Friday, April 17, 2015
After a brief telephone call last Friday morning I didn't hear anything from Michael. Sunday afternoon I recieved a extensive e-mail that made clear that he wasn't able to send e-mails anymore because the internet went down... Michael's e-mail immdediately started with a good message:
"Tomorrow, Monday, I will take an airplane to Montréal and from there I will contnue my challenge. It's a long story and a lot has to be arranged. Flying to Newbrunswick would be very expensive. In some places there are floods from melting snow and a lot of rain is expected."
Michael continues as follows:
"I woke up eraly this morning and all thoughts ran through my head. Today I will evaluate my options again. At this moment I remember the conversation with the man who came to stay yesterday evening after he had fixed a harbour crane in the West side of Newfoundland. He told me that they have a salmon nursery over there and that the ships are full of salmons. He showed me the movie on his phone. Unbelievable. He sold his own company to a large British organization so there is for him no need for working anymore. "Slowly I am retirering and I only do things that I really like." He confirmes the bad weather situation in the West. He wishes me all the best after a nice conversation.
Now I have to think about him again because today he was to drive to St. John's. Maybe I can ride with him. I am waiting for him at 7:00 am in the restaurant but he doesn't show up. Bad luck...
Now I really should do something because I want to cycle again. Not just sitting in a hotel no matter how nice that is. I count my options and make some phone calls for information. Flying from Gander is not an option because there is no carton box for my bike. And at Canadian Tire all the carton has been collected as garbage. If I want to fly what should I do now?
The flights to Saint John in Newbrunswick are very expensive and not even direct. Halifax is not an option and hitch-hiking to the end of the island and from there by boat doesn't do me any good because the weather there is still very bad.
I call my cousins in Merrickville, Ontario. He and her husband convince me to fly to Ottawa and come over to stay with them for a couple of days and then fly back home. But again when I am thinking about my trip I am still in doubt. It has not been finished yet! This just can't be the case. I need to reset myself.
In the afternoon I decide to take the bus and go back to St. John's. In the first hotel my carton bike box is stowed away along with my large case to put my cycle cases in. The bus runs one time at a day from one end of the island to the other. It leaves at 5:09 pm from Gander airport and arrives at 9:15 pm in St. John's at the point where I have to get off. After that I will have to cycle for 20 minutes in the cold and dark evening. Now that the decision has been made I will have to pack everything in a hurry, check out and ride to the airport to get something to eat.
This weekend there is a Rotary meeting and the hotel is fully booked. The are waiting lines at the desk and I have to wait. Robbert, the man for technicial maintenance at the hotel in Gander who helped my yesterday drops by. "You know", he says, "Yesterday I consulted your website again. I realized that my sister suffers from the same disease as you. She has the chronic version but it goes well for years now." I give him an extra wrest band for his sister and after a short while he brings me a small Canadian flag. "This is what you wanted for the collection on your bike, right? Here you go. In this way I'll ride along with you! The best of luck man!!"
What a cool guy! Now he also tells me that in the past he trained marines. And that he respects me for what I an doing. At last I want a photograph taken with him. After that I check out.
The ride to the airport is fine, however, I feel rather weird, because I am really going back now. I ask a nice looking young woman at the airport restaurant for a quick bite to eat because I have a bus to catch. She assists and advices the soup, chicken, and a bun. Alright, I pay for it immediately. The soup arrives fast and is tasty. During our conversation she asks me what I am doing here with a bicycle. I explain my goal. Her face changes and she tells me that she appreciates this very much. Her friend of 33 has had lung cancer and things are fine now, though still tense. I give her a wristband and say it's for her friend. She gets emotional and so do I. Yet another reason to continue, I say to myself.
In the mean time the bus arrived and together with the driver we load my bicycle in the cargo area. I don't have to pay for my bicycle and appreciate that enormously. In the bus I sit next to Ron. An elderly man of 72 years of age and we have a nice conversation. The bus trip takes a long time to travel the 330 km that we have to go. The bus takes the same road back as the one I took. Frankly, I am impressed about the distance that I rode on my bicycle. The bus has a hard time too with a few of the climbs. Nevertheless, time flies and along the way we stop several times for people to alight and board, or to get mail and parcels.
At a gas station we have to wait 10 minutes so we can stretch our legs. It appeared that Ron bought a few chocolate bars and gives me one. “Here, good for your energy.” Before we reach our destination we exchange email addresses. He honestly wishes me a good trip, but be careful! Other people also wish me success. Probably they heard us talk or somehow know why I ride my bicycle through Canada.
Now I have to travel a badly lit road in the dark. Fortunately, I quickly get into a well lit part and I am at the Greenwood Motel in about 20 minutes.
I am enthusiastically received and helped with everything. Two man walk with me and carry my bags. I get an invitation to watch ice hockey in the bar. Bar? I never new, but in the basement is a cozy bar. I take a cola and talk how things went during the last few days. They wish to know everything. Eventually I go to my room at 11 PM; boy, do I feel tired..."
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Han Schomakers & Albert Dijkstra