Friday, 12 August 2011

On the Atlantic shore

I am lying on a sofa chez Alice and Mark. Newfoundland can surprise you as I discovered on Sunday. As I biked along the TCH, I saw a car that I took for a Bently, but was in fact a fancy Chrysler. I was telling myself that this wasn't Montreal and didn't have fancy cars, when a Rolls-Royce went by! I kid you not.

We got to the dock in Triton in good time on Tuesday. "Our" fisherman, Michael Roberts, showed us his speedboat and his longliner. After some discussion, Chris decided that the speedboat was just too small for the comfort of the bikes and his notoriously weak stomach. So we went in the 50 foot or so inshore fishing boat. It was a first for Michael to take paying passengers. His dad was along for the ride and did most of the steering.

There was a serious swell, but it was also very manageable. There were some fairly dramatic cliffs to look at but the highlight came near the end of the crossing when a number of Minke whales decided to entertain us with their antics to borrow a phrase from Stephen. Actually, all they did was surface briefly in places sufficiently distant from each other that we could tell that there were more than one of them. But they were Minke whales which was treat enough!

We rode out of Leading Tickles on a winding road that brought us through Port Leamington where we had lunch. Shortly after lunch, I spotted and retrieved a cellphone by the side of the road. Just as I came into Northern Arm, I saw what was probably an ermine run across the road.

We spent the night in Bishop's Falls at an inn. There was a flyer at the reception desk for a Chinese restaurant that I had seen along the way. However the flyer didn't give the street number and I couldn't remember how far it was. A quick Internet search showed it was at 14 Main street. We were at 10 Main street! We walked over to the place. The food was pretty good considering. Margo tried to talk to the waitress in Mandarin but unfortunately she was a Cantonese speaker.

I noticed that day that my front tire was beginning to split. I consulted with Chris and we agreed it should be replaced as soon as possible. I ordered a replacement from MEC to be sent Alice, but there has been a bit of a snafu. I should have phone Cycle Solutions in Corner Brook and asked them to put a tire on the bus. I bought the old tire along with Leonardo and it has served for about 10000 km.

The next morning we crossed the Exploits River on the TCH then immediately turned onto a minor road that was almost overgrown but which I knew from satellite reconnaissance the night before went through. Chris asked me if it was the T'Railway. I said "No", because the asphalt was too old. My guess was that it was an old bit of the TCH. Later, a pickup truck pulled up beside me and it's owner asked to chat. He had seen us the day before near Northern Arm and was curious about us. Friendly Newfoundlander that he was he told us that my suspicion about the origin of the road was correct.

To avoid some hills we took an acceptable portion of the T'Railway to Notre-Dame Junction. We made Lewisporte in time for lunch at Tim Horton's. We rode along the shore, stopping in Campbellton to buy some wine for our hosts. These were Eileen and Gordon in Boyd's Cove. Eileen works at the same Library as I do and had offered to put me up when she heard I would be in the area. She greeted us warmly in something of a flurry of assorted children, cousins, hangers-on and a pair of pugs. She fed us fresh cod while fretting slightly as to thereabouts of her husband who was off cod fishing, in the recreational fishery. He is otherwise a university professor in electrical engineering at McGill.

The next morning, we went to a Beothuk interpretation centre that explained a nearby archaeological site. Very interesting with respect to what they did and did not find. No cod or auk bones but they did find polar bear bones.

The weather turned wet as the day progressed, and as there was nothing of note between where we were and Gander, I took off at my own speed get past the dull woods and rain as quickly as possible. (We have since decided against doing the remainder of the "Gander Loop'' and going straight on to cousin Richard in Eastport tomorrow.)

Alice was at home with Anna to greet me. Anna seems to be in a fussy mood, but que sera, sera. We have had a very relaxed day in Gander. After lunch, I went to the RCMP detachment to turn in the cellphone I found, then proceeded to the Museum Atlantic Aviation Museum. It need a few signs on the outdoor aircraft. Also the tires needed pumping up and the Canso(Canadian variant of the Consolidated Catalina)'s main wheels didn't match. Otherwise, it was a very nice little aviation museum. I was somewhat surprised at how much the Canso main wheels intruded into the sides of the fuselage. The museum's Lockheed Hudson looked like it had been used for passenger transport post-war. The place is much more the Gander Aviation Museum than the North Atlantic Aviation Museum.

After getting the makings of supper and making guacamole, I sat down with Margo and Chris to work out our route for the next few days. I hadn't really plotted the trip past Gander beyond a rough framework. We are now set to get to St. John's about a day ahead of the rough schedule.

The weather has been fairly poor and the locals keep saying they can't remember a summer this cold. This reminds of a Gilles cartoon.

I made black bean fajitas for supper. Margo baked some bread, made salad and some apple crumble for supper.

Did I mention I saw Minke whales?

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