September 29, 2015
Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.
Narrated Audio Blog
We hadn't seen Stu's brother since he flew down to Cancun right at the start of our trip. We'd also never met his new girlfriend Diana or seen him in his new life in Ottawa. So after spending a lovely time with Janell's family in New York, we felt spoilt to be riding to Greg and Diana for more family time. We had planned to spend a few nights with them and then ride up to see Montreal, Quebec City and some more to the east before making our way west, but Shadow had something else in mind.
Since finding Shadow, 6 weeks previous, she had started to put on weight and was looking more like a guinea-pig than a dog. This is to be expected when you take a dog from the streets but she was so ravenous. Its uncharted territory when you adopt a street dog, nobody can tell you anything about it and Shadow was so much smaller than any dog we'd ever had so we had no idea how much food she should eat. She reduced the food she was eating but the tummy still got bigger.
Can you guess what was going on? It wasn't worms. She was pregnant. Not even a week before she gave birth we realised she had puppies because we felt, and then saw, her tummy moving. Freak out time! It's amazing how many things can run through your mind in moments of shock. How many puppies would she have? What would we do with them? How do we travel with puppies? I want to keep them. Do we need a midwife? How big would they be? What if she went in to labour while we were riding?
Some rough calculations suggested Shadow would give birth in Canada. It was a stressful ride but we made it to Greg and Diana with 2 dogs. Shadow held out long enough for us to settle in and then the excitement started. It was a Friday evening and Greg had invited us to an Acro yoga lesson he was instructing. Shadow was acting oddly so we had to decline and instead got comfortable in the lounge room with towels and boxes. Then we all waited and waited. Eventually Greg and Diana had to go but they saw the first pup arrive. By the way, nothing prepares you for this. There was nothing we could do but watch. Google research pointed out some common problems to be aware of and how to help but Shadow was perfect. She knew exactly what she was doing.
Both puppies were little girls, Stu continued to be outnumbered. The first had the typical Min-Pin colours of brown and black while the second took after her Mum, completely black. We named the first Cinnamon because of her colourings and the second Maple in honour of her birth place. They were perfect, beautiful. Shadow was amazing. But they were too good for this world. Cinnamon was very weak and passed within a few hours of her birth. How can you miss something you only knew for a few hours? It hurt, she didn't even get a chance at life. We buried her in the backyard, her tiny tiny beautiful body.
Maple seemed strong and Shadow was extremely protective and attentive to her pup. We spent 3 weeks in Ottawa for Mum and Pup to rest and get used to each other. We used this time to figure out a travel solution. The Pillion Pooch was not suitable for a puppy but the T-bags Motorcycle Pet Carrier was. We contacted the company, told them our story and asked if they could help us out. They did more than that. T-bags sent us a free carrier and some other goodies wishing us luck with our journey. It was perfect the little dogs. Shadow curled up with Maple and they were completely safe and secure on Janells motorbike.
Greg and Diana are cat people. They had two gorgeous cats living with them called Hercie and Jazz. We didn't see much of Jazz and we couldn't miss Hercie when he darted from room to room, he was almost as big as Weeti. The cats weren't used to dogs and kept very much away from them which meant they also stayed away from us because we brought the dogs in to their home.
We had a go at Acro yoga. It's fun but requires a good teacher for instruction so everyone is safe. Greg and Diana had us in positions we didn't think gravity would allow.
The 5 of us were now headed for Toronto and Niagara Falls. We camped on route to Toronto even though we could have made it in a day because we wanted to make sure Shadow and Maple had plenty of rest. It was mid September and the camp grounds were closing down for the season so we were lucky to find anything really.
In Toronto we'd made arrangements to stay with a couple, Jeffery and Chelsea. We'd been in contact with them since South America when we were considering flying from Colombia to Canada. We're sure they started to think we would never see them as we kept changing our plans and delaying. Don't know about them but it was definitely worth the wait for us. They were just lovely to all of us. Jeffrey went riding with us and helped fixed some bike problems. Chelsea had a really busy weekend but had meals prepared for us and we all made it to a local College football game.
We left Toronto early and got to the Niagara falls late morning. It was a spectacular sight and different to each of the other falls we had witnessed so far. We stayed a while to take it in before moving west towards Detroit and crossing the border back into the US.
The US border crossing was pretty easy, the only problem was that our passports were in the top box, so we pulled up in the line and Janell got off her bike to get them out. As she did so she was yelled at by the officials and told to get back on her bike. We arrived at the booth and were told that she could have been getting a gun and was lucky she wasn't shot. Really?? If she was going to shoot a customs official wouldn't she already have the gun handy before arriving at the cue!! Anyway, other than that it was plain sailing, no new stamps as our previous entry was still valid and the bikes were just returning to where they were registered. As for the dogs, the US seemed to consider Canada safe and so no checks required, reasonable we think.
Although we crossed from Canada directly into Detroit, we didn't have time to stop, or at least our priorities lay elsewhere. This is a decision that in time we would come to regret but we needed to be smart with our time especially with the approaching winter. So on to Chicago we went, a big day by all accounts but the roads were good and although the temperature was dropping we were dressed for the occasion.
We had again lined up a host through TentSpace, Andrew and his girlfriend Emily who practically lived on Route 66, just under an hour outside of Chicago.
Andrew gave us some good advice on what to do and see for a day trip into Chicago, the planetarium was high on our list having been recommended by Janell's uncle, as well as being a fascinating museum, it also offered great views back onto the city and out into the lake. Emily had to work in the evening, but Andrew kept himself free to be able to give us a guided tour of his favourite parts of Chicago, including the very impressive Jay Pritzker Pavilion and of course Cloud Gate aka 'The Bean'. Our tour was topped off with dinner at Andrew's favourite pizzeria, Uno, where we tried Chicago's iconic Deep Dish Pizza.
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