Today was the day! We left Ocean Quest Adventures with Rick Stanley trailing with our van. It was magic to ride the last stage together. The winds were howling behind us, pushing into St. John’s. As we descended towards the port, my eyes filled with tears and never stopped until we reached the Terry Fox Monument at “Mile 0.” Seeing the bronze statue, the mile marker and inspirational words of Terry Fox turned me into a blubbering idiot. “Mile 0. This slate marks the spot where one man’s dream began and a nation’s hope lives on” & “dreams are made possible if you try!
I was never quite sure if we could do it, but today my childhood dream became a reality and I got to share it with the love of my life, Robert McClellan. This has been the expedition of a lifetime – almost 7000 km, one pedal stroke at a time.
We’ve did a tv broadcast on First Edition last night and still have some talks ahead with kid’s campers, museum visitors and YMCA members. This journey may be finished, but the work of We Are Water has just begun.
Rick Stanley took Robert and I on a day of touring around St. John’s. We visited Signal Hill and Cape Spear, the farthest easterly point on North America. He also took us to Petty Harbour and the Mini Aquarium that he has generously sponsored. There was a lot of action with families visiting the touch tanks and looking at the beautifully laid out displays. Each spring, divers catch the residents of the tanks. These fish take a vacation from predators by volunteering their services at the aquarium. In the fall, they are released again to the wild. There was a young girl I was watching at the facility. She was mesmerized. She dressed up in the scuba gear that Rick provided for the aquarium and put on a sign that read, “future marine biologist.” When her Mother tried to get her to leave, a fit of tears erupted. “But, I don’t want to leave the aquarium!” she wailed. It was the most beautiful cry I ever heard come out of a child. It gives me hope. The staff a the aquarium are amazing people. They are doing the great work of educating the public and giving them opportunities for hands-on interaction with marine life. There was nothing but smiles coming out of door.
In the evening Rick organized a venue and a big group of divers. We gave a presentation at the Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Center. It was a beautiful new facility will an excellent and helpful staff. There is a geological park on site and a pretty cascading river. People can borrow head sets and listen to interpretive information while walking along the streamway.
We got ourselves settled in Conception Bay South at Ocean Quest Adventures. Rick Stanley, his wife Debbie and his daughter and son-in-law operate a fantastic Bed & Breakfast, full dive shop, charter service and spa in this suburb of St. John’s. The facility is absolutely awesome including a diver’s lodge providing all the comforts of luxury accommodation. They offer dives on the Bell Island shipwrecks as well as whale experiences, iceberg encounters and many other incredible ocean adventures. We’re overwhelmed with their friendly nature and grateful for a place to land for a few days. We have lots of speaking planned this week including an event here Tuesday night. The local paper and television station are also following us with interviews. On Thursday we will make the final ceremonial leg of the ride to St. John’s. I’ll land at the Terry Fox Memorial and cry with joy!
We learned some very sad news last night. A very active ambassador for We Are Water, Carlos Fonseca, passed away in a diving accident near our home in Florida. Carlos was a motivator, inspiring people to get involved in diving and make changes in their lives to protect our water environment. His young daughter is already an elite athlete, competing in springboard diving and other watersports. He proudly shared her successes with friends on Facebook while he watched her competitions and practices with his wife Anabela. Carlos had a way of sweeping people up in his enthusiasm and making them a part of his family. Robert and I count him as a dear friend and will always remember a special time in Tobermory when we dived together filming We Are Water. Our deepest sympathies go out to his entire extended family.
We’re at Gros Morne National Park and Unesco World Heritage Site. It is stunning. The entry road winds through fiords and mountainous forests. We found a spot in Rocky Harbour to rest for a couple of days. The pace of life is beautifully slow and we can get online and pay bills, catch up on email and life before we complete the last short leg of the ride.
It was an early morning start, getting to the Newfoundland Ferry. We got up at dawn and picked up some coffee at Tim’s before entering the boarding line up. By 7:00 am, they were loading our cars on the vessel for the journey from North Sydney to Port Aux Basques. This short run actually takes about eight hours of sailing time and makes the island seem like a world away from the rest of Canada. It is no wonder a unique culture and self-reliance has emerged in Newfoundland.
We decided to stop at a simple motel in order to figure out our plans. It was updated last in the 1950s. I asked the proprietor if they had wireless internet and she responded with a stare, “internet…. yes… we have internet, but I don’t know what wireless is.” She further described that she never used that thing. Magically, there was a weak signal in our room. I returned to the desk and asked if she knew a password for the internet. At first she told me that she was only allowed to give that to customers. I reminded her that I was in Room Four and was indeed a customer. She told me the password but was not sure how to spell it. For anyone that ever ends up there, it is “Bailey12.” I’ll save you the pain.
For my friends that don’t know who Rick Mercer is, he is a Canadian treasure who reminds us of some of our failings in a way that at least allows us to laugh. I was watching a rerun this evening and just had to share his message about water. Click the link to watch his short rant:
Last night we wandered into St. Peter’s in search of live music. We left our campsite and headed down along the tidal locks towards town. They were very interesting and the only ones of their type in the world. St. Peters was first established in the 1500s so must be one of the oldest settlements in North America.
We arrived at an inn and sat down beside a man named Cy, who told us he was 88. Cy was a musician himself and captivated us with stories and a song list that mirrored much of our tastes. He played classical guitar but loved most genres of music. We chatted with him and listened to two guitar players who performed a variety of folk music and well written original pieces. Cy made me a souvenier out of a five dollar bill and offered to drive us home, but we were ready for a walk after all the food we consumed at the inn.
One of the musicians of the evening knew the artist’s that sing the headline song in We Are Water. It is a small world again! We packaged up a DVD for he and his wife and left it at the Provincial Park office for them. It appears that everyone in town knows each other and are eager to help out with delivering a gift!
Cycling in Cape Breton is world renowned and that means it has hills that require every gear and cause you to scream in fear on the way down while you pass cars and exceed the posted speed limit. Unfortunately the road I was on was also brutal with potholes and construction. At one point I had to relent and ask for a portage over the construction that made even driving cars difficult. The road was completely scoured, full of holes and deep large gravel.
We arrived in North Sydney and managed to get a ferry reservation for Newfoundland. We also accidentally drove into a loading lane. We were stuck in a cue that led on to the boat and needed help finding a way out of the embarkation process. Our ticket is no good until Wednesday. We got some lunch on the dock and watched the ferry getting loaded up and departing. We’ll have our turn at dawn in a couple of days. I was worried that we were not going to be able to get a reservation and that it might cut our trip short, but it looks like we are able to go all the way to St. Johns and the presentations we have planned there.