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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by swedstal, Jun 5, 2017.
Thank you for that. I'm trying to develop as a writer. This journey has provided plenty of practice!
Schefferville, part 5
Last one! Then we can get back to motorcycles!
Tuesday, September 12th (cont.)
Come on sunrise....
I was like a coiled spring, ready to pop. As soon as light was available, my swift tour of Schefferville would begin. I set up my tripod and unpacked Sonic and Annie's windscreen. I mounted my phone, camera aimed at the Schefferville airport sign and waited.
At 5:30am, it was go time.
I've had dreams about this exact picture. Would it be ridiculous to say it is one of my most prized possessions?
I loaded up and headed west, tripod slung over my shoulder. I wasn't running, but I was moving briskly. There was a sculpture that I wanted a picture of. I had no idea where it was, but figured it would be back towards the other side of town. If nothing else, there were businesses there where I could ask somebody.
Fortuitously, I ran right into. It sits across from the Schefferville post office. As soon as I saw it, I couldn't keep from laughing. You'll see why in a second.
I thought I would have a perfect shot in a few minutes, so I marched through some brush to get a shot across the lake.
The statue is a figure welded together from old mining parts. My Newfoundland friends from the train, when describing it to me, chuckled and said it was "anatomically correct." That is an apt description. I would maybe add that it is definitely not "gender neutral".
This picture could be considered mildly offensive, so I will link it rather than embed. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SMUT.
For my "official" picture, I chose angles that were a little more (or less, perhaps?) flattering.
There was another sculpture (this one completely genetalia-free!) which looked awesome with the backdrop of the sunrise.
It was not even 6am and I already had a plethora of options to serve as my Schefferville picture. Awesome!
I thought a staging with this miniature train by the hotel would be neat.
No Annie :-( , so this would have to do.
Am I done with Schefferville? I don't think there's anything left to see.
Time to celebrate with a warm cup of joe. I walked back to Bla Bla's restaurant, being the only customer in the dining area when I arrived.
Having neglected to do so the previous night, I asked my hostess about the origin of the unique name of the establishment. She answered in a thick French accent, "You know the French people come and they talk, talk too much...like bla bla bla...."
They had lots of neat Schefferville images on the walls:
The wifi was semi-operational, allowing me to send a message to my parents and my Labrador hosts, letting them know that I had lasted the night. I normally take my coffee black, but I loaded my disposable cup with cream and sugar. This was a cup of celebration!
The sun had changed my perception of this place. I was almost reluctant to leave, but knew my train was waiting. There were still so many people to meet, stories to hear and bears to wrestle; but those would have to wait.......Next trip!
I began my march west. While doing so, I glanced through the houses to where my sheltering school bus had been parked. The other bus, the one I had not chosen, still hadn't moved.
Just as I reached the edge of town, a compact SUV pulled up. From the passenger window, a gentleman asked (in French) if I needed a ride to the train station. Seeing the expression of American ignorance grace my countenance (I'm an expert at this look by now), he switched to English. He directed me to board on the rear driver's side. A large husky seemed reluctant at first to make room for me. He begrudgingly hopped onto the other rear seat passengers lap.
This couple and their two dogs were riding the train down to inquire about a position as a P.E. teacher at an English speaking Native village down the line. They both seemed cautiously hopeful that he would get the job. My story gave them a good laugh and caused them to shake their heads.
Before boarding I paid my fare, this time at the station. For some reason it was $6 cheaper this time ($36 CAD). I didn't ask why. My new French speaking friends began to tell my story to some people in the station (I could pick out "Johnny Cash" and "chanson", the French word for "song"), including My Buddy (the train worker who had been helpful to me).
Perspective is a funny thing, right? Here I was, at the northeast terminus of my journey, feeling like a mixture of Leif Erikson and Ernest Shackleton. But I was surrounded by people who were just having a normal day. I wondered how these people would feel if they were plopped down at the train station in Lincoln, Nebraska at 8:35pm on a Monday night. Would it feel as foreign to them as Schefferville had felt to me? Hard to say.
As the train chugged away from my toughest location it began to rain. I didn't even have to put on my rain suit! It was awesome! I didn't sleep, but kind of zoned out. I could hardly believe I had been to Schefferville.
The train made decent time, arriving at Emeril Junction in around 4 hours. Gord and Bev were waiting and ready for me. Seeing them was a relief.
They were the first people to hear the school bus story. I think they enjoyed it.
Back at home it was time for the signing ceremony. A part of me wanted to personally cross Schefferville off of my sign, but that would NOT have been right. With all that Bev and Gord contributed to this accomplishment, it was only fitting that they have the honor.
Bev took the lyrics:
Gord got the map:
Their daughter, Kim, took a nice photo of me and my hosts:
That's a dogberry tree.
We had another wonderful supper and were joined by Kim and her boyfriend, Chris. As they were around each other, the accents got thicker and the stories got better. I really enjoyed being a part of it. At one point it almost felt like I was in some alternate universe where this was my family, I was a Labradorian, I did speak with a silly accent. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) That's how welcome I felt.
I already slipped up once in this post and typed the phrase "I have been to Schefferville." This is an absolute misnomer and I will try to not repeat the mistake. So many people are a part of this completion: From those that physically took me to the station, to someone who said a silent prayer for my safety. There is no "I" in Schefferville...wait...there is no "I" in train.....no that doesn't work either.....
There is no "I" in Everywhere!
Instead I will now type with conviction, keys clacking from full force strokes:
WE HAVE BEEN
WE HAVE BEEN TO
WE HAVE BEEN TO SCHEFFERVILLE!!!!!!
Great writing! Looking forward to your journey south.
I am very much enjoying the ride report.
Just wanted to take the time to tell you I appreciate you taking the time to share your trip with us.
You, Sonic, and Annie have a safe trip. I will be following along!
I'm getting way behind here. My blog isn't faring much better, so I may have a few down days to catch up.
I was trying to decide whether or not to go to Nova Scotia to the Hank Snow museum. I thought it would be a fitting way to honor the original singer of the Americas version of the song, but it was a long detour.
Once I saw they were having a motorcycle show there, I had to go. Only bad part was that this meant I would once again bypass my new rear tire waiting at the NY/Quebec border. I thought I would have just enough to get there and back.
Ok! Back down Rt. 389
It was a sloppy day, but I made it down without incident.
The following day was a bit frustrating as I couldn't get a ferry across the St. Lawrence. I had to go all the way through Quebec City. I was not heading east until 3 in the afternoon! At least it is a pretty stretch.
Entered New Brunswick: Cheaper gas, higher speed limits, true bilingualism. A nice place. I found the perfect camp spot down this trail.
Here is a video of my ride down after that New Brunswick campsite. I like the constant change in surfaces.
Next day was the worlds biggest axe...
...a leaf that held on for 200 miles...
....and my first cup of Raman noodles in 10 years.
Tomorrow I'll try to post my experiences at the Hank Snow museum. Be warned: There may be singing.
Great fun, thanks for sharing!
Have you ever been on stage in front of a bunch of Nova Scotians, strumming an A7 chord, then you take a big breath knowing that you need to sing 84 syllables on that breath alone?
Well...now I have. I can't summarize this one. Full story time!
Saturday, September 16th (cont.)
I rolled into Liverpool around 10:30
So why was I here?
Let me back up just a step in case you entered this journey sometime in the middle. Hank Snow was the first person to sing the Americas version of the song "I've Been Everywhere." I'm having a hard time choosing a word to describe his life story. Incredible is not an understatement. How a diminutive, sickly child; a victim of abuse raised in the far east of the continent goes on to be a world famous country western singer I will never fully understand.
I didn't need to come here. No place in Nova Scotia is among the 92. But for some reason, it seemed important. Had Hank not decided to sing this song in 1962, there is no way my trip would exist.
When I saw there was scheduled to be a motorcycle show the day of my potential arrival, I knew I had to come.
The museum grounds were already buzzing, despite the event not officially beginning until noon. This was the first Gaven Whynot Memorial Motorcycle Show & Shine. Gaven was a supporter of the museum and an avid rider. He had always wanted to host a motorcycle event. Sadly, he passed away about a year ago, but this event was a great way to honor his memory.
....Now I hear you: "You're entering Annie in a motorcycle show?"
Yes. By some miracle, I had not had any significant rain in over 48 hours. As much as I don't like precipitation while I'm traveling, It is basically the only way Annie ever gets clean. So she came into the show looking like this:
Let me see if I can set the stage:
The beauty pageant is just getting underway. First up is the evening gown competition. One by one the contestants stride gracefully across the stage, hair neatly coiffed, secured with copious amounts of hairspray; skin glowing evenly, each blemish concealed beneath layers of foundation. Their appearances are no accident, they've been physically preparing for this day for years. They know that a single extraneous eyebrow hair can be the difference between victory and defeat.
The crowd claps politely as one by one the ladies file across the stage. Pageants cannot be won in the beauty gown competition, but they can be lost. Attempting to stand out in this phase is a reckless decision. A strange sense of deja vu fills the room, as the ladies nearly match each other identically; stride for stride and smile for smile.
Until Ms. Nebraska shows up.
The crowd gasps, falling silent for a few moments. Then murmurs crescendo throughout the hall as this woman of the plains becomes fully illuminated by the harsh spotlights.
Ms. Nebraska had planned a workout to quell some of the pre-pageant nerves. An unexpected downpour had turned her trail run into a slow muddy slog. She had just made it back in time for her turn on the stage. There was no time to change. No time to shower. But also, she felt, this was no time to hide. She was determined to have her moment.
Droplets still falling off of her pony tail, she charts her course for center stage. Clad in sports shorts, a tank top and haphazard layers of mire, she is the antithesis of the other contestants. She holds her chin so high that she does not see the "X" of tape on which she was instructed to stop. Instead she strides right to the edge of the stage before stopping for the judges.
Her smile shows no teeth, unlike the myriad of other competitors. Hers is an impish, asymmetrical smirk, displayed while planting her right palm defiantly on her hip.
The crowd now falls silent again, as her gaze seems to pierce each one of them. Time stands still for a moment. Finally, almost mercifully, she turns and makes her way off of the stage, the muddy prints of her sneakers showing each firm step of her path.
Ms. Nebraska was not going to win any awards tonight, but she was going to be the topic of a few conversations.
.....Sorry that got a little weirder than I thought it would. So Annie wasn't going to win anything, but I hoped her inclusion at least provided some interest.
I was welcomed warmly by so many people. Among them, Kelly, the Manager of the museum, with whom I had corresponded via email before my arrival; Charlotte, the Director of the Friends of Hank Snow Society (I think we might now be best friends); and dozens more people whose names I wish I could remember. There were lots of bikers around (none of them smelling worse than me) so there was some natural interest in my story. It was nice to be in a place where I didn't have to begin my explanation of my trip with an explanation of the song. They all knew it.
One of my favorite stories was from a guy who is a big college football fan. On a cross country ride, he made a detour into Nebraska just to pick up a Husker jersey. It is still in his closet. He calls it his $5,000 jersey since that was the total cost of the trip. I offered him my Nebraska hat for the same price, but no transaction took place.
Good food, good music, good stories, lots of signatures all over Annie. I was so glad that I had made the detour.
But then someone made the comment, "I'm always so impressed whenever anyone can get up and sing that whole song!" Some big-mouthed Nebraskan (not saying any names) among the gathered throng blurted out, "Oh, I can sing it all." There was a follow up question about guitar playing ability and before I knew it I had a manager (of sorts) beseeching the MC on my behalf to let me get on stage and sing the song of my trip.
....well that escalated quickly
I could have fought it harder, I guess, but I was more curious than anything. How would it go. Even if it was an unmitigated disaster, I should at least get a good story for my RR.
When this trip began, I did not have the song memorized. Verses 1 and 2 were solid, 3 was OK and 4 was sloppy. I learned it on the road. When I had my time back in Nebraska I must have played through it a couple times, because I had in my mind that the key of A was the right one for me. I am by no means an expert at singing and playing this song together.
I obviously haven't held a guitar in hand since that time at home, which caused me a little concern. I did not feel like I could just wing it without a practice run. I'm good....but not that good
I talked to the MC about using a guitar. He didn't know if there was a guitar around for me to practice with, but he said he would go home and bring his. That was a relief!
With Louie's guitar I withdrew myself from the festivities, into some woods around the grounds. I tuned up and attempted a run through.
This is not good. Why did I agree to this!
"I've Been Everywhere" might just be the toughest song I know. Not the lyrics, surprisingly. I had no concern about remembering the 92 places in order. The difficulty comes from breath control/tempo control. These two facets go hand in hand. A single breath needs to last the entirety of a verse and the first line of the chorus (the 84 syllables referenced earlier). Choose a tempo too slow and you will not make it. Choose a tempo too fast and you will not be able to pronounce everything.
In Hank Snow's live versions (above), he puts his guitar down and I know exactly what he's doing: He's focusing completely on his breathing, sometimes sneaking half of one early in the chorus. He sings it really well. Funny enough, Hank was actually disqualified from service in the Canadian military during WWII due to a lung deformity.
The Johnny Cash studio version is at quite a slow tempo. Very few, if any, people could make a breath last a whole verse. Johnny's voice is spliced together from multiple takes. I'm not calling him a cheater, that's how most vocal tracks are recorded these days.
Two things were preventing me from finding this delicate tempo/breath balance. First, I think I've lost some lung capacity. I'm in the worst shape of my life (aerobically speaking) in over a decade. Second, I have no speed in my right hand. I simply could not strum fast enough so that a breath would last long enough.
This isn't looking good!
But each runthrough got a little better. I was finding some right hand techniques to mitigate my lack of speed. Unfortunately, I couldn't practice too long since my left fingers were already throbbing. I've lost my calloses!
What should I do? Should I do the honorable thing and withdraw, so as to not besmirch this wonderful song? Should I proceed courageously and make questionable attempt?
I let one hypothetical question make my decision for me: What would Hank Snow do?
I decided to give it a shot. The lady who sang before me was awesome (she can be seen adjusting my mic in the first video, I forgot her name!). She sang a ton of songs in a wide variety of styles. I awaited my turn with a surprising amount of nerves. I was to be the final attraction (repulsion?) of the afternoon. Once the awards and raffles were completed, I was invited on stage.
There were some issues with the first guitar I had so I switched to an even more unfamiliar one. It appeared to have six strings so I thought I could play it. Here goes nothing!
Ok. You know I like to analyze. Let's break this down.
Intro: Just fine. A few pitch issues as I get used to listening to myself in the monitors.
First chorus: I absolutely nailed the tempo I needed. If I could have maintained this throughout the whole song I would have been fine.
Verse 1 "Reno": OK. Tempo was good. After the following chorus I kind of forgot the words for Verse 2. As I sturmmed and thought my tempo dropped. I had lost lots of steam.
Verse 2 "Boston": Hold on! My breath barely makes it due to my slower tempo. You can hear a throaty inhale as soon as I get to the chorus. I really dodged a bullet.
Verse 3 "Louisville": So how can I speed myself up with my right hand endurance fading? I played just the backbeats on guitar during the verse. This made my rapid acceleration less noticible. I think this was pretty clever actually.
Verse 4 "Pittsburgh": End in sight, I go into stop time. This whole section gets pretty shouty and I begin to sturuggle with pitch. I plan a stop at the end of the verse and then butcher the pronunciation of "Cedar City" (sorry Utah). I continue to stumble my way through and eventually fall across the finish line.
Some songs you sing. This song, you just survive.
It definitely could have been worse though. The performance was one of my best run throughs. Given time and training, I think I could play/sing it quite well. People very kind and complimentary with their comments. I met some wonderful people.
That was outstanding... wish this was real time though, could have stayed at the house, and I could have tour guided you down to Liverpool.
Glad you're trip is going great.
Scheffervile and then gets on stage and sings the song!!
Fantastic. Taking this great RR to the next level.
"... trying to 'develop' as a writer..."??? Awwww Dude, you are sooo already there!
Ever see the movie "The Straight Story"? It's a (TRUE story) biographical road drama about an old guy in Iowa who drives a riding lawnmower across Iowa and Wisconsin to reunite and make amends with his long estranged brother who had suffered a stroke. If they could make a feature length film from that story (it's good!), YOU'VE GOT A MOVIE COMING! You have so many great stories within this RR pre-woven for such a film. I'm going to look back and say "Yeah, I remember back when he was just getting started!" (been lurking for weeks).
Love the "anarchy can" pic and you nailed the on stage performance-no self critique necessary. At all! Safe travels, Brett. -Cy
Wow! I've got no words young man! You are living the dream for sure. Keep it up and don't let this world reduce your enthusiasm for life one bit until the day you die. You are a rare coin for sure......
Thank you for all of the nice comments, everybody. I actually kind of need them right now. Inexplicably, I'm in a bit of a "trough" as far as mentality and enthusiasm go. I need to keep in mind how fortunate I am to even be able to attempt this trip. I know many of you would exchange places with me in a heartbeat.
I regret this too. Accordingly, I'm going to be adding a new feature to this RR. See next post.
Thank you. A lot of people seem to think that I'm going to become rich and famous off of the back of this trip. My uncle in Trout Lake, WA is using my first rear tire as a potato planter until "my museum opens up." Selfishly, it is sometimes hard to keep my mind from wandering to these sorts of possibilities, but I'm trying to stay focused on the here and now. The only goal I have for right now is to continue to greet each day with an open mind, an open heart and an open can of pork and beans.
For now, I feel like the more recognition I receive; the less this journey can refine my character.
(Yes, I'm a little weird)
Time for a new feature!
I've had this on my blog for a bit, but have decided to share it here: Here is my link for live tracking. (Also found in my signature)
What I had to consider was the likelihood of potential actions taken by you inmates. Would these people be more likely to bring waffles to my tent or to murder me in my sleep with a chainsaw? I decided on the former, by the slimmest of margins.
I may also try to add some realtime updates to my posts. When I do this, they will appear in bold. For instance:
Realtime update: Sitting in a library in Watertown, NY. Great architecture, poor upload speeds.
As always I welcome suggestions such as "take this road" or "you can throw your tent up here and no one will care." Suggestions such as "you've got to eat here" are most likely cost prohibitive, but you can throw them out if you'd like.
The Hank Snow museum let me camp on their grounds. I ended up staying two nights, the first time on the trip that I have tented in the same spot on consecutive days.
Museum in background:
They also gave me the wifi password which was great. After hours, I took a picnic table near to the window where the signal flowed from most generously.
The next day, I was interviewed by the gentleman who wrote Hank Snow's biography:
He was a real pro, asking me some questions that I had never thought of.
Him: What items are the essentials for your trip?
Me: Bailing wire, Vaseline, flushable baby wipes.
He drove me around Liverpool/Brooklyn, showing me some Hank Snow sites. I feel bad for him, since I yelled at him to stop when I saw this:
I am from an AMC Pacer family. The first car I ever rode in is pictured below:
(Just a friendly reminder that you are required to post a picture in this RR anytime you see an AMC car out in the wild)
We had a great chat. It was an honor to meet him. The book is great, by the way. Hank's story is unbelievable.
Some generous strangers gave me some money (I really look pitiful in real life). This kindness allowed me to be a bit more liberal with my purchases at the museum.
Sadly, this was not for sale:
Though my rear tire was beginning to worry me, I was so glad that I had made the detour into the Maritime.
Just found this report. Please post up when you get close to Davenport. I'd love to meet up for a picture or two.