton. As we waited their arrival we noticed the weather changing. There was a prediction of T-Storms, and the sky was turning black. We waited, discussing the plan for the weather and the phone rang, they were 1K short of us with two broken spokes and a bit frazzled by the dog that forced Justin into the ditch to begin with. We picked them up, drove to the center of town, and decided to visit the trading post before going on. This was by far the most interesting part of the day's journey. The man running the place, (I feel badly as I didn't get his name), had a wonderfully insightful message that I didn't fully understand until this morning. Anna wanted to purchase a dream catcher from him, and he told her (as well as all of us) about the symbolism attached to the way a dream catcher is put together. It was about life, and the most important things in life...LOVE, PLAY, PEACE, POSITIVE THOUGHT, HARMONY, and BEING SELFLESS. As the family started to walk out the door, he handed me a CD to give Anna and a poster for my classroom, and told me to remember not to be afraid to PLAY as that was where LOVE was. I handed him one of Chris's Right to Play cards and he told us he would remember us in his stories and commented on how fitting Chris's journey was and how things always seem to work out. He also told us about a wise Mohawk man who ran a shop and B&B in Fonda near the Kateri Shrine. (worth looking up) . As we were trying to decide what to do, the sky opened up with some serious orchestrations and our decision was made for us. We headed to Hamilton by car. It was only 2:30 maybe we could get camp set up before it really got wet.
OK here is where it got really disappointing, our campsite was a ghost town, a unmowed swamp with no fires allowed. We spent the next three hours in the on and off T-storms trying to find accommodations for the night. My ankle is so swollen that I know that I could not have joined him riding, which I think Chris knew without me saying anything (as it is hard to miss).I spent the night feeling really defeated for Chris, we had crossed Ontario with little more than 120 miles on the bike, funny, he was fine with it all. I realized this morning that he got it, it was about making a statement about being able to play, helping others, making a contribution to love, peace and harmony in the world, not about the personal challenge of riding every mile of the journey. He has done more as a 13 year old than most of us do as adults.
We found a place in Niagara and we are camping. Tomorrow, we hit NY, Niagara to Rochester along route 31. I am hoping all goes well with fixing the wheel today.

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