<- Read the previous post: Billy’s Come Home!
Day 59 July 5 Friday
Sussex to Dieppe
We woke up to Greg and Jane cooking us a wonderful breakfast to prepare us for our ride today.
It was another amazingly hot day, 29 degrees with the humidex already and it was before 7:00 am. We wanted to get an early start to beat the heat as much as possible, but I guess that wasn’t going to work that well today. Instead of taking back roads, as we try to do whenever possible, we decided to take the Trans Canada today, as it was the shortest route, and we were willing to sacrifice quiet traffic and scenery to get out of the scorching heat.
And, much to my dismay, I got yet another flat! This time it was the dreaded wire again! I had to walk my bike almost a kilometre to get to the RV, and then sent the guys ahead to keep covering distance, while I rode ahead in the RV and fixed my tire. It was a bit of a struggle this time, because I was sweating so badly, especially in the sauna of the RV, that my hands were constantly wet and I could barely get the tire off. And then to top it off, when I got the new tube in and ready to pump up, I discovered it had a pin-hole in it, so I had to change it TWICE! I had to enlist Al to help me get it on the second time, as my hands were running out of strength, and I was starting to wilt. You know, I brought what I thought was a ton of tubes with me, as I have 650cc tires which are a non-standard size and hard to find. At the end of this, I’m down to only one spare. I’ve saved some with small holes, just in case I have to resort to patching them, like we used to do in the olden days. C’mon, aren’t 7 flats enough for one trip??
We knew that we were going to be greeted on the highway by Karen and Don, Betty jo’s brother and sister-in-law, but we had no idea of the “welcoming committee” that showed up. Karen and her visiting sister Katherine were jumping up and down, clapping and cheering, as we came down the road. I felt like I was just coming to the finish line of a race! It was the most enthusiastic welcome we had gotten since Bill’s family greeted us in Fort Macleod.
We followed them to their home in Dieppe. We were thrilled to have another chance to cool off in their backyard pool, and bring down our core temperature before we spontaneously combusted.
We needed to make up a few more kms today, so Terry went out and did that while the rest of us soaked. I loved chatting and floating with Katherine, she is a real character full of vim and vigour, and has a hearty, infectious laugh. I ended up spending the afternoon working on the computer on the deck – what a lazy, luxurious place to blog instead of the table in the RV! And we even got our fur therapy again, getting to know Lily, their daughter’s shih-tzu who they were dog-sitting.
Karen and Don whipped up a lovely dinner, and we were joined by Shelley Richardson from the Kids Help Phone. She was very engaging, and gave us lots of information on the programs that they offered, which includes not only 24 hour phone support (1-800-668-6868), but on-line posting and chats as well. They take calls from ages 4 to early twenties, and refer kids in need to resources in their local communities – they have a database of over 37,000 agencies and programs nationwide. It was fascinating to learn about what they offer, and how they are staffed by professionals, not volunteers. The most startling statistic we heard is that they take over 5000 calls a week! This is obviously a resource that kids are using, and fills a huge need because it is anonymous, confidential, and available to kids whether they are rural or urban areas. We are all very pleased to be able to support and promote this invaluable service to Canada’s youth.
After dinner, guests started arriving for the house concert that was being hosted that night. The evening started with Ben Landry playing an acoustic set. I’m told he usually plays with a band that plays 60’s and 70’s music, but he also sings in both English and French, so we got treated to songs in both languages. Bill then played a few songs, and we took a break to have delicious snacks and punch. Shelley spoke about the Kids Help Phone, and Bill spoke about the ride and about Hillary, and then did a last set. Lots of folks stuck around after the concert to talk and visit, so I got a chance to meet some wonderful new people. We were also treated to beds in different homes. While Bill and Al stayed with Don and Karen, Terry spent the night with Barb and Kim, and Katherine and I went over to Claire’s down the block. We are really getting spoiled along the way, it is such a pleasure to get pampered by so many new friends!
Day 60 July 6 Saturday
Dieppe to Charlottetown
We were shuttling in the RV all the way to PEI, so we decided to all rendezvous back at the RV at 7:00 am from our various billets.
We were going to grab breakfast on the run, but Karen was up at the crack of dawn making us “egg muffins”, and Barb sent us on our way with homemade muffins. What am I going to do when I get home and have to take care of myself again?!
We stopped at the info centre just before crossing over to PEI, to soak in the engineering wonder that is Confederation Bridge, the longest bridge crossing ice-covered waters in the world. It seems to go on forever, but it is actually 13 kms long. It disappeared into the mist that had formed, as it was yet another day of the maritime heat wave. They also had a great interpretive centre and look-out to scale up, so we had a look-see quickly before we had to get back on the road so we could make the concert on the island. We would have preferred to cycle across the bridge, but that is not allowed (boo hoo).
I had cycled around PEI about ten years earlier, but had totally forgotten just how stunningly picturesque it was. The red dirt between the perfect green rows of potatoes, the coves that appear when you come around a corner, the rolling hills with crops swaying in waves with the wind. Vivid green everywhere. I couldn’t help but to breathe deeply, even in the heat, to try to soak in the beauty. We made our way to Charlottetown and to Myrt and David’s home, who are parents of an old school friend of Bill and Betty jo’s daughter. Trying to figure out the connection was really confusing until I finally realized that both of them were named Katie.
Although they had never met Bill, and didn’t quite remember Katie, that didn’t deter them from inviting us into their home and treating us like royalty. They drove us north to the afternoon concert in nearby Mount Stewart, at the Trailside Café. We met some of the performers, including organizer Scott Parsons, who had played at the Northern Lights Folk Club shortly after it had started. It was unfortunate that there was a very large country music festival taking place at the same time up in Cavendish. The turnout was not what we hoped it would be, which is sad because the entertainment was top notch! The jam-packed line up included Scott Parsons, who organized all the musicians for the concert, Morgan Hall, a talented young man who was a student ambassador for the Kids Help Phone when he was in school – he exuded such a loving energy, it was great to meet him and hear him. Bonnie LeClair had an angelic voice, and did some songs with a nostalgic feel, and Margie and Leona Carmichael did a heartbreaking tune about losing the family farm.
Jon Rehder did a funny but so true tune about how cigarettes are poor substitutes for our unrealized hopes and dreams. Dave Solomon and Jim Hornby both played solo sets, as well as a group set with Scott and Margie. I’ve been so lucky to experience such amazing talent from coast to coast – a folk music lovers dream!!
We also met Dave and his wife Tina from Nova Scotia. Dave is the cousin of Linda, Hillary’s mom, and they came to PEI for the weekend to take in the concert and a quick vacation.
We look forward to seeing them at the Halifax concert coming up, as they will be there too and will be bringing others with them.
We thank Pat, the owner of the Trailside Café, for generously supplying the venue, and feeding us the halibut stew and sandwich special (sooooo good!) with some local beer, and to all the musicians who shared their time and talents with us.
We headed back to Myrt and David’s place, with a stop at the fish market to pick up some fresh PEI lobster for dinner. This lobster isn’t like the ones I’ve had back home in land-locked Edmonton – often dry and stringy. This was juicy and tender and……..oops, I’m drooling again, time to get a napkin! Anyway, we had a feast, complete with homemade raspberry pie and genuine PEI potato chips. And after dinner, we had an unexpected pool trifecta, as the neighbours Mary Lou and Barb, invited us to come over for a cool down swim. We’ve had a pool almost every night of this heat wave, which has been very fortuitous.
Before bed, Bill played “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” and a few other songs for David, and then it was off to bed.
Over the last week, we had some very enlightening conversations with parents who are dealing with their children who have depression or have attempted suicide, or they themselves live with depression. Although there are no easy or standard answers, the common thread I heard is that speaking openly about feelings with youth, and not ignoring it hoping it will pass on its own, gives the message that it is okay to bring it up, and that speaking about it is helpful and a courageous thing to do.
Day 61 July 7 Sunday
Charlottetown to Dartmouth
We had some logistical changes today. We needed to get an early start this morning, as we were headed for the Wood Islands ferry, and had to be there by 10:15 am. We always want to leave plenty of time to account for hills and for any bike issues, as missing a ferry throws everything off. And we definitely had hills on the route we had, but all went according to schedule.
The ferry ride was a joy, as our other ferry crossings had been windy and cool. But this morning was warm and sunny, and the breeze and view were delightful. It was even nice enough to enjoy some famous Cow’s ice cream out on the deck – I opted for Wowie Cowie. I had the chance to chat with a family from – guess where – St. Albert! Kirsten and David and their kids were on vacation, saw the Tour de l’Alberta cycle jersey I had on, and asked where Al and I were from. Good to share our ride with someone from back home – they can spread the mental health good news there too! I also spoke with a psych nurse from the maritimes who had seen many cases of mental health issues that had sad outcomes because of delays in treatment. I didn’t get her name or picture, as our conversation was cut short as the ferry was docking.
We had an in-person interview with CTV Halifax and Snap magazine in Dartmouth scheduled at 2:45 in Cole Harbour. So we had to change plans and shuttle in the RV for most of the way, and would cycle the day after instead, which was to be a day off.
The CTV van was waiting for us on the side of the road, getting footage of us cycling in to town. He would jump out, take a few pics, then zoom ahead to get a few more shots. Wow – Hillary’s Ride officially has paparazzi!
We had a wonderful welcoming committee – Bill’s wife, Betty jo; sister, Marg; niece, Amanda and her son Jackson. Terry’s sister Bette was there to greet him too. We meet with the reporters, and then it was an escorted cycle on to Marg and Mike’s place, where we were staying the next two nights. There Bill was reunited with his 92 year old mother Margaret. I have met so many active, sharp and healthy seniors on this trip, they are certainly breaking any stereotype of frailty that is so often assumed as you age – so refreshing! It was cool to hear stories of Bill as a child, and enjoy her quick sense of humour.
We had a barbecued Sunday dinner all together, except Terry who headed to his sister’s place for the night. The evening was spent catching up and relaxing with family, and watching the news to see the interview, It was weird to see the news, we’ve been so removed from world events over the last two months. The world keeps spinning, whether we are wrapped up in all the happenings or not. Good thing to remember next time I get caught up with the sadness in the world – just remember the ride and the overwhelming goodness and hope that also exists.
Read the next post: We’ve Docked on the Rock! ->