I’m not just being cute, there really was an old-lady mad-hatter seduction attempt. But it’s funny what a title does to a blog entry. Maybe people just click these things for the title. You people are sick, all you want is vileness and debauchery. Try a Harlequin, or if you want to add depth, Orwell. Otherwise get a real hobby, like a boat or something.
I carried on minus breakfast to a general store passing itself off as a town on the map. This happens a lot in Canada.
I sat down to a cup of coffee and conversation and out of nowhere came this lady wearing an ungodly hat. It was tall, purple, velvety and stovepipe-ish. She owns a hat-store down the street, which is probably enough info to deface this person in real life [since Cape Breton is damn small but obviously has internet] which is something i don’t wan to do, because really she was nice. And really, maybe she was in her fifties, so she wasn’t tottaly an old lady.
Anyway, so I mention biking and she talks about her sons, on in Alberta, one an artsy type living closer to home. About the biking, a warning came out regarding the next ‘mountain’ called Cape Smokey, just a few K ahead.
So next thing we know this lady is coming in for the kill and wanting me to come do laundry at her place and offering to fix me an egg for the ride over Smokey. And I had already accepted out of a real need to do laundry and egg-eating when a light went off in my brain. An incident similar to this one happened to me in the Yukon once, and intentions on the other side had been less about laundry than I’d anticipated. Don’t worry mom, I escaped and evaded, hopefully hurt no feelings, and if you could call that a lesson, I learned it.
So nothing against the Hat Lady but a minute after affirming to the positive I mumble a tune about changing my mind, I really needed to get biking but thanks anyway, and ran out the door.
The screen was about to latch itself and the last thing I heard was the Hat Lady remarking to the old guy at the counter, maybe I was scared she was going to try and take advantage of me.
I had been feeling a bit out of sorts all morning but I tried to ignore it and just push on. I had a feeling I knew what was happening and didn’t like it one bit. Before smokey tiredness was overcoming me, deep, dragging tiredness that I recognized and it was barely that I managed to drag myself up into a niche of woods by the roadside. I spread the bivy bag as a ground sheet and fell into a sick sleep waking up twenty minutes later and managing a quick roll before power-puking on the floor of the forest. Pleasant. Out my nose and everything.
It got on the bivy bag as well and the best I could do was take off my yellow Sandy Beach T-shirt, a freebie from the bro and beloved for the one week I’d had it, to wipe my face and gear well enough to pass a combat-inspection. I was dead but I had to get on the bike. No way was I stopping someone to call an ambulance.
The best part was up-and-coming. Cape Smokey made Kelly’s Mountain look like a pimple and I had to lead the bike for most of it. Near the top they were working on the road and I asked a flag-man about a hospital. Closest one was Neil’s Harbor, another 60K or so. Three hours on a good day.
Outside Ingonish I had to lie down again for an hour and a car stopped to ask if I was good and I just smiled and waved them on.
Here’s a piece of road advice. If your planning to bike the Cabot Trail, don’t. The only person who would enjoy it for the hills is someone like me, and people like me ignore advice like this all the time. So, people like me, wont miss out. But for the rest of you, stay off it. You’ll never thank me because you’ll never know what you missed.
There is one word for the Cabot trail and that word is ‘hilly’.
The Cabot Trail ['Cabot Trial', if you like awful puns] is hilly. Not a sloping Sea-To-Sky hilly but a brutal climb-from-San-Francisco-Bay hilly.
On the positive side, you definitely want to drive it. That will be three hours, not three days. The vistas are great. Once you’ve labored along for a bit you can look back and see the bouncing pirate-island landscape and a sea that changes colour with the bottom, which you can see because your so high up.
At Neil’s Harbor I almost missed the hospital, sorry, the health-care center. Buchanan Memorial Health Center.
But when I’d already cruised by it the same bell that warned me about Hat-Lady went off [that bell is priceless - the best part is it's built in and doesn't come with a plan]. I took a sweeping glance back, read some big letters on a wall and did a U-ey.
The bike came in with me and a chain-reaction got going among some nurses who see very few patients except a few customers awaiting oblivion in the terminal ward, or whatever they cal the dying-section.
Thank God for the Forces and the Canada-wide health card they gave me . Very little messing around.
A bed was found and one of the nurses got an IV going, poking me two or three times and saying the skin of my arm was like leather. Later she got another nurse to come in and they talked for bit while I lay there half-conscious, looked at the IV machine that I was hooked up too, pressed some buttons and shook their heads saying, ‘that’s not good.’
Always nice to hear when your hooked up to it.
“What’s not good?”
“Oh nothing, it’s just a new machine.”
“Hm.” I said.
Be in the army for a while and you tend to get numb to this stuff. Like getting vaccinated twice or three times because paperwork got lost. Or going out to look for bombs with your feet.
Funny thing was, the presiding doctor was out for a bike ride and came in to see me later in a sweaty green Arc’teryx shirt. In appearance and manner he was similar to Mr. Dave in NL.
My condition was confirmed: I had Gastro – capital G because if you’ve ever had it you know how much it sucks. This is a stomach thing you get from, for instance, possibly having shit on your hands. One of those travel things that happens. The good doc admitted me for the night, comanded a stool sample, commented on my Surly and asked how I liked it so far, then took off to finish his ride.
As if everyone wants to hear about stool samples [like I said, get a real hobby], one of the nurses provided me with a collection device and gave me instructions to which I nodded and smiled and then ignored. What are they going to use a sample for? Everyone knew what I had and by the time they got it back from the lab I’d be halfway to BC.
The best part was having a bed for the night. Mostly they left me alone, and with the lights shut I slept the sleep of death.