The Ruru's

T.I.M.E. Habits • Minimalists • Travel Enthusiasts

Category: Canada2016 (page 2 of 14)

16/9/16 St John’s, Newfoundland to Halifax, Nova Scotia: We Must Go Ahead And See For Ourselves.

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The wind abated making for a smooth jettison off Newfoundland under the cover of darkness. Only the hum of the propellors could be heard as we watched in silence the sun rise on the horizon and witness the puzzle configuration between land and sea take form.

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Jacque Cousteau once said, “We must go ahead and see for ourselves.” We have.

It was absolutely beautiful. The magnitude of what we have accomplished became more surreal. More silence as the ball rose up to soon be descending onto the tarmac in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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To meet us was another homestay host, Sandra. Her tiki-tour by car of the city downtown had us identify destinations to visit on foot as we had the whole day as a tourist.

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During the period of the Acadian Deportion, 1755 to 1762, Acadians were detained on George Island in the middle of the harbour prior to them being shipped off to other British Colonies; we stood at the Citidel to hear the cannon blast off a boom to signal mid-day and then stand at a ground zero plaque that spoke about the largest man-made explosion prior to the first atomic bomb; Pier 21 was where over 1.25 million immigrants since WWII landed so as to be indoctrinated as Canadian residents.

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We met a couple from the UK who had just finished their cycle across Canada. It looked a lonely existence as they sat there with no one to share their achievement till we introduced ourselves. We spent an hour with them so they could share their story, to watch the glow of thier finish exude and make their accomplishment more surreal. It gave us goosebumps too, especially when they freedom camped 99% of the distance!

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We met up with Sandra and her wife Denise for a beer to continue rapport formalities. Our meeting resulted from another ‘Motor Maids’ connection. They live half an hour out of downtown Halifax; to climb into a bed after the car experience straigtened out skeletal crookedness and everything else just moulded into the mattress fabric.

We knew this was going to be an entertaining homestay … no more chips and beer for a year … there is another day to start tomorrow.

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15/9/16 Carbanear to St John’s – 164.5 km: Like A Baby Cradle Being Rocked.

dsc06382-1280x853We arrived back into down town St John’s to a howling wind and celcius just above the 5 degrees.

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The text from our friend in the US to inform us that our rig had arrived was met with both a peace of mind feeling and one of it being missed.

We were in no-man’s land! One where we were treading water waiting for our flight off the island and one where questions were aroused as to whether we should have continued on with more riding to the US?

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Ken our cyclist friend had departed St John’s this morning, cycling back to Agentia to catch the ferry. Poor bugger had to do it with a head wind and moisture. Our other cyclist friend Marcus had also arrived back into St John’s also today after doing a massive tour of Newfoundland by car – his daily minimum kilometerage was over 600 kms per day! Now he was preparing to depart back to the mainland also.

One last meal with Marcus signaled a handshake and hug farewell. This time it was going to be more permanent. Just like Ken’s a week or so back.

Our flight was at 5.40 am tomorrow morning so we decided not to book any accommodation.

Instead, we drove to the car rental car park and with the wind battering our little roller skate and like a baby cradle being rocked, it helped us doze off to sleep.

Wish we could say the same about sleeping like a baby!

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Newfoundland Was First To:
Respond to Titanic SOS.
Vaccine for smallpox.
Have wireless communication in the world.

They have the oldest rock in the world.
Most pubs per square foot in Canada.
A Newfoundler invented the gas mask.
They are the most sexually active people in Canada.

14/9/16 Bonavista to Carbanear – 304.4 km “No Chips And No Beer For A Year.

 

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When Italian Explorer John Cabot first discovered North America in 1497, his first word’s were “O Buono vista!” When translated into English, this phrase means, “Oh Happy Sight!” Standing at the historic place where he first landed (just north of Bonavista), there was a warm calmness to the surround. So peaceful.

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We made it to Carbanear for a homestay with people we had met at the breakfast buffet on the ferry coming to Newfoundland, Ed and Regina.

The “no chips and beer for a year” resolution went right off the front porch when Ed handed me a local beer for consumption. I didn’t want to offend the hospitality offering and it tasted good. I had lasted only four days; there is always tomorrow!

What ensued was an evening where we felt like we were catching up with old friends that we hadn’t seen in a very long time. The stories became more theatrical as the volume of beverage depleted passed the lips. Soon, there was the odd charade to amplify the words yarned. Why had we left it so long to catch up with these people?!

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Family portraits adorned the walls of the staircase. From childhood to adulthood, this was a tight family with unbelieveable closeness. I was too scared to ask which side of the family the Caribou head represented but I knew it was male with a tie hung round it’s neck.

This encounter with Ed and Regina was an “O Buono Vista” experience with Newfoundlanders that will always be remembered when we hear the ‘gong’ of a grandfather clock; see a flashlight; or eat blueberry pie! After dinner stories to be shared long after we leave the island.

And so, our journey to return home begins tomorrow as does the resolution, “No chips and no beer for a year.”

Unless we see a damn Moose and then we will drink ourselves silly with celebration.

13/9/16 Bonavista, Newfoundland: Human Waistlines Are Testament To This.

 

A day staying put. No bike seat. No car seat. Just a bum at a table seat and couch seat. With a walk in-between to blow the cob webs out of the lungs and clear the mind. A gander around a village and ponder what was, what is and, what is gonna be.

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From bush to plate, our own picked wild blueberries were sweet tasting on the breakfast cereal. To have the availability to pluck them from the landscape in their natural form without pesticides or sprays or human handling or platinum airmile points was awesome.

dsc06278-1280x853The harbour lay dormant apart from a couple of diggers dredging the inner sea bed. Back in the black and white photo days, this place was a hustle and bustle thriving fishing industry spot where cod literally jumped into fisherman’s boats. But typical human greed had depleted the stock so much to near extinction, a ban on fishing for cod crippled the livelihoods overnight. Population migration to seek income or welfare elsewhere resulted and to purchase a property here now for next to squids it tempting. Some sellers have been known to throw in a vehicle and boat as part of the sale package.

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There is a smaller fishing aspect nowadays and the summer tourist season boasts the hardy remaining towns folk coffers for another year of existence.

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Transients like us are dwindling the hostel beds as winter knocks, only to be replaced with students who come here to study at the University. I can think of more friendlier environments to get an education when the temperatures here will soon plummet to below zero.

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The odd conversation with locals are still bitter about the cod situation. Unfortunately, we are our own worst ememy when we hunt more than is needed faster than the stock can replenish itself naturally. It’s gone beyond the ‘take enough for just a meal’ to one of take the lot for the dollar riches. The habit to want more with less isn’t abating neither and bugger the future younger generations. Let alone poor old mother earth who is hurting! Human waistlines are testament to this little rant as are the global weather pattern changes.

However, what we have enjoyed about our time with hostels is to see the spark in people traveling to enjoy what we still have.

The Russian girl who rocked up here the night before last, got up at the crack of dawn yesterday so as to get a lift to Trinity East to hike the coastline trail we did. She then hitched a ride with a bike she borrowed from the hostel to Elliston to spot Puffins and visit the bronze father/son statue to then cycle the bike back to the hostel in the dark without lights or helmet, walking in the door around 9 pmish last evening.

Most of us would criticize her health and safety for what she had done. We applaud her vibrance for living life to the fullest while the vibrance of life is still available. Getting a tyre flattie just means adjustment to flagging down a passing car to hitch another ride. Or walk home. Hostels are the places where like minded people can fish abundantly for such inspirational like mindedness. This spark for life will never become depleted. No matter the greed for footprint, possessions or consumption.

Hostelling International have adopted a charter to strive for environmental friendliness around Energy Conservation; Consumption; Pollution; Recyling; Transport; Nature; Environment Education. A great blueprint for future generational enjoyment for what could still be. Worth a photo gander from the comforts of one’s lounge chair. Or worth checking out if you venture to stay in an HI Hostel. Priceless if you live and breath them while the oxygen is relatively still breathable.

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Too late for the cod fish themselves.

But never too late for the other species WE share the planet with.

As I write this today 14/9/16 watching the sunrise, already the Russian girl has got up, got picked up, and gone! There is no way I’m gonna go in and wake up BClaire to get on with the day with such entusiasm. That would not be the wisest vibrance on my behalf!!!!!

12/9/16 Trinity East to Bonavista – 69.1 km: It Was A Haunting Emotion.

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We could only imagine whales leaping from the ocean waters high into the air doing their syncronized swimming acrobatics. Their food has migrated south to better resorts. So have the whales. It didn’t discourage our wander along the coastal cliffs. The eroding rock formations and bush forna made up for the gap. The blustery on-shore wind kept the eyes peeled so as not to be blown off when getting close to edges to peer down for the vertigo feel.

 

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It’s the first hiking we have stepped out on this Continent and in a long time. Mindset shifted to walking the length of New Zealand planned for our return home. We could have easily been on the Te Awaroa Track with some of the coastal beauty we experienced today.

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It was back into the roller skate and onward to Bonavista township itself. But not before a side excursion to Elliston.

dsc06259-1280x853Only the whistle of the wind broke the silence as we stood in-front of the concrete monument dedicated to lives lost to sealing disasters. The bronze statue of a father holding his son created from an apiration by a mother amplified the quietness of the moment. It was a haunting emotion.

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Further down the road we parked up and braved the wind sheer at the location where Puffin Birds nest for the summer. Unfortunately, they had nested and returned to where they hibernate for the realms of winter, back out to sea on the Atlantic Ocean. We haven’t been disappointed at missing any of the tourist attractions that hordes of people flock to see like whales and ice bergs and Puffins. That’s a fib, yes we have been! More so the elusive friggin Moose!

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We ARE grateful for what we have seen. Both from the bike seat and beyond. The people met and conversations shared have made up for it.

Who would have imagined that the couple who we passed at the Puffin location where we exchanged a greeting and a smile would evolve into a full on conversation at the hostel we were staying at later. They had called in to steal water and electricity to borrow the washing machine and dryer to do their laundry. They left as new friends on face book hopefully believing that we weren’t old porn stars that made four movies and had to give up because Viagara hardens arteries, and hardened arteries ain’t good for the the heart as it could kill ya!

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That was harmless story telling.

We used to play with kids!

11/9/16 Twillingate to Trinity East – 462.2 km: Fried Egg On Toast That Had Vegemite Spread

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dsc06133-1280x853Dotti is Australian and ended up in Twillingate accepting a job waitressing at the local pub and in exchange for free lodgings at the hostel, she cleans it as a volunteer. A friend of hers turned up before and we knew it, a couple of hours blew passed hitting the road shy of mid-day! As they sat there eating a fried egg on toast that had vegemite spread … we conversed.

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Before the cause-way was constructed back in 1973, leaving Twillingate Island was by way of boat and so not many people did. With a population of 2,400, I questioned how finding a partner to wed happened. Yep, just like the King & Queens of yesteryear where they had to marry family to keep the blood line strong, so too did the folk around here. Except over time from marrying brothers and sisters and cuzzies, the blood lines have weakened meaning it’s citizens have the highest Haemaphelia blood conditions in the Province. Heads up West Coasters of New Zealand!

The harbour we could see from the table we were sitting at freezes over. All the fishing vessels get lifted onto dry land so as not to rot and once the natural skating rink starts to melt, pack ice from the Artic floats in. This is when the low scale seal fishery season starts and apparently, seal flipper pie (a welcomed change from the ‘belona’ staple diet over the wintering months) is to die for! Not before we try dying to find a Moose!

The harsh climate gets sadly rewarded with lives lost to the sea conditions here. Somebody knows somebody who has experienced a Dad or Son or Uncle or Nephew who has perished to the abyss of the ocean. Life goes on. Dotti’s friend wouldn’t have it any other way.

It took a bit to get used to the words spoken. The locals here have dropped the “h” from words so “over there” becomes “over tere” and “holy shit” becomes “oly sit.” So every sentence was nearly spoken twice so we could under stand wat was bein said.

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Staying a second night was tempting however, we pointed the roller skate for the Bonavista Peninsula (actually, it was the only direction at the start or we too would end up with Sponge Bob Square Pants on the bottom of the Atlantic) and putted across the tandra where another hostel bed was waiting.

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Gavin and Martha (young owner/operators of the Skerwink Hostel) had home made chicken broth soup and home made bread waiting for us for supper. What was lovely was them joining us to share in the meal and share conversation about life on this part of the landscape. It was warm. It was homely.

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Looking forward to seeing our family in the flesh.  Eat vegemite again too.

Not sure about a fried egg on top toug, tat migt take a bit more tinking.

10/9/16 Holyrood to Twillingate – 419.1 km: Iceberg Alley

Twillingate is one of the best places on the planet to see icebergs.

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They float down from just up the latitude Greenland however, all we saw today were white caps skimming the deep blue sea from the biting on-shore wind. The chill made the knuckles ache and hopefully, that’s not an early sign to arthritus from overuse joints gripping and holding onto the rig handle bars!

You can also see whales gather in large numbers to feed and play from the spot we were standing – Humpback, Minke, and Fin. Puffin birds also nest on the coastline.

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Except today, there was neither ofthem as well because we have kind of missed the season. It didn’t matter, the signage boards were informative to paint the picture from where we were standing looking out into the yonder.

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Living communities stuff the bays and coves where people have existed for over two centuries. Descendants of West Country fishermen, they weren’t the first inhabitants. The aborigial Beothuk and Dorset people date back as far as 6,000 years. Sadly, you don’t see much evidence of their presence apart from intermittent road side shop selling knicky knacky gifts.

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Tree foilage doesn’t grow up three quarters of a tree stem, only moss. This is because they are under snow for many months of the year. It’s amazing how they have forged survival in the landscape driven today as we journeyed as far from St John’s we have allowed ourselves to do. It was fun dodging the road pot holes too! Seriously, the cars behind must have thought we were under the influence as we swerved from side to side so as the roller skate didn’t disappear into any. And some of the roads were long declines and inclines. We were so pleased to have chosen the shorter cycle ride from Agentia … there would have been many a joint pain greater than the knuckles, that’s a certainty!

In another couple of weeks or three, the realms of autumn will be well underway and green will turn to crimson and orange and red. Darkness will finish later and creep in earlier. You can sense it in the wind experienced today.

We found out that it’s also Moose hunting season! Which could explain why none were spotted so far.

Alive or dead served up in a steak now, something is better than nothing!

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9/9/16 St John’s to Holyrood: Here Moosey Moosey Mossey!

dsc06061-1280x853The transition from cycle to car has been halarious … our rig was longer than the pregnant roller skate we have hired to go see a Moose! They make the pictures on advertising so distorted when infact, they are so contracted! But alas, everything we own (apart from Fatty 29) fits in and if worst comes to worst and we run out of juice in the middle of no-where, we have shelter. Even if we have to sleep in the feotal position.

A number of cyclists finish their cross country adventure at Cape Spear. It’s the most Easterly point in Northern America before they plop into the Atlantic Ocean. Canada begins here! … or ends, depending on which way you are going. Full credit to those who pedal the mighty incline to reach it. The steepness is real, jeez, even we had doubts our roller skate would reach the bit that broughs!

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The weather over the last couple of days has turned to pea soup. We have been so lucky to arrive when we did as the view from the platform was 2-3 metres, the fog was thick and amplified from the variety of fog horns warning ships that land was ahoy. We’ll take the sunny day riding over any moisture day for sure. The roller skate also gives us the luxury to venture further and the road we did take had us pass through a lovely little seaside village of Petty Harbour. Small fishing boats and seagulls made for the perfect diorama picture. The smell of fish and bait and sea weed was crisp and fresh. This is how we envisaged Newfoundland, it was stunning.

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A night stop over in the little township where we were gifted the bread on our way to St John’s, Holyrood was our rest for the night. We got on the road a little later than expected due to more bike trasportation formalities. However, we have started the search for the elusive wilderbeast that can run faster than us and cause death by stomping.

Here Moosey Moosey Moosey!

8/9/16 St John’s, Newfoundland: Get A Load Of This.

Sneaking quietly down to the basement kitchen of the hostel under the cover of dawn skies rising, another fellow traveller arrived to share the small table with me. And a cup of tea as she ate her breakfast getting ready for a taxi pick up.

Let me introduce you to Jennifer (Jen), from Brisbane Australia.

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Jen was about to catch a taxi to meet an overland bus to catch a shuttle to the northernist most tip of this island and visit ‘Viking’ history. Then, a return shuttle and connecting bus to the ferry in Port aux Basque to ferry to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. There, a bus to Halifax; then Moncton; then Rivera du Loup; then onto Brockville. It’s another bus to Toronto, then train to Jasper in BC before more overland to Victoria, Vancouver Island (were we visited the ‘mile 0’ on the Western side of the Maple Leaf); to then ferry back to Vancouver to catch a flight home to Aussie.

That was only half the story! Jen got educated as a Physical Education Teacher but switched to Mid-wifery Nursing and during her career worked in Africa for 6 years in conflict spots with the Red Cross. By now I had to re-fill me cup and knowing her time at the table being shared was limited, I didn’t mind at all her talking with her mouth full! I was eager to hear more.

In 1964, her and a friend purchased a VW Combi van and drove from Bombay, India to England. It took them 7.5 months and when they arrived, Jen only had one pound to her name. Her message throughout the conversation was ‘no timeframe’ and to listen with intent at her crafted stories had me miss the sky turning to daytime from dawntime!

Jen turns 84 on Christmas Day.

It was a hug and a smile with the ‘let’s catch up for another cuppa down under’ agreement reached. And then she was gone.

I sat in the basement kitchen in solitude day dreaming of how fortunate we are to meet people like Jen. One hell of an inspiring human that grew up in an era where her passion for experiencing life was genuine and, has not abated all these decades later.

Then I heard my ears burning from two floors up, “cuppa tea?”

What’s next for the Rurus? Our return flight home is on the 15th October from New York. Our options to get there are many for which there has been turmoil in the decision making process. Happens when routine gets out of kilter!

 

We are freighting the bike to New York; hiring a car to go locate a Moose to see; fly to Halifax to overland to Yarmouth to catch a ferry across to Portland, Maine in the US (before they stop); to then overland to New York.

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Dropping the bike into the downtown bike shop had us nervous as to where it may end up, it’s been a mission to work through. Would have been easier just to throw it off the wharf into the harbour and claim insurance however, we have attachment to a rig set up that will see us tandem somewhere elso on the globe.

Coming out of the shop, there right before our eyes was no apiration of someone we know from home, Ruth. Of all the places to bump into someone whom Claire worked with at Ronald McDonald House in Christchurch, New Zealand on a street in downtown St John’s, Newfoundland. However, get a load of this … this is the second instance that this has happened. We bumped into Ruth in Hoi-Ann, Vietnam under similar circumstances!!!!!!!

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It was so cool. Ruth was traveling also and it was off to have another cup of tea to hear her journal of experiences collected. Bidding farewell, there was a joke made of whether it could happen a third time. No timeframe.

Two encounters today with two genuine people. Priceless.

7/9/16 St John’s, Newfoundland: Happy Birthday To Big Claire

Today we awoke to a different celebration, Big Claire’s birthday.

It had already started in our tomorrow back home in New Zealand which was our yesterday here today! Now that took a bit of thinking to get that accurate.

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The giving of a gift smuggled into the gear we carried the last day cycling to spoilt me beloved; the waking up in a hostel bunk bed where just a couple of hours earlier the ones in the room above could be heard stretching springs shagging; the leaning over to give that birthday pash to cod smelling breath from kissing a cod the night before; the two flights of stairs walked down and up and back down (forgot the friggin tea bag) and back up again with a cuppa in bed; waving frantically after scorching the toast so as not to set off the fire alarm in the hostel kitchen (why does toast always do that?) so as not to have the men in uniform from the fire brigade with bells and tassles arrive; going out for brunch with Marcus and Ken who’s testoterone levels are out of whack from too much time spent upon a bike seat and no, they weren’t the ones sharing the room above us; peddalling the rig back and forth to the bike shop twice without bike shorts on sensitive bits to work through logistical strategy of shipping the bike off the island; visiting the museum and view the harbour entrance from height which disappearred as the rain clouds rolled in; getting to know another hostel guest from the Czechoslovakia who joined us for dinner to share a wheat beer and see a solitary candle be puffed out; to end up back in the bunk and read all the lovely messages from afar wishing Happy Birthday to Big Claire.

If only there was a bath in the hostel to sit and soak in effervescence from the lemon smelling bath bomb gift smuggled.

I really needed that after me beloved milked her turning of age for two whole days!

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