Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 24 (con't) to Day 28 (July 17)

Day 24 July 13 Tues (con't)

I last left you as I was about to head to a restaurant for my "Last Supper" before heading out for what I thought might be 5 days without the opportunity for resupply. When I walked into the Midway restaurant, there was a gentleman sitting at a table by himself. I asked if I might join him as his meal hadn't yet arrived. He said that he was there with his wife, but I was free to join him. His name was Winston and I learned that he was a retired carpenter who had worked in Goose Bay, but now had retired to his home town of Port Hope Simpson. His wife, Shirley, arrived shortly. Over my seafood platter (disappointing, this close to the ocean) we talked about the area. Towards the end of the meal, Shirley asked where I would be staying that night. I said I would be camping, that Port Hope Simpson had been my goal for the day, and that I was considering going a few miles more. She asked if I would be interested in staying with them for the night. While I knew it was a long way to Happy Valley - Goose Bay yet to go, the thought of a shower and bed was too much to refuse, and so I accepted. Winston and Shirley couldn't have been more gratious. Winston had to go check his Salmon net out in the river with his friend Clarence, so I asked if I could go along. We rode out to the net in the boat that Clarence had made himself, an open boat with a tall bow powered by an outboard motor. There were 9 fish caught in the net, but Winston and Clarence had tags for only four of them (each family receives 6 tags. All fish taken have to be tagged.) The remaining four were given to a nearby boat, where the owner had "community tags" for those elderly not able to go out and fish for themselves.

Back to the house, Winston asked if I would like to try some of the salmon. Of course, I replied. He then fried up some of the freshly caught salmon and served it along with some warm caplin, a small fish about 6 inches long that he was in the process of drying for bait. These were like a snack, consumed in its entirety, head to tail.

Shirley offered me the washing machine, so while I ate I caught up on washing anything from my bags that needed washing. Shirley went to bed and Winston and I chatted a while before we headed to bed. Mileage for the day - 30 miles.

Day 25 July 24 Wednesday

Winston made breakfast of eggs, bacon, oatmeal, and toast. I found when filling my water jug that there was a leak at the seam just underneath the handle. I tried a patch using the Gorilla tape that I have wrapped around my pump. I left Winston and Shirley's around 9 AM and went to the grocery store to buy last minute supplies.

I headed out on the road about 9:30. The road turned out not to be very hilly. I passed forest, punctuated by bogs, streams and ponds. Road surfaces varied. I had my first lunch eating in what I call "The Sock." The Sock is 5 yards of 6 ft. wide mosquito netting that has been folded over on itself and bound along the sides. Ham and cheese on torillas for lunch.

To eat my lunch, upon stopping, I immediately put up and zip the hood on the mosquito jacket. (The black flies don't bother me while I am riding.) I then gather the food and drink that I want to eat and put them in a pile where I want to stand or sit. Then I take the sock and quickly pull it over my head. Then I can unzip and take off the jacket hood and eat. Finished with the meal, I reverse the process.

Around 5 PM I could see a storm approaching. I was coming down a hill and could see yellow construction equipment near the bottom. I rushed there as the first drops were falling with hopes there might be some kind of shelter there. I was in luck. At the back of the clearing where the sand truck bodies were set was an 8' diameter culvert. I rolled the bicycle inside just as it began to pour. Black flies were finding me quickly, so I put on the sock and sat down, taking a rest until the storm ended. I sat smugly as 100's of black flies attempted to breach the netting.

Once the storm abated, I headed back out on the road. A short distance later I came upon a maintenance depot for the road equipment. I rolled in to refill my water containers and found out there was a house there where the road graders slept. The grader, Kirb, who was talking with a mechanic said I could stay there for the night. Chatting with Kirb, I found out he was related to Winston, with whom I had spend the previous night. Kirb said his meals were furnished and that I didn't need to bother using any of my food for the night. Sheldon, the other grader, arrived when our dinner of fish nuggets and fries was ready.

After a hot shower, I headed off to sleep in a real bed. Mileage - 66

Day 26 July 15 Thurs.

As both Kirb and Sheldon headed out early, I was on the road at 7 AM. Kirb said that there was a work camp 154 km (approx. 95 miles) away that I might stay at, but I figured that the distance was probably too far.

The morning's ride was much the same as yesterday. Different surfaces that depended most on whether they had been graded recently. Kirb said that each grader was responsible for around 45 miles of road and was expected to grade about 6 miles each day. Working a 6 day week meant that every section of the road was regraded every 8 days. This meant that I could expect to hit one or two loose sections of gravel each day.

Two motorcyclists who had stopped and talked to me yesterday stopped and talked again. They were from Portsmouth, NH. They had spent the night at Cartwright, a side trip from the main road, and that's why they were passing a second time.

I stopped for lunch at a pretty stream. While finishing up my meal, a squall approached so I got out my 10 ft. square piece of black plastic (black so it dries faster) and covered both the bike and myself as it poured.

The storm didn't last long. Packing up I continued on. The crosswind from this AM changed to a headwind making for tiring cycling. I pushed on towards the work camp.

Nearing the camp, I caught up to a runner, Jerry, who was returning from his out-and-back run. Jerry was a geologist from St. Johns who was surveying the soils 3 km on either side of the road to determine their suitability should the road require future upgrades. The danger, now that the road is constructed, is that an area might be developed for a cabin or camp on soils necessary for further repairs or construction. Suitable soil deposits will be protected from development.

Jerry made inquiries and I was allowed to use one of the empty rooms in the doublewide trailer dormitory. I was also offered dinner. After 94 miles it didn't take much effort to down the two porkchops, heap of hamburger goulash, vegetables and carrot cake I was offered. After dinner, Jerry brought me and his assistant Jason to Curtis's trailer to share some beer and wine. Curtis was an inspector on the project. Didn't get to bed until 11:00. A bit late since I had to be up by 5:30 if I wanted to enjoy the breakfast that had been offered. Most of the workers would already be off by that hour. They work 12 hour days, not including driving time to their work sites.

Day 27 July 16 Friday

Awoke at 4:15 at the sound of the workers getting ready for the day. Ate breakfast at 5:30 of bacon, sausage, boiled eggs, juice, and cereal. Jerry and Jason were off at 7. I took some time to journal and then headed out on the highway at 7:30. I was told I had about 20 miles more until I hit the construction section of the highway. When I finally arrived, at first it wasn't that bad, just a bit more loose gravel. I then hit a site where the road detoured around a road cut where they were preparing to do blasting. The road was then filled with large rocks. Whereas this would be difficult for a car, with a bike I am able to weave between the rocks. The soil around the rocks was hard packed and I was able go keep going around 10 mph. Then there were sections where the road was just blast rock, but these were not long. In the end there were only about 2 miles of what I would call difficult road in the 20 miles of "unfinished" road. The remainder had perhaps more rough sections than normal and some sandy sections that I had to walk, but all tolled, the adventurous section of road was very short lived.

I had heard that tomorrow was going to be rainy, so I decided I would push on to Goose Bay-Happy Valley. It was around 85 degrees, hot riding, but I was able to keep a pretty good pace, around 12 mph. Around 30 miles from HV-GB the terrain became a bit hillier. While the uphill is more work, it's nice to have the change in saddle position between climbing and descending.

About 15 miles from the dirt section of the road I passed a sign for cars going the opposite direction labeling where I had just come from as Eagle Plateau. I didn't realize how much I had climbed until I began what would become a 12 mile gradual descent. What a pleasure, particularly near the end of the day! When the hill ended I biked up and over several small hills before reaching the Churchill River, at the other side of which was the paved road into HV-GB.

I biked around 8 miles into HV-GB on the incredibly smooth pavement. I was back again with traffic. I arrived at a T junction with one sign directing L to Goose Bay and R to Happy Valley. I always thought they were one town, but they are separate villages. Not knowing which way to go, I stopped a turning vehicle for direction and they suggested I head right into Happy Valley. They said there was a park in that direction just beyond the hospital that would be a good spot to camp. I found the park, but there was a fence all around the park with signs advising video surveilance. I decided to keep looking.

Across the street from the park was the fire house. It had a nice lawn surrounding it. There was a fireman standing out front so I went and asked him if I might camp there. He said, "Sure!" My new host was Rick Harvey and he was one of four full time fireman for the town, one of whom was also on duty at the firehouse. Rick invite me into the firehouse which was fully equiped for living. He suggested I use the stove for cooking, which I did.

I went to find the webcam that Susan and Katie could see me on. I called them, but they were not at home to do so. On the way back to the station I passed the Royal Canadian Legion building. Remembering the inexpensive beers I had in Deer Lake I decided to see if this hall was open to the public. It was. I met two locals as I drank my beer. The first, Dumfrey, offered the facilities of the garage where he worked for anything I might need. The second shouted me a second beer. Then, Max Pebble, the president of the club came and gave me a visitors ribbon and pin. He then took me on a tour of the facility.
I then headed back to the station. After watching TV with Rick for a while I retired for the evening in the tent set up outside. Mileage for the day - 96

Day 28 July 17 Saturday
Good thing I made it in last night as it rained most of the night and has been raining most of today. The fire station has a computer with internet and that has allowed me to bring the blog back up to date. I've spent the day catching up on email, gmail chatting with Susan and Katie, and enjoying a hot lunch with Don, the day shift fireman. Ramsey, the evening shift fireman, has now arrived and it's time for me to make some dinner. My flight to Boston leaves Tuesday at 13:10, so I have a couple of days to explore the town.

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