Monday, 15 August 2011

On kindness to strangers

Newfoundlanders are a kindly bunch on the whole. At the information centre/park HQ in Terra Nova National Park and federally paid bridges area, a man at a tour boat company told us where the people at the other tour company from whom we wished to rent kayaks from were. He also cracked me up with the line "This is summer in Newfoundland. We were hoping it would fall on a weekend this year!" Summer is the season in evidence this weekend. We set out from Alice and Mark's in the sun, only slightly slowed by me stopping at Canadian Tire to a temporary replacement tire. We had lunch at Joey's Lookout above Gambo.

As it was such a nice day, we tried to ask Alice and Mark to join us at Malady Head campsite. We couldn't reach them so we went to cousin Richard the author in Eastport. He was welcoming within the limits of his small house which meant we were camping on the porch. I used my bivy sack for the first time only to be driven buggy by the black flies. Around midnight, I snuck into Richard's back pantry with my sleeping bag and Thermarest. My rest was poor on the whole.

Alice, Mark and Anna joined us for a day of kayaking and yacking at the previously mentioned place in Terra Nova. Anna seemed in a happier mood than the day before.

Late in the afternoon (4 pm), we set out for our sleeping destination. This was in one of three different towns at distances 34 km apart in total. Between a stiff headwind and my fatigue, we ended up at the closest option, Charlottetown.

We snagged the last room at the handy motel where we encountered the nice guy from the boat tour. While Margo exchanged pleasantries, Chris and I wondered what a bike with large bags on it was. It was heavily loaded in back but had nothing in front. This put too much weight on the back tire in our opinion. We were soon approached by the owner who wanted to know if we knew where the nearest campsite to the East of there was. (This was a nominal East as by "East" he meant closer to St-John's as "Eastbound" on the TCH at that point meant actually going West!) We did but warned him it was 32 odd km away. More conversation revealed that his bike was broken in a remarkable number of ways. He had a broken spoke in his rear wheel and it was one we couldn't fix even though I carry spares. His rear hanger on his derailleur was broken. Margo thought I had one she had given me, but I didn't have it nor do I remember ever having one. Luckily Chris was able to bash the damaged hanger into back into shape with a couple of rocks. His rear mudguard had lost most of its bolts and nuts, becoming a danger in the process. I provided him with a number of replacement nuts and bolts. We couldn't fix his very loose front end. It was loose to the point that I strongly recommended he take the bus the rest of the way to St-John's. Chris agreed with me. However, Joseph, the cyclist, was determined and set off again.

He had taken the bus and ferry from Toronto to Port-aux-Basques. He had set out on Wednesday evening (it is Sunday night as I write this) which makes for some very long days on a cheap looking hybrid bike (Globe Vienna I think). He mentioned he had taken apart and reassembled his front end several times prior to departure which may mean his fundamental issue was chair-keyboard interface!

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