Update, years later…

Hi, Martin here! What you’re reading now is not the original website. That one was raided and sunk by pirates circa 2012. From the wreck, I pulled most of the data, and set about rebuilding a new, sleeker version of the site, complete with automatic security updates (rookie mistake the first time around). From memory and a handful of screenshots, I have tried to make it look as identical to the original as eight years of advances in web development will allow. This website is now dormant, and serves as a log of our great pan-Canadian adventure. I’m now building my own website, at some as-yet undetermined address, and one for my mom, to host her artistic stuff, and after that one for the whole family, so we can upload all our other adventures. I’ll post when these things come online. In the meantime, enjoy the read!

Hello everyone!  We are HOME!!

We got home late Friday night August 21st. It was a long drive home from North Sydney, but it was exciting and sad at the same time to think that we would be home after 3 months of travel. The last few days have been spent cleaning and storing camping gear, doing laundry and getting things in order. We want to thank all of you who followed our adventure, and thanks to those who sent us encouraging messages. We hope you enjoyed travelling with us. The website will continue to get updates and photos for a while, so feel free to check in again. When it is complete, this message will say so. We plan on relaxing for the next few weeks, with little cycling in sight, except for André who will be doing the Cabot Trail in September, with a road bike and no panniers! He’s looking forward to the light ride!

Saturday August 15 Gushue Pond to St-John’s 85 km (Total: 8011 km)

We got up around 7:30, but no one was in a rush to leave. It was our last day on the road and we only had a short distance to go to St John’s. Breakfast consisted of cereal with milk and coffee, tea, and/or hot chocolate. The tents and the bags that had been left outside were covered in slug slime. There were slime trails on every side of the tent. The wind had died down and the sky was blue. Not a cloud in sight. What a way to finish a long ride! We pedalled without haste to St John’s. When we arrived at Mile Zero, we met Scott and Debbie who filmed our finish. They had also brought champagne to celebrate our friends’ accomplishment. We went to Sundance, a restaurant nearby, for a last super-breakfast. And it was really super. After our sausages, ham, bacon, potatoes, eggs, toasts, and steaks, accompanied by a few glasses of various drinks, all the cyclists agreed that this was the first breakfast to really fill us. We left our bags in Scott and Debbie’s car and left for Signal Hill. It was one of the hardest climbs of the whole trip. After admiring the panoramic view of the city and learning the story of Marconi’s first transatlantic wireless signal, we started an epic descent towards the city. The steep grade allowed us to accelerate to 60 km/h in a second and a half or two seconds. It was very fun. We then went to pick up our luggage at Scott and Debbie’s hotel, said goodbye to our Ontario friends, and went to Pippy Park, the municipal campground, to rest at the end of our trip, while waiting for the boat that will take us one step closer to home…

Friday August 14 Clarenville to Gushue Pond 150 km (Total: 7926 km)

Strong winds and a faulty light made for a bunch of shorts naps.  The outside light on the information center kept coming on and turning off every 5 to 10 minutes so it never was dark or bright for very long.  The wind blew from all sides so the tent was very noisy.  We were up around 7:30 am and opted for a Timmy breaky instead of trying to cook in the continuous wind.  Just like at any other Tim Hortons in NFLD, the locals were in no rush to leave and you could get all the local news from every point of view just by listening.  We loaded up with bagels and chocolate milk before facing the strong head wind.  We had gotten a tip from the Information center staff on how to bypass a large climb on the Trans Canada by cutting into town.  We followed the instructions but still managed to run into a steep exit out of town.  The road was a bit busy starting off but the traffic quieted down not long after Clarenville. The forecast today was for a south wind and we were going south- southeast.  The scenery was very nice because we were high above and crossing on a narrow piece of land between Placentia Bay to our right and Trinity Bay to our left.  The wind was scary at time because it shifted with strong gusts from every direction.  You just couldn’t afford to pick up speed going down hills for fear of being thrown into the traffic or over the edge.  We stopped at a Town called Goobies for a booster breakfast.  For an Irving Truck Stop, the service was really slow so we lost some time before getting back on the road.  The wind was a challenge until we got deeper on the Avalon Peninsula.  The roads were good so it made the ride more enjoyable. The boys were leading the way and the seniors were closing behind.  When we reached the next information centre located at the intersection of the Trans Canada and Route 100 heading to the Argentia ferry, the boys had inquired for campgrounds and no one knew of any around.  We went for supper at a place called Monty’s only a kilometer or so down the road.  Since the end of the trip was near, we ordered Cod tongues, fish cakes, fish and chips, and other local meals.  We finished it with deep fried ice cream.  The waitress said there were no campgrounds because people usually camp in gravel pits so there was no need for campgrounds.  With that information, we hit the road and were on the lookout for gravel pits.  It wasn’t long before we had to pullout the flashing tail lights.  Near exit 32, we decided to leave the highway and find a flat spot to pitch the tents for the night.  Garrett had gotten info the previous day that there used to be some sort of camping facility near this exit.  As we were cycling on the side road, we spotted a good place near a well beaten ATV trail. This would become plan B if plan A didn’t work out.  A few more curves in the road and an old sign indicated camping ahead.  When we got there, we found a private campground with a lady at the entrance office.  She said they were completely booked but that she couldn’t just send us out in the darkness on our bicycles.  After some discussions over the two way radio, they managed to find suitable grounds behind the comfort station.  It actually worked out great for us since we were next to the washroom with lots of space to place the three tents.  Here we are just one day from having crossed Newfoundland and are still amazed by the friendliness of the people of this great province.  After a nice shower and some treats from the campground variety store, we all slept very well.

Thursday August 13 Gambo to Clarenville 112 km (Total 7776 km)

Last night was cool and the sky was full of stars. We left Gambo at about 7:30 am. By the way, Gambo is the hometown of Joey Smallwood, the first premier of Newfoundland. Today was expected to be a tough day. We are passing through Terra Nova National Park. The ride up to the Park was quiet and easy rolling. As we entered the park, the shoulder became extra wide, the width of a full lane. The rollers turned into hills but they were very doable. Terra Nova is a very beautiful Park with lots of ponds and bogs. The boys were out front most of the day so when the seniors got low on water, they pulled into Charlottetown for water, a few chocolate bars, and fresh loaves of bread. We had planned to have dinner in Port Blanford but that was not to happen. Port Blanford has houses, dogs and hills but no store whatsoever. Our fine dining lunch was in nowhere, on the shady side of a gas station. Peanut butter and jam to the rescue. Dylan has combinations of honey, wheat germ, walnuts and peanut butter on pita bread. Very versatile, can be for breakfast, lunch or dinner and has been used as an afternoon or evening snack also. The final destination for the day was Clarenville. When we got to the Info centre, we found out that there are no campgrounds in Clarenville. Our Ontario friends instinctively asked if we could camp behind the info center and the reply was that we wouldn’t be the first. A car pulled up to the info center and to the suprise of all,  Garrett’s parents got out of the car. They wanted to be in St John’s when our friends completed their trip. They had decided to come up towards Clarenville in  hopes of spotting us. After a short photo session and a gift of donuts, Scott and Debbie were off again towards St-John’s. We went to town for supper. For variety we headed to the Pizza Delight and refuelled. The tents were up at darkness, Garett fixed a flat by the light of a head lamp and then we all tried to sleep. The wind came up and was blowing hard. The tents were close to the building and that made the wind come from all sides. Very noisy in a tent at times like this…

Wednesday August 12 Bishop Falls to Gambo 145 km (Total 7664 km)

It got really cool last night. The forcast was plus four and I believe we got it. The breakfast included coffee, tea and hot chocolate. As we cycled, things warmed up fairly quickly. The sun came out and it turned into a beautifull day. We planned on having lunch in Gander so everyone cycled with that in mind. The road climbed and climbed and climbed towards Gander. André joked that we should start seeing snow anytime now. We found the Pizza Delight in Gander at about 1:30. It just happened that the buffet was on until 2. I don’t think they made money with the buffet that noontime. They could not keep food at the buffet table for more than 30 seconds. Cycling is great. Coming out of Gander, we hit a section of construction that lasted for at least 10 km. They had passed the milling machine but hadn’t paved yet. It was a very rough ride with no room for bicycles and no option but to use the main lanes for cycling. Not fun at all, we were glad to see it end. The Gambo community campground was our home for the night. It was a rustic campground about 2 km out on a dirt road. We hit the grocery store for supper supplies. On the menu were canned beans and molasses with bread. The desert was watermelon. Garrett and Dylan had never had the saturday night maritime tradition of beans and molasses. It was a treat for everyone. As we were setting camp, our neighbor came and introduced himself. Terry said he noticed we were on bicycles and offered his truck for anything we may need to get in town. He later came out of his camper with his two daughters and offered fresh chocolate chip cookies that his wife just made. To top things off, he later brought over some cod au gratin that they had for supper. The cod was caught by their family and prepared in a traditional way. These people are very nice and we are so lucky to be here. Our neighbours from across the road are three young ladies cycling, camping, and enjoying Newfoundland at a different pace. They were so impressed by our trip that they gave us a box of beer, and some nanaimo bars they got at a market earlier that day. Thanks girls. Only in Newfoundland.

Tuesday August 11 South Brook to Bishop Falls 105 km (Total 7519km)

During the night, the wind blew  hard. When we got up, it was still blowing but it was the rain that we were concerned with. We had time to eat and start packing before the fog turned to rain. The wind just died and it started misting. It was kind of refeshing to ride in. If you got cold, you just pedalled harder and warmed up pretty quickly. It was perfect moose spotting weather and we were looking hard. With no wind, it was fun to ride today. As we entered the next town, we located the nearest retaurant and had a booster breakfast. The waitress couldn’t believe the amount of food we were putting away. The next town was Grand Falls-Winsor and we had a list of things we needed. First it was the info centre for directions. We got pedals for Zack who had been cycling with one and a half pedals for the last two days, then the bulk food store, then the library for internet business. When all the errands were completed, we headed for Bishop Falls campground. It was still misting and the traffic has picked up. The boys were cycling in a tight formation when the leader, Dylan, spotted a moose. He instinctively braked and that is when the action started. Garett was behind Dyland and hit one of Dylan’s back panniers before stopping. Zack was behind Garett and hit Garett. His bike stopped but he went flying over Garret and landed on the back rack of Dylan’s bike. Martin veered off and missed the pile up. No one got seriously hurt but the moose stopped in his tracks to watch the whole thing. Garret finally got a chance to see a moose but I am not sure if he was in a state to focus on what it was. A second moose popped out of the bushes after the incident and stuck around for a bit before trotting off. We were all lucky that this incident was not any more serious. We continued at a more relaxed pace to Bishop Falls. Since it was still misting pretty hard, we had supper at a mexican restaurant hoping the skies would clear. Our wish was granted since the skies cleared up as we left the restaurant. The Bishop Falls campground turned out to be a great place to stay. The attendant charged a flat fee of 15 $ for the group. There was a nice gazebo on the grounds and André asked if we could pitch our tent in the gazebo. The reply was well crafted. The attendant said she could not give us the ok to stay in there but she had seen tents in there before. As we were setting up camp, one of the nearby campers came by to chat. When he heard we were from New Brunswick, he started laughing and said we must have talked to a lady in front of the Quebec MEC store about our trip. Turns out that a cycling friend of his had told him to look out for us in Newfoundland. She said he may come across us and that he should say hi on her behalf. He did better than that. He took his cell phone, called her and passed the phone to Charline. Denise at the other end of the line was very suprised to say the least. Mr. O’Keefe and his wife then offered us some wine and chatted about their cycling adventures. They were impressed with our family trip and invited us to their home on our next trip to Quebec. The gazebo looked like a wagon roundup with the tents on the outer perimeter, the picnic table in the middle and a clothes line hanging from the four entrances. Life is good.

Monday August 10 Pasadena to South Brook 162 km (Total 7414km)

With no one else in the campground, we had a great sleep. André was up at daybreak and had water boiling for coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for everyone. We polished off 3 boxes of cereal and 4 liters of milk and hit the road at about 8 am. This section of road was new and the shoulder was just perfect. We had a few climbs before reaching Deer Lake but they were nice and steady so not difficult. The next stop was the grocery store for supplies before heading out of Deer Lake. We knew we would be in a more remote section so we geared up for it. The scenery in the last few days was just amazing. The beauty of Newfoundland is everywhere. No moose yet but we haven’t given up hope. Garett has never seen a moose and hopes to see one before his trip is over. We stopped for lunch in the middle of the afternoon. It was peanut butter and jam sandwiches behind a restaurant using the employee picnic table. As we left the spot, the sky was clouding over and the wind picked up even more. In true Newfoundland fashion, there was a storm forming within minutes. We were tossed around by the wind and it was even a bit dangerous near the lakes since it was a strong side wind pushing us in the traffic. Once we turned and had the wind in our back, it was clear sailing to the campground. We never really got much rain but it got very dark and windy. If it ever got nasty, we may have been in for a rough ride since there were no places to hide. Once we hit South Brook, Charline and Martin went for groceries while the rest put up camp. The tents were tied down extra strong since the forecast was for strong winds. Charline spotted blueberry bushes in the campground so Zack and Garett spent some time getting blueberries for the morning cereal. It  got quite windy when we were heading for bed,  but the rain was holding off.

Sunday August 9 Crabbes River to Pasadena 155 km (Total 7252km)

We got up and packed the tents without having breakfast. There was a truck stop at less than one kilometre from the campground so we made better time by having breakfast there. Our goal for the day was to get close to Deer Lake. The winds were from the south west so we had them in the face for the first little while. After about 10 km we would be turning and having tail winds for the rest of the day. It was a beautiful sunny day with little traffic. The cars came in waves and must be from the ferry in Port aux Basques. We had dinner on the road and continued into Corner Brook. Garret and Dylan were keeping a good pace and the boys were staying with them. The senior members of the team were behind and would only catch up when they stopped for a break. On the outskirts of Corner Brook we stopped to get water at a Tim Horton. Dylan filled a bottle from the washroom sink and the water was yellowish brown. As André was entering the store, a local fellow hauled him aside and said there was a natural spring about a mile down the road that would be better than any water from the town supply. Judging from Dylan’s water bottle, it shouldn’t be hard to beat. Sure enough, there was a car parked beside the road a mile from the Tim Horton. The driver was filling large containers from a 2 inch pipe on the side of the road. He said people have been coming here for years to get their water. We all filled our bottles and drank before continuing. The road was in excellent condition and the traffic was not very heavy. There was only one town of any size between our present location and Deer Lake. It was called Pasadena. Our choice was to stop in 5 km or continue for another 30 km. We already had 150 km under our wheels today so we opted for Pasedena. As we entered the town, Dylan asked a resident for camground options and got some complicated response so we headed in that general direction. André was leading the group and spotted a small sign that got his attention: Pasadena Pizza. Of course everybody was in favor of checking the place out. It was a small place and easy to miss but we followed our noses and found the spot. We couldn’t have struck it any better. The owner was an avid cyclist and very interested in our trip. For starters, he had just overcooked a large garlic fingers and offered it to us for free. How fast does a large garlic fingers disappear when six hungry cyclists appear? Very! He also had a camping option for us that he would explain when he had a few minutes. We ordered two large pizzas and waited outside at the picnic table, cleaning off the rest of the garlic fingers. When our pizzas were ready, the owner brought them out with plates and a cutter. He also explained that there was a closed campground that was being turned into a subdivision. The streets are paved with curbs but no lots have been developped. After eating our pizzas, the owner offered us his stock of pizza by the slice since it was getting old. It didn’t have a chance to get much older. We made our way to the closed campground and found the best campsite to date. Paved roads no traffic and plenty of free vacant campsites. It doesn’t get any better than this. By the way, the pizza was one of the better ones of the trip. Thank you very much to the Pasadena Pizza guy for everything, you make Pasadena one of the highlight spots of our Newfoundland trip.