Continuing the idiocy...
Wow, where do I begin. How about at the end? This was a spectacular trip for all the right reasons. There are so many pieces to this trip and so many things that I want to write down, share, and remember for myself. At the end of it, this was 2 ½ weeks well spent on the KLR with ups and downs, rain and sun, dirt and pavement, solitude and companionship – all the things that make a trip memorable. It is, after all, the “little things” that only I know about that cement the sights, sounds, and miles of the trip together. And there were plenty of little things.
The only difference from this trip vs. others that I have taken is that I actually had three reservations for this trip – not hotel reservations, but ferry. So while I did spread the reservations apart as much as possible, so that I wouldn’t feel rushed trying to make one of these connections, I did in fact have some target dates and times that I had to shoot for. There was no way I could miss the ferry in
I said that I had three reservations, but that’s not entirely true. For some reason, and not just this year, I had reservations about taking this trip in general. At first, I didn’t want to take it by myself. I saw and still see Labrador and
Besides that reservation in going, I had other things holding me back. It sounds stupid when you compare these things to taking a road trip, but they were there nonetheless. I was leaving for almost three weeks in June – prime summer months. As a general rule, I’ve been enjoying traveling in April, May, September and October more than the three summer months. In addition to the cooler temperatures, and less traffic, the summer months tend to get crazy busy. Taking three weeks away from that was sure to produce a backlog of crap to take care of – house crap, bike maintenance, etc. It’s always difficult coming home from a trip and tackling the backlog of responsibilities that you’ve left behind, and I was a little concerned that the rest of the summer would suffer from my three week hiatus.
I honestly wasn’t sure how long it would take me to put these reservations out of my head.
Jumping off point: I don't care to listen to your blather, Tad...just show me the pictures!!
Jumping off point: I don't care to listen to your blather, Tad...just show me the pictures!!
The night before the trip, after making it out of work, I really didn’t feel like packing. I needed to just relax, but having given myself plenty of time to make it to
Clear day for a ride through
One of the things I had never done before is camp along
(Sunset 1) (Sunset 2) (Sunset 3) (My Campsite)
It rained. Then it rained some more. OK, seriously, I broke camp at
I didn’t mind at all having to turn right and leave Trans Canada 17 behind, after all, I was just up here two weeks ago for ATL. I headed across towards
(Dirt Road) (Lake) (Dirt Road) (Dirt Road)
Nearing the end of the road, I did start thinking about Adam, and not just how I was so much faster than him on the dirt the last time through here (only because I was on knobbies and he was on street tires…and that’s the ONLY reason, because otherwise I’d have caught up to him eventually). I knew he had been dying to get on the road and I wished that this would have worked out. We had originally planned to leave about three weeks earlier, which would have coincided with ATL and made for a great send off. I was hoping that I could ride the first day of ATL, and then announce that I was leaving from there for Newfoundland, but they changed the ferry schedule this year and the first Goose Bay sailing wasn’t until June 9th, so that didn’t work out – and then Adam couldn’t do the trip later, so it fell apart, and here I was, riding a road that we had ridden together a few years ago. I can understand completely that things aren’t always possible, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like it..
At the end of the road, next to the steel bridge in the gravel parking area, I wrote Adam’s name into the gravel before I left. I also spent a long time down by the water skipping stones, and in fact, I broke my stone skipping record. I counted 15 but that’s unofficial of course.
I’m not sure why I skip stones, other than to do it, but standing there I was flooded by memories like I often am. For whatever reason, not sure if it was because of thoughts of Otter and Adam over the last two days, I thought of the Arctic Ocean…skipping stones on the
Standing there on the lakeshore, it hit me that the KLR was about to become a three ocean bike. I had it to the Arctic (and the Pacific in Alaska, but I don’t count the latter since the Pacific and California have such a close tie in to one another…Alaska is an Arctic ocean state in my mind), out to northern California two years ago, and now I’m heading to Newfoundland. That’s a lot of territory to cover on a little KLR, and I caught myself smiling big time as that thought went through my head. I don’t do this stuff to show off, or brag – I do it for the memories for myself first and foremost. But for some reason, I found this a really interesting realization to have, and I was surprised that I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I haven’t been to all 50 states (yet), nor to all of the Canadian provinces (yet), but this bike and I have been to all three oceans. It was never a goal, nor something I purposely set out to do – it just happened. If that’s not a metaphor for riding the road just to find out what’s on the other side of the horizon, I don’t know what is. My last thought, as written in my journal that day, was “oh great, another bike that I can’t sell.”
(Lake at the end of the road) (Bridge at the end of the road)
I said good bye to the dirt, hello to the pavement, and then welcomed in the rain. Holy begeesus. It started raining around
(Boulder Lake in Northern Ontario)
As I rode along towards the
So while that is absolutely what I thought – I mean, who wouldn’t in that same situation – I wasn’t miserable. Sure, I was cold, tired, I kinda wanted the town of Rouyn-Noranda to arrive quicker than the kilometer markers were telling me, but it was right. You don’t do this because it’s comfortable, or easy, or because the average person would look at it and say “Yep, that makes sense to me.” No, there’s enough people constantly asking you if you’re cold, or hot, or wet, or does your butt hurt that you can’t help but be reminded that what you are doing is different, and in the case of these couple days, difficult. There was a certain amount of motivation, drive, and determination that kept me going, but the thought of stopping never entered my head once. With the rain, and the lack of stops to take pictures, these days were quite Ottery. I just rode and rode and rode, and did some good miles. With the right mindset, and for me, with a million memories thrashing around in my head, days like these can be comfortable, easy, and depending on the company you keep, the average person might just think that your actions “make sense” to them. Having said that, I froze my ass off for three days…but like I said, I’m an idiot.
The next day, my boots were completely soaked through after 15 minutes. I realized that I had ridden with these boots in the rain before, but not a hard downpour. On the KLR, I just wear workboots rather than my good Sidis – workboots are better for camping and hiking anyway. So I ran across a Wal Mart in Val-D’or and thought, “Sweet. Dry boots.” I bought a new pair, sprayed them down, and my feet stayed dry…for at least an hour. But that was a good hour.
I can’t gloss over the forests and desolation of this area. It continued to rain and the forest continued as far as I could see for three more days - big forests, tall tall timber, mostly pine although I don’t know enough about it to tell you if they were white, red, yellow, or otherwise. Route 113 up to Chibougamau (which is actually easy to pronounce – just sound it out) was way in the middle of nowhere.
Your mind wanders to some interesting places on days like this where it’s rain, rain, and more rain. One of the thoughts was that this was Penny’s Dad messing with me, as he still likes to do. I figured he would like this place – it’s quiet, clean, peaceful, just like the farm in
Besides the people who continually asked me over this couple day stretch questions like “What are you doing” and “Today isn’t a good day to take a ride” I did meet some nice people. Sure, the cook at the restaurant in Chibougamau looked at me funny, as did the waitress at the café in Desmaraisville, but they were both cordial to me. I met a guy at Breakfast in Val-D’or who was local, rode a Harley, and could completely understand how I was out there today. He noticed my heated vest cord, and mentioned also to me that he was looking to get a Buell Ulysses as his next bike, and asked me how different the Ulysses was from my KLR. We had a good conversation between us, and I only speak about 20 words of French.
Finally, after riding through
(KLR) (Road towards Tadoussac) (KLR) (Covered Bridge)
What this mind shutdown leads to, for me especially when I travel solo, is the absolute inability to make a decision. It happened the other night in Chibougamau where I rode back and forth between two hotels – twice – because I couldn’t decide which one to stay at. I really didn’t care, but I couldn’t form any logical decision on why one would be better than the other, so I finally forced myself off the bike and just chose whichever one I was currently at. The same thing happened once I got to the
(St. Lawrence River) (Barge) (Shoreline)
Here’s a classic example of brainless Tad, who is unable to make a decision. This isn’t the first time it has happened – I wrote about it in my
An hour or so later, rain still pouring down and me sleeping with earplugs in, I heard a loud thud. I knew what it was immediately, but I didn’t want to admit it. I thought, ehh, it can wait until morning. The rain was pounding down on my tent, the rain fly now stuck to the tent in a couple places from the mass amount of water, and some nice drips were making an otherwise dry floor into
Back inside the tent, I realized that my shirt was soaked, but as the rain had picked back up, I realized there was no way I was going back to the KLR to get a dry shirt…so off with it and back to sleep. Luckily it was only about 42 that night, and the blue kazoo kept me plenty warm.
By morning, and throughout the night, the tent floor got wetter and wetter, and I ended up moving further and further away from the door and towards the still dry side, or dry couple feet, of the tent. I realized last night that I was stuck, and I had to just grin and bear it and make it through to the morning. It was still raining, although not as hard as I broke camp and continued on. All things considered, it was a heck of a memorable camping experience, another that I won’t soon forget. The bottlecap from my Bleu is still in my stich pocket.
Heading up the
Mental note for this morning: I need to learn how to say “over easy” in French. I had a good breakfast at a little café despite the over hard eggs. My bad, I don’t speak the language.
Back to yesterday for a moment, and this is directly out of my journal entry from breakfast.
The ride to Tadoussac was incredible. The road reminded me of too many places to list, but it got me thinking…I’ve seen so many places that so many memories are sparked in my head when the ride turns “really good.” Yesterday reminded me of
It rained more than it didn’t today. The beginning of the
(Quebec-Labrador Highway Sign) (KLR) (KLR) (Hotel)
The weather was better in the morning, and the sun did peek through from time to time. I headed out north, and immediately stopped for a picture at the Manic 5 dam, a Froonch Canadian Beavis voice echoing through my head. “Oui! J’ai une question??” The road turned to dirt and the ride got really good. There was this huge lake off to my left, and why is my temperature gauge spiked? What the hell, this bike never overheats. I pulled over and noticed (after I scraped away the mud) that my coolant overflow tank was empty. That’s odd, it must have spilled out when the bike tipped over two nights ago. I filled it with some water that I had, and continued on. 10 minutes later, the bike overheated again. This time I took everything apart to check for pinched hoses, and any signs of leakage. I removed the radiator cap to find a dry radiator…that’s weird, I wouldn’t think that all the coolant would have spilled out since it was only on it’s side for a few minutes before I righted it. I do have to admit, it’s an interesting feeling being broken down roadside along the Quebec-Labrador highway, literally in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t frightening, as every passing car slowed to see if you were OK. It was more a feeling of wonder. I wonder what’s wrong with the bike, I wonder if it’s going to be fixable, and I wonder if the trip is going to continue. I filled it with the rest of my water, and made it to Relais Gabriel for breakfast about 20 minutes later with out incident.
(KLR w/French Roadsign) (KLR) (KLR) (Crater) (Broken Down) (KLR w/Crater) (Relais Gabriel)
Upon arriving, an older gentleman started talking to me, and then joined me for breakfast. He had been there for a couple days for work, and was obviously bored out of his mind. He and I swapped stories over breakfast, and talked about the many places that we had both visited. The owner joined us for a few minutes and explained that the huge lake over there was actually a meteor impact. He told me a couple interesting facts about it – one, that the fireball from the impact devastated the landscape all the way down to New Jersey, and that the meteor had hit at such a direct angle that there were rivers flowing from the lake every 18 degrees on center. I haven’t been out to Google maps to check it out for myself, but I’ll take him for his word. Before I left, I filled my waterbottles with tap water in case I ran into trouble up the road.
The road reminded me of the
(Road) (Road) (KLR) (Pavement) (Lake)
Near an area where the road traced the railroad grade, and kept crossing back and forth over the tracks, I noticed some painted rocks, including one of Mickey Mouse. That reminded me of the car dealer sign from yesterday. Jean Dumas was his name, and I had a good laugh over that and decided to adopt that as my Froonch Canadian nickname. I guess Mickey found that amusing as well.
(Twisty) (Mickey) (Arret!)
Before the Labrador border, I made a quick sidetrip to
(Road) (Tires) (Fremont) (Fremont)
I crossed the border into
(Border) (Border) (Sign)
One of the locals had told me about a campground just a few miles out of town, so I headed that way. Upon arriving, I found a line of RVs and thought, “Nope, not here.” Unfortunately, I had no idea what was up the road, but not even Adam dare suggest that I stop and camp there. It was 150 miles to Churchill, and I figured worst case, I could stay there. About an hour into the ride, I passed a little double-track into the woods, and figured this was the perfect place to just camp roadside. Seeing as I had passed that double-track, I decided that I’d turn off the road at the next one, wherever that might be and there was my fate campground. The next one appeared at 99.3 miles, near a lake, and I rode up a little incline to get to a point where I was about ½ mile off the road. This is the type of camping that I love, and that which I know makes both my wife and my mom nervous, let alone my mother-in-law. I was not the first to camp there, as I found some firewood and a small table, just perfect for my camping stove - and I thought I’d be eating on the ground tonight. I made myself some hot chocolate, and walked down to the lake to enjoy the evening. When I stopped walking, I noticed it: Pure and complete silence. I heard an occasional bird chirping, some very gentle waves hitting the shoreline, but mostly just the wind – a steady breeze, and nothing else. The feeling of wonder that I felt broken down roadside doesn’t even come close to the feeling of wonder camping roadside in
(Road) (Road) (Road)
It’s worth mentioning that the water bottle that I had filled up in Relais Gabriel had cracked inside my tail bag and spilled all over my sleeping bag. What, you’ve never seen an idiot before?
That had to be a really big owl that flew over my tent last night. I could hear the air being pushed by his wingspan as I read. After a great night of camping, I headed out for the last part of the Trans Labrador highway. This ride is really nice, but is nowhere near what it must have been in year’s past. Just like when Otter, Adam, and I rode the Alcan a few years ago and could see the old road at times, so too could I see the old road here. I had read stories of difficult terrain, steep inclines, etc. I kinda wish I could have ridden that road before they straightened it out, but on the other hand, when I get on technical dirt roads like that, I spend too much time concentrating on the road. The way the Trans-Labrador is today, I could cruise along at 60 and still focus 75% of my sight on the terrain, so I guess I don’t mind.
(River) (Churchill River) (Closeup) (Bridge) (KLR)
I found “the hotel” in Churchill and had a great breakfast, bumping into a couple that I had met at Relais Gabriel yesterday. While the town of
(Breakfast) (Power Station Sign)
(Road) (Road) (River) (Road) (KLR) (Happy Valley)
I arrived at the ferry terminal around 3:00 for the 5:00 sailing, and it went downhill from there. Nah, just kidding. I met up with four other motorcyclists in the parking lot, a married couple from
(Skip, Ike, Mike, and Mary Ann) (Goose Bay) (Rainbow)
We learned really quick that you have to look out for Ike. A retired Sgt. Major from the special services in the army, who is set to be laid to rest in
There’s a connection to be made somehow between running into these four and the fact that I didn’t get the chance to share part of this trip with Adam or Otter. But I don’t think I’ll go there right now. Let’s just say that had I met up with them for the night, shared a few stories and some camaraderie, things would have been great. What was yet to come was unimaginable.
How to have a great day of riding, despite a major bike breakdown:
I’ve seen a lot of sunrises in my travels, and talk about another set of memories that tends to show itself on many occasions. I can’t say that the “best” sunset I ever saw was in one place or another. I’m not sure that’s possible. How can you measure one point in time against another? Sure, some memories are more vivid than others, some sunrises are more visually beautiful than others, but sometimes just standing there and accepting that feeling that you have in the front of your mind for what it is at that moment and that moment alone - that’s what counts. So there I was, somewhere on the
After watching the sunrise from the top deck of the boat, we pulled into port in Cartwright,
(Cartwright) (Cartwright) (Dock) (KLR) (Ike) (Mary Ann) (Cartwright)
(Cartwright) (Cartwright) (Dock) (KLR) (Ike) (Mary Ann) (Cartwright)
Now heading south on the Labrador Coastal highway, well, let’s just say that this is a stretch of road that everyone should ride once. This was amazing, and the gravel road simply went from fishing village to fishing village. Why? Did someone build this road so that I could ride my KLR on it, because that’s what it felt like. The entire day, I don’t think I saw 15 oncoming cars. What other reason would there be for this road to be here?
About 20 minutes outside of town, I passed Ike and Mary Ann, and I remembered Ike showing us pictures of their adventures last night. He had a bunch of laminated pictures in his wallet, but few of the two of them together because “we’re usually out in the middle of nowhere and there’s nobody else there to take a picture.” So, I pulled over and got a couple shots of them passing by so that I could send him another for his wallet. An hour or so later, I did the same with Skip and Mike, and we ended up taking the same spur road out to Pinset Arm, the first of many stops today. Again, surreal little village, and it’s amazing that it can survive. There couldn’t be more than 20 houses, a dock, and piles and piles of firewood. I made it to the end of town and into the town dump, but I decided to keep going a bit, and I’m glad I did. It was here that I spotted my first iceberg, which had run aground just near the mouth of the bay. Heck of a nice view from the town dump, and I walked across the mossy, spongy ground to get down to the sea…my first handful of Atlantic seawater to splash onto my face. The KLR and I had made it – all three oceans.
(Ike and Mary Ann) (Ike and Mary Ann) (KLR) (KLR) (Road) (Sign) (new Road) (Mike) (Skip)
(Charlottetown) (Charlottetown) (Pinset Arm) (Pinset Arm) (Pinset Arm) (Iceberg) (KLR)
On the way out of town, I saw Skip, and I knew he was really excited about seeing bergs. I asked if he had seen the berg, and he hadn’t…it’s at the end of the dump…who else but an idiot would go there? So I lead him back there to see it, and he immediately grabbed the camera and found the same beauty that I had enjoyed just a few minutes earlier.
(Skip at Pinset Arm)
I took off again, heading for the main highway (yes, even though it’s a gravel road, it’s still called a highway). I hit a couple little dirt double-tracks on my way back, but mostly just cruised along. Back at the highway, and waiting for Skip and Mike, my bike overheated again. I had water with me, filled it up, still wondering what was wrong. I figured it would be good for a couple more days. It wasn’t. Any time that I would slow down, go off road, or let the bike idle, it would overheat. Skip suggested that it might be the thermostat not opening early enough, and that sounded like a good diagnosis. Skip and Mike also insisted on not leaving me alone, even though I kept telling them it was OK, and I would meet them in Blanc Sablon tonight. They were having none of it, and I appreciate them hanging with me that day to ensure I didn’t get stranded…it’s not like it’s desolate out here or anything. Heck, I’m not sure I saw 15 cars on the highway all day.
(Road out of Pinset Arm) (River) (Mike) (Skip) (Mary's Harbor) (Mary's Harbor) (Road) (Road)
Carrying plenty of water, I continued on with either Skip and Mike somewhere behind me, or just up the road waiting for me to arrive. We took a couple side trips to see different fishing villages, and were generally not in a hurry since the next ferry wasn’t until 8:00AM the next morning, and we only had 150 miles to the hotel today, about 250 total for the day. It felt very nice not to be in a hurry, and when we got to
(KLR) (Skip and Mike) (The Road) (Mike) (Skip and Mike) (Dust)
(Iceberg in Red Bay) (Red Bay) (Red Bay Harbor) (Rusted out Boat) (Red Bay) (Buell 1) (Buell 2)
So I need to say something that probably doesn’t need to be said, and certainly doesn’t need to be explained to anyone that has ever traveled on two wheels. The motorcycling community is incredible. I’m not talking about poker runs, ride for kids, rallys – those have their place and do a lot of good for a lot of people and I don't wish to take anything away from them or from the people that enjoy them. What I'm talking about though are Motorcyclists. Motorcyclists are a different breed. Despite the fact that I bought them a few beers last night, and they returned the favor to me, here were two guys that I had never met before in my life going out of their way and insisting on helping me. It was as if I was about to get into a bar fight and I knew that my friends have “got my back.” They didn’t want anything in return, this was just something they wanted to do, and of course I would have done the same for anyone else…but that’s not what you think about when you’re the one broken down on the side of the road. I didn’t want to hold them up and felt guilty about altering their day, but they would have none of it. For those of you that don’t ride, I can’t explain it any better than that. Karma works.
We talked to the attendant at the gas station in
So we wheel the KLR into the shop, and the mechanic is amazed to see that I actually know how to take apart the bike – I yank the tank off in less than 5 minute’s time. He locates the thermostat and we realize that it can’t be removed…but we can disable it. “Go” I tell him, and a couple rips of the hacksaw and the plunger is gone. Wide open thermostat. He puts everything together, and I’m amazed to watch him work. Nothing is organized, tools all over, yet he knows where everything is at. I’m wondering if he is going to remember to tighten that hose clamp that he loosened, and before I even think of mentioning it, he double-checks his work tightens it, and fills the radiator with new coolant. This guy’s good. It’s only appropriate that his name is Merlin.
“Whoops, I must have wasted some,” he said, as he noticed a couple drips of coolant on the floor. Concerned now, he takes a good hard look at the radiator, but can’t find anything. Pressure cap goes on, couple of pumps pressure, and bing! A solid round stream of coolant squirts out of the front of the radiator. We’ve got a hole.
I forgot to mention that in the bay there are two icebergs sitting there in plain view, and the whole time I’m changing focus between the KLR and these two magnificent bergs floating in the bay. When Merlin found the hole, I was wondering how long I was going to have to camp out here. He thought we could get it fixed…but “the welder” is at home having dinner. They called him and he said he’d meet Merlin there in an hour – I finally convinced Skip and Mike to leave me there at this point. I was in good hands, and they had done their duty. They reluctantly left, Merlin headed to dinner, and I figured that I’d hang my feet off that cliff right over there and look at the icebergs for an hour – I would have been completely content doing just that. Victor, the other shop mechanic, had another idea, and asked me to come over to his house for tea, which I politely declined. He stopped in his tracks and looked at me like I was an alien being. “No, why don’t you come over and have tea with my wife and me,” he said, not taking no for an answer. “This is what we do up here in
His house was right across the street, and as we walked in he yelled to his wife “Hey honey, I brought an American home with me.” Seems he does this all the time his wife Doreen told me. Tea is actually translated into tea and dinner, and we had a nice meal of fried chicken, homemade poutine, and tea. They showed be pictures of the snow, we told stories of everything from travel to government, and I felt very much at home. I sparked a really interesting discussion when I told them they had a 2 million dollar view out of their front window – the town slopes down towards the water, and their view was of the whole town, the bay, and those two icebergs still floating in the water. There was definitely some good karma thing going on here, something that every day I believe in more and more.
After a while, we saw some activity over at the shop, so I thanked them and headed back over. Tyrone, the young saleskid, told me that they couldn’t fix the radiator – the metal was too thin to weld, but he had just run down to the next town (about 20 miles away) to get a JB Weld type agent and Merlin was going to fix the radiator with that. “Want a tour of the town,” he asked me, and I obliged. We got in the truck and he gave me the $.50 tour, explaining all sorts of history, ancient and recent. I loved how he told the story of Paul McCartney being there last year to protest the baby seal hunting, explained to me as a necessary step to control the population since there are few natural predators and overpopulation means a lack of cod in the waters…the way he said “They won’t be back next year” really emphasized how much pride the people here have in their community. This town was about survival, and very much like the way Skip, Mike, and I are part of the motorcycling community and they would be damned if one of theirs was going to get stranded, the community here operates in much the same way. Whether it’s gathering firewood, helping someone on the side of the road, or just being a good and decent person, this town does it right in my book. It’s befitting that I should break down in a place like this, in fact, there really was nowhere else that I wanted to be at that moment. I really appreciated what the town had to offer as a humanitarian.
Tyrone and I returned to the shop after he showed me the Point Amour lighthouse, just south of town and told me some really interesting stories of the shipwrecks that had occurred at that point over the last 100 years. Merlin was just pressure testing the radiator, and it held 20 PSI, which was plenty. He started putting everything back together, picking up nuts and bolts from exactly the same spot that he had put them earlier – like I said, he’s good. I put the finishing touches on her with the tank and bags and all the crap I carry, and I was all set to go. I tried to explain to them what a positive experience this had been for me, and I thanked them all as much as I could before I left. Merlin put it simply “I hope someday someone goes out of their way to help me when I need it.” He didn’t have to say anything more than that. Karma is a good thing, so long as you’re a good person. Buddah says that a little differently, but the overall message is similar.
(The guys in L'anse au Loop)
It had gotten quite late and quite dark by now, and I was glad that Skip and Mike offered up floor space in their hotel room. I arrived at the hotel a while later and found their bikes parked across the street at a cabin – which they had gotten for the night instead of a room and ended up saving $15. They still wouldn’t let me chip in for the stay.
I wrote a couple pages in my journal this night as I had so many thoughts that I needed to get down on paper, and ended it this way:
You can’t make up stuff like this. You can’t plan it. It can’t be repeated. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t change a single event if I could. I don’t know what else to say. Today was incredible for all the right reasons. I feel like a human being, part of a good and decent society. Life is good.
The Highway between Cartwright and
I had been giving Mike a hard time about his BMW, specifically how clean it was. He kept looking at the KLR and all the stickers on it, and I was razzing him that he needed to do the same to his BMW, but he’d have none of it. He and Skip were both collecting stickers, and it sounded like Skip was going to put them on his panniers. At the harbor master’s office, we checked into the ferry and I noticed a small gift shop where is just so happened they had a
“The sea was angry that day my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.” Overcast skies, a steady wind, and rough seas abounded as we crossed the strait to the
Skip and Mike were meeting another friend of theirs on the island, and I figured this to be the best place for us to part ways. I met them on the ferry two nights ago, we parted ways on the ferry this morning. They made me promise that if I ended up anywhere near New
Right out of the box, the ride north was tremendous and it didn’t let down all day, or for the next 4 days for that matter. I talked about
So besides the pavement, there are definitely more people on the island, and in many places, less distance between fishing villages. I first headed north along the coast making my way towards L’anse aux Meadows, which I had seen on a map and was told to go see by many people, but I really didn’t know much about what it was. There’s a particular view on the ATL trip as you’re approaching Glen Haven, where you crest a hill, see the blue water ahead of you with tree blanketed peninsulas and more islands than you can count (not really, I think there are 4), and it’s one of those times that you either A. scream. B. sigh and smile. or C. stop and stare. As the ride this morning was very much the same, I found myself doing a lot of each. Thousands of unnamed coves and bays lined the shore, even more islands, inlets, and peninsulas appeared around the bend, many with small fishing villages adding to, not detracting from, the landscape. That’s important – this ain’t no
I spent a few minutes walking around L’anse aux Meadows, which turns out to be the location of a Viking settlement about 1000 years ago. They had restored some long houses, made mostly of wood and sod, and of course had the people dressed in Viking dress and explaining how they lived. How they lived? They were cold. It’s June and the air is really chilly and bitter up here, and I can’t imagine how harsh the winters are. They came here from
(L'anse aux Meadows) (Berserker's Friends) (A Berserker Sighting) (A long house) (The shoreline)
(Quiet Harbor Village)
Pictures from lunch stop: (Fishing Boat) (French Bay...distance iceberg) (Fishing Boat) (North View) (Lighthouse) (Bikes)
Before I left, I bumped into Skip and Mike one last time at the lighthouse, having also seen them earlier at L’anse aux Meadows. I wished them a last farewell, and a “see you in
(Goose Cove) (Goose Cove) (Iceberg)
Further down the road, I took a gravel road out towards the towns of Croque and Grandois, the second of which being the place where I spotted the iceberg. Now this was a quiet fishing village – even more quiet than Cartwright yesterday, and that’s saying a lot. I made my way down to an old dock where a few wooden boats lie dormant, seemingly for 100 years, and I end up along the water, again and as usual. Despite the fact that I’m in a town, there isn’t a sound to be heard other than the wind and the waves. The iceberg lurks off in the distance. I think it’s moving but I can’t tell for sure. I took a ton of pictures at this spot, only a few making it to the web, and many being duplicates of a picture that I took just 5 minutes ago, but it looked “different” right now and I wanted another picture. My plan for the afternoon was a success in that I found the iceberg, but that was only the tip of it. The ride out here was incredible, the road being one of those that “Penny wouldn’t like” due to the lack of guardrails and close proximity to water or cliffs, and the view coming into town with the iceberg off in the distance goes beyond explanation. As I sat roadside, not wanting to leave this town yet, a local pulled up in a blue Ford pickup, and said what most Newfie’s say: “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” He was sure right, and was wondering what I was doing there. The only way I could say it was “You see that iceberg? You’re used to that, but not me – that’s the most spectacular thing I’ve seen in a long time.” He simply replied “You should have been here two weeks ago when there were 5 of them out there.” He smiled and drove away.
(Feet in the water) (Iceberg) (Iceberg) (Dock) (Town) (Road to Grandois) (Road to Grandois)
I put on some late in the day miles and made my way down the coast towards
(KLR at coastline) (Coastline) (Arch) (Gros Morne Mountains) (KLR) (KLR) (Campsite)
The best thing about going to bed early is getting an early start. I broke camp early and headed down the coast in no particular hurry and without a plan for the day. All I knew was that everything I read about and was told about Gros Morne meant I should take my time and explore. I started turning off at overlooks and side roads and found a couple really nice spots this morning. I wasn’t sure if/when I was going to stop, and I’ve already explained my lack of decision making ability – I was determined to not let that hinder me today, but I also knew I couldn’t stop everywhere, else I’d never make it home. So I went on instinct and they were spot on today. First stop was a turnout that was closed…so I went around the gate. There were three baby red foxes playing on the path, and they scurried into the bushes as I approached, 6 reflecting eyes peering out from behind the leaves and branches and wondering “Hmm, who the heck is this idiot?” After our staredown, I continued down the path towards the water and stopped myself in my tracks when I saw a big bird perched on top of one of the rocks. I couldn’t quite tell what it was, so I took a picture first, and pulled out my onocular second. When I focused, a beautiful bald eagle appeared in my sight window, his yellow beak and white head clearly visible. I sat there staring at him until he decided to fly away.
(Small fishing village) (The Bald Eagle) (Cove) (KLR where I saw the eagle) (KLR)
There are so many things that “just happen” on the road, not only on this trip but throughout my travels in general. Whether you make a right or wrong turn, or misread the map, or end up exactly where you thought you were going to end up, it’s those unexpected things, like a bald eagle, that really cement those memories into my head. It’s the unexpected nature of things that sticks out, because they’re just that – unexpected, out of the ordinary, surprising, etc. You can be having the most normal of normal days, droning along on a two lane highway through Big Sky country, immersed in the middle of nowhere, not a car in sight, spacing out while the miles go by, not a cognizant thought in your head. Sometimes there’s no real memory of those particular miles as there’s nothing that you just can’t ever forget about them that keeps you remembering those miles. But a single instance can change all of that, such as coming around a bend to see a buck antelope standing proud and strong atop a rocky ledge. All of a sudden, those miles that had been lost are grouped together by single incident, a spark that will trigger not only that moment, but the miles leading up to it and the next few minutes or few hours where your mind constantly drifts back to that spectacular moment. This is proven by stories…rarely will I say “I saw a buck antelope” rather it’s “I was riding for a couple hours across
Then again, there are also those miles that are void of the unexpected that do and can create lasting memories that can create a spark in your head when you least expect it. Usually there is something that happens that helps you remember these, or at least, that’s the case for me – a simple bee sting reminds me of
Heading south again into Gros Morne, I spot another turnout and decide to see what’s at this one. While completely different than the last, this one they got right. Here lies a shipwreck from 1919, the S.S. Ethie. A simple placard and a wooden staircase down to the beach are the extent of the convenience factors for this memorial. The remains from the S.S. Ethie still lay on the beach and in the water, almost a hundred years of rust taking their toll. Just a quiet beach with a rusted out ship. Peaceful, respectful, the way it should be. Another good stop this morning.
(S.S. Ethie Placard) (Shipwreck) (Small Pieces) (Small Pieces) (Big Pieces) (Shoreline)
Stops along the shore, looking at the moon: (Picture 1) (Picture 2) (Picture 3)
Stops along the shore, looking at the moon: (Picture 1) (Picture 2) (Picture 3)
Next stop, a lighthouse – what a big surprise. Yeah, I like lighthouses, especially ones that exist on a cliff about a hundred feet above a clear blue ocean, with nobody else around. They built these things on some of the most magnificent pieces of property you can find, so yeah, I’ll go out of my way to go see one, especially Lobster Cove Lighthouse. The town of
(Lighthouse) (View) (Placard) (Breakfast View) (Breakfast)
(Lighthouse) (View) (Placard) (Breakfast View) (Breakfast)
The ride from
(Road) (View) (View)
Filling up for gas, the attendant struck up a conversation with me, asking where I had been and where I was going. I mentioned that I wanted to make it up to Twilingate today, and she asked and then insisted that I take the ride out to
(Road) (Tabletops) (Woody Point) (Lighthouse) (Lighthouse) (KLR)
Despite my constant stopping and side trip, it was still pretty early in the day, and I decided to burn some miles getting over towards Twilingate. The Trans Canada highway 1 would take me pretty much all the way across to
The ride up to Twilingate is regarded as one not to miss, and unfortunately with the rain and fog that I ran into, not to mention the cold, I couldn’t see a whole lot. What I did see was a twisty road hopping between small islands and inlets over dozen of small bridges and more of those same type of endless coves that I saw yesterday up at L’anse aux Meadows. I made a quick stop at
(Placard) (View) (Lighthouse) (Fog)
I decided, after arguing with myself again, to do a few more miles today and head east on route 330 around the peninsula. It was still raining off and on, and I decided that I’d try to find a small motel, hopefully with a seafood restaurant near by, but would definitely grab a campground if that felt right at the time. After Gros Morne this morning, and Twilingate this afternoon, the ride across 330 was just OK. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t spectacular. The landscape here is pretty flat, not nearly as picturesque as the other parts of the island I had seen. Many a small village ended up in my rear view mirror, no hotels or campgrounds to be found. Just as I was gearing up mentally to continue the trek down to the highway in search of accommodations, I made a wrong turn in a small town called Badger’s Quay and while finding my way back to 330, I ran across a small blue and white building – motel and restaurant, with fish and chips as the special. No further argument was required, and it’s safe to say they had the best fish and chips in town. I was just happy that I didn’t argue with myself.
(Lobster Traps) (Hotel)
Clear blue skies after a day of rain is the best possible way to wake up. A few shots of morning coffee, a click of the Givi bag onto the bike, and I was off in search of breakfast. I did stop to take some pictures of Badger’s Quay. A very interesting town, built in, above, adjacent to, and on top of the rocky shoreline that distinguishes it’s landscape. Today was to be a miles day for the first part, and I had
(Badger's Quay) (Badger's Quay) (Dock)
I rode straight thru
Signal Hill was pretty spectacular, despite the fact that there were a lot of people there and it’s definitely a tourist location. I can’t get over how windy it is along seemingly every shoreline in
The bluffs are incredible, the water blue as one can dream, and the vistas, well they make you want to sit and stare for days.
(View) (Lighthouse) (Signs) (Signs) (Cape Spear View) (Signal Tower) (Battery) (Lighthouse) (St. John's)
(View) (Lighthouse) (Signs) (Signs) (Cape Spear View) (Signal Tower) (Battery) (Lighthouse) (St. John's)
(Feet) (Old Lighthouse) (Lightkeeper's Journal) (Huh Huh) (Flags) (View of Signal Hill) (Signal Hill)
(New Lighthouse) (New Lighthouse) (Cannon) (Easternmost Point) (KLR)
The ride down the eastern coast of the Avalon didn’t let up at all. Every little village was a postcard. The road tucked and turned along the rocky shoreline, up and down the changing elevation, the views…just incredible. Just like the other day, I could have stopped every 5 miles, and sometimes I did. There was a group of local bikers that I passed by multiple times as we were stopping in different places for the next couple hours. It felt great this afternoon not to really care where I ended up tonight, and I was glad to have time to take my time. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. I wasn’t in a hurry, had no destination, and had two more days to get back across the island to catch the ferry, so I could just take my time. I really enjoy riding with this mindset. There’s no stop that you can’t make, no side road you can’t take, no picture you can’t snap…you just let the day come to you.
(Tors Cove) (Placard) (Tors Cove) (Great view) (Distant Lighthouse) (Fishing Village) (Cove)
As I got further south, the landscape and the weather changes. I was now in more of a high plains area, and the fog rolled in, as thick if not thicker than that around the Golden Gate bridge in
(Fog rolled in) (Road to Cape Race) (Lighthouse) (Rocky Shoreline) (Insert Tad here) (Lighthouse) (Oceanside)
As I was leaving, an alien spaceship appeared out of nowhere…OK, it was actually three headlights from three dual-sport bikes heading towards the lighthouse. Surprised as I was to see them, they pulled over to see who I was and what I was doing there. They told me of a bunch of trails that they had tried to take this afternoon, but it was really muddy and they kept getting stuck. They also mentioned a place to camp up the road before you get back to the highway, but I never saw it or found it. So when I got back to Portugal Cove, I stopped at the small grocery store for water for the night, and tried to have a conversation with a local fisherman. This guy was the stereotypical Newfie – mesh fishing cap, big guy – been working on the dock his whole life, big swollen hands, and I didn’t understand a single word he said to me, although I know he was speaking English. Twice I asked him to repeat himself, but of the three times he spoke, I honestly couldn’t pick up a word of the local dialect, so I nodded politely, and gave him a wave.
So here’s where I get dumb again. Before I left, Adam’s last words to me were “watch out for the quicksand” in reference to me burying my front tire off road on an ATL ride a couple years ago. As I’m riding along, I spot a double-track that heads towards the ocean, and though it to be a good place to camp. About ¾ of a mile in, it turned to swamp, and I locked up the rear tire trying to avoid driving into the deep approaching puddle. Great, missed that one. Now I need to turn around, but I’m in a deep rut, and my rear tire is buried about 6 inches deep…letting out the clutch just causes it to spin. I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into at this point, but I could hear that laughter from
Back on the highway, I pass the only motel that I’ve seen in hours…screw it, I want to camp tonight. (Yep, here we go). There’s no camping marks on the map, so this is going to be a middle of nowhere camping night. It’s OK, Adam would like this. I pulled into a couple of clearings, but they weren’t far enough away from the highway to camp. As I was headed towards
(Camping at Cape Pine) (Cape Pine Lighthouse)
Waking up the next morning, I decided, reassured mostly, that fate is a good thing. It led me here last night, and so far on this trip and in the past, when I stop arguing with myself and just end up wherever I end up, it always works out. Having said that, I know that fate showed me the way to the St. Lawrence seaway about a week ago where I thought the tent (with me in it) was going to be lifted off the ground and deposited in the sea…but it all worked out anyway. Last night it ended up raining, but I was smart enough to make sure I setup the tent on high ground, and I was dry as a bone in the morning. I had also bought some spray on waterproofing seal for my boots, and I used the remainder of it on the tent seams which seemed like a great idea at the time.
No camp coffee this morning, I headed out still in the fog (both mentally and physically) in search of breakfast. I had hoped to see the sea this morning but it wasn’t to be. The cape was completely fogged in and the rain picked back up by the time I met up with the highway. I was a bit low on gas, but having gotten an early start, the gas stations were still closed. It was Sunday, and I only knew that because my ferry departure was tomorrow, Monday at midnight. I stopped at the first couple gas stations I saw to find them closed, and a local pulled in to tell me that they don’t open until after church, but that there was a station in
After breakfast, I paid some attention to the blown fork seal on the KLR and to the mess it was making all over the bike. There really wasn’t anything I could do about it – I wasn’t going go stop on the island and have it fixed, since I’d rather go see more stuff. At some point I figured all of the oil would be out of there, but it kept spitting more and more. A little bit up the road, I looked down at my odometer and it read 9.9 miles…funny it read that 10 minutes ago. It had stopped working and I tried resetting it a couple times, but it would stop again on 9.9 miles. This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that the KLR has no fuel gauge, so I wouldn’t know when to gas up, save for the “drop anchor” effect when it hits reserve. More importantly, I wanted to see the damned bike roll 40,000 miles on the odometer, and it was stuck at 39,000 and change! I was more disappointed about the latter.
I made a stop at Castle Hill before leaving the general area. Nice view of the town from the hill, but the rain was starting to pick up and I didn’t feel like standing outside in the rain for long. Once I got north and to the Trans Canada highway, the weather improved and it turned into a bright sunny day. I still wasn’t in a hurry and I knew there was supposed to be a nice lighthouse at Bonavista point, so I made that my afternoon side trip, and a good one at that. I had a great ride up there and got a sense of what Twilingate might have looked like in the sunshine. There weren’t nearly as many inlets and islands along this coast, but the water was blue and the sun was shining, a nice change from this morning. Once again, they built a lighthouse on prime real estate, and once again the wind was howling. I sought shelter behind some rocks and ate some snacks that I had bought earlier, the backdrop of shoreline and blue water a thousand times better than anything a restaurant could ever hope to offer.
(Plackard) (Cannon) (View) (Castle)
It took a little longer to get up and back from Bonavista point, so once I hit the TC again, I decided to put on some miles. That thought was thwarted by the views of
(KLR Along the Trans Canada) (View heading to Bonavista) (Fishing Village)
(Bonavista Point) (Bonavista Point) (Lunch) (Bonavista Point)
I was really glad now that I had both gone to see the
(Seaplane) (Bomber) (Placard)
Last day on the Rock:
As I checked out, I made sure to tell the hotel clerk how much I had enjoyed my stay, and I filled out a feedback card for the manager as well. These people run a very nice hotel…better than many of the business hotels I’ve stayed in. If you ever find your way up to
Somewhere down the road I found a roadside café for breakfast and brought in the map to try and figure out what I could side trip to today and still make it to the ferry with time to spare. I was in South Brook and it looked like the ride to Triton was nice. I asked the waitress about it…you know, is it a nice ride…and she looked at me like I was from another planet. I don’t think she understood that someone would ride to Triton just to ride to Triton. “Well, there’s not much to do there.” That wasn’t what I asked…nevermind. I’ll figure it out. Along the way up there, I passed a marina with some big boats and on my way back, I stopped there for a few. There were a bunch of people working on different ships, and a few of them waved to me like it was no big deal, and like everyone else on the island, wanted to be friendly. I found it interesting just to observe their daily lives. Honest work. It’s so quiet up here you can’t understand it and I can’t explain it in words.
(Breakfast) (Road to Triton) (Harbor) (Robert's Arm Marina) (Big Boat) (Marina) (Propeller) (Small stack of firewood)
Back on the highway, I kept glancing down at the map trying to figure out what other side trips I could squeeze in. I had less than 300 miles from hotel to ferry today, and the ferry sails at midnight. It looked like the ride from Cornerbrook out to
(KLR roadside) (Frenchman's Cove) (Roadside view) (Waterfall) (KLR roadside to Lark Harbor)
At the end of the road, I found myself at Blow Me Down Provincial Park, and not only because of the name, I decided to pay it a visit. I ended up being one of the only people there, found my way to the beach, and made a nice long lunch stop. Off went the stich, off with the boots, and I spent the next hour walking along the beach, skipping a stone or two, feeling the mist hit my face from the wind whipping across the water, and mostly just standing there – looking at the cove, the surrounding cliffs, the blue water, it was all amazing. I had experienced plenty of moments on the island over the last couple days, and there’s no way to rate one against another, but this one was simply damned good. I’m a friggen lucky guy, I can’t believe I get to do stuff like this. I walked barefoot through along the rocky shore thinking about that, and enjoying the fact that only I knew where I was at that particular moment. I was completely isolated and alone, a spec of dust, a dot on a dot on a map, standing somewhere that if unlucky I wouldn’t be able to stand, surrounded by great emptiness yet feeling completely comfortable and confident, as if everything were just right if only for these few moments. This is what it’s all about, and of course I couldn’t help think to Otter and Adam and wish they were here with me, able to see and share in this moment, but on the other hand, if they were there with me, I wouldn’t be standing in this exact place. As fate had it today, I ended up here. Were they with me, we might have ended up somewhere different, like the time we ended up in Canso in
(My boots on the shore) (My feet in the water) (View) (Shoreline) (KLR) (Park Entrance)
I was sad suiting up and leaving this place today. Yes, I know that I can come back here pretty much anytime I want, but I also know that feelings like this can’t be replicated, and they rarely recur upon another visit. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t find that lake again. It’s there, but the physical space is only about a tenth of what makes a moment a moment. So, yes, I was sad to suit up and ride away, and with the engine idling, I took an extra minute to stare out into the bay…one last long stare, and then I’m off, not looking back again. I figured that this was my goodbye to the rock, and if it was, man oh man…it was a good one.
(Roadside stop across from Blow Me Down) (View of the road)
As I approached Port Aux Basques, the mountains off to the east continued to wreak havoc with my mind. I was pretty much gone at this point. Riding along, smiling, head spinning out of control with a million thoughts, but all the good kind. There was nothing negative in there, only positive, peaceful, calm, quiescent thoughts of the last couple days. I was sad to be leaving the rock, but I had zero regrets. I had seen more than I thought possible, was impressed beyond belief, and had transferred
(Stop for a Snack near Maidstone) (Near a one lane bridge) (Mountains near Port aux Basques) (Mountains)
The sun was starting to go down as I came upon a sign that read
Anyway, I come upon
(Lighthouse) (Shoreline) (KLR) (Lighthouse) (Crashing waves) (Shoreline) (Tad) (Sunset) (Sunset) (Sunset) (Sunset)
I was there long enough and it was cool enough that I had to choke the KLR to get her started. Once again, a long last look at the shore, and I’m off. I made it to the town just as the ferry was pulling into port and grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading to the harbormaster’s office to check in. There was one other bike in the parking lot and they staged me right next to him. We struck up a conversation, and it ends up that he’s from L’anse au
I pretty much made a b-line to my bunk once on the boat – popped a couple Dramamine just in case, put in some ear plugs, and hit the sack. When I awoke the next morning, I wasn’t met by a group of rioting villagers, so I guess I didn’t snore too badly. I made my way to the top deck and into the fog, just about the time we were pulling into port in
(Harbor Traffic) (North Sydney Port) (Ferry) (Bridge)
After stopping for breakfast at the “Clucking Hen Café”, an apt name judging by the proprietors, I headed north on
There is a noticeable difference between the people of
Busy is probably the closest I can come to it. While it’s not a metropolis like
(Fishing Village) (View) (View) (Scottish!!!)
I recognized many of the coves and bays this morning from the last time I was here, and decided to hit a couple of those side roads on the map that we didn’t have time (or the right bikes) for last time through. These side roads were really great – much like the trip out to Lark Harbor yesterday, the road was cut high into the cliff overlooking the ocean, but it was a lot more mountainy (yes, that is a word) here. The small villages felt just that – small. This actually looks and feels like
(Bay St. Lawrence) (Road) (View) (KLR)
The remainder of the Cabot Trail was just as I remember it – absolutely spectacular on the north end, definitely a top ten road anywhere, and then it gets back into “suburbia” in an instant. It’s not really suburbia per se because it’s not adjacent to any large city, but it gets touristy and busy in a hurry, and it’s actually not that enjoyable of a ride heading through Port Hastings and over to New Glasgow. I wasn’t used to traffic – hadn’t seen any in weeks. I decided to try my luck at the ferry to
(Cabot Trail) (KLR) (Cabot Trail) (Cabot Trail) (Swing Bridge)
(Cabot Trail) (KLR) (Cabot Trail) (Cabot Trail) (Swing Bridge)
I got to the ferry dock and asked what the crossing costs…it’s free to the island, you just have to pay to get off the island, either via the ferry or via the
(Ferry open) (Leaving Nova Scotia) (Lighthouse) (Lighthouse in PEI) (Wood Islands,PEI)
Exiting the ferry, they let me off first, and I made my way west towards a couple of provincial parks.
I made my way to a park along a lake with a lighthouse off in the distance, and setup camp. This couldn’t be more different than camping at
The next morning, I made a quick stop at the nearby lighthouse where I also spotted a fishing boat out in the water. I had decided to head north and make my way to the bridge via as many backroads as possible…but really, they’re all backroads on
I continued along the north shore of the island, stopping at a small lightstation and a riding through some more quaint villages before making my way to the
(Lightstation) (Sandy Shoreline) (KLR) (Confederation Bridge) (Bridge View) (Bridge View) (Closeup)
It was at the gas station on the other side of the bridge that I noticed my rear tire. The bike hadn’t been handling particularly well, it fely mushy and hard to turn…well besides the flat spot on the rear tire, the cords were starting to show through. Here we go again. I figured I could find a tire in
(Tire Changing) (Worn out tire)
About 10 days ago, I was thinking about
When I first visited this place, there was only a sun faded sign on the highway pointing towards a gravel road. At the end was a lighthouse, the keeper’s station, and nothing else. Today, I found a gift shop, parking lot, and was a little discouraged that it had become too touristy. There was also a sign at the entrance stating something about this being a high school project, and I started talking to a couple of high school kids that were working the gift shop. I mentioned that I had been coming here for 10 years, and I didn’t like the fact that it was getting touristy. They completely understood, one of them more than the other, and also explained the story to me. Apparently, the government was set to abandon and push this lighthouse into the sea. A local school teacher lobbied for grants and gathered donations to save it, and had his students volunteer to do the work. So, while the lighthouse and spot that I once knew is long gone, it could have actually been gone gone. So what’s the lesser or two evils? I thanked the kids for the info and made a purchase in the store to do my part in supporting the lighthouse, and then I went to my rock. My rock is at the top of an adjacent hill where I ate lunch the first time I was here years ago on the CBR. It was here, eating lunch that an amazing rainbow appeared, one end of the horizon to horizon rainbow reaching out from the middle of the bay. I was the only one there, along with only the lighthouse and keepers house. Sitting there today, I was the only one there, and the only thing I could see was the lighthouse and the keeper’s house. I decided that I would send a donation to the
(Cape Enrage Lighthouse) (Lighthouse) (View from my Rock)
An excerpt from my journal that night, which ended up being the last words I wrote while on the trip:
As I’m sitting on my rock at
It felt really good to be back at
(Bay of Fundy) (Closeup of Cape Enrage) (Road through new Brunswick) (Bay of Fundy)
I found a campground with some RVs in it right along the water with a big open area for tent camping – right along the water. Not perfect, but I’ll take it. It did offer me the opportunity to watch the tide come in, and by the time I had setup camp, the tide had risen about 10 feet. I made it an early night so that I could get an early start tomorrow. I had three days to get home – plenty of time, but I did need to keep moving. My timing had worked out really well – I could easily make it home from here without even having to do a 600 mile day, so I could continue to ride without feeling rushed. This method had been working so far, and I knew it would continue to work. I was glad I had the time to take the long way through
(Campsite) (Bay of Fundy from Campsite) (View from Campsite)
Back to the
Early to bed, early to rise…I feel healthy, definitely feel wealthy, but wise? I must not have woken up quite early enough…but it was early enough to watch the sunrise. This was one of it not the only camping morning that it wasn’t overcast. I made some coffee and made the long walk down to the water. The tide was out, hence the long walk. Tides in this area vary by 35 feet, the biggest in the world. My morning coffee and I had to continue stepping backwards as the tire started to come in, just like the last time when Otter, Adam, and I were here. It moves fast enough that you can see it, and it was a nice treat to watch this phenomena again.
I finished my coffee and walked back to my campsite to see a large crow on the ground, something trapped beneath his talons that he was snacking on. Hmm, it’s something shiny…what could that be. As I got closer, I realized that’s a ramen noodles wrapper…hey, that’s my ramen noodles that I didn’t eat last night! I had left my Givi bag open, and this guy went in there and stole them. As I got closer, he saw me coming, picked up the noodles, flew about 100 feet away and landed on a picnic bench…and continued eating them. Why you SOB…
I packed up camp, and headed into the little town nearby to take a picture. It was very early and the town was even quieter than it usually is. The sun was just starting to shed light on the town, but most was still in the shadows, a very pretty scene. I like towns like this a lot. After stopping for a look at the lighthouse that marked the entrance to the cove by which I camped last night, I started heading west towards
(Town of St. Martins) (Lighthouse) (Covered Bridge) (On the ferry)
The last hour as I approached the border to the
I think that the
Out of nowhere, the town of
Lobster roll safely stowed in my tank bag, I made my way into the park and towards Otter Point, a place that I hadn’t visited since 1999. Right away, I remembered why I came down here – the ride is just plain worth it. What I didn’t realize was just how many people would be here on a…ummm…I think today’s Thursday, but I’m not 100% sure. I’m pretty sure. Every parking lot was near capacity, and I was amazed at the number of people that were there. It was higher than I would have or could have imagined, but just like at
(Acadia Shoreline) (Otter Point - low tide) (Otter Bay)
I stopped a time or two in the park again, but I mostly made a b-line back to Highway 1 and continued west. The more I wanted and needed to make time, the more traffic increased. I know this is what’s in store in New England – beautiful roads that twist through incredibly beautiful countryside, with a million two-legged cockroaches doing all they can to all but ruin it for you. I found my times to enjoy a view, and enjoy a mile or two of peace before the people picked up, but it was evident that I was just delaying the inevitable. I thought about the other times I’d been through
(View across to Otter Point) (Acadia View)
I picked up the turnpike and headed towards
The next morning, I took a quick look at the maps, found what looked to be a quiet ride through
Having checked off another state from the proverbial list, that left two.
The next morning, we hopped in the car to head back to the factory, where we had left our bikes overnight. A very nice setup they have to be able to leave their motorcycles in the loading dock…comes with the territory of owning a company I guess. We grabbed an early breakfast on the way, and continued our conversation from last night, that were actually a continuation from the conversations we started on the
We parted ways at the bridge, and I crossed the
(This makes 50...Hi, I'm in Delaware...)
It honestly hasn’t been that important to me to hit all 50 states for a couple years. A wise man once said, “it’s not how far you go, it’s how go you far” and while I’m still not 100% certain what that means, I can take it to mean (among other things) that the ride itself is more important than where you have been. Make the most out of every mile. However you want to say it. So hitting my 50th state, while cool, wasn’t what I set out to do. It just so happened that I ended up in a situation where I could do it, and I took advantage. That’s the same reason that I decided to go to Labrador and
Having hit all 50 states now, while it gains me no membership into any club, is an accomplishment that I am proud of, but was not anything that I set out to do in and of itself. That pride is felt more for how I did it rather than simply having done it. As I mentioned, I only ended up in RI, NJ, and DE because I was going to visit Skip and Mike, and it worked out that I ended up there. I haven’t ever looked a map and ever plotted a course with the sole purpose of “hitting” another state, rather I have always been interested to see what was there. Sure, Otter will point out that in 1998, we rode ¼ mile into
I probably have to re-state that…I may have in my early years of riding been lured to certain places (like California) and thought crossing the border to somewhere would be the magical part, but I learned quickly that it was and is the places I go once I’m there that matter. That’s why hitting all 50 states arbitrarily hasn’t been a priority of mine for a while. Besides, I think I’m more proud of the fact that I’ve ridden the KLR in every Canadian province and territory….yes, except for Nunuvut, but for the last time, they haven’t built a road there yet. But when they do…
I was in
I had thoughts to stop and visit some friends that live in
I have to say that I’m proud of myself for this trip. I did what I set out to do, took my risks, laid down my cards, doubled-down at times, and took whatever came my way. For whatever reason, part of me has that chest-puffing sense of accomplishment – I can’t believe I actually did this, but looking back, it wasn’t anything too terribly difficult. In fact, the ride was quite easy, having factored in enough time to never feel rushed, even on my drone home. I was able to stop and see way more things than I had imagined, and I have no regrets about anything that happened on the trip.
I do need to figure out how to combat my lack of decision making ability though. As I described, I get into situations, usually at the end of the day, where I just don’t really care where I end up. One part of me (the smart part) tries to get me to do the “safe” thing – i.e. stop here, you know it’s right here, and you can get camp setup…nevermind that it’s close to the road, or there are some people and/or RVs…it will be fine. This is his argument. The other part of me wonders what is right around the corner, and this is the guy that usually wins the argument. I guess it’s not bad to have these internal discussions, and it’s not like I get burned by one of these guys more than the other, and no matter what – when I end up wherever I end up, it’s all good…I just need to figure out a better way to break the tie more easily...because I feel pretty foolish standing there, or sitting on an idling bike, making no movements while my two psyches argue with one another. On the other hand, maybe I don’t, and maybe this is just fate’s way of challenging me or giving me options via a choice – but that choice has no clear cut reasoning behind it because I have no idea what's behind either curtain. It’s like the show Let’s Make a Deal – you can have what’s behind door number one or door number two. The thing is, I can make either of them work and that's why I don't really care where I end up...and now I'm back to square one. So maybe this is exactly what I’m supposed to do, and the arbitrary decision that I make is all part of that grand scheme of things. See, I can't even decide if I need to get better at making a decision...man, what's wrong with me?
As I mentioned at the beginning, I thought Labrador and
I don’t know if the other people that I met on this trip (Skip and Mike, Ike and Mary Ann, the couple at Relais Gabriel, the couple at Lobster Cove and again at Signal Hill, and the unbelievable people in L’anse au Loop, Labrador at the motorcycle shop) were somehow supposed to be the substitute for not having Adam and Otter along, but it seemed like that in some ways. Substitute is the wrong word, as that’s not possible, but I have to say that for whatever reason, I bumped into more people than I usually do on this trip. Last year, on my fall color run, I barely met a soul. Besides the experience I shared with Skip and Mike, which is not to be glossed over and absolutely meant the world to me, twice did I meet other people at breakfast and then ran into them a second time either later that day or the next day…I find it very interesting that this happened, not once, but twice. I don’t understand fate, or karma, or whatever label you want to put on the events of our lives to explain how and why they happen (if you even want to put this label on things…maybe you don’t, and maybe you believe more in chaos), but something was there on this trip. By all accounts, I should still be sitting on the side of the road in
I read another book on Buddhism on this trip, and while I’m not comfortable stating that “I’m a Buddhist” I am finding myself more and more comfortable with Buddhist beliefs and values. Help others if you can, but if you can’t, do no harm is a really strong foundation upon which to build a life. I try every day to incorporate this thought into my actions, and some days I do better than others. I find it extremely easy to practice on the road, and it gives me a better sense of self worth in doing so. It feels good to help others, and even better when others help you…but receiving that kindness in turn only makes me want to help others more. I think that’s the basic gist of what Buddha taught.
Worst case scenario, if it ends up that I’m a good and decent person and that’s it, I can live with that.