a.k.a. How Adam got his groove back...
Otter and I began talking sometime in April or May about a possible trip back to the northeast through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and eventually out to Nova Scotia. We had both been to the northeast before, I made it out to P.E.I., but neither of us had done Nova Scotia. From what we had heard about it and read about it, Nova Scotia seemed like a great idea - then again, new places to explore tend to be very desirable to us.
During lunch one day at work (my apologies for saying the "w" word in a trip report), I mentioned the trip idea to Adam. Otter and I were already planning to do the Fall Color Run with him, but when I saw his eyes light up the way that they did when I said the words "Nova Scotia" I figured something was about to change. The next day, Adam walked into my office and proclaimed, "I'm in." Not only that, but he was still in for Appalachia in the fall. Ameena must have been feeling very generous that day, or his bribery techniques have been improving. Either way, we were all set for a great trip. The three of us ride very well together, and our biggest problem tends to be finding someone capable of making a decision...none of us really care which way we go.
This would be the first real trip on my new Triumph Sprint ST, and it was about time. I was anxious to see how the bike would compare to the Whale in the long-saddle days, and how she'd do in some twisties.
Due to a lack of vacation time, Otter decided to depart Saturday morning and catch up with us in New York that night, while Adam and I departed Friday morning and headed out towards Niagra Falls. Adam and I got our "ATL-like" early start around the city and made it to Stooges for breakfast in no time at all. After mentioning our trip to the waitress, she remembered our group of 27 that headed through there a couple months prior. Adam and I enjoyed our coffee and "Curley's Specials," and then more coffee before we headed back on the road.
Our thought over breakfast was to head across Michigan on the super-slab, cross into Ontario at Port Huron, and then do a little exploring along Lake Huron and the Ontario countryside. The trip across Michigan was somewhat uneventful, with only the sounds of the truckers on channel 19 making me laugh occasionally. It was a beautiful, bright, sunny day, which is unusual because Adam usually brings a torrential downpour with him on trips..."it never rains when it's just Otter and me."
We crossed the border into Ontario, and I exited the 402 a little bit too early trying to find our way to the shoreline. We ended up in the middle of Ontario farmland, eventually finding our way to a more traveled road which took us north to the shoreline. After an aborted attempt to enter a Provincial Park (when there's 10 cars in line at the ranger gate, you're usually best to turn around and keep going) we found our way through a residential neighborhood to a public beach access area along the lake. The view was very hazy, but it was a nice break from the day, and Adam took the opportunity to walk down to the water while I sought refuge from the heat under a shady tree.
We decided to continue east through the countryside and get away from the shoreline, which was unfortunately filled with small touristy towns, and didn't really have too much to offer. Right on schedule, we ran into a hellacious rainstorm. We pulled over to put the rain covers on and get prepared as the thunder crashed around us and shook the ground. "It never rains when it's just Otter and me." Adam's reply has been omitted due to the PG-13 rating. Just as we started out, it started coming down in buckets, and did so for about 10 minutes. After that, it cleared up and was beautiful for the rest of the day. With the 90 degree heat of the day, it was actually a nice refresher for us.
As we approached the Buffalo, NY area on the QEW, we were again greeted to a slight drop in temperature before heading back into the US. I followed the excellent directions that Paul sent, and we made it to Paul and Jenn's house in Lewiston in the late afternoon. Paul, Doug, Jenn, and Dave were all there awaiting our arrival - actually, they were loading the racebikes into the trailer for their trackday in the morning. Paul's Duc748 was unfortunately loaded already, otherwise I would have demanded a ride. In fact, after a long day of riding through the pretty intense heat, Adam and I were pretty glad to be off the bikes, and despite their honest attempt to get us to ride to dinner, we insisted that we take the car instead. I was already about medium-rare, and I couldn't fathom putting the 'Stich back on. Plus, this way we could more easily indulge in the alcoholic refreshments.
We headed out to dinner, watched Dave put his knee down on one of their local and favorite on-ramps, and then somehow lost track of him for the evening. Adam, Jenn, Paul, and I enjoyed a great dinner at a local microbrew, where Jenn had the classic quote of the night. Paul and I were discussing "bike dreams" i.e. if you could have 5 bikes, blah blah blah, what would they be. During the conversation, Paul and I were going back and forth and Paul mentioned wanting to get another bike, and that's when Jenn chimed in. We were expecting the hammer to fall, but what she said was, "Paul, don't you think you need a bigger garage first??" Ya gotta love that attitude. After a great conversation, we headed out to the falls that night to enjoy the light show. Again, thank god we were in the car, because the traffic would have been unbearable on the bikes. We eventually made it to the falls, and Jenn was nice enough to drive around the block a few times while Adam and I enjoyed the light show and took a few pictures. After the falls, we headed back for some much needed sleep...but only after a couple more beers, some bench racing, and a little videotape of Paul's recent race win.
Two bikes parked somewhere along Lake Huron
A distant view of Niagra Falls at night
A closer look at Niagra Falls at night
Paul and Doug were already on their way to the track by the time Adam and I headed out this morning. We made our way up the coast and stopped in the second or third town for some breakfast and much needed coffee, where we found a nice outdoor restaurant to enjoy the cool morning air, knowing full well that the heat would be back soon. After breakfast, we spent the morning enjoying Route 18 along Lake Ontario, stopping here and there, enjoying the views, and enjoying the morning air.
It happened gradually, but it happened - the day got really really hot. It was in the 90s again, and we were doing our best to keep hydrated, and were stopping quite a bit to rest. Past Rochester, we rode across the top of Oneida Lake, stopping here and there, and trying not to let the heat get the best of us. We ran across a few twisty roads as we made our way across the countryside towards the Adirondacs, and despite the heat, we were really enjoying the day and the ride. We had a lot of days ahead of us, and I was already getting into the "out there" mood.
We entered the Adirondac park sometime in the early afternoon and started the ascent into the mountains via route 28. There was a lot more traffic on this road than we expected, although it wasn't terrible for a Saturday afternoon. With the elevations came slightly cooler temperatures, which was nice, but it was still 80 degrees. We rode through some of the small towns and stopped along a lake to check out the activity. There were people enjoying watersports and we enjoyed watching an airplane take off from the water before continuing on. We didn't really have anywhere to be, so we decided to head north through the mountains, ride through Lake Placid, and eventually make our way down to the hotel for the night, where we would meet up with Otter....theoretically.
The stretch of highway between Long Lake and Tupper Lake was very nice, and the traffic had decreased significantly. As the road crested the mountaintops, we were treated to magnificent views of the upcoming pavement, surrounded by a tree filled valley. Through the towns, traffic would pick up, but overall the ride was very peaceful. Lake Placid was interesting to see, and the ski jump was cool, but we were more looking for the quiet place to stop and enjoy this area. A little further down the road, we found a blue lake nestled between two mountains - a perfect place to pull over for a while. The lake was the perfect backdrop as the sun hid behind the mountains and cast it's rays high above canoe drifting across the water. The cool breeze off the lake was welcomed with open arms as we escaped from the sun's rays for a few minutes. We sat for quite a while, not saying much, just enjoying the moment.
Eventually, we saddled up and continued east on route 73, enjoying our late afternoon ride through the mountains. We made it to the Interstate and began the ride south to meet Otter at the hotel in Queensbury, NY. We thought for sure that he'd be pulling in late tonight, having left Chicago this morning. We arrived to find a tired Otter in the parking lot, enjoying being out of the 'Stich and enjoying the cool evening weather. The hot weather had taken it's toll on all of us, and after a quick bite to eat, we called it a day.
Two bikes parked near Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse along Lake Ontario
A blue lake nestled in the mountains, somewhere in the Adirondacs
Two bikes parked near a different lake late in the afternoon
Last night, we made a feeble attempt to bring out the maps and figure out where we were going. It was not meant to be. None of us really cared which direction we went, as long as it was generally bringing us closer to Nova Scotia, although we did want to eventually end up near Moosehead Lake, in upper Maine. We headed out this morning with only one care in the world - breakfast. We ended up at the Pine Grove Diner, somewhere in southern Vermont, where we enjoyed a great breakfast. They had listed "Vermont Maple Syrup" on the menu for an additional cost, and being the type of person who enjoys breakfast more than just about anything else, I tried it. What a night and day difference between real maple syrup and the crap you get out of Aunt Jemima's bottle. Thing is, you can't really tell the difference unless you have them side by side, but when you do, there's no comparison.
Sunday in Vermont proved to be a little frustrating at times, as there are some really pretty roads that you don't necessarily want to go blasting through, but nothing kills your mood quicker than coming up on a group of ten cars and having no place to pass. Not only that, but at one point, we found ourselves trailing a large group of Harley-Davidsons, the last bike with a sidecar, and none of them moving at even close to the speed limit. Since we were making up our route as we went, they went one way, and we immediately altered our route to try to get away from them. The ride wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't as nice as it could be. Sunday in Vermont was just OK.
Unfortunately, Sunday in New Hampshaah was no better, and arguably worse. We ended up heading across the Kangamangus Highway, which we nicknamed the "Gunga-Ga-loonga Trail" in honor of Carl Spangler. The Kangamangus, as I remembered it was a sweet strip of pavement through the mountains the follows a very pretty mountain stream. Of course, I remember it from 1999 when I rode through here in April, not today, a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the peak tourism season for the area. Traffic was bad, it was hotter than hell, and every turnout and overlook found more cars and people packed into them than should be allowed. Mental Note: Avoid the Gunga-Ga-loonga trail on the weekends. By the time we reached the end, we pulled over and plotted a route away from here, avoiding as many larger cities as possible. We headed out hoping to find a little peace and quiet.
Crossing into Maine, we jumped on route 113 north out of Fryeburg and found a little of what we were looking for. We followed this tree-lined road for some time, enjoying it's stretches of endless forest, and a nice set of twisties thrown in. This was no place to wick it up, as the road was narrow and every corner was blind. We were putzing along with me in the lead, taking it easy like we should have been - good thing too. I came around the corner, and to my surprise, there was a vehicle oncoming in my lane. I'm used to having cars and trucks appear out of nowhere, but to see a Suzuki Bandit in my lane, rider with a very surprised look on his face (having just blown the previous corner), really caught me off guard. When a car does that, well, OK, it's a car. People are morons, in general. Seeing someone on a bike do that really irked me. I wanted to turn around and chase the guy down so that I could give him the "you've got to be better than that" speech, but with the mild heat exhaustion that I was suffering through, I knew I wasn't thinking clearly and figured I'd end up doing something I regretted. The incident passed, and we continued on enjoying the ride.
After a gas stop somewhere around Rumford, Maine, we continued snaking through the two-lane blacktop towards Route 201, another road that Otter and I share different memories of, but a road that both of us have enjoyed thoroughly in the past. It was getting late in the day, and we figured that we'd be able to find a place to camp somewhere up the road. We turned north onto 201 and were immediately treated to a nice open road with a few twisty sections thrown in. Up went the pace, and down went my left peg feeler - a first for the Sprint. Otter was enjoying the sparkshow, but not enjoying the power of the Sprint, having to severely whack the shit out of the VFR to keep up. The views heading up 201 were just as I remembered, except that the lakes were not frozen this time. We made a roadside stop somewhere along the way and decided to head to Jackman Station for the night. We passed through town, and Adam spotted a campground. After a trip back to the deli for some sandwiches and essentials, a.k.a. beer, we began to setup camp. Nobody had warned us of the killer mosquitoes in the area - they were ruthless and relentless. Thankfully, Adam made a quick jaunt to a convenience store and brought back a can of the most hideous and strongest bug repellent that I've ever used. They must have it made special for this area, and once it was applied, we had about a 3 foot barrier around us that even the killer mosquitoes wouldn't dare cross. As the beers came out, so too did the stars, but the heat of the day had taken it's toll on us. We were dropping like flies, pun intended, and it turned out to be an early night.
The Pine Grove Diner in southern Vermont
A hazy view heading north on route 201 in Maine
The stagnant water just a few yards away from our campsite should have been an indication to us that we were in for a beating last night, but none of us really noticed it until this morning. The sun had risen over the distant mountains before I emerged from my tent, drawn by the sound and smell of camp coffee. The morning air was fresh and clean, and I enjoyed my morning coffee gazing over the calm, blue lake adjacent to our campsite as the sun's early morning rays glistened off the water. We packed up camp, headed back through town, turned left on route 6 which would take us through the mountains and along Moosehead Lake, all the time wondering, "Will Adam see a moose this morning?"
I dropped back from Adam and Otter and let them get ahead of me on the road. This area of Maine is pretty remote, and extremely beautiful and I wanted to take my time and take it all in. Plus, I figured that one less bike might help Adam's hopeless chances of actually seeing a moose. When I came through here in the morning hours a few years ago, the road was littered with Moose - I probably saw five of them along this stretch. This morning though, there were none to be found, and I already knew the answer to the question when I met up with Adam and Otter at the Boomchain restaurant. To make matters worse, there was a poster on the wall marking "vehicle-animal collisions" and this area was one of the most densely marked areas on the map. Man, will Adam ever see a moose?
Over breakfast, we looked over the maps and decided to continue on route 6 all the way to the Canadian border, where we'd cross at the town of Vanceboro. That seemed simple enough, and by avoiding turns, our chances of losing Otter were decreased dramatically. We set off across the state and someone turned up the heat on us again, but at this point, we were starting to get used to it. Somewhere after the town of Springfield, we started seeing road construction signs, and thought nothing of it. The Maine DMV must be taking lessons from Canada. The entire road was gone, replaced by packed dirt, and to minimize the dust, they'd routinely water down the road. We found ourselves following one of the water trucks and we couldn't catch it and pass it fast enough. By the time we had reached the border, the undersides of the bikes were caked with mud, although it did slightly resemble a unique paint job. Ehh, that's just part of a trip.
We crossed into New Brunswick and continued our journey east, every mile getting closer and closer to Nova Scotia. We were in the full heat of the day and took every opportunity possible to find shade and escape the sun's rays for a while. It was at this point of the trip that the wheelies began. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the excitement of getting closer to Nova Scotia, or maybe it was just the adolescence that I struggle to leave behind. Nevertheless, they began and went on for some time. Every stopsign was a chance to practice, every turn on to a new road a time for an exhibition. For the record, we were in the middle of nowhere, not running up and down busy streets. I started to get pretty good at it, especially when the Sprint started to run low on gas. I rode out my first real good one just before a gas stop near Adamsville on PR126. Adam had noticed my goofing around, and the disease spread at that gas station to all of us.
Wheelying out of the parking lot of the gas station, we rode the last few miles towards Nova Scotia. We were almost there and had braved the heat for the past few days. As we approached the border, someone flipped on the air conditioning, and the temperature dropped at least 20 degrees as the strong winds blew in from the Atlantic Ocean. I've never seen three happier guys than us. Arms and legs were extended, zippers un-zipped - anything that we could do to get airflow across our sweaty bodies. I pulled up next to Otter to comment on the nice cool air, and then, as it usually does, competitiveness took over. We both saw the Welcome to Nova Scotia sign, and luckily for me, with a twist of the Sprint's throttle I was propelled across the border first. I also did the first wheelie in Nova Scotia. :-)
Anyway, we stopped at the welcome center, which was a good thing. None of us had done any research, with the exception of knowing where the Cabot Trail was, and we really didn't know what Nova Scotia had to offer. There were many informative plaques, and after looking them over, we decided to head north to the Amhurst Shore campground for the night. Wheelying out of the parking lot, and again when we made the turn on to the road that would take us in the direction of the campsite, we soon found ourselves surrounded by Nova Scotia. The countryside was something out of a fairy tale with small houses strewn about the rolling hills. It was quiet and peaceful, except for the roads. I'm not sure what happened to them, but the roads were in pathetic condition with potholes and big ruts all over the place. Even though the road was straight, I was weaving back and forth, trying to find a line that avoided the pitfalls and caverns that had taken over this once smooth stretch of blacktop. I don't think there was a good inch, err, centimeter (we're in Canada now) of road during the 12 kilometer stretch that we rode across.
We arrived at the campsite unscathed, registered, and headed to the nearby store for food and essentials, but there were no essentials to be had this night. Upon returning, we setup camp and settled in for the night. I broke out the harmonica for a while until a park ranger came by and asked if there was a dying goose somewhere near the campfire. We ended up talking to the ranger for a while who "used to ride" and had ridden the Cabot Trail, one of our destinations for this trip. He informed us of a couple other places that we might like to frequent, including the town of Sydney where one can apparently find "good sex." Not wanting to look like idiots, and taking into account that he didn't bat an eye while saying it, we didn't inquire further about the town of Sydney, nor did we alter our route to head in that direction.
A view from our campsite in Maine
A breakfast stop in northern Maine
A shot of Moosehead Lake, Maine
I slept pretty well last night, despite the absence of my usual sleep-aid, a.k.a. beer. After our morning coffee, we quickly broke camp and headed towards Tatamagouche, hoping to find a particular restaurant that the ranger recommended to us. It was a spectacular morning for riding, and I was really liking Nova Scotia so far. The small towns along the shoreline were quiet and peaceful, and riding along, I was definitely enjoying myself. When we arrived at the Sandpiper restaurant, Otter realized that we left his smokes and my zippo lighter at the campsite, so he turned around to find it. Adam and I enjoyed the view of the bay and sipped coffee until he returned.
We had a little bit of a ride to get to Cape Brenton and we decided to make a b-line for the Cabot Trail, hit it later today, and figure out the rest later. If it was really nice up there, we'd have a chance to spend more time in the area, and if not, we could then explore other areas of Nova Scotia. As we headed across Nova Scotia, the temperature, once again, rose to a somewhat uncomfortable level, but luckily not as bad as yesterday. We decided to take routes as close to the water to keep in the cool air, and after passing through Port Hastings, we jumped on route 19 and did just that. We made a quick stop along the shoreline and found a huge festival was going on. We had been riding for a while, so we stopped anyway, despite the number of people. The cool breeze off the ocean made the stop more than worthwhile.
Continuing up the coast, we found ourselves riding through small harbor towns and the ocean breeze was doing it's best to keep us comfortable. The further north we got, the nicer the ride. As we entered Cape Brenton Highlands National Park, like flipping a lightswitch, the ride immediately got incredible. With the ocean to our left, the road transported us to a wonderful place, as we rode through the bluffs and forest. The road traced the jagged shoreline and disappeared beyond the upcoming hills. Adam and Otter were playing a game of hide and seek ahead of me, as I'd watch them crest a hill and then disappear for a moment, only to reappear a minute later. There were many "wow" moments along this road, and it is a place that I will not soon forget. It was nice enough that I didn't mind the mind the occasional traffic. The only part that I did mind was all the tourism once the road approached a town and left the park.. A road like this should not be littered with restaurant advertisements and billboards.
As the road climbed in elevation, we were treated to a few switchbacks. I followed Adam and Otter through the switchbacks, pegs a dragging, to the higher elevation of the road where it straightened out for a while. Along the side of the road, a bunch of cars were stopped and looking at things. OK Adam, here's your chance. He didn't hesitate to pull over and have a look, and Otter and I continued on in search of more twisties. Otter and I began the descent out of the highlands via more switchbacks, and were having a great time. He was leaving nice white peg-scrape marks on the pavement as I followed him, and I was doing the same. (Sorry man, but I gotta put this in here) Right in the middle of the switchbacks, we come along a blue mini-van (why do they let those things on the road anyway) and it's obvious he isn't going to be nice and pull over to let us by. Otter goes for it, and makes it somewhat easily, beginning his turn-in for the upcoming right hand downhill switchback from the oncoming lane of traffic. I can only imagine the look on the driver's face as Otter's right peg-feeler disintegrated even more while throwing up a nice set of sparks. For some reason, I didn't follow him like I usually do. I probably wouldn't have made the corner had I followed, but the mini van graciously pulled over before the next left-hand switchback. I gave them a "thank you" wave, and proceeded to inflict more damage to my left peg feeler. At the end of the run, Otter and I pulled over and waited for Adam, hoping that he had good news. He arrived and confirmed that he had seen a moose. And there was much rejoicing. Time for a victory wheelie!!
We spotted a few campgrounds up the road and made those our target for the day. The ride was still very nice along here, and the ocean was in full view for most of it. On the side of the road, I spotted something and couldn't identify it at first. As we got closer, I saw that it was a beautiful Bald Eagle sitting a top a rotting tree trunk. I grabbed the binders and pointed it out, making sure that we had all seen it, which we had. There had also been a few flying overhead that we had spotted throughout the day.
When we arrived at the Broad Cove campground, there was a line of cars waiting to get in. We were a little discouraged, but it was getting near the end of the day, and there wasn't a whole lot else around, so we made due with it. We reserved our tiny campsite, snuggled between dozens of other campsites, and headed into town for food and essentials. We were discouraged that the food store didn't sell beer, but there was a town liquor store just up the road - yes!! We returned to our campsite, got settled, and enjoyed the evening air and breeze off the ocean. Adam had heard people talking that there was a pond (We have a pool and a pond. The pond would be good for you, ya know, fresh spring and all.) so we suited up, and took a walk down to the shoreline. Just inland from the beach was a freshwater, rocky bottom, very shallow pond. After a couple of hot days in the saddle, I can't tell you how good it felt to submerge in the cool water. I believe I submerged by accident, after I slipped on one of the rocks and fell. The only way to move was to float and pull yourself along - the rocks were way too slippery. We were having a great time, laying on our backs, looking up at the stars, feet sticking out of the water like a dorsal fin, sharing in the memories of days past. In the distance, a bolt of lightning appeared, and then another. After joking about the headline "3 Chicago men killed in freak lightning accident" we slowly made our way to the beach (I fell again trying to move too quickly) and headed back to camp, completely refreshed. It was a wonderful way to end a great day of riding, and another memory that I will not soon forget.
Our first campsite in Nova Scotia
Breakfast at the Sandpiper Restaurant, Nova Scotia
The view from the restaurant - not a bad place to wait for Otter to go back to the campsite so that he can get the smokes and lighter that we all forgot....
On the way up to the Cabot Trail, an Oceanside boardwalk
Getting into the elevations on the Cabot Trail
A shot of the road disappearing into the upcoming hills
The two bikes ahead on the road as it twists along the shoreline
A quick rest along the Cabot Trail
A view of the ocean from Broad Cove campground
A view looking north... - this was the furthest east any of us had been. N46 degrees 46.92 minutes, W60 degrees 20.63 minutes for the GPS inclined
The night before, we had talked about where to go today, and unanimously decided to turn around and run the Cabot Trail in the other direction. I made a comment like "I'd like to stop and take some pictures since I didn't get a chance to yesterday." Adam totally called me on it. "Bullshit. You were hammering too much yesterday to stop and take pictures." Nevertheless, we all wanted to run the trail again, so we did...after some camp coffee of course.
Leaving the campground (I'm pretty sure we all wheelied), we began heading the other way at our normal speeds, and the next thing I saw was that we were catching the police car ahead of us on the road. I pulled us into an overlook for a few minutes to let him get ahead before continuing towards Cape North where we hoped to find some breakfast. We found the only restaurant in town and had another great meal before continuing across the trail.
Today, the trail started out like it ended for me yesterday. I found myself enjoying the switchbacks as the road ascended to the highlands, and I was feeling more and more comfortable with the Sprint. The left knee-slider had a little bit more damage to it when I reached the top, and I found this a good time to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the rest of the road. It was overcast this morning, and looking from the elevations towards the water was very grey, except for the ocean, and the clouds seemed to stop right at the shoreline. I rode along, stopping here and there, taking pictures, and just enjoying myself. Then the downhill switchbacks began, and I was thrown back into the sportbiking arena, and that's OK. Take what the road has to offer and make the best of it.
I stopped a few times along the ocean shoreline to admire the incredible blue water before meeting up with Adam and Otter at the end of the road. On the fly, we plotted a route to take us a different way back to Port Hastings, and with Otter in the lead (it's OK, we weren't making any turns, so we're safe) we continued south, memories of the Cabot Trail fresh in our heads, and anticipating the yet unexplored (by us) areas of Nova Scotia. Crossing the bridge out of Cape Brenton, I made a quick left and we were on our way into the less traveled areas of Nova Scotia. There were no big towns up the way, few campgrounds, and we were sure that meant a whole lot of nothing.
The ratio of road conditions to peace and quiet in Nova Scotia seems to be parallel. As the road conditions got worse, we noticed that there was no traffic, and it was unbelievably quiet and peaceful. The road that we took was right along the water which was an incredible shade of deep blue, with a lighthouse thrown in here and there just to keep you honest. We had no idea where we were, where we were going, and we really didn't care. We ended up taking a dead end road into the town of Canso, where we ended up stopping on the town pier as a fishing boat headed out to sea, surrounded by more crystal clear, bluer than blue water. Adam, like Adam so often does, found this the perfect time to light up a cigarette (he was supposed to have quit during this trip...), cop a squat, and watch the world go by for a while. I, of course, captured it on film, as usual. Seeing Adam in that mindset is a great thing. There are few who understand that mentality, and even fewer who have actually experienced that feeling - where you're sitting somewhere, your mind goes blank, and you realize that you're a teeny tiny spec on the map of the world, and you feel like you can disappear, if only for a moment.
OK, whoa! Back the truck up. Sorry about that...
We decided to take advantage of the air conditioned restaurant in town and grab a quick bite before continuing on. After eating, we back-tracked the 16 kilometers or so that we accidentally and unknowingly went out of our way to find this cool little town. We made a left onto PR316 (I only know because I found it on the map while writing this) and continued to enjoy the non-touristy part of Nova Scotia. It was getting late in the day, and seeing that there was very little civilization around here, we asked a gas station attendant about a place to stay. She mentioned two places, just a little bit up the road, so we continued on. We passed the first one, only to get to the second place and find out it was booked. In between the two places was a tight corner just outside of one of the towns. We left the lodge (wheelying of course) and headed back to the first place, determined both to find a place to stay and to nail that corner that we had just passed. I was following Otter who was following Adam as we went into that corner. Otter gave Adam plenty of room and then went at the corner. I've seen him drag a peg before, but this was incredible. As I'm setting myself up for the corner, I see Otter with an orange flame of sparks coming off of his right footpeg - I mean, this was huge. There must have been something in the road to produce an orange color. My reaction: "Holy Shit!" and I started laughing so hard that I completely blew the corner, and was still laughing when we got to the first hotel. Amazing.
We went to the front desk to check in, and she mentioned that they had a 3-bed cabin out back. Perfect. What time is your restaurant open until. Perfect. Is there a place where we can get beer? "Oh, would you like us to deliver some to your room?" Wh-hoo!!!! Perfect. This wasn't a 5 star hotel either - the room was about $70 Canadian. We just happened upon a perfect place to stay for the night. We got cleaned up, enjoyed a beer, and headed to the restaurant where we all indulged in fresh fish and seafood. I had haddock...and beer...and then more beer. It was good.
The next day, a view along the Cabot Trail
The bikes parked in that spot
The Triumph Sprint ST along the Cabot Trail
A hazy view from the elevations of the Cabot Trail
Some big dorky guy next to a little motorcycle
A view of the road twisting above the shoreline
Another shot of the Sprint roadside along the Cabot Trail
A view of the blue water as the Cabot Trail almost touches the shoreline
Otter on the VFR, now fully equipped with hard bags
A barge sitting out in Port Hastings Harbor
We eventually found the less inhabited areas of Nova Scotia, which did not disappoint
The deep blue water was a hellova backdrop as we rode along
A harbor lighthouse....in the middle of the harbor
We found ourselves in Canso,N.S. where we just watched the world go by for a bit
The bikes parked at the harbor in Canso
Adam taking a moment for himself....captured on film as usual
Another hazy Nova Scotia morning...I could get used to these. We packed up the bikes and continued to wander aimlessly through the southern part of Nova Scotia before happening upon a place for breakfast. We ended up walking into a pretty nice bed 'n' breakfast type place, and they looked surprised when we asked for breakfast. The usual cook wasn't there, but they fired up the skillet and made us a pretty good, but not big, breakfast. During breakfast, we noticed something splashing in the bay, and upon further examination, we realized it was a seal out enjoying the morning, just like us.
We had started to realize that we were many days into the trip and that we had a long way to go to get home in four days. We weren't ready to boogie, but we decided to avoid the town of Halifax, despite everyone telling us to go there, and head for a different part of Nova Scotia, along the Bay of Fundy. We were doing well avoiding towns, finding the out of the way places, and it made sense to stick to it. Looking over a map, we plotted a route that would get us back to a four lane highway for a while, and we'd then exit and do some more exploring. That sounded good to everyone, so we saddled up, and wheelied away.
After an hour or so, we passed through Truro, N.S.and got off the highway to stop for gas. As I have mentioned, we were having some fun. Adam was ahead of Otter and I, and we were playing around, wheelying past one another, and so on and so forth. Well, ya see, Adam's an old dirt bike rider, and wheelying to him is second nature. He had seen us fooling around behind him and decided to show us what a wheelie was really like - you know, the general showing his captains how it's done. What he didn't see was the police officer coming around the bend, since his view was impeded by a truck. Otter and I were helpless, and there was no way to warn him of the impending doom. It was like a slow motion clip in a movie where you hear the victim yell "nooooo!!" in a deep, slow voice. Adam pulled a fantastic wheelie at the exact moment that the officer passed in the opposite direction. Before the cherries could even come on, Adam was pulling over to the side of the road - what else are you gonna do. Otter and I pulled over and just looked at each other, speechless, and trying not to laugh. Adam tells the story better, but he said the cop looked at his license, tried not to laugh, and asked him what he though he was doing. "Just having some fun," Adam replied to him, as the cop shook his head, handed him his license and sent us back on our way. When we got to the gas station, Otter and I couldn't hold it in any longer, and we busted out laughing. Adam could do nothing but shake his head and try not to laugh. Needless to say, the wheelie frequency diminished drastically after that point.
We headed west on route 2 out of Great Village towards Five Islands Provincial Park. We weren't sure what was there, as usual, so we stopped to have a look. We happened upon the place on earth that has the biggest change between high and low tide - about 35 feet, err 12 meters of difference between low and high tide. We had caught it during low tide and were able to walk out onto the ocean floor. During low tide, you can walk from island to island, but get your timing wrong, and you're stranded there unless you have a boat to get back.
Further down the road, we stopped at a roadside grocery store for a quick lunch, and then found a little part of the shoreline at which to enjoy the quiet for a while. A lone beached fishing boat laid out in the bay, the low tide stranding it for the time being. After lunch, I took a walk out onto the ocean floor. The wind off the ocean felt great, and I was really enjoying this place, but why are my feet getting wet. I took a couple of steps backwards, but again, my feet were getting wet. I realized that the tide was starting to come in, and it does come in as quickly as one of the informational signs had stated. It was following me at about a foot per second - not a foot in depth, but across the ocean floor. We were all out on the ocean floor, but luckily none of us got stranded like a few unfortunate souls do each year. They go out clamming, lose track of the tide, and a couple of people end up dying every year. We safely made it back to shore and watched the boat go from being stranded to floating in the ocean. Pretty neat.
We continued around the peninsula on PR209, enjoying the absolute desolation of this area of Nova Scotia. There wasn't a bit of traffic to be found on these tree lined roads, and the views of the water were fantastic. I stopped to take a picture of a sign that exemplified this area of Nova Scotia and lost Adam and Otter up the road. I enjoyed the ending kilometers of Nova Scotia by myself for a while before catching back up with them and heading to the welcome center that we visited a few days prior. We thought ahead to wait until we left Nova Scotia to get gifts for the girls.
It was sad having to head for the border and back into New Brunswick. We had enjoyed a great couple days of riding here. The Cabot Trail was beautiful but a little touristy, and the other areas of Nova Scotia that we explored were just what we were looking for. With fresh memories in our head, we headed towards the border, and to make up for my being the first one to Nova Scotia, Otter jammed on his brakes at the last minute so that he could be the last. Touché pussy cat.
We headed up to Moncton, N.B. where we grabbed a hotel room for the night, and as a bonus, there was a restaurant and bar attached to the hotel. We stood out next to the bikes for quite a while tonight, drinking talking, making fun of Adam for getting pulled over, and remembering the last few days. I don't think any of us could have asked for anything more.
A morning view after breakfast, somewhere in Nova Scotia
A shot of the seal that we watched playing in the bay during breakfast
A little harbor town
Adam at Five Islands Park - where the tide rises and falls over 30 feet
A view of the low tide at Five Islands Park
Another view of low tide at Five Islands
A lunch stop along the shoreline
The Sprint at the lunch stop
Adam and Otter at the lunch stop
Who then went to play in the tide....until it started to come in
Wasn't I out next to that boat a few minutes ago...
...and now it's floating.... - we just happened to be there to watch the tide come in
A few twisties in Nova Scotia - call them more like slight bends in the road
The road and the view across the Bay of Fundy to New Brunswick
I wonder who lives here...
Tim Hortons has really good coffee...and doughnuts. I was happy to find one of his stores across the street from the hotel this morning. I had begun to realize that the trip was coming to an end and that Nova Scotia was now behind us, however, I was really looking forward to the ride today. There was a certain spot, Cape Enrage, that I visited years ago that was directly in our line of fire today. We headed south along 114 this morning and grabbed a good breakfast somewhere around Hillsborough.
Continuing along the Bay of Fundy, before I knew it, I spotted the turnoff for Cape Enrage. After a short jaunt down a side road, we rode up the incline and arrived at the lightstation. I had been talking about this place for a day or so, and I was hoping that my memory of it wasn't blown out of proportion, since I pretty much dragged Otter and Adam here. The first view out into the bay reassured me that my memory this place was accurate, and I was thrilled to be here again, creating another lasting memory. The small lightstation is perched atop a bluff overlooking the blue water of the bay, and only the road on which you traveled reminds you that civilization exists. The place is simply breathtaking. The breeze was blowing in off the bay, and I just stood there for a while, completely speechless. I had vivid memories of being here before, and the whole trip came together at once for me standing at that spot. I climbed the small hill behind me, found the rock on which I sat years ago, and just let it all sink in. I wasn't in a hurry to get anywhere, and for a while, I wasn't sure if I'd ever leave.
After a long while, Adam and Otter headed down to the beach that the lightstation overlooks, leaving me there alone for a few minutes. I joined them down on the beach, and I was very glad to see that both of them were really enjoying this place, so much in fact, that I could also tell that the finality of the trip had snuck into their heads, and nobody was going to make the first move back towards the bikes. We had a long ride home ahead of us, and we took a few extra minutes this morning to enjoy the beach, the sound of the waves, the smell of the ocean air, and the company of good friends. The stop at Cape Enrage was a great exclamation point for the last couple days.
When it was time, we saddled up and headed back to the highway to begin our trek back across New Brunswick and back into the States. Adam went first to setup for pictures as we rode by, and I met up with Otter back at the main road. We waited a minute for Adam to arrive, and then coaxed him into one final wheelie to close this chapter. After he made sure there wasn't a cop behind him, he pulled a beauty and we continued west towards Fundy National Park. As we rode along the bay, I watched the cape disappear from view, and once again promised to someday return to this place.
The ride across New Brunswick was very relaxing. With everything that we had seen fresh in our minds, I found myself reliving it all, over and over again. Before I knew it, we were crossing back in to the US and heading towards Bangor, Maine. We stopped at a little roadside grocery for a sandwich (make that a huge sandwich), and we started talking about the clouds. There was an endless row of puffy white clouds that disappeared into the horizon and made for a great view.
We jumped on the Interstate around Bangor, and were glad that we were heading south. The northbound traffic was backed up for miles - looks like another lovely weekend in New England. Not wanting to chance traffic through Portsmouth or down near Boston, we exited the Interstate and headed towards Dover, New Hamshaah, hoping to find a motel for the night. We passed quite a few motels, and all of them looked empty, and we figured we wouldn't have a problem. I pulled into what looked like a deserted motel only to find out that all the rooms were taken. The next one, and the next one, and the next one all produced the same story. We were ready to give up and find a park or campground when we happened upon a motel with a vacancy sign. We proceeded to grab one of their last rooms, ordered up some pizza, and I made a beer run. I was happy to do it.
Cape Enrage Lightstation
Otter and the bikes enjoying the view
Another shot of the lightstation at Cape Enrage
Looking out into the Bay of Fundy from Cape Enrage
Cape Enrage Lightstation - OK, so I like this place....deal with it...
Another view of the shoreline from Cape Enrage - almost done....
The Sprint at Cape Enrage - in the same spot where the Black Whale sat a few years ago...
A view of the beach just to the west of Cape Enrage - Where's Waldo???
The three noble steeds...
Heading back across New Brunswick - the clouds went on like that all day
We had a long day ahead of us today, as we were easily over 1000 miles from home. We weren't planning to make it in a day, but if we made good time, Otter and I were going to convince Adam to go for it. We'd just see how the day went. After a pretty early start, it was evident that we were in New England, and it was a Saturday. Everybody and their grandmother was out today, and we had no choice but to sit behind endless parades of cars and go with the flow (slow) of traffic. It was wicked horrible.
Eventually, we plotted the fastest course to the Interstate (you don't often see me write that), hoping that we could put some miles behind us. The Interstate was moving pretty well, and the trucker talk was in full force today. There were guys threatening each other, telling jokes, and we were talking to a Wal-Mart trucker for a while who was inquiring about our travels. Crossing into New York, we saw the sign that read "Buffalo - 350 miles" - holy crap. This is a big state, and we spent the majority of it crossing New York. We were doing our best to make good time, but not kill ourselves, and thankfully, the heat wasn't outrageous. It was hot, but it wasn't as painful as the way out.
There was a lot of CB chatter today, including a husband and wife, driving two vehicles and using CBs to communicate. They were jabbering away, and he got out of the left lane to let us by. "Hey, you got a couple of fast movers coming up on you. You better get over," the husband said. "Ah, they can wait for me," she replied, not knowing we were listening. "Yeah, sure. No problem," I said honestly. "We're not in a big hurry anyway." There was nothing but dead silence on the radio at that point, up until Otter and I began racing to the toll booth, as the winner would get to pay the toll. I had the power but Otter said "but I don't care if I throw my bike down the road. I'll beat you there." He was joking, but that started a whole conversation with the couple and the truckers around us.
Contrary to New York, Pennsylvania came and went in about 40 minutes. We hit the Ohio border, and after Otter's and my typical "let's mess with Adam and pretend that we're not going to stop for gas yet" antics, we pulled into a gas station to fill the bikes and to throw a few groceries down our throats. It was getting near dusk, and not thinking clearly, we decided to head to Cleveland for the night and find a hotel. We had a basic repeat of the night before, and despite the empty parking lots, there wasn't a room to be found. Adam was having no part of the "let's make it home tonight" talk, which was fine with me. I was starting to get a little "lupe" on the bike myself and was thinking that a little sleep would do me a whole lot of good.
We stopped at a rest stop along the Interstate and went inside to check on hotels. There was a cool hotel reservation area which showed us the hotels up the road and whether they had vacancies. It ended up that there was a Ramada about 25 miles up the road, so we called ahead for a room and set out for the last 25 miles. I think Otter blew a turn somewhere around Toledo, but I don't remember for sure - I was too tired to give a rats ass anyway. As we pulled into the hotel, I noticed a bar right next door, but figured everyone was too tired to drink tonight. I was dead wrong, and after a failed attempt to get out of drinking, I found myself putting my shoes on to go indulge in a few beers. They actually went down pretty well, but after 2 beers, we were all falling asleep, so we headed back to the room for the night.
We only had about 280 miles to do today, so we didn't get a really early start this morning. We gassed up and started that last leg of the trip home. After crossing into Indiana and failing to find anything to eat, we stopped at the rest stop McDonalds, and then realized that we had re-gained an hour, so it was still breakfast time. Good deal.
Indiana is Indiana, and there's not a whole lot to see going across I-80. We started to hit the Chicago traffic around Gary, but it was still early in the day, so it was moving pretty well. The trek up I-294 to I-290, yadda yadda yadda, man, I could do that in my sleep. We stopped at the Hinsdale oasis to escape the heat that had found us again, and to say our so-longs for the trip. We had, once again, enjoyed a great week of riding together, and we simply left it as, "see ya later." There wasn't much more to be said.
As I write this some 7 months after returning from this incredible journey, I'm reminded of why I didn't get to the report in the first place. The schedules and timeframes of everyday life seem to be tightening around me, despite my best efforts to the contrary. I know this is no different than anyone else, however I'm not convinced that there is no alternative. I hope I'm not just fooling myself, and I know that I don't have to do anything drastic to improve upon this. I just need to make sure that I remember what's important and what is not.
The trip was great, but before and after sucked, to the point where the trip's therapeutic properties did not last for a couple days after returning home, unlike how it usually does, sometimes lasting for weeks. I was rushing to get out of work and get the loose ends tied up right up until the last minute. When I returned, I found myself thrown back into the deep end of the pool, with hardly a minute to myself in which to reflect. I need to figure out a way to better transition into and out of these trips, and I'm hoping that last summer was just overly busy. I let the unimportant things in like infringe upon those that are necessary to make me happy.
When I do find a minute to reflect upon this trip, my mind immediately drifts back to the hue of the deep blue water near Canso, Nova Scotia, and for a minute, I'm back there - cresting the hill, seeing the blue water appear as the backdrop for the road and trees, feeling my unshaven face scratch against the side of the helmet as my smile appears, and hearing and feeling that sigh of tranquility. There's no better feeling than that, and looking back on this trip, I am extremely thankful and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity not only to be there, but to share the experience with Otter and Adam.
The a.k.a. of this trip is "How Adam got his groove back" and I feel the need to explain this. Throughout the trip, Adam's riding improved to the point where he stated that he felt like he was back to his riding style and comfort level from years ago. Following him through corners, this fact was obvious. One particular memory that I have is following Otter and Adam on the way home, taking a freeway on ramp. We're not the type to go ballistic on on ramps, but today, Otter took and good pace and Adam followed close behind. I looked ahead and saw Adam's footpeg an inch from the pavement and, in a full lean, keyed onto the CB radio to tell Otter. Otter had his squelch turned all the way up and only caught fragmented bits of my screaming "Holy (bleep)!! Adam's peg is so close to the ground!! You gotta see this." Otter managed to hold the line, despite my distraction, and I enjoyed the view of two VFRs leaned over through the turn. The thing is, we were all riding a very good pace, and having a whole lot of fun, and most importantly, we all made it home safely. That's a good groove in and of itself.
I wrote a long time ago in one of my conclusions that a trip, great as it can be, cannot be the foundation on which your happiness is based. While I know that I am nowhere near letting things get to that point, I felt like I let things slip back a little bit this year. Things were so goddamned busy in life that, by default, any time spent on the road attempted to overcompensate for this with an increased sense of escape. Yet I know that there is nothing from which I need to escape. This trip was incredible and during the trip, things were unbelievable. Upon returning home, as I mentioned, it was business as usual. As great as this trip was, it didn't have the impact on me that it could have, simply because I didn't let it.
I remember now, and will not forget again, that I need more balance, as one cannot compensate for the other. I think I can use these trip reports as an indication. Upon returning from a trip, if I don't have the report written and complete within a week, that's a pretty good sign that other things have taken over and I need to do some re-evaluation. When I don't complete three trip reports in a row, that's a sign of a serious problem, and probably a sign that things have gone too far for an easy fix - which I found out when I burned out in early September.
I will make a point to read this trip report conclusion occasionally over the next year as a reminder that some things are more important than work and to ensure that I am doing all that I can to have good balance in my life. I not only owe that to myself, but to the others that I share my life with. I'm a much happier person when I don't write trip reports 6 months after the trip ends.