24 hours of HELL, or maybe it was actually HEAVEN!

Trip Start Jul 22, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , New Brunswick,
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Having driven to the furthest eastern point in North America it was now time to head west and leave Newfoundland. I've driven the Trans-Canada highway from one end to the other. I've been to the 10 provinces. Yes, it was time to move on.

I decided to take the ferry back to Cape Breton from Argentia instead of driving the 1000 kilometres back to Port au Basque. The Argentia ferry takes 14 hours. Driving 1000 kilometres and taking a 5 hour ferry didn't make sense. Might as well make someone else do the driving, or navigating in this case.

The Argentia ferry leaves at 4 PM and arrives at 6 AM in North Sydney. It's a 90 minute drive from St. John to Argentia. I have to be there 90 minutes before the ferry leaves. Have to be gone by noon to be safe.

I've driven over 12,000 kilometres on this trip to date. Pretty well double the distance from Calgary to St. John's. It was time for another oil change. I had seen an oil change place the other day that wasn't too far. Figured I'd get that done before hitting the road. I thought the place was a quick lube place but I was wrong. They can't take me till after lunch. Guess I won't get my oil changed.

Head back to the campground, hitch up the trailer and hit the road. It's 11 AM. I get on the highway and there's a very strong headwind. The truck has to gear down to stay at speed. With the high RPMs I can see the gas gauge dropping. I get near Argentia at 1 PM. I have an hour and a half to kill. It starts raining.

I decide to go visit Castle Hill which overlooks the original French capital of Newfoundland, now known as Placentia. This 17th century French fortification predates the Fortress of Louisbourg and predicates the role Louisbourg would later play as the French gateway to Canada and naval base for the French fishery in North America. Here I discovered why the French and British battled for the control of Newfoundland.

That tour over, I drive the final 10 minutes to the ferry terminal. The ferry starts loading by 2h30. Looks like we'll be leaving on time, plus I'm one of the first ones loaded. Bonus!

I had packed my backpack with a couple of books, my laptop and extra clothing (oh, and a toothbrush). I find a table and seat in one of the lounges where I have access to a power outlet. I have lots of time to catch up on my blog entries that are outstanding. Still an hour to leave and an announcement comes over the loudspeaker warning people that they won't be able to go to their vehicle once the ship leaves port. I decide to go back and get a movie or two or three to watch.

I write one blog entry and am tired of typing. Watch a movie. Then go have supper and read in the dining room. Get tired of reading and go to the lounge to listen to the singer there. Then I decide to go to bed. It's almost 10 PM. I had booked a bed in the dormitory. The dorm sleeps about 50. A few people are already in bed. The 3 bunks next to me are still empty, but some things are on the bunks.

People slowly wander in as I'm listening to my iPod. The ship is slowly rocking to the waves. This dorm is just above the lounge where the singer is. He comes back from his break and starts singing again with some whooping and hollering from the crowd. Then the stragglers come to bed. I still haven't fallen asleep. Then the snoring starts. Guess I forgot to mention that I wanted the non-snoring section. It seemed quiet further away from me. The snorers all seem to be surrounding me. I finally fall asleep.  Must have been after 3 am.

Then an announcement wakes me up. We'll be in North Sydney in an hour at 6 AM. The lack of sleep is going to make this a very long day. I have over 700 kms to drive to my destination in Caraquet, New Brunswick.

Off the ferry and I've decided to drive the south coast of Cape Breton. I had done the north side on the way east. The sun comes up and I'm driving along the Bras d'Or Lake. The road is newly paved. Very little traffic. This is awesome!

Then the road gets very rough, then a construction zone with extremely rough gravel. Then I sense that there's something wrong with the truck's driver side rear tire. I'm watching it in the side mirror when I look in the passenger side mirror and see smoke, or is it dust flying. I find a wide driveway entrance to pull over on and get out. One of the trailer tires has blown up or whatever, just deteriorated during my moments of distraction.

Get the bottle jack out. Now I remember why I had thought of replacing it. It doesn't rise more than a couple of inches. It's so old that it's lost a lot of fluid. It worked fine for pulling a fully inflated tire off when I checked the brakes before leaving but is useless when there is no tire remaining on the rim (actually, it barely worked when the truck tire needed replacing before arriving in PEI. That tire was half deflated). So I raised the axle a couple inches. Block it with some wood and start over 4 or 5 times. An hour later and the spare is on the trailer. That should have taken 10 minutes.

The next hour of driving is on very rough, potholed and windy roads. The great morning start now sucks.

I arrive in Port Hawkesbury about a half hour after that. The main highway, in a lot better condition, starts. I drive by a Canadian Tire and stop in. I don't want to drive very far without a spare for the trailer. They don't have trailer tires but they direct me to a tire shop that would. Within 10 minutes I have a new tire for a spare and am back on the road.

The drive through Nova Scotia went fairly well. The highway is quite good. I get to Moncton and need some gas. I'm heading north. A road sign says there's a gas station at the next turn off. Turn and drive east about 5 kms. No gas station. Turn north and drive about 10 kms before finding a gas station. This station was less than one kilometre from the highway I was originally one as the 2 north-south roads had gotten closer. A 15 kilometre detour for what? At least I wasn't that desperate for gas.

Then I make the turn off the main highway towards Caraquette. Start following a truck that is going very slow and I can't pass. Then it's construction zone after construction zone. Had to wait at least 15 minutes at one place as they did some work.

I'm extremely tired by this time and really want to get to the campground. Only 30 kilometres to go as per the GPS in the truck. The thing is, I didn't input the exact address of the campground in this GPS as it couldn't find it. So I entered the intersecting street. I use the Google Map function on my iPhone and it has the exact location of the campground. I'm still over 80 kms away. The truck GPS had the opposite end of the intersecting highway that looped around.

Then more construction...and more construction... and Caraquet...YEAH!

Get to the campground and no one is in the office. There's a number to call. They arrive a half hour later. It's after 6 PM. 12 hours to drive 750 kilometres.

Yes, that was 24 hours of HELL!  or not?

Was it really Hell?

I was tired. I did have a breakdown. But things could have gone much worse if there hadn't been a siding for me to stop on right away that was large enough for me to back up on and change the tire. It took me longer to change the tire than it should have because I didn't buy a new jack as I knew I should. I had looked at them when I was in Halifax but decided against it for some reason. I had the replacement tire within 10 minutes and I didn't have to detour. Stopping in Moncton would have been a detour from my route and even then I would have gone to Canadian Tire. Who knows if they could have given me a tire shop that was close and could have helped me so quickly.

All the construction zones were tiring. But that also meant that there were many sections of the highway that were newly paved and smooth. So I actually made up time in those sections.


Changing "negative" experiences into "positive" is very easy if you change your perspective a little.

Yes. It was 24 hours of Heaven.

And I almost forgot. A glass fell from the top cupboard from all the rocking on the rough roads and didn't shatter. Though, the laundry spray that's in a cupboard at the back of the trailer did spill. Took me 10 minutes to clean that up. What's worse? Cleaning up a liquid or pieces of glass?

Think It! Feel It! Live It!


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Where I stayed
Camping Colibri
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