Bike Ride - Summer 2002:
Bas St. Laurent & St. Johns River
Day Eight


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002

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(See Copyright Notice on Menu Page)

Montreal to St. John, New Brunswick
Day Eight: Grand Falls to "Florenceville"
Monday, August 5, 2002


Getting Started

I awoke at 06:30 and quickly ran to grab the communal shower before anyone else on the floor got up. We dressed and went downstairs for breakfast at 07:30. The breakfast room was in the basement and consisted of a large common room with several tables. Bread and an old, industrial toaster were supplied. Everyone had to make their own toast, to be accompanied by the juice and coffee that were provided.

After breakfast, I had to search out “the lady with the keys” in order to retrieve my bike from the storage room. Then I had to negotiate it through the narrow, basement doorway to get it outside to the parking lot.. I repacked it with the valuables I had stored in the room and then was set to be on my way. Sheryl saw me off in the parking lot with a kiss and a photo. She then retired back up to the room for a while to relax, as no stores were yet open.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~08:20)
Grand Falls: On My Way

 

Grand Falls

It was 08:20 when I was on my way. I began by retracing my route of the afternoon before, although riding in along the old Hwy 2 as far as possible, and reached Grand Falls by 09:00. When I reached the point where the highway curved south to cross the river, I was into new territory. I stopped at a gas station depanneur on the way into town to fill up my little cooler with ice.

I saw the old railway bridge crossing the river just upstream of the dam, but did not yet realize that it now carried a bike path and that I could have gone into town this way. I proceeded instead along the old road, which dropped down into a steep gully to come to a crossroads just below the dam and falls. The Falls had a visitor's centre, so I went in and had a look around. The displays showed a great deal of interesting geological information, but alas, they had no publications with the same amount of detail

.
Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~09:00)
Grand Falls: Old CP Rail Bridge - Now Bike Crossing

 

Leaving the visitor's centre, I rode across the bridge into town, stopping on the way to snap some upstream photos. The old stone pillars from a previous bridge could still be seen.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~09:15)
Grand Falls: Bridge & Main Street

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~09:30)
Grand Falls: Dam & Falls
See the [Grand Falls Composite] for postcard view of the Falls.

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~09:30)
Grand Falls: Old Bridge Pillar

 

The bridge brought me out at the foot of the main street, so I rode up to the top, past the restaurant where we had eaten the night before. Everything was basked in a great morning light which was excellent for photographs. I came around the top of the main street and rode back down to the bridge. Returning to the far side, I was now on the downstream side and got some pictures of the gorge below the falls.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~09:15)
Grand Falls: Main Street

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~09:30)
Grand Falls: St. John's River Gorge below Falls

 

Down Along the River

My ride-about in Grand Falls was done by 09:45 and I headed on out. According to the map, I needed to connect with Highway 105, which would lead me down the eastern shore of the river, on the shore opposite from the Trans-Canada Highway. I would catch Highway 105 just past town. As it turned out, though, a serious climb out of the gorge awaited me before I would finally find Highway 105, well up behind town. Since I was already heading out into the farms, I was beginning to despair of having missed it.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~10:00)
Route 105: Glimpses of the Gorge

As soon as I turned off onto the not-very-well-marked side road that was Highway 105, I began to drop back down again, losing all the potential energy I had so painfully just put in. I knew I was riding around town, on the far side of the gorge, but there were no vantage points from which I could see the canyon. By the time I came out at the river again, the gorge had already been left behind. Only gentle rapids remained to tell the tale.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~10:00)
Route 105: Descending into the Valley

 


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~10:00)
Route 105: St. John's River below Grand Falls Route 105: Into the Country - Quiet Road

 

Highway 105 turned out to be a very quiet road. For the most part, I was alone with the sounds of the surrounding countryside. Only on rare occasions was this silence interrupted by a passing car.

The road carried me along the crest of the ridge for a ways, well above the river, treating me with a great view of the river. Then, the road cut away into the hills once again; I came over a low rise and saw a metal bridge far up ahead.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~10:15)
Route 105: St. John's River below Grand Falls

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~10:40)
Route 105: The Bridge at Salmon River

 

It was the bridge over the Salmon River, and I reached it at 10:40. From the crest of the hill, I had gradually descended into a wide valley, while passing myriad gravel pits. I imagine all the hills around the area must have been deposited by glaciers. I spent ten minutes relaxing at the bridge over this small tributary of the St. John's River, looking downstream as it meandered through the rocky gravel beds.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~10:40)
Salmon River: View Upriver from Bridge Salmon River: View Downriver

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~10:50)
Salmon River: Serious Climb

Upon setting out once again at 10:50, I immediately faced a fairly steep hill. The road climbed up about a hundred feet, to then run along the natural ledge of the big ridge forming the side of the valley. I was pretty well cut off from the river, although I knew it was below.

Brook's Bridge

I came out to the river again at 11:05. I was at Brook's Bridge, a small one-lane crossing out in the middle of nowhere. Although the structure of the bridge was steel, the roadbed was wood. The 'town' consisted of little more than a liquour lounge. The St. John's River at this point was still very shallow and rocky, with gentle rapids. It seemed it might be deep enough for an attentive canoeist, but little else could pass on it.


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~11:05)
Brook's Bridge

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~11:05)
Brook's Bridge: Wooden Roadbed Brook's Bridge: St. John's River - Looking South

 

From there, the highway proceeded more or less alongside the river, offering me frequent, soothing vistas of the water.. I passed St. Alban's Anglican Church in Medford, right on the river, at 11:10. At 11:45, I stopped to investigate a small bubbling brook, half-hidden in the trees, whose sound had called to me as I had ridden past. It is just these moments that are forever lost to those passing in automobiles. A few minutes later, I came upon St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Tilley.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~11:30)
Route 105: Along the River Valley Route 105: View of the St. John's River

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~11:30)
Route 105: Approaching St. Alban's Anglican
Medford NB
Medford: St. Alban's Anglican

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~11:45)
Route 105: Bubbling Brook
Hidden in Trees

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~11:45)
Route 105: Approaching St. Joseph's Catholic
Tilley NB
Tilley: St. Joseph's Catholic Church

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~12:00)
Route 105: High Above the River at Tilley

Beyond Tilley, the highway began to climb steeply out of the narrow valley and began, at the same time, to turn away from the river. When I called Sheryl at 12:00, I was pretty well at the top of the long climb to the crest of the ridge and was stopped at the last point where I could see the river, now far below. The road turned abruptly to the left at that point, to head off into the hinterland.

Sheryl, as it turned out, was not far behind me, also on Highway 105. She told me to continue on ahead, and that she would meet me soon.


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~11:55/12:00)
Route 105: Leaving the St. John's River
Near Tilley
Route 105: High Above the River at Tilley

 

The road climbed its way up a small, tributary valley until, at a small, quaint town, it crossed over the tiny river that formed the valley. Beyond the crossing was yet more climbing as the road left the valley and headed up to the crest of the ridge ahead. While riding along, signs indicated that I had crossed into the Malecite Indian Reserve at Tobique.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~12:00/~12:15)
Route 105: The General Store at Tilley Route 105: Tobique First Nation

 

I knew I had reached the summit when the road suddenly started dropping down through a narrow canyon. It was exciting following the road downward through its sharp twists and turns. I had obviously climbed up much higher than I had thought, for it was a long, long way down.

Sheryl caught up with me at 12:30, just as I was coming out at the bottom of the canyon. We were at a crossroads out in the middle of nowhere, with no place around conducive to having lunch, so I suggested she drive on ahead to the town of Perth-Andover, where she could scope out a good place to eat.

In my raw notes I wrote:

"Tilley Road turns from river, going inland along 'Little' River, up canyon to crossing. Climb hill and come down valley, down much, much further than it seemed I went up. Canyon. Tobique First Nation. Winding canyon. Meet Sheryl. She waits at intersection for me at bottom. I come down and out to road along river. River much different: wider, twice as wide, deeper (dam below)"

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~12:30)
Route 105: The Dam at Tobique Route 105: View from The Dam at Tobique

 

Perth-Andover

It would end up taking me another 40 minutes to finally get to Perth-Andover. I would not arrive until 13:10. Unbeknownst to me, there remained several large hills to climb up and over, as well as a dam to cross. When I finally came back out at the St. John’s River, its nature had completely changed. Where before it had been shallow and rocky, with lots of rapids, it was now a deep, dark blue. The water was calm and I surmised was quite deep enough for boating, although I saw no boats. On the final approach to Perth-Andover, the road burst out of an opening in the ridge and descended to just above the water. To my left rose the ridge, in near cliff-like fashion. Ahead, far off in the distance, I could see the town and its bridge.

I might mention that, since starting out on Highway 105 at Grand Falls, I had seen very little sign of civilization. Apart from the few very small towns, identified only by their churches, and a few occasional farmsteads, most of the way had been unbroken forest.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~13:00)
Route 105: Approaching Perth-Andover

 

Perth-Andover was the first real town I had encountered. I could see the built-up area on the far side, even before I reached the town on my side. Although not as large as Grand-Falls, it was clearly a major centre. I remembered having left the Trans-Canada at Perth-Andover in 1998, on our way to the Magdalen Islands, and having driven a ways along Highway 105. Over the next section, then, I would technically no longer be riding along formerly unseen road. Everything is a new experience on a bicycle, of course.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~13:15)
Perth-Andover: View Upriver at Road Taken

 

Sheryl was waiting for me at a bench along the magnificent boardwalk that the town had built along the river's edge. While I had a lunch of crackers and baba-genouj from my coller, Sheryl had to go across the road to the fast-food restaurant to get a hot dog and some coke.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~13:15)
Perth-Andover: Lunch with Sheryl

 

It was clear that all sign of French had been left behind at Grand Falls. We were now in a totally English-speaking environment. The last sign of “la francophonie” that I had seen had been the Hotel Dieu of St. Joseph.

South from Perth-Andover

Lunch was from 13:10 to 13:40. Satisfied, I bade farewell to Sheryl and set out along the road, which continued to run right alongside the river. Soon Sheryl passed me by. A while later, I spied her parked car up ahead. She was busy picking plants alongside the highway. It was 14:35 and I was somewhere near the Muniac River.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~14:35)
Route 105: Valley Downriver from Perth-Andover
What's that white car?

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~14:35)
Route 105: Sheryl by the Wayside

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~14:35)
Route 105: Lilly Pond by the Wayside

 

A bit further on, I ran into some hills. The river was going through some kind of water gap, but the road builders had chosen to climb up and over the ridge. I toyed with the idea of taking the New Brunswick Trail, the old CP-line now turned into bike path, which had been my constant companion for some way. It clearly went along the flat, right alongside the river. The trail surface was very poor, however, and my short experience on the New Brunwick Trail the day before did not bode well. I left the road and followed the trail past the first hill, but I could tell the poor condition of the trail offered no future. I had a long climb to get back up to the highway.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~14:45)
Route 105: Road or Bikepath?

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~15:00)
Route 105: The 'Town' of Bishop Route 105: The 'Town' of Kilburn

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~15:00)
Route 105: Bumfrew Creek

At 15:00, near Kent and the Route 565 junction, and at the top of yet another long hill, I made my scheduled phone check-in with Sheryl. She was in the lead again, somewhere between Bath and Bristol.

I was able to catch my companion roadway, the New Brunswick Trail, which had at one point been the CP Rail line, in a photo as it crossed Bumfrow Creek

Beechwood Dam

I came even with Beechwood Dam at 15:25. Little did I know that my motel was directly across the river from that point and that I would end up doubling back all the following way!

(When I had looked up the motel the evening before, it was listed as being in 'Florenceville', a fact that the attendant even confirmed. It turned out that it was not in Florenceville at all, but a good 10km north of there, along the Trans-Canada on the other side. When I would complain upon arriving, the attendant found no problem with the lising. Since lodging in New Brunswick seemed to be such a problem, I had learned to phone ahead, estimating what seemed to be about the right distance for the day.)

I knew when I reached the dam that it was the reason for the river's having changed its character so much by the time I had come back down to it, just north of Perth-Ambover. The dam represented a drop of about 100 feet and just below, the river resumed the shallow, rocky nature it had shown before.


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~15:25)
Route 105: Beechwood Dam Beechwood Dam: Floral Clock

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~15:25)
Beechwood Dam: If I had only Realized… (Upper Right)

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~15:50)
Town of Bath

Bath

I came to the town of Bath at 15:50. Although the highway's bridge over the town's creek was interesting, but even more so was the old steel trestle along which the NB Trail now ran. The creek joined the St. John's River, now rough again with swirling rapids.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~16:00)
Bath: General Store

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~16:00)
Bath: Old CP Trestle & NB Trail Bath: Impressive Creek Bridge

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~16:00)
Bath: View of creek joining St. John River
From Trestle

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~16:00)
Bath: View of St. John's River & Valley

 

There was yet another climb between the towns of Bath and Bristol. From high atop the crest of the ridge, I could only see the river faintly far below. Unlike earlier portions of the road, the segment between Bath and Bristol was quite populated and I was seldom out of sight of a house.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~16:10)
Route 105: View of Valley from Heights below Bath

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~16:15)
Town of Bristol

Bristol

Bristol had maintained their old train station, and had a section track with several passenger rail cars as a railway museum. Alas, I had no time to stop, for it was already 16:15. The bridge at Florenceville was already in sight, just downriver. On my way through town, I came upon an RCMP roadblock that was causing quite a traffic jam. The police were busy checking for seat belts. The road way was so narrow that I could not squeeze ahead, so I just kept my place in line. When I got to the officer, he let me pass with a chuckle.

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~16:15)
Bristol: Old Railway Station & Train Museum

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~08:30)
Town of Florenceville

Florenceville

I got to Florenceville at 16:40 and soon arrived at the intersection with the Trans-Canada Highway. Like the cars, I had to ride up and around the big cloverleaf and onto the main highway itself. I knew I would have to double back along Highway 2, on the far side of the river, in order to get to the motel. I had no idea yet just how far I would have to go but as I pondered the relationship between 'Beechwood Dam' and 'Beechwood Motel', I began to worry.


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~16:40)
Florenceville Bridge: View Upriver

 

In fact, it would take me a full hour to ride all the way back, and to discover that the motel was, indeed, right at the Beechwood Dam. Thankfully, the Trans-Canada Highway had wide, concrete shoulders, for the cars were zooming by at well over the 100km speed limit. There would be several long ups and downs before I would reach the motel and, to make things worse, I had turned into a strong headwind.

Along the way, I passed a road whose name was 'Bristol Ferry Road', obviously a reflection of older times.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~08:30)
Florenceville: Backtracking along Hwy 2

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 5: Day 8: ~17:00)
Florenceville: Interesting Clouds

 

Just as I was despairing that I could not climb over yet another one of the long hills, and as my prayer went out to Jesus, I came over the rise, turned a corner and saw the motel far up ahead. I arrived at 17:40. I had travelled 10km and exactly hour out of my way. I was directly across the river from where I had been at 15:25.

Sheryl was waiting for me, sunning herself out on the lawn furniture.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~08:00)
Florenceville: Beechwood Motel - Destination 17:40

 

Sheryl’s Day: Grand Falls to Beechwood: 100 miles on the odometer (730-630)

Sheryl started out not too soon after I had left, waiting only for the stores to open. She spent the morning checking out garage sales in Grand Falls, and then set out along Highway 105 to follow me. She was just behind me when I called her at 12:00 and caught up with me at 12:30. We met at Perth-Amboy, where we had lunch together by the river (13:10-13:40). She lingered in town a few minutes, but had soon passed me by. She stopped a ways down the road, near the Muniac River, and began picking St. John’s Wort and Tansy. She was busy picking when I passed her at 14:35. She must have then passed me while I was off-road on the NB Trail, for when I called her at 15:00, she was somewhere between Bath and Bristol. She must have descended to Florenceville, crossed over, and returned up Hwy 2 to the Beechwood Motel, where she checked in and relaxed outside in the sun to await my arrival.

Evening at Beechwood

I quickly showered and changed. Then we walked over to the motel restaurant, the Betcja Family Restaurant. Since the motel complex was out in the middle of nowhere, far from any town, there was no choice or restaurant. I had two Moosehead Beers. We both had chicken noodle soup and then I had liver & onions while Sheryl had pork chops.

Once back at the room, Sheryl retired, but I was restless and went out for a walk. I hiked across the highway and descended the road down to the dam, just to satisfy myself that I could not have gotten across ealier. There was, indeed, a walkway, but it was locked.

Back up in the room, I stayed up watching late night television.

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Prepared by Roger Kenner
October 2002; October 2004;lite-version, January, 2005