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


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002

[Day 12] [Return to Menu] [Day 14]
(See Copyright Notice on Menu Page)

Montreal to St. John, New Brunswick
Day Thirteen: Gagetown to St. John
Saturday, August 10, 2002


Getting Started

We were out of bed at 07:00. While Sheryl was getting ready to come downstairs, I went down and retrieved my bike from under the back balcony, packed everything up and loaded my bike. The internal frame for my panier was broken and I made a note that it was something I would have to fix later.

We had breakfast on the back terrace at 08:00, overlooking the calm morning water of the boat channel. We were served the most wonderful blueberry and banana pancakes. After eating, I hiked out onto the pier to look back and get a vantage point for a photo of the Inn. Then I was set to be on my way.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~08:00)
Gagetown Morning at Steamer's Stop Inn

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~08:00)
Gagetown: River in Early Morning

 

(NB Official Roadmap)
Gagetown to Oak Point
(Map Removed from this lite-version.)

On My Way

It was 08:45 when I headed out. The first task was to climb back up the steep ridge, from the waterfront to Highway 102. I was at the top and ready to head on down the highway by 09:00. The day was sunny, with a hint of clouds on the western horizon. The air was so quiet and still that the sound of the birds was loud.

Not too far along the main road, I came to a mileage sign indicating that St. John was 89 km away. Near there, the waitress from the pub who had spoken with us the night before came cycling up in the opposite direction, from her farm outside of town. She greeted me with an 'hello' and a 'good luck" as she passed.

By 09:35, I had reached the town of Pleasant Villa, where I encountered a long climb followed by a steep descent, back into the valley of the St. John's River. The sky had become overcast, but all remained dead quiet. There was almost no traffic out on the road.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~09:00)
Route 102: On my way in the Early Morning

 

<
Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~09:15/~09:30)
Route 102: View of Distant St. John River Route 102: Closer to the River

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~09:35)
Route 102: Big Climb at Pleasant Villa

 

At 09:50 I stopped at a roadside rest area located on the Queenston town line. The stop was high on the hillside and I had a great vantage point out over the valley for photos.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~09:50)
Route 102: Overlooking the River at Queenston

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~10:00)
Route 102: Church at Queenston

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~10:30)
Route 102: Church at Central Hampstead

10:00 found me at the Central Hampstead line. I had passed 'Queenston Wharf Road' and 'Hampstead Siding Road', respective signs of earlier steamboat and railroad days. There was a big bend in the river at Hampstead and I saw a floating barge far down the hill and out on the water. Looking past the barge, I could see where the valley narrowed into a tight gorge. I came upon an historic well

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~10:30)
Route 102: Valley views at Central Hampstead

 


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~10:45)
Route 102: Historic Well near Hamstead

This trough was made from Spoon Island granite hollowed out by
Andrew Hamilton 1796-1882. In the mid 1800s used as a water
trough gravity fed from a spring thorugh a hand-bored wooden
pipe located on his 200 acre homestead at Hamiltons Mt.
Farm was sold to his son Erwin in 1879.
Army took over in mid 1950s
Trought was moved to Arm Hdqts where it remained for 48 years
And is not being put to its original use.
By EMJ

 

As I rounded the sharp inside bend of the river, coming along the foot of a high ridge, I looked out across the marshland towards the distant water and noted the old abandoned railway trestles at each creek crossing, more signs of earlier days.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~10:45)
Route 102: River view at big bend in River
Near Hamstead

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~10:45)
Route 102: Old Railway Trestle along Abandoned Line

 

At 10:45, when I came to the Hampstead town line, I took a detour off the main road to drop down to the water's edge so I could get a look back at the barge. I was on the wharf of the Hampstead-Wickham ferry from 10:50 to 11:00.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~10:45)
Route 102: The River's Edge at Hampstead Wharf

 

At 11:10 I crossed the line into King's County.

At 11:20 I had reached the Evandale ferry, where Highway 124 crossed the river. Both the river and valley had narrowed to the extreme at that point and the roadway was running along the side of the ridge, with a tall cliff to my right.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~11:00)
Route 102: Evandale Ferry

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~11:00)
Route 102: Evandale Ferry

 

A little past Evandale, at 11:32, I underwent a dog attack. Typically, dogs pose little problem, for by the time they notice me I have ridden past. In this case, the two German shepherds who were without a leash saw me coming and came out ahead of me, running at full speed towards me as they growled and barked. I rode down on them, seriously considering whether I should aim to hit one directly, so as to put it out of action, and then take on the other one. I was that scared, and the play seemed cast as we approached. At the last minute, I did not hit the dog. The two had so misjudged my speed that they ran right past me. By the time they could turn around, I was out of their range and they could not catch up. I was quite spooked, nevertheless. Had I hit the dog, I’m sure to have killed it and would have faced legal charges, fines and a lot of other grief. The owner should have had his dogs on a leash.

The Long Reach

The river, which had turned west from its southerly path near Gagetown, only to turn south again at Hampstead, now made a definite curve to the west once again. I was entering a section called ‘The Long Reach'. The road led along the base of the cliff rising to my right, just above the water level. Just above the roadway, on a slightly higher ledge, was the old railway right-of-way, which I guess will eventually become part of The New Brunswick Trail.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~11:10)
Route 102: Turning into the 'Long Reach' at Evansdale

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~11:20)
Route 102: Right Along the Water: The 'Long Reach'

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~11:20)
Route 102: Right Along the Water: From the Old Rail Line

 

I stopped between 12:00 and 12:15 at the dock of 'Oak Point Pier', to have a look up and down ‘The Reach'. I could see along the shoreline the clear effect of the distant ocean tides. They seemed to affect about 3 feet of the beach.

I called Sheryl for my 12:00 check in. She was still back at the inn, relaxing on the terrace and preparing her oils, as well as talking up the innkeeper and her daughter. She had been waiting for my call and now would leave to begin her day's exploration.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~12:00)
Route 102: The Pier at Oak Point - Looking Downriver Route 102: Looking Upriver from Oak Point

 

Returning to the highway, I passed an old cemetery, whose information plaque indicated that Oak Point must have once been a thriving community:

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~12:15)
Route 102: Oak Point Baptist Church
Oak Point
Baptist Cemetery
Former Site of the
Oak Point
Baptist Church
1833-1987
Only what is done for
Christ will last
This memorial was erected
in 1989
by the Congretation of the
Oak Point Baptist Church

 

(NB Official Roadmap)
The Long Reach
(Map Removed from this lite-version.)
 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~12:15)
Route 102: 63 Year-Old Maple Tree

Leaving Oak Point, I faced the long, hard climb up to the top of a high ridge that blocked the landward descent of ‘The Reach’. The river made a wide detour to pass around the point at the end of the ridge. At the top of a big ridge was the town of Brown’s Point. The hard-won climb was followed immediately by a steep descent and then yet another long climb, before the road finally descended once again to the river's edge.


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~12:15)
Route 102: Reflection in the Glass

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~12:30)
Route 102: Oak Point from the Heights

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~12:30)
Route 102: Three Flags Route 102: At the Top of the Climb at Brown's Landing

 

Between 13:35 and 13:50, and once again onto the flat alongside the river, I stopped to have lunch at the town pier of a place whose name was 'Public Landing' I talked up two young girls who were Mormon missionaries, one from Utah and the other from England. The girls did not look the part of the typical Mormon missionary, as they sunned themselves in their bikinis. After chatting with them for a short while, I retired to the far side of the pier to escape the crowd of young gentlemen who were clustered around fawning over the girls.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~13:45)
Route 102: Looking back on Hills from Public Landing

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~13:45)
Route 102: River View from Public Landing

 

Going on down the road, I stopped to catch a photo of St. Peter's Anglican Church, built in 1796.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~14:00)
Public Landing: St. Peter's Anglican - 1796

 

I was at Morrisdale by 14:05

At 14:20 I was at Westfield, at the junction of Highway 177 and where ‘The Long Reach’ ends as the river makes yet another abrupt turn to the south. The junction had been preceded by a long downhill run during which I had missed a great photo of the bay and bridge for not wanting to interrupt my descent. The bay was a in truth a vast tidal marsh and the bridge formed only part of the causeway across its mouth.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~14:20)
Route 102: The Cove at Westfield

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~14:20)
Route 102: The Cove at Westfield

 

Grand Bay/Westfield

Along Highway 177 ran the active tracks of the CP main line. It must have been along these very tracks that I had ridden in 1993, when I awoke just as we were passing over the Reversing Falls Bridge at St. John.


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~14:20)
Meeting Route 177 at Grand Bay/Westfield

 

(NB Official Roadmap)
On into Saint John
(Map removed from this lite-version.)
Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~14:30)
Along Route 177

 


Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~14:30)
Westfield: Looking back up the 'Long Reach'

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~14:30)
Westfield: St. James Anglican

I stopped to get a photo of St. James Anglican Church in Westfield.

From 14:40 to 14:45, I stopped and made a short detour to watch the Harding Point ferry come in.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~14:45)
Route 177: Ferry at Harding Point

 


 

(St. John Official Map)
Westfield/Grand Bay
(Map removed from this lite-version.)

At 15:00 I tried to reach Sheryl on the cell phone, but could not. I left my phone on after that, so she would be able to reach me.

Grand Bay/Westfield is a riverside bedroom community for St. John. As I rode along Highway 177, the surroundings became more and more suburban in nature.. The road itself was getting busier and wider, with more and more roadside businesses and parking lots. I came at last to the town's tourist information kiosk, in an old railway caboose, where I stopped for five minutes. I was, thankfully, able to secure a more detailed local map.


 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~15:00)
Route 177: A View of the Bay

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~15:15)
Route 177: The St. John Line!

Saint John

I knew from the map that Highway 177, already a wide, four-laned urban boulevard, would soon join the freeway in a vast cloverleaf interchange up ahead. I was climbing a steep hill approaching the interchange at 15:15, when I passed a sign indicating I was now at the city limits of St. John. It was an illusion, for I was still a long way from the city.


 

The detailed local map showed that I could turn off the main highway at Westfield Road and stay alongside the bay on a more or less quiet road through the country. I was looking for this turn-off when my cell phone began to ring. Three times it rang, and there was no one at the other end when I answered. This phenomenon would continue several times before Sheryl would finally reach me.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~15:15)
St. John: Along Westfield Road
I would have taken these rails in 1993!

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~15:45)
St. John: The Marina

 

Westfield road consisted of many twists and turns together with ups and downs. I was ever conscious of the companion CP tracks, which I kept encountering. At 15:45, I came to Grand Bay and the St. John Marina. This was the first open view of the water I had come across, so I left the road to descend to the end of the pier for a photo. Sheryl finally reached me as I was standing out at the end of the pier looking across the bay at what I could see of St. John. She had just reached the junction of Highway 177 and would be coming along shortly. I expected her to get to the motel where I had made reservations long before I did.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~15:45)
St. John: the Bay from The Marina St. John: View towards Narrows from Marina

 

Even after passing the St. John Marina, I was still a lot further away from the city than I thought. I would encounter lots and lots of hills as I continued around the bay, always alongside the railroad line.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~16:00)
St. John: A View of the Distant City
From the Marsh Lowlands of the Bay
St. John: Railway Trestle over Marsh

 

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~16:00)
St. John: Fancy House as I climb Ridge

 

At 16:15, I reached Manawaganish Boulevard, which ran along the top of the steep and narrow ridge separating Grand Bay from the ocean. It had been a long, long climb up the back side of that ridge. I was so happy to see the ocean stretched out far below me. It was the sign that I had reached my goal! I gave myself a few minutes to maneuver into the right position for a good panoramic photo of the ocean view. Then I set off in the direction of my motel.

Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 10: Day 13: ~16:15)
St. John: View of the Ocean
From atop the Ridge at Monawagamish Rd.

 

The Balmoral Motel was only a short ways down Manawaganish Boulevard. I reached it at 16:30, thus bringing to a definitive end the bicycle portion of the trip. I had come a long way, after 11 days of cycling, and felt quite a sense of accomplishment. I checked in, and after examining a number of cabins, picked cabin #9. The Balmoral Motel was not the fanciest motel I had ever stayed in, but it was okay for our purposes.
Click to enlarge (Taken on 2002:Aug 11: Day 14 ~09:00)
St. John: Balmoral Court Motel

 

Sheryl came by fifteen minutes later, at 16:45, after I had negotiated the better of two poor cabins: Each had a distinct musty smell, but I chose the larger one, one which had a nice, covered porch upon which to sit and watch the world.

Click to enlarge
(Postcard)
Balmoral Court Motel

 

Sheryl’s Day: Gagetown to St. John: 64 miles on the odometer (1052-987)

Sheryl spent the morning at the Steamer Stop Inn, relaxing on the terrace and preparing her oils as she talked up the innkeeper and her daughter. She made a preparation of 8 jars of St. John’s Wort in olive oil. She waited for my 12:00 call before setting off on her afternoon’s explorations. She spent most of her time exploring all the shops and galleries around Gagetown before following me down the highway. She reached the Highway 177 interchange at 15:45, as I as looking out on Grand Bay, but then she followed the road into the freeway, where she stopped at the Tourist Information Centre to gather information on St. John. It was for this reason that she did not arrive until 16:45.

We sat out on the terrace of the small cabin until 18:00, relaxing and toasting the ride with some wine. Then we showered and we were back out on the terrace for 18:45, ready for our first evening in St. John.

Evening in Saint John

We drove into town along Manawaganish Boulevard, stopped for our first look at the Reversing Falls. At this point in time, the tide was going out. All the tidewater pent up in the Long Reach and Grand Bay had to exit via a narrow hundred foot gorge. It was a spectacular sight!

Vignette: Reversing Falls (St. John Tourist Brochure)
Removed from this lite-version.

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 2002 Trip: Aug 10: Day 13: ~19:00)
St. John: Reversing Falls: Tide Going Out: From Park
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 2002 Trip: Aug 10: Day 13: ~19:00)
St. John: Reversing Falls: Tide Going Out: View Upstream
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 2002 Trip: Aug 10: Day 13: ~19:00)
St. John: Reversing Falls: Tourist Centre
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 2002 Trip: Aug 10: Day 13: ~19:00)
St. John: Reversing Falls: Closer View St. John: Reversing Falls: Whirlpools
 

Click to enlarge
(Taken on 2002 Trip: Aug 10: Day 13: ~19:00)
St. John: Reversing Falls: View Upstream
 

(St. John Official Map)
Drive Into Town
(Map removed from this lite-version.)
 

We continued our drive and found our way into the old part of St. John, which is perched on a tiny, rocky peninsula the rises steeply from the water on all sides. We drove in along the waterfront and parked south of the main commercial area. From there we walked back down to the Atlantic Market. A big affair called The 'Festival by the Sea' (an Atlantic Music festival) was in progress,and there was a big tent set up along Water Street. As we passed, we had occasion to hear a bit of the band: Big Sea. We found a place for supper at a trendy restaurant in the Atlantic Market complex, Keystone Kelly, where we had these chicken/mushroom/cheese concoctions that were not very good. The restaurant was spread over many confusing half levels and was jam packed with clients. Outside local music acts and buskers performed on the quai. Following supper we took another leisurely walk along Water Street, catching some more of the 'Big Sea' sound. Then we hiked up the hill one block, to Prince William Street, where we had parked the car.

We drove back to the motel for 21:00, where we relaxed and read until midnight.

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On to Day 14

Prepared by Roger Kenner
October 2002; November 2004; Lite-version: April, 2005