The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 3: Two Mikes and a Jocelyn

Ben Collins reveals how he managed to hitchhike Northen Ontario in just two rides

Avoiding the reality of what I knew was waiting for me I tried my best to be optimistic. With my eyes still firmly shut I lay there questioning how on earth I expected to make it to Thunder Bay in under 12hrs when yesterday I was unable to achieve a little more than half this great distance in roughly the same time...

After yesterday's frankly abysmal performance I knew that the best chance I had of covering the 700km (437 miles) was praying for a miracle 
...But with Kim and Pat already filling the house with cigarette smoke I didn't fancy hanging around. So within the hour I had made to Sault Ste Marie where Kim kindly bought me breakfast and wished me the best of luck.

With Kim gone, I was left to take the five or so kilometre walk up to the highway, during which I really struggled to get myself motivated. Instead, all I was able to feel was impending doom - not only was I about to tackle the single greatest distance that I'll hitchhike on this cross-Canada venture, but I'll be doing so in what is widely recognised as the most difficult part of Canada to hitchhike - Northern Ontario.

Would this eliminate the 'quick hops'?
Thinking then that I needed a game-changer I took the decision to knock up a sign with which I could hold whilst trying to get a ride. I had so far on my trip chosen not to employ this tactic as the research I undertook prior to leaving led me to believe that there was no clear winning strategy among the hitching community. Instead, peoples' preference on whether to have a sign or not was split roughly 50/50 and figuring it would be easier not to hold a sign, I opted for the easier of the two. But having given it some thought the hope was that the sign, obviously indicating I am trying to go a long distance, would deter drivers who are perhaps heading just to the next town and instead attract those on longer journeys who might perhaps be looking for some company.

The hope therefore was that I'd achieve my 700km target with fewer rides that take me further and not more rides that only ever it seems take me just to the next town.
- - - Thumb's Up in Sault Ste Marie at 10:00 - - -

Stood on the turn off for Thunder Bay I stood next to a fuel station where I hoped drivers getting ready to embark on a long journey would see my sign and offer me a ride. And to my complete disbelief, three minutes in I got lucky.

014: Mike and Mike Senior. 311km from Sault Ste Marie to White River
Mike and Mike Snr.
En route to a father and son fishing trip, Mike and Mike Snr. had already that morning been driving for some hours, having left their home in Michigan in the States not long after midnight.

And whilst all was well for them, the same could not be said for their friends, who having encountered some minor mechanical issues were forced to take a pit stop - conveniently right alongside where I was stood.

I went on to spend the best part of four hours with the two Mikes where put simply I learned that both father and son alike were decent, hard-working and above all sincere - something that after yesterday's collection of drivers was a real pleasure.
Whilst remaining cool on the outside I was on the inside ecstatic
As they say though, time flies though when you're having fun and a little after lunch I bid farewell to the two Mikes in the small town of White River - a small linear settlement along the highway which is famous for a small black bear cub which 80 years ago eventually became the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh.

Ride 015: Jocelyn. 391km from White River to Thunder Bay

Bringing sexy to White River
I wondered how long it would be before a single woman would pick me up and finally answering that question would be Jocelyn, who en route to Thunder Bay felt like nothing short of a saviour and prompted me to question if she were in fact were the miracle I had been hoping for just eight or so hours prior.

Despite having my backpack between my legs I immediately felt very comfortable with Jocelyn who emitted a very positive vibe. Her company made for the most perfect afternoon where amongst many other things we discussed the spiritual properties of amethyst to the ever growing number of freakish coincidences that some, including Jocelyn it seemed, would rather I start calling fate.

- - - Pack Down in Thunder Bay at 19:32 - - -

Arriving in to Thunder Bay I was simply beside myself. Just 12hrs ago I lay overshadowed by yesterday's dismal outcome and feared I had bitten off at least twice what I could realistically chew. But thanks to two  Mikes, a Jocelyn and a sign that said "Please", I was reminded that with positivity and a little politeness - anything can happen.

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Today at a Glance
Awoke in: Bruce Mines, Ontario
Sleeping in: Thunder Bay, Ontario 

Time travelling today:09hrs 32mins 
Distance traveled today: 702km 
Rides today:2

Planned arrival time: 18:00 
Actual arrival time: 19:32  

Highlight: Mike, Mike Snr. and Jocelyn
Lowlight: Being stopped by the Police for a routine check whilst holding my thumb out in White River - apparently checking that I am not some 'on-the-run' criminal. Actually turned out to be very firendly

Total Time Travelling:22hrs 40mins
Total Distance Travelled:1,330km
Total Rides:16