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But what if you wake up on the wrong side of the tent, even after a really good sleep? Day 29

Home for the night: Riverside, Kennebecasis River, Summerville

Distance: 52.9 kms

Weather: clear, sunny, not too hot/not too cold...juuuuust right

B: giant pot of tasteless oats, coffee

L: 3 smushed cheese tortillas, granola bar, dried banana square thing, dried apricots

D #1: THE BEST DAMN DOUGHNUT EVER, a can of V8

D #2: super salty, accidentally cooked in ocean water couscous with eggplant/tomato stew...tea was also made with salty water without realizing it, and the plants drank it, not me

 

enough is enough.

weary is a lone cyclist

longing for her bed

 

Skaloop......skaloop. Skaloop, skaloop, skaloop, skaloop......


A funny noise woke me up, just before daybreak. A far cry from the mysterious Rasp Monster of Hopewell, this noise was familiar and totally fine in my books. I listened to the moose squelching about in the marsh just north of my tent, the entire world silent and still enough for me to hear the animal snort water out of its nose after browsing. I was beyond comfortable in my little nest and fell back asleep shortly.


What seemed like moments later, the hood of my sleeping bag fell open and the glaring sun woke me up with a start. My watch said 9:56. It surely must be broken.....I looked at my phone confirming that I had slept for almost 12 hours. WHAT!? I couldn't believe it....but what was even more shocking was that I felt like I could keep snoozing. My sleeping bag was the perfect temperature, my pillow felt extra wonderful and the air was fresh and clean. I lay there debating if I actually had to get up, ever and maybe I could just be John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the day, laying in bed...an act of peaceful protest against cycling. Wait a minute....it was a gorgeous, sunny, perfect day and I just wanted to lay in bed?! Shit! This meant that I hadn't rid myself of yesterday's trip blues in dreamland, so I lay there and tried to figure what I was so bummed about.

I watched my thoughts drift in and out of my head, matching the clouds in the blue sky overhead. Thoughts of food, family, friends....more food, wearing different clothes, playing music, knowing where I'd be sleeping at night, pooping in a toilet, more food, SHOWERS, my dog, more friends, knitting by a woodstove, etc. etc. etc. My thoughts were endless, as they always are and not a single one of them had anything to do about this trip that I was on. Hmm...my campsite was beautiful, the weather was perfect and the leaves had turned even more overnight, their colours reflected in the still surface of 1st lake, creating a band of brilliant golds, oranges and reds along the shoreline. This is what I live for!! This set of circumstances would normally make me obnoxiously giddy. Not today...I was grumpy and didn't even care.


I lolled about, eventually making coffee and breakfast. I had woken up incredibly hungry, more than usual, so I thought with eating I may shift my mind space in a positive direction. My coffee tasted bad and my oats, which I normally tuck into with grateful fervor tasted like absolutely nothing. Mush in a pot. I was sick of mush in a pot for breakfast and mush in a pot for dinner. Wouldn't it be nice to eat eggs, toast, yogurt, fruit, anything other than mush in a pot?! My strongest powers of visualization (or manifestation) did nothing to change what I woefully shoveled into my mouth, spoonful after spoonful. I laid back down in the tent. The birds were singing and a pleasant little breeze danced across the lake. That's nice. I watched kingfishers swoop, dive and perch in trees cackling at each other, gobbling their silvery breakfasts. That's nice too. I glanced over at Black Beauty who was patiently awaiting the daily yard sale/pack up and looked quite eager to get rolling into a beautiful day. Screw you Black Beauty, why aren't you electric!?! I could see just how deep down tired I was and grouchily accepted that I had gotten myself this far from home and there was no way out other than by my own two legs and heart.


The saving grace of all this mental muckiness? My body. Even though my body is tired, it is also a fine-tuned machine at this point. Calories in = energy output in the form of covering kms. Eventually my crappy, unsatisfactory oatmeal kicked in and I moved robotically through the motions of packing up camp. I laid down a few times as I got dressed, savoring the comfort of my thermarest after I wrestled each article of clothing onto my body, making a sloth look downright perky! It sort of felt like being a kid really, really, really not wanting to go to school and draggggggging out the whole process of getting ready for the day as if it would change the outcome of having to go wait for the school bus in the cold. My brain rolled around in my head, not being helpful at all while my body did all of the work entirely on its own and eventually my pile of stuff was neatly contained, all packed up and ready for the day. I didn't remember doing any of it.


I was just about to load my gear onto Black Beauty and a woman and dog came over the bank on their morning walk. Well, it wasn't really morning anymore...probably more like 12:30 at this point given how slowly I was moving. She was surprised to see me and we exchanged good mornings. Buddy the dog was overjoyed at a human on ground level and his goofy, sweet vibe sliced right through my wall of gloom, instantly lifting my spirits as I pet him. Dogs are magic. He was a comedic blend of Jack Russel terrier and several other things and had recently had a fantastic haircut that gave him the appearance of a lion. He was PUMPED about how beautiful the day was, and it was infections. Betty and I chatted, she lived just up the road and had for most of her adult life. She asked about my trip and was amazed that I had come so far...all on my own too, as a woman! Yeah, I guess that is pretty cool...isn't it? She spoke about the life her children lived growing up in such a great place, how there used to be a bridge right where I had camped and that as a family they used to go off into the hills enjoying the wilderness of New Brunswick. In our half hour exchange, I could feel my own proverbial sun burning off the fog in my brain. Betty and Buddy were the medicine I needed and I shared that with them. They gave me just enough of a hit of positivity that I was struggling to find on my own. We said goodbye and I felt the residue of smiles and laughter shared on my brow, having replaced my scowl. As I strapped my panniers onto the bike, I reflected on the power of human connection, community and what that means in our world today. In the face of a global pandemic that has isolated us in so many ways so much has been examined. Many people, around the world speak to the clarity and distillation of what is truly needed in life to feel grounded; hugs, shared food and real time, face to face connection.


I made my way back out to the main road that yesterday had been a sea of loud trucks and exhaust fumes. Pleasantly surprised, the road was practically empty today. Birdsong and autumn colours lined the road and I wheeled along letting the breeze and sunlight continue the magic that Buddy and Betty had started. It really was a beautiful day....a perfect temperature for riding. I had decided to make my way towards Hampton, but was unsure of whether or not I would go all the way into town. I was still feeling incredibly unsatisfied from breakfast and my lame dinner the night before and was fantasizing about a greasy food truck burger and fries. Something I could sink my teeth into that I didn't have to make. I had confirmed with Betty that the road I would travel was indeed pavement, and as I rounded a bend, I was greeted by the sight of construction signs and gravel. At the bottom of a steep hill too.


@&&#*!!8&#!!$!!!!!!


If it weren't for the positivity I was starting to feel glimmers of, I probably would have sat down on the road and cried. Which would have been fine and I would have eventually pulled myself together enough to keep going. Instead I laughed (one of those exasperated, shouldering into a burden, resolved laughs when shit gets hard) and said goodbye to the sweet, flat pavement behind me. It turns out, the gravel wasn't too bad. It was pretty solidly packed and looked like it was underway to be chip sealed or have a further surface put on it. Thankfully not today, and I made fairly good progress finding little to no washboarding and all in all, a pretty speedy pace. Hungry, yet again, I pulled over and had a pee/snack admiring some old pine trees and tufts of purple asters. I was off the gravelly road, this one being what looked like an old forest road, rutted and muddy, winding off into the hills. The noise of a pickup truck caught my attention and I watched someone slowly bump and wind their way down the hill in my direction. I was just finished checking the map on my phone and as I was packing it away, the truck pulled alongside me, the driver rolling down the window.


I know, I know. This scenario could sound a bit concerning....solo woman, on a backroad, pulled over in the bushes on an even MORE backroady backroad, out of sight of anyone passing through, is now approached by a pickup truck driven by unknown humans. Betty's words, fresh in my mind about how brave I was ("aren't you ever scared? I could never do something like that, how do you ever feel safe?") echoed between my ears. However, instead of yielding to fear, I leaned into my protective, default (and genuine!) bubble of cheer and openness, smiling at the fellow behind the wheel of the truck.


He asked if I was ok. I assured him I was great, just had a pee and a snack, thanks. He asked where I was going. Towards Hampton, maybe for a burger. He asked where I was coming from, a gorgeous piece of land between 1st and 2nd lakes, best campsite ever. He grinned and I asked him how his day was going. It was GREAT, he had just come from collecting the memory chip out of his game camera on his land and was excited to see what critters had been coming around, because hunting season was about to start.


Murray quickly revealed himself to be a very kind and sweet person. We chatted and chatted about life in the area, my trip and the history of the road I was on. It apparently used to be a coach road and soon enough I would see a century old covered bridge. He felt a calling to protect the old trees on his land and spoke of why he loves to hunt: to sit quietly in nature and soak in the change of the seasons...an excuse to go be where he knows he feels best. I shared with him my grumpy slumppage of the past 24 hours when he asked how I was finding my trip to be. He, like the birds, Betty and Buddy were part of my path back to feeling grateful, open and happy to be on the road. We both acknowledged how pleasant it was to have met and before parting ways he made me laugh when he told me the road had indeed been paved, until yesterday! I would be back on hardtop shortly and destined for in his words, "absolutely beautiful sights" at the bottom of the hill. I hope Murray is blessed with a bountiful hunting season and a continued healthy life to enjoy the woods and waters of his home.


See? This is the magic of the road. You get exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. Murray's promise of beautiful sights came true and I rolled along a windy, narrow road feeling how it very much was the original coach road. Large maples lined the side of the road between the shoulder and the river and with few passing cars I settled into my experience of dappled sunlight and the afterglow of heartfelt conversations with strangers.

The road led to another, larger road, which led to another, larger road which eventually brought me under the big highway I had driven over a thousand times enroute to and from Maine. This brought me to the original highway, route 1 and I found myself with a choice...head towards Hampton for the burger fantasy, or head in the opposite direction towards the Kingston peninsula. I wasn't feeling as desperate for the comfort for grease and knew I had enough food to be totally fine. The experience of being on bigger roads on a bike, is very similar to when in a car. Route one was a road to cover ground on, with a wide shoulder and really great pavement. Even though it was busy, I settled into a faster pace, rolling along catching glimpses of the Kennebecasis River off to my right through the trees. Gone were the windy, sight seeing roads and I was FINALLY feeling more focused and in the groove of riding. Ride with the body, not with the mind.


I pulled over to check the map and chose a route that would take me as close to the river's edge as possible....unknowingly signing up for a very hilly and intense section of road. It was beautiful though with farms, cute houses and a countryside scenic vibe. It turned out to be an officially designated bike route for the region and I saw my first cyclists in weeks, clad in spandex ripping along. We were all so free and so happy to be riding on a gorgeous day! I may have had a few dark thoughts about how lucky they were to have a shower/food/fridge/beer/anything they wanted waiting for them at home....BUT it wasn't their fault, I had chosen this adventure, not them. They also had to go home, probably to work and only had a precious hour or two to find freedom on the road. It's all about perspective, after all.


I stopped for a snack and realized how close I was to the cable ferry that would take me over to the peninsula!! A quick google search on a dying phone battery revealed there was a little general store somewhere along the peninsula and I could probably find some tasty random stuff to perk up my energy. I had discovered, weeks ago when looking at potential routes to Saint John that there was a whole network of cable ferries (and powered ferries) connecting the various regions and communities to each other, all completely free of charge! What fun! I wanted to avoid cycling through the thick of Saint John and had chosen a way that would be scenic, unique and I'd get a boat ride or two out of it. The ferry rides would be the ONLY places on my entire route that I would take a lift, and not ride/hike the distance. Maybe I'm just not hardcore enough and should have orchestrated a canoe or pack raft to paddle across, but nobody's perfect :) Plus, I LOVE boats and the ferry system was a really neat feature of the area I had no idea about before the trip.

I rolled onto the ferry at Gondola point and had 15 magical minutes of covering "ground" while standing absolutely still...wheeee!!! Transported to the other side, I was treated to beautiful views looking downstream of the Kennebecasis and very few cars once the glut of vehicles on the ferry passed. Southwards I rolled, admiring the scenery and reflecting on how much my mental space had transformed since the morning. All things change, guaranteed...and I was so grateful to be back onto and into the trip that I had signed myself up for. YAH!

Although I was back in the game, I was definitely still hungry all the time and the Whitehead General Store couldn't have appeared at a better time than it did. There is very little else (nothing) on this part of the peninsula as far as provisioning is concerned although I did find huge squash and giant bunches of chard/kale at the end of someone's driveway for sale. Kale vs. General Store delights...hmmm. No competition there. I rolled up, leaned Black Beauty on the wall and began the act of exploration into the shelves and displays of the store. There was all manner of the usual convenience store items, most of which didn't appeal to me or didn't make sense for their size/weight to transport. I will admit, the frozen pizzas and hashbrowns called out pretty loudly to me. There was one lonely doughnut in a glass jar by the coffee carafes. SOLD. I walked around eventually ending up with a can of V8, a small bag of smartfood popcorn, reese's peanut butter cups, a wonderbar, a local field cucumber and a block of cheese in my arms. I went up to the cashier to pay and asked permission to plug my phone in by the ice machine outside. Granted! The woman behind the counter was very friendly and even offered her personal charger to me if I needed it. We chatted for a few minutes and I thanked her endlessly for the doughnut being on offer.


I sipped my V8 and ate the doughnut wishing it was 4 times bigger while my phone charged and people came and went from the store. All makes and models, shapes and sizes of cars AND people rolled through for their ice cream cones, lotto tickets and gasoline. What a wonderful and weird species we are! I checked google earth, looking for a sneaky spot I could pitch my tent in the next few kms as it was getting dark and I was ready to be done for another day. Michelle, the cashier came out for a smoke and we chit chatted under the clear sky. I asked her if by any chance the river was salty this far up, affected by the Fundy tides that weren't terribly far away. She wasn't sure, but figured I was fine. She also said I could probably camp along the river shore no problem and people wouldn't mind. Sweet! V8 and doughnut gone, I put on a few extra layers to chase the dropping temperatures and went off in search of a home. My instinct had been to fill my water bladder before leaving, but for whatever reasons...I didn't. I'd pay for that later.


Within a few short kms from the store, my peripheral vision spied a beautiful and private clearing underneath some cedar trees. I wheeled around and nonchalantly pretended to just be biking along as a few cars went by. Looking around, with no houses anywhere near I turned back around to scope out what I had seen. A simple, rutted driveway led down to a rocky beach with a stunning view of the river. There was an old firepit and table, but nothing looked freshly used. Hmmmm....I wandered back up to where I had leaned Black Beauty on a tree and noticed a tiny, freshly constructed cabin, maybe 10' x 15' at the most. It was adorable, and with little piles of scrap lumber and sawdust around it was obviously brand new. It was almost dark and with no sign of any inhabitants, I went back to the beach to see if I still felt good about squatting on what was very obviously someone's property. That was when I noticed that a rock nearby had "Welcome!" in what looked like blue crayon scrawled across it. SOLD!


I gratefully set up my tent, enjoying the darkening skies and the view of this special little sanctuary. The stars twinkled, mirroring my spirits as I settled in for the evening. Not only had I covered ground in the form of measured kms, but had made so much headway in the inevitable challenge that is the mind game of a long trip. Life was good, the universe was kind and sleep would most definitely, come easily tonight.


More to come soon, thank you as always for reading!

Love,

Adrien


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