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The end of the road

Following in this trip’s trend, rain splattered our visors as puddles of water splashed our pants and jackets. Fog hung heavily over the trees and our visibility was only a few metres ahead, making the sharp curves of this final road difficult to navigate. A comment from Janel summed up our recent days on the road, “Newfoundland’s been foggy.”

Riding in these thick clouds, we were headed to the most easterly point in North America: Cape Spear, Newfoundland. After 60 days on the road and more than 11,500 km (7,146 miles), this was where our trip across Canada would meet its halfway point if we made it through the fog and the rain. Our goal was to quickly snap our “we made it photograph,” then race to southern Newfoundland to catch our ferry to Nova Scotia and begin our journey home. The rain and fog were forcing us to slow down drastically, creating a concern we might miss the ferry.

Half a decade ago, I lived in St. John’s for six years while I completed my master’s degree and PhD before moving back to British Columbia and meeting Janel. It was strange to be back on the island after so long, but it was exciting for me to show Janel around. St. John’s treated us well during our visit; for three days we stayed at a friend’s house and got some much-needed rest. The sun shined brightly every day (of course we weren’t riding those days); we saw whales and puffins and even had time to visit with friends on my birthday.

Our day to Cape Spear started off well as we said our goodbyes and loaded up the bikes. The sky was cloudy, yet rain was not in the forecast, and we were in good spirits to start our 60-day trek home through the Maritimes, southern Ontario and Quebec. We rode by the famous row houses of St. John’s, and I told Janel stories of some of the most dangerous intersections in Canada that St. John’s has the privilege of owning. When we went through one, I used some colorful language to explain how poorly set up the intersection was designed and how I used to live across the street from it, regularly hearing to the crunch of cars colliding and horns honking.

Once safely through the city–which is saying something, as the roads are still set up as they were before cars existed–we started our ascent over the hills between us and Cape Spear. As the road wound its way higher in the hills, the rain started to come down and the fog became a heavy burden, making us question if we would be able to see anything from the cape.

Rain plagued us for most of this trip across Canada. Four days earlier as we left Fortune, Newfoundland; after our jaunt to France, the sun was blazing in the sky. We were in high spirits that our second to last ride east would be a pleasant and warm one—until we were about an hour outside of St. John’s.

Suddenly dark clouds covered the sky and within moments sheets of rain poured down on us. Finally arriving at our home for the next few days, we were soaked and both needed a hot shower before we went to my master’s supervisor’s house located just outside St. John’s for dinner. Once we were cleaned up and enjoying our meal at Dr. David Behm’s home, he exclaimed, “Well you must be loving the weather. We have had almost no rain here all summer!” Janel and I glanced at each other, and I explained how wet it had been and how bad the rain was that very day. “Oh yeah, we did get some rain today, but other than that there was almost none!” This comment just continued to reaffirm my thought that we just carried the rain with us. Our slogan should be “Need rain to grow your crops? Just call Dustin and Janel!”

The road to Cape Spear from St. John’s traverses three massive hills; in the fog, we worried a moose might be hiding over the crest of each hill. The speed limits over each hill are random as well. As Janel pointed out, “This is the strangest road ever! The speed limit goes from 30 to 50 to 80 to 30 [km/hr].” It might seem strange, but there are some residential areas along the route, and due to heavy traffic from tourists in the summer, they put slower speed limits in some areas to protect locals. Sometimes there is a method to the madness.

I know we were both excited about reaching this milestone at the end of the road. We were chatting the whole way, and even in the nasty weather our spirits were still high. When we crested the second to last hill Janel made a hopeful prediction: “Well, maybe now that we are at the end of our trip and we are having such shit weather for the last day, we will have good weather for the ride home.” One can only hope I guess.

As we crested the last hill, I really believed the fog would dissipate, but it was still thick down in the cape. I felt a bit of sadness as our photograph at the end of the road would not be recognizable. As a photographer, this is the epitome of disappointment–all this way across the country with our motorcycles to take a picture which would just be of the bikes in fog. But maybe that was the picture representing this trip and us perfectly. I started to think about our trip and what this final picture really represented. It had been a tough adventure–Janel crashed on day four on the road, the weather as noted hadn’t been kind, Janel was nervous the whole time about the Labrador Highway and Route 389 (even though, obviously she didn’t need to be) and due to all this stress, we as a couple had our ups and downs.

I would love to write that this was a perfect trip and we are a perfect couple, but really, what does that even mean? Janel and I argue, we disagree, sometimes we let the stress of the ride and the weather get to us, but maybe, a perfect couple isn’t a couple which never argues or disagrees, but instead a perfect couple is one bouncing back from these differences quickly.

Maybe a perfect couple is a couple that forgets the difficult times but remembers the good times. For us, that meant our meals, the new friends, those special moments and of course, the adventure itself. The fog in this picture might just be exactly what we wanted–a beautiful landscape representing adventure hidden behind a wall of the unknown. An image to bring about the question of what is out there and what we might find when we hit the road; not only throughout the adventure, but within ourselves as individuals and a couple.

Turning the last corner to the small parking lot, I exclaimed, “The fog is lifting! We’ll get our photograph!”

Realizing we were going to get the photograph we really wanted, I quickly forgot all the sappy adventure and couple stuff I had been thinking. Pulling the bikes into the lot, I unpacked the camera and tripod and got to setting up the picture I had been contemplating for the past 60 days. With camera ready, I hit the timer and ran over to Janel with a smile from ear to ear. We looked at the camera and captured an unforgettable moment in time.

We had done it. We had made it across the country. The bikes were in great shape, we were still healthy and ready to keep riding. Most importantly, our relationship was stronger from this ride (I hadn’t really forgot all that stuff I was thinking). This was the end of the road, and now we just had to make our ferry!

Next, we head out on our own food tour of Nova Scotia! If you want to see our final ride to Cape Spear, you can at “Lost in Gear” on YouTube; and you can view some images on Instagram.

Things to do in St. John’s, Newfoundland

Whale Watching with O’Brien’s Whale and Bird Tours

Since we spent the majority of our time just visiting friends and family in St. John’s, our only big recommendation is to go for a whale and bird watching tour. O’Brien’s has been around a long time and incorporates some Newfoundland culture into their tour. They are respectful of distances with the whales, but they are still great at ensuring everyone gets the photographs they need.


St. John’s is a great city for walking. There are a lot of hills, but once in the downtown core you can enjoy some great restaurants, café’s, bakeries and sites. Water street is now closed to vehicle traffic in the summer and makes for a great place to shop and enjoy your day.