The story of the tent and the saint of St Fintan

There is nothing more vulnerable then being in the wilderness and losing your tent.

There is nothing quite as humbling as doing it twice.

After 52 days I am now on my fifth tent. Here is the story of the first three

I cried the day two weeks after receiving my third tent the morning I lost it. And it was the only time I cried  in Newfoundland. This one just quietly fell off the back of my bike. Still with five days to go I would be like a sacrificial lamb to the blackflies, mosquitoes and horse flies. And I loved my new tent.

I asked a kid on a dirt bike to look. I asked a man on an ATV to search. Nothing. It had been lost and it had been found by someone probably happy with their new find, an ace new tent. Things were looking rather dismal when I pedaled into St Fintan and went into the small convenience store. I told the ladies working there my story. They must have shared it with the locals who came in. 

It was sometime later when an old pick up truck pulled up to me and a man with a grey beard and blood shot eyes motioned me to come over. He stepped out of the truck and said nothing as he handed me a new four man Coleman tent now with tears in his eyes. It was huge and it was heavy and I wasn’t sure how I would strap it to my bike but I was full of gratitude. I gave him a hug and held his sad eyes in mine as I said thank you. He said bless you and drove away. I went back to the store and told the ladies there what had happened.

They told me his 19 year old daughter had died a year ago. Then one lady said, ” there are still good people in this world.”


I know that day I met a sad saint. I know that day I met the saint of St Fintan.




  1. Roxane August 25, 2015 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    I believe u did…

  2. Stacey August 29, 2015 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Cried reading this poignant piece

  3. Dave August 31, 2015 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Such courage, such an undertaking. Bless you for taking such a noble cause, fraught with uncertainty and poor equipment. I am certain you will learn the way we all do in life…the hard way 😉

    When the road and trail, the rain, bugs and cold, get you down, when you question your abilities, and you question your motives…when you think no one really cares, when you think you are just on a fool’s errand, and you are full of self doubt. Remember what was written on a piece of masking tape, on the inside of a gym style metal locker, at eye level so I could not miss it when I opened it for the first time. “You’re not going to make it.” I was a young trooper on day one of my paratrooper course in Edmonton in 1977. I was already exhausted from the grueling 5 km (05:30) morning run, followed by the extreme fitness regime of the day, and finished of nicely with the daily 20km group run. I stared at these words…left by the previous locker owner, and felt numb. My heart sank, and the realization that those words were most likely prophetic, and I could not envision myself enduring another 5 weeks of this. There would be no breaks, no easier days, no rest, and in the end over 70% of us would be gone home. I stared at it on day two, and three, ad nauseum, but stubbornly refused to take it off…until graduation.

    Dianne, back then, those wings meant everything to me, no idea why, but they did..young men can be like that. I know this journey of yours, dwarfs anything I may have done. My hat is off. Yes, when I was 16, I thought riding my bicycle, from Victoria to San Francisco and back was a huge deal back in 1970…not so much anymore. So many people do so many wonderful things for such great causes. Mine were merely larks, done to test myself. Off all the things people do in this great country of ours, yours resonates with me the most. Connecting the physical, spiritual, and historical dots for all of us, is beyond amazing. Kudos.

    Stay warm, safe and secure your tent 😉

  4. Atty van der Heide September 4, 2015 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    Wow, what a start to your journey! And this after this very very long time of no rain here on the Sunshine Coast!!
    I want to wish you a safe journey!
    love from a Coaster

  5. Lorna September 7, 2015 at 11:08 am - Reply

    In awe and inspired! A proud Fellow Sunshine Coaster is eagerly following you.

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