Archive for Newfoundland

St. John’s

Day 151: September 12 – St. John’s

Today I walked the 4.5km from my hotel to the downtown core and spent some time at the main square reading on the historical significance of the fishing industry in Newfoundland, the events that have taken place in the past at the square in St. John’s, the devastating fires they have had in the past (the last one that burned a large part of the city was in 1892) and their beloved dogs the Newfoundland dog and Labrador.

Rennie's Mill Road Historic District - some of the more prominent houses built after the fire of 1846

Rennie’s Mill Road Historic District – some of the more prominent houses built after the fire of 1846

Same area

Same area

What St. John's is known for - the 'jelly bean' houses (named after the colourful houses)

What St. John’s is known for – the ‘jelly bean’ houses (named after the colourful houses)

These bright colors were quite common on the houses in St. John's

These bright colors were quite common on the houses in St. John’s

Another example of the jelly bean houses

Another example of the jelly bean houses

St. John's harbour

St. John’s harbour

Statue at the main square in St. John's

Statue at the main square in St. John’s

Another harbour shot

Another harbour shot

Dash standing with statues of the Labrador and

Dash standing with statues of the Labrador and Newfoundland dog

Signal hill in St. John's

Signal hill in St. John’s

St. John's has a busy harbour

St. John’s has a busy harbour

Downtown street in St. John's

Downtown street in St. John’s

After learning more about the city and province I headed to a bike shop that I had called earlier in the morning to pick up a bike box.  I was pretty relieved that they had bike boxes available so had absolutely no problem paying the $10 they charged.  I then drudged the 5km from the bike shop to my hotel carrying an empty cardboard box while Dash occasionally getting tired of trying to dodge me and the bike box would dig her heels in and refuse to walk.  It’s odd how heavy an empty cardboard and a 10lb dog can begin to feel like 50lb!

Where I picked up a bike box

Where I picked up a bike box

Getting back to the hotel I had a quick shower, short nap and then called a cab to head back downtown to meet Emilie for dinner and a drink at the Yellow Brewery.  While in the cab I commented how I liked all the colorful buildings he told me that back in the 70’s the city found that it was too drab and dreary so they thought they would cheer things up by revitalizing the city with color.  He also mentioned that they keep building the homes in wood so that they can burn down in a great fire every 100 years or so (his words, not mine!).

After dinner and a couple pints, Emilie and I headed to Christians on George St. to register for being screeched in.  Christians was recommended to us from our waitress at the Yellow Brewery.  The screeching in process wasn’t going to start until 11:30, so we had a few drinks at the bar while we got to know Mike the bartender.  Just before 11:30 Mike gave Emilie and I a heads up that we were not well positioned for a good view of the screeching in process.  He told us which area of the bar we should go to and gave us the queue of when to go.  It’s good to get to know the bartender!  Our screeching in process was about 30min long and was led by a man dressed in fishing gear with a paddle (actually, I watched The Amazing Race Canada the other day when they were in St. John’s and I’m almost positive that the guy I was screeched in by was the same guy who screeched in the Amazing Race Canada contestants.  Once I get the pictures updated you can judge for yourself!).  After kissing the cod and drinking the shot of screech we were all given very official certificates.  By about 1am I had to tap out so I hailed a cab and headed back to the hotel were I immediately fell asleep.

George St. - LOTS of bars and pubs!

George St. – LOTS of bars and pubs!

The guy who screeched us in

The guy who screeched us in

Telling us a story

Telling us a story

Kissing the cod

Kissing the cod

Officially screeched in and an honorary newfie!

Officially screeched in and an honorary newfie!

 

Day 152: September 13 – St. John’s

After an incredibly slow morning I eventually dragged myself out of the hotel and walked the 5km to Signal Hill.  The views from here are phenomenal!  I’ll post pictures eventually – I promise!  I spent about an hour walking some of the trails at Signal Hill and some time just hanging out and staring at the Atlantic.  Still hard to believe how far I have travelled on my bike this summer!

Halfway up signal hill

Halfway up signal hill

St. John's harbour

St. John’s harbour

St. John's

St. John’s

The Atlantic Ocean!!

Part way up signal hill

St. John's harbour

St. John’s harbour

The castle on signal hill

That spec is the castle on signal hill

Some info on the fires in St. John's

Some info on the fires in St. John’s

Another pic of St. John's harbour

Another pic of St. John’s and the harbour

Canons along signal hill

Canons along signal hill

Pond part way up signal hill

Pond part way up signal hill

Castle on signal hill - no longer a spec!

Castle on signal hill – no longer a spec!

The Atlantic Ocean!!!

The Atlantic Ocean!!!

Dash taking a look around

Dash taking a look around at the top of signal hill

Dash and I enjoying the ocean view at Signal Hill - don't mind my hair - it was WINDY!

Dash and I enjoying the ocean view at Signal Hill – don’t mind my hair – it was WINDY!

When I got back to the hotel I spent a couple hours dis-assembling my bike and packing it, as well as any other gear I could fit, into the bike box.  I then used a good half a roll of duct tape to ensure the box would remain closed on the flight.

Packing of my bike and gear

Packing of my bike and gear

One secured via duct tape bike box!

One secured via duct tape bike box!

 

Day 153: September 14 – St. John’s to Toronto

Shortly after 10am the pet friendly van cab showed up at my hotel to take me to the airport.  The cab driver was super friendly as he flipped all the seats down to fit the bike box in.  When we got to the airport he even hauled the bike box into the airport for me!  The rest of the check in process was pretty smooth.  Dash barked a couple times, but for the most part was well behaved. All of the staff at the airport were quite helpful in making sure all my gear made it where it needed to go and a couple people requested that I take Dash out of her carrier just because they wanted to see her.

Turns out I wasn’t the only person travelling with a dog on this flight, there was another dog in the row right behind me.  I was a bit surprised that they would put the dogs so close together, especially when the other dog would give a little bark and Dash would respond with her not so quiet bark.  Fortunately both dogs settled down relatively quickly and we had a smooth flight.

At the airport in Toronto I was greeted by Marijana who gave me a ride back to my condo.  After getting all my gear into the condo we went out for Burrito Boyz.  I am home again.

Anybody wanna go for a bike ride???

I’m here, I made it!!

Day 148: September 9 – Sydney to North Sydney

Daily Distance = 22.58km, Trip Total = 5,865.41km

I woke up at a reasonable hour, had breakfast, dropped off the rental car and packed up.  Packing is much quicker without all the camping gear!  I had a short jaunt from Sydney to North Sydney, for the most part taking rte 305 (except a quick detour on to hwy 125 where a bridge on rte 305 was under construction).  There was a decent cross wind today and I am already noticing the difference of not having my front panniers on the bike from the perspective of less weight (climbing hills has become easier) and the wind resistance (I’m not being buffeted by the wind as much as I was before and now have better control of the bike).  Note to self – for the next adventure, try to avoid using front panniers if possible.

Looking back on Sydney

Looking back on Sydney

The quiet road between Sydney and North Sydney

The quiet road between Sydney and North Sydney

En route between Sydney and North Sydney

En route between Sydney and North Sydney

Getting closer to North Sydney and I think that might be the tail end of my ship!

Getting closer to North Sydney and I think that might be the tail end of my ship!

I made it into North Sydney shortly after noon so I decided to walk the last couple of kilometres and give Dash a chance to stretch her legs before the long ferry crossing.  At the local Tim Horton’s I changed from my cycling clothes to my everyday clothes and re-arranged my gear so I had what I would need for the ferry ride.  Shortly after 1pm I rolled up to the ferry and began the process of waiting.  I didn’t actually have to be at the ferry ’till 3pm for a 5pm departure, so in hindsight I should have hung out in town until 3pm and then headed over.  I was expecting that I could check in, leave my bike and gear somewhere safe in the ferry terminal and then stroll around town handsfree but that wasn’t the case.  As I was the only cyclist in line I had a fair amount of people drop by and ask about my trip or come over and want to say hi to Dash so the time passed relatively quickly.

The ferry from North Sydney to Argentia

The ferry from North Sydney to Argentia

Shortly after 4pm we began loading the ferry and I got to roll on first in line with the motorcyclists.  I quickly went to work fastening my bike to a rail with some rope and then taking Dash up to the 10th deck where I had reserved a kennel space for her.

I spent the first hour of our ferry ride watching as we pulled away from land.  It takes a while to pass by the Cape Breton Mountains along the cabot trail, so it was a nice view to watch float past.  After about an hour of this, I headed down to the 7th deck for the buffet dinner.  Given I didn’t have lunch today, I was starving!  After dinner I headed back outside to watch the sunset over the water.  By now I feel like I know half the people on the ship through conversations started around Dash or over my bike trip so there was no shortage of company!  After the sun had fully set I headed into the brightly color chaired lounge area and joined a group of folks around my age (given most kids are back in school the ferry had mostly adults and was not by any measure full – I’m sure in the summer months it is a different environment).  We spent the next several hours chatting and playing cards.  Emilie is from Quebec and heading to St. John’s for a year to teach french.  Bruce and Jason are friends who grew up in Newfoundland, so they were giving Emilie and I advice on things to do and see.  Around midnight we did a quick check on our dogs and then headed to the movie theatre where we each claimed our own row of seats to sleep.  There are cabins available for rent on the ship, but at $170 + tax I had previously decided to forego this luxury (that $$ was better spent changing two previous camping nights into hotel nights!).

Pulling away from North Sydney

Pulling away from North Sydney

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North Sydney

North Sydney

 

Trail left in the water from the ferry

Trail left in the water from the ferry

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Excuse my hair - it was windy!

Excuse my hair – it was windy!

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Passing by the mountains along the Cabot Trail

Passing by the mountains along the Cabot Trail

Sun is about to set

Thoroughly enjoyed watching the changing colour of the sky at sea

This bird was enjoying the view too I think!

This bird was enjoying the view too I think!

Sun is getting ready to set

Sun is getting ready to set

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Sun is now set

Sun is now set

The lounge area where we played cards most of the night

The lounge area where we played cards most of the night

My sleeping quarters for the night on the ferry

My sleeping quarters for the night on the ferry

And Dash's sleeping quarters (the little brown kennel at the bottom)

And Dash’s sleeping quarters (the little brown kennel at the bottom)

 

Day 149: September 10 – Argentia to Holyrood

Daily Distance = 88.26km, Trip Total = 5,953.67km

I woke up around 8:30am proving yet again that after a summer of cycling I can sleep quite comfortably just about anywhere!  After calming my original panic that the boat had already docked and I was the only one left on the ship, I was both relieved and disappointed to find out that we wouldn’t be docking until 10am.  I had thought that the crossing was around 14-16hrs, so expected to be docking sometime between 7 and 9am (I guess 7:30 and 9:30 with the 1/2hr time change).  On the other hand, this gave me just the perfect amount of time to check on Dash, eat (buffet style breakfast) and then go out on deck to watch as we ported in Argentia.

My first glimpse of Newfoundland from the ferry

My first glimpse of Newfoundland from the ferry

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Some boats at dock in Argentia

Some boats at dock in Argentia

I had been hearing recently that Newfoundland hilly.  The first sightings from the ferry seemed to support this observation.

I had been hearing recently that Newfoundland hilly. The first sightings from the ferry seemed to support this observation.

From a town perspective there doesn’t seem to be much in Argentia.  It sounds like much of the original town was required to relocate in 1940 when this particular area of land was leased to the US and made into a US naval base.

Some info about the history of a military background in Newfoundland

Some info about the history of a military background in Newfoundland

After gathering Dash from the kennel I headed down to my bike and was I happy that I had roped it up, because it had a pretty good lean on and would have fallen if not for the rope.  Once I got off the ferry I pulled over on the side of the road near the ‘welcome to Newfoundland and Labrador’ sign to re-arrange my stuff and let Dash walk around a bit.  I was hoping for a washroom facility to change, but didn’t see one in the area we disembarked.  So I simply waited for all the ferry traffic to clear and did a very quick roadside change.  It was close to 11am by the time I was on the road.

My final province!!!

My final province!!!

Getting past the now-closed naval base, the scenery is quite spectacular with very jagged hills jutting up from the land with trees, rocks, ponds and streams everywhere you look.  I was gawking at the scenery so much I almost missed the visitor centre a few kilometres up the road.  This would have been a much better place to change, but at the very least I could use the washroom facilities.

The hill that greeted me off the ferry in Argentia

The hill that greeted me off the ferry in Argentia

And the view from the top of the hill

And the view from the top of the hill

Back on the road I really couldn’t stop looking around.  Thankfully there is a shoulder on rte 100 and relatively little traffic, so plenty of opportunity to soak in the views.  For the first 5km or so I had a pretty wicked cross wind, but as the road bent and started heading NE I had a ridiculous tailwind!  I think mother nature was giving me a bit of a break after the torture she put me through this spring in the prairies!!  The next 40km sailed by.  It was hilly but I barely felt it and all because of the wind.  There were times that I was in my granny gears pushing up a hill when a gust of wind would catch me and make my pedalling useless for a couple seconds.  So when climbing my only goal was to make sure I maintained forward momentum in between wind gusts.  On flats and downhills I simply had to keep the bike upright.  Now THIS is what all biking should be! :)

Along route 100

Along route 100

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This is near a small town called Dunville

This is near a small town called Dunville

Dunville

Dunville

Looking down the river near Dunville

Looking down the river near Dunville

Continuing along route 100

Continuing along route 100

I was slightly disappointed to see no moose in Newfoundland

I was slightly disappointed to see no moose in Newfoundland

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The scenery at the top of the climb along route 100

The scenery at the top of the climb along route 100

P1050130P1050131Around the 45km mark I met up with the Trans Canada Hwy 1 and my direction changed to East for about 10km and then SE for about 20km, meaning I had a bit of a crosswind.  This stretch brought me back to reality as I had to once again work for the kilometres, but I was still happy it wasn’t a headwind and extra happy I had ditched the extra gear in Sydney.  Just before 80km I had reached the rte 90 turnoff which was a quieter road and headed NE into Holyrood.  Holyrood is a cute little town located at the bottom of conception bay and is apparently known for the large cross that is on top of George Cove mountain (I can’t speak to how well known the cross is, but it certainly is visible).

Trans Canada Highway 1 we meet again, after a couple months apart since the prairies!

Trans Canada Highway 1 we meet again, after a couple months apart since the prairies!

Along TransCanada Hwy 1 - I wasn't done with the hills for the day

Along TransCanada Hwy 1 – I wasn’t done with the hills for the day

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Most provinces have exits for towns.  Newfoundland has exits for ponds.

Most provinces have exits for towns. Newfoundland has exits for ponds.

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The cross on top of George Grove mountain in Holyrood

The cross on top of George Cove mountain in Holyrood

Boardwalk in Holyrood

Boardwalk in Holyrood

Looking out on conception bay from Holyrood

Looking out on conception bay from Holyrood

I arrived at my destination around 5pm, which in large part was due to the wind, I was pretty happy because of the mileage and late start I was worried it was going to be a late night.  After getting settled into the basement apartment (I was living large with a separate living area, kitchen area, bedroom area and bathroom), I headed down the road about a km to pick up some food for breakfast (egg salad sandwich and an apple).  Then I cooked up dinner – my last dehydrated meal for this trip and was in bed by 10pm.

Day 150: September 11 – Holyrood to St. John’s

Daily Distance = 48.59km, Trip Total = 6,002.26km

After my egg salad sandwich and apple I packed up my bike and trailer and headed outside.  For the first time on this entire trip Dash did NOT bound after me when she saw me take the bike and trailer outside.  In fact, she was buried under the covers in the bedroom pretty much as far away from the bike as she could possibly be.  Even when I called her she didn’t come, I had to go find her and physically carry her out to the trailer.  After 5 months on the road I think she is ready to get back home!  To be honest – I’m looking forward to coming home too, but I also still have a day’s ride ahead of me and I am looking forward to a couple days of exploring St. John’s.

I was on the road by about 10 eager to both savour my last day’s ride and also get to the destination I have slowly been inching and crawling to for so many months!  Most of the day was spent on rte 60 which heads NE along the bay and then east towards St. John’s.  I was expecting this to be a relatively quiet country road, but the area is dotted with houses and little towns along the way, so it was actually busier than I anticipated.  I really expected traffic to get lighter when we reached the area where Hwy 2 starts, this I would assume is a quicker way into the city, however I didn’t really notice any decrease in traffic.  Eventually the road did become two lanes in each direction which relaxed the ride for me as vehicles had another lane to move over to in order to get around me.

Overlooking conception bay

Conception Bay

A creek along the way

A creek along the way

Conception Bay

Conception Bay

Today’s terrain continued to be hilly and the wind was not nearly as strong as yesterday, so it was my own leg power that was getting me up and over the hills today.  Heading into the St. John’s city limits I stopped to take a picture of the sign.  I haven’t taken pictures of many of the city or town signs along the way (kept it more to the province crossings), but this one seemed monumental even though it was a basic green and white sign.

My last glimpse of Conception Bay, onwards and upwards to the Atlantic!!

My last glimpse of Conception Bay, onwards and upwards to the Atlantic!!

I don't know the story behind  why Mount Pearl is dysfunctional, just thought the sign was funny

I don’t know the story behind why Mount Pearl is dysfunctional, just thought the sign was funny

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St. John's!

St. John’s!

After taking the picture I continued on my hilly way to 1 water street.  This is the very spot that Terry Fox dipped his leg in the atlantic and started his cross Canada trek in 1980.  There is a monument here with a larger than life statue of Terry with one of his quotes inscribed “I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made if people try”.  There is also a Mile Zero plague.  It’s official, with some modifications, I have self propelled myself just over 6,000km from the mile zero sign on the pacific coast to the mile zero sign on the atlantic coast.  I’VE BIKED ACROSS CANADA!  I’m not as eloquent as Terry, so my thoughts at this moment are more along the lines of: “holy crap, I made it!  I actually made it!  This is freakin AWESOME!!!”  I was quickly brought back to reality when a trio of folks came by and told me to ‘move your bike ‘cuz it’s in the way of our picture’.  Not exactly the greeting I was hoping for.  I moved my bike, they took their picture and continued on their way.  A few minutes later two ladies came by and curious about my bike asked where I was headed to or where I came from.  After I explained the trip they congratulated me and said we need to do something to celebrate.  I asked if they could take my picture which they kindly did (on my camera and theirs).  They are from Vancouver and on a 17 day cruise that started in Europe, went to Greenland and are now on the finishing stretches in Canada.  It sounds like they had a couple rough days at seas but they shrugged if off saying what can you expect on the north atlantic ocean.  Much happier travellers than the trio that had just dropped by!

The fenced off Atlantic ocean at the Terry Fox monument in St. John's

The fenced off Atlantic ocean at the Terry Fox monument in St. John’s

"I just wish people would realize

“I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made if people try”

The moment I've been dreaming of and partly not sure that I was going to make!

The moment I’ve been dreaming of and partly not sure that I was going to make!

The Mile 0 Terry Fox monument in St. John's

The Mile 0 Terry Fox monument in St. John’s

And proof that Dash and I were there!

And proof that Dash and I were there!

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Looking out from the monument

Looking out from the monument

I'm here, I made it!!!

I’m here, I made it!!!

IMG_0383I spent about an hour at this monument simply soaking the moment in.  I did snap a quick picture on my iphone and emailed it to my family – partly as evidence, but more so to share the experience.  Unfortunately access to the Atlantic is fenced off in this entire area, so I wasn’t able to dip my tire in the Atlantic as I had on the Pacific.  At some point in that hour it sprinkled for a few minutes, seemed fitting to have a little bit of rain on my last ride day in the maritimes!

Eventually I pulled myself away from the monument and set my sights on the hotel about 4km away.  As I started pushing my bike up the hill just a couple hundred metres from mile zero a car pulled over and who should step out?  Emilie from the ferry!!  She was driving around getting herself oriented with her new home town when she saw Dash’s green trailer and had to pull over to say hi.  We chatted for a bit and then headed our separate ways.

I arrived at the hotel around 3:30pm and had a very mellow afternoon of doing nothing.

I’m here, I made it!!

Tan lines

Tan lines

The legs that self propelled me, Dash and over 100 lbs of gear over 6,000km

The legs that self propelled me, Dash and over 100 lbs of gear over 6,000km :)

 

Thank You:

Now I owe a whole whack of thank you’s as this trip would not have been as smooth or successful if it was all left up to just my devices:

1) To my friends and family – for your complete and unending support and encouragement.  Your emails, texts, calls, comments on facebook and the blog have been with me for every single pedal stroke across this country – I know it might have looked like I was alone on the road, but I really wasn’t because I knew everybody back home was supporting me.  I can’t thank you enough for this.  Also – thank you for letting me talk and ramble endlessly for the past several months about nothing other than cycling!

2) To all those who waved, honked, fist pumped or gave a thumbs up as they past me on the road – every time a smile would come across my face, I would remember how lucky I am to spend my summer doing something I enjoy and it would make my legs pedal just that tiny bit faster.

3) To those I have had the opportunity to stop and chat with for a bit – your enthusiasm over this trip and/or Dash, your thoughts and wishes, your helpful pieces of advice about the road ahead or things to check out in the area and meals or rides offered were always appreciated (even if not always taken).  The kindness and thoughtfulness of the people I have met along the way has been incredibly refreshing.

4) To the land of Canada – part of this experience for me was not just to say I’ve biked across Canada but also to see and explore this great country I was born and raised in.  From the mountains, lakes, prairie grasses, rivers and forests the scenery has made for an amazing summer playground.  I feel as tho the topography of this land will be forever etched in my brain now that I have had the chance to travel across the majority of the country using nothing but a bike, my own legs and a lot of sweat, blood and tears (minus the blood and tears, but I made up for those with sweat!).

5) To my bike and trailer – for not having any breakdowns that I (or duct tape) couldn’t fix.

6) To Dash – for providing me a companion on this journey.  It was pure selfishness that made me want to bring her along and she has handled the journey far better than I could ever imagine or have asked for.

7) To the wildlife – it was great seeing you along the way (moose, bald eagles, whales, wolf, elk, etc), it was even better not being attacked by any of you!

8) To fellow cross Canada tourers, the ones I had the chance to meet on the road and the ones I only read of through blogs or heard of through the locals – you gave me tidbits on the terrain and road conditions ahead, a sense of calm knowing that I wasn’t the only one struggling with prairie winds and comfort knowing that I wasn’t the only one crazy enough to tackle such a journey!  In particular I found the following site www.bikingacrosscanada.ca a useful resource as it has links to blogs of other cross canada tourers.