Our friend Wily — of “Meat Cove or Bust” fame — has gone the distance again on his old Honda. As he says himself, a trip that would be quite respectable on an $18,000 modern BMW, done here on a 750 with drag bars and no hard luggage. Here’s his trip report. – TDR
Fall was in the air, kids were back in school, my super-cool wife had given me her blessing, nothing pressing going on at work. Time for another road trip on the trusty ’76 CB 750 rat bike. Last year I’d had a blast on a 5 day solo ride to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, exploring the Cabot Trail. I really wanted to make it up to Newfoundland, “Terra Nova” as the explorers called it — widely regarded as the only place where Europeans or anyone made contact with the “New World” before Cristoforo Colombo. The Vikings (maybe even Leif Erikson himself) settled there around 1000 AD, but didn’t last more than a year or 2, in a place called L’Anse aux Meadows (which somehow comes from jellyfish cove in French). The island of Newfoundland, which I’d heard Canadians call “The Rock,” sounded cool, rugged and remote — definitely had it on the bucket list to explore. Plus I had one place that I knew of from Bob and Deanna at Eastern Outdoors, a sea-kayaking outfitter in Dipper Harbour New Brunswick — their outpost in Ramea, an island off the south coast of NL that I’d heard them rave about. Figured it would take at least 8 days on the road for a Blitzkrieg ride from VT and to have 3 days of riding in Newfoundland. Figured a wingman for mutual support up there would be a good idea, so got Dingo, a trusty young wingman from our squadron, to go with. And “the greatest of wingmen was he,” more on that later (from the Legend of Shaved Dog’s Ass- google it if you’re not familiar).
Monday, 15 September we saddled up in Burlington, VT for a backroads run across New England, headed for the overnight ferry in Portland Maine that would take us to Yarmouth Nova Scotia. Took I-89 to Montpelier to make tracks early at 75mph, then route 302 across the CT river into NH (where the bank clock read 37 degrees at 10:02 as we crossed the veteran’s bridge). That has to be a cold pocket of air in the river valley, it can’t really be that cold out, can it? I’m a glass half full guy, the sun is coming out, it’s bound to get warmer. It did. There was fog in the low valleys that was chilly, but sun above it every time we climbed a little, and eventually all the fog burned off.
As I was paying, heard an old Vermonter in Carhartts at our first gas stop at an old-school general store with an old gas pump “Ain’t never seen snow that didn’t melt on it’s own by fourth of July. Just think of all the money we’d save on road maintenance if we just had a little patience.” So true, a very Buddhist outlook. The roads were sweet — twisties, hills, no traffic and nice scenery. Rocking mostly Santana on the Ipod through my custom fit earplugs that block out the wind. The road starts to cut through granite notches as we enter the White Mountain National Forest, with rivers and lakes on both sides. We stopped to watch a rafter of about a dozen wild turkeys that were crossing the road in front of us, impervious to the closure or roar of a couple bikes heading toward them at 60 mph. Dingo was on his V-Strom 650 by the way. I got to thinking about collective nouns of animals, looked them up online later. Some of my favorites are murder of crows, parliament of owls, wreck of seabirds, aerie of eagles, skulk of fox, kettle of hawks, mischief of mice and rhumba of rattlesnakes. We joined route 112, the infamous Kankamagus Highway, which is a sweet road up over a notch and alongside a river with tons of curves. Somehow I thought about the motorcycle mag writers who talk about “strafing apexes.” Makes me want to tell them that’s not strafing. Strafing is getting tally the target, rolling in at 400-500 knots and opening up with 100 rounds a second of 20 millimeter High Explosive Incendiary (HEI) while keeping the pipper on the target with rudder and stick. Or hog drivers laying down 30mm that will shred anything inside a tank with one round of depleted uranium. Or mustang drivers in WWII rolling in on Nazi trains and walking the 50 cals down the train with rudder. That’s strafing. Took the detour north up over Bear Mountain Notch road (“closed in winter”), and also the kickass Hurricane Mountain Road just west of Conway NH. That’s a cool one — narrow, steep, no center stripe, you can just about catch air in a couple spots, through dark woods scented with pine. (The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep). Thanks Robert Frost.
Stopped at the Whitehorse Gear Store in Conway, which is a sort of Cabelas for motorcycles. I picked up a book on motorcycle camping and a RAM mount for my Iphone so I could navigate with GPS if I needed to or got lazy (not in Canada though, way too spendy on the cell phone bill- airplane mode all the way up in the great white north). Dingo, as usual, bought nothing — very low maintenance, ascetic, like a monk.
We rode to my college roommate Tom’s house in Cape Elizabeth, Maine by mid-afternoon for a nice visit with him and his cool wife Sally. We took a hike along the rocky shore and saw islands, sea birds and a lighthouse, plus some rocks that looked just like petrified wood, with coherent grain and deep striations. Tom and Dingo jammed on acoustic guitars and played a sweet version of Little Wing by Hendrix, the video of which I have in my Iphone now so I can replay it when camping or out in the bush. We had dinner at the Porthole in Portland with Tom and Sally. Lobster rolls, clam chowder and Monkey Fist IPA. I saw a couple of monkey fists, the ball knot used on the end of lines on boats, later on this trip — lots of boats this trip.
We watched the sunset from the penthouse rooftop apartment of a friend in downtown Portland, then queued up for the Nova Star ferry. Chatted with some other bikers, including a couple Newfies who gave us tips for The Rock. Don’t ride after dark. Watch out for moose, they’re everywhere. Don’t pass up gas stations. By 2130 bikes were tightly strapped down to the below deck and we drank a Molson as we sailed away from the receding skyline of Portland. We motored due south through the channel for quite a while, with the pilot boat in fingertip formation off our port stern riding our wake. After a quick exploration of the boat, we turned in for some shut eye before we were in international waters and the casino opened- no blackjack tonight, need to be alert and rested for our longest planned day of riding on the trip tomorrow.
We watched the sunrise straight off the bow through the windows while drinking a cappuccino. “Land Ho” as soon as it was light enough, including windmills, but it took us a couple more hours to land at the pier in Yarmouth. NS is an hour later than Maine. Easy ride off the ferry with bikes packed, breezed through customs — “nada que declarar.” Decided to take the backroads, scenic route 3 and poke along the coast rather than the faster 103. It was very pretty, pleasant temps, smell of the ocean, lots of nooks and crannies along the coast, tidal flats, old bridges, thought-provoking seeing the massive tidal variation along the Bay of Fundy. We tried to stop for breakfast in Shelburne, which we heard was very picturesque and looked like England a long time ago, but somehow missed the downtown and instead took a detour along the coast, fishing boats and some rolling dunes for a half hour. Decided to keep going toward Liverpool rather than backtrack. Stopped at a hand made sign along the side of the road for smoked haddock. Can’t pass that up! The leathery old salt gave us a big piece of delicious smoked fish and wouldn’t even let us pay for it- “That won’t break the bank” he said. I’ll mention now that the entire 8 days, we did not meet one person who was anything less than extremely pleasant and helpful. Not like travelling in the states unfortunately, where you get some a-holes and idiots in the mix with all the nice people you meet. The drivers were all polite as well, and there was a noticeable dearth of overweight people. America, wake up — I’m just sayin’.
Stopped for a break and to fuel up at a rustic inn, I believe in Bridgewater. Had some killer chowder with lobster, haddock, crab and scallops — best we’d ever tasted, plus coffee and a bunch of rolls. It’s 13:30 and we’re just over halfway to Halifax, only a third of the way to Cape Breton- time to put the hammer down if we plan to make it before dark (which we have to, because of all the moose…). We jumped on Trans Canada 103 to 102 to 104 and made tracks at 70-75 mph for two full tanks (for me, that is- the V-Strom has a bigger tank and sips less gas than the rat bike’s four thirsty carbs). I rode 138 miles before she sputtered and I switched to the reserve tank, then 172 miles before we topped off- that’s a new record for me. Almost identical numbers on the next tank. Those boys at the Daily Rider sure threw a sweet tune on the bike. Got 42 mpgs even at that speed and close to 5,000 rpms.
There’s something rejuvenating about getting off the vibrating missile and out of the wind (no windshield, just a small fairing for me), stretching the legs and maybe back with a couple quick downward dog to upward dogs, getting full of gas, empty of piss and snot, quick drink, clean shades and visor and back on the road. Whole pit stop can take only 5 minutes if done right, but it’s a new jet new day as you roll on the throttle again and accelerate out of the pits, shifting just before redline. Even new tunes or a new playlist on the iPod. One of those little pleasures in life I really appreciate. Who knows what sights and adventures this next tank will bring?
We crossed the Canso Causeway onto Cape Breton less than an hour before dark and headed up the west side to get as close as we could to the Cabot Trail for the next day. Some fast sweepers along the coast with the sun getting low across the Northumberland Strait — couldn’t quite see Prince Edward Island in the distance but knew it was there. Pulled into a campground in Port Hood. No one around, some RVs that were semi-permanently set up on their sites- must be late in the season for them. We set up our tents in a light sprinkle, got our gear inside and made a fire as it got dark. There’s a small and very pretty island just off the coast of Port Hood a couple miles, and we could see some houses on the north end- accessible only by boat or floatplane. Had freeze dried sweet and sour chicken with rice and sipped a small box of Merlot, Dingo made rice and bean burritos. Dried fruit for dessert and hit the rack, slept like a champ.
Up at dawn, got the fire going, brewed up some chai and oatmeal. Packed up and hit the road, leaving no trace, without ever seeing anyone there- free camping, the best kind. Took a few pics down on the fishing pier then headed toward Baddeck, on the north shore of Bras d’Or Lake. After riding through some farm land that looks like Scotland and seeing shaggy cows but no people, did a U-turn and stopped for a latte and breakfast sandwich at a place with a deck overlooking the lake right across the street. “Stopping for coffee?” Dingo asked, one of his very few questions of the trip. “I will never not stop at a place called the Herring Choker,” I answered, and the food was delicious. Then we visited the Alexander Graham Bell monument and museum in Baddeck. Definitely worth a stop. His is an inspirational story. He’s famous (to me anyway) for inventing the telephone, which he did, but there’s a lot more to it. He devoted his life to science and working with the hearing impaired (including his wife Mabel, also quite a character). He brought up from Hammondsport NY a plane he built with Glen Curtis called the Silver Dart, the first powered plane to fly in Canada, off the ice of the lake, in Feb 1909. He also built several speedboats and hydrofoils, and had the world speed record for a while.
Now we were riding counter-clockwise up the Cabot Trail, and the conditions were perfect. Sunny and 60s, no traffic. This is a sweet ride, and I highly recommend it. Twisty, smooth roads, lots of hills, signs in English and Gaelic, spectacular views of the ocean, cliffs, mountains. Too hard to describe. They were out of lobster sandwiches at the general store in Ship Wreck Cove, so we settled for crab. Got the official Cabot Trail Motorcycle t-shirt from the only place it’s sold, the Coastal Waters restaurant in Ingonish. Took a sweet detour through Neils Harbor on the northeast corner of the island, on a small road right along the water through a couple fishing villages. Impressive view of the bluffs of Aspy Bay and Cape North.
Took the obligatory side trip up the dirt road to Meat Cove, “The End of the Earth” where I had camped last year. Walked around a little — campsite 13 had someone camping there and it said “private” — it was closed last year after a guy fell off the cliff stepping out of his tent to take a leak. Briefly talked with Justin the caretaker — I was running low on gas and thought I might have to siphon some from somewhere, he told us there was gas in Cape North, closer than Cheticamp where I thought we had to go. Too easy. He didn’t think we had time to continue on our ccw loop of the Cabot Trail and make it to North Sydney before dark to catch the ferry to The Rock, thought we should backtrack and go the short way. He doesn’t know how we roll, I thought to myself, and conferred with Dingo. We agreed we should make a run for it the long way (“Sounds good” I think he said), so hammer down again through 2.5 tanks of gas- Pleasant Bay, Cheticamp, Margaree Harbor, Middle River, up and down some mountain and across the bridge into North Sydney, arrived just before dark. Sweet action. Had a great dinner at a fancy bistro near the ferry, the Black Spoon (beers and seafood chowder, plus mussels I think). I parked for grins in-between 2 big BMW adventure bikes, a GS1200 and GS800, with fancy gear and luggage. I bet they cost more than 10 times the $1,500 I paid for the rat bike, and weren’t any more fun to ride. They were on a cool trip of their own, we later found out when we talked to them on the ferry — from Washinton state and BC, nephew uncle duo.
On to the ferry and Bon Voyageee (as Bugs Bunny says) by 23:30. We were beat, that announcement at 05:00 that we were an hour out of port woke me up from a fog. When we made the reservations for all 3 ferries we took, they said if you didn’t reserve a cabin with berths, you had to sleep in a chair, there was no way to sleep on the floor. I have always slept in my sleeping bag on deck or in a quiet corner on other overnight boat rides I’ve taken. They said, no, not possible, and I believed them. Next time I will just get a chair, because another biker we met (Dan from Portland ME on a KLR 650) said he slept on the floor in front of his row of chairs. I will say that the showers we got on the boat rides were money since we were otherwise camping.
Off the boat in Port au Basque, another beautiful sunrise. We rode all around town trying to find a place to sit outside and eat some breakfast or at least get another cup of coffee, but could find no place at all that was open in town. Great business opportunity for someone in witness protection — open a breakfast place in Port au Basques. Settled for Tim Horton’s at an exit just off the Trans Can. We thought we had time to spare before the 15:00 ferry to Ramea from Burgeo, but Dingo checked google maps (WiFi at TH’s) and it said we better hit the road NOW. This is when I first realized how big NF was — the map scale for The Rock is a lot different from the rest of Nova Scotia. Fast and spectacular run due north with some unreal geologic formations all around. Waves crashing off the west coast to our left, steep flat topped mountains off the right, close to the road. Eyes peeled for the alleged moose — spoiler alert — we saw a grand total of Zero moose (meese?) the whole trip. At least we didn’t crash into any. After a couple hours we got to route 480, the road to Burgeo. Sign said no gas for 100 miles. We hadn’t seen any in a while and didn’t want to backtrack. We asked some construction worker where the nearest gas was. The older guy in his 50s who spoke at first, I literally couldn’t understand him, though I think he was speaking English. Not wanting to be rude, I pretended like I couldn’t hear because of ear plugs and looked at a younger guy, in his twenties. I’m pretty sure he said go north, turn west at the next exit, take the road for 15 minutes then turn left to Stephenville Crossing. That’s what we did and we found gas. Loved the accents of the people there too.
Back southeast, per their directions, then north again on the Trans Can, for a half hour triangle detour to get gas. Then I remembered the Newfie on the first ferry telling us not to pass up gas stations. Sometimes I don’t learn too quick. The road to Burgeo was other-worldly. I imagine that some planet would look like that, but nowhere on earth have I seen it. Tundra, no flat land, all jagged rocks with low brush and lots of small ponds and lakes. There are no towns. It was moose hunting season and there were some moose hunters — in campers, in trucks, on ATVs, some on foot. We were hauling the mail to try to make the only ferry that afternoon to Ramea. I only stopped once, to take a picture of an old Beaver seaplane on straight floats at an outfitter’s camp. We arrived in Burgeo, a very pretty little town on the water with hills, fishing boats and bright multi-colored houses, mostly small (I’m guessing heating in the winter is tough). Bought gas and picnic lunch for the hour long ferry ride.
We rode onto the ferry, “You don’t have your own tie downs?” We had plenty of p-cord and some webbing, but borrowed their straps to tie the bikes down. Fare for 1 person with a motorcycle was $6 Canadian ($5.52 US). Bargain. The hour long ride eastward along the coast was pretty. There are fjords there from glaciers that almost look like Norway.
We met Mark, who is an elevator repairman from St. John’s NL who was waiting for some parts to fix an elevator he looked at, and was headed to Eastern Outdoors, same place we were headed for, looking to buy some of their used sea kayaks. He reminded me a lot of my best fiend growing up, Briggs. Looked like him, and good at fixing stuff. We also spoke with Capt. Cutler who was extremely friendly and a wealth of knowledge about Ramea, where he grew up. It used to be a big outpost for fishing vessels with a cannery and there were weekly boats carrying many tons of cod to Boston and other ports. Then the fishing embargo of the early 90s took away most of the revenue. Some people stayed — I think he said 500 lived on the island, but they left seasonally to get work. Many from Newfoundland (and Nova Scotia) go to Alberta to work for the oil companies there that are extracting oil from the tar sands. Then they come home, draw unemployment, hunt and fish, get firewood and work on their houses. He told us about bonfire day in the fall, and the rivalry between the muddy holers, beachers, and ships covers to see who could have the biggest bonfire, and the fights that would break out when you were caught stealing rivals’ wood.
The harbor in Ramea is colorful and quite protected, and surrounded by small out-islands on the south side. We found Eastern Outdoors (you can see it from the ferry) and met Darlene. She was expecting us. We were hoping to camp, but the only camping was somewhere else by a swimming pool and we wanted to kayak before dark, so we got a room there with bunkbeds for $39 per person. We paddled for a couple hours with Mark, around some outer islands, saw lots of birds, one short portage to avoid breaking surf, and hugged the coast of the island as we worked our way back, past a fisherman heading out in his outboard and some houses with boats built right on the water. No problems at all with muddy holers or beachers. I dove in the ocean — chilly enough that I was out in about 30 seconds. We had a delicious dinner of fresh cod and poutine (gravy fries) that Darlene made, then took a walk around the island on a boardwalk built for that purpose as it got dark, past some windmills. The bank on the island is in a little shack and is open weds and thurs. Those are some bankers’ hours. We helped Mark put a rack on his roof then strapped 4 kayaks on it.
Up early, packed up and loaded the bikes and had tea, coffee and toast while we waited for time to line up for the ferry. The same friendly crew, they had the straps all ready for us this time. The waves were bigger, some swell coming from a storm moving up the east coast of the U.S. somewhere. Parlayed with Capt. Cutler and the crew some more and stood outside the bridge for a while. I think he said the crew is on for 2 weeks (24/7), off for 2 weeks. They overnight on Ramea, and are on call as an ambulance boat. Can’t have a beer while they’re on call. Climbed some wooden steps to an observation platform back in Burgeo for a nice view around the town and out to the islands. Again back through the extra-terrestrial landscape, up and over hills and down through valleys, always eyes peeled for moose. Saw a bald eagle and pulled over to watch him for a while. It was pretty cold, and got more so once it started raining. It was very localized rain — you’d be in it for 10 minutes, then out of it, then back in.
The bike started to run rough, losing some power. I could still do 65 on the flats, but up hill was slowing to 50. Didn’t want to stop because we were in the middle of nowhere (never troubleshoot a motor with useable thrust if you don’t have a 1:1 glide ratio to a landable field, just like in the F-16). I figured it had to do with the rain, maybe water getting in the carbs or shorting out a plug wire, or some bad gas, but pressed on. After 50 miles of this, we got to a town, and pulled in to a gas station with a mechanic in Corner Brook, next to Jungle Jim’s where we were looking for lunch. I felt my exhaust pipes where they come out of the cylinders and number 2 was cold. I borrowed a plug wrench from the mechanic to check the spark plug, and the wire came apart in my hands when I pulled it off the plug. The mechanic knew that the old plug wire leads had a threaded metal shaft that screws into the end of the wires, so we cut a quarter inch off the wire to expose a clean part, screwed the cap back on, wrapped it in electrical tape and I was back in business in less than 10 minutes. He wouldn’t let me pay either, said “have a good ride, stay warm.” Gotta love the people up there.
After lunch and getting warm we pressed north to our destination, Gros Morne Nat’l Park. Stopped and chatted with the friendly ranger lady. She asked all the right questions — how much time do you have, what do you like to do, etc… We got the rest of the day today (about 4 hours of light) and half of tomorrow before we have to hit the road for the 23:30 ferry tomorrow night in Port au Basque. We want to see as much of the park as we can and climb the biggest mountain you got. She suggested we ride west out past the Table Top mountains to Trout River, stopping at the welcome center, then camp at the KOA up north, closest to the base of Gros Morne, then hike the mountain at dawn. So we did. Excellent suggestions. The ride west through the park was spectacular- one unbelievable view after another, no cars, always eyes peeled for moose or caribou. Nice fire, bottle of Chilean red, can of split pea and ham soup cooked hobo style in the can, beef jerky and a bag of Smartfood — that’s clean livin’!
Up at dawn, left our camp set up, brewed up coffee and oatmeal and rode 10 minutes to the trailhead. The weather was cool with a high overcast and wind was building, but it didn’t look like rain. Sign said hike takes 6-8 hours, we didn’t have that much time, so cleaned it in 5. Kept up a steady pace with very few stops. Through a trail in the woods at first, past an emergency shelter that was choppered in, to a pond. Then another warning sign “hazardous conditions ahead, steep scree field, experts only, no turning back once you start up, takes 4 hours to get back to here — blah blah blah.” I think we can make it I said to Dingo. “Sounds good.” Up the scree field, lots of sharp rocks but not too unstable, only had to use hands a couple times. Beautiful traverse across the top with views of the ocean and long glacial lakes (one even called Long Lake I think). Snap a couple pics — very windy on top, I would estimate gusting to 40 knots at times. Every once in a while there would be a section of boardwalk or some sturdy wooden stairs on a steep section.
Got to love those Canadians. Capt. Cutler had explained to us that the Canadian gov’t paid for the boardwalks because they were cheaper than healthcare and got people out walking. Sounds reasonable, good idea, I like it. Got passed by a 19 year old Newfie hottie in tights and her dad, a rugged outdoor type who were half jogging. “Did you see the moose?” they asked. Nope, we missed them. They had seen a couple skylined against a hill several hundred yards off. Kept our eyes peeled for moose, again. Back to the bikes, only casualty was my favorite Cabelas stalker archery boots that I ride and hike in- the soles got chewed up by the sharp rocks, had to wrap one in duct tape to keep it waterproof. (My wife was very happy when I threw them in the trash at home- she hates those boots). No worries, got 2 more pairs my dad gave me.
Back to camp, packed up and hit the road south. Now the winds were really howling — a gusty quartering headwind. Dingo was in the lead for a while (2, press) and I thought he was going to get blown sideways off the road. His lean angle at times to stay straight was gnarly. He has a tall windshield, the V-Strom is pretty top heavy anyway, and he weighs about a buck forty soaking wet. But no complaints, no slowing down and always there. SDA indeed. At a gas stop in Deer Lake a local told us the ferry wouldn’t run in this wind, suggested we call the company. Subway let us use their phone while we ate, the woman said as far as she knew the ferry was going, and they would tell her if it was weather cancelled. We battled our way south and got to Port au Basque before dark — lots of trucks (with moose heads on top) and trailers (full of moose meat) lined up for the boat- good sign. Quick dinner at Tim Horton’s, NL sticker for the moto, and into the queue. Went up and down the line chatting with Quebequois on their annual hunting trip and others. Met Dan from Portland on his KLR- that guy has been all over the place on his moto, especially Canada.
Onto the ferry, bikes all strapped down again, adios to The Rock — we will be back, lots more to see there. Need about 10 days up there next time to ride all the way around. Bumpy overnight ride- the ferry used to have the Denmark Sweden route back in the day, and was no spring chicken. I dreamed I was in my hammock and almost falling out.
Woke up in North Sydney, coffee and banana on the boat, packed up, loaded and riding off in no time. This is getting pretty routine. We had a long way to ride to get to Dipper Harbour, New Brunswick where Eastern Outdoors (southwestern branch) was waiting for us. Pretty, fast ride on the Trans Can westbound away from the rising sun. Pulled into the Herring Choker for brunch — drat! Closed on Sunday. Past Bras d’Or Lake, over the bridge at Canso Causeway — hasta luego Cape Breton, we’ll be back. Stopped in Pictou Nova Scotia at the Grohman knife factory, picked up some sweet bird and trout knife factory seconds to have engraved and give as presents. Took the scenic route 6 “Sunset Trail” through Tatamagouche (the café I really liked last year, green grass running water was gone, or it had moved — couldn’t find it), Wallace, Pugwash, to Amherst, across the bridge and off Nova Scotia into New Brunswick. Had haddock burgers at a roadside shack in the shape of a boat — yum.
Stopped in St. John at a liquor store we could see from the Trans Can to grab a couple beers for later, because we guessed (correctly) that we wouldn’t be able to get them at a gas station on Sunday. Still had some of our wits about us. Found Eastern Outfitters with no problem — nice backroads (shunpikes, Neil Peart of Rush calls them) along the coast toward the nuke power plant. Deana welcomed us. We killed a spider that had scared the bejeesus out of her, then sat and talked with Bob in the sweet beach house by the Bay of Fundy for a while. He’s the real deal. Ate a delicious dinner with him, (something like homemade chicken pot pie, with cobbler a ala mode for dessert), then he headed north a few hours to drive a potato truck in the harvest for a couple weeks straight with a bunch of French speaking guys who eat only baloney sandwiches. We learned more about Newfoundland, Canada and geology from him. Racked out in the beach house ($18 for dinner and a place to sleep — sweet!)
Up before first light, packed and loaded the motos, smelled the salt air, watched the mist across the bay and glimpsed the commercial fishing dock and boats as dawn cracked in the east. Waited a few more minutes for it to get a little lighter out (because of all the moose — very dangerous they say — HA!). About an hour on the Trans Can to cross the border from Stephenville to Calais Maine. “Where do you live?” “Burlington VT” “How long in Canada?” “8 days” “Any weapons or explosives?” “No sir.” “Have a nice day.” “You too, adios.” Rat bike running rough again- think I need new plug wires, seems to be shorting out a little in the rain. Could sometimes do 70, other times only 55 for short stretches. Light rain most of the way on route 9 to Bangor (I haven’t even kissed her!) but still great to be riding. Psyched to get home to the family, but not ready to give up the life on the open road. That’s pure freedom.
Had an epiphany about wood piles. I like them — to me they represent foresight, hard work, planning, and the promise of environmentally friendly and cheap quality radiant heat and delicious smoke scent. No two wood piles are the same. The ones I like best are big, neatly stacked, out of the rain, exposed to wind and sun, close to the wood stove. I realized I had been eyeing all the woodpiles we passed the whole trip and subconsciously comparing and enjoying them. An artful but small woodpile is a mile from my house, picture enclosed. It’s got hollow log rounds for portholes, wrapped in a circle around a tree, with christmas lights wrapped around the tree that look like constellations when you drive by at night..
Route 2 all the way home, about 11 hours in the saddle, bike running great as soon as it dried out. At the last gas stop before home Dingo said good navaids, requested to be cleared off by hand signals as we had different exits. Always thinking ahead. Nice job SDA, got no debrief items for you, world’s greatest wingman. Until next year.