Date: June 8th, 2019
Miles Traveled: 40
Weather: Sunny, barely a cloud in the sky. Tailwinds allllll day.
Physical Status: “Every time I start pedalling, my thighs are like ‘DUDE WTF. AGAIN? REALLY?!’, but then after a couple seconds, they’re like ‘Awww sorry about that mate, we good.’ The human body is weird.”
TL;DR: Uncle Tom’s Cabin National Historic Site, real-life star power, and Walpole Island, the land of dragonflies and dispensaries.
After waking up at 5:30am, I packed up my tent and set out towards the USA-Canada border along the St. Clair River. Today, I would be crossing back into the States via the Walpole Island-Algonac ferry and continuing Northwest to make tomorrow’s trek to Ann Arbor, Michigan a little less lengthy.
Not even a mile or two from my starting location, I happened upon a museum called Uncle Tom’s Cabin National Historic Site:
Turns out, Dresden, Ontario was a popular settling place for slaves who escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad. The museum commemorates the life of Reverend Josiah Henson, a man who’s writings about his escape from slavery inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and recognizes his contributions to the Underground Railroad and the slaves who gained their freedom after escaping to Canada. Henson and several other abolitionists founded the British American Institute, one of Canada’s first industrial schools, which was a place of refuge and safety for former slaves. The institution provided general education and hands-on training for former slaves to learn useful skills before they could go off and make a new life for themselves.
Overall, this museum was incredibly impactful. Not only did it chronicle the life of Josiah Henson, but it also provided me with a new perspective on the African-American slave trade and the history of slavery as a whole.
Prior to coming here, I was familiar with the insane brutality associated with the slave trade, but there were certain paragraphs I read that made me ponder the age old debate on whether humanity is naturally good or naturally evil. It’s almost hard to believe all of this happened just a couple hundred years ago and, in some countries, still happens today.
Get your cute cat pictures ready folks, this blog’s about to get heavy.
“People prayed for death.
Many tried to take their own lives.
Many were successful.”
Pictured left: A device used to force feed slaves to prevent them from purposely dying of starvation.
A collar and ball and chain worn by slaves who attempted to run away and were captured.
“Josiah was only three or four when he saw his father’s face covered in blood, his ear cut off and his back torn from 100 lashes. His offense? Josiah’s father had stopped his master’s overseer from raping his wife, the mother of his children.”
“Initially claiming innocence, Angelique confessed <to setting fire to the City of Montreal> under bone-crushing torture. She was hanged, burnt, and ashes ‘cast to the four winds’, shattering the myth that Canadian slavery was mild.“
After spending about two hours in the museum, I set off on the road (for real this time) and encountered the mother of all tailwinds.
I told you! They really do exist!
As soon as I rode onto highway 15, I was thrust into what felt like warp speed.
The bearings inside each of my wheel hubs roared with life. Opening my body up like a sail, I barreled down the highway, easily maintaining a speed of just under 25mph on flat ground.
Having encountered only strong headwinds or light tailwinds in the past, an enormous shit-eating grin began to form on my face. I was on real-life star power and it was glorious:
After about 10 miles of coasting along, I crossed a short bridge and begin traveling through a First Nation reserve called Walpole Island. There, I proceeded dodge hundreds of dragonflies flying about. It was kind of like this:
Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but you get the idea.
I was basically playing Temple Run with my face:
While wincing periodically to prevent myself from having a dragonfly for lunch, I couldn’t help but notice the number of marijuana and tobacco dispensaries along the road. It was kind of hilarious, really.
Oh look! Bob’s Dispensary is on the left. And wow! Another dispensary not even a quarter mile later on the right! How do I even choose?
I must’ve passed by 10 dispensaries in less than two miles.
About a mile or two later, I made it to the St. Clair River, featuring a beautiful blue-green tint.
I then hopped on the Walpole-Algonac ferry and not even 30min later, I was back in the U.S.A:
Fuck yeah! Land of the free, home of the brave, bitches! AMERICA’S THE BEST!
Just kidding. I love you, Canada. Don’t tell anyone.
After chilling on the riverside for a bit, I decided to head further Northwest on some quiet suburban Michigan roads and ended up stealth camping at a deserted high school for the night in true vagabond style:
Tomorrow, I’ll be riding 70 miles Southwest to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I’ll be staying with my mother’s college roommate’s friends, Jen and Jon.
Until next time!