Our Journey’s End

<- Read the previous post: We’ve Docked on the Rock!

Day 66 July 12 Friday

Day off in Mount Pearl/St.John’s

As usual, I slept in late for a day off, but this time it was with Patrick by my side. With the time change, it still felt pretty early to him, but it was a great treat for me.

Al and Terry headed out early to sightsee, but Bill and Betty jo were still around, because there was to be a phone interview, but that got rescheduled to Monday. So we drove into town together.

We split up with Bill and Betty jo, as they had already seen the sights on their last trip. We walked around all the famous areas – Water St, George St, down by the harbor, the war memorial. IMG_0864We had a really interesting conversation with a local who works on one of the ships that service the off shore oil rigs, doing underwater maintenance and surveillance on the equipment. Very cool, very different from oil wells at home.

We’re planning on eating as much seafood and fish as possible while we are in a place that we can get it off-the-dock fresh. I had a delicious fish stew at Get Stuffed. Mussels, shrimp, scallops, cod, salmon, all in a tomato and pernod broth with julienne veggies……mmmm. Patrick is determined to have cod every day he can.IMG_0859IMG_0861

We wandered into a music shop, and Patrick is now trying to figure out how to get an “Ugly Stick” home on the plane. We picked up some prints of the colorful row houses, and generally played tourist. We also searched out the cycle shop we would be using to send our bikes home.

We met with Bill and Betty jo again, went home to prep for the concert tonight. Ed and Terry joined us for dinner beforehand, and suggested good down-home cooking at the Classic Café East. They were quick and very accommodating, because we had to get to the Arts and Culture Centre at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Our final concert was very special, and so fitting for our wrap up. The whole program was young musicians, many of them playing traditional music. Do not misinterpret young to mean amateur. Every performer was polished, well-spoken and played beautifully, with many of them multi-instrumentalists and playing their own songs. It was very upbeat and uplifting, and they all spoke about how they connected with and valued the message we are carrying. Jean Hewson, the first lady of folk in St. John’s, organized this concert on short notice. I can’t believe the quality of the talent she brought together, and the fact that they represented the age group we are trying to speak to, it was magical. I hope that Bill’s words about Hillary had an impact that they will carry forward with them.

Thanks to all the performers: Jean Hewson and her sister Valerie Hewson, Esmee Gilbert and Leslie Amminson, Naomi Brown, William Corbett, Danielle Greene and Leah Sing, and The Freels. All up and coming artists, I’ll be looking for them in the future.

Jean and Valerie Hewson

Jean and Valerie Hewson

Esmee Gilbert and Leslie Amminson

Esmee Gilbert and Leslie Amminson

William, Naomi, Danielle and Leah

William, Naomi, Danielle and Leah

The Freels

The Freels


Day 67 July 13 Saturday

St. John’s to Cape Spear

Well, today was the day. We only have 25 kms to get to Cape Spear, the most easterly point in all of North America, but it is mostly climbing. IMG_0883We were meeting a CBC reporter there by 10:00 am, so we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get there. It was super hot last night, and our hotel didn’t have air conditioning, so I don’t think any of us really slept. It doesn’t matter though, as adrenaline got us up the hills.

And something eerie happened on the way up. My “new” computer had stopped working around Fredericton. I had felt quite lost at times, not knowing how far I had gone, how fast I was going, and how long I had to go, so I was riding “on faith” that I would arrive in due time each day. Right after climbing the steepest hill, it mysteriously started working again. Although it appears that it was corrosion that stopped it earlier, I choose to believe that when I knew there was no stopping me from completing this, that faith had carried me there, I no longer needed to cycle in with the unknown.

Bill chugging up the hill above the fog

Bill chugging up the hill above the fog

Arriving to the top was bittersweet for me. It doesn’t feel like the end of the road today. We’ve been doing this for so long that I can’t imagine it being over. As we came over the last hill and coasted downhill into the parking lot, with Al, Patrick and Betty jo cheering, it felt triumphant and sad at the same time. You spend so much time planning and making it happen, that you don’t always visualize what the end will be like.

Terry glad he's done the hill

Terry glad he’s done the hill

It was an emotional finale, and it was appropriate that it was completely fogged in, because the whole trip feels like a fog to me at the present moment. IMG_0901Did we really do this? I hardly remember being in BC and the prairies right now. Some very astute people have reminded us that it will be some time before we can process the whole trip, and realize how it has changed us.

We all waved our Canadian flags and and put our final Newfoundland stickers on our helmets, along with the Canada flag, to complete the set of flags on our helmets. I will be retiring my helmet after the trip.IMG_0892

We also had to do the ceremonial dipping of our front tire in the Atlantic, since we started with our rear tires in the Pacific. The only water access there was a steep, precarious hill down to the slippery rocks and sea. The last thing we wanted to do was end the trip with an accident, so we took off our front tires and hiked down to the water to do the dip. I had to take my shoes off, as the cleats are on the outside and really dangerous on rocks. We waited for a wave, and side by side dipped our wheels.IMG_3861

The last order of business was to load the bikes and get down to the Terry Fox memorial. This is the third one we visited on our tour, and it was important to us all to honour him for inspiring journeys like ours. It is right in downtown St. John’s, and is beautifully done, his bronze likeness running towards the west.IMG_0905

I had to say goodbye to Pinky for a few weeks, as we took our bikes to Canary Cycles to have them boxed up and shipped home. I will see you again soon, my loyal friend, and we will enjoy a ride together on home turf.

So it is complete. This afternoon we head with Terry and Ed to their home further south in the Avalon Peninsula, where they are hosting the six of us. Terry heads home tomorrow, to reunite with his wife, Vicky, and his two loving border collies. Al, Betty jo and Bill will be staying until Tuesday, enjoying the whales and scenery. Patrick and I continue our adventure, heading out to Gros Morne Park for hiking and more Newfoundland culture and food. And soaking in what we have just accomplished.

Sue’s Bucket List:

  • Cycle across Canada – check.

See more photos from the final day, at Cape Spear, N.L.


We’ve Docked on the Rock!

<- 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. IMG_0783I 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.IMG_0782

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. IMG_0789It 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.IMG_0792 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. IMG_0795While 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.

Susan Crowe

Susan Crowe

Jim Dorie

Jim Dorie

Stephen Fearing

Stephen Fearing

Kev Corbett

Kev Corbett


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.

Mike and Barb from the Spot

Mike and Barb from the Spot

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.

Mike and the gang

Mike and the gang

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. IMG_0818Good 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.

Terry and I in our "kennels"

Terry and I in our “kennels”

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.

Billy and Joe at the RV park

Billy and Joe at the RV park

We cycled to the Little Narrows ferry to cross over to the south side of Bras D’or Lake, and travel along the shore.

Little Narrows ferry

Little Narrows ferry

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. IMG_0831We 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. IMG_0835We 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,

Josee and Patrick

Josee and Patrick

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. IMG_0845Al 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.IMG_0847

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 ->

More Atlantic Concerts for your Listening Pleasure

<- 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.

Greg and Jane

Greg and Jane

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.

Life is hard...

Life is hard…

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. IMG_0723The 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!

Ben Landry

Ben Landry

Shelley from Kids Help Phone

Shelley from Kids Help Phone


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.

Katherine, Don, Karen, Kim, Barb

Katherine, Don, Karen, Kim, Barb

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. IMG_0730They 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.IMG_0736

Myrt and Daviid, and Teddy in the middle

Myrt and David, and Teddy in the middle

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. IMG_0745It 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.

Scott, Morgan, Bonnie, Dave

Scott, Morgan, Bonnie, Dave

The Carmichael Sisters

The Carmichael Sisters

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.

Tina and Dave

Tina and Dave

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! ->

Atlantic Attention

With only a handful more days of cycling before the riders make it all the way across Canada, the ride and the fundraising events have been garnering a lot of attention. Here is a summary of some of the recent media:

CTV Morning Live, Atlantic

Bill was interviewed on CTV Morning Live Atlantic, a multi-provincial show based in Halifax, this morning. You can watch the whole interview on their website.

News 95.7, Halifax

The Maritime Morning Weekend Edition interviewed Bill’s wife, Betty jo Werthmann on Sunday July 7, hours before she was reunited with her husband after nearly 2 months of being apart, since the riders passed through Southern Alberta.

Skip about two-thirds of the way through the first hour of this show to hear the interview.

The Guardian, P.E.I.

Organizers said they hope the ride not only raises funds but also public awareness about depression, suicide and other mental health issues.

Prince Edward Island’s, The Guardian newspaper covers the ride’s Charlottetown afternoon show.

United Way, Central New Brunswick

On the central New Brunswick’s chapter of the United Way’s blog, they very kindly wrote up their experience with the Fredericton fundraiser:

I was blown away by two things last night: the first was the talent of the artists on stage, the second was the love and support for Hillary, her story and her legacy.

Read the full blog post.

CKUA Radio, Alberta

Andy Donnelly, host of the Friday night Celtic Show on CKUA in Alberta had Bill on the show again on Friday. Let us know if you have a recording of the show.

A Song for the ride from Medicine Hat, Alberta

Ali Sellin was one of the performers at the event held in Medicine Hat, Alta. Here is the song she wrote and performed especially for the ride at the event:

Billy’s Come Home!

<- Read the previous post: If you think we’re worn out, you should see our bikes!

Day 56 July 2 Tuesday

Perth- Andover to Fredericton (Durham Bridge)

We started our day with a long shuttle to Woodstock – not the music festival, we’re not having flashbacks to the 60’s (yet). It was there that we tracked down the nearest repair possibility, Steeve’s Bike Shop. We thought we were in the wrong area, and that Suzy (our GPS) had led us astray. But no, in the middle of a residential area was the shop, in the basement of a house.

Covered bridge on the way to Woodstock

Covered bridge on the way to Woodstock

What a neat little business, jam packed with parts and supplies! Steeve worked his wonders on the cassette, and had Terry ready to go in minutes. And he did the fix for free – what a great guy!!

We all took off towards Fredericton, and then the rain started. The forecast had said the rain should be ending this morning, but it was just beginning. It got stronger as the morning went on, which was not a problem on its own, but when you add in the hilly terrain, and very tired legs, it was definitely feeling like work. At one point, we were on a steep hill, and the rain had picked up so there was a stream of water running downhill as I was pushing uphill. I felt like a spawning salmon, swimming up-river against the flow.

At that point we re-evaluated our day. We’re scheduled to meet with the mayor at 4:00pm, and with the slow advance we were making today, we decided to leap frog, to ensure we weren’t late. Leap-frogging means one cyclist goes forward for 15 kms, while the other 2 ride in the RV, eat lunch and rest. The RV shuttles ahead 15 kms and lets one cyclist leave to do their shift, then waits for the other rider to arrive, load up, and then shuttles forward again. This way we can cover more ground quickly, and keep on schedule. This is a necessity when we have speaking engagements or meetings.

The rain tapered off to just overcast skies.

Bill's junior high school

Bill’s junior high school

When we were about 12 kms out of Fredericton, we all started cycling together again. At least for a while, until Terry got another flat, except this time in his front tire. As he fixed that, Bill and I went for a roll down memory lane, as we were in his old neighborhood of Silverwood.  We visited his old school, the house he grew up in, and we even ran into a past teacher of his from junior high. Bill was beaming as he reconnected with his old stomping grounds. He said that the big hill he used to cycle up as a kid (which we had to go up to get to his street) was definitely as steep as he remembered!

Bill's childhood home

Bill’s childhood home

Bill's teacher, Wildred Holmes

Bill’s teacher, Wilfred Holmes

Terry and Al rejoined us and we made our way to downtown and City Hall. There we were greeted by and Bill’s brother Ed, his wife Wendy and their daughter Katarina, and later by Anne-Marie from our partner charity, the Family Enrichment and Counselling Service.

Council chambers

Council chambers


We were all invited into city hall, given a tour of their historic tapestry series in the council chambers. We met the deputy mayor, Stephen Chase, who was very gracious and showed great pride in his beautiful city. He presented us with Fredericton books and pins, and said the office would make a donation to the ride. What a royal welcome we received, it was very special!

On the way to city hall, I heard a loud pop, and suddenly my rear derailleur would not work. I had snapped a cable, but it couldn’t have happened at a better time, as we were just a couple of blocks away from the Radical Edge bike shop. I left my baby in Brian‘s  capable hands, to see if he could fix the cable, or if I had to spring for expensive new shifters (gulp!). As long as I can be back on the road after our break, that is what matters.

The team and Ed’s family then went for dinner at a long-time Fredericton institution – The Cabin. It was a Tuesday night, but the place became packed shortly after we got there. Bill told us stories of eating there when he was young, and the cook “Tex” who would always say “Billy – the usual?” when he walked in. Terry, Al and I had a delicious lobster roll, my first ever, and their famous bread pudding for dessert.



We made our way to Ed’s place for the evening, had a good visit, did laundry and played with their pets, including Murphy their poodle cross puppy. But it was an early night again to regain some energy for the concert the next evening. I’m getting pretty tired after two months on the road, so the more sleep I can stock up on, the better. And I’ve started my count-down of sleeps until I see Patrick again in Newfoundland on July 11th.

Day 57 July 3 Wednesday

Day off in Durham Bridge

We slept in a bit today – even Terry, who is usually our alarm clock, getting everyone moving on time in the morning. We all got up before him today, and it was so out of character that I almost thought I should go check and make sure he was still breathing!

It was a lazy morning, working on computer stuff and laundry, and having a really late breakfast.

Ed and Wendy's riverside yard

Ed and Wendy’s riverside yard

Ed and Wendy are located right on the Nashwaak river, so they have a wonderful view from their yard. But we are back in black fly territory, so we need to keep covered. But the one fly I was thrilled to see were the fireflies, lighting up the yard last night. There is something so magical about them, they make you feel like a kid again.

I contacted the bike store, and was so relieved to hear that my bike was fixed, they only needed to replace the cable.

Joshua and Brian, bike mechanics extraordinaire

Joshua and Brian, bike mechanics extraordinaire

We headed into Fredericton to pick up my bike, as well as see the city. Bill gave us a tour of the areas he used to haunt as a teenager, but was pretty disappointed that they didn’t contact him before they changed the directions of some of the one way roads.

Changing of the guards

Changing of the guards


Bill needed to take my bike back and pick up Ed, Wendy and Katarina for the concert, so he dropped us off downtown to keep exploring on our own, and meet at Dolan’s Pub by 4:30pm for the evening festivities.

The concert was wonderful fun. There were lots of friends of Ed’s and of our partner charity, Family Enrichment and Counselling Services. Anne Marie and her volunteers had a nice selection of info for people to take, and were also having a 50/50 draw. I donned a black apron to sell the tickets both in the pub and on their patio, and everyone thought I was a server. One woman who had several glasses of wine did not want to accept that I couldn’t bring her more – I had to run into the restaurant to get someone to go serve her, as I feared for my safety if I didn’t deliver!IMG_0698

We got to experience several bands that were new to all of us. First up was Lava and Doug, a father/daughter team, with their bass player Caeser. Lava played the flute and had an angelic voice, and it’s always nice to see families that play together. Next up was John Fidler and the Suspects, who played more of a rock and roll set. I was dancing as I sold tickets, and many patrons were bopping, I’m sure wishing there was a dance floor. The next band, Somerville, played lighter original tunes, and was fronted by Anne Marie’s husband. They reminded me of the band “America”, and the lyrics were quite introspective. I wish I could have heard them in a quieter room to fully experience the meaning of each song, but it was a pub atmosphere and therefore a little noisier than I’m accustomed to when we go to folk clubs. Bill closed the night off with a full set of songs, and because he also MC’d, he was able to speak quite a bit about Hillary and the ride. We also got to connect with a vibrant young woman from the United Way, who wrote a wonderful blog entry about the ride. We send a big thanks to Dolan’s pub and their staff for the room and keeping everyone fed and watered, and to Anne Marie for her enthusiasm and hard work.

Lava and her Dad

Lava and her Dad





Day 58 July 4 Thursday

Durham Bridge to Sussex

Our day off was over, and we were back on the road again, heading out from the east end of Fredericton. We had several options of routes today to take us to Sussex, and it’s always a crap shoot when you try to pick a good side road from a map. You have no idea how the shoulders will be, how hilly it will be, and how much traffic. It was a real scorcher today – 32 degrees with a humidex of 40, so we wanted some shade and very few hills. This time our choice was the right one, and we had a lovely country road experience taking Hwy 710 and 10 to Sussex.IMG_0707

We needed to make up some extra kms today and tomorrow, as we wanted to get ahead of schedule so we could shuttle to Confederation Bridge instead of cycle it. This is so we could shorten our day, as our concert in Charlottetown starts early at 2:00 pm. So we arrived at Sussex at the Tim Horton’s for frozen lemonades, and met Greg and Jane there, to get directions to their home, and get help picking a route to do our extra 40 kms or so for the day. We did a loop out to the town of Norton, which took us through a lovely scenic green valley. Even though there was a headwind on the way out, it was a fairly pleasant ride as the wind cooled us down to a reasonable temperature. We headed back on the main highway, past Sussex to Greg and Jane’s place, which is by a golf course.

It took us no time to get into our bathing suits and into their back yard pool to cool down. IMG_0709There’s nothing like floating on pool toys with a cold drink after a hot day on the road. Greg is an old time friend and neighbor of Bill and his brother Ed, he even named his son after Ed. He shared funny stories of growing up together, tormenting their teachers and each other, and basically getting into mischief. Lots of laughs were had, and we had an amazing barbecue dinner out on the patio. I think I should bike across Canada every year, I’ve never been spoiled so much in my life. I had to drag myself out to the RV, as we were having such a great time, I didn’t want it to end. But every morning is an early morning, and I pay a dear price for late nights.

Read the next post: More Atlantic Concerts for your Listening Pleasure ->

Media Medley

Some of the recent media mentions that we’ve been able to compile:

Upcoming Events:

Moncton‘s News 91.9 morning radio show, McLean in the Morning, had Bill on for an interview on Tuesday July 2nd. We have a private event in Moncton on Friday July 5. (Please get in touch if you have an audio recording of the show)

Charlottetown‘s Buzz On website features the afternoon event we’re having on Saturday July 6th.

Halifax‘s SNAP Dartmouth event listings profile the concert we’re holding in Halifax on  Monday July 8.

Other Mentions:

Quebec‘s Chronicle-Telegraph ran a piece on the ride in their July 3 issue. (Please get in touch if you have a copy of the paper or article, as the linked article is just a stub)

Edmonton‘s CJSR continue their weekly check-in. On July 4 Bill talked about some of the health challenges going into a cross-Canada ride:

If you think we’re worn out, you should see our bikes!

<- Read the previous post: Slogging along the Seaway

Day 54 June 30 Sunday

La Pocatiere to Notre-Dame-du-Lac

This morning turned out to be one of the most peaceful ones yet.

sculpture outside Kamouraska

sculpture outside Kamouraska

We took a beautiful road through several quiet small tourist towns, surrounded by beautiful farmland, still along the ever-widening St. Lawrence. IMG_0617One that stands out is Kamouraska, which was full of B&Bs, art galleries and museums.  And it certainly didn’t hurt that we had mostly flat roads and a glorious tailwind.

We veered southeast away from the river just before Riviere-du-Loup, and as soon as we headed inland, the hills began again. Funny how everytime you move away from the water, everything is a climb – go figure. Anyway, we managed to stay on some nice quiet roads until we got to the major highway 85. We didn’t realize til we got there that it didn’t allow bikes, even though it had a very wide, clear shoulder. Most of the higher speed highways in Quebec are like that, and we can’t determine that from the map. So we had to shuttle a little ways until we got to a more secondary highway. It didn’t break my heart, as my legs are still tired from the long headwind day yesterday, and the afternoon was turning out to be quite hilly for the rest of the day. Best name of a town we passed – St.-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! – I kid you not.

We were so glad to get to our campground. IMG_0625It was by an idyllic lake, full of families celebrating the long weekend. We spent the late afternoon tuning up our bikes after the rainy days we had and sharing our favourite orange food group – the original Cheezies. Al brought back a small container of poutine he picked up on the way back from the grocery store, so I was able to sample two gravy and cheese-laden fries, and say “been there done that”. It is good, but I can only take it in small doses. Terry’s bike was making a strange clicking sound in the afternoon (note: foreshadowing), and Bill did his detective work and realized his rear cassette was loose, and went about tightening it.

Al and I went for a walk, and tried to go on the pier in the swimming area, IMG_0632but the lifeguard told us we could only walk on the dock if we had our bathing suits on(?) – that was a rule I didn’t quite get. So we went to another kayaking pier and sat with our feet in the lake, talking about the good ole bike club days and old friends.

A wonderful gentleman, Robert, came to introduce himself. He has worked all over Canada, and he has such a friendly and positive feel about him.

Robert and the gang

Robert and the gang

We talked to him about the ride and gave him a bookmark, he said he would look it up and make a donation. He suggested we try the rail trail tomorrow, instead of the highway. He also commented on how there are wonderful people everywhere, and if you keep an open mind when you travel, you will never be disappointed. I’ll second that!

We walked into town for dinner, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the lake. After a bit of discussion about routing tomorrow, it was an early night, at least for me, because we had two very long days left before our rest day on Wednesday, and I needed to prep for that.IMG_0630

poplar fluff - a little late in the season

poplar fluff – a little late in the season

See more pictures from day 54

Day 55 July 1 Monday

Notre-Dame-du-Lac to Perth- Andover

Happy Canada Day everyone! Hope you all get time to celebrate what a wonderful country we are blessed to live in!

A misty trans Canada trail morning

A misty trans Canada trail morning

We took Robert’s advice and decided to give the Trans Canada bike trail a try, as it was pretty flat and went alongside the lake, and was wonderfully scenic. It had a variety of hard packed dirt, gravel and pavement, and it seemed okay for our skinnier tires. We ended up having to take a detour from it a bit later, and the highway was so nice we decided to stay on it.

We arrived at the New Brunswick border in no time. I can’t believe how quickly we got through Quebec, although I know we covered only a small part of it. We also crossed over to a new time zone – we are now on Atlantic time, so we lost an hour today.IMG_0638

And that’s where the bike antics began. Terry’s rear cassette loosened up again, but this time he and Bill could not get it fixed. Terry had to (reluctantly) load up his bike for the rest of the day, because finding an open bike shop on a holiday Monday was not going to be easy. So Bill and I carried on, and shortly before our lunch stop, I also heard an abrupt clicking sound. I managed to get a huge puncture in my tire from something like a rivet, tearing a big hole in it. The gravel must have done a real number on my well- travelled back tire. When the bike shop checked it in Ottawa, it looked like it would be okay until the end of the trip.

the flat tire culprit

the flat tire culprit

When I checked it again today, it was worn through in several areas, so it’s no surprise it happened when it did. I had to radio the RV, as I didn’t have spare tires with me.

To keep making mileage, Bill carried on riding while I loaded into the RV and changed my tire and tube with assistance from Terry. We caught up to Bill, and we cycled together until our lunch stop. Shortly after starting on the road again, Bill ended up getting a flat too, this was in his sidewall! Because of Bill’s disc brakes and rack, it can be difficult to get his rear tire back on again, although it is easy to take off. So I carried on this time, and Bill waited for the RV and assistance from the guys. I cycled until Grand Falls, about 25 or so kms, and they caught up with me. It sounds like it was a bit of a challenge trying to get the back wheel seated again, but they managed to do it.

A bevy of wounded bikes

A bevy of wounded bikes

IMG_0644So Bill unloaded his bike and headed off, and I loaded on because the rest of us were going to check out the falls, which Bill had seen many times before. At the falls, which are quite impressive, we watched the zip-line operate, and spoke to Alexandre and Danika in the interpretive centre about our ride and our goals.

Danika and Alexandre

Danika and Alexandre

Alexandre commented that they were getting more “info” than we were, and they were getting paid!!  After the falls, it took us a while to catch up with Bill, then I unloaded and cycled the last 10 km or so with him to the campground. Today was the most “musical chairs” we have had to play the entire trip.

Vincent and Gabriel

Vincent and Gabriel

The campground was a real treat. We met Gabriel and Vincent, who are on a 3 week bike trip around New Brunswick. They may be around Fredericton when we have our next concert, it would be great to see them again.

The campground had a pool, so we all went for a refreshing swim after a hot, sweaty day. Alfred, the owner, went into town to pick up some burgers for us, and made us burgers and onion rings or fries for dinner – what a great guy! After dinner, the guys played pool (the other kind), and talked about the Hullabaloo music festival that Alfred puts on every year. Matt Andersen has played often, as he is the “hometown” boy.

Alfred in his throne

Alfred in his throne

We hope to be able to check out the fireworks that will be set off a couple of kms away. It will depend on whether we can stay awake that long, as we have another busy day tomorrow too.

See more pictures from day 55

Read the next post: Billy’s Come Home! ->