Whispering pines, rustling palms

Pine trees whisper, palm trees rustle

Palm trees rustle, pine trees whisper

I was sitting with a woman I was “sort of” seeing at the time. There was a breeze blowing. The palm trees surrounding the oasis were making those sounds that they make when the wind blows.

“Whispering,” I said to her, thinking of an old motel that I was familiar with.

“Palm trees don’t whisper. They rustle,” she replied.

She was right, of course, and I didn’t argue with her. But, some weeks later, in the dark, while in bed, she tried to shove a knife into me. More than once. I didn’t take it personally, but I left town in a hurry and didn’t look back.

Who’d have thought that whispering pines and rustling palms would have had such an effect?

Or, perhaps it was the other woman I was seeing who worked in the same bar. They hated each other’s guts, but obviously they still talked.

Women — can’t live with ’em, and can’t live without ’em.

Men — stupid.

Anyway, that’s the motel I was thinking about when I blurted out the whispering palms in obvious error. It’s closed now, of course, and has been for a very long time.

The Burger Scoop redux

Looking a little the worse for wear is the sign announcing The Burger Scoop, previously covered in this post. Don’t despair, however; the burgers are as good as ever.

The Burger Scoop, Ignace, Ontario

The Burger Scoop, Ignace, Ontario

Again I just had to stop here, park out front, enter and order the Bistro burger and strawberry milkshake. I was warned that I might find the Bistro a tad on the spicy side, but I told the woman that I liked it that way. Since I’ve spent a lot of time on the Baja, spicy doesn’t bother me in the least.

The Bistro wasn’t as spicy as I would have liked, but I’m certain the locals find it just a little on the hot side. As far as I’m concerned, there weren’t enough jalapenos on it, but that’s only my opinion.

As always–and yes, one more time–The Burger Scoop is a place not to be missed on Highway 17 in Ignace, Ontario.

Oh, and they’ve added a Robin’s Donuts franchise to the mix to catch those early-morning highway high-milers with coffee and donuts or muffins.

Don’t expect burgers for breakfast though. The restaurant doesn’t open for lunch until 11 a.m.

Unspoiled delights

I’ve never understood Ontario’s inability to promote tourism in the far north. The government in the south takes billions of dollars from the north by means of the forests, mines and water (in the form of hydro electricity). All the government basically has to provide in return is a paved highway, and this in the form of the TransCanada highway, which they must provide in order that goods travel across the country.

For decades, the unspoiled nature of the province, from the Manitoba border to Sault Ste. Marie, has sat around just waiting to be noticed. Unfortunately, no one has had the foresight to promote the area as the largest unspoiled and accessible-by-road nature preserve in the world.

Are you driving through the area? Where are the washrooms and toilets? Why, just pull off the road anywhere you like, but preferably at a snowplow turnout, and deposit your trash and urine in the pit bordering the turnout.

Are you looking for a scenic spot to have lunch? Well then, why not look for a small brown sign with an arrow and hope for the best? If you’re fortunate, and you don’t speed on by because the signage is small and indeterminate, you’ll miss it all.

Might there be tables? A toilet? A scenic view? You’ll never know until you pull in and have a look for yourself. But then, you’ve sped on by, and, too late now, you drive on to your destination, having missed out on spectacular views, lakes, streams, rapids and picnic tables.

And only the occasional outdoor toilet.

Roadside assistance for the distressed

I’m still on the north shore of Lake Superior.

It was cloudy and cool this morning.

Having only 140 miles to go, I took my time and got on the road by 0900. Unfortunately, I had to stop to put on the rain pants since the highway was wet. There was only the occasional drop of water on the windshield, so it must have rained much earlier.

At about the 20 minute mark I was flagged down by a kid out of Manitoba on an ’84 Yamaha two-banger. He was heading south also, but his engine died. Without tools, he couldn’t do much. I loaned him some of mine (the ones he could use, since I don’t carry metric) and he drained his two fuel bowls.

Clear and bright.

The plugs were good. The plug leads were a tad sketchy (thanks for that word, Kayla) and broke off in my hand.

That’s normal, sez the kid.

Well, okay, I guess. It’s his bike.

He’s done all the work on it to date. He’s got a nice hand-made spiderweb lower fairing. It’s not actually a fairing, but if it were covered, it would be.

Eventually, he manages to get to the fuel filter. It has fuel in it, so he thinks it’s okay.

Not necessarily, I tell him. Why not pull it, drain some into that empty Tim Horton’s cup and see what it looks like?

I’ll do that, sez the kid.

Hmm. Grass. How did green lawn grass get into the fuel filter, I ask?

Dunno, sez the kid.

The fuel line gets reconnected, the kid engages the starter, and away we go.

Problem solved.

During this series of events, an interested OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) officer drives by a couple of times, passing in both directions and obviously on his highway patrol, giving us the eye. Finally, he can stand it no longer and pulls in behind us to see what the hell is going on.

He turned out to be a pretty nice guy, actually, giving helpful advice and offering clean gas to the kid.

I don’t know if the kid accepted or not, because once the motorcycle turned over, I collected my tools and got back on the road.

It poured for the remainder of my 100 mile ride.

My thanks to Aerostich and their Darien rain gear. It’s kept my ass dry for decades now.

*     *     *

Not too many riders stop for a motorcycle by the side of the road any more. There are too many RUBs out there who think a cell phone and a trailer can solve all the problems one might encounter.

Even if one of those guys were to stop, his assistance would be limited to going for gas, or to make a phone call. Mechanical help wouldn’t be an option, I’m certain. Tools? Why carry tools? I have a five-year warranty.

Unfortunately, in the boondocks (believe me, the north shore of Lake Superior is the boondock nation), a rider stopping to offer help and support is a welcome relief. The look of gratitude on the kid’s face when I pulled over was all that I needed to see, even without his immediately knowing whether I could help or not.

Fortunately, this time, I could.