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What's biking in a Hurricane like?! Day 26!

Home for the night: Not Your Average Hostel, St. Martins

Distance: 6.4 kms hiking, 19.7 kms biking

Weather: gray and calm in the morning, spitting by lunch time, pouring rain by mid afternoon, wind whipping up steadily to 80 km/hr by evening. Crazy wind and rain allllll night

B: sausage, orange slices, pumpkin spice pancakes with butter and maple syrup, coffee

L: on the fly: granola bars, chocolate, dried fruit, cheese, coffee at the Parkway visitors centre!

D #1: miso soup, tea and chocolate

D #2: a bag of doritos

D #3: local sausage baked with local potatoes. Fresh, garden tomatoes and smoked cheddar cheese...2 more cups of tea


finish what you start...

it helps if you're half crazy!

weather fit for ducks


France, Eric, Osa and I all slept in, enjoying the comfort of indoor life. Thick, gray skies told the story of what was to come...there was a storm brewing off shore somewhere and it was heading our way! I had no idea that hurricane Teddy even existed until we caught up with France in Little Salmon River, and apparently much of the maritimes was bracing for high winds and heavy rainfall. Good to know!

I roused myself to start the process of sorting through my hiking gear, navigating my 4th and final transition of the trip...back to ol' Black Beauty who had had the better part of 9 days off the road! Soon it was time for breakfast with our fabulous hosts, Gary and Diane. We made our way upstairs to discover a plate covered in fruit, coffee and more plates/spoons/mugs/glasses than I had seen in weeks! What a treat!! Our hosts were top notch, curious about our travels and what we did with our time at home.

Gary, Diane and their cozy B and B felt like home the second we met them on their porch. Jovial, happy and kind, it was like visiting an aunt and uncle who happen to have the best view in all of St. Martins! The clincher was when I broached the subject of Osa....and her furry presence waiting in the car. Eric didn't know she was coming when he booked the place, I certainly didn't know she was coming and France said didn't even realize Osa was coming until she was halfway to New Brunswick. We hoped that our hosts would understand our circumstances and that this wasn't your average adventure.

After a bit of hesitation on the part of Gary and Diane, mainly due to allergens for future guests, I asked if they would like to meet Osa...she could speak for herself. I was prepared for her to sleep in the car need be, which would be fine...but I hoped they would tolerate a pooch for one night. As is tradition, Osa confidently sauntered over to the porch, sniffing flowers along the way. Gary and Diane, both dog people were smitten and Osa was IN! I was so grateful to them making an exception to their rule and once again, Osa warmed the hearts of two more people who were more than happy to have her around.

That dog!! Now, I know all people who have the good fortune of a dog in their life think their canine buddy is the BEST dog in the whole world. They're probably right. But they also probably haven't met Osa! I've seen her be allowed into schools, theatre rehearsals, boats, float planes, trains, staff training weekends, camps, you name it!!! This is a dog with pizazz, wisdom and an air about her that people just roll out the red carpet for her to shed all over. She's even had her photo in Canadian Geographic for a 28 day snowshoe expedition we completed on the Lower North Shore of Québec! She's amazing in a canoe, is a fantastic bush dog and her sense of humour always brightens my day.

Ok. Doggie bragging over. Needless to say, I kind of wasn't really surprised she was given a free pass to stay at the B and B...although Murray the cat was none too pleased. Osa and Murray spent most of our evening and all of the following morning staring at each other from a safe, but curious distance. Murray has the local reputation for chasing foxes and probably taking down moose singlehandedly in his spare time....and he had Osa scurrying across the deck with her tail between her legs at least once!! You go Murray, it's your turf!

All this said, Osa was invited up for breakfast as well and she made herself right at home, sniffing all corners of the house, eating Murray's kibble and eventually convincing Gary that the last two sausages on the side table had her name on them. Osa's fan club officially grew by two members...and Diane and Gary's grew by four! If you are in St. Martins and are happy with a homey, bed and breakfast stay, I highly recommend Mac's Beach Retreat. If you're lucky, they'll tell you the stories of updating the place over the past 30 years and show you the photo of the original home! Plus, falling asleep watching the lighthouse flash and waking up to gulls and waves on the can't be beat!

But now, it was time. It was time to hustle through the last of my stuff and try to get out the door as quickly as possible so Gary and Diane could turn over our rooms for the next guests. Eric, France and Osa needed to get on the road and I needed to make my way back to St Martins before Teddy made life too crazy on the road. Because of our unanticipated mandatory pick up off the trail before completing it, I had to sort out a way to connect my dots to not compromise my human-powered loop of The Bay. France called it tenacity....we joked about it being pure stubbornness. But really, it's commitment. To break the loop now would change the entirety of what I set out to do nearly a month ago. A plan was hatched.

I divvied my stuff into "quick day hike", " essential cycling day ride" and "all my other cycling crap to stay in Gary and Diane's van until I come back through St. Martins after my ride". Eric, France, Osa and I would drop Black Beauty at the western end of The Footpath, and then I would get dropped at Long Beach where Tom had collected us the day before. I would hike 6.4 kms, then bike the 20 or so kms back to the B and B, collect the rest of my gear and head another km or two into St Martins to Not Your Average Hostel, where I would weather the storm. Simple enough, right??

I delegated tasks to France and Eric while I scurried about making decisions on warmer clothing and extra gear given the swing in temperatures over the past few days. More oats went into my scummy old oat bag, more coffee and tea went into the beverage bag, brakes and tire pressure adjusted, etc. etc. It was a whirlwind, but we did it! Once again, we found ourselves stuffed like sardines into the Honda, driving through the hills of New Brunswick.

Drop off Black Beauty: Check! Get back to Long Beach: Check! Take a hilarious and inglorious parking lot selfie with my friends and dog (which isn't on my phone, sadly!): Check! Say goodbye: Check! Start the final leg of this adventure, solo once again....CHECK.

It felt great to be in the forest again. It felt even better to float along with only my thin, nylon tote bag turned backpack on my shoulders. No giant pack!! I had a hard time remembering what the big deal was about all the hills! I breezed along, admiring the plants and smelling the rich air of the woods, awoken by the rain that had begun 15 minutes into my hike.

The rain thickened and the wind began to bend the tops of the trees. I was quite sheltered under the canopy, but could see sheets of rain whipping across the water to my left. I love a good storm! Especially when I know I get to sleep inside at the end of the day...I could get totally drenched (and likely would!!) today, but as long as I could keep myself warm, it didn't really matter. If I were tenting, I probably wouldn't be going anywhere at all other than to pee and batten my proverbial hatches.

I found my way back to Black Beauty, crossing the iconic suspension bridge over the Big Salmon River and the official end of The Footpath. Wahoo!!!! I wheeled my way up to the nearby visitor centre to fill up on water, change and get my game face on for my ride back to town.

The Centre was desserted. I guess most visitors choose not to come on hurricaine days. Enjoying the peace and quiet, I wandered around the displays about the history of the area and then spied the coffee pot in the was 2:30....and I gambled that a spirited boost in my energy now wouldn't interfere with bedtime later. AND there was cream. Wow! I stepped over to the till to pay and waited for a staff person to appear. Eventually a woman, whom I would eventually learn was named Tracy came over and generously said the coffee was on the house! Double wow!! While I gratefully sipped my drink, we chatted about the tourism season, my trip and brainstormed with the map what direction I should take to Saint John. I even learned that her daughter, Laura lives in Wolfville, back home and works at the garden centre in Greenwich...a fellow plant person!

Wholly caffeinated, I went to change in the washroom and got myself ready for departure. Rain pounded the windows and the flags on the porch whipped about in the wind. A perfect day for a ride!! Cheery goodbyes from Tracy sent me out the door and into the fray...and I couldn't help but laugh into the wind at how ridiculously awesome life was.

In the car yesterday, Tom had recommended I take the 10 km multi-use trail along the coast from the visitor centre to the parkway boundary where I would hop into the main road that would take me to St. Martins. Either Tom has never ridden a bike before, or he has a sick sense of humour....but for the first time in my entire trip I found myself walking Black Beauty up hills. I wasn't even fully loaded, remember?!! Steep, gravely and now super soft from the rain I slipped and skidded around, walking the bike as much as riding it. 3 kms took ages and I was working harder than I had on the whole damn ride so far. At the next available road access I ditched the trail and ripped along the pavement, covering the rest of the ride in no time. Thanks Tom.

Empty roads, crazy weather and a light bike made for a fun and wild time! I felt a bit hysterical, cackling like a witch when gusts of wind threatened to knock me over. My bike lights cheerily flashed ahead and behind me and my spirits soared in the face of challenge. There are always chances to go for bike rides on sunny, beautiful days... But this? This was a special opportunity....and it definitely made me feel alive!

In an hour and 15 minutes, from when I left the visitor centre, I was soggily wheeling up onto Gary and Diane's porch. Murray was still in his favourite chair, surveying his kingdom. Gary offered to drive my gear to the hostel and from earlier conversations knew I wouldn't be persuaded to take a lift. My stuff?? Sure thing!! Me?? No way. We jokingly raced each other to the hostel after I bid Diane goodbye and voilà!! I was home for the night, safe and sound...totally drenched (from sweat as much as rain) from head to toe, except for my feet inside their goretex socks.

Joe, the owner of the hostel exclaimed "OH MY GOD!!" upon my arrival and insisted I wheel Black Beauty right into the hostel, muddy grossness and all. Ok, then!! I said goodbye to Gary, grateful for his eager support and with a few housekeeping notes from Joe, I made myself at home for the evening while the storm raged on outside. I eventually drifted across the road to the old general store (complete with beautiful, high tin ceilings) and procured a bizarre dinner for myself.

Miso, bengal spice tea AND chocolate to celebrate!

Food, dry clothes, the anticipation of a hot shower, charging my phone...and then the power went out. The wind howled on my window, and once again I was living by headlamp and camping stove, laughing at how perfect of a situation it was for me. Indoor camping!! Surrendering to all the things I wouldn't do for the night, I crawled into bed. Sure enough, that afternoon coffee did nothing to slow me down on my way to dreamland!

PS: this has been written from the MIDDLE of the Bay of Fundy on the ferry crossing from Saint John to Digby!! What a crazy notion to be floating on the giant body of water I have been cycling, hiking and living alongside for a month....and I'm sure there's a view out there in the fog somewhere! Nova Scotia, here I come!!!!

As always, thanks for adventuring alongside me! Xo

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