I woke up around 900 which was getting close to landing time. I checked out the ferry's restaurant with Jeff but it seemed to be a little too pricey. We decided to have breakfast on shore. Once we left the boat we biked to the next town over. We decided to go to Phillip's cafe at Placentia. I got eggs sunny side up and was surprised when the bottom of the eggs were completely smooth and not burnt at all - it tasted alien and weird because of the lack of texture. Overall I found the meal tiny and expensive ... we should have tried the ferry or the town's Timmies.
The bike ride was hilly and beautiful. The sky was cloudy and we were expecting some rain eventually.
We stopped for lunch at Subway at the intersection of highway 100 and the trans can. The customer service was the best I have ever encountered. The lady making my sandwich referred to each one of us as 'sweetest' and was friendly and talkative. She said that we should have taken the longer route to St John's as it is very beautiful - alas.
We biked to St John's. As we got closer the traffic got busier with rain in the second half of the day. We got to the HI Hostel in the evening(reserved in advance the previous day this time in order to avoid the place being full), locked up our bikes and relaxed for a bit. After drying up we hit the downtown area and went to a restaurant near George Street where there was live music and delicious Cod - after eating at Subways and Timmies many times all over Canada I was glad to taste something real good. The fish was melting in my mouth!
The next day (23rd) I biked out and explored the city on my own for a short bit. I found the downtown area of St John's full of life and perfect for tourists.
Towards noon it became sunny and I biked to Signal Hill with Jeff. The climb was intense but very worth the view. On the way up a grandma honked at us with lots of room on the road - where is she rushing to? I was grateful as the weather was sunny. I remember going on a road trip with my family when I was younger to the east coast - most of the time it was foggy and rainy (what I remember) and after seeing all the tourist pamphlets hyping up Cape Breton I was disappointed as I saw very little then.
After Signal Hill we decided to bike to Cape Spear - the east most point of Canada (the Canada trip won't quite be without it). We biked there and boy was the bike ride tough - the most intense ride of the entire trip. We did leave our panniers at the hostel and were pushing for speed but the hills were killer. Once we got to the park we had a couple of tourists congratulate us on conquering the hills as they saw us biking there. Luckily the park ranger had some water in the cooler as apparently their tap water was not drinkable.
We did not want to bike back as we weren't ready for another hour of sweating (pathetic I know) so we hitched a ride with a tourist bus. They didn't take bikes and you needed a special pass, but an almost empty bus and a nice tip got us back to town.
We had dinner at Quidi Vidi Fish and Chips (delicious!) and had some beer and listened to some live music at Quidi Vidi Brewing Company - the local music is good. Later that night the Hi hostel crew all went together to a local Karaoke bar - it was my first time ever singing at one!
Today's adventure seemed busy and full of action. It was different from my usual day to day riding from early in the morning to late in the afternoon - a great way to wrap up the trip.
The next day (24th) I biked early in the morning to Walmart to purchase a plastic box and straps in order to stuff my panniers and junk into for the flight home. I biked back with the box in my one hand and handlebar in the other. Jeff left soon after I arrived back to the Hostel - he was planning on taking a bus up north in Newfoundland and biking around and exploring there. Bye Jeff!
I packed up my stuff and then biked to Canary Cycles in order to box my stuff up. They charged 50 to box it up for you or 10 bucks and you do it yourself. I opted for the latter - they still ended up helping me remove my pedals as they were screwed shut. I packed everything into a box and called a taxi. The weather was really cold and windy and the taxi wasn't coming on time. I called a few times and the operator kept telling me that it will come soon. The bike store owner (an old man) came out and called me another taxi company and said that when the (one hour late) taxi comes to the bike shop he will give them a stern talking to. Thank you old man!
When the other taxi arrived I was already running low on time. The taxi driver drove me back to the hostel where I picked up my packed panniers in the box and then we headed to the airport. The taxi driver explained to me that the the red and blue license plates don't indicate anything special - some of them are blue and some of them are red (I thought the red ones were from Labrador or something). Shortly after I was on the plane flying back home. I started my trip on the 23rd of June and was flying back home on the 24th of August.
On the flight back home I realized I didn't remember where the plane was landing. I knew Toronto...but Island or Pearson? The stewardess specified Island - no worries as buses are everywhere in Toronto. At the airport it was too late to take the provided bus to Union station so I got a taxi. The taxi driver tried to lift my pannier box into his taxi but ended up dropping it and hurting himself and blaming me - I kept telling him that I'll do it myself. The taxi driver was scammy and didn't bother with turning on the meter and just said 15 dollars but at Union expected double the rate. The man did his job well though and drove me right up to the bus and also had that box fall on him - so I paid him full. I barely made it on the 21 bus which took me to Square One. From there I sprinted to another bus that I thought was the 25 Waterloo but misread and was now on the last ride to Guelph...it was late in the evening so I thought I will have to sleep at Guelph. I was disappointed...but luckily the bus driver had another stop in common with which the 25 shared. I waited there for an hour for the last bus to come. I made it back to Laurier station late at night and ended up dragging my stuff back to my place - one box at a time. They were too heavy to drag together so I would carry one for a 100 meters and then put it down and then carry the other forward...I alternated this for a while (quite the workout) - today's taxis and buses were adding up to a big fee so I thought I would do this on my own.
The next day I went to school (grad) to say hi to my peers to share my end of the journey - but no one was really there. My lease was ending on the 27th so I spent the next few days finishing packing up (I packed up most of my stuff before embarking on my Canada trip) and dropped it all at a small storage place. I hung out with a few friends and then flew out to my parent's place to start looking for a job with zero money left in my wallet.
The end of the journey described here may seem inconclusive (not sure what the right word is) to the reader, but I think it is appropriate to mention. The trip just ends. There are no trumpets or red carpet - it just ends. The trip leaves you with a lot to think about and digest and some of the thoughts you will unravel a few months later. Even your reaction to the journey's end is an interesting thought to have. I'm not saying no one cared - I cared, my parents and close friends did as well but at the end of the day this is a 'me' experience. This trip definitely counts as 'personal training' and you can view it as an upgrade to who you were prior. You will learn a lot about yourself and new things in general. It is an opportunity to go on your own mini hero's journey (more accessible than being Super Man) - something that I think is very important for anyone's development. After 6 years of post secondary in mathematics and computer science I was seeking a challenge that was less scripted and predictable. I knew the trip was possible (a family member did something similar many decades prior in another part of the world) and wanted to figure out on my own how to do so. I did not know how to plan this trip in detail, was not a hobby cyclist (just liked the convenience of it) and had many many questions - it was a bit of a step into the unknown embarking on the trip.
I don't want to spoil all the conclusions and thoughts I had, have and will have. I have hinted at the analogy of the bike trip to life throughout the blog. At a certain resolution any analogy starts to fall apart, but the the bike trip analogy for life needs quite the zoom for that to happen I think. Another thought I've had is the concept of the best day of the trip - I remember biking and spending a lot of time thinking what the best day or best experience or best whatever means. It is easy to say something is the best while you are in the moment ('yumm... this is literally the best cheesecake I've ever had') but what about in a more global sense? These thoughts relate to death and how our life is finite - saying something during the trip was the best is easier than in your life as the entire trip is two months long but still surprisingly challenging. I was convinced that Day 7 was my best day early on in the trip - did that limit my future perception of days that I encountered ahead of me? It felt good to have a 'best' day.
Day 7 still had some negative vibes in it - I remember in the evening after biking all day I was approaching the campground but the hill leading up to it didn't seem to end - I was tired and a little cranky and swearing under my breath (at what...the hill? I don't even know). This is another interesting thought - emotions and how they change. It is easy to become frustrated at something in the moment as you forget all your great work done before. I faced this challenge often as my trip had a lot of rain (I believe it was an unusually high amount - at least in Calgary) - one day rain and next day sun. The weather wasn't like what the guy I met on Day 3 who said his previous cross Canada trips had no rain. I learned early on to be grateful and not let the rain bother you too much - listening to funny and interesting podcasts works well when the weather gets real dull. You are pedalling and always making progress and moving closer to your objective (if you don't even know what it is in the moment) - this is a good perspective to have that no matter what the conditions are - you are moving forward.
The moving forward perspective is a useful one to have and is good when applying to long term projects and goals that take a long time to complete. I did not develop this perspective for the bike trip right away. Early on I was concerned with my bike not making it and I did not know if I would have enough time to complete my trip or where my trip would even end - a lot of unknowns. However, hopping on my bike in BC and heading east, taking things day by day removed all the worry for me and made me focus on the local problems first.
The previous paragraphs may suggest that the trip was some sort of intense struggle - it wasn't really. It was lots of fun! I got to see the country, the provinces, cities, lakes, weather. I got to see how Canada varies and learn more about different parts of the country and fall in love with it more and appreciate things. I built my quads to a level that they never have been before (didn't really lose any weight though). I talked to many many people and encountered many fellow tourists! I got to do something that I am very grateful for - this is my first major solo vacation/trip in my life. I think back to when I encountered the strike at the Brunswick smelter (Day 41) and how one of the strikers said 'Must be nice travelling like this' - it truly was. The smelter shutting down later really drove that message home how if you have an opportunity for something like this then take it as you don't know what is waiting for you in the future.
Writing this website/blog took up a surprisingly long time. However, like with the bike trip it was easy to take it 'day by day'. I saw blogs before my trip where people mentioned writing up their posts at the end of each riding day - I think that would be difficult to manage. I just video recorded myself talking and then transcribed things here later. Writing this up was fun to revist my trip and look at all the photographs. I am glad to have made this 'archive'. You, the reader, are probably here because you are considering partaking in a similar trip - I suggest that you do. I hope to have convinced you that it is not that difficult to plan and that you decide things as they come along - just grab your gear and go. In addition, I hope the journey described here was interesting to you and that the spelling mistakes were minimal (at one point I described Lake Superior as the ocean). Your journey will be different and unique so don't worry about spoilers. My experiences were not predicted or described in depth by all the blogs that I read before my bike trip. This is not the case of going on a mini bike trip in your head by just reading this blog - you have to go out there and do it.
Thanks for reading. Please let me know what you thought at contact AT zonov DOT ca - I would love to hear what you thought about it all.