Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 95: Fitzgerald's Pond to St. John's, Newfoundland! (105km)

There are so many posts that I have wanted to start with, "we're in (blank) city!" And of course, arriving in St. John's deserves that kind of excitement, but it is also so hard to fathom that we haven't yet had the chance to react to it. As momentous as this occasion is for us, it comes along with a touch of sadness and even loss. Don't get me wrong, there have definitely been many moments, days, and even weeks we have simply wanted to just be finished, and we are eagerly anticipating our return home. But out of all of the days and places that we've ridden, Argentia to St. John's is the only route where there has been no hesitancy about whether to go forward, no desire to turn back. Starting out in Vancouver, we tried daily to quell the innumerable doubts about our abilities while suppressing anxieties about the battery of risks involved in taking this trip. Three months later, all of the time, costs, sweat, and struggle have introduced us to hundreds of people and communities, and fostered a lifetime's worth of laughter, joy, and memories.

If there was any lingering uncertainty about whether going the full distance was 'worth it', arriving in Newfoundland yesterday was more convincing than any conceivable argument. Riding onto the expansive island was like entering another world, one with a mystifying sense of openness. Our ride today took on a similar mystical quality as we rode undulated along the steady hills. The roads were in great shape and the grades were just steep enough to remind us to slow down and savour the sweeping vantages of densely treed peaks cutting sharply into valleys.

Our lack of moose sightings during this trip has become something of a joke after months of riding past 'moose night danger' signs on the highway. By the time we reached Bathurst and Miramichi, people would chuckle and say, "just wait. You're in New Brunswick." The chuckling stopped as we cycled through Nova Scotia but we were assured Newfoundland would bring us better luck. Today, with the passing of every boggy pond or glistening lake, we expected to see moose in such an idyllic habitat. At one point Alex stopped and peered into some trees, proclaiming, "now there's a moose if I ever saw one."

I looked in and saw a long tail swishing back and forth, "really? Are you sure that isn't a horse?" Sure enough two horses came trotting toward us, excited by their own wildlife encounter. It seems that moose have continued to evade us on this ride but I'm sure we'll see them again in Ontario.

Riding into St. John's after hours of boundless wilderness felt like we had parachuted into a city. We stopped at the welcome sign and felt awash with so many emotions that have so far mostly manifest as disbelief; after 7262km, 739 granola bars, and 23.5kg of loose granola, we are finally here. I'm sure the realization will sink in over the next few days as we enjoy St. John's and make preparations for our flight home. So far we have found a warm and delicious welcome at the Delta Hotel St. John's, which has very generously donated two nights stay on their Signature floor. We have already delighted in a gift box of chocolates and complimentary hors d'oeuvres this afternoon. Tomorrow we have a big and exciting grand finale planned at a rehab centre here in St. John's along with Mayor O'Keefe and other distinguished guests, you won't want to miss Alex's post on the event!


  1. congrats, guys!!! I'm so happy for you. And I can't wait to see you when you get back!

  2. Very good post Vanessa - well thought, and well said. You done done it!!!

  3. Congratulations guys. We are more proud of you than we could ever say. Such an amazing accomplishment. Come visit after you've settled back into life in TO.

  4. Congratulations! I will miss your entertaining updates now that your journey is over!
    (This whole trip is intended as a metaphor for the PhD, right?)

  5. Congratulations to both of you, I can't wait for your return to Toronto. Great post today too!

  6. Congratulations!!!! We're all very proud of you here in Peterborough!!