Life Changes

18 12 2016

This week,  Huron County got hammered by a major snow storm. Typical of the area,  roads were closed,  school buses did not run,  events of all kinds were cancelled,  Facebook was full of winter scenes and stories of harrowing drives. 

Ken and I missed it all. 

This week we made a major move,  400 km, the other side of Toronto,  to Picton,  ON. The move went relatively smoothly,  thanks in large part to Oneida Movers, their careful packing and totally amazing ability to back up a truck into tight places.  We managed to sneak the move in between snow squalls, the truck did not get stuck in our lane way, we did not run out of boxes. 

The first day, while stronger people than me were carrying stuff,  I managed to unpack a couple dozen boxes.  By evening,  we were sitting in a put together living room,  managed to have a supper of pancakes in an almost organized kitchen and slept in a comfy bed with clean sheets. 

When I look around,  there’s lots of work left to do.  Both the garage and the basement have stuff piled to the ceiling.  We’re building a shed to accommodate various  hobbies,  and the basement is getting finished (we want lots of room for guests). We’re also noticing various places that were not quite finished when the house was built.

But,  life gets even more interesting. 

Ken has accepted a call to the Fruitland CRC. Another interim position,  2 years,  75% starting Feb. 1. Which means we’ll  be living in two places again. So after spending 2 nights in our new home,  we traveled to Stoney Creek,  spent a day with a realtor,  and purchased a condo.  

I’ve been focused on looking ahead,  and admit to being extremely busy.  Changing your life is exciting.  And even though,  sometimes,  I think my head might explode with having to make too many decisions,  all at once, hugs and snuggles with grand kids makes it all worth it. 

But let’s be honest,  we’ve both left something precious behind.  A church community we’ve been part of for so many years. I won’t forget our last Sunday,  both the official send off in the morning and the casual get together at our house in the evening. 

A group of cycling friends,  whether we cycled that day or not.  A group of women who’ve supported each other for over 30 years.  A small town where it always took an hour longer to run errands than it should have. 

I know it won’t be the same,  but I’m confident the bonds of friendship will remain. We’re looking forward to having many people choose to vacation in “the County” and spending some time with us. 

In the meantime,  I miss the excitement of a Huron County snowstorm. 

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From Travelers to Tourists

26 06 2016

Today we reached our destination of Halifax.

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We took the ferry from Dartmouth to Halifax, turns out the bridge is closed on weekends.

There is a lot tied up in that short sentence. First, there’s a tremendous sense of accomplishment, we made it!  Even though we had to do the trip in two parts,  over two summers,  we have cycled from coast to coast.  We’ve stayed safe and at the end of the trip, we can even say we still like  each other. We’ve done something very few people have.

There’s relief.  We can give our bodies some rest, we don’t have to figure out where we’re going to stay or where the best route is or how to avoid those big hills.  (Mostly,  you can’t avoid the hills–just suck it up and pedal! )

But there are other emotions as well. Cycling across the country had been our goal for what feels like a long time.  First the months (years) of planning, setting out from Vancouver, being called home partway through,  making the decision to finish the trip and then actually reaching our goal.  Looking ahead,  life looks a little empty.  We need a new goal,  but haven’t a clue what that will be.

At one of our rest stops,  in a town I don’t even remember,  we spoke to a young couple heading into the restaurant for lunch as we were heading out.  They were obviously busy with their young children,  but wanted to spend a few minutes talking.  Turns out,  they were long distance cyclists,  before other commitments changed their life.  She said “we used to be that cool couple”.  I worry we’ll become one of those couples who have nothing left but stories we’ll tell over and over, a “used to be cool couple”.

We’ll figure it out.

For right now,  we are comfortable in an Airbnb rental unit,  we’re looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow and being ordinary tourists for a few days. 

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We have supper at the Bicycle Thief, thought it was a good name.





The Last Province

24 06 2016

Today we got on a ferry and entered Nova Scotia,  the last province. The LAST PROVINCE!!

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We say goodbye to PEI

We have two days of cycling left until we reach our destination of Halifax. I’m not sure how I feel about the end of the trip being so close,  there’s a number of conflicting thoughts in my head.  Maybe by the time we actually reach our destination I’ll have some of them figured out.

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Saying hello to Nova Scotia.

For right now, we are in Pictou, NS, the first village after the ferry reaches land.  The ferry was a neat experience,  we met a number  of other loaded cyclists–a couple of young women doing a loop of the eastern provinces,  starting and ending in Maine,  and a dad cycling with his two kids. It’s always assuring to know you’re not the only one doing a similar version of “slow touring”.

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One of the things we’ve been surprised about on this trip is the amount of time and effort it takes to find accommodation. Part of the challenge is that we can not make plans more than a day or two in advance.  Then we have some requirements.  Camping is OK, as long as food is available near by–since most campgrounds are doing their best to give people a “get-away-from-it-all” experience,  they often don’t work for us. B&B’s work well,  but can be frustrating getting in contact with the owner. Hotels are OK, but they can also be a long way from restaurants.  In both Charlottetown and Halifax,  accommodation, of any kind and at any price,  was difficult to find and we’ve used airbnb to find a place.

Two more days!!!





We Needed This

22 06 2016

We took a rest day in Charlottetown.  We needed it. 

We spent the day on our feet,  the bicycle didn’t even move.  We slept in,  played checkers on the street,

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took a walk to the farmer’s market, ate some ice cream,  sat on a park bench and watched people at the boat launch.  We ended the day by treating ourselves to a lobster dinner.

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And because,  I’m me,  with a free day,  I bought some yarn and started a pair of socks.

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I Think We’re Getting Tired

19 06 2016

I’ve just finished booking a b&b for tomorrow night.

There are some mixed feelings in doing this.  We are camping for the second night in a row, but the reality is,  we do better in a bed,  with a roof over our heads.  So tomorrow we’re not camping.  It makes the trip more expensive but in some ways I wish we could ship our tent home. Until we get to a place where there is no alternative but to camp.

Last night had no other alternatives. The space between Fredericton and Moncton is a bit of a waste land.  The distance between the 2 is too far for one day,  but there is no good place to stop and services are few.  In fact,  last night was the only night of the trip where we could not find a place to eat within a reasonable distance. We had planned ahead,  but neither of us was particularly thrilled with our supper of cheese,  crackers and pepperoni,  nor with our breakfast of orange juice and granola bars.  Oh well,  it’s all part of the experience.

In fairness, it was quite a comfortable campground with very friendly people.  I don’t think I’ve seen so many people excited about “washer toss “, their tournament went on for hours!

The truly awesome thing about tomorrow’s b&b? It’s in PEI!!

In tomorrow’s ride we will leave New Brunswick,  cycle a small corner of Nova Scotia and be shuttled across the bridge to the island.

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A quiet corner of the Parasol RV park in Shediac, NB





No More Rail Trail!

16 06 2016

We learn slowly.

There is a rail trail in New Brunswick.  We entered the province on a rail trail that was a continuation of the raill trail in Quebec.  The first few km were great and very well maintained.  Sadly,  it didn’t stay that way.  Every day,  for the last 4 days,  we’ve made the decision to try the NB Sentier trail, usually to avoid another hill. 

It’s always a mistake.  Today was no different,  the trail went from not bad to horrible. I’ve come to the conclusion that a badly done rail trail is worse than no trail at all. I can’t help feeling that it would be better to invest in paved shoulders or  other cycling infrastructure rather than doing a half-assed job of a trail. Next time we’ll tackle the hill.

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We took a break at the longest covered bridge in the world, Hartland, NB

There’s another frost warning in effect for this area,  so we’re camping at a Howard Johnson’s. This place is much more comfortable than last night’s “accommodation”, but not the place we’ll remember in months to come.

Tomorrow we reach Fredericton. We’ll be looking for another bike shop, the tires we put on in Quebec City are not doing well,  I think we’ll be changing them.





The Joys and Sorrows of a Rail Trail

14 06 2016

Edmunston, NB, 62.92 km, 16.3 km/hr

We’ve spent the last 2 days on a rail trail. The Petit Temis is a 134 km rail trail running from Riviere de Loup, QC to Edmunston,  NB. It’s quite special because it crosses 2 provinces. Rail trails are tralls which follow abandoned railways and have been repurposed for recreational use, usually not allowing motorized vehicles of any kind.

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The best thing about rail trails is they are safe,  completely separate from traffic. It’s so refreshing to not have to worry about whether or not the vehicle coming up behind actually sees us.  They’re quiet,  it’s amazing how much noise there is on the highway. They can be beautiful;  bodies of water,  trees,  other plants of various kinds,  are right there. All those people rushing on the nearby highway often don’t even realize the trail is there.

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But they’re not perfect. Rail trails are often,  even usually,  surfaced with stone dust. When done well,  it’s an OK surface to ride on,  but only OK. It’s never as fast as asphalt; when it’s wet, there’s a fair bit of drag, making the ride more work than it ought to be.  They’re also difficult to maintain.  In the last 2 days we’ve dealt with wash-outs, fallen trees  (from both wind and beavers), loose gravel at intersections, mud,  water across the trail,  grass growing up the middle and one time the trail completely disappearing into a Tim Hortons parking lot.

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We made it to New Brunswick!

We’re happy to have made it to New Brunswick and are looking forward to seeing what this province is like to cycle in.  We’re also hoping for some better weather,  forecast has improved, maybe we’ll even camp tomorrow night.