It seemed to me the Montreal subway must have a stop named after Gino Vannelli, and this idea, still technically not disproven, did pull me on my ride up from Manchester, New Hampshire. I admit I never actually checked, though I did pedal by Habitat 67, which I hadnít thought about once in 39 years but which instantly came back in full, as if Iíd discovered a National Geographic in my baseball mitt.

Until the final day, I wasnít sure Iíd even reach Montreal, and the pull of that city was less than the push of Tropical Storm Ernesto, which I renamed Tropical Storm Mendoza after it treacherously retreated, then swung right back. Still, it really didnít inconvenience me that much. I cannot and will not complain. It is not bad to sip coffee in drizzle and chat with a construction worker behind a truck with New Hampshire vanity license plates that read OVR KIL. In Vermont, where more than just the rain stopped, I saw vanity plates that read KIDS1ST.

Except for not being under brilliant sun, not enjoying a prodigious tailwind, and not setting my watch to Mountain Daylight Time, I found crossing from New Hampshire to Vermont by bicycle much like crossing from Oklahoma to Colorado by bicycle. You do this a lot, you start to notice patterns. And you prepare shrewdly. Fearing a pesky local ordinance might reduce my riding pleasure, Iíd had my Vermont sleeper cells spread the rumor that bike helmets offend Moslems. And what do you know? The law, if it existed, was repealed before my arrival, and all the way to Canada I had the wind in my hair.

I crossed the border at Noyan, Quebec, where there was no Canadian immigration setup at all. Not like Coutts, Alberta. I was ready, though, with coins left over from that 1997 ride. In Lacolle I paid for my chocolate milk with loonies. I would have paid with a toonie if Iíd had one. And if anyone had asked, I would have told him what a Newfie firing squad was. Iíve been to Brazil ten times, but Iíve been to Canada thirteen times, and it is not too much to expect someone like me to know all this indigenous code.

So what else can I say, besides ďThe subways of Rio and S„o Paulo do NOT have stops named after Morris AlbertĒ? Reassembling my bicycle at the Manchester airport, I had to grin at all the parking regulations coming over the PA system, and passersby might have heard me chiming in with Now youíre not starting that red-zone-white-zone shit again! Back at the airport a week later, the bicycle already bagged and checked, I grinned once more, then went in and bought a Brad Thor novel, because with a name like that, you know you arenít going to get magic realism or anybody called Raskolnikov. Centuries from now, scholars may or may not believe Brad Thor was Stephen Leacockís librettist.

© 2006 J.A.Hutter

Other travels