After our three nights (and two full, sunny days!) long recovery in our comfy AirBnB in Fredericton our journey continued on October 10th, 2018 further towards Edmundston and by that towards the boarder between New Brunswick and Quebec. However, for now still five sections on the bicycle lay between us and Edmundston. These sections were all going north, along the US American boarder and by that following the Saint John River upstream - and all this at by now not so golden but seriously cold, wet and grey autumn weather…
Because of a late start and a relatively long section in front of us not only bad weather but also bad mood were in the air when we started. The prospect of a cold and wet tent in the evening did not cheer either of us up. Furthermore no fast food restaurant was on our way so we had no chance to drown our frustration in greasy food. „Somehow this just hasn’t been our day!“ would be our joint summary on the late evening of that day. Looking back I am recommending everyone who goes on a cycling tour together and has a fight to just keep enough distance between each other. Otherwise a vivaciously braking that actually is supposed to underline the argument will lead to a unintentional collision that does not end the fight but rather, because of a then broken mounting of an Ortlieb-Pannier, intensify. Because this, subsequently to the the actually not that severe collision, from my carrier dangling pannier raised new questions. What now? Plane ticket home? How can we move on from here? Where do we get spare parts? Why did we have this fight in the first place? After somehow tying the pannier half on to the carrier we were at least able to tackle the last 15 km in order to get out of the rain which had continuously increased with the intensity of our argument and wasn’t about to stop. Mood: exhausted. On the campground then the very friendly owner, who had already thought about how to accommodate us more or less dry (we had called in advance to ask if the campground was still open), greeted us. We were allowed to sleep in a kind of conservatory next to the reception and therefore did not have to put up the tent in the dark (the accident had cost time), in the rain and with temperatures around zero degrees celsius. After a proper serving of pasta and a closing collegial counseling supervision of the day the educationalists were ready to enjoy the warm water of the sanitary facilities and then to finally go to bed next to each other and in a peaceful mood. Once again thank you very much to the owner of the Mariners Point RV Park for the hot coffee and the dry place to sleep - it made our evening!
Although the night did not bring better weather (we had the day with the most rain of this year so far ahead of us) our mood was much better on October 11th, 2018 than on the day before. Maybe our decision of booking a bed and breakfast in Grafton near Woodstock played a role. Knowing we would sleep in a warm bed and my now with safety locks (thank god we kept two of the four and didn’t gave all away when we sorted out in order to reduce weight and clutter) safely fixed Ortlieb panniers let us enjoy the highlights (the world’s largest Axe) in a good mood on our way in spite of four degrees and rain. Despite (or because of?) coldness and rain we moved quickly without any incidents - and in the evening were able, after letting our clothes and us drain, to enjoy the exceptional building, the great hospitality of the generous owner of our BnB and the company of her cute dog. Thank you Brigitte for being our peaceful haven during the great down pour!
On the next day (October 10th, 2018) we startet early and rested - direction Perth-Andover. Again there were some highlights on our way. For example the „world’s longest covered bridge“ and the „french fry capital of the world“. However the latter one was a big disappointment. Imagine driving past a place name sign and it written clearly: „french fry capital of the world“ and then, in the whole town, there are no french freis to be bought. As a visiter of the town I am expecting more than just the headquarter of Mc Cain! Ad the end of the day we did not have fries but the whole campground for ourselves.
That we had reached someone at all when we had called from Fredericton a few days back when planning the next sections was because of the restaurant which belongs to the campground, that, unlike the campground, was still open and highly frequented - and because of this the sanitary facilities were still open. Originally we had planned to ride a 20 km detour on the next day to be able to sleep on a campground that was still open because it belonged to a Motel. After a, because of the increasing coldness, quite exhausting day and while sitting on the bleak, empty and windy campground near Perth-Andover there was nothing good we could find about this plan. Without further ado we decided to stay on the direct route and book in Grand Falls, then our destination for the day, because there was no open campground, for the first time in our lives a motel.
As a matter of fact - this was actually going to be our last night sleeping in a tent for our trip this year. Of cause instead we could have, as the owner of the campground suggested, filled our water sacks, which we have not yet used and hold up to 10 liter each, and camped wild in the region of Grand Falls. Officially this is rather not allowed in, however - so our newest information - Canadiens are always allowed to camp for one night on government owned ground. Because we aren’t Canadiens and we most of the time don’t know the area good enough to distinguish between government and privately owned land, camping wild would definitely not be as relaxed as for example in Sweden (look up „Allemannsrätt“ = a law which allows everyone to camp everywhere who travels for one night - even on private land). However, from our experience, no Canadien would sent away two exhausted cyclists but rather offer help or even a bed. Additionally everyone we had talked to so far and told that the campgrounds are all closing down for winter now, proposed we should find a sheltered place in the woods and camp wild… so by then we felt almost ridiculous to let us get slowed down by some missing official campsites. Nonetheless the idea of not only having to build up the tent, inflate the sleeping mats, unload the bikes, get changed and maybe even a little bit comfy/ clean, light the fire and cook but also having to find a good place to stay in the first place and then do all of the stuff mentioned above without attracting attention, making fire, having warm, running water and a toilet after 60 to 80 km and in this new cold temperatures and the changeable weather conditions did not seem very tempting to us. Yes, we are looking for solitude, nature, the simple way of living, not the easy one… but to continue camp life in coldness and rain additionally to all the other demands traveling by bike for a first time and on a foreign continent brings along was just a little too much for us.
An hour later, laying in our sleeping bags after a home cooked dinner (instead of the non existing fries) we were so glad that we had decided on booking the Motel for the next day. Even though the chance of rain was, concerning the weathernetwork, less than 10 % for the next 24 hours, the wind started to blow and thick rain drops began to drum on our tent. Knowing we would have to pack up the wet tent the next morning but would not have to sleep in it the evening was very, very comforting.
With the song „We at the Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn…“ stuck in our heads on October 13th, 2018 we then rode further to Grand Falls.
Even though we stuck to the direkt route and therefore did not have too many kilometers ahead of us we had quite some ascents to conquer going further inland. All the nicer was enjoying the view over vast willows and forests in the tiny village Tilley, where we, boosted by the overcome hill, watched wild geese on their way heading towards the opposite direction then we were and then, driven by a new low point of temperature and a wind then brought the smell of snow, starting the ride down hill with the certainty of not having it far until our destination of the day and with it a warm bed.
Having arrived in Grand Falls we had a little early birthday dinner for Kira at the „Pizza Boy“ (for once not a fast food but a family owned restaurant) and a magical view of the actual Grand Falls.
The motel room turned out to be surprisingly spacious (our bicycles got their own bed) and comfy - with an excellent warm shower after which one did not have to laboriously climb back into socks and shoes but could just slip into the made bed.
After an „extensive“ continental breakfast
(Caution, ironie! There was toast with jam and some coffee - thank god we had muesli in our room to fill in the gabs!)
the journey continued on Sunday, October 14th, 2018 towards EdmunDston. We arrived there just in time to buy some groceries for our rest days in the little cabin in the forest.
The AirBnB at Carole’s place, located eight km outside of Edmundston, turned out to again be a true gem. In the smallest of spaces we had our own little house in which, because of clever division, was room for everything one can hope for. Two bedrooms (one for us, one for our bikes ;) ), a bathroom, a big living room with a fireplace, a fully equipped kitchen, a huge dining table and a sofa, three rocking chairs and still enough room for rolling out a yoga mat. On top of it the house had it’s own little veranda and stood in Carole’s huge, beautifully designed yet wild garden with old trees and a small stream… it did not take 30 minutes after our arrival and we had called our host and had extended our stay from two to three nights. Like this we had enough time to play with Carole’s friendly and and exceptional happy dog Yuki, sleep in, cook a little more extravagantly, stretch our tired legs, watch series on the internet, share our happiness on Instagram and Twitter with our friends, write the last and this article for the blog (at least parts of it and in German) and also to do „nothing“, meaning to enjoy our beautiful surroundings and the being itself - preferably together but without talking by tea or coffee on the patio. I can not think of anything better to arrive to on the 28th birthday than this little piece of heaven.
Of cause we also used the time to plan the next sections of our journey. As it did not rain on Tuesday as it had been predicted by the weather forecast, we were a little worried that the rainfall would only be postponed on to the next day, the day we wanted to start our next days of riding. Additionally the locals on our way since some sections had all, independently from each other, prepared us that Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! would be the highest and coldest spot on our way to Québec-City or rather Montreal and that we would almost certainly see snow. However after Rivière-du-Loupe our way would go down and it would get warmer again from then on. When, with this in the back of our minds, our host Carole called us Monday evening to beg us to please take the bus directly towards Rivière-du-Loupe because snow and minus degrees were being forecasted in the TV, we did get quite uncertain about our plan and were instantly brought back to earth out of the floating cotton-wool-cloud to which our stay in theis little paradise had catapulted us. The good thing about it was, that we now researched intensively about the approaching section of our trip. Thanks to this Pascal found, for the first time after our first two days on the bikes, a cycling path which this time looked taken care of and good enough to ride on it even with all our luggage. After comparing the elevation gain which awaited us according to Google Maps with his home countryside „Harz“ it turned out that the 500 meter elevation gain were as much as the on the distance from Bad Lauterberg to St. Andreasberg. On the Harzer section this was quite a hill especially for a fully loaded bicycle - however in this case the elevation was not on a stretch of 16 km but of 133 km - meaning the hills could not be that hard after all. Additionally our gut feeling told us that, provided we would cut the distance into two sections and with a warm bed for the nights instead of the tent, we should manage the task. Still - there still remained a queasy feeling, because both our gut feeling and the knowledge of the people living in the area we we are driving through are important advisors. Because we were twittering back and forth with Cyrille Simard (mayor of EdmunDston and friend of Harold Jarche - read all about our encounter with Harold in our article W02) anyways, we sent an call for help in to the big world wide web and to Petit Temis (https://www.petit-temis.ca), the organization which built and maintains the cycling path we were planning to take. On the next morning, still not completely certain what we should do, we were really happy to find out that we had gotten an answer on Twitter! The answer came from a local who encouraged us to ride through the hills despite the weather… and is wasn’t just somebody who knew the trail well - but Cyrill Simard who wrote us that we did not need to worry when taking Petit Temis as the path would not go over the hills and that yes, it would be a little chilly, but on this trail we would be protected from weather by the vegetation. With the blessing from the mayor of EdmunDston (whom we don’t know personally but as a friend of Harold trust concerning all things bicycle) we finally were able to be self-confident about our decision and enjoy the last 24 hours in our little paradise. A huge thank you for this Mr Simard!
Thanks to Carole’s hospitality and the little fireplace in our cabin we were able to soak up a lot of warmth for the coming days in which we would set off for our icy track to Rivière-du-Loupe and by this to Québec.
Dear Carole a huge thank you to you too for letting us stay and have such relaxing days on your property in the wonderful little cabin! Thank you for caring for us on every level - without the new supply of food you brought with you for us from your trip to town we would not have made it though the hills!
Until next time,
Pascal (original text) & Kira (additions)
English translation: Kira