Québéc, New Brunswick, Maine - Landing A Trippy Trumpet
Mission accomplished - summon the aircraft carrier and hand me my flightsuit! Yes, my first big cycle tour has already faded into time steadily and surely. But you, dear reader, can still revel in its mysteries and joys via this riveting account.
What was the route, you ask? Simple, Oh Witless Watson: starting in Québéc's Montréal (Canada), I cycled NE down the St. Lawrence (St. Laurent) Seaway until I crossed over the tail end of the Appalachians to cut off the Gaspesie Peninsula. There I gained the Atlantic at the top of New Brunswick. From there I followed the Atlantic (and Acadian Coast) south, eventually cutting off Nova Scotia, resuming at the Bay of Fundy to complete New Brunswick and Maine's Atlantic fronts. I ended the trip at Maine's almost southernmost point of York Beach, more than ready to attend a family reunion and call it two months well done.
Refer to this particular entry of the accounting for a summary of where I was when. Or just use the maps in following the St. Laurent and Atlantic Coasts. You may even want to skip to the end to read the bonus material first. Your call.
Here's how to follow the map: start at the left edge's center, at Montréal, then follow the yellow line northeast up the St. Lawrence Seaway. Most of the way up, at St. Flavie, the yellow line slices almost directly eastward across the lower Appalachian range to cut off some of the Gaspesie Peninsula. Then once again it follows the coastline (now the Atlantic) south. When the land route to Nova Scotia is reached, the yellow line once again cuts off the peninsula via Moncton before rejoining the Atlantic coast south of that city. From there it continues all the way on the coast (via a number of islands, too) until the southern coastal tip of Maine.
Use the maps and kilometer entries below to track the route:
NOTE: * = day spent completely at location
Montréal, Qc ***** (25km)
Sainte Anne de Sorel, Qc 75km
Becancour, Qc 85km
Deschaillons, Qc * 50km
St. Nicholas, Qc 85km
Levis, Qc 15km waiting for weather and hostel to clear
Québéc, Qc ******* 10km, 400th anniversary ^^ 345km cumulative ^^
Baie-St-Paul, Qc * 120km, major hills
La Malbaie, Qc 75km major hills
Tadoussac, Qc 75km *****
Trois-Pistoles, Qc 40km
Sainte-Flavie, Qc 100km
Campbellton, NB 180km, major hills at start ^^ 955km cumulative ^^
Cap-Aux-Os, Qc ** no bike
Perce, Qc ** no bike
Campbellton, NB no bike
Nigadoo, NB 95km
Val-Comeau, NB 135km, mostly tail winds, rainstorm wipeout
Oak Point, NB 50km, strong headwinds
Pointe Sapin, NB 100km, poach camping
Bouctouche, NB 105km
Shediac, NB 50km, super strong headwinds
Moncton, NB ** 30km ^^ 1520km cumulative ^^
Fundy National Park/Alma, NB 75km, hilly with headwinds
St. Martin's, NB * 110km, very hilly, heavy rain late in it
St. John, NB 45km
Grand Manan Island, NB * 60km, (30km on isle)
Campobello Island, NB (at U.S. border) * 43km, (25km on isle) ^^ 2008km cumulative ^^
Machias, Me 50km absolutely drenched, only motel stop of trip!
Bar Harbor, Me ** 80km (90km on isle) mega-fog
Camden Hills, Me 115km hillanddale
Freeport, Me 105km
Scarborough, Me 65km replaced shifter cable, thunderstorms, 4 flats
York Beach, Me 75km ^^ 2483km cumulative ^^
The complete distance cycled was roughly 1500 miles, or a little more than crossing the US halfway between San Francisco and Washington DC, all over now but the crying. Soon I'd practically do the same distance all over again in Australia. Here now begins the story...
On a fine day in June 2008 - the 2nd to be precise, TripTrumpet (henceforth known as I and me) landed in Montréal, bike in tow. Or box, as the case was. Yet, for all that amazing accomplishment, that cycle-ready circumstance was not a given. Much flailing was necessary on the way.
Yes, with all of my until-the-last-minute preparation to rent out my house and begin my travels, I was somehow less than motivated to do any legwork to get ready to hit the road. Down to the last hour or so I still had to pack my bike, a task which entailed disassembling it. Ugh!, I thought. I thus put it off, proud enough that - just prior to having to do so - I had managed to stuff my complete (and drastically reduced) belongings into my sister's tiny wine closet. The dreaded bike box stuffing was frankly easy to ignore.
I had no idea how to do it, anyway. This soon showed when I got to the task of breaking down the bike, leaving scrape marks on both pedals' metal nuts in taking them off. I next spewed slimy grease from my seatpost into the box when I managed to wrench that sucker off, too. After those mucked-up forays, however, all that remained was to take off the ancient Cannondale's handlebars. It was then, when I was close to finishing up THAT last detail, that I incurred a minor disaster: in taking apart the stem, I found out a wee late that the handlebar apparently didn't come out in the manner I was proceeding to do so. Oops.
Wisely, I quickly gave up on this path of great resistance and jammed the crippled remains of my bike into my car, zipping over to the nearest bike repair shop. There I had to endure a lecture about how I (A) only needed to have loosened one bolt and tap it once to get the stem out and (B) could have had the bike shop pack the bike in the first place. First off, regarding (B), he wasn't taking into account that I was proudly cheap and that would be the last thing I'd ever do. Regarding (A): uh, whatever - it was too late for such logical nonsense! I had a bike to smash in a panic into a rectangular box and a plane to catch.
So smash it I did, with a couple of bike "corners" poking harshly into (and almost out of) the box edges. No problem, I figured: there was duct tape for that! I finished binding my bike into the box, then jammed various bits of camping and biking gear around it. Tape everywhere did its advertised trick of covering up my mistakes suitably, I figured. First mission accomplished - but I'd hold off on summoning the aircraft carrier until the end for now. I'd be content with just the flightsuit, thanks.
It was just in time, too, as rain really began to piss down. Cardboard wasn't a great friend of rain - hadn't I heard? A friend soon came by to take me to the airport in his (covered!) pickup truck; the peeing from behind the cover of clouds thankfully let up a bit. With that positive omen to hopefully turn things around from a fitful packing, it was now time to go Go GO and begin this trip - I was in no mood for a rain delay, not after that near fiasco.
That was that. Seattle, falling away below, was soon but a memory. The two flights necessary were thankfully uneventful outside of being jam-packed full. A mere several hours of some form of sleep sufficed to get me to Newark; a timely transfer would put me in Montréal an hour later.
Coming in to land, we flew in over the St. Lawrence (English)/St. Laurent (French) Seaway. This was emphatically interesting to me, as I would soon be following this famed waterway on my bike northeast toward the Atlantic and New Brunswick beyond. From my vantage point in the sky, all I could specifically make out before landing were farmhouses dotting the landscape, however. Many of these completely fronted the river, probably unsurprising. Montréal ahead was overcast, but at least it would be 10 degrees warmer than the Seattle I had just left. Cool - I was in favor of all increases in temperature. Warm!, I mean.
Picking up my bike box in baggage claim, I was the lone arrival from my plane to get shunted off to immigration. I guessed this musta been since I was either sketchy... or planning to overstay my welcome. It was the latter (primarily, anyway), this detour something I had just effectively asked for in writing on the customs document. I had stated my travel intention as an undetermined stay in Canada.
Hmmm, "unemployed musician" probably didn't sell well, either. So, unsurprisingly perhaps, I was 3-for-3 in the reactions of the officials I was questioned by. They unanimously thought I was nuts. Actually, they charitably framed it as "Bon Courage!" Cute. Not that I cared, however - two of the officials were beautiful women in state police uniforms. I had other thoughts.
A taxi next took my battered boxes and I to my hostel, with me sullenly rueing the hefty $45 charge for the 15 minutes it took to arrive at my hostel's door. Next the driver, then the hostel owner, showed no particular interest in helping me heft my ungainly 71-lb bike box around. Damn the buggers! It was necessary to take a deep breath in and make myself relax: my fitness regimen would be starting sooner than later, starting with this box. All per the plan... yeah.
But hey Hey HEY I would next figure, walking through the hostel door - look at all of the cute women huddled around the kitchen table! Unquestionably they were very impressed with my luggage of a massive bike box with holes in it, no? And the Huggies diaper box of biking gear excessively bound in duct tape? No? Hmmm. No matter - I was immediately to be shunted off before ever even meeting them. I was instead to be off to... the annex.
This was several blocks away, although a van would graciously shuttle me over there in spite of the lack of hand-lending for the luggage. At the annex a few parisiennes and a guy from Barcelona were idling about, soon to be by default my first victims to suffer some conversation in French and Spanish. Otherwise, the place was quiet. I wolfed down a bit of the pathetic (yet included) petit-dejeuner of bread roll and weak coffee, then set to the task of putting my bike together. I was in Montréal with a lot of coastline to conquer... eventually.
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