Saturday, September 29, 2007

Corner Brook

While I was in Sackville my friend Steph in Corner Brook suggested I stop at Grenfell College to show my project. To tell you the truth, I'd been thinking about it for a while, but had lacked the initiative at this late date to actually make it happen. Well, I mentioned the idea to John Murchie at Struts, and within the day he had talked with his contacts there and everything was set up. So I was stopping in for a day and a half to do a talk and a quick workshop.

Talk about your serendipity - I got to hang out with friends Steph and Hope for a day, my mom and dad decided to come for a visit, I had an awesome response from my audience, and I even managed to pick up a nice (and much needed) pay cheque from the event.

Many thanks to Les and the rest of the faculty at the college for a great day!

Best Day Yet?

I've spent most of the summer looking forward to today. Last night I finally slipped across the Nova Scotia - Newfoundland border and arrived in Port-Aux-Basques. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive - after everywhere I've been and everything I've seen on this trip how would Newfoundland stack up? I remembered it - especially this southwest corner - as one if the most spectacular places I've ever been.

Well I have to say that I was not the least but disappointed. We arrived in the harbour just as the sun was creeping above the ocean into a perfectly clear sky. The weather was amazing providing gentle tailwinds all day long to help me enjoy the magnificent panoramas of the west coast.

I met this great guy Carl, a cyclist from Nova Scotia who is riding from Victoria to St. John's. We spent the day riding together, and I think with a little less bias than I, he put it perfectly: "There hasn't been a day better than this."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Worst Day Yet?

Leave it to good ol' Nova scotia to provide me with the wildest weather I have seen in months and months. While yesterday was nothing short of glorious, and even this morning was fine by any standard, this afternoon saw everything turn against me. Passing Pictou on the way to New Glasgow is where the rain first started. It wasn't bad to begin with - just light drizzle blowing around in all directions - but it got darker, harder and heavier as the day wore on. I was determined to make it to Antogonish, so I pedalled onwards. The wind came up, directly in my face of course, and made the going so slow that befiore long I was looking for a place to camp. But Highway 104 is not exactly the most hospitable area, being as it is lined with dense brush, so I had little choice but to keep going forward.

I can't imagine how horrible it would be to have to change a flat in this kind of weather, but the gods of irony endeavoured to help me find out. My front tube popped, but I may have the last laugh, as it happened directly in front of Gerard and Ethel's Star Lite Campground in Marshy Hope. I pushed my bike down the drive, put my tent up as quickly as I could, and now I'm sitting here listening to the pounding rain and howling wind. I'm just gonna take care of everything tomorrow when Environment Canada has promised me sun. It better arrive early and bring some heat.


I need to thank a whole bunch of people this time. The show at Struts was amazing and I had just the best time.

John, Jess and Paul: thank-you for running one of the finest galleries I have ever visited. You put up with all my demands and like real pros!

Lianne and Ange: you two are awesome roommates - thanks for feeding, housing and just basically taking care of me. I'd love to return the hospitality someday so you are welcome to visit me wherever I might be.

Tara, Leah, Kip and the rest of the board - Thanks for inviting me to town and making me feel at home. You rock!

David, Elizabeth and family - thank you for the amazing dinner, it was lovely meeting you. I hope the trailer works out for you!

Nick - thanks for inviting me to your party - soon we will lead a great socialist nation!

Naoko - The sushi was great, but the visit was even better! It was terrific to see you!

Bucky Buckler - thanks for the tools and the junkers - without your grinder Tara would still be after me to fix that pedal!

Ove - I think the show wouldn't have been possible in quite the same way without your contribution. Thanks so much!

John - thanks for the help and of course for being that guy who brings in the "project" bike :)

Chris - thanks for the beer. Next time I pass through I will take care of that bike for you.

Jesse - the tomatoes and cukes were dee-lish! Thanks so much!

Kat, Vanessa, Seamus, Nick, Amelia, Julia, Lorne, Amanda, Jason and everyone else who brought in a bike, or came to the talk, or just came to hang out - thank-you so much!!! You made my stay in Sackville great, and you make the world a little bit better every time you ride your bike!


I must first apologize for neglecting my blogging duties - it has been two weeks since my last update. But I swear I have a good excuse. I blame it upon the mountain of bicycles that arrived in Sackville at the same time as I did. Sackville is a university town, without a bike shop now for more than five years, where I just happened to arrive during frosh week. So I was kept busy keeping people on their bikes - not unpleasant by any means, but definitely exhausting.

And not just that. Sackville seems to have a social scene disproportionately large for such a small town. There were art shows, music shows, cinema, softball games, ultimate games, and a great pub named Ducky's where they sell an awesome blueberry ale topped off with a spoonful of wild blueberries.

And even that was not the end of my distractions. Perhaps because I'm getting so close to my one-time homes people from my past kept trickling through the gallery. First Nick Carmichael, a friend from the Split Crow in Halifax invited me to his nearby cottage for his birthday party. We ate and drank and swam and played tennis on his grandfather-in-law's amazing clay tennis court. I've played a lot of tennis in my life but never on clay before and I like it. Then Naoko Ando, a classmate of mine from the Stephenville days walked into the gallery completely without warning. Apparently she and her husband have been living in Sackville and running a book store since the last time I saw her in about 2001. Next Meghan Harding, my roommate from Vancouver, showed up. She was in town on business at the university and of course we went for a few bkueberry ales before she had to leave. And last in the parade was Craig Francis Power. I know Craig a little bit from my days in St. John's, where he is now ironically the coordinator of the gallery I'm showing at there. He's in town for the Struts 25th Anniversary exhibition (he was an artist in residence here a few years ago) which is opening tonight. I couldn't take anymore though so I hit the road this morning and this blog post is coming to you from the woods near Tatamagouche (try saying it out loud for the full comedic affect).

So again I apologize for neglecting my duties, but, as you can see, I had some other things to do.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I knew it had to happen sooner or later - that I would eventually be the victim of some sort of animal attack. Tonight while carrying my gear through the forest looking for somewhere to camp I stepped on an old log and was swarmed by flying stinging insects. I have no idea what they were as I was in no mood to stop to perform a proper scientific analysis. They were small and black and many.

In all I think I've been stung about seventeen times - eight on the ankles, six on the thighs and ass, and three times on the back. For some reason they didn't sting my bare skin, they ignored my face, arms and knees, and opted to sting through my shirt, shorts and socks - weird! The sting kind of felt like a tiny burning needle being inserted into my flesh, quite painful and distressing at the time, but now (an hour later) they're just itchy and sore. I bet they'll be gone tomorrow.

Incidentally, when I've had the time I've been playing a little old school NES role-playing game on my computer by the name of Dragon Warrior II. I can't help but think how much it parallels my life. Just like the characters in the game I travel from town to town, collect experience, acquire resources, upgrade my gear, learn new skills, and build some muscle. Tonight I battled hideous monsters in the hinterlands (if they were part of a Dragon Warrior game they'd be called "Sting-Bees" or "Wasp Wings") and came out victorious, though down a few hit points.

The TurboGraphix 16 had a couple of cool RPGs based almost entirely on the Dragon Warrior model. But they weren't about killing monsters and saving the world - one was a tennis game and the other was about racing. In the tennis game the character wanders an overworld of mountains, forests, plains, and of course towns. The "enemies" are hostile tennis opponents who challenge you to a one game match. If you win you live to enjoy strawberries and cream another day - if not your career is over. "Bosses" require you to win a whole set, but by the time you get to them you've hopefully upgraded to a new racket and a decent pair of shoes. The racing RPG was basically identical, except replace shoes with tires, games with laps, and Martina Navratilova with Danica Patrick.

Which all made me think - why isn't there a bicycle touring video game? Let me toss out a few random ideas. You start with a character and a budget, both of which are entirely customizable. You can set off in any direction and go anywhere. You are then subject to all the contingencies, risks and rewards of a real bicycle traveler. Can you ride from Moscow to Irkutsk before the weather turns bad? Can you find enlightenment while traveling the subcontinent? If you leave New York with just $1000 will you ever get to see the sunset over Malibu? We already have the entire world in virtual form courtesy of Google. How hard could it be to make a realistic, fun and exciting bike tour simulator? Are there any software designers out there looking for a project? Here is the first problem to work on: How do we simulate my itchy swollen ankles???