A visit to Thunder Bay

Picture of Lloyd.

Lloyd braves the cold.

I drove northbound through the frigid cold for most of the day. I wanted to get to Thunder Bay, Ontario and didn't think I'd make it at first because the roads were terrible. At times I had to slow down to 25 on the highway and still was sliding around and had almost no visibility. But before long the roads cleared and I was on my way. Lake Superior was frozen enough around the bay near Ashland that cars could drive on the ice, but as I went further north the lake was still in liquid form. It's been another strange winter.

I first met Lloyd in Bolivia back in 2005 and we really hit it off. He and his wife started a hostel in Thunder Bay in the early 1970's and spent the next forty years traveling, sponsoring new Canadian refugees, and welcoming guests to their hostel (among many other things). I visited him once in Thunder Bay in 2006, but hadn't seen him since.

Lloyd and I checked out the lake, which had just frozen in the last few days, and we did some driving around, at one point finding an abandoned streetcar. It was -38 C (-36 F) my first day there, so we didn't have much motivation to explore the great outdoors.

Even though it was the dead of winter, some interesting guests stayed at the hostel. First a guy from Newfoundland and his friend from Georgia (the country) showed up for the night. They were loggers on their way to a job but needed a new engine for their truck. The next day they gave up looking around Thunder Bay and decided to try driving to Winnipeg and look for engines from there. I have no idea if they made it.

Then a young man who was a chef showed up late at night. He too was driving across the country to a new job, but he had all of his worldly possessions in his car. He got into an accident near Thunder Bay and totaled his car. He threw everything into a U-Haul and drove to the hostel. Then he found out that he could catch the bus early in the morning and decided to take what he could and leave the rest behind. There was a pile of stuff in the driveway when we got up the next day, and Lloyd and I spent hours going through it. Most of it went either to the dump or the Salvation Army, but I drove home with a new pair of ice skates. The poor kid was almost in shock when we saw him, so that must've been some job he had to leave everything behind like that.

It was great visiting Lloyd again – he's got friends all over Thunder Bay and has all sorts of interesting stories to tell. Next time I'll visit in summer, though.

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