Follow the adventures of Bryan Thorp as he lives his dream of riding across Canada from coast to coast.
The following text will be properly formatted asap...
Day 85 - Sep 5 - Sat
On route on ferry to Argentia, NL - nr. Dunville at Fitzgerald's Campground 27km
Well, I finally got up for good by 08:00 when sunshine came thru the ferry's windows. I definitely did not sleep well last night. The sets are airline style but the armrests don't fold go up so one can sleep across 3-4 seats. So, I slept on the floor with my food bag as a pillow and the sleeping bag on top of me. Thankfully, I had the foresight to bring the sleeping bag up to deck with me as one cannot go to the hold of the ship to gain access to their vehicle while the ship is in transit.
The sailing has continued to be uncharacteristically smooth, in my experience. I had a breakfast of bagels from my food bag plus a few cups of Robyn's coffee from the cafeteria. I then spent the rest of the morning pouring over the tourist info documents to get an idea of what I'd be up to in the Avalon region. For lunch, it was bagels and tuna plus a bit of cheese and a couple of chocolate bars given to me by another cyclist, who didn't need his food.
Finally, the ferry docks and I've reached my 10th province! Whoo-hoo! The temperature's quite mild on the coast but drops to around 18C when I get to the tourist info centre only 3km away. It's a 60m climb to the tourist info, and I enquire as to groceries and a campground. Groceries is not a big deal, there's a few stores in the next 5km or so. Tourist info calls the campground: they're full due to the Labour Day weekend (the last weekend before school resumes in most parts of Canada) but they'll find me a spot.
I continued on and the temperature kept on dropping. I stopped briefly for a grocery top up and then kept on going until I was about 25km from the ferry dock and I had arrived at the campground. My fingers have gone numb as the temperature's dropped to 12C. The campground did get me a spot but it wasn't close to showers or bathrooms, so I wasn't too pleased but I don't feel like backtracking 15+km to the motel I saw, or looking for a B&B; I highly doubt there's a B&B for a long ways as I'm in the wilderness here! Of course, there's no wi-fi at this campground. Heck they don't even have electricity here - it's all generator driven. At least there's cellular service so I can let Susan know I'm going to freeze to death tonight. ;-) Actually, it's supposed to drop to 4C., which I've survived before. If the low temperatures and me don't get along tonight, I may just decide to head to St. John's, tomorrow, but I'll do my best to suck it in and deal with it. Gotta show some character here, eh? ;-) Sheesh!
Just to make life really interesting, I seem to have lost my new cycling jacket, which is going to have repercussions for me. I last remember seeing it when lashing my bike to a column in the hold of the ferry Friday night. I think I left it on the floor of the ferry. It is considerably cooler in NL than the mainland and I'm nowhere near a bike store nor would one likely to be open on Sunday or Monday, which is Labour Day and a national holiday. I'm going to have to double up on my jerseys and hope it doesn't rain or I'm really going to suffer. I remember checking the weather at the library in North Sydney and only Tuesday called for some light rain over the next 6 days or so, so I may survive yet. Communities that I rode through today were: Argentia, NL Freshwater and Dunville.
Day 86 - Sep 6 - Sun
nr. Dunville at Fitzgerald's Campground - Heart's Content, NL - 87km
Well, yeah, it was cold last night but really it's nothing worse than I've done before and I wasn't shivering. Best of it all, it didn't rain and that's truly a blessing when the temperature goes down to 4C at night. Actually, I was fairly toasty in the sleeping bag. The hard part, when you're restricted to staying in your sleeping bag to keep warm, is what to do to keep busy, especially when one has nothing to read.
The moon must have been at least a half moon or more, as I woke up a number of times thinking the sun was coming up. I waited as long as possible to get up as there was condensation on the tent and there was no place to dry it out, as my camping spot was in the bushes with no direct sun. So, I got up at 09:00 and was gone by 10:00. I only had a pair of Pop Tarts for breakfast as I planned to eat at Whitbourne.
I had put on my clean jersey and my dirty one over that, plus my rain pants and I dug out the leather gloves I had bought in Port McNeil, BC! It was 13C on the highway and after 20km or so I arrived at Whitbourne, where my computer showed 19C but it sure didn't feel like 19C with a bit of a headwind! I survived fine; I've suffered a heck of a lot more than this on this tour. It would've been Utopia to have warmer weather for the last few days of my trip but things can always be worse than they are. Suck it in and deal with it!
I arrived in Whitbourne and visited the tourist info. I decided to reserve a room in Heart's Content, where I'll be able to proceed either north to the tip of the Avalon Peninsula or east to the other side of the peninsula. I then asked tourist info for a suggestion of a place for pancakes - what else? - and their response was Monty's Place at the Esso station just a few hundred metres down the road. I went there and was disappointed in the pancakes - only 2 small ones. So, I ordered four. I've had better, much better.
I head out on Hwy 80, labelled the Baccalieu Trail. 'Baccalieu' is derived either from Spanish or Basque, meaning "codfish" or "dried codfish". Do I need to say that I saw some very scenic coastline today? Newfoundland will be right up there on my list of the most scenic provinces. Newfoundland also has the best place names in Canada, hands down! Take note, Eastend, SK! For instance, today I passed thru Dildo, Heart's Desire, Heart's Delight and Heart's Content. How can one not love names like those?! The story with the 'Heart's' towns is that they were named after sailing ships of the same name that fished out of those harbours in the 17th and 18th centuries. Newfoundland also has some of the oldest cities in North America, e.g., St. John's. The Vikings landed in Newfoundland over 1,000 years ago - my family visited the Viking site at L'Anse aux Meadows in the year 2000.
I rode 65km up the western shore of the Avalon Peninsula and enjoyed everything except the cool weather. I went off the hwy to visit Dildo. Apparently, Dildo was named one of the prettiest small towns in Canada by Harrowsmith Magazine in 2001. It is a beauty! I passed thru Hopeall, where one can see a Nefoundland Pony at the Hopeall Equine Sanctuary. In Whiteway, I made sure to take a picture of Shag Rock in the harbour, aka "Shipwrecker".
The temperature briefly hit 22C on the day's ride but dropped to 14C by the time I checked into my motel at 17:30; dark clouds were on the horizon but no rain came. Rain is forecast for Tuesday, 2 days away, though. I cooked my dinner of spaghetti on my stove in front of my motel room, as the greasy spoon run by the motel didn't appeal to me.
Communities that I rode through today were: Dunville,NL, Whitbourne, Blaketown, South Dildo, Broad Cove, Dildo, New Harbour, Hopeall, Green's Harbour, Whiteway, Cavendish, Islington, Heart's Delight, Heart's Desire and Heart's Content.
Day 87 - Sep 7 - Mon (Labour Day)
Heart's Content, NL - Carbonear, NL - 102km
I slept reasonably well, 'proving' that I sleep better in a bed rather than on a Thermarest - as if I needed to prove that. I got up at 07:00, which seems to be a recurring theme for me. Unfortunately, the town water supply is off, so I can't fill my water bottles nor brush my teeth, etc. I had some bagels from my food bag for breakfast, but could have done with a bit more. I'll see if I can find a restaurant by the time I get to Old Perlican up near the tip of the Avalon Peninsula but I've been warned that services are sparse all the way up to Old Perlican and all the way down to Carbonear.
However, today I passed thru many old settlements some from the 1500s, well before Montreal and Quebec City's founding. I took my time getting ready and hit the road by 09:00. In Heart's Content, I again missed a tour of the historic Cable Station, as I did 9 years ago. It wasn't open yet, on my way out of town. Well, at least I got another picture of it! The hills are REALLY 'back' here. They were 'back' yesterday but today they're brutally steep albeit admittedly short. In fact my bike computer showed a max incline of 24%! The hills are seldom more than a 40m ascent but boy, my legs are feeling it. It's like a roller coaster out here! I haven't yet walked up a hill but I'm definitely fantasizing about it! In all, there was 1265m of climbing for the entire day - that's a fair amount.
The coastline is just jaw-dropping beautiful and this is the reason I'm doing the Avalon Peninsula. I enquired at various towns en route to Old Perlican about getting a java but the answer is negative! It's kinda desolate here - lots of people live here and there but there's no major retail except the odd convenience store and even less common, a gas station. Newfoundlanders sure must drive a lot. Also, I've seen no touring cyclists in these parts, nor locals except for a kid or two.
After 45km and by noon, I arrived in Old Perlican and had a club sandwich and, of course, the requisite java at the Ultramar gas station. Not bad! Old Perlican is my turn-around point, where I'll go back down the Avalon Peninsula's coast, but on the eastern side fronting Conception Bay. I could've gone up the Peninsula a bit further but with the hills, I was getting a little worried about arriving at my motel in Carbonear during daylight hours. Had I continued further up to Grates Cove, I would've been at one of the points in North America closest to Europe. It is reputed that this area was one of the first sighted by John Cabot in 1497.
The afternoon turned out to be the most dangerous day of cycling on the tour, if not my life. The weather forecast was for 35km/h winds with gusts to 50km/h, which I figured I could handle. The morning ride was in 35km/h winds, and you'll notice I didn't even comment on the wind in my preceding notes. After lunch, however, the wind was much stronger than the forecast. It was so bad that at one point I was blown from the road's edge to the yellow line in the middle of the road without warning by a strong gust. Fortunately, no car was behind me but one was coming in the opposite lane. The gusts were unpredictable in direction; I was also blown off the road numerous times and in addition, I was blown to a standstill numerous times by headwind gusts. With cleats on my shoes, it was especially dangerous as I was unsure if I could unlock my shoes from the pedals in time. I had to pedal to get down some hills! In the end, I did not crash or get hit by a car, but it was the worst ride for me from the perspective of my safety, ever.
I so happy when I reached my motel in Carbonear! On the way up to Old Perlican I had stopped frequently and taken many photos. On the way down to Carbonear, in the ferocious winds, I probably only took 2 or 3 photos in the entire 55km, unfortunately. My average speed going down to Carbonear was 12.7km/h; usually I'm around 22.5km/h. So... how bad was the wind? Susan checked for me shortly before I reached Carbonear - when I was in Victoria - and indicated the wind was 45km/h with gusts 60-70km/h. I checked later that evening and it was 56km/h with 70km/h gusts. So, it was a pretty strong wind. Btw, there were no campgrounds and only 1 motel in the 55km stretch from Old Perlican to Carbonear, so I had very few options. Stopping and guerrilla camping may have been 1 option but rain was forecast for tomorrow, along with 35km/h winds; don't forget that I lost my rain jacket a few days back.
Fortunately, today was mostly sunny and averaged about 19C - almost perfect. :-( Carbonear has no bike shop but I will take a day off most likely tomorrow, Tuesday, and also see if I can find a suitable jacket somewhere in town, even if a cheap poncho. Wednesday thru Saturday is forecast to be sunny but Wednesday will only get up to 11C! I surely could do with a wind jacket at a minimum. The day's strong wind reaffirmed that I made the correct decision in PEI to 'run' for shelter from hurricane Danny. That was supposed to be 60km/h winds AND heavy rain.
Carbonear is one of the oldest towns in Canada, having been mentioned by Fishing Admirals in 1550. The town's history includes pirates, battles, a prosperous fishery and a kidnapped Irish princess named Sheia Na Geira. Communities that I rode through today were: Heart's Content, New Perlican, Turks Cove, Winterton, Hant's Harbour, New Chelsea, New Melbourne, Brownsdale, Sibley's Cove, Lead Cove, Old Perlican, Caplin Cove, Lower Island Cove, Job's Cove, Burnt Point, Gull Island, Northern Bay, Ochre Pit Cove, Western Bay, Bradley's Cove, Adams Cove, Blackhead, Broad Cove, Small Point, Kingston, nr. Perry's Cove, nr. Salmon Cove, Blow Me Down, Victoria and Carbonear.
Day 88 - Sep 8 - Tue
Carbonear, NL - Day off
Due to poor weather I was up early at 06:00 because I still had not made a firm decision as to whether or not I was leaving Carbonear today or not. I wavered back and forth and in the end, I decided it'd be better to be safe as rain was predicted for this afternoon and winds were forecast to be 35km/h for the day but were actually about 40km/h when I was checking the weather on the web! It just was not worth the risk. I don't feel that I need a day off, and I shouldn't need one as I haven't had any really long days for a while, so it was an especially hard decision to make.
I walked into the old town of Carbonear on the water front and took some photos of the nicer buildings. Unfortunately, the old town is not being looked after and isn't very attractive. There's also an old train station there but the museum inside is closed for the season. There's even an old CN diesel locomotive on some old tracks but it's been vandalized. There was a small strip mall with a large grocery store there but it wasn't open at 08:30 so I moved on. It looks like all the retail establishments have moved up to the highway from the water front long ago, explaining the downtown's demise. I walked the 2km up to the highway where the Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart and Tim Horton's were located. Sound familiar? I could have been in Anytown, Canada. Sad.
Amazingly, I could not see one family style breakfast place along this busy hwy, just the usual Mickey D's, KFC, A&W, etc. Disheartened, I decided to try the large Trinity Conception Square mall. I found a restaurant called "My Place" that boasted of 'home style' cooking. Sounds good but it still wasn't open although it was a few minutes shy of 09:00. It opened about 5 minutes later and I seated myself. The waitress and I started talking and I learnt that her son had done the Tour du Canada a few years ago and that he had also attempted the Penticton, BC IronMan last year. Carol and I chatted quite a bit and she then told me that my breakfast was paid for! Wow! Thanks for your smile, friendliness and generosity, Carol!
There was a Dominion grocery store in the mall and I just had to take a photo of it as there was one in my home town in Quebec where I grew up., and I don't think I've seen a Dominion since. I still remember their radio or TV jingle from 40 years ago: "It's mainly because of the meat!". I topped up some groceries there but still need dinner. I'll go back to the old downtown later.
I walked the 2km back to the motel. It was quite windy, needless to say. I booked a second night at the motel and was asking where the liquor store was so I could get just 1 bottle for a treat for the evening. It turns out the liquor store was right behind the Dominion store I was just at! The motel owner then went to his fridge in the back of the office and gave me a bottle! Nice! I had a little nap, then headed back into the old downtown on the waterfront to see if the Rorke Premises was open for tours. The Rorke Premises is a rare existing example of a merchant fishery premises in NL. It wasn't open. The town's pretty dead for tourists now that summer's officially over. So, I figured may as well get some exercise and stretch the legs yet again. I headed back up to the mall and buy some groceries and dropped by the Timmy's for a coffee and doughnut. I'm treating myself more and more as I get closer to my goal!
Day 89 - Sep 9 - Wed
Carbonear, NL - St. John's, NL - 130km
*** Cross Canada Tour Done! ***
I was up by 06:00 and toasted some frozen waffles I had bought yesterday. I'd also bought some REAL maple syrup to dump on the waffles - nothing's too good for me! ;-) I haven't had the real stuff since I left home, where we always buy real maple syrup - I wonder if my kids know what 'breakfast syrup' tastes like?
I was out of the motel by 7:30, which is an exceptionally early start for me. It was a nippy 11C on the road but there was little wind so I was able to manage the cold. I wore my Port McNeil leather gloves to protect my fingers. Unfortunately, there was a brutal, and not so short, climb out of Carbonear - the computer showed a 19% incline as the maximum for this am. I could feel an achy-ness in my left knee after that climb.
I was then on Hwy 75S and stayed on that until the turn-off for North River. 75S was a very nice highway, as highways go: wide shoulders and gentle ascents. Of course, there's no coastal scenery but plenty of traffic. Riding small roads along the coast in NL is a heck of a lot more challenging than riding gradient-smooth roads like hwy 75. The same goes for riding the Trans-Canada - it's easy and boring but stressful. Of course, the bigger highways typically do not go through communities such as Bay Roberts and Harbour Grace, which I would've liked to have visited but didn't want to detour a few kilometers for; those kind of detours add up a lot to a lot of extra time as the day goes by, and I just cannot do them all, unfortunately.
I pass through a number of small, pretty communities. I wanted to visit either Cupids or Brigus; since I missed the turn-off for Cupids, Brigus it was. If you had only 1 small town to visit in NL, you would be hard pressed to find one as beautiful as Brigus. I wouldn't say it's my favourite or 'the best' but it has to be in the top 5 or so. It's got a very sheltered harbour, streets that go every which way, charming and beautiful homes and a rich history. I even had a great snack of cod chowder and blueberry crisp at "The Country Corner Gift Shop and Eatery" in the centre of Brigus. Delicious! I didn't get to see Hawthorne Cottage, a National Historic Site, that was the home of Captain Bob Bartlett, who is probably most famous for taking Admiral Robert Peary to the Arctic in 1909. Apparently, I saw it in 2000, I've been told. ;-) As for Cupids, which I passed by, it will celebrate 400 years of settlement in 2010. It is the OLDEST English colony in Canada and the second oldest in North America. The first recorded birth of an English child in Canada also occurred here.
Continuing on, I passed thru many beautiful harbours and stopped to take quite a few photos. By the time I got to Avondale, at the Railway Station Museum, my camera battery had died. This was the first time on the tour it had died during the day, as I recall. There were some railway cars and a locomotive on a track outside the station building that would've been nice to have a picture of. So, I was without any photos for the rest of the day, which was not good because my plan was to do Cape Spear on the way in to St. John's. Now, if I wanted photos of me there, it'd have to be 'after the fact', i.e., make a second trip to Cape Spear with a charged camera. Not good.
Holyrood was the next major town and it was the point where I turn northward to St. John's. Since Old Perlican, I'd been travelling southward. Unfortunately, but not entirely unexpectedly, the volume of traffic increased significantly. The roads have not had a shoulder since I crossed the Trans Canada Hwy the morning after getting off the ferry, with the exception of a few clicks on Hwy 70. Furthermore, the temperature dropped significantly from the day's high of 21C or so, to 16C and the wind had picked up. Everything was going wrong, it seemed, but nothing really serious yet. I continued on and the traffic got heavier and more dangerous. Finally about 35 km out of St. John's I decided to get on Hwy 2, which was a TC look-alike. It was boring but had a nice shoulder. It also had 3 or 4 long climbs, albeit gradual.
For some reason my left knee was still aching, probably from that steep climb out of Carbonear. I aimed the front wheel of my bike to Cape Spear and found my way to the shoulderless service road that leads to the entrance to Cape Spear National Park. Now the temperature had plunged to 10C and the wind was up to 40km/h. I wasn't going to risk my life again. The current winds weren't THAT bad but I didn't know if they were going to be a lot worse at the unsheltered cape. Besides, my fingers were numb and I could barely squeeze my water bottle. I scrapped my plan to head to the cape and decided to head for my nice, warm B&B in St. John's. I could do Cape Spear in the next day or so, or not at all, as for all intents and purposes, I had successfully ridden coast-to-coast. Going to Cape Spear was merely symbolic, especially since I didn't dip my wheel in the Pacific, or go to Mile 0 in Victoria.
I continued on to St. John's and found my B&B. It's certainly nice to be back in St. John's! In my mind, there's no other city like it in Canada. It has some similarities to San Francisco, in that it has beautiful old wooden homes, painted in many different colours, on the city's hills. The streets are not laid out logically but go at odd angles to each other. It's definitely one of my favourite places in Canada! What a great place to end my trip!
The first European to visit St. John's is thought to be John Cabot in 1497. St. John's was established in 1583 by Sir Humphrey Gilbert and currently has over 100,000 residents. The metro population is about double that. It is the oldest English founded city in North America. Water St. is the oldest street in North America. Of all of Canada's major cities, St. John's gets the least sunshine, has the most snow, is the windiest and has the most wet days per year. St. John's has one of the lowest crime rates in Canada. Here's an interesting one: St. John's is the only Canadian city with some radio stations whose call letters do not begin with the letter "C" - there are 4 stations whose letters start with "VO" because they were assigned before Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949.
I'll see if I can do the ride to Cape Spear - about 15km from my B&B - in the next day or so but if I can't, I doubt I'll regret it forever, as I have been there before. Communities that I rode through today were: Carbonear, NL, Tilton, Spaniard's Bay, Coley's Point, North River, Clark's Beach, South River, Gullies, Georgetown, Marysvale, Colliers, Conception Harbour, Avondale, Harbour Main, Woodford's, Lakeview, Holyrood, Indian Pond, Seal Cove, Lawrence Pond, Upper Gullies, Riverdale, Greeleytown, Foxtrap, Mount Pearl, Kilbride and St. John's.
Day 90 - Sep 10 - Thu
St. John's, NL - trip completed - 'vacation day'!
I spent time searching for B&B for my last 2 nights here in St. John's. The Targa of Newfoundland and a medical conference have sucked up all available rooms in town, but I finally found a place. I also visited Canary Cycles on Water St. to ensure I'll have a bike box to pack my bike in for my flight home. It turns out that the Tour du Canada people did use up the bike shops entire supply of boxes, but fortunately, the bike shop just received a new shipment of bikes, so I count my self lucky.
I also dropped by Templeton and bought some cable ties and tape. Walked up and down Duckworth, Water and George streets looking for gifts for the family and postcards. I've read but don't know if it's true, that George St. has the highest number of pubs, bars and clubs per square ft. in the world. I visited the Railway Coastal Museum which did a good job of documenting the history of ships and the now defunct railway in Newfoundland. I bought a my 1st 6-pack of a beer since leaving home*, and only available in NL, called "India Beer" by Molson's. Not bad! The case and bottle has a portrait of the Newfoundland Dog on it. Apparently, if you add a shot of Screech to it, you get a "dizzy Indian". If you don't know what Screech is, well, Lordy, let Google be your friend! * more like 6 months, as I gave up beer about 3 months before my tour
Day 91 - Sep 11 - Fri
St. John's, NL - Cape Spear, NL & return
*** Symbolic Ride ***
I got up and got ready for my 08:00 breakfast in the B&B. So far, I'm the only guest in this pre-1900 house of 6 rooms. That changes in the next few days as a medical conference and the Targa of NL start in days. Breakfast is cooked by the housekeeper, Annie. The owner's name is Anne - this a an extremely common name in NL. I've met 4 in the last few days! Annie cooked me a very nice omelette, plus I had yogurt, fresh fruit, whole grain toast, cereal, orange juice and a few cups of coffee. I'm making up for lost time here! ;-)
Well, the weather forecast is still the same for Cape Spear - sunny and 21C and up to 35km/h winds, which is fine by me. I head out after giving my stomach a chance to digest breakfast. I know the way to Cape Spear as I've been there before. I must admit it took a bit of time for me to get excited about riding 18km out to the Cape. After all, I have cycled >8,500km from Vancouver Island to St. John's... isn't that good enough? Well, yes and no. Definitely, I have cycled across the country, even if I didn't start at Mile 0 in Victoria or dip my wheel in the Pacific Ocean. However, I've been telling everyone that my destination was Cape Spear. For those who didn't know Cape Spear's significance, i.e., the most easterly point of North America, I explained that to them. Therefore, I felt that I had to 'walk the talk' and do the final symbolic ride to the cape.
I unlocked my bike and removed the tent from one of my rear panniers. I dumped the 2 remaining bottles of water and replaced them with freshly made Gatorade. I didn't put my front panniers on, which have clothes in them. Oh yes, I'm definitely travelling light today and by choice! No apologies offered! As soon as I got rolling my arms were over-compensating for the now very light front end of the bike: I was moving the wheel erratically from side-to-side.
In a few blocks I turned onto Water St. and about 3km later I was at the bottom of a nasty climb - in fact, just to Cape Spear, I did 365m of climbing! Some of those climbs were close to 20% if not more. My bike computer said 21% going to the cape. It was 18km total from my B&B to Cape Spear. Finally, I arrived around 11:45 and asked someone - a Winnipegger - to take my photo.
Done - officially! I had a PopTart and some Gatorade and then headed back to the B&B. It was a tough ride back but only because the whole trip was now over - it was all in my head. The total kms ridden were 8545 from 06/13 to 09/11. I did 37,260m of climbing. I have a bunch of other numbers that I'll compile and put out on the blog at a later date plus maybe I'll do a best/worst list.
I was due back at the B&B for 17:30 as the housekeeper, Annie, had invited me to a Newfoundland dinner with her mother, daughter, granddaughter and 2 great grand kids! Four generations of the same family in one place! That's never happened with my family. Annie had made a dinner of salt beef, turnips, potatoes, carrots and cabbage. I loved it and it was nutritious, to boot! Good, basic food. Annie's husband is a fisherman and was not there as he was out fishing for scallops, if I recall correctly. I was honoured that Annie had invited me to join her family for dinner plus it was awesome to have a real home cooked Newfie meal. Thanks Annie!
Day 92 - Sep 12 - Sat
St. John's, NL - trip completed - 'vacation day'!
Went down for breakfast at the B&B by 08:00. This is my 3rd night in this one and this morning I finally have some table mates: an older couple from Maple Ridge, BC, a pair of young ladies from Winnipeg, MB and an eyeglass (frames) salesman from Moncton, NB.
After breakfast I head down to Canary Bicycles on Water St. to get my bike box. I've got a feeling the box may be oversize for WestJet and likely it'll be overweight, too. There's a $40 charge if either issue occurs, so it could cost me $80 to bring it home. Tomorrow, after going to the 2nd B&B, I'll pack the bike up. I've been thinking of how that'll work out ever since I left home. Should be interesting.
I then headed to a new attraction in St. John's since my last visit: The Rooms. On the way to The Rooms, I stopped in and had a look around at the Basilica Cathedral Church. It was quite nice, but I found the Quebec churches a lot more impressive. The Rooms is named after the groups of steep-roofed buildings that existed in every Newfoundland fishing community not so long ago. Rooms were used to process the fishing catch. The Rooms comprises 3 functions: archives (photos, gov't records, family history, etc.), art gallery and museum. This is a beautiful new site, just opened 4 years ago and is a great place to spend the afternoon. The museum had an interesting exhibit on smaller boats used in Newfoundland and Labrador including kayaks, canoes and wooden boats. In another exhibit, there was an 8m squid on display - in formaldehyde. I really enjoyed my afternoon in this first class and beautifully designed institution.
I then went back to my B&B for a short rest then headed out to Quidi Vidi - pronounced *Kiddie Viddi". From there I started a 2km or so walk up to Signal Hill which is 160m above the harbour. From there I descended down a path almost to sea level and then walked AROUND the base of Signal Hill. At one point, you're on a sheer cliff for about 5m and holding onto a chain secured on the side of the cliff because if you trip or lose your balance, it's "ciao"! The path leads you thru the Battery neighbourhood. That was fun!
Day 93 - Sep 13 - Sun
St. John's, NL - trip completed - 'vacation day'!
Well, today I had to move from my current B&B to another one down the street about 5 blocks. That took an hour, as I had to make a few trips. Since it was Sunday, and a lot of the museums, etc., weren't open until noon, I focused on getting my son an 'edgy' gift. I think I found one: a t-shirt that says "I club baby seals". Hmm, we'll see if he's brave enough to wear that in politically-correct Vancouver! Maybe Pamela Anderson and PETA will spray paint him when they see him on the street with that shirt!
By the time I got back from shopping shortly before noon, I thought perhaps I should start packing my bicycle in the box just in case I needed something from a hardware store. It took me over over 3 hours to disassemble the bike and pack it. Initially, the bike wouldn't fit in the box but since I have S+S couplings on the bike, I split the frame in half and got everything in, plus threw in a bunch of other stuff. The bike and box is overweight so that'll cost me, plus the box may be oversize, so that may cost me more. We'll see. By the time I finished packing the bike it was past 15:00 so it was pointless going out to a museum, as they all close by 5-ish on Sunday. I must admit that it was a good decision to pack the bike ASAP after changing B&Bs and before the flight because I'd never packed this bike previously and wasn't sure what to expect. I went for dinner at Velma's, which prides itself as serving authentic Newfoundland meals. I had the pan-fried cod, which I thought was expensive at $18 but it was quite tasty.
Day 94 - Sep 14 - Mon
St. John's, NL - trip completed - 'vacation day'!
Today the weather was atrocious for the first time during my stay in St. John's: very heavy rain and winds. The sun finally came out around noon, so I did my last touristy visit, this one to the GEO Centre. The GEO Centre is roughly halfway up up the hill to the Cabot Tower on Signal Hill. It, along with The Rooms that I visited 2 days ago, was built after my last visit here in 2000, so this is new to me. The purpose of the centre is to detail the geological history of the earth and of Newfoundland and Labrador. The centre itself is mostly underground with the rock of Signal Hill used as walls of the centre! They boast that the Signal Hill rocks are 550+ million years old and that the Rockies were formed 'only' 100 million years ago.
Also a the GEO Centre, there was a major exhibit called "The Titanic Story". It is a "complete account of the greed, arrogance and bad judgement that led to the greatest peacetime tragedy of the 20th century, the sinking of the Titanic passenger ship. Over 1,500 lives were lost, just 560km off the coast of Newfoundland. The Titanic had received at least 9 wireless warnings of the icebergs, yet still ran into one at full speed." It is a fascinating story! For some reason, I think of BC Ferries "Queen of the North" and it running into an island, while GPS alarm were going off. :-( I ended my day making final preparations for my tomorrow's early 06:20 flight.
Day 95 - Sep 15 - Tue
St. John's, NL - trip completed - fly home
I woke up at 03:00, St. John's time, which was 22:30pm Vancouver time, the previous night. It was to be a long day. I did what little final packing packing I had to do, and called a cab for the airport. I got to the airport by 04:30-ish - only a $20 ride. Compare that to $80+ or so from my home to Vancouver International Airport! I went thru security and got pulled aside. Unfortunately, I had packed 3 tools, one of them a custom tool to fasten the 2 sleeve locks, "S+S Couplings", that hold my bike together. I'd totally forgotten that tools weren't permitted on carry baggage in this post-9/11 world. <sigh> I didn't have time to go back to the WestJet counter to see what they could do for me and that mistake probably cost me about $30. The tools got tossed into the garbage! I sure wish the airports would have a 24-hour Canada Post or FedEx near by for times like these. I eventually landed in Vancouver after touching down in Toronto, Regina and Calgary on the way. That's almost 13 hours since I woke up!
Special thanks to my wife Susan for worrying about me, paying the bills in my absence and providing 'remote support' when I needed it. :-) Having said that, I'm glad Susan didn't rescue me from Bassano, AB, when I had salmonella! Also many thanks to those of you who provided me accommodation, free beers and meals, and emails of support! During this trip, I was told I'm "inspiration", "amazing" and even "crazy" and/or "nuts". I never doubted that I could physically accomplish the ride although I did have concerns about mentally handling all those canola and wheat fields on the prairies. I've driven across the prairies a number of times and it's not easy! There's a lot to be said for nice, quiet rides on the prairies, where one can just totally escape and not even remember the last 5 minutes of one's ride, versus fearing for your life on Hwy 17 between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, ON.
In the end, I believe we all can achieve our dreams, if we have the courage to leave our comfort zones. I hope I've inspired at least one person to follow their dreams!
Cape Spear, Newfoundland