Wednesday, 25 February 2009

On geographic awareness and changing plans

When I was last in North Hatley, I was discussing biking plans with my family including my brother Philip. While I was elaborating on the Manitoulin Island ferry, Philip expressed disbelief that I would want to skip part of Northern Ontario in favour of Southern Ontario. He had hitchhiked across Canada and found Northern Ontario nicer that Southern Ontario. My mother and I tried to explain that sitting in a car and biking are two different things and that the rolling landscape of Northern Ontario might be pretty but it wasn't easy for biking. He didn't seem to get it.

In some ways, I shouldn't be that surprised as Our Fil, as we call him, has very limited experience of biking any great distance. In addition, he doesn't have my awareness of geography. My mother once said that when my eldest brother learned to drive, it was a surprise to my father and her that he didn't really know how to navigate. Our Fil was just as bad. She didn't say so but, I was something of a relief as I have a good awareness of geography. The more so since I have taken to biking with a vengeance. I remember one time, many years ago, when Philip and I were driving to the Gwyn grandparents' summer cottage near Calumet, Qu├ębec. Somewhere around Montreal, we realised that neither of us actually knew the formal directions regarding how to get there! We knew, go to Hawksbury, cross the river and turn left onto the highway, but beyond that we could say exactly what we should do. Luckily, my awareness of the geography proved sufficient, even if it was "turn right at the road that leads up the hill directly next the highway, then continue until the dirt road just after the flat bit,..." I could do it, but Philip couldn't. Then again, he has trouble finding my condo, despite me having lived here for five years. ;-)

Changing plans

Margo and Chris are of the sensible opinion that the logistics of me trying to meet them in Turkey are difficult to the point that it would probably be best if we didn't try it. Que sera, sera. At least now, I won't have to feel obliged to take a course in Turkish.

Fortunately, I am not without backup plans:

Backup plan no.1 is the Rocky Mountain phase of the Trans-Canada mega-project. My rough plan would be to go to Vancouver in late August and go see Stephen, Margaret and their new baby in Victoria, then head to Calgary. Subject to negotiation with various concerned parties.

Backup plan no. 2 would be biking from York to Campbeltown, partially following the route in Europe by Bike, a book Margo and Chris gave me a while ago.

Backup plan no. 3 would be Marseille to London, or some variation thereon.

Backup plan no. 4 would be Calgary to Winnipeg
, also a segment of the Trans-Canada mega-project.

It is an ill-wind that blows no good as now I can more safely ask for time off as the above journeys all have roughly the same seasonal window of late-August to mid September, unlike Turkey, which was October.

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