As I write this I am sitting in a Tim Hortons waiting for my coffee to cool off to the point where I can drink it. My bike leans against the outside of the window in front of me and over to my left hangs my tent fly and footprint drying in the morning sun. I do not think it rained last night, however the fog that I woke to was enough to pass as a light shower. All of my stuff was soaked. It is important for me to stick to routine and not get lazy. As much as I want to keep pushing on and take advantage of the low sun I must first take care of my gear and ensure that it dries out. Mold will start to grow and fast if things are left packed away damp. Mold is not good, I could get very sick from having moldy gear.
It is an interesting feeling to have entered NB yesterday evening. I have felt this province to be so close to my own my whole life and now more than ever it seems as though my house is just around the corner.
I separated from the remainder of the group so that I could sprint ahead to visit my friends and maybe some family in NB. Being alone I was able to cover a lot of ground and fast. The first day I cycled 140kms averaging a speed of 24kms/hours and yesterday I finished the day at 220kms! This is my record for the trip. I am proud to have accomplished it through such a difficult section and to know I sat on that seat for 10 hours is proof of my commitment. That seat is not comfortable and I’m sure if you looked at my ass you’d see the proof is in the pudding.
I am planning to rejoin with the others near the Nova Scotia border and from there we will either go to PEI or bike around the South Shores of Nova Scotia. Either choice will be relaxing and beautiful. I would look forward to visiting PEI as I have not been there in over 5 years. It is incredible how fast time can go by.
At this moment I sit 230kms away from Fredericton. If I can make it there by tonight I will have covered over 590kms in three days. I can feel my legs throbbing after what yesterday brought but I also can’t shake the feeling of having accomplished such a distance. I will sit and drink this coffee a little longer, make some oatmeal and then start biking. If it feels right I’ll gun it for the big city and if it doesn’t then I’ll cycle along at a slower pace, no destination set.
It will be a weird day, the one when this trip comes to an official end. Being in such close proximity to Halifax even though I am not scheduled to arrive until the 21st or 22nd I can’t help but think what will be next. I have been considering taking a couple of weeks to relax in Halifax, attend my cousins wedding and then head out on another adventure, mid way into September.
Two weeks was all it took for me to fall in love with Newfoundland. Two years ago I went over to the island for the first time. I had lived so close to this place but yet I knew absolutely nothing of it. I had been participating in an archery tournament in Cape Breton with my Pup. We were staying at my aunts girlfriends cottage for the weekend and on Friday night we got a little rowdy. Kim, my aunts girlfriend (Fiancée now) is originally from the beautiful island and it takes no time at all to know it. Tough as nails but kind as pie, Kim has always been such a hoot in all the time that I’ve known her. Her and Ann (my aunt) were planning to head over to Newfoundland for a two week trip the following morning. It took a few beers, a couple of strong drinks and dancing several jigs to the point of falling over and I was now removed from the archery tournament and on board for the Newfoundland adventure.
Even at a younger age I liked my decisions to be made last minute.
The next day we drove up the coast to the ferry and boated six hours across the water to Port Aux Basques. That night we stayed at a hotel and the following morning we drove 9 hours straight over to St. John’s. It was one of the most beautiful but least comfortable drives I’ll probably ever have. Three summers later and I still remember the physical feeling of sitting in the back seat of that two door cavalier and the emotional feeling of going on my first major road trip, face glued to the window taking everything outside of it in.
Well we were over there we stayed in St John’s for a week and spent a week in the small port community that Kim grew up in. We were hosted by Kim’s two amazing parents and I was shown my first taste of Newfoundland hospitality. While on the Island I attended George Street Festival, went whale (bird) watching on a chartered tour, was screeched in, visited the old forts, climbed a mountain, ate at a place called Chesters (newfoundland poutine), actually went whale watching by sitting on the shore of a small beach, looked at a big rock and attended a community dance with live music and a BYOB policy. The highlights of the trip took place in the small port.
I have to say that after traveling the country I get a sense that Canada has placed a stereotype over the Island that does not truly suit it. The word Newfy is thrown around so much and is easily interpreted as Goofy to most. I think this is unfair to the people of Newfoundland. I can see how the name came about though. We fear things we do not know. A Newfoundlander for instance; usually loves to have a few drinks and get together as a community, hospitality that knows no end, morals and principals that cannot be broken, an ability to always be there to lend a hand to a neighbor or a stranger, a work ethic you can not match, and an accent that can be difficult to decipher. To the general mass of society and with help through different forms of media we know them as “Newfies”, who talk funny, act different and (to those who do not know morals and proper hospitality to others) naïve.
I went to this foreign place with an open mind and came back with a wealth of knowledge. Taught through experience and people. This was my first taste of alternative learning. In two weeks I was able to form my own opinion about this island and afterward I was driven to research and find out all I could about the history of the people and the hardships they faced. I have read of the troubles brought on by Smallwood and I can appreciate the struggle for a voice over the past 50 years accompanied by the Islands strong sense of independence and community. If I have learned anything in my life it is the importance of community. Looking out for one another, working with and helping out your neighbor and enjoying the time you have well you have it. All of the generations of today and tomorrow speak of needing community and sometimes act as if it has died. It is my opinion that communities still thrive, you just have to skip across the water and go see them.
My most influential teachers through this experience were Kims parents. Showing me the hidden secrets of the cove and reminding me what it means to be kind and be a part of a community. These lessons have been with me ever since and it feels like the right time to go over and get a fresh lesson. I look forward to seeing their faces and I hope to get the chance to help them out in some way, mirroring the endless kindness I was shown three years ago.