On my way up from Elk Rapids to the Sault, I drove through a bit of blowing snow and visibility was a little iffy. But, it was all worth it! I got to meet with J.J. Hilsinger, who owns the Water Tower Inn and has done both the Tour d'Afrique in 2005 and just finished the Silk Route Tour with the same company. He was a MAJOR help for me. At the same time, there is just so much to think about since talking with him that my head is a little muddy at the moment. He was most gracious though and offered me a bit of gin while we chatted in his office. He showed me his back room where a lot of gear that he took on the Silk Route Tour was in piles: tent, medications, spare parts, clothing, books, creams, and thermarests. J.J. reiterated how important it was to take care of your "bum." I just love Canadians! So, I will use the bag balm religiously on my own "bum" and monitor any sore spots to make sure they don't progress to lances or boils. Just so you know, bag balm is still around but is primarily used to put on cow's teats when one is milking them.
The main thing I learned from J.J. was to be independent. What he meant by that was to fend for yourself and try to NOT depend on anyone but yourself. Have everything that you need and be deliberate about where you put things ahead of time. That also means learning your bike inside and out and knowing how to change tires and having a system every day with your gear and your routine. He shared lots of tricks with me on how to minimize your gear (yeah right!), package it just so on your bike, and in general make your life on the road better. Part of this will require spending more money on my part. But, hey, spending money seems synonymous with Kerri these days and days past for those that know me!
After chatting in near darkness in his office, we had some dinner at his restaurant. Very nice! He invited a guy to dinner who is on his way back "home" to Manitoulin Island from a 6. 5 year bike ride around the world! A very interesting guy to talk to! We are supposed to meet tomorrow morning so we can watch J.J.'s DVD that he shot in Africa!
Thank god I have over a month left before I leave. Not much but still a month!
Thanks to J.J. for letting me pick his brain and giving me a HUGE discount on a room at his lovely hotel. I found him a most gracious person who has a heart of gold! Check out the Water Tower Inn the next time you are in the Sault, Canada!