Day 65 – Aug 11th -Baddeck to North Sydney – 73 kms
Well I made it for the Sidney to (North) Sydney portion of my trek, now I just have to reach the most easternmost city in Canada, and North America – St. Johns, Newfoundland. And visit the most easternmost point in North America – Cape Spear. Tomorrow morning I’ll be on the ferry pursuing just those quests.
Today’s ride was really spectacular; one of the better days on the road, for sure. The weather stayed mild throughout the night and continued with bright sunshine during the day and warm temperatures.
Much of today’s ride was at waterside or with some great water views. So much of the scenery that I rode by today reminded me of BC (Basil had a little homesick tear in his eye, I think!), especially the 7 km climb up Kelly’s Mountain. But the view from the top and the descent were well worth the climb. I actually enjoyed climbing the continuous grade rather than some of the never-ending rollercoaster roads that I have had to ride. I also had to cross the large Seal Island Bridge across the Bras d’Or Lakes after the descent from mountain. By the way, I forgot to mention yesterday, that the Bras d’Or Lakes are nicknamed “Canada’s Inland Sea,” as they are actually salt water lakes.
Baddeck was certainly worth a visit yesterday afternoon. It’s a village, but it’s bigger than a lot of the towns that I have passed through. Definitely a touristy/trendy place, but very enjoyable to visit. The Alexander Graham Bell museum was cool too, it’s actually a National Historic Site maintained by the Federal Government.
I’m in a motel tonight a few klicks south of the ferry terminal, as I have to at the ferry terminal by 5:00 a.m. I hope that Basil wakes me up in time! I’ll be on that ferry for 14 hours so no (serious) riding until Tuesday. Before I rode to the motel, I just had to dip my wheel in the Atlantic Ocean, as this was my original destination until I added on the “side trip” to Newfoundland.
Day 66 – Aug 12th – Ferry Sailing, North Sydney to Argentia, Newfoundland
(18 kms Riding to and from Ferry)
Day 67 – Aug 13th -Dunville to St John’s – 130 kms
Welcome to Newfoundland and Labrador (the official name of this Province). Dunville is 12 kms from the Argentia ferry terminal where I arrived last night. The 12 klicks in the dark last night from the ferry to the motel were quite hairy – to say the least!
The ferry trip yesterday to Argentia was very smooth – the North Atlantic was calm and the skies were sunny. A long sailing at 14 hours, plus the waiting time at beginning and end made for a long day. Lots to do on the ferry though, movies, eat, drink, eat, read, eat, live entertainment and then eat some more! Not much to view along the way until we sailed nearer to Newfoundland. Actually, the first land we spied were the French islands of St. Pierre & Miquelon. All in all, a nice way to have a forced rest day, and Basil didn’t even have to use his barf bag! During the crossing we saw a whale and I think a shark, but it was hard to tell. The whale was hard to catch, as just as I spotted the blow, the tail seemed to be disappearing beneath the waves – neat to see though.
Well I made it all the way here – I’m elated – it’s still hard for me to take it all in, probably because I still have to go back to Halifax to return home, plus some touring of western Nova Scotia. I feel like grabbing people on the street and telling them that I pedalled my arse all the way from Vancouver Island to St. John’s, Newfoundland – 7482 kms! But they’d think I was strange or something, well you have to be a bit different to ride a bike plus equipment all the way across Canada!
Today’s ride was really good, but the weather was iffy all day. A few times I felt some drops of rain, but apart from overcast skies, nothing materialised. The sun has just poked its head out here in St. John’s – it’s late afternoon. I have to say that Newfoundland’s roads, especially the TC 1 and Highway 100 from the ferry, are some of the best highways that I have ridden since Alberta. Nice wide, well maintained shoulders and there’s not much traffic here. But perhaps it seems that way because #1 is a divided highway. I left #1 and rode on Highway 90 then Highway 2 for a while up to Conception Bay South and then rejoined #1 for my entry to the city – even the back roads were in good shape.
I’m in a super nice B&B for two nights here, yep another day off to celebrate the emergence of a new Transcontinental cyclist! Kinda neat eh? And of course, we have Basil the Transcontinental beaver! Not many other beavers can compete with that accomplishment, can they?
I’m still amazed by the lack of visible wildlife. It’s ages since I saw anything exciting (apart from the whale). Although seeing a moose on last night’s night ride would have constituted “very exciting” – indeed!
Factoid: There are no snakes or skunks on Newfoundland (and no bears on the Avalon Peninsula)!
Believe it or not: Being in St. John’s, Newfoundland, I am closer to Italy than to the west coast of Canada!
Well I have to forage for food, and I have a busy schedule tomorrow – haircut then a local brewery tour (and sampling) at 1:00 p.m. – It’s a tough life!
Day 68 – Aug 14th -Rest Day – St John’s – 0 kms
Some views around St. John’s…
Day 69 – Aug 15th – St John’s to Butter Pot Provincial Park – 89 kms
If I had come straight down the highway from from St. John’s it would have been only a 30 km ride to here. But I just had to go to Cape Spear, didn’t I? Then I took Highway 11 south to Bay Bulls and Witless Bay, and then 13 west to here.
What a ride up to Cape Spear though; 17 kms of horrendous hills! I questioned my sanity – again – and thought to myself that this would have been a smarter thing to do with an empty bike on my day off yesterday. But no, I had to drag all my crap all the way to the most easterly point in North America! It was really cool to get there too. Instead of doing the tire dip in the Atlantic Ocean – which fortunately I did in North Sydney as there wasn’t a good spot to repeat it in St. John’s, or Cape Spear – I took photos at the Cape Spear sign of me, the bike, all my crap and of course, Basil was hanging in there too! It was a blustery cold summer day at the Cape; I can only imagine what a stormy winter’s day would be like out there! Well worth the extra calories that I burnt riding out there all the same. I met a (another) couple of ladies from Quebec there, who had passed me whilst I was grinding up one of the grades. In their heavily accented English, they said, “You are very courageous riding your bicycle ‘ere!” Well, I could have replaced “courageous” with some other adjective! Nonetheless, I had a great chat with them and we went our separate ways – or so I thought!
St. John’s was an interesting city (and very hilly – much hillier than even Quebec City!) to spend a day in yesterday. Tons of history there, after all it was the first city founded in North America. Lots of old townhouses bunched together and downtown had it complement of old stores. I stayed at the Prescott Inn B&B which was located right downtown in a row of old townhouses that were built in 1846! It was a very reasonably priced and comfortable room, good food and run by two very friendly ladies – highly recommended! I walked and wandered all over the place and even hiked up Signal Hill to the Cabot Tower where, besides various military events over the years, Marconi received the first wireless radio transmission across the Atlantic.
Some distance down the hill is the Johnson Geo Centre, a geology museum where most of the museum is underground – an interesting place to visit.
Today from Cape Spear, I continued to ride a hilly route through the very scenic coastal villages of Maddox Bay, Petty Harbour and Witless Bay. All these villages were picture book replicas of what one would envision a Newfoundland fishing village of old to be. In fact, the village of Bay Bulls was founded way back in 1635! Imagine!
Second breaky was at Goulds, and I needed it by then! I pulled into the parking lot of a small restaurant, where a lady was fishing around in the trunk of her car, she turned and saw me and just started howling with laughter. It was one of the two ladies from Cape Spear! She said that they had just been talking about me a few minutes before and were wondering how long it would be before I would have a chance at a hot breakfast. And here I arrived – they couldn’t believe that I had not taken much longer then they had in their car! They took my photo and we chatted some more before they drove off.
The scenery in Newfoundland has been dramatic, to say the least. Sometimes it compares to BC while other areas that I have visited, have a flavour all of their own. Like riding on 13 today; lots of small lakes (or “ponds” as they are called here, regardless of size), bogs and greenscape just littered with large rocks – totally different! These large rocks are called “erratics” and are leftovers from when the ice age glaciers retreated. But all in all, it seems to me that Newfoundland has a lot to offer anyone considering a visit here – great scenery, boat trips to visit bird colonies, whale watching and of course, great seafood!
However, the weather changes quickly and constantly here; every morning has been overcast together with mist or drizzle. The sun comes out periodically in the afternoons from behind a constant barrage of clouds rolling in from the ocean. Without the sun, the temperatures are fairly cool but not bad for riding though and anything’s better than steady rain!
Day 70 – Aug 16th -Butter Pot Provincial Park to Dunville – 95 kms
An uneventful day over territory mostly covered on my way to St. John’s – last Tuesday’s down hills were today’s up hills! The only difference was today’s high heat, humidity and headwinds. The south westerlies were blowing at 25 kms/hr – suffice to say that I had a face-full of them! All the people that I talked to today were commenting on the heat – I didn’t find it “that” bad – perhaps I’ve become acclimatised to all the different weather conditions that I have endured? Or was it that headwind keeping me cool
I wasn’t too impressed with the Newfoundland Provincial campground that I stayed at last night. Rough, loose steep gravel roads throughout the park, a looooong way to shower facilities, full garbage cans, and unoccupied campsites that seem to have been “saved” for future use. Some of the sites were quite a sight, with old car seats and other junk lying around. All water sources at the campground required boiling for safe use and there wasn’t a pay phone anywhere on the site. We were not amused! – Basil sez… only 1 flat beaver tail for that place!
Tomorrow I catch the ferry to return to Cape Breton Island; fortunately I don’t have to be at the terminal until 7:00 a.m. this time, so no night riding until I reach North Sydney. The 6 kms that I have to ride there has street lights for the whole route though – so much safer, and I’m also familiar with the route which will help a lot.