Jan, 2022 back to Oct, 2011: (nothing)
It's always raining in Canada's maritime provinces. Rain dive-bombs from above, it sloshes under-wheel and it materializes out of thin air—or, to be more literal, out of thick air. Waterfalls don't send up mist because there's no space for mist in this air. There's only space for me, curling over my handlebars to make myself hydrodynamic.
The sun peeks out one day in New Brunswick. Its heat makes my camera lens so foggy I fear I've lost my window to the world. Life returns to normal soon enough: the lens and rain restore themselves simultaneously.
It's drizzling. This dreary Friday morning, I'm munching fruit leather near Saint John River. The Trans-Canada Highway isn't far and there's a bridge beside me. Haze silences all.
Sep, 2011 back to Aug, 2011: (nothing)
Soon I'd turn northeast and the wind would push me. For now I was climbing my last hilly, gusty challenge, 50 kilometres from St. John's.
How would I feel when I ended my ride? I hadn't been sure for the first 88 days of my trip. I pondered the question one last time—and I figured it out.
It would feel like finishing a great book.
I recalled the characters as I pedalled. The motherly cafe owner in Newfoundland who gave me a discount on breakfast and made me a free sandwich for the road. The chill bike-shop employee in British Columbia who directed me to a fantastic cappuccino. The cook who lived beside his traincar restaurant in New Brunswick and ambushed me with a plate of strawberries. My Grade 6 teacher who brought me breakfast and lunch in Nova Scotia in return for a poetry recital. Friends and family who said the right thing, always.
The Adam of Canada Day was in a foul mood.
For one thing, there weren't enough nice people. When a friendly old man chatted with him after second breakfast at a diner, the conversation turned to politics Adam had to hide his anger. The man disliked New Brunswick's requirement that government employees must speak French. Adam thought, but didn't say, that the policy seems reasonable because a third of New Brunswick's population is natively French-speaking. Adam made three polite attempts to extricate himself from the discussion: first by donning his gloves, second by walking over to the counter to pay for his meal, and finally by riding away and shouting goodbye over his shoulder.
The bad day began with a rotten night before. Adam had chosen to treat himself to a motel room, which the owner offered to cyclists at $69 instead of $89. As he showed Adam the room, the man had complained about cyclists demanding cheap fares. He'd pointed to the second bed in the room and told Adam that if he so much as touched it, the fare would rise by $20. Ditto for the second towel in the bathroom. Adam had fantasized about peeing on the second bed and stealing the towels, but in the end he'd done nothing.
Grand Falls, New Brunswick, has some grand falls.
Quebec is the best province yet.
This is only partly because it's my home. The language perked my ears even before I entered the province, a French with such a unique accent we call it Quebecois.
I crossed a bridge into the province, and wham! A bicycle lane greeted me at the first intersection.
Quebec is the only province I've seen so far with road signs for bicycle lanes. The signs and lanes make up a huge network, called the Route Verte. Signposts led me from Hawkesbury, Ontario to Edmunston, New Brunswick.
I ordered two pieces of focaccia, a salad and a cappuccino.
“Have you ever ordered a cappuccino here before?” asked the cashier.
I hadn't, as a matter of fact. This was the Modern Bakery in Revelstoke, a ski town in British Columbia, and I was only stopping for lunch.
“It's a layer of espresso, a layer of milk and a layer of foam,” she said, gesturing with her hand.
Early explorers paddled through the rocky, lake-y, swampy Canadian Shield. Then came dynamite, then trains, then roads.
Today, 1,500 kilometres of narrow Trans-Canada Highway weave near lakes, cross rivers and climb hills, taking frequent shortcuts through blasted outcrops.
The outcrops are miniature echoes from Rockies roads, some 10 metres high, others peaking below my shoulders. Couples have eternalized their love on them by spray-painting hearts and their initials.
A scrawl of white paint shouts from one glistening rock face: IN MOMERY OF PICKY.
For the confused among my readers, I'm working on my Next Big Thing: a bicycle trip across Canada.
I'm riding from the west coast to the east coast.
Mile 0 of the Trans-Canada Highway is in Victoria. There are thousands of miles (and even more thousands of kilometres) between there and the end.
My bicycle is a Surly Long Haul Trucker. Edward at Ride Bicycles in Seattle taped the handlebar grips at the very beginning of my journey.
I wake up and my first thought is, is somebody pissed off at me?
Welcome to my home. It's a one-man, super-light tent pegged forcefully onto an ancient gravel road that nature is reclaiming. I looked to the sides of the road for a perfect spot once I began yawning last night and, one kilometre later, I found this. It's flat and peaceful. My food is tied into one of the thousands of enormous trees that hide me from traffic.
I dress myself and exit, and I find I'm still alone with my bicycle. Good.
The problem is water. My bottles only store two litres total, and by the time I stop I'm already closer to one. That's enough to cook supper and moisten my lips, but I can't cook oatmeal in the morning. Granola bars it is.
A map is available at http://track.adamhooper.com/#2011-05-17--2011-05-24.
I fell sick in Winnipeg and had to be nursed back to health.
I introduce my latest web creation: http://track.adamhooper.com. It tells you where I've been and where I am. As I blog, you'll see improvements on that site.
But enough about me. How about those Manitoba floods? They've been all over the Canadian news lately.
The sun sets by a wind power generator near Moosomin, Saskatchewan.
A tale told each May on cold Prairie days
Is worthy of space on my site.
It's Bicycle rolling down well-ridden roads
And Wind coming, asking to fight.
The rider crouched down, with not half a frown,
Requesting the wind to abate.
“I'm too oft due east,” shot Wind, shunning peace,
“This year you'll be trapped and made late.”
The ducks flapping east soon flapped without cease;
Wind's gusts spun them 'round with a breeze.
The waves grew white teeth in ditches beneath,
And cans cartwheeled west just to tease.