VBike Ride - Summer 2002:
Bas St. Laurent & St. Johns River
Day Nine


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002

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Montreal to St. John, New Brunswick
Day Nine: "Florenceville" to Nackawic
Tuesday, August 6, 2002


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~08:00)
Starting Out: Beechwood Motel

Starting Out

We were both up at 06:00 and out to the motel restaurant for breakfast by 06:45. After breakfast, I bought some ice for my tiny cooler, passing the rest to Sheryl, and was on my at by 08:00

The first order of business was to re-trace the 10 km back along the Trans-Canada, to get back once again to Florenceville and Highway 105. Thanks to God, the strong wind of the evening before was still with me, only now it was a tailwind. The wind pushed me back along the familiar road and I was back at Florenceville in only 45 minutes. As I crossed over the bridge, I got a great photo downriver. The old Florenceville bridge could clearly be seen not too far away. The day was turning out to be a beautiful one, with bright, blue skies.


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~08:30)
Back Along Hwy 2 in the early morning Welcome to Florenceville - Once Again

 

At 08:45, I exited the Trans-Canada at the Florenceville exit, rode around the massive cloverleaf and was back onto the quiet Highway 105. The old highway continued to run right alongside the river.

At 09:17, I was leaving the ‘town’ of Riverbank, the next town in line below Florenceville. Riverbank was nothing more than a long series of roadside houses and farms. There had been no town centre. The road had climbed up onto a high embankment, so that on my right was only a steep cliff through which, down below, I could only catch momentary glimpses of the river.

By 09:40 and thanking the Lord for the continued strong tailwind, I had reached the hamlet of Upper Brighton. The promise of the early morning had kept true and the day was sunny, though cool. Up ahead I could see big clouds that threatened rain, but the strong wind was still behind and pushing me, as well as keeping the bank of clouds well off ahead so that I could stay in the sunshine. The road was very quiet. There were no cars and I had passed almost no people out in their yards.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~08:45)
Florenceville Bridge: View Downriver
& Historic Bridge
Florenceville: The Old Historic Bridge

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~09:15)
Route 105: View of Valley from Heights below Florenceville

 

Hartland

At 10:00, I was overlooking the town of Haartland and the scenic Trans-Canada Bridge which had so impressed me when I first noticed it back in 1998. At the bridge was a highway interchange and a small commercial centre. A market stood close by, so I decided to stop in and buy some food for my lunch. I also went into a dollar store and bought some postcards and a comb. The shopping stop lasted until 10:30.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~10:00)
Hartland: Impressive Highway Bridge

 

From the heights, the road dropped quickly down to the base of the river gorge, where the actual town of Haartland, with its historic covered bridge, are located. I stopped to check out the bridge, which Sheryl and I had first explored back in 1998.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~10:00/~10:30)
Hartland: Famous Covered Bridge

Vignette: Hartland Bridge

  • 1899 Hartland Bridge Company was formed by a group of private citizens who were tired of waiting for the government to decide whether or not to build a bridge across the St. John River at Hartland.
  • 1901 July 4, 1901 the bridge was officially opened with the following tolls charged: Three cents for pedestrians, six cents for a single horse and wagon, twelve cents for a double team. A strip of twenty tickets could be purchased for fifty cents.
  • 1906 The provincial government took over the ownership and maintenance of the bridge and removed the tolls.
  • 1920 In April of 1920 two spans of the bridge were swept away by the ice.
  • 1922 The bridge was covered and in the early years snow had to be hauled and placed on the floor so the sleds could easily travel on it in the winter.
  • 1924 Lights were installed on the bridge.
  • 1945 Sidewalk was added which is a small bridge in itself.
  • 1980 On June 23, 1980 the bridge was declared a national historic site.
  • 1982 Small car ran into the west end of the bridge on the Somerville side and did extensive damage. The bridge was closed for several months while repairs were done.
  • 1987 The Olympic torch was carried through the bridge as part of celebrations of the 1988 Winter Olympics to be held in Calgary.
  • 1995 On September 1. 1995 Canada Post Corporation launched a postage stamp honouring the bridge.
  • 1999 On September 15, 1999 the bridge was declared a provincial historic site.
  • 2001 Festivities celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the bridge were held in 2001.
  • The bridge consists of 7 spans and was constructed at a cost of approximately $33,000.00.
  • (Town Brochure)

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~10:30)
    Hartland: World's Longest Covered Bridge Hartland Covered Bridge: From the Opposite Side

     

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~10:30)
    Hartland: View Downriver Hartland Covered Bridge: Pedestrian Walkway

    Then I went into the gift shop and looked around, buying Sheryl a souvenir cup. I rode across the bridge on the pedestrian walkway and briefly checked out the far side of the river. When I returned to Haartland, I scoped out an antique store to see if it would be of any interest to Sheryl, who would be following along. I finally set out from Haartland at 11:15

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~10:30)
    Hartland: Shorline & Railway Trestle

     

    South from Hartland

    Not too far outside of town, I came once more to a point where the road climbed up a big hill and turned away from the river while the parallel New Brunswick Trail continued on the flat and right alongside the water. I decided to give the trail another chance, though I worried about where and how it might come out. It was certainly pleasant to be riding on a protected right-of-way, away from the road and right by the water.

    I met two ladies who were walking in the opposite direction and asked them if they knew where the trail joined up again with the road. They told me I could continue on the trail almost all the way to Woodstock, where it would end at an old railway trestle which was washed out.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~11:00)
    NB Trail: Along River - South of Hartland

     

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~11:00)
    NB Trail: Hidden Ravine - Creek - Falls

    I felt better continuing on, knowing that there was an exit at the far end. I was able to relax and enjoy the wonderful 'country' experience of riding alongside the river, away from all signs of civilization. For the first time since I had noticed the New Brunwick Trail, the trail surface itself was not too bad. The surface would continue to be fairly good until I passed the point where most cyclists normally rejoined the road. From that point until the point where the trail ended at the downed bridge, the surface was very bad. I would dog on anyway, for I wanted to see the bridge.

    As I was riding along, I passed by some picturesque hidden falls.

    When I finally came to the trail's definitive end, where the crossing into Woodstock was interrupted by a fallen trestle, I had no choice but to slog it up the steep hill to regain the road. [There would have been much less of a climb had I left the trail back where most cyclists made the switch].

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~11:30)
    NB Trail: Approaching Woodstock

     


    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~11:30)
    NB Trail: Ruined Trestle at Woodstock

     

    The road continued along the face of the ridge, atop a cliff overlooking the river, until it descended at the small hamlet of Grafton. At Grafton was the new, modern bridge leading across the river towards Woodstock. The bridge was quite steep, running from the river’s edge at my side to the top of the embankment of the gorge on the other. Even after leaving the bridge proper, the steep climb continued.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~13:50)
    Woodstock - Grafton Bridge

     

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~11:45)
    Closup of Ruined Trestle from Bridge
    Woodstock - View North from Grafton Bridge

     

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~13:50)
    View Downriver from Woodstock - Grafton Bridge

     

    Woodstock

    When I finally got to the road on the other side, I wondered what had become of the town. I found myself still out in the country and a few kilometers north of town, but on a road which was very busy. I headed towards town a short ways before coming to the top of a steep drop. Should I continue? I wanted to see Woodstock, but I knew that if I went down, I would have to climb all the way back up the hill. After some hesitation, I decided to take the plunge. Soon I had entered the built up section of Woodstock, a quaint, old-style town, but of some serious size. The downtown portion of town was several blocks in length and ended at the waterfront.

    When I had reached the top of the bridge, it had been 12:00 and I had stopped to call Sheryl to check in and to tell her where I was. She was still back in Florenceville. I would call her again, as I was leaving Woodstock, to tell her it was a pretty big town and worthy of her exploration.

    At 12:30 I was at the Tourist Information Kiosk of Woodstock, where I picked up a town map. Nearby was a small waterfront park with tiny roofed gazebos. I sat down the bench of one of these, next to a girl who was none too happy about my arrival. I apologized for crowding her, but told her I needed the shade in order to eat my lunch comfortably. After a short while, the girl left. I had a lunch of pepperoni, cheese, and grapes.

    After lunch, I did some shopping. As I was climbing back up the main street on the way out of town, I dropped into a bookstore, where I looked around and finally bought a book about the history of New Brunswick.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~13:00)
    Woodstock: Main Street

     

    Slowly I climbed my way back up to the top of the ridge and made my way to the top of the bridge. It was certainly a thrill to ride full speed down the steep embankment and sloping bridge, back to the Grafton side.

    South (& East) from Woodstock

    I was in Grafton again at 13:50. My Woodstock excursion had taken more than two hours out of my day's ride. I set my day's sights on the town of Nackawic, the first major town around the bend of the river. (South of Woodstock, the St. John's River takes a sharp turn to the east.)

    At first the road below Grafton continued along as before, right next to the river and at the base of a steep embankment. The width and depth of the river told me that there must be yet another dam up ahead somewhere, for the water was now calm and deep and the river very wide. I had the occasion to catch some great views back towards Woodstock.


     

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~14:00)
    View of Woodstock from across the River

     

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~14:00)
    View of Woodstock from across the River

     

    There came a point, though, as the river began to curve eastward, that the road left the river's side and took a sharp climb upwards, to eventually run along the crest of the ridge. (I would see later the reason for this. It is quite likely that the former road did run alongside the river, but was submerged by the dam reservoir. I would occasionally see bits and pieces of the former road below.) Though I had turned east, the strong breeze was still behind me, which was a blessing

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~14:15)
    Route 105: High up in the Hills - Opposite Irving Route 105: The River Far Below

     

    From high atop the ridge, I had a great view of the Trans-Canada Highway, running alongside the river on the opposite side. Through the trees I could see a massive rest area and Irving truck stop, set on an island. (We would stop there on the way back.)

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~14:15)
    Route 105: The Irving Truck Stop across the River

     

    Sheryl called me about this time, at 15:00. She had now reached Woodstock.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 17: ~14:15)
    View of Route 105 on Hill, from Irving Truck Stop
    (Taken on the way back)

     

    Soon after 15:00, all the potential energy I had built up by climbing up to the top of the ridge was spent in one, steep descent, nearly back to the water level. At 15:13, I crossed over the county line into York County.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~14:15)
    Route 105: The Irving Truck Stop across the River

     

    I passed by a place where I could see the old road below and a highway bridge partially submerged by the waters backed up from the dam.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~15:30)
    Route 105: submerged Bridge from Old Road (Pre-1968)

     

    I stopped at 15:30 for the sky had become dark and cloudy. It took me ten minutes to change into rain gear mode. I put on my tennis shoes and wrapped my regular shoes in plastic bags. I dug out my rain poncho. I checked that everything, such as cameras and binoculars, was well stowed in plastic bags. I was once again on my way at 15:40, but then it ended up not raining on me after all.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~15:30)
    Route 105: Into the Hills - Dark & Cloudy Route 105: Impressive Island

     

    I passed by the Campbell Settlement Road at 16:10. It was one of the few landmarks along an otherwise long and empty stretch.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~16:30)
    Route 105: Approaching Nackawic

    Nackawic

    I came out at Nackawic Bridge Road at 16:50. It was a shock, for the crossroad was wide and busy, whereas the road I had been travelling on was quiet and narrow. This road was the exit from the Trans-Canada for the town of Nackawic and crossed the St. John’s River at the Nackawic Bridge. The “Welcome to Nackawic” at the crossroads highlighted its fame as the home of 'the world's largest axe'.


    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~16:50)
    Town of Nackawic

     

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~17:00)
    Nackawic Bridge

     

    Before proceeding on into town, I could not resist the temptation of riding down the hill and across the bridge. I rode over the bridge to the far shore, as far as the Trans-Canada overpass, before turning back. It was a steep climb to return to the crossroads, but I was back from my excursion by 17:00.

    I followed the main road from the bridge as it became a controlled-access two-laned road and climbed steeply up the hill. I realized later that I could have continued along the smaller road I had been travelling on, which would have brought me through town. I did not have a detailed map at the time, though, and have known promising looking roads to come to dead ends at the base of steep hills. I chose the sure way. The main road climbed up two steep hills as it wound around the outskirts of the town. Soon after beginning my climb, I passed a sign for the motel to which I was headed, announcing it to be 5km ahead.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~17:30)
    Nackawic: Down off the Hill

     

    When at last I reached the top of my long climb. I could see far ahead down the hill, the smokestack of the mill which was Nackawic's main industry. I enjoyed the long, long and fast descent for which I had so dearly just paid. At the bottom of the hill, I came to a bridge. It worried me at first, as I thought I might be crossing over to the other side of the river again. This was not the case. The bridge simply crossed over an inlet.

    Just past the bridge was the motel. It looked much more like an apartment building than a motel. It was nestled in just behind a gas station/restaurant complex. Across the inlet could be clearly seen the town's 'axe', in a park marking the main section of town.

    I arrived at the motel at 17:30, but found no one there. Even though I had reservations, I began to get nervous. I found a room where the door was open and people were socializing. When I asked about the management, I was told I had to phone them on the pay phone. This seemed strange, but I did so and, about five minutes later, the attendant came from where she lived and checked me in.

    Sheryl phoned about 5 minutes after I had completed the checking in formalities. She was at the centre of Nackawic, in front of the big axe, and was trying to locate the motel. I talked her over to my side of the cove. Even then, she drove right by and I had to tell her to turn around.

    Sheryl had lot to tell me about her 'off road' experiences of that day: Centreville, a Christian Herb Store out in the boondocks, etc. Over my bike rack stowed in the back seat she has draped freshly picked herbs for drying.

    Sheryl’s Day: Beechwood (Wicklow) to Nackawic: 97 miles on the odometer (826-730)

    Sheryl relaxed at the motel for a while before heading down the Trans-Canada towards Florenceville. Her first stop was Village Fabrics in Florenceville where she made some purchases. She also checked out the historic 1886 covered bridge in Florenceville. She was still in Florenceville when I called her at 12:00.

    She left Florenceville to head west and off-road to the Crown of Glory Christian + Herbal Shop West Florenceville Crown Of Glory Christian Store 300 Route 110 (506) 392-1088

    Click to enlarge (Period Card)
    Crown of Glory

     

    She had lunch in Jacksontown, New Brunswick. By 15:00 she had reached the town of Woodstock, via the Trans-Canada. She stopped in at an antique shop, at the Salvation Army Store, at the Schoolhouse Tea Room, and at Avery’s Antiques:

    She left Woodstock at closing time at drove on to Nackawic via the Trans-Canada. When she called me, she was at the town centre looking at the ‘World's Biggest Axe’

    Evening in Nackawic

    I had Sheryl drive me back into town so that I could check out the 'Big Axe' close up for myself. It was a massive thirty-foot object. The metal part was made out of thick nickel, which made a hard 'thunk' sound when hit, indicating that it was very thick. I was glad not be the New Brunswick taxpayer who had paid for such an object, though I fear some of my federal tax dollars were also at work. Nearby was the town's 'shopping centre', a single, small outside mall consisting of four stores, two of which were a pizzeria and a convenience store.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~18:30)
    Nackawic: World's Largest Axe

     

    Having fully explored the ‘town’, we drove back to the restaurant attached to the gas station, where we had supper. I had a bacon double cheese burger and Sheryl had a Caesar salad with chicken. While in the 'truck stop' atmosphere of this restaurant, we talked up some RCMP, who gave us the run-down on the road ahead and on the small town. On their way out, they were drawn to explore at length the back seat of our car, interested no doubt in the herbery drying on the bike rack.

    Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002: Aug 6: Day 9: ~19:00)
    Nackawic: Colourful Rainbow

     

    The rain started as we returned to the motel, driving out and around the parking lot. I spent the time in our motel room reading and writing until I fell asleep.

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