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Michelle's Journal


Day Date Entry
87 Mon, Sept 27 We originally intended to take the Port aux Basques ferry and cycle across Newfoundland. However, we enjoyed P.E.I. and lingered there, and time is limited before our flight to Toronto on the 30th, so we're taking the last boat of the season to Argentia. Our 6 a.m. Smallwood ferry departure was delayed until 9, and our 8 p.m. arrival was delayed until midnight, so it was a very long day. We enjoyed it.

On the ferry, they showed about a dozen movies; I watched two. We read and explored the boat. We were impressed by the ongoing baking of cookies, muffins and pies. I've never seen the moon shine so brightly. In Newfoundland, after a long wait to get off the boat and a short ride in the dark, we pitched our tent at a tourist information centre just after 1 a.m.

88 Tue, Sept 28

Placentia has charming small town features

Our final cycling day was our longest pedaling day at 8:12 hours. We spent part of the day on a gravel road with multi-colored rocks beneath us and no cars. In a way, it's more interesting than riding a paved road, particularly going downhill, as you're constantly making route decisions and you immediately feel the consequences of your choices. Eventually we got back on the paved highways, some of which were extremely busy with a lot of traffic. We arrived at St. John's in the dark. This city has very steep hills. Hotels were all booked up, so we ended up in the only room available, a $150 suite at the Battery Hotel with 1970s decor, a loud rattling vent, a light with no bulb and bathtub mold.

89 Wed, Sept 29 A rest day exploring St. John's. The city is larger than we anticipated. There are at least 70 pubs, featured on a poster, but we had a very hard time finding a breakfast restaurant. We eventually ate bacon and eggs in a convenience store next to frozen foods and a vacuum cleaner. I was impressed by the Newfoundland Museum. Its display of 1952 cod fishing photos gave me a much clearer idea of what was involved.

At a CD shop, the guy in charge said another cross-Canada cyclist with a beard and a name starting with "B" was in the shop the same day. I showed him a photo of Ben on this Web site, and he confirmed it was Ben!

Colourful St. John's houses
90 Thu, Sept 30 We dipped our wheels in the Atlantic Ocean at St. John's Harbour. The harbour policeman who took our photos said the spot we'd chosen was the exact same spot where Terry Fox began his 1980 marathon! Indeed, there was a small plaque to that effect.

We rode up the steep hills to Bill's Cycle Shop and enjoyed a chat with the owner, Bill Strickland, who has run the business for 34 years and is very involved with hockey. Todd Strickland of the Maple Leafs is his son. He boxed our bikes and delivered them for a good price. The taxi driver who took us with our bikes to the airport said his fare just before us was Ben with his bike! At the airport I found Ben, and it was great to catch up. He did about 9,500K including one 300K day, and riding across Newfoundland, the weather was so severe that he thought he was going to die. He rode hard, took long breaks and visited many pubs.

Bill, me and Ben

After Ben's WestJet plane left for Toronto, Air Canada cancelled our Toronto flight because of mechanical problems. They announced we would all fly on a replacement plane the next morning, and they put us up at the Airport Hotel with a supper allowance. In my seafood platter of scallops, shrimp, cod and salmon, the tastiest part was the cod tongues!

Canada has many trees. Thanks to the dogs that didn't bark and run out on the highway when we went by. A valuable part of this trip happened on levels beyond what's recorded in this journal. Consider leaving home to spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week with your new spouse in unfamiliar environments for three months. It's like a reality TV show without the cameras. Add the stress of physical exertion, different fitness levels and cycling speeds, spending money while not making any, and two strong personalities each with a lifetime of experience doing things your own way, learning to find your way together toward a common goal. Most married couples would not and could not do it. To understand the kinds of challenges encountered and overcome, you would have to undertake this kind of a trip. Highly recommended.

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