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Day 6: the one where Lisa gets attacked and drugged

September 3rd, 2013


Day 6 Statistics:
Overall Trip (from Vancouver): 4143.8 km
Overall Average fuel economy: 4.2 L/100km
Overall Average speed: 80.9 km/h
Total odometer on vehicle: 4614 km

Day 6 Wawa to North Bay, Ontario: 654.7 km
Day 6 Average fuel economy: 4.5 L/100km
Day 6 Average speed: 76.1 km/h

Within seconds, an adrenaline surge reaches my brain as if it’s been directly injected. My tongue feels like it’s swelling and there is a suspicious tingling in my throat.

I am itchy all over. It is unbearable. I have an almost uncontrollable urge to run… anywhere. Not that it would help. What is causing this reaction is going to be coming with me no matter where I run.

We had stopped at the cheerfully chaotic complex of Agawa Indian Crafts and the Canadian Carver in the Pancake Bay, Batchawana Bay area about 80 kilometres northwest of Sault Ste. Marie. This is the bay where, in the early 1920s, Frank Lapoint caught the largest fish ever recorded in the Great Lakes. It was reportedly a 90-year-old sturgeon that measured 7.5 feet (2.25 metres) long and weighed 310 pounds (140 kg). How’s that for a Big Thing?

Matt Sookram, City Reporter and Sport Editor at Country600 CKAT radio station in North Bay, had called earlier to set up a phone interview with Garry and me about our attempt to break the existing record for lowest fuel consumption from Vancouver to Toronto. We needed a spot with good cell service where we could pull over and talk without the roar of trucks and wind coming in the windows.

Garry knew this ‘great spot’ with picnic tables, ice cream, crafts and carvings.

In the 30-plus-degree weather, sitting in the Chevy Cruze Diesel to do the phone interview with windows closed and no aircondtioning was not an option. Idling with the air conditioning on was out of the question.

Garry spotted a picnic table in the shade of a large weeping willow tree. It looked perfect. Idyllic. Canadian.

The interview begins with Garry talking to Matt. I sit at the table and think about the questions that Matt will ask me, trying to cobble together what had happened on the 3,500 kilometres since leaving Vancouver last Thursday.

I notice that directly behind our little piece of heaven is a pond complete with lily pads. Then three things happen: 1. My brain registers ‘pond, lily pads, stagnant water’; 2. A mosquito alights on my bare leg; 3. Garry hands me the phone.

By the time Matt asks me his first question, I have no less than 30 mosquito bites on my legs, back, neck and the crown of my head. I can’t move, swat or curse.

I’m trying to describe to Matt Sookram how much fun we’ve been having on our cross-country adventure (add another 10 mosquito bites), despite the stress of keeping a steady, average speed (add 5 bites), an excellent fuel economy number (throw in another 12 welts forming on my arms) and driving with no air conditioning to conserve fuel on some of the hottest days of the summer yet.

Through gritted teeth, I’m rattling on about how many lovely Canadians we’ve met along the way and the support they’ve shown for our wacky, fuelish mission.

Matt is joking with me about not getting enough sleep, eating roadside crap and how my marriage may suffer after being trapped in a car for 6,000 kilometres with my super-nerd-on-fuel-efficiency-calculations husband.

Beside me I can feel Garry start to notice large welts forming between my shoulders and I know he finally sees the swarm of mosquitos over my head. He starts swatting. Too late, dear.

I don’t know how I made it through the end of the jovial interview. By the time I sign off, I am covered with bites. The reaction and itching are so intense, I’m shaking.

Luckily, the Agawa Indian Crafts and Canadian Carver complex has a camping supply store. I tear inside, my panic alerting the staff to the fact that I am not some happy camper leisurely buying supplies for a weekend in the great Canadian outdoors.

I spy the Benadryl on the shelf as if with laser-guided sight. It’s like there is no other product on the jumbled shelves.

I never take medication. Advil is the strongest pill I would ever ingest and then I usually resist as long as I can. I crack the Benadryl and down a quarter of the bottle.

No shopping for crafts today. I want to be as far from Batchawana Bay as possible. We hit the road.

Within minutes the panic subsides, the itching decreases somewhat. The worried look on Garry’s face fades. As I’m blathering on to him about the wonders of modern medicine, I feel an overpowering urge to close my eyes. Just before I do, I read the side of the bottle of Benadryl: Do not operate heavy machinery or a motor vehicle after taking this medicine.

I spend the rest of the day in a bit of a haze, the beauty of Lake Superior drifts by the windows.

Where are we again, Garry? What are we doing in this car?

That was a fun 250 kilometres.

Much later that day…

10:45 p.m. Pull out of Sudbury, fed and fueled (3rd tank since Vancouver). Heading for North Bay in fog. As usual, Garry is nerding out on the instantaneous fuel consumption rate on the instrument panel and watching the elevation number change on our Garmin.

I can’t see his face in the dark but I sense tension.

“The fuel consumption is showing 7 to 9 L/ 100 km and the altimeter is steady at 207 metres. Why is the fuel consumption rate so high? Did we get a tank of bad fuel? Is there a problem with the fuel filters? A gremlin in the instruments?”

He floors the throttle for a second then pulls on the hand brake. The warning light on the dash lights up, the car lurches. He pulls over, shuts off the ignition, restarts the car, slowly accelerates to 90 km/h.

The fog and the tension in the Cruze are getting thicker. It’s difficult to tell if we are ascending or descending. I close my eyes. Am I trapped in a scene from ‘Night of the Living Dead’? Is this a Benadryl flashback?

Suddenly, Garry laughs.

The altimeter ratchets up to 293 metres. We were climbing all along. Obviously the moonscape around Sudbury was wreaking havoc with its readings.

Now, that was a fun 20 kilometres!

*Canadian of the Day:
In Sudbury at Caseys Restaurant, Superwoman Melissa Lefebvre brings us dinner. She is a fit pretty young lady, friendly and professional. We tell her what we are doing and about our daily blog. We ask her what she feels most proud of as a Canadian. She answers: Terry Fox.

We feel proud of her though. We finally extract from her that she just competed in the 2013 national championships of the Canadian Bodybuilding Federation in BC. She placed in the Top Five in Canada. Go Melissa!

On Twitter: #CleanDieselCruze
Follow Lisa on Twitter: @FrontLady
Follow Garry on Twitter: @DrivenMind99
Follow our coast-to-coast trek on: http://blogs.driving.ca/

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