The ferry arrived at 19:30. Dan drove the car off. First time I’d taken a vehicle on a ferry, though I’ve seen it on TV. We stayed at a 3 bedroom Bed & Breakfast just North of the dock, The Gathering Place. Two other couples had already settled in, Kirk & Nancy, a former Presbytarian pastor now managing a clinic for Alzheimers and a Public Health worker; and Mary-Anne and Graham, a teacher and a Director of a Youth Mental Health company. The B&B coordinator took us inside, after changing out of her wellington boots (she’d been for a walk) and, on hearing we needed to find food for dinner, promptly told us how to get to the island’s only restaurant, The Anchor and Wheel (it’s about 5 mile North, big green building, you can’t miss it) before shooing us out the door.
Dinner at the Anchor and Wheel was a buffet on Saturday night. I piled my plate with four types of roast meat, and was in heaven. The taciturn hostess was very matter-of-fact no-nonsense and directed us firmly to a table and said she’d be back to “sort [us] out”. The interior was decorated like the fish & chip shop I went to in Brisbane at age 11, with Dad and Aunty Ella. Sea-themed objects coated the walls like barnacles. My mango daiquiri hit a spot. Dan had two small glasses of a light red wine. I drove home.
Back at the B&B the other two couples were sitting downstairs in the lounge. I hoped to run past them, unnoticed, so I could read my book upstairs and get over the food baby that I had eaten. Unfortunately Dan went in first, and got some water, and they were talkers. Even though I wasn’t in the frame of mind to meet people, talk, or do anything other than focus on trying to breath (I really had eaten too much meat) we spent probably an hour downstairs, in quite good company. Both couples knew each other from church, and both were quite friendly. It was Mary-Anne and Graham’s 26th wedding anniversary and they were spending a weekend away somewhere they’d not been before, with the aim to cycle around. Kirk & Nancy’s son had just started a medical residency (Family Medicine) at St Michael’s, in Toronto. Kirk wrote Dan a long list of things to do in Canada on the back of three bookmarks.
We slept in the blue, lighthouse themed, room. It had an ensuite. I didn’t sleep well, waking up to pee about three times. My dreams in between were also tiring; in one dream I was an ED registrar and working with a consultant who decided to demonstrate defibrillation by stopping his own heart. Myself and another registrar were mildly panicked trying to connect the tiny defibrillator pads onto the conductive gel while he rapidly lost consciousness in front of us, and died. I was glad to have time to sleep in this morning; I needed it.
At breakfast we sat at a table, chatting, while Liz served a simple but hearty home-cooked breakfast. Well, the others and Daniel chatted, I mainly listened. I’ve discovered that I don’t feel like talking until late in conversations, by which time everybody else has decided that I don’t talk, and end up not really listening. Alternatively they get so excited to impart what they want to say that there is not really any time to pause for comment and I just end up sitting and nodding. Sometimes I wonder when some people are going to get to the point, or if they even had a point to make at all. Being the “couple travelling from Australia” we did quickly fall into the receivers of as much travel advice as could be squeezed over a cup of coffee before we all went on with our lives. Daniel exchanged numbers with Nancy, and Kirk gave me a business card. Canadians are so friendly.
We had about 5 hours to drive around the island – which isn’t very big. Daniel started North, clockwise. I had estimated a 2-hour journey and wanted to take a counter-clockwise approach, so that we’d end up at the bakery, in time for lunch. I like to organize my day around when I know I’ll need to eat. Although Daniel expressed ambivalence at the direction we took, “It’s all much of a muchness!” we sank quickly into a nuclear war over which direction to take, when I suggested we turn around. I resigned myself to go either way, because I’d likely not want the quiche at the bakery that sounded so delicious when Liz mentioned it earlier. Daniel drove counter-clockwise anyway, in a huff. Curiously I had wanted to go South first so we didn’t end up at the winery for lunch but we ended up going South, walking to the point and back, and were so hungry that we went to the winery for lunch anyway. Maybe it’s best I forget our irrelevant differences of opinion on which direction was best to take because neither plan ended up happening.
We parked the car in the middle of a forested area. It’s called Carolinian forest. I have no idea why. Somehow, despite being a Boy Scout and a Patrol Leader, I developed into an anxious state so much so that as we started walking the path I was flailing arms at every tiny fly and mosquito. I wasn’t actually afraid of being bitten. It was quite irrational but I was beside myself by the time we got to the coast. Daniel was walking in front and hopefully didn’t notice. It’s the same thing that happened when we went knee-boarding. It took my 45 minutes sitting on the boat, teeth gritted, certain we would drown, until I relaxed, at not particular point, then jumped into the Swan river with the jelly fish, got on the knee board, fell off, got water up my nose, and had a really good day. Or yesterday, when we got on the ferry. I was sure the handbreak would fail, the car would get smashed, the ferry would sink and it would all be a disaster. It wasn’t. Today I drove the car onto the ferry, like it was the most boring thing to do. Maybe I need to stop drinking coffee again.
We waded along the shoreline, which was nice at first, the sand and pebbles under our feet. The pointy bit was much longer than yesterday, probably a kilometre. We passed another couple, then met a couple at the tip, from Ohio. Again, we had another conversation about travel, Australia, currency conversion values, and Daniel did most of the talking. I eyed the jet ski and boat in the distance and wished they’d come pick us up so we didn’t have to walk back. I don’t know how long it took to return. We just kept walking. I knew we’d get there eventually. Walking back through the forest I brushed the vines aside, and smiled at the spiders crawling across the path. My sneakers felt like cotton wool wrapping around my feet.
The lighthouse was our last stop on our quick island tour. We parked the car and walked through a marsh. I think it was finally a reality that we were unlikely to get bitten or stung and die. I started walking around the base of the lighthouse, looking for a good photo angle. Daniel sounded serious when he said, “Glen…” I turned about and leaped at him and ran back down the path. I had walked right next to a sun-baking snake. It didn’t care. I did. I’d successfully avoided killer spiders and giant 1mm flies and imaginary poison ivy all day, not to mention Lyme Disease that was on the public health flyer yesterday at Point Pelee.
It’s been a successful weekend.