Archive for May, 2008

Photo Shoot

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

On Sunday, Scott and I went up to visit our friends Mike and Sasha and asked them to take some action shots of us on the bikes. They did a great job! Here are some of the highlights:









Shakedown Cruise – Itinerary update

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Here is the latest plan:

  • June 2-7: Ottawa to Rochester (approx. 420 km in 6 days).
  • June 8-10: Off bikes. Visiting Becky’s family, getting bikes tuned.
  • June 11-22: Rochester to Ottawa via Toronto (approx. 800 km in 12 days).

Here is the plan for immediately after the shakedown cruise:

  • June 23-27: Pack, prepare, take first aid course.
  • June 28: Open house.
  • June 29-30: Finish packing.
  • July 1: Canada Day.
  • July 2: Moving day (all furniture leave the house).
  • July 3: Pack up bicycles – final gear organization.
  • July 4: Departure.

Stage 1 – Map

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

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Stage 1 – Canada East of Ottawa

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

After receiving some advice from Gary at Atlantic Cycling, we’ve modified our planned route across Newfoundland and added some more riding in Labrador.

For the first part of our trip we will be riding east from Ottawa (our home). The route will be:

  • Ottawa – Natashquan, QC (1500 km)
  • Ferry to Blanc-Sablon, QC
    This ferry runs only once a week. If it doesn’t look like we’ll make it for July 24th, we’ll pick it up on the 23rd at Sept-Ilse.
  • Ferry to St.Barbe, NL
  • St. Barbe to St. Anthony, NL (100 km)
  • St. Anthony to St. Barbe, NL (100 km)
  • Ferry to Blanc-Sablon, QC
  • Blanc-Sablon, QC to Cartwright, Labrador (410 km)
  • Ferry to Lewisporte, NL
    This ferry runs only once a week, so if we arrive a day late, we’ll take it up to Goose Bay for a brief visit before heading to Lewisporte.
  • Lewisporte to St.John’s, NL (650 km)
  • St. John’s to Argentia, NL (140 km)
  • Ferry to Sydney, NS

This portion of our trip is planned from July 4th to August 26. We do have some flexibility, so we may extend it to Aug 30 if we need the extra time.

If we are feeling brave (or crazy) we may join Atlantic Cycling for their annual three day tour of the Cabot Trail on Labour Day weekend. Maybe by then we’ll be up for tackling the hills!

Once we complete stage 1, we’ll have a short visit with Scott’s sister and family in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Then, we will need to find our way to Charleston, North Carolina where we catch a freighter on or about September 21st to Antwerp Belgium.


Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Our bikes have arrived home safely. We have not yet figured out which panniers we will bring with us on our grand adventure. For our shakedown cruise we have purchased one set of: Ortlieb Front Roller Plus, Orlieb Back Packer Plus, and Arkel RT-40. We will also choose a set from our older front and rear panniers purchased for previous bike tours. Hopefully by the end of the shakedown cruise we will have a better sense of which pannier configurations work for each of us.


We each have had a chance to take a couple of short rides (15-20 km). Unfortunately, the weather and our schedule have made it difficult for us to get out to do more training rides. We are in a constant state of preparing the house for rental, packing up, and figuring out gear and logistics for our trip. There seems to never be enough time to get everything done. I am definitely looking forward to getting onto the road and living a simplier life!

What’s that sound?

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

This is a story based upon the events of Wednesday, May 14, 2008.

We headed down to Alfred Station NY to pick up our new bikes, and then onto Stony Fork Pennsylvania to camp. It had been warm during the day, but as evening approached the temperature dropped. On the drive down to Stony Fork a few spits of rain came down from the sky. The weather was not looking promising.

We discussed the option of taking a cabin rather than camping, since we were both cold and the weather was not looking good. When we arrived, we asked, only to discover that all the cabins were rented. Our options were tenting or backtracking to find a hotel. It was already 8 pm and we were hungry and tired after a long day, so we opted for camping.

We selected a campsite and quickly began our regular camp chores: Scott setup the tent and I prepared dinner. I immediately added a layer of clothes, and the chill I had went away. Once I was warm, I began to enjoy the camping experience. By the time the tent was set and dinner was ready, it was 8:30 pm and the sun had set. We ate dinner with the last whispers of twilight.

During supper we heard a loud whiny crying sound. I suggested to Scott that the sound was from an odd bird: the sound was vaguely Canada Goose like. Scott suggested that the bird was clearly in some kind of distress. Within a couple of minutes we heard a loud crashing sound in the woods approaching our campsite. It was clear that a large animal was in the area. I started talked to Scott loudly. We pointed our lights in the direction of the sound, asking what or who was there. I also looked for some metal, and began banging the pot lifter onto one of the pots. At the sound of the metal clinks, the motions of the loud animal appeared to quickly move away from our campsite. Scott suggested that it might have been a deer. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that it was much larger than a deer!

We finished our dinner and cleaned up. We did not hear the whiny crying or loud animal again.

After supper we recessed to the tent for our evening reading and sleep soon followed. We were both exhausted after a long day of driving and cycling. I was surprised at how well I slept – in the back of my mind, I was pretty certain that the “large animal” I had heard was a bear, and that the whiny crying was that of a bear cub.

In the morning, we received confirmation. When we talked to one of the campsite conveners, he mentioned that a mother bear was in his dumpster and that there were two cubs whining or crying as they were not big enough yet to crawl in themselves. Several people at the campsite saw the bears on the other side of creek while we were enjoying our dinner – blissfully unaware of the bears presence.

I am glad the bears were around while we were having dinner and not later in the night when we were sleeping. We were able to scare them off, and they did not return. We did ensure that we had a couple of metal tent pegs at our reach, so that we could bang them together if we heard any “large animals” rustling through the woods. I was amazed at how well that worked (or at least it gave us the appearance of being effective!).

Loss of knowledge

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

During a break in the ACM action, I came home and tackled a project I’d been putting off for some time.  I opened up the box containing my university notes, and recycled many of them. This box has been taped shut for more than a decade, and through several moves.

This was a painful process.  Although I’m sure I’ll never look at many of them again, they represent knowledge hard-obtained, over my five-year undergraduate degree.  With my poor memory, they are also touchstones reminding me of events and activities I had otherwise forgotten.  Among the treasures I discovered were:

  • A journal I kept during my Religion and Ecology course
  • A technical report on my implementation of Internet tools at Northern Telecom in 1994, including Usenet, Gopher, and that most modern of tools:  World-Wide-Web, with Hypertext links!
  • A number of lab reports and commerce papes which brought back fond memories

I kept most of this, as well as many of the notes from my commerce courses, but the majority of Physics, Math and Engineering Physics notes went into the recycle bin.  As I let them go, I felt like the knowledge contained in them was lost, but I reminded myself that it was unlikely I would need it again.  If I do, these are not insights into the nature of the universe, they’re undergrad course notes.  Somehow, I’ll find the information again, probably faster than if I had to dig through my course notes.

I’m glad I finally did it, and also that I took the time to glance at everything, say goodbye to the things I discarded, and keep a few of the small treasures.

Bikes and Crossing the Atlantic

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

This is a really quick update, as we are participating in the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Annual Conference and Meeting this weekend. I’ll try and update with more details and pictures pictures sometime this weekend.
We successfully picked up our bikes this week. We made a quick trip down to Afred Station NY to get the bikes, and we camped out at Stony Fork Pennsylvania.

On the freighter front, the boat we were hoping to take from Montreal is no longer running on the route, so we are now looking into US departures. There are no US departures to Italy that take passengers for segments. I’ve managed to get a tentative booking from Savannah Georgia (we are looking to change the pickup to Charleston NC) to Antwerp Belgium on or about September 19th. This works well as it gives us a little bit more time to get to the boat.

We’ll also have an updated Newfoundland and Labrador itinerary based upon some advice from Gary at Atlantic Cycling.

A quick update

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

We are slowly but surely getting ready for this trip. The reality of it all is setting in.

We have:

  • Completed our immunizations (all that needed to be done before we leave North America. We still need to take the Cholera vaccine just before we leave North America).
  • Completed our Servas interviews. We have our signed and stamped letters of introduction. We are awaiting host lists, so that we can begin connecting the people we hope to meet throughout our trip.
  • Rented our house for July 15th.
  • Began packing up the house, giving things away, and moving things into our storage locker.
  • Sold my car.
  • Reserved the ferry from Natashquan to Blanc-Sablon, Quebec for July 24th.
  • Reserved the ferry from Argentia Newfoundland to North Sydney Nova Scotia for August 26th.

Our bikes shipped from Germany on Monday (May 5th). This is a little later than we had hoped, so it it doesn’t look like we will be going to pick them up this weekend. We are crossing our fingers in hope that they arrive in time to pick them up on Wednesday or Thursday next week.

Our current plan is to leave Ottawa on June 2nd for a trip around Lake Ontario. We are now heading towards Niagara first. We plan to visit my extended family around June 7-8, and then make our way to Alfred Station, NY for a bicycle tune up on either June 11 or 12. We also wish to visit some folks in Rochester NY on our way home. We need to be home by June 22, which means we might need to take a train from Kingston to get back to Ottawa in time (although, it might be just as easy to ride!).

A note about writing

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

You may be noticing that the style of my writing is varying between posts. I’m experimenting with different writing styles and techniques. If you like a particular style of article, please leave a comment to let me know.

You will also notice that I am posting some articles in the past. I struggled with which date I should use for posts – the date the event occurred or the date in which I completed the article. I decided that when I am writing about specific events in the past (that is, specific journal entries), that I will date stamp them with the date they occurred, rather than the date I got around to finishing the article. I am not sure how this affects the various blog readers and email subscriptions. If this is a bad idea or really annoying for those of you reading, please let me know! I expect it will be easier to follow for those that are reading at least a month after the events, as things will be chronologically correct.