Sunday, September 9, 2018

Wednesday September 9, 1998 - Ontario


Toronto - sunny and warm.

I had a small breakfast and said good bye to Sam, I was on the road by 8.30am. It was a nice drive from La Malbaie to Quebec City along the north shore of the St. Laurence River, through hilly farmland and forest and many small towns. I crossed the river at Quebec City and got onto the TransCanada highway toward Montreal.

Shortly after crossing the river I was adjusting the CD player (and not looking at the road) and I veered off the highway at speed. I zoomed across the grassy verge at 100 kph, knocking down a small reflector post and narrowly missing two larger signposts. By the time I got my foot off the gas pedal I had slid into a swamp by the side of the highway. The truck was at an almost 45 degree angle in the swamp, the 2 wheels on the driver side still on the grass but the other two wheels well into the swamp. I climbed out thoroughly shaken up. There was smoke or steam billowing out from under the truck.

Amazingly, the car immediately behind me on the highway followed me off the road. I guess they thought something was terribly wrong and wanted to help. So by the time I managed to get out of the truck (pushing the door open was hard because it was almost above me) that car was parked beside me and the three men in it were already out and asking me questions in French. Did I fall asleep? What happened? Did I have a rope or chain? I told them that I did have some rope but it wasn't very strong. I tried to dig it out but it was on the passenger side of the cab and I couldn't get at it. The men started talking about what they could do, that they really needed a chain to get my truck out of the swamp.

Just then a cube van also pulled off the highway, it drove a little ahead of us before stopping. We all stared at it: there was a chain wrapped around its rear bumper. The van driver got out and the three men ran to meet him. There was some discussion about whether to try to pull my truck out forwards or backwards and then they wrapped the chain around my truck's front bumper and the car pulled my truck out of the swamp surprisingly easily. They got me to start the truck and drive it forward a few feet to see if it was driveable. On seeing that it was they all left. From start to finish that episode took maybe 20 minutes! But I was still pretty shaken up by it all so spent another 10 minutes or so cleaning mud off the windows and straightening things out inside the truck. It was a good thing I had screwed down my sleeping platform when I was in Whitehorse, the back of the truck was relatively undisturbed by the trip into the swamp.

After that I pulled off the road when I wnated to fiddle with the CD player. The rest of the drive to Toronto was uneventful and as boring as only the highway from Quebec City to Toronto can be. On the outskirts of Toronto I phoned Isaac and Gretel for directions to their place and arrived there around 9.30pm. I told them about the swamp episode and showed them the mud along the passenger side of the truck, which I had not yet cleaned up. Isaac thought it looked kind of artistic, you could see the marks of the bulrushes sweeping along the truck side.

I said I'd really like a beer so Isaac got a sixpack of Corona from their downstairs neighbours. They live in an attic apartment in a three storey house in the Annex part of Toronto. They showed me their theatre in the stairwell between their apartment and the one below. They come into their apartment via an outside fire escape stairwell so the inside stairwell is blocked off at the bottom. It has a landing half way down which is their theatre stage, and the steps from their apartment down to the landing is audience seating area. They have lights on the railing above that shine down onto the stage, and at intermission their kitchen is the theatre bar. Their theatre can hold a grand total of six audience members. We also discussed their plans for the Film Festival opening the next day, which they are participating in. I slept on a futon on the floor of the living room.

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