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Vagamonde: Chasing Euphoria and Getting Hit by Reality
is now available on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr,
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In Montreal: at bookstores Bertrand and Paragraphe

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cols, côtes et collines: Notre progrès depuis Rocky Harbour

(Nous mettrons tous les accents plus tard.)
Nous avons decide de rester deux jours au camping pres du village de Quirpon. De la, ce n'etait pas loin de visiter L'Anse aux Meadows, le site ou sont arrives les Vikings il y a 900 ans. Nous avons vu au moins six icebergs, des petits mais quand meme impressionants. Ici, on appelle les icebergs "Newfoundland air conditioning" (la climatisation de Terre Neuve). Oui, il faisait frais la-haut!
Un quebecois qui etait au meme camping nous a conduit jusqu'a Rocky Harbour. Rheal et sa chienne Anuk voyageaient depuis Gatineaux en camion, lui avec son kayak sur le toit. Le trajet de L'Anse aux Meadows a Rocky Harbour ne durait que 4 heures, mais nous sommes arrives plus epuises qu'apres une longue journee de velo. Nous avons pris la route 432, qui rejoint la 430 pres de Plum Point - ca serait une bonne route de faire en velo. Pas de traffic!
A Rocky Harbour, nous sommes restes pour la nuit. Un couple, Georgina et Dave Payne nous ont genereusement offert de camper sur leur pelouse. Le lendemain, nous avons franchi le Southeast. Un col pas tres haut (2.5 km) mais tres pentu. De la, nous sommes descendus sur la Transcanadienne jusqu'a la sortie pour Steveville et la peninsule Port aux Port. Ici, il pleut et cela devrait durer pendant une semaine.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Must have been riding with our eyes closed

"You'd have to be driving with your eyes closed", we were told if we didn't see any moose on the stretch of road from Eddie's Cove East towards St Anthony. On that sixty kilometre stretch, we saw only one! He was a lovely moose, though. Standing majestically by the side of the road, he glanced back at us then trotted ahead before stopping again to give us the eye. When he realized that we were still gaining on him, he finally ducked into the trees and was gone.

We stayed in Hawke's Bay for three nights, not because the weather turned, but because we found out that we could have a new tire for Benoit sent up by a daily courrier that runs up the coast. He noticed a gash in his rear tire when we first arrived in Newfoundland and it's been a constant nagging worry about how long it would last before bursting. Benoit contacted a bicycle store in Corner Brook and in a day and a half he had a new tire. From Hawke's Bay, it's been a delight to discover gorgeous little coves where we could set up tent for the night. No-one in sight and no sounds but the waves of the ocean on the shore.

On Saturday (July 18), the wind turned from a helpful southwesterly tail wind to a nasty driving cold northeasterly head wind. We were barely able to pedal 10 km/h in that wind. Benoit and I took turns drafting, that is, him in front and me riding right behind him, and every couple of kilometres, we'd switch. Those couple of kilometres that I was in front were the hardest workout of my life! At the town of Savage Cove, we stopped with the intent to cook up some tea on our little camp stove. But no sooner had we pulled off the road, a woman came up to invite us in to her parents' house for hot coffee, home-made bread and jam and a little history lesson of the area (from her dad). We were silly to leave the warmth of their home, but we did anyway and headed back into that wind. An hour and a half later, we made it 15 kilometres up the coast to Eddie's Cove East, the last community before the long stretch towards St Anthony. Another family came to our rescue, putting us up to camp in their shed, which was a great shelter from the wind. When the weather worsened, adding a biting cold rain to the driving wind, they let us wait it out for another day at their home... providing us food, warmth, laundry, well, everything that we could need and more. By this morning (July 20), the wind had shifted back to coming from the southwest and we practically sailed across to where we are now, the tiny town of Quirpon near the tip of the Northern Peninsula. On the way, what a delight it was to see other touring cyclists enjoying this fantastic place. We met up with Richard and Kathy (or is it Cathy with a C?) who have been cycling from Rocky Harbour up the western coast of Newfoundland with a brief extremely hilly excursion over in Labrador. (Enjoy the rest of your trip, you two! We hope to see you again.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Where you can find everything from a fart to a clap of thunder

That's how someone described a general store/bakery to us! (We didn't get a fart, nor a clap of thunder. But we did buy some baked goods there.) In Norris Point, we talked with the first touring cyclist that we have seen so far: a guy who cycled to Newfoundland from Windsor, Ontario. We might just meet up with him again. He was thinking of heading north towards Saint Anthony as we are. What can I tell you about Newfoundland that you haven't heard before? All the stories of the gorgeous scenery and the incredibly generous people are true! Sometimes it takes us off guard how nice the Newfoundlanders are. We stand there blinking in surprise at their kind offers to help us out. I'm writing this from Hawke's Bay, where the clouds are rolling in for the first time since our arrival. We are probably going to park it here for a few days.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hundred forty t'ousand moose on the Island

... but we haven't seen a moose yet! We arrived safely to Deer Lake, and our bikes were intact after their journey on the plane. A short 7 kilometre ride from the airport in the misty rain and we were snugly in beds at the Birchview Bed & Breakfast. The air was so fresh and clean. After a sound sound sleep (didn't hear a sound all night), we stocked up on supplies and headed out on our first day of cycling. We made it only as far as Wiltondale our first day. There, the kind owner of Old Lincoln Cabins let us put up our tent on his property for the night. Thanks, Danny! For our second day, we got off the main tourist route and started heading towards Trout River. At 40 clicks on the odometre, we saw a sign for organic coffee and free wireless internet. That is where I am writing this post: in the delightful little town of Birchy Head, NL. Oh, and the fish chowder here is to die for!