Monday, August 31, 2015

Back in the USA!

It was a great long day down from Quebec crossing into the US with a 45 minute wait for customs.  It was in the low 80's and clear.  It was also nice to get premium gas and not have to add octane booster.  The signs I could now read since in Quebec all the caution signs were in french and well, my french is somewhat limited!  So now I am off to Annie and Tonys for a couple of days rest.  Well not really there is always something going on at their house.
I got to relax and catch up with them while Tony and a friend Mark worked out the music that they were going to play the following night for a party that I was now going to in my sunday best which was looking pretty ragged!  The lake view was beautiful and the house very nice.  The party the following day was huge with about 60 people, a big bonfire, and skeet shooting in the back field.  Tony and Mark were well received for their performance and it was a beautiful night with very nice people.  

Sunday morning I packed up to head out to Buffalo to see some friends, Dan and Carrie, that I have known for for some 20 years and have my last home stay before two nights in motels and home.  It felt like I hadn't left and was great to see them.  Their house has changed over the years and they showed me the pictures from the great snow in November.  I was stunned at the damage and the amount of snow.  Apparently there is still a block melting near the train station.  I can't believe that I didn't get a picture of the two of them!  Ah, I will see them next year when the BMW Rally is held here!  I'll get pictures then.  But Buffalo is on the rise and the town is growing and looks like economic prosperity has arrived.  It is good to see it!

I am off this morniing for my last stop to see friends before I make the turn and head home.  It will be a 180 mile ride to Youngstown, OH, for dinner tonight and tomorrow I am going home!  Yea!

Friday, August 28, 2015

26th day on the road! Now in Drummondville near Montreal.

Yesterday was a 350 mile day with 3 thunderstorms that I had hoped would clean me off and the bike. It didn't work.  The bike is still a mess.  Nice day of riding and met a guy on the ferry coming down from Minnesota.  I asked where he had been and with a huge smile said he had just done the Labrador Highway.  There were high fives all around for 2 guys!  He said it's pretty dumb to do that road alone.  I agreed and we both laughed!  Beautiful ride on the edge of the St. Lawrence with good roads and pretty farm settings.
Drummondville is on the outskirts of Montreal and is 1 hr from the border crossing on I-87 so today I am going to Ann & Tony's house in Mayfield, a 240 mile ride that will take me through the Adirondacks and should be a pretty ride.  Looks like good weather, again!
It will be nice being able to read the road signs again and knowing where I am going!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Baie Comeau

I left the former work camp at Manic at 8:00 after a meal in the cafeteria.

 I had dinner with the owne of this Ural the night before.  A nice machine!

I expected a rainy day but only got 15 minutes of drizzle.  The 4 hour ride was like being in NC all kinds of trees, ups and downs and of course the dams!  I had to cross the face of Manic 2 on a high 2 lane old bridge over the gorge and it was full of potholes!  It wasn't attached to the dam but hung out a bit from the face.  I really didn't look ... I hate dams!  And the road was gnarly!  But the ride was beautiful with a few sections of road missing!  In fact, the north bound lane was 8' lower than my side due to it falling off for 100 yards.  So they were working really hard to raise the lane back up.  Looks like major storm damage recently. A couple of bridges were also missing.  Tomorrow I am booking some miles to get most of the way to Montreal and only 1 more night in Canada!

Last of the gravel, sand, and potholes! On to the slab!

The ride down from Labrador City was a tough day!  From Fermont to Fire Lake was the worst 60 miles of dirt I have seen with mostly deep potholes and sand with very large trucks flying over it.  I managed to stay out of their way by pulling over frequently and taking breaks.  I can see why there are crosses all over this road.

Then once to fire lake there was this beautiful stretch of pavcement in the middle of nowhere.  I stopped at the only place to stop after getting on the pavement, a gas station and restaurant at the truck service station and asked asked how long is the next gravel section, my french was not good, and the lady there said "no long, just 2 km".  Turns out it was 2 km to the gravel then another 60 miles of it!  but I enjoyed the pavement.

The gravel on this part was totally different with most of it packed dirt with sand and gravel around the edges.  I knew that my arrival would be interesting at Manic-5 but I was not prepared for the approach over a hill and down into the gorge!

The largest hydropower dam in the world!  The gravel road worked its way down the side of the gorge to the bottom where dirt ended and pavement begins for the trip home.

Just a couple of miles to the old work camp for the dam, now Motel L'Electric.  So here I am in the only lodging next to the largest power plant in the world and at 10:15 the power goes out!  How does that happen?  I visualize a new trainee flipping a switch and asking "and what does this do?" sending eastern Canada into darkness.  I am off to Baie Commeau today for a clean-up day and laundry.  Luckily today it is raining so hopefully all of the dust will get washed away, and the bugs too!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Labrador City and on to points south....Mavic-Cinq tomorrow night!

It was a beautiful day and an easy day of 3 1/2 hrs on the road.  The back is feeling better so the idea of taking it easy for a day was a good one.

A lot of just road today with a little construction.  Tomorrow I am not sure what I am going into so I will stop at the Quebec visitors center on the border 14 miles away.  I know that I have maybe 100 miles of gravel/dirt/potholes to get to Mavic 5, the largest Hydro Dam in the world and the motel that is there in the woods and of course gas.  Today I actually got Shell Premium for the first time in 10 days.  The bike breathed a sigh of relief!  It has behaved nicely on regular with the octane booster that they sell so I have no complaints.  A good nights sleep and should be ready for the 235 miles through this rugged portion of Quebec then it is pavement all the way home.  This is the turn south and I feel like I am homeward bound!  In 14 miles I will turn the clock back 1 hour to Eastern Daylight Savings time and continue on south.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Today is the day - 250 miles of gravel

Had a little trouble sleeping due to excitement and fear.  I noticed that all the motorcycle, very little, was going west to east and very few were on my side doing east to west.  Could find no answer for this.  I got up at 5:30 to eat early and go since I was planning on a 10 hour day.  But I couldn't resist the pic!

It was cool and expected some light rain, just enough to keep the dust down.  I learned alot the day before and 2 guys came in at 10pm last night after 3 flats and multiple repair attempts.  One on a Triumph Tiger and the other on a Honda St with street tires!  They were toast.  I gave them some energy bars and had breakfast with them before leaving.  Two things I learned from Bill Johnson who was sending moral support.  Soften the suspension and relax, no death grip.  I learned how to get the bike up on a plane at around 55 mph but at times I would hit deep gravel that was really scary!  Almost dropped the bike a number of times but kept going.  At one stop the Canadian Jays came down and visited Oswald.

He actually landed on his head but moved when I moved to get the camera!  Very cute.  It was a long, long 250 miles with numerous stops for construction since they are planning on paving this road over the next 5 years.  The bridges in many places are single lane and the road narrows to single lane in places.  The dirt road is a little more than 5 years old so they are still building it. 

At times I got up to 60 mph but for very short periods.  The heavy equipment slowed when they passed me but the smaller pickups blasted me  lots of rock flying and dust.  I got into Goose Bay after about 6 hours on the road and an average speed of 43 mph.  4 hours ahead of schedule.  
I met up with a group from ME just up camping and riding around.  4 on bikes had been reduced to 3 due to Rick's wife totaling her BMW F650 the day before on the TransLab.  She was knocked out and medics were there in a flash.  She got up but the bike didn't.  The RCMP was right there and one of them went home and got his truck driving 100 miles to pick up her bike and take it to Goose Bay.  She was ok with some scrapes and the RCMP said very few walk away from accidents on the TransLab.  Saturday Night the RCMP came over to the motel on his back with a backpack loaded with beer and chips.  What a super guy!  The guy with the white beard in the picture was living there at the motel is a pilot for a water tanker for fighting forest fires.  He flies in low on a lake and scoops up water to dump on the fires.  The guy in the black shirt facing the camera is the RCMP.

We ordered in Pizza and sat up late talking.  What a nice bunch to meetup with, Andy, Nevin, Rick and Sara.  We left after Breakfast the next AM and rode together Churchhill Falls where I planned to stay for the night to rest my back and on to Labrador City tomorrow.  We also met 2 guys from Quebec going the other way.  A great evening.

Sorry to see them go!  Forgot a picture of Sara!

She is already thinking of what bike she wants.
So it is back on the road tomorrow by myself and will be in the States in 4 days heading to Anna and Tony's house.  What a trip, the Canadian people are the best!  But, I do want a steak when I get back, Omega3 overload!
Heading home sort of!

Friday, August 21, 2015

TransLabrador Hwy......the gravel

Well, today starts the gravel!  I left L'anse au Loup at 9:30 and arrived at Port Hope Simpson at 1:00 pm.  The gravel was 100 miles and it was like riding on marbles.  The trucks are huge and they run at 6 mph.  Luckily they have slowed down for me when approaching but the dust is huge!

The bike floats like I am slalom skiing and at times it feels like it will low-side but so far I am fine.  I finally relaxed my death grip and relaxed my hands as I became accustomed to the gravel.  I lowered the tire pressure from 38/40 to 30/32 so I would have a better footprint for traction.  There is no premium fuel here so I added an octane booster (jet fuel) so the bike should continue to run well.  It is now that I wish I had the TKC80 instead of the TKC70 so I would have better grip but the 80's would have been shot by now and the 70's are ok and I will get home on them.  
Goose bay tomorrow after 250 miles of rocks probably 10 hours on the road due to construction zones.  Oswald gets waves but has seen no relatives.  Also, no bears, caribou, or moose!  Hoping to get a good nights sleep tonight then the long day.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

L'anse au Loup, Labrador, my last ferry crossing, I think!

The miles must be adding up so I am taking an extra day here to rest and walk around a bit.  The ferry was quiet but the ship was a rust bucket!  Loading was good and the cafeteria had ok food at reasonable prices.  After the crossing I went down to the lowest level where the bike was and apparently the bow door we loaded through didn't have a good seal.  There was water all around the floor.

The bike started so I was outta there!  
And the required picture!

I had trouble finding a room in Red Bay and the lady at a B&B referred me to Barney's B&B in L'anse au Loup a few miles short of Red Bay.  The lady running this raised 8 children here and now has 23 grand & great grandchildren.  They all live within a short distance.  We talked for 2 hrs this afternoon about what it is like to live your life in this small town.  There are only 2 places to eat, the bakery(which serves sandwiches and soup) and Fast Freddy's which serves fried cod and hotdogs and hamburgers.  I have now eaten at all of the restaurants!
This is a pretty little town


I intended to take a rest day since my next road day will be on 80 miles of gravel from Red Bay to Port Hope Simpson.  This will be a good shakedown ride to see if everything is tight before my 250 mile dirt ride to Goose Bay.  The last gas station is also in Port Hope Simpson.  Then Saturday the long day on the rocks!  

Mary runs the B&B and is 83 years old.  She has been running this for 40 years!  This is her last year she thinks but she loves it.  She has an ATV and a Skidoo like everyone here and she loves taking off on either one of them.  A very active 83 I would say.  She says that the weather never stops her from going out!

There are parallel roads to the paved ones all across this Province for ATV's and Skidoos so they don't have to be on the highway.  Mary has made this a very enjoyable rest day and tomorrow I should have better WIFi.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Beautiful day and ride through Gros Morne National Park

Last night at the B&B we were up chatting and I was the only American.  Irland, Norway, Austria, Calgary Canada, a very international crowd.  Most flew into Deer Lake even the flight from Norway changed in Halifax.  Deer Lake is a very large international airport.  It is all because Gros Morne National Park is an international destination.  It is a Unesco Heritage site.  I drove through it on my way north and the sights were beautiful.

The road was very good with some bridge construction but as you see the roads in Newfoundland are well maintained.  The only real potholes were in St. John's.  But this country continues to dazzle me.

Resting up tonight and crossing at 10:30 my time which is 9:00 eastern time.  It is a 45 minute ferry ride to Blanc Sablon in northern Quebec.  Then a couple of miles north to the border with Labrador.  Will probably be staying in Red Bay, the beginning of the dirt.  May take 2 days to rest and set up the bike for dirt, lower tire pressure, change suspension, pack some food and lots of water and ride around on the gravel some to get used to the road.  If according to plan the weather looks good for Friday traveling to Goose Bay over the 275 miles of gravel roads and my guess is with lots of breaks it will take me 10 hours so I will be on the road at 7 am and expect to get there by 5 pm at the latest.  There is no other option, no food, water or people for the whole trip so I have to carry anything I need for it.  I am sure I will get a briefing from the visitors center and I will be looking for a group to tag along with in case there are problems.  Should be fun!  My next pictures will be from Labrador and this will be my last ferry ride!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Deer Lake at the entrance to Gros Morne National Park

This was a quiet day riding through the Province.  I met a lady on a BMW at the visitors station and she was on her way to St. John's to be Screeched In.  She drove her  bike from British Columbia and was with 3 others but 3 days ago her sister and the other two decided to go to Halifax and wait for her then ship their bikes back to the west coast.  She was determined to be Screeched In so she split with them and will rejoin them in a couple of days.  She warned me that this part of the ride would be boring.  Frankly most anything is boring after what we have been doing.  Tomorrow Gros Morne National Park on my way north to the ferry.
I had a quiet ride with less wind today and made a couple of stops to enjoy the ride.  Gros Morne is an international destination for travelers.  The Deer Lake Airport is international and gets visitors from all over the world.  The hostess here at the Lake View B&B says she has been full everynight since May, the best year she has ever had.  She raised 5 children in this house and when the last one left for college her husband died and she didn't know what to do with herself so she started the B&B.
The first 70 miles tomorrow will be into the Park then I will be out the other side going to Plum Creek to my Cabin for the night.  The motel was full up but she had a cabin available on the bay.  What do I care it is just for a night.  Everything continues smoothly and I am looking forward to Labrador.

I have an announcemenrt!

I saw a moose today!  Just this side of Gander I was crossing a long bridge and looked over the railing and BOOM there he was on the side of a lake.  I jumped up and down and pumped my fist then tried to figure out how to stop and take a picture but a truck was all over me!  He probably thinks I was nuts!  Maybe so!  Now I hope for a picture of one.  

My ferry is booked for Wednesday Morning to Blanc Sablon then on up to Red Bay, Labrador.  I will probably stay there for 2 days to test various suspension settings on the bike and tire pressures to see what works best on the gravel roads.  The tourist Bureau will hopefully give me ideas of whether the weekend is better to avoid the trucks or not.  The weather couldn't be better with some rain at night and cool temperatures, at least the dust will be kept down.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I am in danger of picture taking overload!

On the road again crossing NL heading NNW to St. Barbe where I will catch the ferry to Blanc Sablon at the northern tip of Quebec then cross into Labrador.  The views from the highway continue to be striking and I have to resist stopping and taking more pictures of the same beautiful scenery.

Oops, I stopped.  It is hard to tell if I am looking at the ocean or a fresh water lake.  The lakes at times are so large that it could just be a bay of the ocean.  Still in the hunt for Moose sightings but none to date.  I am afraid I may have to pose with that plastic moose at the rest stop in Maine again.  I reached Gander, NL and it is Laundry day again.  I was warned by a group from Nova Scotia that they had trouble finding rooms up the peninsula so I sat down with the phone and booked  rooms for the next two nights and reserved the ferry over to Blanc Sablon.  So I will at least get to Labrador, now I have to find a room over there.  The long range weather is in my favor with a good chance of light rains at night and clear days.  This will keep the dust down on the Trans-Lab highway.  So you know the name highway is a misnomer.  It is a dirt/gravel road that is relatively new from Goose Bay to Red Bay and has many problems due to the lumber and ore trucks that use it and tear it up.  I am hoping for light traffic.  In many sections there are single lane bridges and problems with the gravel.  The challenge is the 275 mile section where there is no services, people, or places to shelter.  It is just a road through the woods.  
Before I left St. John's Paul and I dropped Pattie off at the airport and I am happy to say that she just sent a text that she has landed at RDU!  Now it is just me and the woods, kind of a lonely feeling.  On with the adventure!  

A bit about what you see going down the road.  The Canadians are really outdoors people and the government seems to encourage it in many ways.  Frequently, you pass little dirt roads coming off the TransCanada Highway and then you see a number of campers.  You can free camp all over the place and in the most beautiful places.  It makes you wish you had a tent with you!  It does make the parks in some places look like trailer parks.  As in the US, last night was Sunday and the lines of traffic were huge heading toward St. John's all loaded down with their camping gear.  Yes, back to work today!  So my route to Deer Lake should be quiet.  Tonight I will be at the Lakeview B&B, I really love the B&B's up here.  They have always been spotless and the breakfasts included are huge and wonderful. It is also fun meeting the other travelers that will join you for breakfast.  It is 52 degrees and feels wonderful this morning with a high of 75.  Clear and a perfect day for riding.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

St. John's Newfoundland for three days!

The ferry was more a small cruise ship with a smallish 2 bed room and shower/bathroom.  Comfortable with little vision out the fogged up window.  Nothing to see anyway for the 18 hour ride due to the fog!  We had a good meal in one of the restaurants and sat and read some books.  There was also a movie theatre with 3 different movies playing.  Having a room was far better than my night in a chair crossing to Yarmouth!

Our first day of rain was from the ferry in Argentia to St. John's but it was warm and only about 75 miles.  St. John's is a very pretty town of about 250,000 with a beautiful harbor.

Taken from Telegraph Hill and the harbor has a very tight entrance.

The rains came in again on Friday so we went to "the Room" which is a beautiful modern museum and spent a few hours then a wonderful lunch there.  Our friends have been the perfect host & hostess showing us around and their 2 year old Nolan is a lot of fun and he is learning like crazy.  He has now learned about motorcycles.  Meghan and Paul have lots of fun challenging Nolan and he is very responsive.  He knows who John and Pattie are and has accepted us.  Very cool young man!  Today we are off to Spier Point the point fartherest east on the North American Continent. The picture of the lighthouse needs to be blown up to see it.

Tomorrow morning Pattie takes a flight home and I take off to Gander, heading toward Labrador.  I can't even begin to explain how good the food was at the Mallard Cottage last night!

We just left Cape Spear, the eastern most point in North America!  Beautiful day!

We hiked all around the lighthouse.  Didn't see any whales but the sights were wonderful!

Will be packing up tonight with Pattie heading to the airport and I will be back on the bike heading to Gander!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The last day on the Cabot Trail.

Well, we wrapped up the circuit around Cape Breton with a beautiful clear sky and 75 degrees coming down from Ingonish Beach to Baddeck then on to North Sydney.

Saw more motorcycles today than we have seen in the past 4 days.  It was a leisurely ride down the shoreline with some white knuckle moments with hairpin curves coming down the mountain.  The slope was listed going up at 13% but I didn't see a posting on the way down.  The views and the curves on the cliffs with light wind gusts made it interesting.

Ignore the dates since the helmet cam was acting up.  But the picture shows you how beautiful the scenery is on a clear day.  Ozwald had his admirers and a stop where we watched a glass bead demonstration.

Then we came in to Baddeck for lunch and to visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.  Very impressive to see everything that he was envolved with more than 100 years ago.  The scenery around Bra D'or Lake was stunning. We even took an odd turn and ended up on another ferry.

We are settling in for a restful evening and have to check in to the ferry around 2:00pm tomorrow afternoon. Don't expect another post tomorrow night......probably no WiFi or Cell onboard this 15 hr. ferry ride into the North Atlantic.  I sure hope it is calm out there!

The Bell museum

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cabot Trail

We left Glenora after a very nice stay at 10:30 this morning.  A huge storm came through last night and remnants were still hanging around.  The weather radar showed it moving NE so we waited for it to clear and started out.  10 miles down the road it started to rain so we stop and put on the rain gear.  Most motorcyclists know the routine, put on the gear and the rain stops.  Take it off and the rains starts.  This is more reliable than the weather person!  We ran through some mist, then it cleared and the temperature dropped down to the mid 50's.  We stopped at Pleasant Bay for lunch.  Pattie had a hamburger Steak with salad and I had a lobster roll that could put all the Cape Cod lobster restaurants out of business!  Good clear vistas were all along the road..

The road did some serious ups and downs but was beautiful.  

Oswald is probably the fartherest north of any pink bird!  The bay's were beautiful.

It has been great and still lucky with the weather!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pattie's Birthday

Today we are celebrating Pattie's Birthday at the Glenora Distillery on Cape Breton!  Lunch included Scottish music, very toe tapping!  Good food and drink then a tour of the distillery.  We are having dinners here tonight and staying at their B&B next to the distillery.

The B&B is directly behind the building housing the distillery.

Very relaxing.  We geared up for rain but it never happened and we got away with another day dry and comfortable olthough the temperature was lower at around 64.  We were warm and it was a quick trip across the causeway joining Cape Breton to Nova Scotia!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

First day of rain after none for 10 days!

We left Halifax after the fog lifted around 10:00 heading north.  It was clear and the clouds continued to build over the next 3 hours.  We got into Antigonish around 1:00 and road downtown to eat at a restaurant on Main Street.  It just started to drizzle as we left to go to the motel.  Ha! We were in the room before it really started.  The we discovered a little pub 2 buildings from the motel with good food, we are going back for brunch tomorrow!  So the rain hasn't been a problem!  Tomorrow will be rain most of the day so we will dress for it.

Pattie arrived on time! Wow!

Sometimes things just work.  Her flights all connected and she got here at 6:15.  We had a nice dinner at a local pub and set about repacking bags so the stuff needed most was on top(rain gear) and less needy was at the bottom with dirty clothes, ah but I did laundry while I waited for her and all clean again.  This morning we are running slow due to the currently foggy conditions, not something I like to ride in but it is a short ride of some 80 miles today to Antigonish the home of the Scottish Highland arts and crafts so I hope even though we expect rain to do a little sight seeing.  Today was just a day to find out how Pattie's back feels with an hours riding.   Wow, 5 minutes it was foggy and I just looked up from the ipad and it has lifted.  Maybe Pattie brought her nack for good weather with her.  If you visit the Maritimes you have to plan on some rain!  Off to finish the packing and travel 80 miles up the road toward Cape Breton!