My Bicycle Trip Across Canada: Day 69: St. Fucking John’s

July 5th: Jack’s Pond, NL to St. John’s NL: 150km

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First 60 or so were good, but foggy and cold. Stopped at a visitor info center and ate sandwiches.

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Then got coffee. Left and was listening to music. Biked for a bit and all of a sudden someone was biking beside me and talking. Tyler, with the charity Bike for Bricks, who’s cycling with two friends from Waterloo to St. John’s and then flying to Vancouver and biking back to Waterloo.

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We talked for a long time. Really made the time go by fast. We all stopped together at one point. Chatted. Then when we left I booked it. Tried to go as fast as possible. The one guy Jordan caught up at one point, but then fell behind. Stopped at the St. John’s sign. So good!

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My Bicycle Trip Across Canada: Day 68: Great Ghosts

July 4th: Gambo, NL to Jack’s Pond, NL: 160+km

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Today just would never end. It began well with George making us breakfast… then we started riding.

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Hilly, hot and wind in our faces. We stopped 30k short of Clarenville for some snacks. In Clarenville, we got Chinese food. Delicious! Then we got groceries and ate yogurt, and were off. It got cold, more hills, and more wind. Very beautiful though.

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Finally stopped in Jack’s Pond, a weird/shitty RV park. Listened to The Microphones a lot at the end. I’m interested in Phil Elverum‘s time alone in the woods (in Norway?). See lyrics for Great Ghosts:

I have my hopes of how I would be after living in exile
after closing your eyes to me
I even wrote scenes where I re-emerged boldly, bearded alive
with Eskimo eyes
new baby on my back
but I didn’t count the fact that I have ghosts in my mind, stored away
great ghosts of my life
great ghosts of old wives
and their howling
so I spend my wilderness time, rolling on the ground
pulling my hair and wrestling them off
yelling at none, punching snow
I gathered ghosts and gave them my lecture, bid them away, I pleaded and cried
there’s no room in my life for you or your howling
let me undo these ropes and go on living without you
not just change where I live
go on get, I said
I had my hopes of how I would be after sending them of
after getting set free
but there’s no such thing as living without their prowling
as you can see, having descended the hill
I still look like me, I still wallow as Phil
and forever will
I’m teaming with ghosts and I still whining for wives, unkniting my brow
but now I’ve surrendered
In fact I’ve joined in
You can hear us howling

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My Bicycle Trip Across Canada: Day 67: 9/11 in Gambo

July 3rd: Grand Falls-Windsor, NL to Gambo, NL: 140km

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I let Phill sleep in until 9. I broke one of Britt’s angel figurines 😦  Whoops

We ate some toast, left, got groceries, then had breakfast at a restaurant. Didn’t leave GFW until noon.

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Hot day. Stopped for ice cream at one point, and ate lunch.

Got to Joey’s lookout/view, and some older couple invited us to stay with them. So we stayed with George and Edna, who had taken in six separate people during 9/11 when the planes were forced to land [outside of the U.S.]. Shower, food, stories, beds. So good!

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[Edna and George’s story is chronicled in a book. I think it’s this one The Day the World Came to Town]

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My Bicycle Trip Across Canada: Day 66: Broken Pedal

July 2nd: somewhere, NL to Grand Falls-Windsor: 150km

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Slept for 12 hours. Woke up at 8. Such a beautiful view.

For lunch we stopped at a placed called Eddy’s. Met these two motorcyclists, cycling through Labrador. They were older but obviously hardcore. Really nice guys.

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I think we ended up in Grand Falls-Windsor early-ish. Yeah, around 7. We stayed with couchsurfing hosts Paul and Britt. My left pedal broke, so I got a ride with Paul to the Canadian Tire. The pedal was so hard to get off [I was probably turning it the wrong way, truth be told] Plus the one I bought looks like crap. Hope it lasts!

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Britt made us pasta dinner, and Paul gave us beer. We chatted about our trip and heard Britt and Paul’s stories: optometrist from Saskatchewan and Calgary, respectively, who met in Waterloo.

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My Bicycle Trip Across Canada: Day 65: Hung Over

July 1st: Corner Brook, NL to somewhere 130k East of there: 130km

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Woke up hung over. Why do I drink so much?!

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[Mike the ceramics artist]

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We rode hard for 50k and ate a buffet at Pizza Delight. Hot day.

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Rode another 45k or so before another stop: iced tea and freezies. Then finished at 6 at the top of some gravel road. So tired!

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My Bicycle Trip Across Canada: Day 64: Grey Islands

June 30th: Corner Brook, NL: rest day

Woke up hung over. Not badly, but still a rude awakening. Ate breakfast that Mike made. Right now I’m in a park writing, about to head over to a coffee shop. Might rain.

Mike’s roommate Kenny seems really cool. Climbs, caves, and sea kayaks.

I need to get back into volunteering: reset my priorities [I did begin volunteering again about 6 months after this trip: I volunteered on a suicide crisis line in Hamilton with the Salvation Army]. Focus on school and research [I graduated in August 2013], future career stuff. Oh, and apply for medschool [I did and didn’t get in].

What does it say about me that I’ve been to Arizona, Paris, Prague, Germany, and Spain, and now biked across Canada, all in the last year, and yet I’m stressed about doing more. Have I truly appreciated what I’ve done? So what if I miss the Cabott Trail or Gros Morne? I’ve hiked Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and been to the fjords in Norway, hiked on a glacier, hiked a mountain, been to the Alps!

Relax Alex: you’ve done well. Plus: Kentucky in October! [this refers to a 9 day climbing trip I had in 2013 in the Red River Gorge] Enjoy it!

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I’m at a coffee shop called Harbo-Grounds reading The Grey Islands. It’s fantastic! Read:

‘Night on the island is full of power. In the dark the land and sea are released from the spell of logic and industry the sun’s light places upon them. The water, the trees and hills rise up. They roam and assume what shapes they wish.’

‘At one point last night I stepped out of the cabin and was startled by the gigantic glaring presence of the moon, its reflection reaching in a broad flashing path down the sea, like a river of cold light falling straight to the cabin door. I had never seen the moon so large or so white, and its light seemed too sharp, too keen and alert: as if grinning – not hungrily exactly – but with knowing, exultant power, like some great animal.’

‘It moved briskly, this creature of light, crippling its body with easy energy. And I stood swallowed up, gazing into it. But I could not bear it for long. It was too massive and too cold to confront alone. In a rush I turned to the cabin and opened the door: the relief! the lantern throwing its cone of warm light over the table, my book, the woodstove crackling contently.’

How many times have I had this kind of experience with the moon?

High on shrooms with Sam and Ryan when we camped outside, and then again snow tubing. Andrea and her lunacy. Lake Superior on this trip

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Another gem from Steffler. Reminds me of [David Foster Wallace]’s This is Water:

‘It’s enough to record what’s obvious. Here in the foreground. But always this is what’s hardest to see. The habit of straining your eyes craning to get above obstacles is the biggest obstacle.
The doubt that there’s any value in doing things.’

Left the cafe and went to find a towel at Canadian Tire. The place was run by teenagers, I swear.

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Made my way to Brewed Awakening and finished The Grey Islands. Picked up a book about Malcom Lowry [an author I like for his book Under the Volcano]

Around 7 we went to a BBQ. Lots of cool interesting people there. We left around 6 with Laura, and I showed her how to fix her front wheel on her mountain bike. Went to Mike’s place and then we all chilled and drank and talked all night. I would love to come back and go kayaking and climbing with Kerry.

 

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My Bicycle Trip Across Canada: Day 63: Ceramics

June 29th: Doyles, NL to Corner Brook, NL: 180k

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I killed this day. Biked almost 70 or 80k without a break. Ended up at Helen’s Diner. Waited for Phill for 2 hours. Never showed. Turns out he got some flats and just stopped at the first restaurant he could find.

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I biked the next 110 with two stops. One after 60k, and then the next when I was 18k outside of town. So hungry!

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Got into Corner Brook and foun the place we’re staying at. We’re staying with a ceramics artist named Michael Flagherty. He’s really cool. Biked across Canada solo doing free bike repairs at art shows. Also went to live on the Grey Islands of FL for 3 months alone, where he made a kiln and then made art.

Mike gave me a book by John Steffler called The Grey Islands. It’s remarkable. It’s a fictionalized version of a trip he did where he lived on the islands alone for a summer. Reading the book. I keep thinking of how similar a lot of our thoughts are, about the journey, the road, the people you meet.

What am I going to do with my life? How can I get all these adventures (climbing, kayaking, cycling) done, and still get a good job. Obviously (?) they probably shouldn’t be so high on my priority list.

I’m excited for Juliane to come to visit. I’m nervous as well. On the one hand I haven’t liked someone this much since Casey or Agatha… but on the other hand she lives in Germany … plus there’s still doubts. There’s always doubts.

We went out to a bar. Met up with Tings and her partner and their Corner Brook host Ryan. Cool guy. I really liked talking to Tings and Kieran (sp?). I keep thinking about Tings. She just seems so cool…

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