If you have time to read only one posting, click the following link to read the entry for the last day of our journey.

Day 7, August 21, Wednesday, 1800 milse, Pukaskwa Natonal Park on Lake Superior, Ontario

Up at 7, took a walk with Leben and Erde to the beach, and  hit the road at 10:30.  (When I say "walk" I mean with Leben in his wheelchair. When I say "stroll" I mean with Leben in his CATV, that is, his canine all terrain vehicle, aka stroller. Erde, of course, is on all fours, usually looking for the first opportunity to break away, have fun, or both.)

Weather started out threatening rain but it turn out to be another magnificent  day, 7 for 7, which I know cannot last.  Quite a contrast to this last year when we had snow on and off.

We stopped for a rest break at the same spot where last year I took the final photo of Leben walking on his own four.  Despite what we have been through over the last year, there was no sadness, especially knowing that he is here and enjoying life.  Leben plowed headlong down a steep, four-foot slope to the water and to get him out I had to double-winch him up the slope lying on my back and tightly secured to a tree myself.  But at least he is understanding that he can do everything he did before. More importantly, I am understanding where we should draw the line in the future.

We checked into Pukaskwa at 4pm and got the same site we had last year.  This will obliterate the memories I have of his becoming paralyzed at this same site.  My hope is that Erde does not drag me out of the  tent again at 5am thinking she had to go.  Actually, when I followed her, she was following the bear tracks leading from mean the tent.  Fortunately, she is almost deaf and sleeps soundly these days, so I don't think I have to worry about that.  When I got back to the tent last year, Leben hsd dragged himself outside; it was then that I knew he was paralyzed.  No big deal.  He's happy and that's all that counts.  But after I realized tat, we ended the trip here nd headed for home the next day.  So, to all intents and purposes, this trip, part II of our Sea to Shining Sea journey from the end of the road in the northeast (labrador) to the end of the road in the northwest (Prudhoe Bay, Alaska) begins now.  In 2010, we had to end the trip at tomorrow's hoped-for camp at Thunder Bay because of Leben's skin allergy and the Defender's overheating problem.

After stating up the camp, I took the dogs down the trail next to our camp to the beach.  I had to winch Leben over the sand and rocks to he water and once gin, these two dogs didn't miss a chance to jump in the water. As Leben and I sat on the beach watching Erde dig a hole to China, finally the words came to be about what this trip is all about.  It's the same as Sonntag's trip to Alaska in 2000: to thank them for the years of joy they brought me these last 12 years.

Several days ago I bought a watch to replace the watch i forgot to take.  I bought it at the exact same Walmart's where I bought the watch last year to replace the watch i forgot to take then.  As bad luck would have it, when I was struggling today to set Leben right after he toppled over after he hit some driftwood on the beach, that watch band broke.  Damn, it was an expensive watch, $12.  No big deal, I have some gorilla glue with me and I'll just glue the band to the back of the watch.  If that doesn't work, I have some JB Weld that I know will work.

Erde has not been eating.  I end up giving Leben her food since I cannot store it.  I thought it was because of all the treats they have been getting, but tonight I switched their mixer from some canned dog food to half of my canned salmon, and she wolfed it right down.  She probably thought that I would eventually figure out what she wanted, and she was right.  I may up having to eat the Spot's Stew myself from here on since I have 60 cans of it.

I  think i am finally getting finished with the shakedown period of this trip, which translates to making sure everything is in the best place, and in its place, and going about the chores in the most efficient way and sticking with that routine or improving it.  Every minute I waste looking for something or not doing something right means one less minutes of sleep, my journal, or on the road.  And with 500 or so things and an equal amount of daily tasks, those minutes can add up.  A lot of time is consumed during this shakedown period creating the numerous rules that differ from the rules I follow at home.  Likewise, since we are camping in a new spot every night, I walk very slowly around the camp to make sure i don't trip on some concealed thing.  I do not need to trip and fall and break an arm on these trips.  

As for my driving, i am also quite pleased with that. But there were three close calls: trying to pass a slow moving vehicle when there was not enough time; backing up without checking out what was behind me when I almost smashed Leben's wheelchair hanging on the rear ladder into a tree; and pulling over the side of a road without first seeing what was behind the tall grass I was entering, i.e., a three-foot sheer drop off  that my tire came within 2 inches of.  That last item would have been a show stopper for sure, although I have been thinking that my winch might have gotten me out, with a little ingenuity since the winch would have been the first thing to go down the drop off.  

Tomorrow we are off to Thunder Bay, where Sonntag and I stayed in 2000, and Leben and Erde stayed in 2001 and 2011.  I suspect I will not get my favorite site, but no big deal.  After that, one more night in Ontario (our eighth) and then it's across Canada for four days to the Rockies, where we head north after that to the Yukon, maybe Northwest Territory, and then onto to Alaska.  At that point, I will start giving some thought to how we get home.

It's 7:24.  Time to secure the camp, take the dogs for a walk, and then retreat to my tent for some cheap Cabernet Sauvignon and Mahler, plan tomorrow and pick up on page 7 of Consolations of the Forest.  (A measure of the free time I have is how many pages of the 12 books I brought along I have read.  Six in 7 days.)

Below photo is of Leben resting after his swim, and Erde resting after digging her hole to China.

Below photo is our camp (38) at Pukaskwa.  This is the spot where Leben became paralyzed last year.  We had better luck, this year.  And Erde did not pull me out of the tent at 5am to chase a bear, as she did last year.  Good dog.  Good bear (for not showing up).

Ed Mulrenin
202-747-4704 (mobile)

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