Moosejaw Radio: Part 1: Do You Know the Way to Hudson's Bay?

Moosejaw Radio: Part 1: Do You Know the Way to Hudson's Bay?

Moosejaw Radio is a lighthearted, sometimes informative, blog about living and traveling in the 21st Century while navigating a progressively digital planet in real time.  The author uses an informal voice to discuss the juxtapositions between contemporary geographies and the myriad histories which enrich them. 

Writer James Kerns has worked as a restaurateur, bicycle messenger, sculpture, commercial fisherman, designer, builder, and consultant, who has traveled the globe by boat, bus, rail, plane, and bicycle. His passion for people and geography, and the cultures and histories which bind them, provide the foundations from which his stories are drawn.

Moosejaw Radio

Chapter 1 : Do You Know the Way to Hudson's Bay?

In this Chapter:

On Considering the Wherewithal of All Within

If you are anything like me, you might occasionally look up from your evening meal, chewing solidly between bites with your knife and loaded fork poised in the air somewhere near your face, and you might stare into the space directly in front of you looking for something you are not sure exists.  And maybe there is a tree outside of your window, or even a row of them, and the impossible deep green of the foliage on those trees reminds you that you weren’t always meant to be perched on a chair, enclosed in a room, with a curated slice of protein hovering in the air halfway to your mouth.  When I am struck by these existential realizations, I start looking at maps.  

The GTFO Index

My simple cure for chair rot, or life rot, depending upon how deeply afflicted I might be at the moment of reflection, is mobility.  I have discovered over the years that the further afield those maps might lead me, and the more eventful the undertaking might prove, the more powerful the antidote to my stagnation will be, and the longer I will be able to go between these bouts of static induced malaise. It’s a simple equation really. I call it The GTFO Index.  You try overwhelming your malaise with visually appealing travel-porn by flipping through images (I’m old school so I use maps or globes), or maybe the rotating wallpaper Microsoft offers as background on your computer, until you find a place which challenges your malaise and you decide to go there.  It is a very fulfilling process, much like sitting in a warm bakery without ordering anything.

Buffalo versus Vienna

A very early and critical factor towards acting on that fulfillment turns out to be disposable income.  You may find immediate relief in considering a boat trip on the Danube with a private chef and an even more private violist respectively offering up exquisite Viennese pastries and Mozart chamber pieces on request – but your real life budget says long weekend in Buffalo.  Shout out to my people there, but you know exactly what I mean. In simple terms the math breaks down thusly: where T equals travel and D equals distance, and the variable factors of method of travel (B), and relative safety (r/S) of both the means of travel and the destination are applied, and you factor in the dollars ($$) somewhere in the mix, so that the final equation looks something like this: 

D=C(T×$)×E×r/S or D= (T x $) X E X r/SC

In other words, for the mathematically challenged, Buffalo gets more interesting when you travel in your own converted skoolie and go on a midnight hot-wing tour with one of your best friends and a former NFL player in a blizzard.  Let’s consider another example in word form: traveling to Santiago de Chile is amazing.  Let’s call it 20 base points. But arriving in Santiago on a bicycle from the Atacama Desert en route to Torres Del Paine adds a factor of 10, or 200 more points – getting invited to supper and a place to stay on arrival by a complete stranger, and you’re racking up another 1000 points, and so on.  The math is not what’s important here.  It’s the essential structure which is relevant to my discussion.

One fine spring evening, I’m spinning my globe and thinking rooftop hand-thrown pancakes in Kathmandu, but real life circumstances compel me to look a little lower on the GTFO Index and I wind up staring at Hudson Bay.  Sure, it sounds like the travel version of a Dickens novel, but that's extra points on the index for starters, and there was some precedent, an established arc if you will.  A few years ago my wife and I decided to take our kids on a summertime trip which featured taking a swim in each of the Great Lakes, beginning with Lake Erie, and ending with Lake Ontario.  The chosen road route from our home in Washington, DC, required a giant clockwise circular navigation of the Great Lakes Region involving approximately 3000 miles (or almost 4900 kilometers) seven states and two Canadian provinces, and a lot of swimming of course.  This is not a travel blog about the Great Lakes.  But since we are on the subject I do feel obliged to deliver a few pointers regarding Lake Superior here in the trusted bullet-point format so readers will take this seriously:

  • First and foremost Lake Superior is COLD!
  • Secondly, you cannot take piles of those beautiful agate stones from Lake Superior with you. Even if you only notice that sign when you’re on the way out of Pictured Rocks National Seashore. Not any.
  • Thirdly, we were warned that the stable flies were roused to fury by westerly winds and I scoffed. I paid for that smugness.

On who put the "Hudson" in Hudson's Bay

If you like tremendous bodies of water like the Great Lakes then you will love Hudson Bay, or Hudson’s Bay for the historians among us.  It is the second largest bay on the planet, topped only in size by the Bay of Bengal, and in area comprises almost 475,000 square miles.  Named for English explorer Henry Hudson, Hudson Bay is a massive body of water bordering four Canadian provinces, including Nunavut, Canada’s largest province, which measures out at approximately three times the size of Texas.  James Bay, a relatively small thumb-like extension of Hudson Bay, thrusts southeasterly, splitting the western border of Quebec from the eastern edge of Ontario.  The tip of the “thumb” roughly points downward towards the twin cities of Niagara Falls approximately 800 miles away, as though the general geography of North America was against the idea from the beginning. 

NEXT: Moosejaw Radio PART II: The James Bay Road

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