Smuggler’s Diarrhea: Sailor Jerry [47%] goes to Newfoundland

On a Tuesday night Johno and I are in the garage and we’re packing frantically. Wheels are removed, handlebars twisted, axles taken out and taped to the top tubes. Sailor Jerry [47%] sits in the corner till I remember him.
“What do you think?” I ask Johno.
“Flammable?”
“Well… Yeah, that too I guess.”
There’s only one way to find out. Sailor Jerry leaves his labelled home and finds himself in a water bottle which sits on the bike frame.
At the airport they check your oversized luggage. We came way earlier than we had to, which was both unnecessary and very surprising but a damn good start to the enterprise.
“Liquid?” The lady asks. She’s ripping open the bike box and wading through the storm of old newspapers.
“No,” I say, “Of course not.”
The lady’s from Tanzania.
“I just read Green Hills of Africa,” I say, and she gives me a blank look.
The bikes go through and vanish on a conveyor belt.
“And that’s the last we see of them,” I tell Johno. Maybe Sailor Jerry will keep them safe.
The saddle bags have to go in as well. I brought the army duffel and Johno had two of his bags taped to make them one, but that didn’t fly with the staff so we had to cram one into the carry-all that had already been weighed. When I went to pick it up I knew right away that it was overweight, and that’s the wild yarn of how Johno and I went head over heels to screw West-Jet out of money. Take that Luggage Specifications! Don’t mess with cyclists!
Two sets of parents, a sister or two and one girlfriend [Tammy, who belongs to Johno – watch it, she’s a cop] are waiting to say goodbye. There’s that usual small awkwardness and a few pictures quickly become mandatory. I hug everyone and dad does the brushing-of-the-beard-against-my-face-thing, which maybe he doesn’t even notice but I always do.
At 2200 I go through security and Tammy and Johno whisper secret things to teach other.
Now we’re on our own. The plane leaves for T-dot at 2300.

The bike trip had become solid theory by December 2009. Before that there had always been the light-bulb in the back of my mind that one day i would bike across Canada. I hadn’t been thinking about it. It was just something I knew would happen.
Johno and I, buddies that we are, had been making emails back and forth a bit about the daily life in our respective environments. Most of the typing I did was done on thirty second time limits from a sea-container with internet at the Forward Operating Base.
One day I smashed out an impulse I’d had about heading off at the end of tour to properly see Europe. In the second paragraph I said something about girls and spreading our seed in twenty-six countries [I didn’t know how many countries Europe has, it was completely random]. The idea just came out and obviously Johno’s Tammy got a hold of this and put her foot down about overseas being a no-go unless she was coming too. So Europe was off, at least if Johno had anything to do with it.

For a few days I walked around and chewed on ideas, not always easy when you’re also whatching where your feet are going so they don’t get blown off. What about a bike trip? That sounded excellent and sometime after midnight the email was drafted.
Approval showed up shortly. Apparently Tammy, I mean Johno, thought it was a great idea.
That was all it took. From then on our emails revolved around the trip. Johno got his arse in gear and did some notable research, looked at maps, and trawled forums and blogs for ideas. He kept sending me links about the next best thing, which I never checked cause our connection was so damn slow.
In April the bike was bought. I simply gave approval and then transferred the money. I’d even been shopping around a bit for those bikes you peddle with your arms, just in case I got a leg blown off. It was a strange and character building internet-window-shopping experience.

We waited in Toronto, then Halifax and landed in St John’ s at 1330. It took three hours to get the bikes together and get some food down the pipes. After that we zipped down to Memorial University in three minutes flat.
The slow-eyed stoner chick behind the desk at Hatcher House, Kayla, was the same from last August when Natty and I were here, and she gave us a bangin’ deal on a room where we could lock up our stuff, then go sniff around town a bit, hit a grocery store fro dinner and make some plans for tomorrow.
That was an early crash night.
The plan had been to hit George St. and paint the town red but it never came out that way. We just weren’t on the ball enough and had been awake for too long in a sloth-like state to do anything worth the mention. Gotta love plane rides.
I tried to write in the journal a bit since I was 20 days behind and according to it, still on the North Coast Trail [key words and numbers scribbled in a Rite-In-The-Rain keep my memory up when days turn into nights turn into days and the writing shuts down for a bit] but I kept sagging on the desk and the pen would run off and leave endless lines of charming scribble. I never sleep long enough, but that was eleven excellent hours that I’ll never forget not remembering.

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2 Comments to “Smuggler’s Diarrhea: Sailor Jerry [47%] goes to Newfoundland”

  1. Snyggt kort. Är det från Grönsöö?

  2. You rock Max! I love reading your thoughts, meanderings and adventures. So very real and refreshing, and perhaps at times a bit shocking to my no-longer-twenty-something sensibilities, but I love it! Dance on my friend…

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