The dusty road continues….
In case you missed it, part one is HERE.
I’ll post my best map again for reference (and because my mom loves maps):
I became very hopeful when I saw a sign welcoming me to Auden, though it appeared to be about 10 miles too early. I knew that I just needed to keep heading north and that I would run into railroad tracks eventually. Then I would know my location for sure.
My calculating was close and I reached the actual town of Auden around 10 miles later. My gas tank was still about 2/3 full. I had enough fuel to explore a bit. Auden mostly featured trailers and old shacks, most of which appeared to be abandoned. However, once I arrived at the railroad tracks, there was a decent amount of civilization. The CN Railroad still has an outpost here consisting of a couple machine sheds, a headquarters-looking building, and a handful of newer looking cookie-cutter residences. To my joy, I also saw two huge tanks, one of diesel and one of gasoline…..now I just need to find somebody.
I went over to the building that looked like the headquarters. There was no doorbell or anything, so I opened it slowly while knocking and saying “hello.” I caught the eye of someone in what looked like the kitchen area. Wow! A real live human! I waited in the doorway for him to come to me, trying to obey the now visible sign reading “CN employees only.”
He was younger than me, probably mid-20s. I started telling him what I was doing, hoping to get some direction on the location of Ombabika and possibly a gallon of gas.
He was having none of it.
I wouldn’t say he was rude, but I don’t think I received an answer longer than three words. It was not shyness, as he looked me right in the eye as he delivered his terse responses. The only information I got was that he knew the song, Ombabika was “west” and that I was not getting gas.
I shouldn’t be upset. I’m nobody special. And who knows what was going on in his day or what the company’s policies are about strangers. I think I was more surprised than anything. I’ve found, in general, that the more remote the location the more people are likely to help. I guess this is the counterpoint. No worries! I guess I’ll find Ombabika myself.
I had a few different options for heading West. The first one was a dead end at a couple of trailers. The second one I tried went a little bit and then crossed a river. Without a doubt this was the Ombabika River.
At least I had located that in case I couldn’t find the town. Right after the little bridge, the road split.
I opted for the more traveled path (Sorry, Robert Frost). Surely lots of people go to Ombabika, right? The road seemed like it would not end. Over each hill and around each bend I longed to see the remnants of my lost city. There were some really tough patches. I probably topped out at about 10mph on this road.
Finally, it dead ended. I was disappointed, but knew I still had one more avenue to explore. This detour was only about 6 miles, but it took over an hour of my time. I returned to my fork in the road and took the path leading to the right. This was my last hope. There were no other paths that headed west from Auden.
Is this the road to Ombabika? A car bumper hanging off of a tree caught my attention.
Once again, the road ended. This time into water. There were a couple of rickety foot bridges though.
I think my handlebars were too wide for that second one, so I did not consider trying to take Annie over them. I would have to continue on foot. I didn’t think there was too far to go. I was heading north and knew that I would bump into the rail road tracks before too long.
There were some old piles of rubbish which didn’t appear to have been touched since the 60s. Someone had been here at some point.
I reached the tracks without finding a settlement and decided to walk east. I felt like I had gone a decent amount to the west and thought backtracking towards Auden would be the best bet. There was another path through the trees but that only connected me back to the path that I took to the tracks.
There had been trains along fairly regularly so I did not want to spend much time on the tracks. I was not eager to have another interaction with a CN employee. I hiked back to Annie to regroup.
What had I found? No town, no cemetary, not even a sign. I had found a river and some trash. I still needed a picture and I still needed to have an Ombabika experience.
Hmmm…well maybe I should get it the water? No you don’t want to get your stuff wet…..but you want to experience it.. How then?
The logical centers of my brain offered only one solution: Skinny dipping.
I think this is the first time in my life that my brain has offered au naturel aquatics as the most pragmatic solution. I found a spot that looked like it would work. The only challenge now was getting the shot. My phone has a 10 second timer which is usually plenty of time for me to get into position. I put up my tripod, stripped down, hit the button and ran towards the water. My first attempt almost ended with me losing my footing and sliding out of control.
The next one came out better.
Thanks for the censorship, Sonic.
It really pained me to turn around and head back down without having found the town or the cemetery. In hindsight, perhaps I should have hiked further west on the train tracks…..Next trip!
I was not enjoying my ride. I had somehow gotten pretty dehydrated and the road was beginning to wear on me. My back was really sore. I came to what I thought was the road that could take me out to Ombabika Bay. I sat there for a bit and considered my next move. I felt OK about my fuel level, but if I had a navigational error I could easily run dry. That, coupled with my physical condition made me decide to keep heading back towards civilization.
I was overjoyed to see pavement again. I made it back to Beardmore and pulled right into Melansen’s, hoping to get some gas. It was 5:02 and they closed at 5. I think I probably would have made it back to Nipigon (about 40 miles) but decided not to risk it. I searched around for a place to fill my water bottle.
The only place open was the LCBO (Ontario liquor store). I wasn’t looking for that kind of a drink, but went in anyway. I bought a small beverage and asked the clerk, Joy, if there was a place to fill up my water bottle. She walked me back to the water cooler and let me fill up. While doing so, I told her about my trip.
“Oh yeah, I know it: I’ve been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo……”
She rattled off the first two lines with no effort whatsoever. I wonder how long she could have kept going? She said that she has ample time to listen to music on her commute and she enjoys Johnny Cash. Joy currently holds the trip record for number of places sung correctly. 🙂 She was a real nice lady.
I told her that I was basically stuck there for the evening and she recommended that I put up my tent behind the city auditorium on the east side of town. I took her advice and set up. It was less scenic than the previous night, but also infinitely cheaper. 🙂
I was tired, but I still had some work to do.
It took me a long time to get rehydrated. Though I had met some really nice people in Beardmore, I decided to check Ombabika off myself. Maybe I could have done it better, but I exerted a lot of effort on this singular place.
Friday, July 28
I slept in until 7:30, knowing that gas wouldn’t be available until 9. I needed the sleep. I packed up and headed over to Melansen’s. I was so glad to see my friend, Kevin, behind the counter. After I filled up we chatted for about 10 minutes about my Ombabika experience and a variety of other things. He is a really super guy.
He seemed a little disappointed (for me, not with me…if that makes sense) that I did not get out to see the bay. The road I was debating taking would have been the correct one and it wouldn’t have been too many more miles…..Next trip!
I hope I thoroughly expressed my thanks to him. It would have been a much rougher trip without his help. My parting words were checking my pronunciation one last time.
Me: “Ombabika. Well, I’m getting there…”
Kevin: “No, you’ve been there!”
I absolutely cannot imagine a nicer thing for him to say. 🙂
Some have asked me what my plans are following this trip. I’ve had to give the honest answer that I have no clue. The events of this day have caused me to desire a couple of things: First, that I have a boss again. Second, that during my employment we have a major disagreement. Reason being, I now have the perfect phrase to use when confronted with workplace conflict:
“You can’t tell me what to do! I’ve skinny-dipped in the Ombabika River!”