The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada: Day 5: So Long Ontario. So Long.

On the first day since setting out on his adventure to hitchhike across Canada, Ben makes some real progress and finally makes it out of Northern Ontario and in to Manitoba

After two nights in Thunder Bay I was all too happy to be heading back to the highway and with hopes of covering another 700km it felt like it was always going to be a long and tiresome day...

...But having discovered en route to Thunder Bay that success in hitchhiking may simply be obtained by carrying a sign, I did today feel better prepared, for under my arm was a hand-crafted sign that I was sure would entice drivers in to offering me rides - the font was big, the message was clear, the request was polite. Best of all it distinguished me as being British, something that out here in Canada I was sure would work in my favour.

- - - Thumb's Up in Thunder Bay at 10:03 - - -

Ride 016: Ray, Annie and Josh. 62km from Thunder Bay to Hwy 17/11
Having just returned home from a trip to England, I got my first ride thanks entirely to the Union Jack I had chosen to display on my sign.

Ray, his girlfriend Annie and his Son Josh were very friendly and during the hour or so I spent with them we all managed to maintain a healthy and mutual interest in one another's lives. Though upon exiting the car, these fond memories were quickly replaced with resentment as they had set me down in what very much felt like the middle of nowhere. With no passing traffic and little shade from the midday Sun, I quickly developed a sense I would be stranded in this place for many hours.
No traffic and no shade - I had a bad feeling develop that I could be at this spot for hours if not days
Then, after forty-five minutes or so at just after a quarter past twelve:
12:19 A truck just drove by going the opposite direction and signalled something. I have no idea what he meant but funny how my mind makes me want to think he's coming back for me haha
12:22 Oh my god. He's actually come back for me!
Ride 017: Gerald. 624km from Hwy 17/11 to Winnipeg 
Having become fraught with worry over the last hour, the sight of a huge truck slowing down and pulling over beside me was nothing short of intoxicating. Better yet, Gerald, who en route to Saskatoon, declared almost immediately that he could take me right the way through to Winnipeg, which at some 624km (390mi) away, it really felt at that moment like I had won the jackpot!

However, the elation that came with this ride unfortunately wore off within a few short minutes and was instead replaced with the realisation that for the next six hours I was stuck with this guy who, whilst obviously great for giving me the ride in the first place, was just a little lacking.

His conversational skills were at best limited and with little for either of us to speak about it would be less than an hour before I began fighting an endless battle to stay awake. Though try as I might, I was doomed it seemed to fail, for even after downing two pints of coffee I did eventually doze off.

When I awoke, I did so feeling dreadful.
Given that Gerald most likely picked me up for the company, I felt it would be nothing short of a slap in the face if I were to fall asleep
But despite the company, this ride was great as it was the first since leaving Arnprior where I truly felt like I was covering some ground - during this one afternoon alone I crossed my first time zone, finally made it out of Ontario and even passed the longitudinal centre of Canada!
15:26 / 14:26 Just gone back in time having passed over my first time zone! Really feels like I'm making progress now :)
17:40 Goodbye Ontario. Hello Manitoba
18:55 Passing the longitudinal centre of Canada
My ride out of Ontario
Eventually though, after six long hours in the cab with Gerald, we had in fact arrived, and parting ways on the furthest outskirts of Winnipeg I was left to face what I guessed at being a good two hour walk in to town.

Ride 018: Tessa and Aaron. 10km to downtown Winnipeg 
Funnily though, as soon as I accepted the long walk in to town and reached a pace and rhythm I was happy with a car randomly pulled over on the highway and offered me a ride in to town.

Both tired and hungry I was in sheer disbelief and incredibly thankful. Dropping me right to the door of my host in the centre of town, Tessa and Aaron provided the perfect end to what was a very successful day.

- - - Pack Down in Winnipeg at 19:49 - - -

Today at a Glance
Awoke in: Thunder Bay, Ontario
Sleeping in: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Time travelling: 10hrs 39mins
Distance travelled today: 696km
Rides today: 3

Planned arrival time: 17:00 - 20:00
Actual arrival time: 19:49

Highlight: Landing my ride with Gerald
Lowlight: Battling to stay awake with Gerald

Total Time Travelling: 33hrs 19mins
Total Distance Travelled: 2,056km
Total Rides: 19