Please... stop raining!!!!! (!!!!!!!!!!)
09.08.2008 -17 °C
Writing in this blog on a very expensive internet cafe in Fredericton, my favourite city visited last year during Otesha. Raining lightly this morning.. hopefully it will stop by the time we head out for Gagetown.
I think I last left off in Quebec city, where Mary Anne’s friend Benoit was taking very good care of us (ie, feeding us delicious food).
He accompanied us to the ferry that would take us to Levis, where thus began the day of chaos to St. Jean-Port-Joli. We realized we had left our “Route Verte” book (bike routes in Quebec) at our room in Laval, and I got another flat tire (my first during actual riding). We started biking at 9:30, but after all of our troubles and the ferry and the headwind and the rain, we ended up in St. Jean-Port-Joli at 8:00, our second-latest finish. We did, happily, pass through some ridiculously cute towns... very pretty with the mist across the river between the lowland and the laurentian mountains in the background, and darker clouds in behind.
From St. Jean Port Joli to Riviere du Loup we had the biggest headwind I think since the prairies, and it was COLD! A lot of putting my head down and realizing that my odometer was reading 11, 12, or 13 km/hr. It rained in the morning (surprise, surprise) but then only lightly misted and then even “cleared up” (well, was foggy and cloudy but stopped raining, blessedly). We met another tourer, Roland, who had also started off from Vancouver. He was from NB and we ended up biking with him for a bit, and then meeting another tourer from Japan who had started in Calgary, Masa. Masa must have had over 80 pounds of gear, including a GUITAR (if you can believe it!!!!) on his back that he had bought in Ottawa – so he could learn how to play on the road!! His plan was to travel into Gaspe, Halifax, New York, then Washington. Wow! We all ate a hearty lunch together and then kept on biking, the boys eventually pulling ahead. The rest of the afternoon was spent battling a wind so strong you couldn’t concentrate on anything else but PUSH PUSH PUSH PUSH. The fog obliterated any scenery along the Fleuve-St. Laurent beyond 200 m, so if you asked me if it was pretty, I wouldn’t really know!!
Fortunately, Roland told us that there was a little hostel in Riviere du Loup we could camp at, so we stopped there for the night, and visited with Roland again, three other bike tourers Roland had last seen in Manitoba – Jim, Mike, and Dieter, and Hetti – a very inspiring 63 year old woman travelling across Canada by bike for the second time!! Jim was telling us all sorts of stories about their trip and especially the bugs – “Well, I’m a Buddhist you know, so at first I was taking the mosquitoes out of the tent in a little plastic bag,” (this next part accompanied by puppy dog eyes looking out from long eyelashes and forlorn expression) “but then I thought, there are so MANY of them! And it was really starting to hurt! So I thought... I’m just moving them on to the next life, right???” hahaha, cute.
From Riviere-du-loup to Cabano : Now, I’m not sure if you were watching the news on August 3, but there were actually houses being evacuated and roads caving in because of the flooding, and guess what we were riding in??? That’s right... the rainstorm that created those flooding conditions. Ahhhhh. Rain, another headwind, huge hills (almost all uphill til 20 km before Cabano, thank goodness it was only a 70 km day), and a very sore back that just keeps getting sorer. We were working so hard we thought our brakes were rubbing for about an hour. We finally got to Cabano and booked ourselves into a very French speaking B and B, just disgusted with the weather. At the grocery store, we had a scare when we thought Mary Anne was having some serious bike issues (she couldn’t make the pedals move) until she realized that her glove was lodged into her derailleur. After we regained sanity and wiped off our tears of laughter, we spent a fun night in the B and B where our hosts built two fires to dry our tent and clothes, and we practised our French all night.
From Cabano to Edmunston – threatened rain all day and did sprinkle a tiny bit after lunch, but nothing major – thank goodness. We met up with Roland again on the road. He was motelling it that night (too cold and wet to tent, he said – and the campground we were planning to stay at that night agreed – they were completely flooded) – so we ended up splitting the cost of a room. Oh well, we’ve done lots of camping I can’t explain how wonderful it is to run into someone you know (if only even for 2 days) on the road – just an altogether great feeling. During the first part of the ride in Quebec, we had headwind but could see blue skies ahead. We didn’t get the blue skies til the next day, but pretty much as soon as we crossed into New Brunswick, the wind changed to a tailwind! “GOD’S COUNTRY!” proclaimed Roland, as he is originally from Moncton.
Edmundston to Perth Andover – AHHHHhhhhhhhh – sigh of relief. Sun, secondary highway, and the Fleuv-St. Jean. Thank you universe. Feels like our first sunny day in a long, long time – since before Quebec city. It was beautiful, and we met Roland again in St. Leanord, and said goodbye to him again in Grand Falls. Could not BELIEVE the amount of water rushing from the dam in Grand Falls – what a sight! Broiling, frothing water! We ate a delicious lunch on our most comfy picnic spot yet – the patio furniture in front of the Atlantic Superstore. We were surprised to make it halfway through lunch before getting kicked off by the manager who told us that a woman was coming to pick it up (she did!). Through all the hills to Perth Andover we laughed a lot and found stories we hadn’t told each other yet (getting more and more difficult, hahaha) – the shoulder was wide enough to ride side by side, so it was easy to chat. Mary Anne told me at dinner I’m like a comic book character because of all the wacko expressions I make. That night we were planning to camp – but – the manager of the campsite offered us his unused, clean trailer – yes please! We are lucky girls sometimes!
Perth Andover to Woodstock – Debatable secondary road – bumpy, and chased by 3 dogs off leash, more on their leashes. First dog experiences thus far, and we know from last year that it probably won’t be the last. You know that you are in the maritimes when you start to see lobster traps everywhere (mostly on top of cars so far) and every fifth house uses their front yard as a garage, trash dump, or metal and scrap yard. Yep, home at last.
Woodstock Rest Day – spent the day with Aunt Joni and uncle Dale, and Joni’s good friend Anna Marie. We always expect our rest days to be... more restful than they are, but always they seem rushed and full of stuff we “need” to do – Laundry, job searching/internet stuff, cleaning our bikes, ... etc. Too bad because it would have been nice to spend more time visiting with Joni, who I don’t get to see very often! We did have the most delicious breakfast made for us when we woke up (heaven!) and an amazing supper –roasted veggies and steak, mmmmm. Dale took us on a tour of his Christmas tree farm, and we got to see the huge multi-person trimming machine that they use. All the tree-trimmers (about 25 rough-looking guys our age) were eating lunch in huge trucks and giving us both big eyes (what, girls? Out here?) Dale razzed us for the rest of the day about how the guys had a tough time starting to work later on that day – they were eager for us to come back and watch them at work!!!
We went down to Joni’s cottage on a lake later on that day, cleaned our bikes (while it rained), and visited with everyone, including David and Hazel (my aunt and uncle) who had come up for the evening. We did get a little time to – breath – read – relax... but I can’t wait until we are back in Bridgewater and don’t have to hop on our bikes the next day and get somewhere. I’ll be glad to just... SIT!
Woodstock to Fredericton – 110 km of almost deserted highway, big shoulder, and smooth road. Mmmm. Rained off and on so much that I gave up on changing into and out of my jacket and just resolved to be wet. Lots more laughing on the road and while eating (“hey, Mary Anne, mind if I pop a few of those cherries?” ...pregnant pause.... “uhmmmm...” We tackled another big, long, steep hill – and I love the feeling of looking at those monsters and thinking, “yep. It’s big. And it’s not gonna be easy. But I can do it, and I will do it. With 55 pounds of gear, water, and food on my bike! Yeah!!”
And so now we are still fighting with these internet cafe computers in Fredericton, where they won’t even let us onto facebook, let alone add photos (sorry!!! Will add some when I’m at home hopefully!). Only 5 more days until we’re in Halifax, and we can say we’ve done it – WAHOO!