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! ->

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 ->

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! ->

Slogging along the Seaway

<- Read the previous post: The “Hill” is Alive With the Sound of Music

Day 51 June 27 Thursday

Joliette to Deschaillons-sur-Saint-Lawrence

IMG_0598We spent the day in part cycling along the St.Lawrence, although we couldn’t see it all the time as we were a bit inland. We also couldn’t see because there was a heavy mist this morning, and it was so thick on our sunglasses we had to peer over them like granny to be able to see.

We are so impressed with the bike lanes and shoulders here.

We're getting into tourist territory, and finding signs we can read

We’re getting into tourist territory, and finding signs we can read

They are well taken care of, nice and wide, and it’s made the cycling safe and a pleasure. It is exhausting when the roads are bumpy or potholey, because it shakes you up so much. It can be tiring on the hands, and your muscles. And it has been the first time in weeks where we’ve been able to cycle side-by-side and carry on a conversation.

Our first real glimpse of the mighty river

Our first real glimpse of the mighty river

Instead of going to Trois Rivieres tonight, we decided to cut off some miles and cross over the river to the south side earlier than planned. The Pont Laviolette was quite narrow, especially for the RV, and they did not allow pedestrians or cyclists on it. So we packed up and shuttled to the other side. We ended up going quite far east, further than we wanted, because there were few campgrounds that could accommodate the RV with power and water. We stopped at an info centre and took advantage of the bilingual staff person, who was able to call the RV site and make a reservation for us. Bill ended up doing the majority of the extra miles, and that will really help with tomorrow, as the forecast is looking ugly.

Love to take this home, but how.....?

Love to take this home, but how…..?

That's one way to beat the rain

That’s one way to beat the rain

We ended up taking some non-highway bike trails today, and they were really pretty. One area had a little bridge and the trail was hard-packed, so it was no problem for our skinnier tires.

We hunkered down inside this evening, as the weather really started to turn. I felt like I was in a ship rather than on land, because the wind was rocking the RV like we were on waves. It can be nice to sleep to, except when you can only imagine what the next day on the bike is going to be like.

View Al’s pictures from day 51

Day 52 June 28 Friday

Deschaillons-sur-Saint-Lawrence to Levis

Today was a really rough day, on all accounts. We woke up to drizzle and strong winds. The forecast was a heavy rainfall warning, and gusts up to 70 km/hr from the east, where we were heading. Bill was awake early, so he decided to try to make some headway before the rain and the wind really started to whip up and foil our day. We have been pretty lucky with the weather over the last few weeks, so I guess we were due some storms. Bill did an out and back and made 31 kms for the day.

We shuttled forward and all got out to make the rest of the way to Levis together, about another 50km or so. The headwind was picking up, and the drizzle had turned to out and out rain. It was a struggle to make any headway, but we got about 20 kms further.

The rest of the day did not go well. The rotten weather, along with the stress of having four very different people together for two months in an RV took its toll. Emotions flared and we had a falling out. I think this is totally predictable for a group of people in our situation, but it did not make it any easier to deal with.

We had an interview scheduled that afternoon, and I commend Bill for being able to do it considering we had such an emotionally charged day.

We decided to cash in some of the extra kms we had banked on previous days when the weather was good. We packed it in and went forward to our RV site in Levis, to turn on the furnace and wait out the storm.

We are a team, and we will get past our differences. I’m always leery to share things about the trip that aren’t inspiring and positive, but this is real life on the road. If we are encouraging people to talk about mental health issues openly and honestly, I feel I have to walk the talk. We will all get through these hard spots, as I believe we all care about each other a great deal, and are all just trying to do our best. Al reminded us that we need to focus on the purpose of the ride, which bonds us all together, and I think he is right.

View Al’s pictures from day 52

<- Read the previous post: The “Hill” is Alive With the Sound of Music

Day 53 June 29 Saturday

Levis to La Pocatiere

The day started again with lighter rain but the same headwind. The rain let up fairly early, but we had the headwind all day, which made for slow going.

A stormy day on the St. Lawrence

A stormy day on the St. Lawrence

We weren’t the only people out on the road battling the elements. We ran into Nicole and Suzy, who were walking to Quebec City, and had been for 21 days.

Nicole and Suze

Nicole and Suze

I can’t say from where, it was lost in translation. We ran across quite a few walkers/hikers today, all decked out in their rainwear, with walking sticks, so they looked like they were doing some pretty serious distances.

We also got concerned for a while, when a gentleman with an orange flag signaled us (as cyclists) off the road to a nearby waiting police car. We were trying to figure out what it was – Were we speeding?  Were they doing an impaired bicycling check at 9:00 am? Were they looking to make sure our bike bells worked? It ended up that there was some type of bike event going on that day, and they were just detouring us to the bike path route that all their cyclists were following. Several times we ran across flag people trying to get us to turn here or there, and many of them didn’t speak English. So we ended up pointing straight ahead, which was east, and saying “Newfoundland”, and they smiled and seemed to understand. The only turn that was tempting to take was when they signaled us to go into their lunch stop.

It may look like Terry's butt is on fire, but it's just his red bike seat!

It may look like Terry’s butt is on fire, but it’s just his red bike seat!

But we didn’t need it, as Al greeted us with Lipton’s Chicken Noodle soup and make your own sandwiches, all ready to go. We really didn’t think we would need a hot lunch this late into June and the trip, but it was real comfort food, just what you need on a cold and wet day. Thanks Dad (I mean Al)! And Bill made it a double treat by getting some bakery cookies.

We passed through lots of little tourist towns today all along the St. Lawrence River, there was one about every 10 kms or so, one of the prettiest being St. Jean-Port-Jolie. I suspect they would have been a lot busier on this long weekend if the weather had been better. There are so many beautiful properties, brightly colored “gingerbread” houses that were immaculately kept, along with those unique stone houses and churches that you generally only see in Quebec. There were also tons of artisans everywhere, so many neat little shops to visit. Unfortunately, we didn’t really have any time to stop and explore, as the wind had slowed us down considerably and we needed to keep going to get in at a decent hour today.

A quaint stone windmill

A quaint stone windmill

I also didn’t take a lot of pictures for the same reason. Patrick and I had cycled through this area with friends in 2005, and I was tempted to put in some old pictures we took then instead. But it was sunny and hot that time, and you all would quickly discover my ruse.

We had to load up the bikes and take a detour at one point. The 5 km of road under construction led us on a 20 km detour, with poor road conditions, so I was glad we shuttled that part.

Much to our surprise, we haven’t seen many boats on the seaway. I expected to see a lot, considering it is supposed to be busy for freighters, etc. I don’t know if the heavy winds had anything to do with it.

We are trying to use up all of our food stocks before the end of the trip, so we have been making meals of whatever we have in the cupboards. We had some penne alfredo with B-B-Q chicken, but dessert was a real Quebec treat – sugar pie. If you’ve never had it, it looks like pecan pie without the pecans. And it is so sweet your teeth tingle when you eat it. We need to experience what the area has to offer – right? Plus, we will share a plate of genuine poutine, complete with real cheese curds, before we leave the province. We just need to find the best in the area to sample, and we will leave that up to Al to search out.  He is a connoisseur of those types of things.

View Al’s pictures from day 53

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

Do not, under any circumstances, take your bike into the shower with you!

Do not, under any circumstances, take your bike into the shower with you!

The “Hill” is Alive With the Sound of Music

<- Read the previous post: There’s no Friends like Old Friends

Day 48 June 24 Monday

Day off in Ottawa

Ahhhhhh….another day off, I so look forward to these breaks. Today I got up at about 8:00, puttered around a bit, asked myself why I was up, and went back to bed for another hour or so. Happiness is sleeping in!! Terry was out and about long before I got up.

The only things I had to do today was take my bike in for a new computer and a safety check/tune up, and visit with Anna and her daughter Alicia, friends that Patrick and I met on our honeymoon cruise this winter. She works in the same building as the National Hotel and Suites where we were staying, so she met me for breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Anna describes herself as a real “social butterfly”, which is true because she seems to know everyone! She introduced me around to all the staff. While she worked, she generously lent me her SUV to pick up my bike, which was still with the RV in southwest Ottawa, so I could take it to the bike shop. It seemed very unusual to be away from my bike, as we have been inseparable (butt welded to seat) for almost 8 weeks at this point. Did I mention that I have a name for her? It’s Pinky Tuscadero, named after a character from the Happy Days series, because she has hot pink accents. She was named by Kim, a friend of mine from our triathlon club, who christened her on a bike trip to Drumheller. Anyway, Pinky and I have grown quite close. It is at times a love/hate relationship, but that is generally related to the cycling conditions, and not my trusty steed.

I took her to Kunstadt’s on Bank Street, and Chris took great care of her.

Chris from Kunstadts - sorry it's fuzzy, but he was a warm and fuzzy kind of guy!

Chris from Kunstadts – sorry it’s fuzzy, but he was a warm and fuzzy kind of guy!

I now have a working computer, so I am no longer in the dark regarding my speed and distance. It’s amazing how sucked in you get with technology – I think it was good for me to ride “blind” for awhile, and focus on the journey rather than how fast or far I had gone. Anyway, I think I will make it all the way without a new chain or tires. Time will tell. Thanks to all the staff at Kunstadt’s who fit me in right away to guarantee I had my baby ready to ride the next day.

While I was out gallivanting, Terry was visiting museums, and Bill was slogging away in the RV doing a few fix ups, and some laundry. He got the raw end of that deal. I don’t envy him, it was stinking hot and humid out – 32 degrees with a humidex of 40 – and I was sweating like mad just standing in the RV, let alone working.

I met with Anna after she got off work, went to her house to pick up Alicia, and met her parents. We went out for some great Thai food, which was a nice change of pace – I love Thai coconut curries!  Then the three of us were off to the concert at Greenfield’s Pub. It was a great venue, the staff were excellent and the layout was perfect for the concert. They had a pretty packed house, and I can say without a doubt that everyone who attended got to see THE best local talent the Ottawa roots scene has to offer. It was a very diverse line-up, with something for everyone.

It started with Keith Glass, doing a short set of his own songs. He’s a very talented artist, as he accompanied most of the other performers all evening.

Keith Glass

Keith Glass

Next was Brock Zeman, who I had seen before at the Northern Lights Folk Club in Edmonton. All the performers played about 3 or 4 songs because of the packed line up, and I was thrilled that he chose to play all of my favourites.

Brock Zeman

Brock Zeman

Maria Hawkins was up next, and I found her very inspiring – she has a great energy about her, she did songs you could sing along to like “Stand By Me,” doing her own unique rendition.

Maria Hawkins

Maria Hawkins

There were a lot of other artists that I had never heard before, and they spanned so many different genres that I felt I had been to a mini folk-fest. Bobby Watt entertained us with his celtic ballads, Ball and Chain did a mix of inspiring and melancholy songs, including one about the last cowboy in town, and Sneezy Waters played some good old tunes and spun some yarns about playing in Edmonton in the 60’s.

Bobby Watts

Bobby Watt

Ball and Chain

Ball and Chain

Greg Werthman, the organizer of the concert who is also Bill’s nephew, played some of his original music, and  Bill did a song too and spoke about the ride and the cause.

Sneezy Waters

Sneezy Waters

Greg Werthmann

Greg Werthman

Bill and Keith

Bill and Keith

I was totally blown away by Lynn Miles – she was very honest, and has an amazing range.

Lynn Miles

Lynn Miles

All the performers were very in touch with the mental health theme, and many of the songs and stories connected to our message loud and clear. I left feeling I had witnessed something very special and unique, and I’m sure I am not alone in that sentiment.P1010540

Our partner charity this evening, Parents’ Lifelines of Eastern Ontario, had a very successful evening. They shared that many in attendance not only picked up information about their services, but had some extensive conversations with the staff, and they received many donations. It is so gratifying when the charity is able to make connections with people who can benefit from what they offer. That is one of the goals of the ride.

A big thanks to the staff at Greenfield’s, all the performers who donated their time and talent, and especially to Greg and his lovely wife for all of the work they did to organize this great event.

See more photos from the concert in Ottawa

Day 49 June 25 Tuesday

Cycling Around Ottawa

We had more changes to our planned route today. IMG_0577Rather than cycling out to Hawkesbury, and shuttling back, we decided to take advantage of the extensive network of bike trails that exist right in Ottawa and the surrounding areas instead. This gave us a chance to be tourists again, and experience the beauty of all the waterways in the Capital Region.

The Rideau Locks - Not!!!

The Rideau Locks – Not!!!


Gatineau "Mangrove"

Gatineau “Mangrove”

Any one following us on spot probably thought we were riding in circles – because we were! We covered lots of areas – the Rideau Canal, Rideau River, the Ottawa River, and even a jaunt over to Gatineau,

Rock sculptures

Rock sculptures

where we cycled in the somewhat cooler shade of their forested trails. It was still hot and humid, but I was surprised how much more comfortable it was cycling than walking or even standing still, as we were creating our own breeze. We saw all the historic buildings and the locks from the river, as well as some cool rock sculptures and scads of very territorial geese along the way. And of course we had to ride down Sussex and wave to Stephen.

We made a side-trip to Dustbane, a company Bill once worked for and now has as a supplier for his business. We got to meet many of the staff, and thank them for their generous donation to the ride. It was just starting to rain as we arrived, so it was a well-timed break. It continued to rain, but it was refreshing after the hot day, and soon the sun broke out again.

Adam from Trip #2 to Kunstadts

Adam from Trip #2 to Kunstadts

I discovered that the strange squeak that popped up just before Ottawa was not resolved with my initial visit yesterday, so it was not the derailleur as I thought. Another trip to Kunstadt’s and the detective work of Adam determined it was nothing serious like a bearing, just squeaky pedals. Whew! Those guys were just so helpful and accommodating!

We cycled back to Nix and Mal’s place, and Mal had been busy preparing us another delicious dinner of salmon, rice, veggies and ice cream for dessert– how spoiled are we?!

And guess who was there to greet us? Our long (okay, not really that long) lost support driver, bookkeeper and photographer Al! I hardly recognized him now that he is clean shaven and neatly coiffed. Sounds like he enjoyed the wedding, but he missed not being part of the concert action while he was gone. Great to have you back Al!

Terry and I had to say our goodbyes tonight,

Bill with our wonderful hosts - Mal, Nix and Diane

Bill with our wonderful hosts – Mal, Nix and Diane

as Al, Bill and the RV were coming to meet us at the hotel in the morning, since we were heading east from there first thing. I can’t tell you how great it’s been to meet all the people we have, and I don’t think I can ever thank everyone enough for their kind hospitality.

See more photos from day 49

Day 50 June 26 Wednesday

Ottawa to Joliette

We were up and at ‘em, fed and watered and ready to roll at 8:00 am when the Mothership arrived to rendezvous. Karen from National Hotel came out to meet everyone and wish us well on our journey. Thank you again to Karen, and to Anna, for arranging us to spend our Ottawa days in comfort.

With our revised plan, we cycled 122 km to la Chute from Ottawa, then shuttled the remaining distance to Joliette, which we had covered the day before in Ottawa. Soon after leaving, the further east we travelled, the more evident it became that we were heading into a predominantly French-speaking area. None of us speak French, besides whatever we remember from junior high school, but we are managing to piece together enough words to order food, and luckily we have met some English-speaking proprietors who have been able to converse with us.

This sign......

This sign……


....lead to this friend

….lead to this friend

We had an impromptu conversation with Andre, who we met in the town of Alfred at our lunch stop, and Sylvie the owner. Andre spoke of a friend who had died of suicide, and how sometimes it is hard to understand why this happens when a person’s life looks really together from the outside. We never know the internal struggles that others deal with, and if they are fearful to share their challenges and keep it to themselves to avoid judgment or to maintain an image of “normalcy”, they can easily slip deeper into darkness and feel more and more isolated. We really need to make it okay to speak out about our internal pain and get the medical and other support we need, just as we would discuss and seek treatment for a broken leg. I know that sounds over-simplified, but I still believe it will one day be achievable on some level.

In the early afternoon, we crossed the Ottawa River once more and made our way into our sixth province, la belle Quebec (sorry if I’m butchering that translation).  IMG_0589It took us almost a month to get through Ontario, which is about half of the total distance we covered to date. So although we enjoyed the entire province, we are glad to have it under our belt.

Quebec has a series of biking trails called La Route Verte, which cover most parts of the province. Shortly after crossing the border, we took one of these routes. It started out as a quiet paved road, but we then ran across a gravel section for about 1.5 kms, which is not so easy to ride when you have skinny tires. So we’ll have to be careful about taking these trails until we get a map, which appears to be hard to come by in some of the info centres.

Upon arrival at our home for the night, we discovered that the fridge and freezer were not running too well, and we had a major thaw. So the first thing we did was clean out all the perishables, which meant we needed to eat out tonight, and opted for something close and accessible and an easy-to-order-from menu – McDonalds. I’ve discovered their new Vanilla Chai Latte Frappes, and I am hooked – I’m already starting to dream of them at the end of each ride. This could spell trouble for the rest of the summer, especially once I get home and am not burning off thousands of calories a day.

I spent the evening trying to catch up on the blog, especially since there was so much to share about all the concerts. I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

See more photos from day 50

Read the next post: Slogging along the Seaway ->

There’s no Friends like Old Friends

<- Read the previous post: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses a Chain

Day 45 June 21 Friday (Part 2) (Read Part 1)


I’ll continue on with Friday evening in Deseronto and the concert.

We were in another very unique venue – John McNeill’s Place.

Doug with John McNeil

Doug with John McNeil

It was a combination antique store, art shop and restaurant, all rolled into one. Everyone who bought a ticket was treated to John’s  special “summer solstice salad”, as it was the longest day of the year. The concert turned out to be a family affair. It started out with Roger Law, who is Doug’s brother, and his son Joe, both on guitar doing some wonderful cover tunes. Then it was the Werthmann’s turn, with Fred, who is Bill’s MUCH older brother, which Bill kept reminding him – I’m sure you all know how brothers tease each other.

Roger and Joe Law

Roger and Joe Law

Fred said he hadn’t played publicly for a long time, so we were being treated to a rare performance. He played “Moonshadow”, which he said was one of Hillary’s favourite songs. Then Bill performed, and turned the mike over to Kim Pollard, backed up by Roger. Kim had a CD release party the next night, so we were really fortunate to have her play for us. She has a very powerful stage presence, and we all got acquainted with another new artist that we hope to see again. Unfortunately, her CDs weren’t available for distribution yet, or I would have brought one home.

Fred Werthmann

Fred Werthmann

Kim Pollard with oger

Kim Pollard with oger

The charity we were supporting was the Mental Health Support Network. Their executive director, Garry Laws (no relation), spoke about their creative program , which addresses talking about the “elephant in the room”, which of course are mental health issues –our own and others.

Garry Laws

Garry Laws

They work to empower individuals and companies to make it safe to talk about mental health issues, without fear of retribution and judgment.  It is a great program, and he gave us little blue elephants and t-shirts to help spread his message. It has grown beyond the region they are working in, and I look forward to bringing the concept back to Alberta with us.

I sat with Pam, Doug’s friendly wife, and her mother Mary, who was sharp as a tack. I had a great time getting to know them. Earlier I had met their two sons, Jake and Tom. I’m glad to report that Tom was doing fine after his trip to the hospital, and was very hungry, so that is always a good sign. I’ve been really fortunate to meet some really lovely families on our journey.

There was a bit of a get-together in the back yard at Doug and Pam’s after the concert, but I squirreled myself away in the house to make sure I got out a blog that night. Time is limited when we have evening concerts.

See more photos from day 45

Day 46 June 22 Saturday

Deseronto to Kingston (or Madoc to Perth)

We woke up to a great breakfast spread of eggs, bacon and hashbrown patties, whipped up by Pam and Doug – they look so cute in their aprons! They also gave us copies of an article about the ride that was in the Napanee weekly newspaper. We were going to shuttle out a ways, which was a change to what we originally had planned, which was to return to Madoc. But as we were leaving Deseronto, we saw the lovely shoulder and the quiet roads, and decided to leave from there instead, and shuttle later in the day. So essentially, we took a detour from our detour of our original route – capisce?

Pam and Doug

Pam and Doug


Anyway, as we travelled along, passing through Napanee and its heritage buildings, we decided to also go to through Kingston, as I had never been there, and Bill and Terry both thought it was worth another visit. So we re-detoured again (is that a word?) and headed towards the city that at one time was to be our nation’s capital – but it was within cannon-range of the US border, so they definitely rethought that idea.

We lucked out that it was a Saturday, as we got downtown in time to see the farmer’s market. We stopped and had a great lunch at the Pan Chancho Bakery Cafe, eating outside in the garden patio. It was almost too trendy for our sweaty lycra, but Bill held up his pinky as he drank his water, so we were able to fake some class for the day. And of course we couldn’t leave without taking some edible souvenirs.

Doesn't Bill look refined?

Doesn’t Bill look refined?

Outside the bakery, we met Linda and Sue, who were pondering our decal on the RV. We had a chat about our ride and the purpose of it, and they were very engaged with the idea.

We shuttled north out of Kingston to start our ride up to McDonalds Corners. As we were preparing to get on our bikes and leave, Lorraine drove up in her truck, saying she had been looking for us. She said she was inspired by what we are doing, and that no parent should have to go through this, and that Hillary was smiling down on us.

Sue and Linda

Sue and Linda

She was a mental health professional, and gave us a donation. If we had taken a slightly different route, we likely would never have met her. We have had many such “lucky” meetings, especially with other cyclists, and I feel like the universe is making these magical moments happen.

We agree - they are bike friendly!!

We agree – they are bike friendly!!

Our afternoon had a lot different terrain compared to our morning. Although the countryside was beautiful, just full of lakes with people fishing wherever they could access the water, it was also extremely hilly. Non-stop ups and downs. As we neared our destination, we even took a road called Old Mountain Road, which was a steep uphill (hmmm…what was our first clue?), and it never did drop down the rest of the day, so we didn’t get to enjoy a downhill at the end of all our work.

But we soon arrived at David and Beth’s house in Elphin. They were so welcoming, along with their house guests Laura, Sara, Steve and Geoff. We got a tour of the garden and the Koi fish pond, and it is obvious that Beth has a more than just a green thumb – maybe a whole green arm!!

Oh Boy - Koi!

Oh Boy – Koi!

While Geoff and David went to do sound check for the evening’s concert, the rest of us had a lovely dinner made by Beth. We all made our way to Mera, a cool old renovated school house for the sold-out concert. I was so thrilled to have my friends from Mississauga, Dan and Robbie, meet us there. They had tried to intercept us on the road, but our numerous detours made that pretty difficult – whoops! It was very special to have them there, like a little piece of home.

The concert was incredible and thoroughly enjoyable, as David Francey is one of my favourite singer-songwriters, and he was joined by several talented musicians – Geoff Somers plus Terry Tufts and Catherine Briggs. David told the stories behind his songs, and I love how it makes them come alive, like you are getting to know a good friend that much more intimately. The other musicians also did some of their own songs too, so I got treated to some wonderful new music, at least new to me!IMG_0538IMG_0550IMG_0548

IMG_0544After the show, we didn’t have far to go to as we stayed in the RV in the school parking lot. I ended up having a very enlightening discussion with “W”, who told me about the struggles his wife had with depression many years ago. She was having problems finding a medication that worked for her, without devastating side effects. During this time, she had six suicide attempts, which was extremely difficult on him as she would disappear and he would have to search to find her. However, with courage they persevered and found treatments that worked for her, and she has been doing well for many years now. I hope this brings hope to others who struggle to find what works for them individually – it can take time, which can be so difficult when you feel hopeless, but know that a full and satisfying life can be possible.

See more photos from day 46

Day 47 June 23 Sunday

Perth to Ottawa

We returned to David and Beth’s place in the morning, as they invited us for breakfast, and we NEVER turn down a breakfast – it’s the most important meal of the day, and doubly so when you are cycling all day. Yummy french toast, eggs, bacon and all the fixin’s, and some of Laura’s specialty teas.

Mera School

Mera School

Brekkie Anyone?

Brekkie Anyone?

We didn’t get away until late, as we were having such a great visit that we didn’t really want to leave. Beth helped us map out a nice flat, quiet route into Ottawa, starting from Perth.  Perth also has a lot of beautiful old stone buildings, as well as all the red brick houses we have been seeing since we have gotten into southern Ontario. It was an easy ride in since there was not much wind.

David, Sue and Beth, hamming it up

David, Sue and Beth, hamming it up

We made our way south to the home of Nix, Mal and Diane, who are long-time friends of Bill’s family. Mal cooked us a fabulous meal of barbecued ribs, which she knew was one of Bill’s favourite meals. And after dinner we had fascinating discussion about folk music performers. Or, should I say they talked and I listened, as they are all incredibly knowledgable about that genre, and I just sat in amazement and tried to soak it all in. Bill stayed at their place, while Terry and I went to the National Hotel and Suites, as they had generously donated a two-bedroom suite for us for the 3 days we were in Ottawa. What a treat, having my own king-sized bed and TV to catch up on some news! I was really looking forward to our day off tomorrow, to rest and get ready for our blockbuster of a concert!

And one last note – we are just catching up on the photos of the flooding in Alberta. Our hearts and thoughts are with our fellow Albertans who are dealing with the aftermath. Stay strong, we’re sending you courage through the airwaves.

Read the next post: The “Hill” is Alive With the Sound of Music ->

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses a Chain

<- Read the previous post: Making our Way South

Day 43 June 19 Wednesday

Owen Sound to Orillia

Bob and Brian left us this morning, so it was hugs all around. I’m sure Bob was the most reluctant to see us go, as we had been carrying a lot of his gear for him the last few weeks, so he would now be travelling with a full load again. But he would be meeting up with his son in Ottawa in about a week, so that was spurring him on I’m sure. I think I’ll be going through Brob withdrawl for a few days.

The rest of the day did not go at all as planned.  I was up late last night, almost to midnight, trying to get my blog posted, but was having numerous technical difficulties. So I decided to work on it in the morning until I could get it posted, as it was long overdue because of bad internet connections and really long cycle days.

Just as I finished, and Al and I were getting ready to go, we got a call from Terry. He had gotten his chain jammed between the big back gear and his spokes. Although he got it out with 2 screwdrivers courtesy of the resident whose driveway he was stopped on, it bent his derailleur. We picked him up and then shuttled to Meaford, where Bill was as he kept cycling forward. After a few phone calls, and trying to find the new bike shop that was maybe supposed to be open in Meaford  (which we never did find), Al and Terry went back to Owen Sound, and Bill and I carried onward, stocked up with plenty of food and water. They took his bike to Jolley’s, in Owen Sound. Thanks to Shane for squeezing Terry’s bike in, and fixing his derailleur lickety-split.



Bill and I met up with a young cyclist, Iohan, who is planning to cycle across Canada in August. He was asking us all kinds of questions which were really well thought out and pertinent, so you could tell he was serious and knew what he was getting into. He was uber-fit and planning to do long distances each day– if anyone could do it, he could. He had had a crash just weeks earlier, where he broke his collarbone, and he was already out on his bike again. Iohan, we wish you lots of luck, and have fun!

We stopped to have lunch in Collingwood, the best mac and cheese I’ve had in a long time, and tried not get too far ahead of the RV. Terry and Al caught up with us in no time, and we were all on the road again.

We ran into some really bad roads with narrow, broken up shoulders, it was getting prepped for resurfacing, so I guess we were one summer too early.

We were greeted by Tom Carney, a friend of Cheryl Ann’s, out on the highway. I saw Bill pull over and shake his hand, but I was a bit confused and not sure who he was. He said something to me as I cycled past, but I didn’t quite catch what he was saying, so I missed talking to him personally, which is a shame. Thanks for stopping to welcome us Tom – what a neat surprise!

Bike flower power

Bike flower power

The next glitch we ran into was finding a quieter road to cycle into Orillia. Did you know that google maps are not the same between iPhones and Microsoft? Bill and I were getting different information, listing different roads and directions for the same route. We finally took our chances and went to see which route was correct – iphone won. It took us on a hilly residential street, and then a back road, the Old Barrie Hwy. It was again very beautiful and peaceful, so much better than the main highways.IMG_0484

On that road, both Terry and I fell over in the gravel taking pictures of each other. This coincidentally happened at the exact same time, so neither of us saw the other fall, and we were so busy checking to make sure no one saw our “klutz attack” that we didn’t realize the other had fallen too. That is, until we discussed it at the end of the day, and had a good laugh.

Tonight we got a very special treat in Orillia. Anne and Charlie Cole own and operate Cranberry B&B, fabulous lodging that Bill and Betty jo discovered when they attended the Mariposa Folk Festival years ago. They graciously provided accommodations for the night, and I was especially thrilled, as I got my own bathroom and bedroom, and even had my first bath, a bubble bath no less, in months!

Anne and Charlie

Anne and Charlie

What a treat!  They treated us royally.

They made excellent dinner recommendations to Brewery Bay pub, then we walked down to the marina for a look around, and then Charlie came and picked us up so we wouldn’t have to walk back. Amazing hospitality, we were spoiled rotten!

Marina in Orillia

Marina in Orillia

They even had wine and cookies waiting for us when we got home, but that bathtub was calling my name…….

See more photos from day 43

Day 44 June 20 Thursday

Orillia to Peterborough
Anne and Charlie were up at the crack of dawn to make us a hearty and wonderfully presented breakfast at 6:45 am. It was really hard for me to get out of the comfy bed, knowing I would not be getting back into it tonight.

We started out on Hwy 12, which Charlie warned us would be busy with gravel trucks and other work vehicles, and he was sooooo right. We had no shoulder again, and we were anxious to stay safe as they weren’t moving over very much, so we decided to take a detour. IMG_0496We ended up on County Road 8 – a more northern route – and went through Fenelon Falls, where we stopped for lunch.

Al's beard is so soft!

Al’s beard is so soft!

We had to take Al to the bus station for 6:00 pm, to catch a bus to Toronto, as he is leaving us for 5 days to attend a family wedding back in Edmonton.

Even though it’s just a few days til he’s back, we will sure miss him! I had to get a picture of his beard and “mop top” before he went, because I’m sure it will be long gone before he gets back.

We went for dinner at our trip favourite, Boston Pizza, who never fail to give us a discount in support of the ride. When we arrived In the parking lot, two gals, Jenna and Mary, ran over and asked us to sit with them for a while at a local coffee shop. They had googled the website on the van, and had just had a lecture today at school about suicide and mental health, as they are both taking Child and Youth Care at Sir Sandford Fleming College in Peterborough.

Mary and Jenna

Mary and Jenna

We had a great discussion about the importance of bringing awareness to these issues, and they had also had personal experiences with mental health challenges. We gave them a stack of bookmarks for their classmates and instructors. If they are representative of future youth workers, we’ll be in good hands.

After dinner, we checked out the locks in Peterborough, as they are a unique type that work on special hydraulics, one of only two of this type in Canada. We have seen all types of locks in many of the towns that we have passed through the last few days. Don’t see too many of those in Alberta, that’s for sure!

Just one of the locks we have seen

Just one of the locks we have seen

We got back to the RV site late, just enough time for a shower, and then off to bed. It’s almost the solstice, so we were in bed before the sun.

See more photos from day 44

Day 45 June 21 Friday

Peterborough to Madoc/Deseronto

Learning our lesson the days before, we took a country road first thing. It started out very hilly, I was worried it would continue, which would make for a hard, tiring day. Very shortly, we met John walking into Peterborough, as he is training to walk the Camino in Spain. If you have never heard of this “personal pilgrimage”, I suggest you look it up. After a good chat, he assured us that the steep hills were behind us. I’ll take hills and bumpy roads over no shoulders and near death traffic experiences any day.

This road was so beautiful, IMG_0504full of farms and acreages, and just lush. I had David Francey’s song about Peterborough County in my head all morning, and it was getting me primed for his concert coming tomorrow. We got to Hwy 7, the Trans Canada again, after about 32 km. We then had construction for 15 km – 13 km of it was prepped for resurfacing – which means it’s like a washboard and if there is anything loose on your bike, it will be gone in no time. The other 2 km was one lane traffic.

We’re finding as we get to more populated areas, the pace of life is picking up considerably, and it is most evident in the speed that the traffic moves. When your life consists of getting up and biking to your next location, you forget what a hurry everyone else is in, and the risks they are willing to take to save a few minutes. I wish I could say I won’t get sucked into that when I get home, but I know from experience that I’m easily pulled back to the dark side.

We got to our RV site west of Madoc, which we almost all missed because we thought it was east of Madoc. It was our shortest stay ever, because after emptying the black water tank, and having showers, we were shuttling to Deseronto for the concert. Doug Law, the MC for the evening and long time friend of Bill’s, invited us to park the RV at his place. So we packed up again and headed down the road, after ensuring Stephanie at the Quality RV Campground that we appreciated her hospitality too!

And speaking of RVs, we just got wonderful news from our friends at Fraser Way RV, who rented us “the Mothership” as we lovingly call it. They have generously allowed us to keep it at no extra cost until North Sydney, where we catch the ferry to Newfoundland, thus avoiding trying to find another support vehicle for the last few days in Nova Scotia. Mike Bowlen, Bill’s brother-in-law, has graciously agreed to accompany us from Halifax to the ferry, and drive the RV back to Halifax. Three cheers for all the businesses and wonderful people who continue to give us their full support!

We arrived in Deseronto to a warm welcome from Doug.

Doug and Bill

Doug and Bill

He showed us the venue for tonight – wait til you see the pictures – and then brought us to his home. He’s had a trying day, as his son is at the hospital with a high fever, and had a plumbing mishap this morning, but he was still smiling from ear to ear.

We’ll be pretty busy the next few days, as we have 3 concerts in 4 days. They make for long days, but they are also energizing, as we are enveloped in so much support and love from like-minded people. And of course there is the soulful music offered by all the wonderful artists. This is the whole reason we are here. In fact, as I write this, Doug and Bill are treating me to a private rehearsal/concert. How honoured I am to be a part of this – worth every aching muscle and steep hill, I assure you. I’ll report on the concerts as soon as I can in my next post.

See more photos from day 45

Read the next post: There’s no Friends like Old Friends ->

Making our Way South

<- Read the previous post: Sue’s in the Soo – and the boys are too!

I’d like to start with a pertinent quote that someone brought to my attention (thanks Carla!):

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”

~Ernest Hemingway

Day 39 June 15 Saturday

Sault Ste. Marie to Algoma Mills

We started early today, just after 7:30am, as the day was going to be long. It was overcast all day, but no rain, and the winds were either light or in our favour most of the day. We managed to cover about 160 kms by about 4:30pm.

We went through many cool towns today, and because it was Saturday, every town had something going on. In Bruce Mines it was a fishing derby, in Thessalon it was all sorts of garage sales and farmer’s markets, and in Blind River, they had dragon boat races and a festival. The downside to having long cycle days means you don’t really have time to stop and explore some of these little gems. So, three more towns to add to the list – check, check and check.

Not a sign you see everyday

Not a sign you see everyday


There are quite a few Mennonites (we think) in the area, so we saw carts/buggies on the shoulder of the highway, and horse drawn plows. There were lots of old, dilapidated, abandoned buildings that had a mysterious, spooky feel about them.

When we arrived at the Lake Lauzon Resort and Marine, we walked to a fish market to get something to make for dinner. The owner of the store was a real character, he kept telling us jokes and giving us specific instructions on how cook the fish, serve red wine, etc. Unfortunately, we didn’t feel we could bring up Hillary’s Ride, or we wouldn’t get out of there for another hour! But he did sell us some yummy rainbow trout, which we pan-fried for din-din. We then went to the fresh food market to get some veggies and buns.IMG_0413 It is so great to be able to support some local businesses – these smaller communities need them to succeed, to keep the area vibrant and prosperous, not just in the summer months.

After dinner, we took advantage of some of the amenities at the campsite – a sauna and hot tub. The sauna had us sweating inside, and then we went and had an outdoor hot tub, overlooking the lake. The mosquitoes unfortunately cut our soak short, but it was time to get to bed anyway, since we have another fairly substantial riding day tomorrow too.

See Al’s photos from day 39

Day 40 June 16 Sunday

Algoma Mills to Sheguiendah

We woke up to clouds, but no sign of rain, so that makes for a comfortable cycling day. You may have noticed that I haven’t spoke of the wind much lately, as I haven’t wanted to jinx us or tempt Mother Nature to give us more challenge. But I think it’s safe to say that while we are still experiencing some wind, it is nothing like the prairies, and we are feeling very fortunate indeed. We had a really good morning heading east towards Espanola. We were treated to a “buggy parade” as the Mennonite community was heading to church. It makes sense why beyond the paved shoulder is a wide gravel shoulder, as it is for the horses.

The only downside of the morning for me was that I got another flat – number three. I knew immediately, as I felt and heard a “ka-chunk” and then poof – I’m on my rim. It was a pinch flat. The RV was already ahead, so I radioed in to Al and let them know I would be a while. I found out later that this gave him plenty of time to photograph the multitude of flowers in the ditch, so I don’t feel so bad in holding up our progress. And Bob came along and helped me change it, so he turned out to be my knight in shining cycling gear. It is neon yellow, so he really was shining.

Hi from Sue and Inna

Hi from Sue and Inna

A work pal of mine asked to wave to her hometown of Elliott Lake as I passed the turn off, so here it is…..

Things changed a bit when we turned south at Espanola. The terrain changed to significantly more and higher hills, we got more of a headwind, and the temperature rose quickly so we were peeling off layers pretty quickly. Today was a 150 km day, and since yesterday was 160 km (310 km in 2 days – yikes!!), we didn’t have a lot of extra “oomph” left, but we kept going. We soon arrived at the swing bridge that marks the start of Little Current and Manitoulin Island, and some of our crew got to see it swing.

swing bridge

swing bridge

And once we got across, we ran into the 3 Victoria girls again, and celebrated with ice cream.

I must say that although we have been welcomed everywhere, Manitoulin Island really rolled out the red carpet.  IMG_0421First, there was the “Welcome Hillary’s Ride” sign at Batman’s Cottages and Campground, where we were staying the night. Lisa and Andre, the owners, gave us a premiere spot right on the beach and brought us firewood. We had an interview shortly after arriving with Mike from the Manitoulin Expositor. It was very interesting, the paper had done an award-winning article about thirty years ago on teen suicide within the first nations peoples on the island, who make up about 41% of the population. Mike said it got lots of attention and several programs were put in place. However, he commented that although progress has been made, more needs to be done, and so here we are spreading the word.

Mike interviewing us

Mike from the Manitoulin Expositor interviewing us

After the interview, we had a good chat with Lisa and Andre, as they have two daughters who will soon be teens., We discussed how difficult it can be to distinguish between the  “normal” trials and tribulations of being a teen, and when to intervene and get outside help. There is no easy answer.

As today was Father’s Day, and since we have a lot of fathers with us, we decided to go to Green Acres for dinner to celebrate both the occasion and hitting the 4000 km milestone today. When we went to pay, Barb the owner would not accept anything, as a donation to the ride.  And another customer in the restaurant also gave us a very generous donation. There is love and support everywhere, sometimes we don’t even need to ask and it appears anyway.

IMG_0427There was a severe storm/tornado warning for the area, so we went up to Ten Mile Point to view the storm in the distance as the sun was going down, and found the 3 girls camping. The storm missed us all, but we could see it passing by. All we had was wind to rock us asleep.

Storms brewing

Storms brewing

See more photos from day 40

Day 41 June 17 Monday

Sheguiendah to Tobermory

love the joke!!

love the joke!!

We needed to be up really early this morning, as we had 55 kms to get to the ferry terminal at South Baymouth by 10 am, with a big hill to do first thing, and not knowing for sure what the terrain would be like. It’s always difficult to rely on non-cyclists for information on hills, because we find either they aren’t aware of them, or they over-estimate them. We left at 7:00 am to be safe. The hill we were worried about really was nothing, it was a little long but had a nice gentle grade. No sweat! It was a quick ride to the ferry, so quick that we had time for breakfast at Earl’s place.



He makes his own pea meal bacon, and it was very tasty.

The ferry ride to Tobermory was smooth, but we stayed inside as it was very windy and pretty cold. The trip was under two hours, and we took the time to visit with the Victoria girls, who caught the same ferry.

When we disembarked, IMG_0445we were pleased to find there was not a big hill to climb as there usually is, and we were only a few kms to the RV site for the night, Tobermory Village Campground. It was a neat place, quite large with a pond, paddle boats, a pool and a petting zoo too! We discovered we had our own little zoo when we moved a picnic table, and found 2 baby bunnies hiding in the grass. The mom took off, but the little ones kept completely still.IMG_0456

The one great thing is that we immediately got our cell phone reception back when we got to Tobermory. There has been quite a bit of ribbing going back and forth between those using Telus vs Rogers, and who has the better connection. And because we all finally got reception back, we were able to see the hilarious and heart-warming video from back home that was posted on YouTube. Check it out if you want a giggle…

After doing laundry and getting set up, we went into Tobermory to look around, IMG_0461get groceries and have dinner. It’s a neat little town with lots of cool little shops and galleries, and gets lots of tourists as it is surrounded by our only underwater national park. There are lots of shipwrecks in the area, so it is a mecca for divers, so there are also lots of dive shops and glass bottom boats.

We ate at a lovely place with a roof top patio. It was almost like a day off, after finishing so early, we were pretty beat after two really long days and early mornings. As the sun went under the clouds, it cooled off quickly so I went back to the RV to warm up. I crawled under the covers in my bed…and I was out like a light for the rest of the night. Don’t ask me what everyone did after dinner – I was sawing logs!

See some of Al’s pictures from day 41

Day 42 June 18 Tuesday

Tobermory to Owen Sound

We headed inland up the Bruce Pennisula today to a blue sky and sunshine. The roads were quiet, and it was interesting to see the landscape change again from trees to farmland. We stopped at a farmer’s market and bakery to load up on bread and snacks. We went through Wiarton, home of Wiarton Willie, the famous groundhog. Don’t confuse him with Balzac Billy, his Albertan cousin. Wiarton was larger than I thought it would be, and had lots of older historic homes and brick buildings that have been restored. We stopped at the Tim Hortons, which is becoming a habit for us. It is not only a great place to eat, but it’s also an informal info centre. Today we found out that Hwy 6 was torn up with construction, and got a recommendation to take an alternate route, which turned out to be a quiet, peaceful and picturesque road going past acreages and small farms, that lead to the water of Owen Sound. Most of the water we’ve seen in the past few weeks has been dark and churned up, so to see a light blue hue seemed almost tropical.

We got in relatively early, about 2:30 pm, because it was a shorter day of about 115 kms. Funny, I never would have considered that a short day before this trip. IMG_0468Anyway, we spent the late afternoon walking around Owen Sound and enjoying the signs outlining its history and significance as a port for grain in the past. And I must be pretty lucky, as I got pooped on by a seagull (just my foot), and that’s supposed to be good luck – right?IMG_0470

At the RV site, I spoke with Nancy and Marilyn about the ride and our mission to stop the stigma. They were both nurses before they retired, one a psych nurse, so I was preaching to the choir so to speak.

Nancy , Evelyn and Tori the cat

Nancy , Evelyn and Tori the cat

We had a great feast when we returned of smokies, chili and corn on the cob, as it is Brian’s and Bob’s last night with us. Tomorrow, they head south, and we head east towards Orillia. We will certainly miss them, they feel like permanent fixtures of the team and I’m sure things will feel off for a while until we get used to being just 4 again. I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s morning goodbyes. But I know I will see them again, and it gives me and Patrick an excuse to go to Naniamo, and who even needs an excuse to go to the west coast??

See more pictures from day 42

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