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Ontario: Sault Ste Marie to Thessalon

12 September 2014 – Day 86

We had a few options of where to finish the ride today. It was a bit of a luxury – for a lot of the ride there has not been a lot of choice. We decided on the town of Thessalon.

We stopped for a bit at a chip stand at Echo Bay. It was just a few shops along a short stretch of road, but the town name was painted in huge white letters on a lawn wall on the side of the road, like Hollywood. We dropped into the local bakery, but it was only open four days per week.

We were on the Transcan, but it felt more like a big country road. Still, we were on the lookout for detours, and when we saw a small country highway running alongside called Government Road, we decided to try it.

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Government Road was one of the most beautiful roads we went on. It was leafy green, quiet, dotted with interesting little properties and farms and completely hidden from the highway. With so many trees, we could see even more of the emerging fall colours coming out. It looked like the sun was setting in the middle of the forest. The road was not the best – there was no shoulder, a few potholes and it was a bit gravelly in a few sections, but there were barely any cars so we zig-zagged all over it when we needed. The best part was that the trees met over the road. A shady tunnel of foliage.

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In the sections of empty field, we saw huge solar panels. We have seen a few uses of hydro in Canada, but not solar, so that was really positive. We also saw barely any trash on Government Road, unlike the section we had done in the morning on the Transcan. After such a long time, it was really encouraging.

We stopped a few kilometers on at a house with a vegetable stand out the front. It was a table covered with yellow and green zucchinis, with a small red jar that said ‘pay what you think its worth’. When you trust people will do the right thing, they usually do. We took two zucchinis and left $2.

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I was wondering about all the horse-and-cart signs we had seen. They did not look old, but who would still be travelling in that way? Sure enough, we soon heard a clicking sound behind us – there was a horse-and cart coming behind. The people still using them were the local Mennonite community, and that was almost the only transport they used. This cart was ridden by a young boy, and the tray behind was filled with kids of a similar age, all coming back from school.

We stopped at a Mennonite fruit stand a bit further on, and so did they. They were so matter-of-fact about everything they were doing, while I was standing there dumbly with my mouth hanging open and my camera furiously clicking. The produce, and the products they were selling were what I had been looking for all over Canada. Healthy, local, fresh food, sold at a decent price and available on the side of the road. We stocked up on fresh veggies and fruit, bread that was still warm from the oven and Muntasir got a slab of oat and date squares. I don’t know a lot about the Mennonite colonies, but they seem to care for the Earth with their organic farming techniques, definitely have a minimal carbon footprint with their non-power-driven lifestyle and they seem friendly enough, even if they did stare a little. We hoped we would run across more stands.

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As we were pedaling off, we ran into another cycling duo, from Switzerland. They were super friendly, and we decided to cycle together for the day.

The next place we passed through was a cute little historic town – all old-fashioned signs and little storefronts. It also had a Mennonite stand in it, but our panniers were already full. After that we saw a fence made entirely of bicycles, and then we were in Thessalon (population 1,200).

We shared dinner with our new friends, and spent the night in the Carolyn Beach Motor Inn. It was a really nice inn, and situated in a beautiful spot, but it was another super cold night.

Garmin 200 reading: Distance: 88.74km/Ascent 621m/Descent 636m

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