Heading across an international border is always a bit nerve racking. Especially if you are a card carrying member of NORML. The only interesting question asked of me by the Canadian Border Guard was whether I had any form of mace or personal defense spray. Advising her I had some bear spray she asked to look at the can. Seeing the image, she said, "yep, as long as its got a picture of a bear, you're good to go." Off I went and after trading some real American cash in for some funny money, I turned eastward up the Thousand Island's Parkway. it was sunny and warm and about 6PM.
My destination was the Long Sault Parkway which is a very cool series of Islands connected by bridges and an asphalt road. Each Island has a public campground, although only one was open this time of year. I didn't need any provisions so I was able to rip up the parkway enjoying the bucolic scenery, quaint towns and intermittent St. Lawrence River views. My only stop was in Brockville where I needed to pick up a pack of rolling papers, then it was back to cloud nine enjoying those way-cool moments in the infancy of a bike trip.
Made it to The Long Sault Parkway as dusk was beginning to creep up on the horizon. Turning onto the parkway, I was elated as I had imagined this destination for a very long time. Rumbling across the bridge to the first island I came across was McLaren Campground. I knew it to be the only campground still open into the fall. Taking a quick tour in the fading light, I encountered a pretty good smattering of RV-ers whooping it up in style. Couldn't find a single spot which would deliver the back country, first night on the road experience I was dreaming of. So I turned tail and headed up to the next island. No one was around on the next few islands and I had to take a moment to connect with my rebellious self. Technically illegal, commando camping does not cross my personal sense of right and wrong. Of course, the Government would prefer me to bed down with a bunch of yelping RV-ers, but tonight was gonna be about me and a good dose of nature's Splendor. With dusk around, however, I had to turn the ignition key of my DRZ 400 to parking mode. Having changed a few wires, this allowed my bike to stay running with zero lights available to the prying eyes of others. Got the idea from an old military pickup I used to own which had a "black out" mode. Within ten minutes, I found the ultimate place to hole up for the night. It had it all: Waterfront, Killer view, flat spot for my tent, and pretty well hidden from anyone who might happen by.
Turning off my bike and taking off my lid, I sat in silence with a sunset visible through some trees off to the west. I could hear the river flowing along with bird sounds and rustling fall leaves. Taking out my flask, I placed the stainless steel opening to my lips and poured in a half ounce of Cardenal Mendoza Carta Real. It's become my favorite trip elixir and warms the cockles of my soul like nothing else. I was in pure heaven and slowly recounted every single ADV Rider trip report I had read over the years. It was finally my turn, I thought, and what a beginning it was. Dismounting my ride, I was anxious to cast out a line from my pocket fishermen and see if I could catch a little dinner. I had always thought how cool it would be to cook a fish on my first night out. First, I had to pitch the tent and get out of my gear. Maybe take a picture for a ride report I might someday write. Finally I found a worm, baited my hook and cast it ten yards out. Fate would deal me a nice walleye, I was sure. But, It wasn't to be. My line stood untouched in the water as I suckled a doobie in the enveloping darkness. After half an hour I took out my campstove and prepared some Chana Masala along with some naan. I washed it down with a Samual Smiths Nut Brown Ale I had earlier stashed in my pannier. Though I couldn't start a campfire so as to draw attention to myself, a nice moon came out to the north and got the water to shimmering. I took my iPod out and played a little Neil Young through my Goal Zero speaker. As the music played and my buzz moved into it's apex, I realized I wasn't all that different from those RV-ers a few islands away. Just less wheels and less load. Maybe a bit quieter as well.
Slipping and sliding
and playing domino
Lefting and then Righting,
it's not a crime you know.
you gotta tell your story boy,
Before it's time to go