<- Read the previous post: More Atlantic Concerts for your Listening Pleasure
Day 62 July 8 Monday
Dartmouth (kind of a day off)
I woke up around 8:00 am to what I thought was Al milling around in the RV, but it turned out to be Terry, who had returned and was raring to start exploring the area by bike. We decided to split up today to make up our extra distance that we missed yesterday. Terry was heading to Cow’s Bay, Halifax and to take a few bridges and ferry rides, while I was going to go east out to Lawrencetown Beach, and check out some of the Trans Canada Trail system.
Terry left me a great bike map he had picked up, so I worked my way through Cole’s Harbour to find the trail system. I met a friendly gentleman who gave me some advice on the conditions of the trails, and I headed along the Heritage trail to the Salt Marsh Flats. The trails here are just a rock path and some wooden bridges, with ocean on either side. The water was so still, it looked more like a lake. The only thing that gave it away was where the tide was coming in under the bridges, and there was suddenly a current. It was a pretty quiet and kind of desolate pathway, except for a few runners.
It turned out to be coarser gravel than I expected, so I walked my bike for a few kms, keeping my recent flat fiasco and lack of spare tubes forefront in my mind. The trail was littered with broken shells, and I wondered why until I saw a gull bringing a crab over to the rocks, and dropping him to try and open the crunchy shell to get at the soft chewy insides (or so I imagine).
The pathway smoothed out a bit so I cycled a bit further, and then decided to move to the road. I came down to ocean side again, and to Lawrencetown Beach, which is a surfer’s hangout and a provincial park. The lifeguards were out, but it was a quiet day as the waves were mild and there was a forecast for possible thunderstorms. It was interesting to see lifeguards and their surfboards on the beach – kind of like Bay Watch but much less tacky and with more bathing suit coverage.
After hanging out listening to the waves, I cycled a bit more and then went back to the Heron’s Nest Tea Room perched atop a hill overlooking the water. It wasn’t supposed to be open on a Monday, but the owners were in doing some cleaning, so they opened up for the few stragglers from the weekend, like me. They said that Sunday was the busiest day they had seen in a couple of years, because of the hot weather. Usually there is a cool breeze all the time, but they said it was downright balmy yesterday.
We ended up having an extended conversation about the ride, how physical health can affect mental health, and struggles that are faced by teens and pre teens today. Normally I wouldn’t have had time to chat this long in the middle of the day, but I was on no schedule, so I felt free. I must admit I was not looking forward to doing mileage on my day off, but it turned out to be a perfect day, despite the rain on and off. I was remembering what it is like to go for a spin with no agenda, no time constraints, and no set distance to cover. It was a real joy to take my time and toodle along at whatever pace I felt like. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
When I returned home, Bill was back from his morning interview, and was busily packing up things in the RV. It’s hard to believe that we only have a couple more days and nights in the “mothership”. We really have been travelling in luxury, compared to those doing the trip self support. But I think Bill would have had trouble hauling his guitar on his back the whole way. I took his lead and also started packing, and was glad that I had sent some extra stuff home with Al and Patrick earlier in the trip.
We had another nice dinner put together by Marg, and then we were off to the concert for sound check and set up. It was being held at the Company House, a great little pub venue with live music most nights. While sound check was happening, Al, Terry and I went to the Citadel to walk around the outside of this historic fortress, and also to see the great views of the harbour, and the site of the Halifax explosion so long ago.
The concert was marvelous. Lots of people came, many relatives and friends, and we were treated to a concert in the round, with all the performers on stage and taking turns doing their own songs. Tonight’s performers were Susan Crowe, Jim Dorie, Stephen Fearing and Kev Corbett. Each of them had their own unique style, but they were all connected from past gigs and workshops they had attended (or taught). It was an amazing evening, full of both humourous and introspective stories. It felt like a mini folk fest.
Our partner charity tonight was The Spot, which is a drop-in place for youth to learn art and music. With no experience necessary, and all the supplies and equipment free, youth can just come in and spend time with artists who happily share their knowledge. Mike and Barb said that many participants open up as they spend time there and realize it is a safe place to share their thoughts and feelings, and build some healthy relationships. They were thrilled to have a venue to get the word out about their programs.
We had to scoot out quickly, as there was a Jazz Festival concert there right after us, or I bet the performers would have sang even longer. It was a very appreciative audience. Thanks to the staff at the Company House for the great venue and their wonderful support.
Day 63 July 9 Tuesday
Dartmouth to Whycocomagh
We said our goodbyes to Bill’s mom and sister today, as well as Betty jo, who would fly out and meet us again in Newfoundland on Thursday. We picked up a hitchhiker though – Mike, Marg’s husband, joined us for a couple of days in Nova Scotia. He will be driving the RV back to Halifax, to return it to the rental company.
We felt a bit guilty leaving Marg and Mike to do the final cleaning and emptying, but they took it on with a smile. They will be donating any of the unused food and supplies to a local charity. Marg is also sponsoring a golf tournament for Hillary’s Ride in August, so we can’t thank them enough for all the support.
We shuttled north a couple of hours, to pick up the original route we had before we got sidetracked by interviews. With the extra miles that were done yesterday, we started further east, and would be making our way onto Cape Breton island today.
Just before we got to the causeway, which was the end of our cycling day, we stopped for a free late lunch (who said there’s no free lunch?) that was arranged by Katherine when we were in Dieppe. She manages three Irving’s Big Stop restaurants, so she had JJ and our server Melissa take good care of us. Lots of truckers there, and you know they only go where the food is good and plentiful. We had a great lunch. Good thing we cycled across the causeway to see it BEFORE we ate, because I don’t think we’d have moved too well after that feast!
We got to the Glenview campsite, and Derek the manager kindly set us up with a primo spot for our last night in the RV. Because of the late lunch, we only snacked for dinner, using up what food we could before tomorrow. The guys went for a walk, and I wrestled with my laptop, trying to post a blog with only sketchy wifi available. If you noticed there aren’t many pictures yet on the last post, now you know why.
Day 64 July 10 Wednesday
Whycocomagh to North Sydney
We started the day packing up the last minute things in the RV and getting ready to vacate. It’s weird leaving our home over the last couple of months.
I was considering getting a trailer in retirement and travelling around in it on longer trips, this has given me a very accurate picture of what that would be like. We had breakfast at Vi’s restaurant, and on the way back to the RV we met up with several groups out for their morning walk. There was a family with three teenage girls who had seen our sign on the RV and had gone onto the website to see what it was about. They brought us a donation, and so did another couple whose friend’s daughter was currently struggling with suicide attempts, and talked about how stressful it was on the family as she was refusing to get help at this point. We ended up having an emotional discussion with all of them, and I think it was good for the young girls to experience an open and non-judgmental conversation about the topic. We gave them lots of bookmarks to take to their friends, and we hope they carry the message forward.
We cycled to the Little Narrows ferry to cross over to the south side of Bras D’or Lake, and travel along the shore.
The scenery was spectacular as we travelled over the rolling hills all morning, with minimal cars and much cooler temperatures, which was a relief. Even with a headwind, we were happy to have a refreshing breeze after all the days of heat. There are so many lovely homes and cottages everywhere, and every curve of the road gave another gorgeous view of the water, bridges and cliffs. We just had to get over Bear Claw Mountain, which was a pretty good climb, to get to the downhill to the coast. North Syndey is also a lovely town, so our last moments on Cape Breton before arriving at the ferry was very picturesque.
It was a case of hurry up and wait, as we scrambled to get all the REAL last minute packing done on the RV before Mike started his long drive back to Halifax with it. We said our thank yous and good-byes, and then got checked in for the ferry. Then came the wait, sitting around trying to get out calls and emails before the phone and internet coverage faded away over the ocean. We got in a line up where we were told, and then realized they put us in the line for Port au Basque instead of Argentia. That would have added another week onto our trip, so I’m glad we figured it out in time. It gave us a chance to speak with other cyclists and motorcyclists who were also in the wrong line, including others going across Canada. We all made it on safe, sound and on time..
The ship is quite new and very large, so it was like being on a mini-cruise overnight. Our berth was pretty small for four but it did the trick, and since we were used to cramped quarters from being in the RV, it seemed like business as usual. We went to the buffet for dinner, and met a great French couple, Josee and Patrick, who are also cycling across Canada,
but they will start and end at their home near Montreal. We spoke about the ride and mental health, and Josee shared some personal experiences with us. It was wonderful getting to meet them, and we may see them in August when they come through Edmonton.
We caught a bit of live music, then watched a bit of the onboard movie. I went back to the room at about 9:15, and found all the guys already in bed for the night. We are not party animals, that’s for sure. Lights out!
Day 65 July 11 Thursday
Argentia to Mount Pearl
I’m excited this morning – Patrick is now on the plane to join me, no more sleeps! We are landing in Newfoundland, the only province I have never been to, the final province of our journey. I can’t believe we’ve come this far.
The ferry docked at 10:00 am, we disembarked, then we waited for our luggage and to rendezvous with Al who needed to take a bus with the other walk-on passengers. Before we got off the ship, we could see Terry (from our committee) and Betty jo on the shore waving to us! It was almost 11:00 am before we got on the road, heading towards St. John’s. Al went in the rental van with the ladies to take the luggage and check into the hotel, and then would return to help us get into Mount Pearl. Our original plan was not to do the whole distance today, about 125 kms, because we weren’t sure if the ferry would be on time, and even if it was on time it would mean that we would get in quite late. But after the long voyage to this point, we were anxious to get to town. It would be nice to have the whole Friday off for sleeping in and sightseeing.
It wasn’t an easy last “full” day. Did I mention that Newfoundland is really hilly? Incredibly beautiful, but really hilly. Even the ditches were pretty, with all colors of wild lupins growing in huge clumps all along the highway. And lots of ponds (which I would call lakes) all over the place. And we already started coming across signs to some towns with great names – how would you like to live in “Heart’s Delight”? The initial highway we took was quite quiet, after all the ferry traffic had passed. The Trans Canada was much busier, especially as we got near to the city in rush hour traffic.
Al came back to keep an eye on us, and direct us to the hotel. It was a long haul, but we managed to get in at about 6:30 pm. Betty jo and Patrick were waiting for us with open arms – it was so special to hug my husband after weeks on the road, only hearing his voice or the occasional face time session. It was a reunion I had been anticipating for days now.
After a quick shower, we all headed out for dinner to Red Rock Restaurant to have some local fare, because we were famished from the long ride. As we were walking to the restaurant, we crossed the city limits into St. John’s – we’re here! And tomorrow will be the last leg of our trip….really?
Read the next post: Our Journey’s End ->