Monday, August 23, 2010

A broken clavicle ends the trip.

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Day 39 Sunday August 8th

Ron stopped at the hospital at around 12:30 AM and went in to talk to the emergency room staff. They came out with a gurney, probably for me, but as I was walking, it was used to transport my panniers into the hospital. Ron unloaded the bicycle while I was being checked in and when he was finished, came in to wish me well before departing.

The hospital staff took all my information, checked my blood pressure, but I was never really examined by a doctor that night. Later on in the morning, the doctor who saw me explained that the doctor who was on duty earlier wasn't sure how I was going to pay him and thus didn't want to deal with me. As the radiology department wasn't operating at 1:00 AM, I was given a bed in which to sleep and I was able to shower before attempting to get some sleep for the night.

In the morning, a nurse tended to my road rash and a young English speaking doctor looked me over. He told me not to worry about the doctor's fee and that he wasn't going to charge. I had to wait until radiology could shoot x-rays. I called the hosts, France and Denis, who were expecting me in two or three days and they immediately said they would come over and help me out. I called my wife Susan, but was only able to leave a message on the answering machine. To my surprise, she called back in about 10 minutes. She had looked up France and Denis's telephone number from the emails we had exchanged, called them and gotten the number for the hospital. Susan commiserated and told me France and Denis would be arriving shortly. They did, and they couldn't have been nicer. They loaded up my damaged bicycle and my gear while I waited to have x-rays and waited for the results.

When the results came it was bad news. I had a broken collar bone. I asked if I could still bike with the broken clavicle and was informed I could if I could stand the pain and if I didn't mind running the risk of the clavicle not healing properly. So, reluctantly, I made the decision to end the trip.

France and Denis took me to their house and did everything they could to help out. Laundry was washed, the tent was dried out, and I was fed well. Denis and I took a trip into town to look for a bicycle box at a bike store and took a stroll in the town's park that runs along the St. Lawrence river (which I think is some 40-50 miles wide at that point.) We stopped at the bus station and found there was a bus that left at 7 AM that would get me into Montreal at 5:30 PM. The bike would only cost $5.00 to accompany me.

Back home, we tried fitting the bicycle into the box we had gotten at the bike store. Unfortunately, it was a bit too small, so Denis went to the bus station and purchased a larger bike box there. We started packing up the bicycle, had a wonderful dinner, and then loaded the car with the box containing the bicycle and a second box containing all my panniers. I then headed to bed for the night.

The next morning we were up by 6 AM. I had a quick breakfast, said goodbye to France, and Denis dropped me off at the bus station. We said our goodbyes and I was off. There was construction several times on the way to Quebec City and when we arrived there late, the next bus was leaving immediately, rather than after the 40 minute break we should have had. Fortunately, the next stop just out of the city was long enough for me to grab something for lunch and jump back on the bus.

Susan, David and Katie arrived at the bus station shortly after my arrival. We loaded the car and headed back to Vermont.

It leaves me with a sad feeling that I was unable to finish the trip. Denis in Baie-Comeau said he had never visited the Manic 5 power plant near where I crashed and perhaps he'd be willing to take me back there if I wanted to finish the trip at a later date. We'll have to see what next summer brings before I make that decision.

In the meantime, I have great memories of the wonderful people I met along the way. Thanks to all of you who took me in for a night or offered many of the small kindnesses I received. I've also have vivid memories of the great expanses of Newfoundland, Labrador and Quebec. I'm hoping to return someday with the means to do some exploration of some of the many lakes and rivers I passed.

Who knows what's next on my "bucket list?" Certainly more cycling will be a major part of what's ahead.

Best to all of my readers! Harvie

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