It is done. Whatever thoughts or dreams I had before the trip of how it would end have all been merged together with the reality that the journey is over but what a journey it was! In unpoetic terms it was damn hard, maybe the hardest thing I have ever done, although reading some old posts from Tibet seem to be the contrary to that statement(www.jeffglen.ca/jeffbikeschina). I had many moments of doubt along the way but nothing bit me harder than Northern Ontario. I was mentally done at that point but only half way across the country which segue-ways nicely into support I received.
Support is the heart of all great accomplishments!
I always say never underestimate the will power of an individual but I have learned to never underestimate the kindness of complete strangers. There were also a few old freinds along the way who took care of me. There are literally too many to mention but I must note a few which anyone following would have read about:
Nancy in Grand Forks BC gave me the keys to her place while she was at work. She had dinner waiting for me and later we had a great conversation.
David in Cranbrook saw me standing outside the winter homeless shelter (I wasn’t aware of that though) and invited me over for dinner and allowed me to camp out in his back yard. We shared his last beer!
My good friend Cassie’s brother Derek Leung (fellow Ironman) and Ashley Herrera put me up in Calgary. Ashley’s father Doug sponsored my flight home through his employer WestJet.
After a trip back from Digby and Brier Island I had arrived too ate to return my rental car and therefore had to return it the net day before noon. In some ways this made things easier since I would be staying about 10 kilometers out of the downtown with Karl Lange who is friends with Craig and Carol whom I stayed with at Big Cedar Lake. Karl had a dinner date that night but he made time between his dinner to let me into his house and get me settled. He had made a chicken stew in a slow cooker for me and basically made sure I didn’t go hungry. I was pretty tired from all of the travelling so I just stayed in and rested.
The next day I drove into town with a couple of problems needing solving. I was trying to get a flight out, get my bicycle in a box for flight, find a way to the airport for the day I did get a flight and store the bike in its box while I waited for the flight. To my dismay neither the airlines, airport or bus depot could store a bike box for longer than 24 hours. Since I only had the rental car today I needed to solve that now. Luckily one of the bicycle shops I spoke to go pack it up and keep the box there until my flight. Okay part of the problem solved but I will still need to get the box to the airport on the day of the flight but I could worry about that later. I dropped off the bike then returned the rental car in the downtown. From there I was off to see the “Hopper” which was a tour vehicle that was amphibious.
After the fishermans museum in Lunenburg it was off to the Bay of Fundy to see the worlds largest tides. There is really nothing to see mid island so I will start with Digby where the nicest lady was working the visitor office. She told me that the likelihood of seeing a whale on the ferry to St. John NB was slim and none. Instead she suggested going to the Digby islands which is a stretch of land West off of of Digby that is broken up into two islands: Long and Brier. There would be beautiful sunsets, seals and lots of interesting rock formations. She also helped me find a room which is hard to do there (I think there was a cancellation). Well it was getting close to low tide so I rushed off but not before getting a picture in Digby and of this little fishing village on Long Island.
I made the first ferry in good time which leaves on the hour every hour heading West and 25 minutes after the hour heading East. Off I went to the next ferry about 17 kilometers away and literally I drove on and it started leaving. About 3/4 of the way over (note thi;s fraction is very accurate to my current standing in closed circles) we had a mock fire drill. Really it was for the school bus full of children going home to the island.
Check out the tides in the next two pictures
I booked my hotel in Halifax while on the bus over from Antigonish and for $110 I got a pretty nice place near the heart of Halifax called the Halliburton Hotel which is 3 restored homes from probably 100 or more years ago. The room was beautiful and I took a much needed shower after such a wet crappy day on the road (read the previous post for detail). The second thing to do was get a pair of shoes since I through out my sneakers and I was walking around in bicycle shoes in Halifax. I went to Mountain Equipment Coop a literally bought the last pairs of shoes in my size. Good thing I liked them I guess but it as that , sandals or hiking boots. I had dinner at Durty Nellies which is kind of a reproduction of an Irish Bar but with three themes: Victoria era, standard Irish pub and farmers pub. According to the menu the materials and builders came from Ireland. All I knew was that I was hungry so I gobbled down some Irish Stew. I was still hungry walking home so I went for some sushi, mmm sushi (sorry Michelle).
I had been thinking about shortcuts to Halifax for some time but I was trying to Pictou to see the Brown’s before I got there. I knew riding would be tough and I was hoping to catch the bus from North Sydney to New Glasgow. However the bus left at 8:30 and I arrived at 10:30 so I decided rather than stay in North Sydney because technically my only option was to ride 7 kilometers to a campground then in the morning ride back I decided
to ride to Port Hawkesbury or further. There were wind warnings and a hurricane is on its way that was hitting Newfoundland as we speak so the weather was frightful. I rode straight into the gusting wind which was so taxing I started stopping every few kilometers while I was exposed to the waterfront. Eventually the road went inland or rather onto an island in a huge lake called Bras D’or on Cape Breton.
I still can’t seem to get out of bed on time but no matter I had a short rode today to the Argentia ferry which goes to North Sydney Nova Scotia. Anyway yesterday was difficult finding any place to stay so I ended up at “The Wilds” which is a resort with a golf course. For $139 a night I wasn’t complaining and I was so tired that it really would have had to be over $150 for me to contemplate anything else like sleeping on the side of the road. The staff were excellent although I had a little problem trying to get my laundry done. It seems you just have to talk to the right person. The only clean clothes I had, which I wore to dinner, was a t-shirt and bike rain pants (thankfully not tights). The ladies working the restaurant had lots of questions once they learned of my journey and did not think it odd that I slept under the visitor centre in Portogul Cove South. Continue reading →
Driving back from Fogo island I took it nice and easy to really absorb the countryside even though i had seen it when I cycled in a week ago. It really is hilly and I can appreciate even more what I went through to finish the journey. The rental car desks are right in the arrival area where you collect the bags and I just walked my fully loaded bike right in there without a second glance from security. I am sure in other places I would have been tackled but not so in St. John’s. I chatted with the front desk lady at Hertz for quite a while as she was quite interested in the trip. I always love talking about it since I don’t get to tell my story and experiences verbally as often as I like, I guess I am a lot more social than I think I am. Back on the road was a little awkward at first which is normal and I come to expect it now. I rode back into St. John’s to get a couple things for the bike such as air for the tires and one of the pedals has been busted for the last 5 weeks. I made my way to Canary Cycles at 294 Water Street ( http://www.canarycycles.ca/) . They pumped my tires and did what they could with my pedal for free. Paul Collet who works there donated a few bucks online and scolded me for jumping in the harbour. Continue reading →
Sunday morning I was still at Sue’s place in St. Phillips/Portugal Cove suffering a pretty good hangover as expected. My plan today was to rent a car and drive back North to Fogo Island which is about 80 kilometers North East of Gander. What I didn’t expect was that all of the taxi companies where closed because it was Sunday. Fortunately some of the airport taxis where open but only Hertz answered the phone. The next dilemma was to get to the airport oh but before that pick up my credit card from a pub in St. John’s-whoops! Continue reading →
I want to send out a big thanks to Sue and her husband who put me up in their beautiful home in St. Phillips/Portugal Cove while they were away in P.E.I. I was fortunate enough that Sue’s daughter Jen was still staying at the house and her brother Chris was living in St. Johns. As I mentioned in the last post Chris drove us up to Signal Hill after my little harbour swimming adventure than to St. Phillips/Portugal Cover where Jen bought us a fish and chips dinner at the little restaurant that sits on the waterfront in the cove. Chris couldn’t stay but Jen’s boyfriend Mike came by and we had a few drinks including a little screech for myself.
Getting up was very hard after yesterdays 200 kilometer ride. I had a cute little campsite which was simply a picnic table by the lake. I had no food so I just got on the road to hunt down some food. Fortunately there was a gas station with a restaurant only a kilometer up the road and the owner was just unlocking the front door. The unfortunate thing was the restaurant was not open until 11 and I wasn’t waiting 3 hours for food. The owner said there was a restaurant 50 kilometers up the road but he could sell me some sandwiches for now.
The road continued as it had yesterday, very hilly and very windy. I just sucked it up and kept riding but it was still getting to me and I couldn’t wait for the road to head more West than South to take advantage of the wind. During this time I crossed the thin bridge of land that connects the South Eastern part of Newfoundland with the rest of the island. It is really narrow and you can make out ocean on both sides. What makes it even more interesting is there are small lakes covering most of the rugged rocky terrain where the trees cling to the stone for dear life. It is not hospitable at all up here but it is beautiful.