I’ve finally completed all the big provinces. All that remains is circling through the maritimes before hopping on my final ferry to Newfoundland.
During a Gaspé McDonald’s blogging Thursday morning, I enjoyed a long conversation with a friendly stranger – first in quite some time due to my lacking French abilities. Dan from Toronto was retired and visiting Gaspé, and we exchanged stories of travelling and thoughts on big city life and language barriers. He’d travelled all around Asia when younger, and commended me for doing this now, when I can “rough it” and do things I won’t be able to later. Looking back to many moments of this journey, he’s spot on there!
Also in McDonald’s, I met a cyclist travelling the opposite direction as me, who informed me coming up there was an unused train bridge across the water I could walk across to save myself 20km of riding. While it was awkward to maneuver my bike through, the more interesting and time-efficient excursion was well worth it!
I planned to finish Quebec strong while continuing to enjoy the captivating coastline. And that I sure did:
The stretch after Gaspé was less hilly than that before it, but still produced impressive backdrops. Quite a few extra kilometres on the dial, but La Gaspésie was yet another detour I’m very glad I chose.
Saturday afternoon I found myself approaching the provincial border – in this case, a short bridge to Campbellton, New Brunswick.
A bit counterintuitive to hit the time change in Campbellton, since I’d been further East for the past five days in Quebec.
Almost immediately after crossing that bridge, I felt the maritime friendliness I’d been constantly informed of along the way. The grocery store cashier was less rushed and more engaging in conversation. As I cooked my spaghetti dinner on a picnic table outside, three different people stopped to chat. The following morning while riding, a man doing yard work stopped and shouted out “Hey! Where ya biking from?” As I pulled over to chat, he welcomed me to the maritimes and spent a solid twenty minutes telling me of all the great places and people I have ahead of me. I sensed it all around me too. People simply made time to connect with each other.
On Sunday I came across a fellow solo cycle tourist in Dalhousie – from Courtenay, British Columbia! Quite the experienced cyclist, Peter had cycled across Canada and down the west coast to San Diego, and was on a shorter trip from Quebec to PEI.
Through generally flat terrain, I continued hugging coastline Sunday from Campbellton to Bathurst. It was quite neat to look over my shoulder to see Quebec across the water, where I’d been the previous day.
New Brunswick is noticeably bilingual: signage contains both French and English, I heard conversations split roughly evenly, and even their licence plates read “New Nouveau Brunswick”. It’s also home to many of a proud group, the Acadians, descendants of 17th-18th Century French colonists who settled in the area which was at the time known as Acadia.
Monday was a “series of unfortunate events” kind of day, my first set of speed bumps after a long stretch of smooth sailing. I took my bike in to the Bathurst bike shop right at opening time, as my rear wheel had been grinding over the past couple days, likely meaning something inside was loose.
“Sorry, our bike mechanic is sick today, it’ll have to be tomorrow.”
Not keen on waiting around for the day, I hit the road with 100km and change to the next shop on my route in Miramichi. The top route Google Maps gave me was via secondary highways, logging roads, and trails. Excellent, minimal traffic and a more direct route. Not so excellent, while on the trail and without reception, this was where I was supposed to turn off:
So I instead kept following the trail, figuring it would eventually lead to a road and I’d be back on track. Nope, it just lead to someone’s property. Okay, surely these people can direct me back toward civilization… Nope, nobody’s home. With no other choice, I backtracked to the logging road where I’d entered the trail and followed it in the general direction of Miramichi, eventually winding my way to the highway.
I did manage to reach Miramichi Monday night, but with an upset stomach, which I believe stemmed from some avocado gone bad in my wraps. Tuesday was my first (and hopefully only!) sick day of the trip, though I did manage to find the shop and get my bike road ready before my body was. I luckily found a Warmshowers host for Tuesday night, expecting a much smoother recovery in a house than my tent.
The end is in sight, and I have minimal ground left to cover. Yet I still have so much to look forward to: PEI, Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail, the 30-minute time zone change, trying to keep up with obscure Newfie lingo…