First, does anyone else remember that line from Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail? Its in the credits at the beginning, when the subtitles turn into an advertisment for Sweden. Well, it kept running through my head as we drove through Northern Ontario. You see, there are two things you need to know. Firstly, Northern Ontario is big. Very big and very boring to drive through. Well, that's not entirely true. If you take Highway 17 from Thunder Bay to North Bay via Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury, it is a beautiful drive. If you take Highway 11, like we did, the view wears off. My family's homestead is in New Liskard area, and my uncle and my grandmother still live in the area. So we took Highway 11 so we could go and visit them. Unlike Highway 17, which is full of breathtaking views of Lake Superior and hair pin turns that keep you on your toes, Highway 11 is a drive that takes you mostly through working forest. The forest that is harvested and replanted for the pulp and paper industry. It is pretty much trees, and then some cut down trees, and then some smaller trees and then some bigger trees . . . and then some more trees. From Dryden (where we left off) to Thunder Bay is 5 (6?) hours of trees. Thunder Bay to Kirkland Lake is 10 hrs of trees, with a few farms here and there. Ten. hours.
The second thing you need to know about is moose. Magnificent Moose. Only in Northern Ontario, they are more like the Malevolent Moose Missiles. You see, somewhat like Northern Ontario itself, moose are big. Really big. Big enough that if you drive into one that is racing towards your headlights (moose apparently are very curious abut strange lights in the middle of the night) you will knock its legs out from under it and it will fall on your car and potentially crush you. In the same way, I imagine, that Australians who live by water probably hear stories of shark encounters, Canadians who live by big stretches of open woodland hear stories about moose encounters. And they always start with "And then it just appeared, out of the mist, and before I could even brake I hit it . . ."
The third thing you need to know (I know, I said two) is that I had promised my Mom that we would spend Thursday with her, since she was going to Winnipeg on Friday morning. So we had to get to Thunder Bay by Wed. night. So we drove. And drove. And drove into the dark, then into the dark and fog, along moose inhabited roads for many hours in the dark.
How does one keep oneself awake for hours and hours? Well, you write imaginary blog posts with titles like, "10 things to do to keep yourself awake while driving at night with no stero". And then realize that you are actually too tired to do numbers 4, 5 and 6 and give up making up things to do. #4 was: See how many words you can make by scrambling up the letters on the back of the U-Haul ad of the truck in front of you". Unfortunately, I couldn't actually concentrate well enough to play that fun game. So instead, you make up alliterative songs about moose and hope that the moose are so appauled at your ridiculous songs that they stay away from your fascinating headlights.
So, no, I didn't actually see a moose. They were offended by my singing, I think. Or by being labelled unfairly as Malevolent Missiles when they had never done a thing to me in all their moosely lives. In any case, they would have smacked into the U-Haul first, which was much sturdier than I, so I would have only had to watch my dearly beloved people and all my worldly goods go spinning out of control and into the forest on the road in front of me. Another fun thing to imagine during hours of endless quiet driving.
Oh, right. So around 2am, Thunder Bay time, we safely arrived in Thunder Bay. And a few nights later, at 11pm New Liskard time, we safely arrived in New Liskard to visit my uncle and aunt. And all was well.