Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Getting ready to leave Guelph

I have now been in Guelph for over a week and a half and am still behind in blog updates. Dad has been keeping me very busy with bike repair. He allows me to fix the ones brought in by customers and keep the money (most of the time). A lady brought in 3 bikes for repair and I earned $100. Another time I fixed a flat. Dad asked for $5 for the patch. The lady gave me $15 so I kept $10 of it. This has helped immensely with travel expenses and I was able to get more safety equipment for the bike. I now have real bike lights for front and back plus I invested in a softer seat for the bike.

On the trip from London I was disappointed to have to abort at Tavistock. The banners on the trailer work like sails on a sail boat, so with strong headwinds, pedaling was very difficult all day on Thursday June 16, 2016. Thus it was late at night when I was approaching Tavistock. Not sure where I would find a place to stay at such a late hour and suffering from fatigue due to the head winds, I decided to set up my tent at the side of the road about 3 or 4 km from Tavistock. My watch had stopped and I had no idea of the time. Once it got daylight, I proceeded the rest of the way into town and stopped at the first restaurant that was open. I had run out of drinks the day before and had stopped at a farm to get water. The farmer filled my water bottles from the barn. I drank some along the way, but it was making me sick, so I had gone to sleep with a very dry mouth. I was very happy to get some fluids into me in the morning.

After a good breakfast, I proceeded to my brothers house. They go to work early, so, as expected, no one was home. I rested on their porch for a short time and was about to leave a card and go on when my brother's wife came home. My brother had been working in town that day and happened to be going by the house about that time. He noticed my bike and stopped in. There was a lounge chair on his back deck and he invited me to rest there for as long as I needed. This I did, and soon fell asleep.

At noon, he was home for lunch and I was invited to dine with him and his wife. I was treated to a very delicious meal. At this point I began to feel muscles getting stiff and thought I better move on before I stiffened up too much. I went first to the office of the Tavistock Gazette were I talked to a reporter about what I was doing. He took many pictures with my bike and trailer. You can see the one he used at https://tavistockgazette.wordpress.com/2016/#jp-carousel-5435. The story is in the current addition of the Gazette, so I hope my brother saved me a copy.

I then went to a local park to hang out and rest. The day was very hot and I was hoping it would cool off. Feeling that I must set out, I began about 4pm, but stopped in the shade of the first tree I found. There I set up my cot and rested while snacking and contemplating my next move. I was considering waiting until dark so I could travel in the cool of the evening. I had not yet fully recovered from the exhaustion of the previous day. The heat of the late afternoon sun was intense. I was afraid if I got too far from shade I could suffer heat exhaustion. I got the cheese and crackers that my sister-in-law had sent with me and sat down on my cot to eat them. I found myself on the ground. The material had ripped and I was in the middle of the frame. Well, I was down, so I ate the cheese and crackers while wondering what to do. It was only a cot, so this little incident should not change anything, but then I thought what a lifesaver it had been when I was struggling against the wind the day before. I was not sure at all if I could make it the rest of the way without having a comfortable seat to rest on when I was taking a break from pedaling the bike. This, along with the heat and fear of sunstroke, made me decide to abort the mission. I returned to my brother's house just in time to enjoy supper with them. My sister had said she would come and pick me up, so I called her but got an answering machine. As we ate, my brother said he would be willing to load my equipment on his trailer and take me to Guelph. Thus it is that I only biked half of my first leg of the journey.

Now, well rested in Guelph, I am eager to move on. I no longer have the time constraints, so if I run into disagreeable weather, I can pitch my tent and wait it out. Thus I do not need to exhaust myself when there is a head wind. (I wanted to attend the 150th anniversary service of the church in Conn that my dad attended as a child. That was the reason I could not afford more time to rest in Tavistock.)

My plans are to leave about Friday July 1st, depending on weather. I will spend a night in Fergus if my sister is agreeable. Next day I will proceed to Egerton, ON were I will attempt to photograph the area were the old lime kiln built by my great, great grandfather is. My sister has told me that it is now all overgrown with trees and cannot be seen, but I will attempt to find some remaining evidence that it was there. I remember playing around it when I was a child. This kiln was built in the mid 1800's by James Cooper, the father of Margaret Cooper who married James McNeish. These were my father's grandparents.

Next I will proceed to Molesworth were John McNeish and his wife Margaret Mitchel first settled when they came from Scotland. These were the parents of James McNeish and another set of great, great grandparents to me. When they were living there, Margaret had a brother living next door and another brother living across the road. Many of the Mitchel's still live in Molesworth and know much of the history. I will talk with those I find and also try to get pictures of the gravestones of relatives who are buried at Molesworth. This research will be used in a future book about my family.

From Molesworth I plan to spend two or three days heading back home to London. I will try to get as much publicity as I can as I pass through each town or city. I am not yet sure of the exact route I will take. I am leaving as much as possible up to the guidance of God. Taking one step at a time, I will see where He leads me to go.

George McNeish

The Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project (FSCPP)

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