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August 5 - Day 90

I can't believe it's been three months. Three whole months since I left home. I should be done by now, I could have been done three weeks ago if I didn't stop for so long at so many places. Oh well, I figure a week more and I'll be in St. John's. And baring incident, today will be my last day in Quebec.

Here's hoping.

Time spent cycling: 4:59:30 hours

Distance traveled: 107.08 km

Total distance: 5229 km

Average Speed: 21.4 kph

Maximum speed: 75.8 kph

Current Location: Provincial Park outside Edmundston

What a great day! One could divide it into two parts. First of all, there was the arduous trek uphill, over and over again, for fifty kilometers, this had a beneficial side, though, in that on one downhill I was traveling at over 70kph for at least a couple of klicks! I haven't gone this fast since Roger's Pass!

Then, when I got to Cabano, a gas station attendant took an interest in my bike and my trip. He barely spoke English... scratch that, he DIDN'T speak English, but spoke french and used gestures to get his point across. He understood I was traveling to New Brunswick and wanted to help. Ten minutes later, and with the help of another attendant, I discovered that I was near a bike trail that would take me all the way to New Brunswick and beyond! After a rest and a meal, I went in search of this trail.

My God, Wyatt would have killed to ride this trail. It was the longest, most scenic, wonderful bike trail I have ever been on. Turns out it's part of the Trans Canada Trail, too. It was also MUCH easier than the road, because it followed the lake shore and later the river, so very few hills, and all of them were very easy. I deduced eventually that the trail was once a railway line, torn up and converted. This theory was later confirmed. Amazing! I only wish I could find more roads like that...

But wait! At the tourism office at the border, it turns out I can! There are bike trails all over the place, and it turns out my initial plan for getting to the Confederation Bridge wouldn't work. So now I have to spend the evening preparing a new plan. Who knows, I might have to spend another day here, but the reason for that is forthcoming.

When I got to the park here, at first I didn't find anyone helpful. When I did, however, it wasn't just one family, but three! A huge extended family that I was introduced to one at a time (plus two dogs), that at one point surrounded me with friendship and welcome. It was a great feeling. Apparently there is some kind of festival here this weekend, as well.

Well, now that I'm set up, I'm off to do some work. Mail some stuff, make some calls, maybe a couple interviews.

I thought things were going to get easier now that I'm past the Appellations. Apparently not. Seems that I'm 4 DAYS away from Confederation Bridge (to say nothing of how I'm going to cross it, since bikes aren't allowed... hitchhike? Maybe the ferry is cheap? I have to take it to get back anyways...) I had thought at best I was 2 days out, maybe 3 on the outside. But the roads here are anything but direct. I wouldn't mind so much if there were bike trails along the whole way, but the information I was given seems to indicate there are only brief portions here and there. So what's up with this Trans-Canada crap? How can it be a Trans-Canada trail if it's only here and there?

This depressing bit of information has put me out of the mood for interviews, but I will have to do at least one before tonight. First, some phone calls.

Oh yeah, I crossed yet another time zone now. The last one until Newfoundland and it's freakish 30 minute nonsense.

I had dinner with my benefactors, steak and potatoes with vegetables. What did I do to deserve such good fortune? Well, in a way, nothing. The lady here has a friend who's daughter hitchhiked across Europe (alone, I might add!). She hoped that if she needed help that people would be considerate to her, and so that rubbed off on her today. After dinner and sugar pie, she did the survey with me, and as a teacher had some interesting answers.

There is the possibility of talking to a journalist tomorrow. My benefactor thinks he'd be interested in my journey, but I am more interested in getting his opinions of the future. A reporter is a unique opportunity. I'll know by tomorrow.

There is a big party being held in the downtown today, and I think I'll drop by to see what it's like. Apparently there is some kind of folk culture aspect to it, I'll try to get pictures and sound.

Here is an interesting turn of events. First of all, the festival was okay, but I was only able to spend a half hour before having to leave before the sun set. Even so, I arrived back at the camp at dark. I got some pictures and sound, but how it turns out will have to wait and see.

The other thing is once I got back, I called Gillian, and it turned out that the Globe and Mail wants to publish one of my travel articles! I was overwhelmed! Now, a few details have to be worked out, but this could be my first real publication! WOO-HOO! I can't wait to pick up a copy myself! Damn, what a feeling that will be!

Anyways, it is almost midnight, time to sleep. If I can...

August 6 - Day 91

The morning starts off slowly. I woke at 6, but having got to bed at midnight, forced myself to sleep till 8. After that, I was reading 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, waiting for my benefactors to wake, so I could inquire about a second night's hospitality. It is 10:30 now, and so I feel committed to this layover, my legs could use it and I have so many questions about the publication in the Globe and Mail! I wonder if they will be interested in further articles? Perhaps one about Quebec would be in order.

But if I do an article about Quebec, part of it will have to deal with this portion of New Brunswick. In particular, one unique aspect of their camp ground. Because they have a trail that runs all the way to Riviere du Loup (over 100k away), they know they cater to cyclists as well as the usual campers, so there is a reduced rate section of the camp ground specifically for the use of cyclists like myself. I think it's half price, I'll have to check.

Now this is something I'd like to see everywhere! All parks should have such a section, or at least give discounts to cyclists. Why on earth should a single cyclist be expected to pay the same amount as a family of four in a camper van? There should be allowances made.

The family agreed to let me stay. To them it was a non-issue. I had a hearty brunch with them, and got to work on my third newspaper article, this one about Quebec. It's okay, but perhaps too political and not enough about travel. But to be honest, I don't see any other way to write it.

I got a survey from an employee today, and found out the only way to get back from Sydney is going to cost me 166 bucks. Ouch. Oh well, I expected as much. Later that evening, the entire extended family got together for dinner, which was, as usual, fantastic. The hospitality I've been extended is above and beyond the call of duty.

Afterwards everyone gathered around in a circle and just chatted for over an hour, but in french. It reminds me of a scene in the movie The 13th Warrior (from the book Eaters of the Dead) in which the Arab narrator, who does not speak a word of the language the Norsemen speak, sits and listens to everyone talk around the campfire every night, and eventually picks up bits and pieces of the language, connects them, and eventually learns to speak the language. I feel that if I spent a month with this family as such, I just might be able to do the same thing.

My benefactor's brother (with whom I also did the survey) is an ex-RCMP officer. When I talked about my history, and mentioned my dad's history with Satan's Choice, he just smiled, closed his eyes and muttered "Oh my God..." a few times, which everyone thought was good for a laugh. In fact, just about everything is good for a laugh here. I can't get over what a warm atmosphere this is.

To top off a perfect evening, how's this: I thought I was going to get paid 50 bucks for my article in the Globe and Mail.

I'm getting $250

Onto Day 92...