Shame On Me-I Treated This Trip As Something To Be Done Away With

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On A Boat Somewhere In The Bay Of Fundy

June 27, ‘77

Last night, bicycling against the wind, fighting off the evening chill, I wondered if the crazy day was going to turn into a crazy night. The clouds were low in the sky; rain was about to fall. I was alone on the highway, and for good reason. Nobody wanted to be out in this weather. When I came to a roadside picnic area I stopped to check for a shelter. The picnic tables were on a rocky cliff overlooking a river gorge that opened into the Bay of Fundy. From the top of the cliff, I could see an old fishing shanty at the bottom of the gorge. It was built along side a small river/creek flowing into the bay. The shanty had a partial roof. Getting down there was the problem.

I locked my bike to a tree just out of sight from the highway, and started down the steep ravine. I got a few extra scratches and a little dirty, but it was worth it. The shanty had a clean, dry, wooden floor. The partial roof was enough to keep the rain off, and the partial wall permitted me a beautiful view of the incoming surf. I was the only resident on the small beach, and the steep, rocky cliffs above the shanty pretty much guaranteed that I would remain the only resident. The sound and nearness of the surf transformed the day’s chaos into a heeling, peaceful, time-out. I almost expected to see Gnomes running about, the place inspired such a feeling of magic. I had suffered, true, but this was my reward. Sitting there, looking out at the beautiful receding tide, I realized that I was not leaving Nova Scotia for external reasons. Sure rain, lack of money, and dirt, all influenced my decision to leave, but I knew that none of that could make me say, “I can’t take it anymore. I’m quitting, giving up, going home!” But, I was going home and there was a reason—a good reason….

Right now I’m somewhere in the Bay of Fundy sitting on a warm ferry heading to New Brunswick. It’s raining out, but it’s nice in here. I hope my wet jeans dry some before I have to get back on my bike. There’s no chance of that happening for my soaked feet. The coffee I’m drinking is good, just the way I like it, hot, very hot. If it weren’t for the rain, the scenery would be good, too. But even without the rain, all the aesthetics I need right now are pencil and paper, hot coffee, and a dry place to write.

The squish-squash of my feet, as I just went up to get my second cup of coffee, reminded me that I started peddling at 7 a.m. this morning. The harder I peddled the harder it rained. In order to catch the Digby ferry I had to peddle in the rain for three hours. I made one stop along the way. It was for coffee at a restaurant. A couple of other cyclists were already inside and they motioned for me to come over to their table. They were up from Maine for a two-week bicycle tour in Nova Scotia. They had just arrived, so they hadn’t experienced much rain. The boy, across the table from me, had just started university and was thinking about studying Philosophy. His parents didn’t like the idea, though. When I told him I was majoring in Philosophy, he asked me, “What can you do with it?” I didn’t want to get into that conversation, so I said, “Nothing. Listen to your parents.”

We got into talking about the book I had just read, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. We didn’t get into the particulars, but apparently the boy had enjoyed reading the book over a year ago. His girlfriend showed an interest, so I asked her if she wanted to read it. She said, “Sure.” I excused myself, went outside and grabbed the book from my bike bag and then, as I said goodbye to her, I handed over the book. As I was riding away, I saw her paging eagerly through the dog-eared copy. Maybe it would open doors for her. It didn’t for me.

Now, getting back to why I’m leaving Nova Scotia. Feeling bad about not being able to see the attractions had not been the worst of it. Sure I could stick around and tour Cape Briton and Prince Edward Island. Their beautiful I’m sure, but why? I have never been into collecting experiences. Even in Hawaii, I didn’t go to all of the islands because it got to a point where I felt like I was collecting experiences. That’s not what its all about, that’s not the important stuff. What’s important was the learning. If I couldn’t learn from my adventures then I had no business “being there”. This trip was not born out of that kind of thinking. Rather, it was born out of the opposite kind of thinking. It was conceived and finalized as a mere exclamation point to the whole Castalian process. No higher justification was needed. It was like going into same classroom over and over again, sitting in the same seat over and over again, and not knowing or caring why. Shame on me! I treated this trip, right from the start, as something to be done away with. My Castalian dream wouldn’t be complete unless I turned my free time into an adventure–study in the winter, travel in the summer. Instead of greeting each occasion as something to be achieved, I have turned all occasions into something to be done away with. Except for the East Coast, I have pretty much seen all the United States, but now the East Coast is just another notch in my bicycle tire. If that’s not collecting experiences, I don’t know what is
! Everything about this trip has been pure hypocrisy! Please, make it all go away.

Hot Weather Biking Along St. John River—Beautiful

New Brunswick

June 27

St. John was a larger city than Digby. I managed to find an open store, so I did my usual. I sat down on the curb and ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. By the time I had finished eating, a group of kids had crowded round, asking me questions. On this trip I have been getting along really well with kids–or maybe I’m just noticing it more.

I spent the night at a little picnic-park area twenty miles west of St. John. When I arrived, eight of the ten picnic tables were being used, even in this weather—surprising. When it started to rain, I went over and started talking with the people picnicking under the only roof in the park. We ended up building a fire. They left after sharing a couple of beers with me. Under that roof, I stayed dry, but didn’t sleep well. The traffic kept me awake—cars and trucks coming and going all night long; don’t ask me why. At one point, a busload of cub-scouts pulled in. It was the longest bathroom break ever.

At least in the northeast the Trans Canada was a good highway to bike. I even had to hitch hike on it. I broke a spoke, the same spoke that broke back when I was biking with Richard. I had to hitch to a gas station in order to put things right again.

Back on the highway, I spent a marvelous two hours biking along the river. New Brunswick was pretty– very green, especially a long the highway that followed the river. I appreciated the sunshine even more than the scenery. When I passed a huge log pile, I decided to stop and enjoy the day. I camped behind the logs, where I had a good view the huge lake (reservoir). That evening, over the water, there was a gorgeous sunset. Earlier in the day, I had found a pay shower, so that night the sun set not only on appreciative eyes, but also on a clean body. It was great!

Things are looking good. I feel good. Good-bye Mr. Sun!

June 28

My calculations told me that if I limited myself to $3. a day, and biked at least 60 miles per day, I would arrive back in Houghton Lake 22 days from now. I usually biked more than 60 miles a day, but that was a good distance to target since I also needed some layover time. I wanted to do my “easy time” in Michigan, though. I planned to bicycle along the shore of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan before heading for home. I figured I still had around 1316 miles to go, and I knew from past experience that anything could happen. But, at least with these calculations, I also knew that my goal was doable.

Biking was absolutely beautiful today. In 80 and 90-degree temperatures, I biked on a good highway, through rolling forests, while farms occasionally dotted the countryside. At no time along the St. John River did the biking become difficult. Tomorrow I’ll probably see the last of New Brunswick. Too bad, it was so pretty. I did around 100 miles today, and there were sixty or so miles to go before I arrived in Quebec.

I cooled off with a couple of swim breaks during those 100 miles. When I came to one of the many steams that I passed, a ten-minute break was all that I needed to keep me happy. Around 6:30 p.m., I saw some kids diving off an abutment into one of the bays on the St. John River. I immediately started to look for a way off the Trans-Canada. Once I found my way back to them, it took only a couple of seconds for me to jump into the water. While swimming, the kids told me about a camping park. When I arrived there, I found lots of picnic tables, with most of the people camped over in the pines. I was in the aspens, enjoying the soft yellow sunrays filtering through the softwoods.

I am now enjoying the end of a beautiful day. My trip home, so far, has been the nicest biking I could have wished for.


3 Responses to “Shame On Me-I Treated This Trip As Something To Be Done Away With”

  1. Beverly Says:

    Wow Dave, another great blog. You are an incredible writer!

    It seems you had an epiphany, and at such an early age, that is a very valuable lesson for all of us. Sadly, it’s one that some of us never learn. In fact it took me far too many years to learn it myself. That life itself is the journey and not the destination. That’s why we miss so much of what is happening right around us. We’re too focused on getting where we’re going, instead of realizing that life is really made up of all those precious moments that pass us by every day while we’re too busy with “stuff” to notice.

    I’m grateful that I also realized how trivial “stuff” really is and that the only things of any real value in this life are the people we love and who love us and the relationships we have with them. Everything else is just so much “stuff”.

    The picture of your bike speaks to me of loneliness. We are all fortunate that you had a camera with you to help preserve your journey. Your pictures are spectacular and have helped to make your journey come alive.

    Have a great week,


  2. dave Says:

    Hi Beverly, (at the risk of sounding too proud or possibly conceited) I’m my own biggest fan. I spent most my life questioning and seeking. But, as I learned in physics class, there is no such thing as a totally efficient engine. It is true that life’s good lessons bear repeating, but “greeting each occasion as something to be achieved,” over the span of one’s entire life, is like listening to record stuck in a musical refrain. As beautiful as that piece of music might be, over time, it grates on one’s sensibilities. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if one spends much of their life questioning and seeking, then it is hoped that the product of that search will act to console that person in his/her old age; because, as some inspired person once said: Old Age Is Not For Sissies.

  3. Beverly Says:

    Dave, I completely understand being your own biggest fan. I don’t think that is arrogance or conceit, or else I am guilty of the same. I believe that is a healthy sign of confidence and self respect. You know your own value, because you are the one who set that value. We cannot love any one else until we learn to love ourselves first of all. And how can we even hope for any one else to love us if we are not worthy of our own love? The key to this, as with all things in life, is balance and moderation.

    Not only is old age not for sissies, it is not for the faint of heart. But, my oh my, it is ever so much better than the alternative!

    I heard this expression when I was young and as the young are prone to do, never thought to apply it to myself. “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself”.

    I wish you joy,


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