It was still open where I would head first. Both west across Canada or south to the United States had appeal. Taking a cue from sailors, I felt a shakedown cruise was in order. All packed and ready to go, I first headed to Kingston, Ontario to visit Dennis and Jennifer. Natalie, who would shortly turn four, accompanied me. We visited for the weekend, then headed back to Toronto. Almost as soon as we pulled out a high pitched squeal erupted from the front wheels. A gas station confirmed the wheel bearing was shot and needed replacement. Having only enough funds for gas, I deferred replacing the bearing until we got back to Toronto. Along the way, the bearing whined and complained about its state. I was in constant worry that we may break down on the road, an auspicious beginning to my trip.
But it held, until we hit the driveway of friends, I also wanted to salute before leaving. Coming to a stop, the van lurched to one side as the wheel collapsed sideways. Inspection revealed a worn spindle ground away by the failed bearing . A twenty dollar repair escalated to a several hundred dollar major front end overhaul. Rick one of the people I was visiting accepted the carcass of my van in lieu of a small debt I owed. Now I had to whittle down my belongings to what I could carry. This pretty well determined my direction of travel. Without a vehicle, crossing the Canadian prairies in winter did not seem a good idea. Heading south meant warmth and going with the flow of traffic. After dispersing the contents of my intended traveling home and shop, I was left with a small pack, and many layers of clothing. I suppose most of my wardrobe was on my back, not in my pack. For utensils, I carried a small tin kettle, tin cup, and spoon. My only other possession was a silver ring set with a large ruby that Rose had cursed me with. After getting Natalie off to her mother, I headed south toward Niagara Falls.