Wet, Wintery, Wonderful. I think Caroline is in agreement with me that if we do this one again in September, we will plan for rain and cold weather and then a nice sunny day will come as a gift. Caroline figures that it rained on us every other day of our thirteen day trip, but our takeaway is that it was a wonderful excursion.
Evan's Notch, Maine USA
This is the route I planned, but there were some minor changes:
Sunday Day 1: Charlottetown PE to New River Beach NB - 446 km
Charlottetown PE to New River Beach NB
I was up stoopid early to throw on my riding gear and load up my GPS and knock back a tea, headed over to McDonalds in Charlottetown as I was too early to meet up with Caroline as we had agreed at 0800, so I had a wee breakfast, ordered a cup of coffee, downed that one, and as I feared for my life showing up early, bought one for Caroline and headed over to see how she was doing.
Not one, but TWO dry bags!
Caroline used a couple of weekend trips to sort out what she was going to bring with her this go around, with an emphasis on "Waterproof" which turns out to be no such a bad thing after all for this trip.
As I pulled up into the driveway and put my brand new kickstand down on her driveway, I realized that I had already forgotten something important, the kickstand enlarger plate that was still on my older, broken kickstand. Right, I rushed back to my place and grabbed an allen key and quickly switched it over to the new kickstand there in front of my apartment.
That will make a huge difference later on when camping.
Without that foot, this big "Adventure bike" would have made my life an adventure, trying to find junk to slide under the kickstand so it didn't take a dirt nap on me.
Our first task was to get to the Moncton Magnetic Hill parking lot for ten and meet up with George, as I had arranged to pick up and pay for a slightly used Scala G4 set for Caroline and I, so once that was done, I tried to get us going again but got us heading north up Indian Mountain towards Miramichi, which was completely wrong, so I ended up reversing course, and trying Catamount Road near the Country Meadows Golf Club.
Adventures by Garmin
Ummm, lets get this turned around and back out onto the highway, just in case. Highway 2 was predictably boring, so we hopped off of that and headed West along the 890 NB into Cornhill NB where there is a rest stop for bikers that solicits donations for a pet cemetary. I dropped some of Carolines coins into the cash box, and helped myself to an ice cold bottle of water from the ice box, and sat down to enjoy the day.
After only a minor kerfuffle, I got us onto Roachville Road aka 121 NB that would take us right past Kredl's Market and into Hampton NB where my Dad was born and raised.
A century old farm that shows why Sussex Dairy was a goldmine for hard workers
The River valley looking out over the Kennebecasis River, Central Norton NB
We stopped in at Kredl's Corner Market for lunch, although as it was a Sunday and later in the day, I wasn't expecting my Aunt Sue or Uncle Ken to be working there today, but it was nice to drop in, although as it was only 1400 we had some distance to go before we would put up the tent tonight.
When my Grandmother, Jennie Corkhum-Kierstead had passed away, she left the house and the land to the church, so I took Caroline out on Dutch Point Road to show her where my Dad was born, and the land that he farmed as a kid, out behind the house.
Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Church
Hampton New Brunswick
Behind the church, a couple of does were resting in the shade. They seem to like it here.
Bambi and friends
The bridge over the Kennebecasis River, Hampton NB
We decided to ride the southern shore of the Kingston peninsula on Norton Shore Road, then take the cable ferry across to Grand Bay - Westfield.
Another motorcycle! We aren't alone!
Norton Shore Road turns to gravel pretty quickly, and you find it stays that way right up until it joins up with the 845 again near Perry Point NB.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
It's scenic, fun and a tad slow, so when we hit the tarmac again, it was nice to be able to get going again, although these roads are lots of fun on any day of the week.
Milkish Inlet #1, Bayswater 1920
The ferry was ready to load up and they let us on board without delay, and as both ferries were running today, there was very little line up and we were across and into Grand Bay - Westfield, although I did check to see if my buddy Zac had anything in the driveway, but he was out so we didn't bother stopping in.
Our route had taken us south of Saint John, and we reprised a ride of a couple of weeks ago and revisited Dipper Harbour
Dipper Harbour New Brunswick
I'm not sure why we are so happy, as it's 1700 and we don't have a place to pitch our tent yet. Onwards! We'll try to make New River Beach Provincial Park and see what they have in left for us.
More of Dipper Harbour New Brunswick
Little Lepreau Basin, New Brunswick
We found a place at New River Beach Park, although I really wasn't all that happy with the tent sites, as many of them were sand and gravel, and we had to be careful to clear the spot of rocks and sticks where our tent would be going.
Wood for tonight's campfire to complete the load
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
The campsite in all it's glory
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Once that was up, it was time to get our supper going, a simple meal of Ramen for Caroline, and a tin of chili for me.
Yes, Ramen can be this much fun!
A bit of a kit explosion
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
As noone wanted to set their kit down on the sandy pine needled soil, the picnic table saw a lot of use, and while I was setting up for supper, Caroline was nice enough to lay out my gear for the night.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
There is always time for chain maintenance!
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
It was time for a washup, and I used the "kitchen sink", a 5 litre collapsing wash basin, some soap and half a scrubbing sponge to wash everything, with Caroline providing a J-Cloth to dry.
A little dab will do you
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
We skipped the campfire as it hadn't worked quite as we had expected, but climbed into our sleeping bags tired after a fun day of riding. Tomorrow I was going to introduce Caroline to some of my favourite roads to ride in the state of Maine. It was cool in the trees, but no real worries as it was only dropping down to a low of 10 degrees Celsius tonight.
Monday Day 2: New River Beach NB to Bethel ME - 454km
New River Beach New Brunswick to Bethel Maine USA
It was positively balmy until one or the other of us rolled around and let the cool air in. Gave up on having the sleeping bags zipped together. Now I’m wrapped up mummy style and I’m back down to shorts and a T-shirt. Still time for half an hour of sleep before Ron gets up. 😜 #ridereportsdotca
Sunrise over New River Beach Park, New Brunswick
Caroline has always had some difficulty sleeping in the tent, probably not helped at all by my snoring, so as I tend to be up early, I leave her to sleep in a bit while I get some hot water going for breakfast.
Breakfast of Champions, Tea and Oatmeal
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Caroline was up and decided to try her chopstick method of making coffee, and it worked to a certain degree...
But first, coffee. (Tea for Ron) I can see my breath this morning. Feels like fall. #ridereportsdotca
She was trying to emulate this set up: The Mini Minit One Cup Filter, but had a wee problem with the improvised holes for her chopstick, and needed a second hole for another chopstick, which then let a few grounds into her cup.
Mini Minit Coffee Filters
Just grit your teeth and drink, Honey. ;)
The floor saver was covered in sand and pine needles,
but thankfully cleaned up fairly easily before going into it's stuff sack. Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
It always amazes me how we fit so much stuff on the bikes. Off we go for another day! #ridereportsdotca
Once camp was packed up, we set out for 175 NB that would hook up with the Trans Canada 1 and take us right on in to St. Stephen where we would cross the border, but things got really interesting on the ramp to the Trans Canada, as we pulled over to do a bit of a rain dance on the roadside, and as we went to leave and jump onto the highway, the clutch cable on my Versys snapped off right at the lever!! Bugger me! I managed to start it in gear and get Caroline following me as I power shifted out onto the highway, the goal now was to get safely into St. Stephen on a holiday Monday and see if I could get it repaired or replaced. *sigh*
I managed to hit most of the stop lights on a green, but lost Caroline temporarily at a light, and told her I was going to head back to a diner that I'd spotted on the corner of Young and King Streets, Carman's Diner in St. Stephen NB where we shed our rain gear, and headed in to warm up and enjoy a second breakfast and mull over our options for the rest of the ride ahead.
Breakfast at Carman's Diner
St. Stephen New Brunswick
My friend Ib Ra Him in Quebec City is a goto for the Versys, and as he rides exactly the same model bike as I do, he's a font of wisdom on when, how and what to do for parts, repairs and mods. I phoned him up and chatted with him to find out he had a used cable in his garage and would be happy to courier it out to me if I could supply him with an address. Wonderful! There was hope for the trip yet, and if the worst happened, I could always ride to Quebec and collect the cable in person! My problem now was the only good address I had to provide him would be my brother Shaun's place, so I was very happy to be able keep this solution in a back pocket. Thanks!
Over breakfast I posted a message onto Facebook into the Kawasaki Versys Club and got a few responses, and Matt suggested using a vice grip locking plier to pinch onto the end of the cable...
The BMW fix
Shoot! I've got a pair of needle nose vise grips under the seat in my toolkit! It turns out that Caroline was packing along some heavy duty zip ties and a couple of feet of duct tape, so all I needed was a nice dry place to attempt the repair as it was now raining again, and when we asked the waitress if there was a self serve car wash, got directions for it and finished up our meal.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Ron’s still got his passport and wallet, and his kickstand is still going strong. For those of you who wondered what would break this trip - his clutch cable snapped a few minutes after we left the campground.
We considered getting a room for the night in St. Stephen and waiting until we could possibly buy one tomorrow. Added bonus - looks like it’s going to rain (surprise!) so we could have stayed dry.
We had second breakfast while pondering what to do.
He posted to a Versys group and someone suggested a solution (spoiler alert - it includes vice grips and duct tape).
So... out to the parking lot to see what we can do. If you set out with a plan and everything goes according to that plan it’s not much of an adventure. 😉
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
It wasn't hard to sort out what needed to be done, but I did make a wee mistake and that was not leaving enough slack on the cable so the wearing clutch plates would slip a touch in certain gears if I really got on the throttle hard. I think that is a sign that I need new fibre plates and springs this winter.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
And it was working! We opted to change the plan a bit, and stay off US 1 that would have me using way too much of the clutch, and instead take 9 straight into the outskirts of Bangor itself, then use the Interstate and US 2 to make our way to Evan's Notch near Bethel Maine. We finished this up around 12:15 and packed the bike back up in preparation for our border crossing.
But first we had to eat Caroline's beef jerky or declare it at the border and be told to get rid of it or turn around and go home, so it was a post breakfast feast of Clow's Island beef jerky. Mmmm!
Maine in a cold, wet rain.
Caroline got a photo of me doing the rain dance near Clifton Maine on Airline Road aka 9 ME and as I recall, I was having a real struggle getting my boot down those rain pants as it was getting caught on all the "taped seams" that the tape was peeling off of. *sigh* I need new rain gear. To add insult to injury, as I left this stop, she came right up behind me honking her horn and flashing her lights, so I pulled over to have her tell me that my kickstand plate was hanging on by a prayer... And sure enough, it was hanging on by three screws, one of which had backed out almost entirely, and I was certain to have lost this on the highway if I'd kept on.
We rode through Maine largely in the rain, and stopped only for gasoline, and again in Hampden at the Dysart's truck stop that offers a wonderful restaurant and a store that sells a plethora of truck driver merchandise, from 12 volt microwaves to high visibility gloves and tire checkers.
Dave’s Favorite Hash This is our #1 seller! Made the same way for 50 years with house cooked corned beef, onions, potatoes, and two eggs cooked your way! (And it's a favourite with me!)
Caroline opted for the Mac n Cheese with a biscuit.
Vice grips, cable ties, and duct tape got us moving again. Plan for tonight is just west of Bethel, Maine. #ridereportsdotca
I think she isn't impressed that I'm already to go, and she forgot to put her ear plugs in. I may have been laughing a bit. :)
We boogied down the Interstate, then hopped off onto US 2 and followed that right into the gas station opposite my favourite BBQ pit in Bethel ME, Smokin' Good BBQ, only to find the smokers weren't smoking and the trailer was dark. :'(
We got some directions for town, and headed in to find some supper, but once in the town, Caroline and I decided that we had best use our time to find a hotel room as neither of us wanted to erect a tent in this weather, so after some turns and bumps, we found ourselves with a room in West Bethel ME, about four kilometres from the junction of US Hwy 2 and 113 ME that would take us south and into New Hampshire in the morning.
Our tent for the night.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
It rained most of the day. We decided to sleep indoors tonight since neither of us was looking forward to setting up the tent on wet ground. Waiting for a pizza to be delivered.
We’re thinking of starting a business. We’ll contract out our services to drought stricken areas. Wherever we go the rain seems to follow. 😉
We ordered a pizza in from a local pub that closes just at 2000, and had it delivered to us at the motel room. Mmmmm! Pizza!
Caroline was really tickled with the old phone, but as it's part of a motel switchboard, it was working and needed nothing. Sorry honey, not all tech needs an upgrade. :)
Our wet gear hung round the room, and we hoped that it would be dryish in time to wear the next morning.
Tuesday Day 3: Bethel ME to Bristol VT - 287 km
Bethel Maine to Bristol Vermont
Clearly we are having a problem with late starts on this trip, as it is ten now, and we aren't yet underway, but it is a vacation, and we got the opportunity to chat with a retired gentleman up from Florida who was in town for his high school reunion, and mentioned that as that class graduated sixty years ago, this may very well be the last one ever. He talked of his kids, and the work he did on the CNCP railroad in the states. It was a nice bit of a conversation, and as he was a dog lover as well, it was an easy conversation to have. I suppose I'm also to blame as I got the numbers for a couple of Kawi dealers in Maine, and called to see if they had any stock of clutch cables in the area to find out that there was none. I then brought in my friend Melanie who used to work for St. Onge Powersports in Barrie Ontario, where we were bound on Friday/Saturday to see my brother Shaun. Melanie no longer worked there, but was able to supply me with the part number in minutes, and I asked my brother Shaun to order in the cable as a rush so that I could finish out the trip with a properly working bike. *sigh*
My camera lens is still a bit damp from yesterday
I really enjoy the scenery along US Route 2, but as it is also one of the best East - West commercial routes in the Eastern United States, it sees an awful lot of traffic. It makes me wonder why there isn't an East West Interstate system, not that I would want to be on it on a motorcycle.
Caroline's first time in the White Mountains on a motorcycle
It really is this beautiful.
We met up with a local resident who is working on a photo novel, and handed Caroline a sample of his artwork while I got to meet and greet his lovely dog. She gets chained as he says she can chew through a rope in under an hour, and I can believe it.
Don't drink puddle water!
Just down the road there is an old brick farmhouse called "Brickett Place" with a well storied past, being built by John Brickett, one of the first settlers of the Cold River valley, arriving in 1803. He lived with his family in a log cabin for a number of years, and began construction of this house in 1812, making the bricks himself. The house took four years to complete. Brickett did not own the land on which he built: it was part of a large tract granted to Josiah Bachelder in 1816, which was later incorporated as the town of Stow. Brickett purchased title to 50 acres (20 ha) from Bachelder in 1820. The house remained in the Brickett family until 1877, and was acquired by the United States Forest Service in 1918. Wikipedia
The beautiful part of Evan's Notch, is that it follows a mountain pass following the course of two rivers, one flowing south into the Saco River, and the other flowing north into the Androscoggin River.
And for the first time Caroline enters New Hampshire on a motorcycle, but it won't last long as we will cross back over in a few kilometres.
Welcome to New Hampshire!
Note that New Hampshire might have a bit more tax money to spend on the roads... They improved noticeably as soon as we crossed the state line.
And we cross the state line again.
Can you tell which direction we are headed?
We had another road that I wanted Caroline to try, Hurricane Mountain Road that would kick us out in Intervale New Hampshire, where we would pick up the 302 that would take us into Bartlett NH where we would leave the ski town and cross over the mountain on Bear Notch Road, but we had a ways to go to get there yet...
Hurricane Mountain road is a lane-and-a-half road that runs up and over, you guessed it, Hurricane Mountain near Conway New Hampshire. It's a fun little road that I first rode back in 2008 with my friends Willie, Darryl, and Roland while attending the ADVRider meet in Maine.
Hurricane Mountain Road,
302 with it's traffic was quite sedate in comparison after that run.
The Sunrise Shack, Glen NH
Just outside of Glen NH, we spotted a restaurant surrounded by cars, and after pumping some gasoline decided that it was worth back tracking to it and check out the food.
Totally worth it! Their breakfast bowls are sensational and I've added it as a waypoint in my GPS so I can enjoy a meal there in the future if I'm in the area.
I ordered Da Bomb off of the Sunrise Shack menu, while Caroline enjoyed the Yardsale breakfast bowl that included roasted garlic cloves which she shared with me. Did I mention that she loves me? ;)
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Beautiful weather today. Bit of a late start, but it’s not a race. Goal tonight is Lake Placid, NY.
Next stop, Bartlett NH for Bear Notch Road
Bear Notch Road is a gap that runs up Table Mountain, The Bartlett Haystack, and Bear Mountain and kicks you out onto the fabulous Kancamagus Highway Route NH 112.
A stop on Bear Notch Road
What can I say about the Kancamagus Highway? If you haven't already ridden this highway, then it should go onto your "Must Do" list, and while you are at it, come on out to the East Coast and say hello. The Cows ice cream is on me.
Panoramic view from the Sugar Hill Overlook
We stopped further up the road at the Pemigewasset Overlook for a few pictures and to chat with the park rangers who were clearing some of the brush in front of the overlook.
New Hampshire and Maine have no helmet laws.
It was 1400 and we still had a lot of ground to cover today, so we threw a leg over and headed down out of the White Mountains and off of the Kancamagus and back onto Highway 302, which crossed the state line and into the town of Woodsville Vermont, where Caroline and I stopped in at a Dollar General store as she wanted to get a pair of flip flops for the showers, and I was hoping to find some neat things as well. We got Cheese in a can, and when one of the shoppers saw our reaction to it on the shelf, we felt obligated to explain that "We are Canadians." as if that excused our childish reaction to the discovery.
Remember all of that riding in the rain we did? Well I think my gas cap isn't water tight any longer as I discovered water in the overflow ring just above my gas cap, and I was forced to use a paper towel to remove it so it wouldn't find it's way down into my gas tank! Outside the store was parked a big truck with a couple of kids sitting in the rear passenger seats, and one of the boys spoke out as he saw Caroline and I loading up our ill gotten dollar store goodies, "I like your bikes!" I made sure to ask which one, and cracked into a huge grin when he pointed at my Versys instead of the Shadow. I then asked him "What do you ride?" to which he responded "A TSC mini bike that I share with my brother."
"Well have fun, and don't forget to practice your wheelies!" To which I got a huge grin from teh occupants of the truck as their Mom pulled back out of the parking spot.
Back on the roads with Caroline... The scenery is wonderful and the roads are entertaining. This is what riding is all about, and as it is early September there is little to no traffic on the roads at all!
Caroline stated that it was interesting riding in the mountains, cold at the top and hot in the valleys, and I told her about riding in Italy at the Passo De Stelvio where it was summer at the bottom and a snowy winter scene at the top of the mountain pass. It wasn't as extreme here, but you could certainly feel it.
We were deep into Vermont along the track I'd plotted out earlier last week, and had left the 302 in favour of a bit of Interstate that saw us over to VT 100B that I wanted to use to get us onto VT 17 up and over the Appalachian Gap between Stark and Baby Stark mountains.
My clutch skills were getting a workout as we headed through some of the smaller towns, and the very end of the vice grip was painfully uncomfortable to use.
Downtown Barre Vermont
Generations of farming along the Mad River had shaped the landscape, and as always, I really enjoyed capturing some of the older buildings on film (SDCard?).
Farms along the Mad River
It was getting late, and the shadows were getting longer, so when we pulled into Waitsfield Vermont just before 1800, it was time to find a campground, and for Caroline to phone home and wish her mother Esther a happy birthday.
"Collect call, do you accept the charges?"
I was sent on a mission to get some water and some milk for the tonight's supper and the morning cuppa tea. Mission accomplished, although with space at a premium, the water jug had to be strapped to the luggage rack on the outside of the bike.
Caroline located a campground just off of VT 17 called Maple Hill Campsites in South Sharksboro Vermont, about 30 minutes away, but with these mountain roads, we were going to lose our light quickly and I hate putting up tents and cooking in the dark. I mean I loath it, truly.
Caroline entered the address into her cellphone and took the lead, and I was a tad disappointed, for it;s moments like these when the planned route is tossed out due to expediency, and I mourned the loss of the fun bits I'd plotted for us. What's this!? We were heading up VT 17 through the Appalachian Gap right where I wanted to be! Caroline wasn't eager to go fast up the mountain, but then neither was I as I'd almost wrecked by being an idiot and riding right up into a blinding sunset. To this day I have no idea how my guardian angel managed to steer me clear of that guardrail while I was blinded by the setting sun right in my eyes, but I still count my lucky stars. David and I did that back in 2014 while riding North up VT 100 to Smugglers Notch. This run was quite uneventful, and we reached the overlook at the top of the pass in due course, and hopped off to take some pictures of the setting sun.
VT 100 is a wonderful little ride!
Welcome to Appalachian Gap!
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
We met Melissa from New Jersey, who had travelled out to New England with her husband, and were stopping to admire the same view as we were, and we spent a few moments in conversation before waving fare well as they left the overlook.
Now it was time for the important photography to commence! Say "Cheese!".
Well boys and girls, in order for this tale to continue, two people are going to have to walk up that a way and get their tired legs over those saddles and keep riding to a campsite. Especially if anyone wants to get a meal and some sleep tonight.
Just one more...
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Maple Hill Campsites was located just off of VT 17 on Quaker Street, an unpaved farm road that led us up Mount Pleasant for a few hundred meters to a century plus homestead that had seen more than a couple of generations of Vermont families, where we met our hostess, and got a wee history of the farm as well as sharing our impressions of the place that we had garnered from Google Maps that had initially led us here after Caroline had done the research.
With a mixture of ducks and hens running free on the front lawn, I was completely distracted while Caroline signed us in and paid the campground fees.
The best part is the campsites were quite well separated, and as it was off season, we only had a few other campers to wave hello to. Once off the bikes I growled a bit and got Caroline's attention and assistance to set up the tent and get it pegged out before we lost our light. In the mountains, the sun doesn't have as far to sink, and you could experience a sunset almost an hour in advance. (I keep telling Caroline that so she won't get mad at me.)
Getting dinner on the go.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Sunset over Pleasant Mountain, Vermont
It's time to get into our Dollar General sack of goodies and see what we have! Easy Cheese!!!
No signal, so we didn't get much outside contact that night.
No signal. Fun.
Ah well, time to crank out some cordon bleu cooking here and see if we can earn another Michelin star... Thankfully she got enough signal to find that there was a 40% chance of rain for the area.
So we decided that Ramen was on the menu for this evening, and Caroline tweaked it up with a can of Costco Chicken that her Aunt Mary and Uncle Carl had gifted her with last month. It's seen a couple of miles on the road since then, but was a perfect addition to the noodle soup, as well as some dehydrated vegetable flakes that I'd found at Canadian Tire of all places, but these need to boil for a few minutes or they are a bit chewy. Caroline suddenly remembers stuffing all that Canadian beef jerky into our faces prior to the border crossing, but here she has gone and smuggled cans of chicken across an international border! I'm travelling with a felon!!!
Mmmm! Chicken vegetable Top Ramen from the dollar store!
And it was time for bed... Night All! Or not quite. There were a ton of crickets, as in the tent walls vibrated along with their call. Why can you ask Alexa for Ambient Noise such as ocean waves or rain on tent, but not crickets in grass? Hahaha. We were tired enough that it wasn't long before we faded away and slept at last.
Wednesday Day 4: Bristol VT to Whitby ON - 641 km
I might have mentioned that I don't sleep particularly well when in a tent, not that I lose sleep, so much as wake up godawful "Milk them cows, boy!" early, so I like to get moving and start my cuppa tea and oatmeal to start the day, but today Caroline was up with me as it was going to be a rather long day, as neither of us wanted to spend another night on the road and turn this from a four day trip to Ontario into a five day odyssey, emphasis on the "od", pronounced "Odd".
Getting cracking with breakfast...
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Our campsite was in the field, while others chose to camp in amongst the trees. The skies overhead were threatening rain again, but for now it seemed to be blowing the clouds away from us. I was really hoping to be able to eat breakfast and get moving before struggling into my rain gear.
One of the dollar store finds was UHT shelf stable milk, so I was looking forward to trying it in my tea this morning. I suppose the Americans can find this anywhere, but it can be a bit of a mystery to Canadians to find Ultra High Temperature milk on the shelves in Canada. One site suggests you check in the baking supplies aisle beside the powdered milk.
Okay, it turns out that it is very much like 2% milk
It tastes alright when added to my tea, so I'll add it to my list of things to bring to a campsite in the future, or to hang onto in case of a multi day event such as a winter storm power failure or similar.
Where there is flame you will find a SVEA123R
NOW THAT'S A FIRE!!!
Once breakfast was consumed it was time to wash up and pack up the tent, but we got reminded with a wee sprinkle that it may be a good idea to start the day with our rain gear on. I really didn't want to.
I'd asked Caroline to pack along my gas canister setup inside my 775ml Stowaway pot, and it was working a treat to heat up water at the campsite in the morning. More efficiently than the SVEA123R to be fair, so future trips would look at butane and butane - propane blends as a goto for meals. It really is a brilliant solution, and you only need a windscreen in brisk winds.
My $42 dollar cooking setup
The titanium mugs that I'd purchased this spring were working out perfectly, although Caroline may need a wee something for oatmeal porridge in the future, and I saw the need for a single large pot big enough to boil water for two, or to cook a meal for two. I've been using a setup that I used to use solo, so all I'd done for this trip was join two solo sets, and you could tell. Without the second stove (Caroline would have it packed up with her gear) I was unable to prepare enough water in one go for two people. It's beginning to look like I may actually want a Jetboil using isobutane to heat up the water quickly for two people. I use about 800ml for a huge cuppa tea and a single packet of instant oatmeal, so I think I'd need about 1.6l between Caroline and I for a morning boil up. Thoughts?
Caroline straps on the last of her gear.
40% chance of rain turned into 100% chance of getting a sprinkle to remind you that it MIGHT get nasty today.
Did we just ride past a field of Pot!!!??? I think so, with plenty of warning signs all over the crops, and no real fences at all! Caroline thinks it might have been THC free Hemp plants. Interesting.
VT 17 joined up with VT 116 and we wound our way alongside Baldwin Creek and through the town of Bristol Vermont, with our destination of the morning being Chimney Point, or rather the Lake Champlain Bridge across Lake Champlain that separates Vermont and New York State.
You find yourself looking over your shoulder to see the Appalachian mountains behind you, with a plain of land, and there, in the distance, a dark smear that may be rain clouds or may be the Adirondack mountains of New York State and Lake Placid winter olympics fame.
We fuelled up at the Citgo at the junction of 17 and 7, and I convinced Caroline that we deserved a nice cuppa coffee and a second breakfast (we shared a small croissant) before heading into what looked like rain clouds gathering in the West. I then took the opportunity to retell my horrific story of the Dunkin Donuts "Jelly" flavoured donut of years gone by.
Chicken Bacon and Cheese stuffed croissants... What's not to like?
So while munching on our second breakfast, up strolls this dude who introduces himself as a Canadian, and instantly earns our respect, as we've got to stick together, although he confessed that he'd married an American from the area and moved here to be closer to her family. I said that was alright as he was a sixth columnist, spreading our Canadian Values here in the States, and mentioned Canadian Bacon to which he laughed and said it was one of his favourite movies. "It's your job to see that Neighbour is spelled correctly, so they second guess themselves when they write out "harbor" and wonder if they should be using a "U" as well." Nice
If you haven't seen this movie, you have been missing out.
Canadian Bacon starring John Candy and Alan Alda
100% chance I'm glad I have my rain gear today!
I'll just leave these here so you can follow our progress along VT 17 towards the bridge, and the impending rain clouds that were in our future.
There is Crown Point, New York State ahead of us, and we are going to be heading North along the lake, then West into the Adirondacks shortly.
Welcome to New York
9N heading north into Port Henry NYS
These roads are damp. I think we'll be in our gear sooner rather than later.
Do you see that house up ahead on the right? We pulled off the road and onto the end of his driveway to do our rain dance, and it began to rain just as I was struggling to get my rain jacket on overtop my jacket.
Do you mind if we park here for a bit?
I'd picked this awesome road, I mean a five star motorcycle road that runs all over the place, with chicanes and knee sliding corners... But with this rain, it was even a bit nerve wracking than usual as I found that while the Shinko 705s I was running on are stellar on dry, warm roads, my rear tire was acting up a bit on cold wet roads. I think the cool temperature was the biggest factor, as it would tend to skid sideways under hard acceleration or to let go a touch if I hit a tar snake or painted line, all of which poinited very clearly to reduced traction. I had to take it easy, and Caroline found the pace just about perfect as we made our way West across Ensign Pond Road that follows Mill Brook and would join the 9N with the 9 where we would head north on into Keene NYS. :'(
We had made it out to 9 and made our turn North, as the rain tapered off a bit, but it was still coming down a bit.
It really is a fun stretch of road, and even in the light rain I was enjoying it, but had it been dry, it would have been a fantastic ride through the Adirondacks.
I've taken a lot of pictures here on NY 73 along Lower Cascade Lake, but this was the first time I asked another rider to pull ahead of me so I could get them into the shot.
Caroline rides towards Lake Placid New York alongside Lower Cascade Lake
A short distance outside of Lake Placid you will know you have arrived when you see the ski jumps. Caroline was amazed to see how tall they were, and it does really put into perspective how fast and how far they will jump.
Traffic was running so slow through the town, but Caroline got to see it in all it's splendour (all forty years of it) since the games were held here in 1980.
In Upper Lake, I spotted a NAPA Auto Parts store off and to the left, so ducked in and was joined shortly by Caroline, as I was in need of some medium strength threadlocker for the the Versys, for similar to the KLR, it can vibrate enough to shed fasteners once in a while, and I was looking forward to getting that kickstand plate back onto the bike with some blue loctite. I might have spent a couple of dollars in that store.
$27.00 USD!!! for a tiny little bottle of the stuff!
I was having some real problems with the clutch in parking lots, or rather, real issues using vise grips in place of a clutch at parking lot speeds, and I mentioned to Caroline that it made me look like I was a newb at riding to which she responded,
"That's okay, it makes me look good."
We needed fuel for the bikes, and coffee to keep going ourselves, which was fair, as it was almost four hours after our shared Dunkin Donuts croissant. So the Sunoco just down the road was the perfect place for a quick stop and a wee break.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
We shared a cup of coffee, and I sampled a sip or two of Caroline's locally brewed Saranac root beer, and dared to finally remove some of our rain gear as I just couldn't handle putting those darned rain pants on yet again.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
We only had another sixteen miles on US 3 before we would take a northwards turn up 56 towards the St. Lawrence river that we were going to need to cross at some point today. Caroline had also been using Trip Advisor and said we were going to the Ole Smokehouse, Madrid NY for lunch, so we had reason to move things right along with Caroline's cellphone pointing us in more or less the right direction. I say that as my Garmin GPS was also telling me to head north on 56, so the stars and planets were aligned temporarily, but once in a while my GPS would say "turn here" and hers would say "keep going" so once we got that sorted out, we found ourselves on NY 14 that follows the Grass River, and finally at 1330, in front of the Ole Smokehouse, where the smell of the smoker working away out back almost lifted me from the saddle and wafted me through the air in it's direction. I figured somebody on Tripadvisor knew what they were talking about when they rated this place.
The not so "Ole" smokehouse
When I found out that Caroline had never before sampled a Blooming Onion, I needed to be "That guy" that introduced it to her, so I splurged a bit and ordered one as an appetizer for our lunch. Perhaps not the best idea in the world, but we were hungry and running low on a combination of instant oatmeal and a shared croissant from Dunkin Donuts back at least one state and five hours ago. That's my excuse, like it or leave it.
Our server, Ricky, only had a few customers that afternoon, and she joined right in with our light hearted mood, and made a couple of suggestions, and chatted about where we were from and going to on this trip. She's from Potsdam just down the road a piece, and has lived and worked in the area all her life.
Caroline's first Blooming Onion
Of course I had the brisket with coleslaw. Brisket, tomato, smoked bacon, french fries, cheese and a side of garlic mayo. Mmmmm!!!
Caroline ordered "The Roundup", a three tiered pulled pork sandwich on special that day, and she demolished it, while I enjoyed watching her eat it, as her fingers were covered with bbq sauce, I thought it was going to be "takeout", but determined to stick it out game to the end she finished up and retired to the bathroom now washing up. I love you Caroline, and I feel blessed to have you as part of my life and on this trip with me.
Feeling a few pounds heavier it was time to get moving again, but it seemed that the sun was finally coming out a bit, and we were able to shed a layer of clothing before setting off for our border crossing in Ogdensburg, another 30 min North West of us.
This late in the year I was seeing fewer bikes and cars than I'd ever seen on the roads before. It was nice to have the highways to ourselves so much, but as we still had at least another 3 hours of saddle time in front of us, it was time to keep the pace up and push while on the fun roads that were finally drying out and making a faster pace possible.
The border crossing was uneventful as we declared our purchases and were waved on through. You can't really haul too much by motorcycle, and all I had was about $57 dollars worth of permatex and some dollar store items that we bought back at the Dollar General in Vermont.
Now we were firmly on the 401 Westbound, and would be stopping at OnRoute after OnRoute as we put those three hundred kilometres behind us.
They let us back in!
They let us back in!
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Welcome to Ontario where the 401 is busy 24 hours and 7 days a week. Gosh how I don't miss it, not even one little bit. It got really busy once past Kingston as I had known it would be.
Yep, we are in Ontario.
Caroline waving hello to the folks back home
Argh! I'd forgotten what it was like to be cut off by a tractor trailer doing 101 kph trying to pass someone doing 100kph. Again and again for hours and hours. Ad nauseum. *sigh*
*sigh* I could pass him on the left.
I could pass them both in the middle,
I could pass them on the right.
Yet I must not and behave myself.
We pulled up in front of my brother Richard's place at 1830, and went inside for a bit of a chat while he let his wife Kay know that the Eagle has Landed, and that he'd be taking us down to the Whitby Yacht Club to put us up on his sailboat for the night.
We made it!
At the intersection of Thickson and Victoria Street we made a left turn with our advanced arrow, and as Caroline was following behind Rich, a car made a right hand turn in the same direction of travel, but instead of turning into the merge lane, they headed across two lanes of traffic and almost merged Caroline up and onto the cement traffic island! We'd travelled over 1600 km without mishap until now! Maybe Toronto drivers really are the worst drivers in the known world! Shaken but not stirred, we carried on to the Yacht Club where Rich treated us to supper and got us settled into the Jabberwocky. Yup, he complained that my motorcycle boots did not have "non-marking soles" while Carolines did. He made a point of welcoming her on board.
While Caroline has been on boats before, many of them, she's never actually slept on one before, so she was quite tickled to be able to do so tonight.
Sunset over the Whitby Yacht Club
We spent last night in the mountains in Vermont and we’re spending tonight at the Whitby Yacht Club (thanks Richard and Kay!).
It was wonderfully cool in the boat, and we were comfortable in the rear berth, listening to the waves lap against the hull with the occasional sound of rigging slatting against the masts.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Thursday Day 5: Whitby ON - 31 km
Today we were going to stay local, check on the progress of the clutch cable order, check out GP Bikes and Royal Distributing, hit up Hero Surplus, Sail, and have lunch with my friend Wobbly Cat aka James later in the day.
This is the view we enjoyed with our coffee. I’m amazed it’s so peaceful here. The weather is beautiful and we’re staying local for the day.
Mmmm! Coffee with a view.
Dock 2 on the right and straight on til sunrise!
We took advantage of the shore shores in the clubhouse, and feeling clean and looking good, sat down to enjoy our morning cuppa tea, watching the swans and Canadian geese swim about in the calm waters of the Port of Whitby. The gypsy biker lifestyle was nice, afterall, and I was enjoying the company.
Canada Geese enjoying a beautiful day
Caroline was getting more and more use out of the phone mount that I'd put on her bike for this trip, but only during dry weather as her iPhone isn't weather proof, so she led us to GP Bikes in Whitby where it was just all eye candy! Before we got there we had arranged to meet up with James around 1300, as he was riding in from Markham ON to meet up with us, but that was before we entered a motorcycle wonderland!
I found a parts bike!
Do you think he would miss it? NAW!!!
Caroline likes this one, me not so much.
I could see myself riding an Africa Twin one day... For sure!
The part of the scrambler I like least, those pipes out the side. My nephew Tyler rides the 2016 and on hotter days, his right knee is always out and away from those pipes of his. I'm not a fan no matter how good they look.
While Caroline was cruising the store, I checked with the parts department on the off chance they had a clutch cable in stock that I could use, which was a negative, but they did give me the number for Snow City, the local Kawasaki Dealer and the part number of the cable I was looking for. It was Thursday, and my brother Shaun hadn't heard anything from St. Onge to tell him the cable was in, so I was still very anxious about repairing it before too much longer.
Oooh! Oxford candy!
Seeing an Oxford display is right up there with the Motion-Pro section! Sorry about the drool.
Will wonders never cease! My buddy Ib Ra Him had told me that I could get a cable repair kit online via Amazon, but here was one I could have used back in St. Stephen the day I broke the cable! At 23 dollars it was going into my bike underseat toolkit pdq and if St. Onge dropped the ball, I'd be using this sooner rather than later.
Oxford Cable Repair Kit
We were perusing the rain gear when I thought I recognized one of the shoppers in the store... Sure enough it was Drew from my GTAMotorcycle days when we'd meet up with fellow riders and head off into Northern Ontario for better roads and more excitement!
At the time he'd bought himself a 990 KTM and I recall seeing him up on it time after time.
Meanwhile, Caroline found herself a pair of waterproof boots that interested her...
Tourmaster Ladies Solution 2.0 W/P
Now Drew was on the 1290 SuperDuke
We'd lost all track of time and Wobbly now there at GP Bikes as well, so we had a mini reunion in the parking lot of GP Bikes. James had been riding all over the West Coast of the US and Canada, including the Dempster highway in Alaska, and had only recently returned home, so it was awesome to see his bike and the mods he'd made for all that solo riding he'd done. There was more play in those mounts than I care for, but the luggage system seemed to be working well for him. In fact, the Honda CB500X was a bike that I'd suggested to Caroline as a replacement for her 2004 Honda Shadow as she has firmly been bitten by the Adventure Riding bug, and Wobbly offered to let her have a ride right then and there on his, but she begged off saying that Shaun had offered her a ride on his up in Barrie, so she was saving herself for it. lol.
The busted clutch, can it be fixed with a $23.00 miracle cure? Stay tuned to find out!
I wish I'd had this a few days ago
"She went up easy, but came down hard! Real hard!
It still hurts when I do this, hard."
Okay, we are all human and need to eat, so Caroline and her Tripadvisor told her that there was a good Greek restaurant up the road a bit at Colborne St W and Brock Street South in Whitby, so we made our way north and sat down to wait for Drew who would be joining us later on once he got his parts sorted out at GP Bikes.
Mmm! Greek food! I don't know of any on the Island, and I was desperate to have some Souvlaki skewers of chicken and pork to share with Caroline, and she ordered a spanakopita of puff pastry, spinach and feta cheese to share. Between us, we feasted as we got caught up with James and his adventures out on the West Coast.
Caroline had never parked with four bikes in a spot before, so it was a bit interesting watching her get sorted in the parking spot. When she first arrived, she had pulled up as if to park there lengthwise, so I was left out in the cold (traffic) to hang until she realized what was needed and parked at an angle beside James so I could squeeze in too, and later when Drew arrived, he slotted himself in without trouble. James dropped a few coins in this for us, so Thanks James! Luv ya!
The unusual suspects
We'd made a slight error in our lazy day of sleeping in and sipping morning coffee while the world went to work. Rich works construction and finishes up pretty early in the day, so supper was going to be soon, so essentially we waved fare well to our friends, and headed further north to meet up with Rich and his wife Kay for supper at Pho Metro, which was 3 minutes North of us, but this time of the day it was almost total grid lock as there was a lane reduction for construction up ahead. Caroline hasn't ridden in a big city other than Charlottetown and Moncton, so she tends to be a bit of the straight laced riding type whereas I started driving a car and riding in these conditions, so was much more comfortable with lane splitting if needed, and merging into a lane of stopped cars. I jumped into the magic right hand lane, sped up to the "This lane ends" sign, held out my left arm to indicate that I wanted to merge ahead of a car, and simply did so when he backed off for a brief second or two. Done. Now I was stopped and could see the restaurant, and as soon as the light up ahead blocked traffic, I rode in the oncoming lane for a hundred meters and into the parking lot of Pho Metro, where I dropped my kickstand, and was about to pull off my helmet when I got an incoming call from someone that I knew. Caroline hadn't wanted to follow me into the right hand lane, and said she was going to stay right where she was, but I couldn't bury that urge to be free and sit in traffic as if I were in a cage (car), so she said she could now see the restaurant, and I told her half joking to ride here on the sidewalk, it would save her five minutes. She finally was able to join me at the restaurant, where we shed our gear and went inside to save a seat for our supper party, even though we were about a half hour early ourselves, and just finished lunch not an hour ago. *sigh*
Waiting on family. :D
As I live and breathe, Caroline had never tried bubble tea before, so what is a guy to do but order some lychee bubble tea to share with her. I captured her first ever sip of the delightful concoction, but after closer examination, I think this is her first ever experience of being choked near to death by a strawberry flavoured hunk of lychee. ;)
Bubble tea anyone?
Rich & Kay joined us, and we all ordered something to join the communal pot with a few jokes tossed around about "tripe" and how much I was looking forward to sampling it again (not), so when the plates started hitting the table, it was grab some and dig in. I was particularly fond of the curried beef Pho and Kay's choice of the Pad Thai. Wow! Supper at Pho Metro was so amazing that all I have so show are the after shots of well cleaned plates.
Pho Metro in Whitby ON
After supper we thanked Rich & Kay for that wonderful meal and headed south back to Royal Distributing and then over to Sail before heading back to the Yacht Club and our waiting berth.
Rich & Kay
Umm, yeah. Royal Distributing where Caroline was hoping to get a line on a heated jacket that would see service on our ride back to Prince Edward Island, but all they had in stock was a Gears Gen. 4 with a different type of power connector than the older universal SAE connector that both our bikes were equipped with for our battery chargers, and for my Gen. 2 heated vest and jacket.
Caroline visits Royal Distributing in Whitby ON
I found the style of gloves I was looking for, but none in my size, although I did manage to grab a Fox toque that I planned to use for our colder camping nights on the way home through Quebec next week, as I figured the temps were going to plummet further than they already had.
The Honda RC51 of Royal Distributing
She made note of the size, but once I found out that the SAE connector was not an option for the jacket, and that she would have to purchase an on/off switch AND an adapter cord, that option pretty much burst her bubble, and I suggested she also look at Tourmaster and Gerbing as well.
Our trip to Sail took a bit longer as it was after dark by the time we finished up there, and while checking out the stoves I met a fellow ADVRider that was actually looking for fuel containers for longer rides, and was considering some of the MSR bottles they had there. I suggested he look at Sigg bottles, the older fuel storage models, as he could find a number of one litre containers at a much lower price than those MSR or Optimus fuel canisters. I also suggested cat can alcohol stoves as the cheapest way to heat a meal or water than some of the $200 dollar solutions they had laid out in the store there. One moving part, if you damage it, you buy more cat food and a hole punch and build yourself a new stove. We talked forever about riding up and around Bobcaygeon and the 507 where he and a friend were exploring some of the fire roads in the area.
Anyhow, Caroline finally brought me back to earth, and I zoomed in on the Stanley Adventure Frypan set that had caught my eye last month when I considered a solution for a frying pan for Caroline and I to use on our misadventures, and I talked myself into buying one as there was a 20% off end of season discount at the moment, and I would have had to pay shipping if buying it from anywhere else. It comes with a host of materials stuffed inside it, and is in it's own right, a heavy duty good quality stainless steel fry pan, although it weighs in quite heavy. So I broke down and bought one, along with some ditty bags that Caroline had purchased as well, and a couple of the 100 gram isobutane cartridges that would stow away into our titanium mugs, which are unobtanium on our small island. I'm a stove nut, and she's into ditty bags and dry sacks. ;) She bought two that night, a 30 litre roll top dry bag, and a compression dry bag by Chinook that she intended to use for her rain gear. I'd convinced her that while on tour, rain gear should be exposed to the rain lashed to the top of her dry bag as opposed to buried deeply within another container. So she walked out with a GSI Ultralight Java Drip, a dry bag, some Coghlans organizer bags, and a ditty bag set, and I struggled to pack away our new possessions safely for the trip back to the boat, our home away from home for the night.
And once there we did a bit of late night (2145) snacking before hitting bed for the night. Oh yeah, we'd also arranged to meet up with my old army buddy Mark for breakfast the next morning. It was going to be our last on the boat, and we would visit Princess Auto, Hero Surplus, then drop the boat keys off at my brother Richard's house, then head on up to Barrie, but only after visiting my friends Scott and Karen in Markham later on tomorrow.
Mmmm! Wholesome Easy Cheese on top of Pizza Combos!!!
So it turns out that Caroline can have her eyes lased to correct them, and potentially dispense with her glasses, as her union PSAC covers a good part of the treatment. I suggested that PSAC was in fact subsidizing Caroline to become the next James Bond villainess, "Laser Eye". High five! She's on the path to become a sidekick! Random Task! Yeah, so bedtime chatter doesn't always have to be educational. ;)
Friday Day 6: Whitby ON to Barrie ON - 148 km
Where are these guys wintering? They're headed north!
Is it time for my shower again?
We had arranged to meet up with Mark at 1000 in a little restaurant that Caroline found on Tripadvisor, the Halibut House located at Victoria St E and Thickson Road, so once Caroline got her kit sorted out, and I'd finally managed to clean up a bit, we headed out and over on our ten minute ride to the restaurant, but had to be wary as the asphalt entrance looks as if it has been used for grenade practice and there are tire swallowing potholes there to avoid. We managed to park the bikes and get some gear off before Mark rolled in and we headed into the restaurant to order our meals and start talking with Mark.
Mark, same smile, years older, not so much wiser after all.
I can rip into Mark with impunity from the safety of my computer chair a thousand miles away from him, because that is how blogs work, and he managed to relate some pretty funny stories that may not have cast me in the best of lights in front of my girlfriend Caroline. In point of fact, he was describing the accidental discharge of an artillery simulator in Camp Blackdown, and said "...recruits sticking their heads out of tents like meerkats to be told by the Sergeant Major to "Mind their own business and get back to work!" although with more inappropriate language inserted that is sure to offend some. (snowflakes. There is a safe, quiet place for you where you hang your jacket.)
The food was uncommonly good as their home fries were fabulous, but the company was better and I felt sorry that we had to say farewell to another of my friends as we headed across the street to Princess Auto as Caroline wanted to shop in one of the largest branches in Canada. (Uh oh!)
Cheers Mark! Thanks for coming out.
A CLC 8801 Course Reunion, 31 years after the fact. This guy was a great course-mate and never fails to make me laugh when I see him. Great to meet his other half and riding companion (Caroline) while they were on their trek from PEI.
Ride safe, my brother. :) — with Ron Kierstead.
Literally on the other side of the street, we parked our bikes but before walking into the store, I had to check out this cool looking little scooter, to find that it wasn't a gasoline scoot as I was expecting, but an e-bike! I loved the styling! I'd own one if I had the extra shekels in my pocket for it.
The pedals might have been the giveaway.
Right, so we are happily shopping away in the glove section when my ass is grabbed from behind, and I hear this woman exclaim "Oh, no, you didn't just grab him did you?!" I don't recognize the guy with the big grin immediately, and I turn to his keeper (I figure he is out on a day pass from the institution) and recognize Anna V! Then it sinks in that this grinning unshaven defective is none other than English J! We used to ride together years ago, back when I had first started in fact, and Jay along with Jim had set the bar for me to aspire to on my then new to me 2001 Suzuki Bandit GSF600s. Later on, I'd moved out to Brooklin ON and Jay had started inviting me out to the regular bike nights with Paulo, Ward, Kirby and the gang. I'd even sampled some of Anna's wonderful cooking and played toss with their pup Gizmo. I wish they could have stayed and talked longer, but their boy had sent them on a mission for welding supplies that he needed for school, and they didn't have anymore time to spare other than a quick ass grab and chat. :D
He's so sweet, he's so fine, I wish he were all mine!
And, I had to get out of the store and into the parking lot for some fresh (polluted) Oshawa air while Caroline made her last few purchases.
Smile darling! She paid seven dollars for a winter hat
But her's doesn't have a Fox on it!
And it's almost lunch time and we still needed to get over to Hero Surplus and then drop the keys at Richard's place...
Hero Surplus was a fun stop, but I was a bit disappointed in it, as I'd been out of the army for so long that I wasn't current with any of the gear they use today, they didn't have any true surplus army boots in my size, and some of the bits and pieces made me miss serving my country, as I'd put over twelve years in uniform, man and boy in the cadets and with the 48th Highlanders of Canada. I think it may have been that conversation with Mark as well, that made me miss it so much. I didn't buy a thing, and later on headed out to the bikes again to wait for Caroline.
Not Serviceable or "NS" Tag
Hahaha! I wonder how they got their hands on this old sign?!
And She bought more stuff.
And what stuff is was! Some goretex socks, and more sacks and things, but the socks proved out to be a decent purchase (and I'm a bit envious of them).
One of the staff rolled in on his Ducati, and while it looks cool, I wondered how or even if he would be able to make a trip like ours, and where his stuff would go. I imagine a backpack and a Visa card.
So now it was a mad dash up to Markham to meet the timing for lunch with Scott and Karen who were just closing on their new house! Only to arrive in the restaurant parking lot seemingly only minutes before some threatening clouds passed overhead. Karen laughed while watching me try to pile my helmet, hydration pack and leather jacket under the bench seat at the front of the restaurant, and as a rider herself, made available the back of her van for our gear for the duration.
Scott & Karen
Scott & Karen were celebrating the purchase of a new home which was a beautiful upgrade and investment for their family, and at the same time I was very pleased to introduce Caroline to them, and as Karen had picked Osaka as a lunch spot, I knew that Caroline would enjoy the luncheon as she is mad about Sushi, although in true trip fashion we had pushed it back to 1400, and even then we arrived a tad late to find them waiting for us.
Korean Bulgogi Japanese Sushi lunch box thingy...
As it as my first time in a Sushi restaurant, Scott helped me pick out a Korean Beef Bulgogi bento box, which I was very familiar with, as Karen had introduced me to Korean BBQ years ago, and I'd developed a taste for it then.
Caroline and Karen had picked out some giant rice and mango thingy. I think there is some seaweed and raw fish stuffed in there as well. ;)
It was a wonderful lunch with friends and we tried to catch up over a year in the space of an hour, but there just isn't enough time to do that, enjoyable as it is.
They invited us back to their new home to give us a tour of it, and I fondly recall a visual of Karen doing her Vana White impression to show us her new, incredible kitchen. I chatted with Scott about the important things, such as media servers and data throughput, mesh networks, and then Caroline rejoined us for a tour of the A/C and furnace room while Karen had to dash off to collect the kids from school.
My brother Shaun had taken the afternoon off of his job and we needed to get moving up to Barrie, so when Karen arrived on foot walking through the park, she arrived to find us gearing up and getting ready to roll out, but we got an opportunity to say "Hello Goodbye" to Jordan and Ryder before heading out on our way North.
Hello - Goodbye
Thanks so much for taking time out on your deal closing day to spend some of it with us. :D
Just as we rolled out of their neighbourhood, the skies that had threatened but held off on the rain decided to open up and let us have it, so we spent rush hour riding North on 9th line up into Ballantrae, then jumped onto Heritage Road/Green Lane onto Yonge Street, then took my little route to avoid Bradford by swinging past the Go trains, into the industrial area, and crossed over Yonge Street in favour of Huronia which would take us all the way up to Barrie and my brothers place in one go, provided we held true and kept going. The rain was cold! This ride was turning more and more into a fall endurance event, and I was glad that both Caroline and I had erred on the side of warm clothing as opposed to expecting sunny days!
Sorry, any photos would show us wet and dripping, but here is a shot of what the gas prices in Ontario are looking like at the moment, along with the infamous "Doug Ford" stickers on the pumps. If true, we many not be able to afford trips like this anymore. Thanks Justin.
We rolled into Shaun's driveway just after six with the rain finally turning into a few nuisance drops, and were able to climb out of our rain gear, and after a joyful reunion with his three dogs, Murphy, Annie and Scout, we got dried out, sorted out and unloaded our bikes as we'd be staying here a couple of nights before moving on to visit my Aunt Sharon on Sunday.
We got changed for supper, but Shaun first took us out to St. Onge Recreation as Shaun had called to find that my clutch cable was in! We headed over and I made a beeline for the parts counter while Shaun and the girls looked around. I happily paid the $35 for the cable and related my tale of the cable snapping 1000 kilometres back, and using a pair of vise grips and my girlfriends zip ties and duct tape to make it this far all the while power shifting my Versys. Tomorrow morning was going to be a maintenance morning for me!
Just outside there was a shadow with a top box and I grabbed a couple of pictures so that if Caroline ever wanted to go this route, it would be available for her. The rider had fashioned their own mount system that tied in with the Honda accessory luggage rack, and seemed a decent compromise. I know I love having a top box on my bike, and it's a goto when I want to take a cup of tea to work with me.
Doris & Shaun
Shaun knew just where to take us, a small cozy little pub in Barrie called Malones where the beer was good, but the food was better.
Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc is a modern, fruity and refreshing wheat beer. With its unique taste and appearance, 1664 Blanc appeals to consumers all over the world. It has an inimitable sweet and refreshing flavour, resulting from the hint of citrus and coriander spice used in brewing. With its flavour and design, 1664 Blanc embodies the elegance and taste of France. Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc’s modern identity is perfectly expressed by its unique shiny blue bottle.
I ordered a Canadian, but Shaun let me sample his Kronenbourg Wheat Beer, and I rather wish I'd ordered that as opposed to my blonde lager. It went down surprisingly well.
The food! Caroline drew my attention to the kitchen, where we witnessed a cook pressing the potatoes out into chips, so we knew we were in for fresh cut french fries, and that goes a long way to make me content with any meal, but the burger and the brisket sandwich that Caroline and I split and shared was incredible! If you are looking for good food and beer, then let me endorse my brother's recommendation for Malones Pint House! It was five stars fantastic! I'd ordered the Canadian Mouthful:Our generous BURG with Canadian Bacon Eh! Sorry this BURG has sauteed mushrooms and onions on it. Sorry it has a mound of cheese on it. Sorry that you love it so much... Sorry we are awesome!
Made it to Barrie for a couple of days. 😁 Supper with Doris, Shaun, and Ron.
Fresh cut fries with the
Shaun & Doris took us on a wee tour of the town, and we went up to see the "Mansion" as Doris called it, 101 Clapperton Street in Barrie, where an old house built in the 1870's stands today, now a multi tenant apartment building, but back in the day it was a residence for a local politician and his family, and as a single house, it must have had a commanding view from this hilltop before all the other homes were built in the neighbourhood.
101 Clapperton StreetThis splendid Gothic Revival style house at 101 Clapperton Street was known at various dates as Ardtrae and Pinecroft Apartments. It was built for Thomas David McConkey in the mid 1870s as part of what was becoming a row of trendy Wellington Street ridge mansions. McConkey opened a dry goods store in Barrie in 1843. A politician and entrepreneur, “Oily Tom” was a member of the first Town Council in 1854, and served as Reeve, Warden of Simcoe County, and Sheriff. In 1863, he was elected Liberal member of the old Canadian Parliament and the next year helped found the Barrie Examiner newspaper as a party paper. He supported Confederation and in 1867 was elected to the first House of Commons of the new country. McConkey died in 1890. His daughter Anne (Mrs. J. H. Plummer) inherited the house and used it as a summer residence. It later was sold to the Dignams. The tall windows, steep pitched roofs, scallop, wheel, star bargeboard, and spiky finials give the structure exaggerated verticality. The decorative brickwork of the chimney stacks is a tribute to the skill of nineteenth-century masons. The dwelling has been converted to apartment use.
Once back at Shaun's place we sat with the dogs for a bit, watched a bit of television, got a load of laundry started for Caroline and I, then ambled off to sleep in a real bed for the night, the first time since leaving Prince Edward Island on Sunday that life felt a little bit normal! It's great to have family. :)
Saturday Day 7 Barrie ON
We woke up to the wonderful smell of Shaun cooking Spam, eggs, potatoes, and bacon in the kitchen in the morning, with the big Lab/Poodle mix Murphy close by monitoring the action to ensure he wasn't going to be left out of anything. Murphy is a goof, but he's good hearted and loves his people, and I'm happy to say that I've tried to spoil him every chance I get. Shaun & Doris had gone out of their way to include freshly pressed orange juice with our breakfast, and it was indeed a wee slice of heaven to sit down and enjoy a fantastic home cooked meal that I didn't have any part of other than loading up my plate.
Yes, I will eat cooked spam, but everytime I do, the monty python skit about spam plays in my head. I've added a wee bit for you here to enjoy, truly a classic Monty Python moment that Shaun and I laughed over a wee bit that morning. Murphy loved his bits of it, showing his repertoire of show stoppers like "Sit" and "Pray" or the favourite of the moment, "Speak". Couple that with some extra thick smoked bacon that Shaun was cooking up for us, and that kitchen was crowded and smelled wonderful!
Alrighty then! Time to get to work on the bike and sort out that clutch cable now that I was the proud and happy owner of a brand new cable in hand! I'll leave out all the gory details and show you some pictures of the progress I made, with special mention to my brother Shaun who uncrated his brand new rear stand and assembled it for me so the job would go easier in his driveway. Thanks!
The happy owner of a brand new clutch cable!
Oh, while I'm at it, I'll use some of my new loctite to get this kickstand plate firmly attached again!
KLRs or Versys, touch nothing without loctite!
That's it! Humpty Dumpty is back together again!
She's all back together again, and every time I asked for a new Lubricant to finish off the maintenance morning, my auto mechanic brother turned Honda engineer was able to slap it into my hand as if assisting in a surgery. Silicone lube, chain lube, even lithium grease for the kickstands and shift linkage!
Stuffed just inside the garage door was a pair of water skis that I recognized from when I was a kid out on Lake Simcoe learning how to water ski for the very first time behind Dad's eighteen foot Mason!
Lovely wooden skis that I learned on!
How can I get these home with me?!
Well, it started to rain a bit, so it was fortunate that we were done, so I packed my toolkit back underneath the bike seat, and we closed Shaun's garage door and retired to the house for showers and preparation for a shopping excursion to Cabela's, Royal Distributing, and the Thrift store in Barrie. Just as we were walking to the front doors, we watched a Honda CRV with a weird little mirror pull into a parking spot ahead of us. A couple climbed out of it, and I recognized it as a right hand drive Honda CRV similar to a vehicle that one of our postman on PEI used, and he'd told me that it had come from Ontario as well, and that they were somewhat rare in this country. Didn't it turn out that the lady driving the car was an ex brit, and worked as a delivery person for Canada post as well! Anyhow, I snapped a couple of shots for Caroline's son Shamus, and was told that if you are looking to buy a right hand drive, this is a goto website in Canada for them: Right Drive
Note the funny little mirror on the front left wing
There's a nice 1996 CRV listed for $10k that only has 269,900 km on it...
I admit to feeling like a cheat walking around Cabelas with all their merchandise, as I really couldn't buy and haul back anymore with my bike loaded the way it was. I can't recall what Caroline bought there, but now I feel like a hypocrite as I did manage to find a KFS set by GSI that was a reasonable $3, and when she saw it, decided to find a set for herself as well, then I completely lost track of Shaun, and started looking for Doris in the store only to have Caroline get lost on me, to track her down in the clearance section, but in the meantime I'd found a GSI Java Drip filter that packed down nicely for travel, and I decided that it would be a better option than the GSI ultralight mesh stick thingy she had bought at SAIL and used on the boat yesterday, as it had to be stored carefully away as it was now both wet and fragile, so not a perfect solution by any means. She'd already blown her coffee budget, so I bought it for her as a gift. :)
GSI Java Drip
Now before you run out to spend $12.99 CDN on one of these, check out your local Dollarama in the camping section as I think I've seen a similar cone drip silicone device for under $3. Tea is so much easier, but I do need my milk with it. The lengths we go to eh? There is a Canadian YouTuber, Mark Young, that swill hike into the bush, roast and grind his own beans over a fire, then make a cup of coffee. He's serious about a good cup of coffee, but I suppose I can be a bit particular about my morning cuppa char as well. *sigh* All the "lost" parties were out waiting for us in the car, so once reunited we set off for Royal Distributing, where Caroline couldn't find her size in heated gear, so was kicking herself for not buying one in Whitby, but I secretly was a bit happier as I really don't like the Gears Gen 4 connectors and I think she can do better if she wants to invest over $200 for a one-and-done solution like tourmaster synergy 12 volt. did finally manage to find a pair of those Thor Spectrum gloves in my size that will replace the gloves I'm currently enlarging the holes in, all while Shaun cursed me for making him spend $80 dollars on a new pair of gloves (I'd been the one to bring him to Royal after all, but I place that blame on Caroline as I too was just along for the ride.) ;)
We headed over to the Thrift store near Shaun's house where Caroline added a nice warm sweater to her cold weather gear for the trip home, and it was time to head home for a bit, let the dogs out and finally Caroline was going to throw a leg over a real Honda CB500X and take it for a rip around the neighborhood while I rode on his 150cc Kymco Scooter.
Our hostess, Doris, Shaun's better half
Annie and Scout pictured as well
We geared up and I followed Caroline as she tentatively put the Honda through it's paces, and she was thrilled with how nimble the bike was and how easy to handle compared to her Shadow, and would have traded bikes with Shaun in an instant right then and there but for the fact that Shaun's ride is a fairly new low mileage 2016 with racks and bags, and she would need about seven k to sweeten the deal. lol. She can dream.
In the meantime, Shaun has his fun while Caroline and I headed over to Kempenfelt bay, around the park and circled back to retrace our route, stopping in a parking lot to do a bit of low speed riding of the Honda. I felt it underpowered, and the gear shifter was not designed for big people that wore boots, but was otherwise a brilliant little performer, if perhaps, a tad hard to clutch up wheelie. It didn't much like to power wheelie either for that matter. I'd been thinking of one to replace the Versys, but clearly the V was more fun even if it was more designed for on road rather than mixed use as the CB500X tried to be. My takeaway is a nimble, underpowered and bland, a perfect starter bike in fact.
We were on our way back to Shaun's place when I spotted a Yamaha WR250R for sale on someone's lawn, and while I stopped to get pictures of it, the owner came out and we had a nice roadside chat about it.
For Sale by Owner
Paul smiled when I hopped off the scooter to have a look at his bike, and I told him my buddy Zac had come back from the Trans Labrador highway on his WR250X, and it turned out Paul was no stranger to touring as he used to own a Yamaha FJR 1300, before downsizing to focus on dual sports, and he had focused on the dirt side of that sport, as he was selling off the Yamaha WR250R to make way for the Husqvarna further up the lawn, a real weapon of bike that was gaining favour with some of my friends as focused dirt bikes that were street legal as well.
Paul mentioned that he had some friends out riding the BDR routes in Utah, and I asked him if he knew Yun-Kan who I knew to be out in Utah riding his dual sport, and sure enough, it was Yun-Kan he'd been referring to! I suppose it is a small world, but I was happier making another friend in it.
Not for sale
Simcoe County Adventure Riders? He gave me a few stickers, and I've stuck them right on the fairings of my Versys to cover up a few scratches.
We got back to the house, and Caroline was all smiles until I told her she wasn't allowed to take off her gear until she took the scoot round the block as well. I don't think it was a favourite of hers, but she can now say she's ridden a scooter... :)
How much for the scooter?!
Right, there was time for a drive round Shanty Bay on lake Simcoe in Shaun's new to him 2008 Toyota Solara with the boys up front and the girls in the back.
I can see why Murphy likes this
I love the tree cover here
Brrr! That fall weather seems to be creeping up on us pretty quickly! This afternoon went from warm to chilly in only a couple of hours.
The African Episcopal Church - Erected 1849
(I don't think this is the original structure)
Shaun led us on a merry little tour that ended at the Kawartha Dairies in Barrie, where Caroline was very happy to get stuck into some of the dairies finest salted caramel.
Right, home to let the dogs out again, rest for a spell, then it was time to head back into Downtown Barrie to for AYCE Sushi that Caroline had been looking forward to since we planned the trip, and we were going to be joined by my good friends John & Sarah, so I was very much looking forward to the night as well, and I didn't half mind some of the menu selections.
Okay, supper was over with, but Shaun suggested we head out to play some video and pinball games at a bar in Barrie. I got to play Galaga and Area51 with my honey! Whoot!
I hope they come out and visit us on the island at some point.
And home again, or rather Shaun's living room couch, to plot, plan and relax after an evening's fun. Tomorrow we would be heading up to Mattawa Ontario to visit with my Aunt Sharon, so we made sure that everything was where we would pack it away in the morning. One more night and we'd be on our way, although it wasn't any rush as it was only three hours or so saddle time on the highway.
Sunday Day 8: Barrie ON to Mattawa ON - 313 km
Shaun's offer of heading out for breakfast this morning was turned down as Caroline and I were still full from last nights adventure, so a cuppa tea was all I needed and Caroline likewise had some coffee and sampled some of that wonderful peanut punch that she had turned down last night.
Chillaxing with Murphy
Brings back memories of Paradise Island Restaurant in Oshawa!
I can't remember when we left Shaun & Doris to head north up Highway 11, but we did stop in at Ellwood Epps to see if my old army buddy Paul was around, but as it was a Sunday, he was off enjoying some time off I suppose. Ah well, we did have a nice shop around and learned a bit about hearing protection as we were on a mission to possibly obtain electronic hearing protection for Shamus, but the models in a gun shop were not for sustained noise such as an air hammer, but for instantaneous noise of that of a gun shot or shots.
You can't see it here, but I'm cozying up to the Epps bear out front.
And you haven't been turned into a rug yet? Remarkable!
Sooner or later a spending, cruising spree like this is gonna start to cost, so Caroline gets set to fund the remainder of our trip. Either that, or it was getting cool. Yeah, that's right, it was getting cool up in Northern Ontario, go figure, it's always a few degrees cooler than Toronto up this way.
I needed a break and convinced Caroline that pulling off into Bracebridge Ontario for a Tim Horton's coffee was a truly inspired idea etc. etc. but it wasn't a very hard sell, and in no time we were in a busy Timmy's queuing up for a nice hot cuppa, to find the owners of the bikes parked outside had the same idea.
A couple of Triumph Street Triples
There were also a few old cars so I got some pictures of them as the Old Man really likes to see them.
Now back to the bikers. Kendall and his wife of 28 years, Debbie, had gone out daytripping around in Midland, and were just warming up, sipping some coffee and recharging some batteries when we popped in to share their table, and wouldn't you know it, here they were celebrating their 28th wedding anniversary with a ride! Debbie started off on a Ninja 300, then Kendall made the mistake of letting her try his Street Triple, and it was off to the dealership to get one for her as well, GP Bikes if memory serves. Years of marriage had taught them to value those moments, and not to buy frivolous things for each other, and to point this up, Debbie asked us to guess what she had received for her anniversary gift, and after a suitable interlude, volunteered that Kendall had bought frame sliders for her, and she had bought Kendall some shop lights to make working on the bikes in the garage easier. I love it! They made me wish that Caroline and I had that kind of history to draw on, but I was very happy to have her with me on the ride as my partner. They had recently relocated from Innisfil to Creemore, and as they were only very recently moved, hadn't met Jim yet, so I showed them his house on google maps and assured them they would be welcomed and would be encouraged to chat bikes for ages, as that was Jim's passion as well.
Kendall & Debbie
Celebrating 28 years of marriage with a ride!
So they both wear heated gear, although I think they both use batteries for it, Kendall controls the heat for his jacket with his cellphone of all things, although I highly doubt he got it at a sale price of $200! I really enjoyed chatting with them and invited them to come visit the island and I'd treat them both to a copy of my "Best roads of Atlantic Canada" map and a Cows ice cream cone. The offer still stands! Cheers!
Looking East over Fish Lake Ontario
Up in Novar Ontario is my father's cabin, and while he was currently on Prince Edward Island visiting my sister Wendy-Sue, I wanted to show Caroline his cottage before carrying on up to Mattawa. I'd told Aunt Sharon to expect us at 1600, but here it was almost 1500 and we still had another hour and a half saddle time to go!
Proof positive, I sent this along to Dad
Dad can turn his hand to just about anything, carpentry, stained glass, plumbing, welding, even watercolor and oil paintings!
So over the years he's been working away on the cottage turning it into more of a home, so I wanted to let Caroline see what the old man was all about, and reassure him that we'd left no stone or picture untaken, that she'd seen the place from top to bottom, so when he complains about deep snow on the path to the wood pile, she'd be able to commiserate and relate just as well as any of us. ;)
Dad has so many sheds, he numbers them. Do you include the outhouse?
That's for numbers one and two. ;)
Dad would build trailers like this one out of scrap metal and auto parts, then use them or sell them as the mood struck him, but I remember being called out of the house many times to hold an axle (rusted pipe) straight up while he tacked it into place with this stick arc welder. Hahaha.
See Dad? You can talk about the Gazebo all you want!
The reek of paint is still all I think about when someone says that word.
The end of an Era
Torontonians will get it
See that paddle on the fence? If I'm right, underneath that coat of cobalt blue paint is the paddle I remember clearly every time we went up to the boat. Dad was hard on paddles as he treated his boat like a punt and pushed hard on docks, decks and rocks to get the boat moving, and this one had a duck logo on it, with a wee split on the end where the rock hadn't given way, but the end of the paddle had.
An heirloom, tied to the fence
While we were parked there having a look see, neighbours of Dad's came down the highway walking along the verges, and Caroline being the country girl that she is, recognized the neighbourhood watch and told me I'd best let them know I was Emerson's son up for a visit from Prince Edward Island, else I might here the sound of dogs, shotguns and torches clutched in the hands of an angry mob.
I could hear the dog barking, but the mob was Katelyn, Matt and their kids looking for Monarch butterfly pods on the milkweed. They would carefully collect them and take them back home where they encouraged them to morph into butterflies and guarded them from accidental or intentional death from the environment (birds and tractor mowers etc.). Katelyn and Matt told us that four generations would live that summer, before migrating to Mexico for the colder weather. I noted that the Monarchs seemed to be declining in numbers as I seem to recall a whole lot more of them about when I was younger. Katelyn was concerned about Dad, as he's in his eighties now, living alone, and I became a bit happier knowing that Dad had some friends watching out for him, when Wendy and I couldn't.
The neighbourhood watch. The one with fur is really good at it!
Well that was a quick thirty minute lightning stop. I made sure that I let Aunt Sharon know exactly where I was, as it looked as if we weren't going to make 1600 after all.
We were still about an hour away from our turn off, so off we went up highway 11 again. I have to admit I found it odd to see how they had improved it and turned it into a four lane divided highway, and routed it out of the towns that highway 11 used to run "hey diddle diddle, straight down the middle" of. What you gained in time and speed, you lost in culture and charm.
The Canadian Shield, blasted apart for a road.
It had been a long time since I had reason to come up this way, perhaps twelve years ago on a trip up to Killarney with Stephen for fish and chips? Nope that was the 400, not Highway 11, so it may have been for my Uncle Ken's funeral years ago in South River. Wow, that was also the day when I saw grey hair on the head of my younger brother and could no longer put out of my mind that we were getting older. Speaking of Uncle Ken, back when he and Aunt Sharon had lived in Sundridge, my Dad and Mom would take us up now and then, and no matter what cut of meet would end up on my plate (it could be moose, beef or venison) my Uncle would make something up about it. "How do you like that?" pointing at the meet and gravy on my plate that I had made magically disappear with the appetite of a ten year old... "That was a pesky red squirrel I got with the slingshot." Wow! Thought I and sort of imagined myself hunting food for the table in place of my Uncle. Each time we went up he'd choke back on a grin and tell me it was Beaver, or chipmunk until I was old enough to catch on. I'll never forget that, nor seeing him and Aunt Sharon come visit when the Sportsmen show was in town at the CNE grounds in Toronto.
Speaking of the old homestead, I think this may be it in the next couple of pictures. There used to be a dirt road that we'd turn off the highway to access his place, but that was gone now, and would have been just by that telephone pole iirc.
You can just make out the barn where the pony everyone got to take turns riding, didn't much care for a tubby teen ager and bucked me off PDQ! to the laughter of my cousins, Doreen, Jeremy, Craig and Theresa. I still remember their big dog Smokey, and how I had no need for a horse, as Smokey was almost big enough for me to ride, and Ken's hunting dog blackie that I was warned to stay away from as he had no house manners and was like to knock me off my feet with his chain run. Still Blackie was a happy boy that enjoyed the odd smuggled treat, but I would toss them to him rather than get too close.
Lots of memories, like buying my first rifle and shotgun from Uncle Ken, a sporterized modified Lee Enfield MKIII that someone had changed the sights and furniture on, removing the bayonet lug, and the Stevens 12 gauge shotgun that I'd fired off that very porch, the recoil and smell something I'd not thought to expect, but then I'd only had experience with cadet .22 calibre rifles at the time. Perhaps you can see why I do trips like this? It recalls those memories and brings the people I love closer, making them come alive again.
Anyhow, best stay on the throttle if you want to get there before dark. ;)
Aunt Sharon had given me some time saving directions, and while I thought I got them right. I took us off on another trademark mini adventure that had Caroline riding gravel trails and voiding water holes on her Shadow in Northern Ontario.
I was supposed to turn right onto 94, not go left towards Astorville, but it made sense at the time
We headed towards Lake Nosbonsing to avoid heading up to North Bay and making the corner from 11 onto highway 17. This was going to save us heaps of time! Errr. Maybe not when I messed it up. I let the GPS suggest a road and it said we could get through if we went North of the lake, then East a lot... At first everything was paved and rosy with plenty of homes and utility poles, then the road narrowed, the utility poles thinned out and were gone, and we found ourselves on a single lane dirt track that was a road, but clearly not a maintained at all (see the sign) and if the GPS hadn't said it positively hooked up with another road further East, I would have turned us around and headed back the way we'd come and into North Bay if I had to.
Adventure by Garmin
As mentioned the road got smaller, we lost sight of the telephone poles, and I really would have turned back as the potholes had joined together into a water hole that we had to go round, but the GPS was optimistic that we would join up with a straight road just around the corner up ahead, and sure enough, there it was, pavement and a sign.
Palangio Road and Maple Road
We were still 35 minutes away, and it was getting on past 1700 now, and Aunt Sharon had warned us that the restaurant we were heading to for supper was only open until 1900, so we made best speed towards the address that I'd checked on Google Maps.
We ended up pulling off of highway 17 on the East side of Mattawa Ontario, then climbing a gravel hill.
to find at the intersection, someone had a log barn! Fantastic! Especially when it turned out that it was my Aunt's place and I could get a close up shot of the barn.
Someone comes out to shoo away the nasty bikers
We were shown to our room, a lovely addition to the main house where Sharon had laid on some serious blankets for us, quilts sheets, pillows, had a small wood fire going in the stove, with an electric heater as well. The slight smell of wood smoke was heavenly.
That is a solid piece of work right there!
We moved the kit we needed into the room, shed our riding gear, and of course, instead of heading directly to the restaurant, took some photos... :)
Aunt Sharon shows us the security system
I think the code for the Security System is .357
Lee, Ron and Sharon
Photo Credit: Caroline
Caroline and my Aunt Sharon
Lee must have been a taxi driver in a previous life, as he knew exactly how to get there, and how to get the car parked, U-Turns or not. We got a mini tour of Mattawa that I enjoyed quite a bit, as I'd heard of the town for years, but can't say that I had any experience of it, other than the area at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, called "Mattawa Plains" where I'd spent some time in my youth, more than twenty years ago now.
Lee took us through the roundabout, which he said, when the town first put it in, offered classes on how to use it properly, which I can understand, as it's not exactly intuitive, but becomes a real boon when you realize that traffic no longer needs to stop at the intersection, as one side is always in motion, and T-Bone collisions that do some much damage are generally reduced and become side swipes or fender benders instead.
Mattawa's contribution to the memory of their fallen heroes of the first, second World Wars and Korean war.
Here on the shore, it looks like a fantastic recreational lake, but you see it after a hydroelectric dam was installed upstream on the Ottawa river, but it is the meeting place of The Mattawa and Ottawa rivers, the Mattawa giving access to Lake Nipissing area, and the Ottawa River flowing down to Montreal and the St. Lawrence river, a distance of over 400 kilometres as the crow flies, navigable by the Coureur des Bois (independent traders) and Voyageurs. From Wikipedia:
During the first three quarters of the seventeenth century, the fur trade was very free for New France . The competition was fierce and many colonies ventured out of the colonized territories around Trois-Rivières and Montreal to the West and North to establish trade links with the Amerindians .
In 1645 the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France , created by Richelieu , yielded to the colonists the monopoly of the fur and the administration of the colony, but it was too late, because the revenues of the fur trade were penalized by the blockade of Iroquois of the Ottawa River , gateway to the west. Only isolated loggers and accepted by the Amerindians will be able to access it.
The most important product of milking is still beaver skin, for the hat industry in Europe. Settlers are required to sell beaver and moose skins to the company at a price set by the Department of the Navy, even though all other furs are sold in a free market.
There are three crosses on the hillside of the Quebec side of the border, with a storied past,
There are several historical versions of how the three crosses came to be, but the one which draws the most support is that they were first put on Explorer's Point, in 1686, by order of Sieur de Troyes during his canoe trip up the Ottawa River. He wanted to mark the place where the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers meet. He and his men placed the crosses and Father Sivie celebrated the first mass in Mattawa on the point. The crosses remained on Explorer's Point for many years.
In the summer of 1917, it was decided to place the crosses on top of the mountain, across the Ottawa River from the point, on the Quebec side, for all to see. They were built from 12 foot pine logs. Over the years, the crosses have rotted away, but each time the citizens of Mattawa have seen that they have been rebuilt.
The presence of these crosses has made Mattawa known throughout northeastern Ontario as the "town with the three crosses." They are a fitting visual representation of the Catholic faith of our St. Victor School community and of the area in which we live.
Mattawa has a long, and storied past, settled since the 17th century
There are a large number of wooden statues throughout the town, as the town has been visited by many famous explorers and merchants, and is part of the Route Champlain.
"Mattawa is a bilingual town in northeastern Ontario, just across the river from the province of Québec. It sits on traditional Algonquin Nation territory – in fact, Mattawa’s name means “Meeting of the Waters” in the Algonquin language. The town is located at the confluence of the Ottawa and Mattawa rivers, and is the oldest settlement in the Nipissing District...
...Today, there are many statues around the town commemorating these explorers. The Mattawa Museum also features a large statue of Big Joe Mufferaw, a local folk hero."
Big Joe Mufferaw, the nickname for logger Joseph Montferrand
1802 - 1864
At the age of 21, Joseph Montferrand aka Big Joe Mufferaw, joined the Hudson's Bay Company as a voyageur. In 1827, he began work as a logger on the Rivière du Nord in Lower Canada and then moved to the upper Ottawa River. The loggers felled trees over the winter and then drove the logs down the river, eventually arriving at Quebec City. Montferrand spent the remainder of his working years in the lumber trade in the Outaouais. There was ongoing animosity between Anglophones and Francophones and frequent fights between the English, Irish and French Canadian loggers. Montferrand's prowess with his fists and boots was legendary in avenging the wrongs he and his compatriots were subjected to. Montferrand defended French-Canadian workers against gangs of Irish known as "Shiners" in the Bytown area. After 1840, he mainly worked the log drives as foreman and retired in 1857...
Later that evening, Aunt Sharon showed me a souvenir of the wooden Big Joe in her living room:
20 feet tall BC fir wood carved by Clermont and Costel Duval
that weighs in at 6,000 pounds!
Big Joe's chips!
After being settled for almost four centuries, the area has some history, and Lee related what he could of it, although he confesses that his roots are in Toronto, and he retired up into this area after years of working for the federal government.
They took us down to Myrt's Family Restaurant where I got to order some deep fried cheese curds for an appetizer (They were a bit overdone and I was a bit disappointed) before ordering the liver and onions as my Aunt said the previous owners used to do a proper job of it.
Deep Fried Cheese Curd
Liver and Onions
The meal was good, and I had no trouble with the liver and onions, as it's a dish I enjoy two or three times a year.
This taxi looks like it could have red and blue lights on the top of it,
More wooden statues in front of the local thrift store.
The Statues really are all over town.
After dinner, we headed over to the store so Lee could get his ice cream (A man after my own heart! A house without ice cream is a sad place), and then we headed out to Explorers Point again so we could watch the sun setting over the Ottawa River.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
They used to run logs down this river, until the dam went in back in the fifties, that is, and when Lee told me that, I had visions of the Log Driver's Waltz running through my head.
Explorer's Point, Mattawa Ontario
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Looking North West up the Ottawa River from Explorer's Point
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Lee took us Beaudry road which during the day, would have been an absolute ripper of a run on the bikes as it was basically a mountain road that paralleled the river and highway 533 below, but in a winding, meandering fashion dictated by the contours of the hillside.
At the end of the road was the Otto Holden Hydro Electric Dam, renamed from "La Cave" that supplied power to the community and surrounding area. Built back in 1952 across the Ottawa River.
Lee took us back into town, all the while entertaining us with stories and misadventures of days gone by, then we turned down a gravel lane that led us out to a little boat launch on the Mattawa River to see the last of the sunset that evening. It was gorgeous!
Looking East along the Mattawa River, near Mattawa Ontario
We got back to their home that evening, and started chatting about the history of the house, and Lee told me that the original house and barn had been built back in 1875, the new addition was built later on after their kids had kids, in 1911 as was the shed outside at the end of the driveway, and Lee was pretty sure the shed was built by Andy MacKay.
The original house is a two storey log cabin now covered in siding.
Lee shared some of his ice cream and we sat in the family room warmed by the wood stove, and talked until late, then Caroline and I crawled under a thick cover of blankets and let sleep take us.
Monday Day 9: Mattawa ON to Parc national de Plaisance QC - 367 km
I think I related to you that I don’t sleep well when on the road, and I was up a couple of times in the night to use the washroom, and again in the morning around 5am, laid back down with Caroline but was unable to get back to sleep. I gave up at 7 and decided I’d make a nice cup of tea that Aunt Sharon had set out for me last night, boiling the water up, while reading. Caroline and Aunt Sharon joined me later on, and we talked about her daughter Doreen who had passed away quite suddenly a few years ago in 2015 at the age of only 44.
We looked over the programme from the funeral service, and I will admit to being overcome, helped out with a giant hug from my Aunt. I'm pretty good at bottling things up and storing them away. Yeah, maybe not so much.
Sharon had to rush off to an appointment with her doctor, and told us that Lee was a slugabed and most likely sleep soundly until the trump of doom, so she bid us have a safe journey, a fond farewell, and take away a parting gift from her and Lee. The lavish breakfast that was offered turned into a cup of coffee for Caroline, tea for me, and a couple of tasty hard boiled eggs to set us up for the road.
Now that you know that we are masters of the late start, it should come as no surprise that we didn't get out the driveway until quarter to 11. Oh yeah, do I need to remind you that this is a vacation?
Almost ready to go!
We got back out onto highway 17 and made a right hand turn that would take us South East and towards our crossing point, Portage du Fort Quebec, that was about two hours and ten minutes saddle time away from us. We made good time running down the highway, and with all the lakes and hills that it is built on, it can be a fun ride when the traffic volumes are nice and low as it was for us.
We might have goofed a bit, as we didn't fuel up before arriving at Aunt Sharon's last evening, and Caroline was getting close to reserve just East of Stonecliffe Ontario, which had us worried for a bit until we saw the gas station and chip wagon off to our left.
Fatty Bo Batty's Chip Wagon
Open for business
We hit the Tim Horton's in Deep River and opted for a coffee stop, and I was very happy as I had a couple of cups of tea that I needed to be rid of before too much longer, but the drive thru lineup was massive as was the lunch time crowd. A classic Chevy Nova SS pulled through the lineup, and I grabbed a couple of shots before gearing up and getting a leg over.
Not long now, in less than an hour we will be in Quebec and onto the next phase of this adventure.
The 17 passes by CFB Petawawa and I had such an urge to pull over and check in via Facebook to the military base. Lol. Caroline even said she didn't mind, but I knew we were running a bit behind and wanted to keep it moving along so we got somewhere close to where I imagined we would be at the end of the day.
We finally left the 17 at Haley Station, in favour of the 653 that would run us to the bridge that crosses over the Ottawa River, and would take us out of Ontario and into La Belle Province, Quebec.
Looking South along the Ottawa River, south of the Chenaux Generating Station
The hydro dam is just over my shoulder behind me as I capture this shot of the Ottawa River
Petite Isle Limerick on the right
We headed Est on QC 303 until it joined up with QC 148 that would run us all the way to the foothills of the Gatineaus and into Hull QC.
It's a rural farming area...
What a bummer!!! I'd plotted us a route that would have taken us up over the Gatineau's and over to Wakefield QC completely avoiding Hull and Ottawa on Chemin Eardley Masham that would have put us on QC 366 in Saint-François-de-Masham, but the road was closed for local traffic only, and further down all that was left to us was Chemin de la Montagne that while taking on a wonderful romp along the foothills, also runs you straight into Wrightville and rush hour traffic. There is Chemin Notch, but neither Caroline's Google Maps nor my GPS was showing it as navigable.
Chemin de la Montagne QC
Caroline detests riding on highways, and with this diversion of mine, I had to get us through the downtown and onto Auto Route 50 that once clear of Gatineau, would let us leave it in favour of something slower and more scenic... But in the meantime, it was the two of us against a city desperate to be home on a Monday afternoon.
We stayed with 50 until traffic died down, then jumped off at Angers and hit up the IGA de Cotret Brazeau where Caroline and I decided to get some water for our camping spot, but instead of eating at the campsite, we would enjoy a hot counter early supper of chicken and chips. That turned out to be one of the least desirable meals of the trip, but it was done with no take backs, and we could now relax a bit, but it was nearing 1700 and I really would like to get a spot before 1800 so we could get our tent up in the daylight.
Reserved Moto Parking
I could get to like this!
Last year I'd stayed at Parc national de Plaisance which was only 12 minutes away, and then we remembered that we had forgot to get any milk for morning tea and coffee, so Caroline ran into a convenience store in Thurso while I watched the bikes.
The parc office was closed when we arrived at 1815, and after we each used the washroom, we headed out into the Parc looking for the campground I remembered from last year, but the place is huge and I confess that my memory failed and we had to make a few U-turns, with tempers fraying before we finally found the spot, and a parc official, Richard, who not only told us that we could register and pay in the morning, but bois de chauffage was available as well!
Baie Parisien as seen from Chemin de la Grande Presqu'ile
You are somewhere over here... Oops, there, I mean err... You can't get there from here and have to go back that way. *sigh*
Now that the tent was up we could relax and watch the sunset.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
This National Park used to have working farms on it, so some of the buildings that remain are farm houses and the barns, which you can see silhouetted by the setting sun from the campsite. We'd chosen the exact same site that I'd camped at last year, as I knew what to expect when the sun went down.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Speaking of firewood, it was time to get our wood going for the evening...
I did lose a bit of hair with that trick... But it did make for a lovely fire.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
We enjoyed a late night snack of Woolwich Goat Dairy topped goat cheese with Roasted Red Pepper and biscuits that I'd been introduced to by my friend Richard who had gifted me one Christmas in the GTASportriders, and to which I'd developed a liking, so when Caroline and I found it in the IGA, it got tossed into the basket for a later.
Roasted Red Pepper topped goat cheese! Mmmm!
A camping hack that will change your life! Outfitting stores don’t want you to know this! A hack too crazy to be true! Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
We put all that wood on the fire, let it burn very low, then headed for one last trip to the washrooms before calling it a night and tucking ourselves into our sleeping bags, but this time armed with our new woolen toques, comfy and cozy in the cool weather of this dying summer's night.
Tuesday Day 10: Parc national de Plaisance QC to Quebec City QC - 483 km
Since we'd stayed up a bit later last night, I wasn't out of the tent until just after seven in the morning, and I started up my SVEA123R to get a nice pot of water boiling for my tea and oatmeal.
Caroline joined me a bit later, and I boiled up another pot of water for her to use for her morning coffee and oatmeal.
I decided that I should take some pictures of the gear she was using to make her cup of coffee in the field now, the GSI collapsible JavaDrip and how it was being used, so here are a few shots of it in action.
For the record, the GSI Java Drip is Caroline's preferred gadget to make coffee at the campsite these days.
We had been given a gift of bacon by my brother Shaun as he is on a diet that precludes him from enjoying it (his loss, our gain) and as it had been precooked, it was now a zip loc "Bag o Bacon" that needed to be heated up before we could eat it, so drawing on some experience with camp baking, I tossed a few stones into the bottom of my titanium mug, then wrapped the bacon in a couple layers of foil, and placed it over my stove on low to heat it up. The concept turns the mug into a dry backing oven, although I suppose I could have very well added some water in the bottom of the mug, and used steam to reheat the bacon, that would probably have been a better idea, as the foil allowed some bacon grease to drop into the mug, and I was some time in cleaning it up.
We'd also thrown some hard boiled eggs into our basket at the IGA yesterday, and while I thought they were simply dill eggs, it turns out they were dill and vinegar eggs, and quite tasty, although I looked around to see if they sold any sausage at this bar in addition to the eggs... ;)
Pickled Eggs with Dill
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Remember that Mug o Bacon grease? I had a bit of serious washing to do, so out came my "kitchen sink" with it's 5l washbasin, a scrubby sponge cut in half, and a wee nalgene bottle full of Dawn dish washing liquid with a couple sheets of paper towel to clean and dry things up. When you are washing up AND cooking at the campsite, you go through water like mad! We had very little water left after breakfast this morning, our usual habit being to stop and get a four litre jug of water, not including what remained in our hydration packs from the day before.
We are the king and queen of the late departure, and today was no different, once the campsite was cleaned and packed up we dumped our garbage and recycling waste, then headed in to the park office to pay up and ship on out.
A spot of early colour
Riviere de la Petite Nation QC
I had to sort out how we were going to get back onto our track for the journey, and I had rather thought in the planning stages that I could count on us being on the road at 9 am, but it is all part of the adventure, right?
Almost ready to leave once I sort out how to get us back onto the blue line thingy
I could get us back onto the track if we hit the Autoroute 50 into the outskirts of Montreal, then took Autoroute 15 Nord up to Sainte-Marguerite-Station on QC 370. The goal of all this was to ride QC 347 and enter Parc national de la Mauricie north of Shawinigan.
I think I can, I think I can
Caroline is better disciplined on the highways and byways than I am, as I tend to follow a bit too close, as if I'm riding in downtown traffic, so I'm always happy to see her two seconds back, and sometimes taking things at her own pace if I get too excited.
It was a chilly day today, cold in fact, but we made it away from Montreal and up into Sainte-Marguerite-Station where we stopped for a coffee and a small snack of poutine that we shared between ourselves. My casse croute french seems to be improving with every trip I make. :)
The coffee was okay, but that wee poutine was fabulous, and we polished it off as if it never was, geared up again, and headed
We were headed North and East from Sainte-Marguerite-Station on 370, then got as far as Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci before needing gas again, and unfortunately also had to do that rain dance in the parking lot of the Petro-T before starting off on our eastward journey on the 347, a fun little road I discovered a few years ago when returning to the Island from my Dad's 80th birthday party in Ontario.
Near Lac Charlebois I saw something I'd not seen before, white stuff all over the road surface, as in kilometres of the stuff it would seem! I thought perhaps it was something protecting a new application of tar, but wasn't sure.
What is this stuff?!
Caroline thought it was toilet paper, but why toilet paper on the roads?
And she confirms it is "papier toilette".
Later on Caroline googled it and found that they use single ply toilet paper to cover the tar and give it a chance to set up before cars tear it away. The paper is also thin enough to be considered biodegradable as it won't last past the first rainfall.
Sexy rain dancing. Goretex socks for the win!
I can admit it and say I'm not perfect, so when knocking about in Northern Quebec I might have put us on the wrong road, but when following a track I made a mistake and went the wrong way, but I was zoomed out a kilometre and it wasn't until we'd gone down that road a bit that I figured out I'd made a mistake and had to do the ride of shame, retracing our path back to the main road heading North.
Just as we made the correct turn, the truck ahead of us was on the brakes, Caroline hit the brakes as did I, only to watch a line of wild turkeys cross the road. While I fumbled for my camera after putting the bike into neutral, they ran off into the underbrush on the other side of the road. I suppose now it's a memory rather than a picture, but if you look sharp you can see one of them on the left edge about centered.
Wild Turkeys! Almost.
QC 347, while entertaining was a bit of a let down, even the campground restaurant that I'd planned to stop at, Relais 347 in Saint-Come QC was closed, and I'm not sure I would have wanted to peel off all my rain gear to eat only to don it again. I really had wanted Caroline to sample the hospitality and the wonderful food of that small restaurant. Cream of celery soup with spice cake and brown sugar caramel sauce for dessert. It would have been lovely.
Maybe that wasn't such a bad thing, for we needed to meet up with my friend Ib Ra Him from last year in St. Tite QC, where he and a friend on an Orange KLR were waiting for us, but we weren't going to be there for a while. The skies were gray and gloomy, the weather unpleasant, but the scenery was wonderful as were the roads, and eventually the rain faded away somewhat more than drizzle, but no longer a rainstorm per se.
Expect to see ATVs sharing the road with cars.
All I could do was stop occasionally and let Ib Ra Him know that we were an hour out, thirty minutes out etc, and then we finally past Shawinigan and truly minutes out from Saint Tite where he had said he was at the Shell station.
Did he know that every year they run the largest Western Festival (East of the West) in Quebec? That people from from as far away as New Orleans to attend it?! Wow this town was sort of a mess! A security guard spoke some english and told me that I'd need to follow this road out to the end, then turn left for the station. From Wikipedia:
The Festival Western de Saint-Tite is a major annual event held in September, in Saint-Tite, Quebec, Canada.
Voted "Best Outdoor Rodeo in North America" since 1999, Saint-Tite's festival, now in its 52nd edition, attracts around 600,000 visitors every year.
It developed from a rodeo inaugurated in 1967 to promote the leather industry. It hosts a major rodeo competition, along with other cultural events.
During the two weeks of competition, the entire town shuts down to accommodate spectators.
Don't text and ride!
The horse is clearly in charge here.
Some of the streets were blocked off for the festival and almost everyone was in Western garb of some sort.
At last! Hey Ib Ra Him! We made it! His friend had abandoned him to get back to QC in time for a late afternoon appointment, and we'd been much later than I'd anticipated, about two hours down I think. Sorry buddy.
Poor, loney moto.
Jump! On 3? Of course on 3! Who jumps on 1?!
He led us up the road and over to a restaurant that he liked with "The third best poutine in all of Quebec, À la Fût", a microbrasserie serving updated frontier fare.
There she is! My parts bike! Everything in perfect working order. Thanks for keeping it so clean for me!
No street parking, but they let us slip into the back where we were able to sort of blend in with the whole horse motif. Iron horse, if you will.
À la Fût had a decent menu, but I can make a better French Onion soup, and I can barely speak the language, but their burger and the rabbit food that accompanied it were quite good indeed. That coffee went down really well, and being able to remove some of my gear while eating on the veranda was wonderful.
What I had failed to notice was some run off from the roof that was dripping down onto the neck of my leather jacket. DOH! Gearing up after supper was hard as I didn't really want to get back on the bike, and if not for the coffee I'd still be slumped against that wall, waiting for the rain to end.
I'd never seen a tractor pulling such a wee trailer. How would he know it was back there unless he looked?
With supper over, and the light already starting to wane, we headed south out of St. Tite as we were still an hour and a half riding time away from Ib Ra Him's apartment, and unfortunately a large portion of it would be riding in the rain on Autoroute 40, the quickest most direct route into the city and to our destination.
How bad can it be?
Poor Caroline got pushed a bit past her comfort limits riding in the dark on that highway, and by the time we hit the driveway, she was talking about parking the bike and flying home. She's a trooper, and I wasn't all that much happy about riding in the rain in the dark either, but we were safe, and about to get dry as Ib Ra Him opened up his living room to us and our wet gear to get set up and sleep the night away after we'd had a good long chat.
Wednesday Day 11: Quebec City QC to Chicoutimi, Saguenay, QC - 243 km
Can you see how eager we were to get back on the bikes and go riding again? Ah, Not so much at all. I got the task of making sure the bacon didn't burn while Ib Ra Him left the house in search of the best bread in all of Quebec City (I will not argue this claim with him, as the baguette we devoured that morning set a bench mark for all baguettes), leaving Caroline and I to finish our tea and coffee while listening to the sounds of église Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin bells early in the morning.
Full of energy and raring to go!
Thanks for being such an amiable host for us!
That was a five star baguette right there!
The last time I was in Quebec City with my broken bike at Moto Vanier waiting on a diagnosis of defective stator, Ib Ra Him had taken me on a tour of the city, and up a very fun QC 371 for the second best poutine in all of Quebec. We were supposed to ride it again today, but none of us wanted to don damp gear and go riding in that rain, so a vote was called, and we unanimously agreed on a nap to be just the thing after such a wonderful repast.
Caroline all tucked in a cozy.
We finally did get our gear together and onto the bikes, this time Ib Ra Him would lead us into the Laurentians but ditch us a bit early as he had an afternoon appointment to go to.
Getting there with the rest of the slow moving traffic was a bit of a chore until we were well clear of Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier on 5e Av aka QC 371 that would take us up to the Chapelle de Saint-Jacques-de-Tewkesbury, only about 17 minutes away on a normal day, but with this rain, Ib Ra Him quickly leapt into the lead, and Caroline, who obligingly let me get ahead of her, found that I wasn't going to be hard to keep up with at all, as I wasn't doing much beyond the posted limit, as my rear Shinko 705 was not enjoying wet and cold roads at all, in fact I felt it slip a touch on some run off that was running across the road, then again when I was on the painted line between lanes while passing a slower moving car. Ib Ra Him was on old tires, but on his light Suzuki DR350 he was easily able to out pace us both.
He turned a corner onto a bridge that spanned the Riviere Jacques-Cartier and pulled over giving us an opportunity to catch up where he explained that he was incorrect about the time for his appointment, the clinic had called him, and rescheduled him with a somewhat later appointment, so he would have to say adieu to us at the chapel up the road.
Looking north along the Riviere Jacques Cartier from Chemin Redmond
Looking south along the Riviere Jacques Cartier from Chemin Redmond
The Versys makes us crazy.
Crazy people are attracted to the Versys.
I'd been here before, but it was Caroline's first time to the look off, and we enjoyed the flowers around the chapel, as well as the spectacular view, guided by our friend.
Even with the fog and rain, the view from the Chapelle de Saint-Jacques-de-Tewkesbury was stunning, majestic, beautiful even.
Looking north along the Riviere Jacques Cartier,
Chapelle de Saint-Jacques-de-Tewkesbury,
I was being all serious then I popped this one on Caroline and got a smirk in response. :)
Looking North along the Riviere Jacques-Cartier
Chapelle de Saint-Jacques-de-Tewkesbury
One slightly more crazy than the other, can you tell which?
Ib Ra Him rides off into the rain clouds...
And in a puff of smoke, he's gone...
Down the road in Labrecque, we stopped at Tim Horton's for a coffee and a bite to eat, then across to the gas station for a tank of go juice, after which we set out north on 1re Avenue, and although it paralleled 175 Nord for a while, didn't seem as good a choice for getting to Saguenay as the highway itself, so after Caroline inserted her ear plugs, we hit the 175 headed northbound, aka Route Antonio Talbot, with another 176 kilometres to go before we would be able to find a place to camp for the night. Did I mention it was chilly today? Coupled with the wet weather it might have been the coolest riding day yet, and my boots were wet again, although IbRaHim had given me a couple of kitchen garbage bags into which my feet were inserted, so my socks were dry and not much air was blasting through the summer Icon Patrol boots that I had opted to wear for this trip. Caroline had put on her military surplus Goretex socks this morning before leaving the apartment.
Have a look at this highway at some point and consider riding it up to Chicoutimi as has some lovely sweeping curves, but more importantly, some incredible views. Every time we turned a corner or crested a hill I found another reason to pull out my camera and take a picture of the Laurentians, the road and the low lying rain clouds. It was beautiful, and when Caroline asked if I minded stopping at the Mare-du-Sault
Definition of sault
1 obsolete : LEAP, JUMP
specifically : a leap in the manege
2 'sü' : a fall or rapid in a river
Mare = Big
Mare-du-Sault = Big falls or rapids, but we couldn't see any evidence of that from the roadside highway stop. It was beautiful however, and one could tell by the ratio of evergreens to deciduous trees that we were in the near north.
Autoroute 175 Nord
Most of these are from our stop at Mare-Du-Sault, which puts you alongside the Riviere Montmorency in Quebec.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Looking North along the Riviere Montmorency, Mare-du-Sault QC
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
And it was time to get back on the bikes and ride north again, into those gray clouds up ahead. We had both put on another sweater at the stop, so for the moment we were toasty warm, but I don't think that was going to last as long as I would have liked.
A constant companion on the side of the highway were the Hydro transmission towers that stretched from Quebec City all the way to Saguenay. Mankind's fragile link to civilization as I had seen when working the Ottawa Ice Storm of 1998, where mother nature removed years of engineering and construction with ease. I wondered how harsh the winters were up this way, and the amount of effort it would take to maintain four lanes of highway this far to the north.
Boulevard Talbot aka QC 175
We'd only made another 20 k before entering L'Etape QC, where the highway runs along the shores of Lac Jacques Cartier, and when the opportunity presented itself to take a couple of photos of the lake and the surrounding Laurentides (Laurentian) mountains.
Looking north over Lac Jacques Cartier
Caroline and I on the shore of Lac Jacques Cartier,
Caroline and I were riding into more rain as we got further north, and it was definitely colder, but that stands to reason as we were climbing higher than sea level into the clouds.
Boulevard Talbot running beside Lac Jacques Cartier QC
The threat of moose was very real, and advertised diligently almost the entire length of our run on the 175
As we crossed the mountain range, one minute you are still in the wilds of the Laurentides, the next you are descending into the Saguenay river valley and arrowing straight into Chicoutimi on Boulevard Talbot. A wall of angry weather was ahead of us to our right, and I was worried that we'd find a campground in the rain, and have to erect the tent in the wet and cold.
Dark skies over Saguenay QC
Thankfully the clouds were being blown away to the East, and after what seemed a fairly long ride, we pulled into Chicoutimi for fuel, and right next to it, a godsend was a Tim Hortons where I could lose a couple of layers and shed some of my rain gear for a while for a cup of tea and a bagel that I shared with Caroline, while she used Tripadvisor to look for a motel for the night, as we were both cold, wet and had no desire to huddle in our sleeping bags hoping things would warm up and dry out for us.
Caroline's first visit to Chicoutimi QC
Not her first visit to Tim Hortons
Caroline plotted a route using her cellphone to Motel Panoramique that rated fairly well on Tripadvisor, and after a bit of wandering through downtown Chicoutimi past colleges, cathedrals and hydro dams, we ended up on 372 Boulevard du Saguenay Ouest in Chicoutimi-Ouest where we arranged for a room, and Caroline said to me, "That's it, I'm not going out again! If we eat it's going to be delivered!"
The map on the wall shows lac Saint Jean and the Saguenay river
as it flows south into the St. Lawrence river
Wave hello, Caroline!
Caroline led me north on 175 and treated me to a hot cuppa tea in Saguenay QC at Tim Hortons, after viewing some incredible scenery from the highway. 200km of “WOW! I can’t believe how beautiful this is!”
We decided to pitch our tent in room 213 at Hotel Panoramic in Saguenay.
I’ve been tasked to hunt for our food for the evening, and I can’t come back empty handed so my bushcraft skills are being put to the test.
Parlais vous une pizza moyen? A la Porte? Merci!
We moved our gear into the hotel room, where I was finally able to shuck my wet rain gear for the final time that day, and I swung a leg back over my Versys and headed back into town to find something along Rue Racine Est, a street that I had been assured by the hotel clerk would have a number of restaurants. Rue Racine is a one way street that I got a bit confused on, so I may have made a mistake and gone the wrong way down a one way street accidentally on purpose while trying to A) find a restaurant, and B) find a parking spot.
425 Rue Racine Est,
I did manage to find "Mikes" where I ordered a medium pizza and was asked if I wanted "Frites" with that. Sure, doesn't everybody order a box of plain fries with their pizza? I'd ordered an "Internationale" avec sauce tomate, pepperoni, fromage à pizza mozzarella, capicollo, bacon, champignons, poivrons verts et oignons that was going to be ready in twenty minutes, so I had some time to sit on the curb and imagine what it was like to live in a city of this size.
My topbox may have been a tinsy bit too full to fit a moyen pizza with a box of fries, and as I got the lid shut I felt the pizza box bend a bit, and I imagined getting back to the room only to show Caroline a pizza box with crust on the bottom, and a all the toppings stuck to the top, but it managed to make it's way into the room in one piece.
Un moyen Internationale
I could take off my boots and let my feet rest, but my garbage bag socks had not worked out quite perfectly, for instead of allowing rain water in, they'd trapped my sweaty feet and that was all I'd needed for damp socks. Still, I'd have been a whole lot worse off without them, so I made sure to save them in good condition with the rest of my luggage.
Not quite as effective as Gore Tex...
I have waterproof socks too, Caroline
Now it was time for the motel room feast, and Caroline was determined to sample everything, including the fireball whiskey she had been hauling since somewhere in New Hampshire? I may have had a few sips myself that evening.
And for dessert, Easy Cheese and Pizza Combos that I'd been hauling since Vermont's Dollar General store. Mmmm! Who can resist cheese in a can that may once even have contained some small amount of actual dairy?!
The room smelt of wet gear, and as I'd been running the hair dryer in my damp boots, smelt wonderfully of drying insole. Where is that Fireball again? I need some help getting to sleep tonight. Goodnight folks, see you in the morning.
Thursday Day 12: Chicoutimi, Saguenay, QC to Grand Metis QC- 298 km
The natives of Saguenay welcomed us with dances of joy. Caroline is off showing them how to use mosquito netting and soap, while I show the men of the village how to dig and shore up a well for clean drinking water to make a good cup of morning coffee. Our Sherpa, Nepto has caught a flu and had to be left behind while we start our search for the junction of the Saguenay River and the fabled Saint Lawrence. Fortunately we have secured a local guide and a burro to make the descent down the treacherous river bank.
Penned from my tent in Room 213 in Hotel Panoramic, The Kelly expedition, 38th day in the year of our lord 2019.
We weren't incredibly happy about the forecast, but it wasn't looking too bad in terms of a forecast for today. We might ride into some rain, but for now it was a beautiful (Fall) morning here in Chicoutimi-Ouest, and all we had to worry about was not leaving any gifts for the cleaning staff, getting our gear loaded back up, and getting up to the office area where we were assured a hot cup of coffee was waiting for us along with a breakfast of sorts.
Do you need this translated?
Looking North along the Saguenay River
Looking South towards the city of Chicoutimi QC along the Saguenay River
The hydro electric station as seen from Rue Price Ouest
We managed to join morning traffic on the 175 to make our way North across the Saguenay river over to the North side, our goal this morning to get onto QC 172 that would follow the river south to Tadoussac and QC 138, the North Shore of the St. Lawrence where we needed to be in Les Escoumins for a ferry that would take us over the Saint Lawrence and to Trois-Pistoles over on the Gaspe peninsula.
The problem was that ferry would depart the docks at 1045, and it was going to be a close run thing as we had left the motel at 0845, and would have two hours to get to the terminal in Les Escoumins, a distance of 155 km which Google maps claimed would take us just under an hour of saddle time. "We can do this!" I thought. Then construction delays started eating into that margin of ours.
We weren't making up any appreciable time, and if we had really wanted to get there in time, we would have had to break the speed limit into little pieces, and that wouldn't sit well with the Sûreté du Québec, or my conscience for that matter. You just can't make up 15 minutes of lost time by doing 10 kph over the posted speed limit, and I wasn't going to ask Caroline to go faster than she was comfortable with, as this was supposed to be a fun ride for us. Worst case, we would simply have to wait four hours for the next and last ferry at 1445 that afternoon. Still, we could try, couldn't we?
Riding south on QC 172 was a trip highlight
But when it started raining on us near Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, all I could think about was that ten minute margin that was being consumed by our rain dance.
Doing the roadside rain dance
172 is absolutely beautiful and when the sun finally started to peek out here and there, burning away the fog or clouds, it was lit up a beautiful landscape that followed the lazy Riviere Sainte-Marguerite, once on your left, then switching again to your right, the road itself following the river valley through the rocky hills. Each corner brought another feast for the eyes, and even affected me, who had travelled this road a couple of years ago in better weather.
With more construction delays, it was looking like we would have to give up on the idea of the 1045 crossing. It wasn't quite a dead dinosaur yet, but was was on it's way to extinction.
La Riviere Sainte Marguerite
Uhoh, more construction awaits
We made our way down to the foot of the 172, and I asked Caroline to pause for a few seconds so I could get this shot, the sign in the background showing that she'd ridden the 172 and was about to turn onto the North Shore of the Saint Lawrence. Perhaps one year I can convince her to head up to Baie-Comeau and Manic Cinq with me? ;)
We made it! Another checkmark against the list of roads for this journey
And now our plan for the early ferry was indeed, kaput, all washed up, belly-up, burned out, cooked, dead, destroyed, done for, down and out, down for the count, down the drain, down the tubes, finished, floored, had it, nonfunctioning, on the skids, out of business, out of circulation, sunk, totaled, washed up, wiped out. *sigh*
Transpo Quebec has a major highway project near Lac Gobeil, and the highway looks as if it will be widened and have a new path that no longer will pit a tractor trailer against an icy uphill struggle. I can see this area as being almost impassable during a winter storm due to the steep grade of the highway. The slightest hint of ice would be a catastrophe in the area. But it was a catastrophe for our plans of the early ferry crossing, that I buried and said a few words over while waiting in a line of stopped cars, waiting for a blast area to be cleared of debris.
The traffic ahead of us
I'm envious of her bike once in a while. Like now to be exact.
I was really quite surprised by the speed of these huge trucks! I would have thought them to be quite slow in a lower gear, but they were positively flying!
We were close to Les Escoumins now, but as we cleared the construction, there was a tractor trailer up ahead carrying rolls of steel that slowed it down to a crawl and I gotten caught short and needed a washroom NOW! I was even looking at the construction site to see if there was a convenient porta potty, as every jolt in the road was a reminder that I needed relief. I might have passed a few cars and the truck in desperation to find a gas station up the road in Grandes-Bergeronnes, but what I failed to mention is that as soon as I made those passes, I was cut off from Caroline as I had moved outside the range of the Scala G4s, and with no cell service in the construction zone, I was unable to call her. I agonized over it, but I figured worst case she would meet me at the ferry terminal, where I would have another four hours to wait for her and the ferry. Fortunately there was cell signal in the village, and I was able to call her and let her know where I was, and she opted to stop just up the road in front of the Home Hardware store to wait for me to catch up. This sort of thing had happened to us once before in Moncton, getting out of range of each other, and getting separated, so we had a bit of practice at it, but it was still a bit unnerving at the time, as I've been getting used to having her around and must admit that I rather enjoy her company for the most part. :P
Better him than me
We didn't have much further to go, and pulled off the highway and got on down to the ferry terminal where it seemed that the flock of migratory something Pygmy or other. I'm afraid I let my cousin Bruce down horribly as he is the bird watcher of the family, and quite dedicated to it.
Bird watchers of the Anse a Boucher, sur la Baie des Escoumins,
We'd made it at 1130, so trying to make that 1045 had been a tad unrealistic, and in future I'll leave even earlier if possible. ;)
Maximum zoom is not quite worth it...
We had no reservation for the ferry, and were a bit apprehensive, but opted to leave the terminal for a bit for a well deserved lunch, as we still had another three hours to kill at this point of the day. Carolines Tripadvisoring pointed up a diner that we had passed back on highway 138 not too far away, so we headed back to Cantine chez mom for a small shared meal of burger, onion rings and bebe poutine.
Déjeuner a Cantine chez mom!
Once lunch was over we headed back down to the Ferry terminal to watch an absolute convoy of ATVs from New Brunswick queue up for the ride across the river. They had reservations...
Oh no, the New Brunswickers roll in! There goes the neighbourhood.
Herring Chokers on the loose!
We'd been told to move over into parking space number 2 by the ferry official, and given a couple of slips to pay our passage in the event that we would be allowed on, but as the time drew nearer, more and more vehicles were lining up, and I wondered if we would be heading back to Quebec City and a bridge this afternoon?
With all that time to kill, we wandered around, but I was surprised at how chilly it was standing in the sun today, it was COLD! And I swapped a helmet for my new wool toque, as did Caroline.
I must admit to liking this portrait of myself.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Anse a Jos-Ross
Maybe I could a reliable form of transport for when the Versys lets me down next?
I still can't get over the fact that she can lie back and catch a nap on her bike! I'm so envious at the moment...
If she starts snoring, I'm just going to slip it into neutral and give her a push.
There was a mass of vehicles out on the ramp waiting for the ferry that was now visible in the distance. I couldn't see how they were going to squeeze everyone on board, but as we were small motos, I thought we'd have a decent chance of it.
A little bird decided it was time for a proper bath, and I spent some time watching it first use it's wings to splash water all over itself then later on, fan them furiously to dry itself off. Quite the production in fact.
Once the ferry docked, the crew met each vehicle at the top of the ramp and took the stamped waybills from them, which caused a bit of a slow down to the process, but they signalled to Caroline and I as the very first vehicles (after the pedestrians had boarded) to advance onto the ferry, specifically directed one to port and one to starboard to slide in under the stairwells. Hahaha.
Nice and cozy for the crossing
I was looking for the tie down straps when I realized that all we were going to get for this crossing was some old, well loved nylon rope, so I quickly secured my bike to a couple of ring bolts in the deck, then made my way across to Caroline to help her with the same. I'm glad I put two ropes on each bike, as we hit a bit of swell mid crossing that tossed the ferry a touch more than I was happy with. You feel pretty vulnerable when your only means of transportation has two wheels and a wee kickstand.
The passengers have to leave the car deck and head up to the passenger area on the top deck, where they form a queue to pay for the passage. Guess who left their waybill in their tankbag? Yep, and now the doors were barred and I couldn't pay for my passage.
Is anyone watching me?
I'm not the first idiot to ever board the ferry, and the cashier simply wrote "2" on Carolines ticket, and I paid for both of us.
We were told that we might see whales during the crossing, however I couldn't make any out, but there were what seemed to be much smaller sea creatures out there, dolphins perhaps? but I didn't see anything come up for a regular blow. When I was researching what we might have seen out there, I came up with an internet article on "The 13 Species of St. Lawrence" and was astounded to see the diversity of whales in this river!
But it was so still, and suddenly I had an inspiration, possibly fever induced, but nonetheless I asked Caroline to record a video of me with a definite parody underway from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou...
Caroline was brilliant, and that panning as I pointed towards the distance was inspired. All I was missing was the glock strapped to my thigh, and a pastel blue uniform. :D
The far shore had become the near shore, and the church spire of Église catholique Notre-Dame-des-Neiges à Trois-Pistoles dominating the shoreline of the town of Trois-Pistoles, but you will never see it with the tiny objective of a cell phone camera lens...
We met a German couple, travelling with their daughter, Ida, Jakob and Elena, who had borrowed a relative's car in Toronto Ontario, and were travelling to the east coast to see the Gaspe and then back down through Maine towards Toronto again, and I must admit to getting a bit excited, and I insisted on sharing my map of our trip from PEI to Ontario and back, as it highlighted many of the roads through Maine and the Eastern States that would be incredibly scenic and diverting, but then you know this if you have read this far. ;)
Jakob, little Ida, and Elena
I called Ida the "Moving Backpack"
Does your backpack snore?
I enjoy moments like that, talking to complete strangers and learning new things, new ideas and places to visit. The spice of life, eh? I think Caroline either ducks her head in embarrassment, or enjoys that I break the ice so easily and will talk with anyone. There may be a reason I live on the friendly East Coast of Canada.
It won't be long now!
Église catholique Notre-Dame-des-Neiges
à Trois-Pistoles QC
We arrived at the Trois-Pistoles ferry terminal at around 1630 and began unloading. I didn't have much planned beyond heading East along the
A couple were hoping to cadge a ride up to Sainte Felicite,
another two hours up the coast on Route 132.
Jakob and Elena surprised me with this photograph they had taken of us from the top of the ferry ramp:
Thank you for the photograph, Jakob and Elena!
Photo Credit: Jakob, Elena and Ida
The ferry had announced that a young couple were looking for a ride up to Sainte-Félicité, about two hours away North East along the 132, but they were still on foot as Caroline and I cleared the ramp and headed into Trois-Pistoles looking for a way to get out of rush hour traffic and onto QC 132 Est safely. Safely being the key word, as there were a number of vehicles out there, and not a few of them driven by people that should perhaps undergo the drive testing for old age, as one lady would put on her brakes going uphill that would slow down a line of cars from 90 down to 77, then when in the passing lane, would accelerate to near 140 kph making it incredibly difficult for Caroline to pass her, then when we realized how old she was, realized that she was possibly not fully in control of her SUV and was now squarely behind us on the same single lane highway! What joy!
As this was going to be our last night on the road, I wanted to get as far into tomorrows day as I could to cut down our mileage for tomorrow, as we had once ridden from the Gaspe all the way to Charlottetown, all 771 kms of it, and it had been tough, a real butt burner. Caroline had Mont Joli set as our destination of the moment, while I'd told the Garmin to take us home, and it counted down the kilometers from 664 on down as we made our way East on 132. Just a bit farther now...
Situated along that highway is a peat moss operation, but as opposed to the time honoured methods of cutting peat out in solid blocks, these operations would harvest it with what look like giant beer keg vacuums strapped onto a tractor frame.
We spotted a few of these tractors by the side of the road, and bales and bales of the harvested peat moss ready for shipment around the province and Canada for use in agriculture. It can leave quite a scar on the earth, visible from space via Google Maps or other satellite imagery.
It was 1800 when we hit Mont Joli, only an hour away from the ferry ramp where we'd come ashore, and we hit a gas station, fueled up, then got a bit turned around while looking for a campsite, with tempers flaring a touch, and a compromise had to be made, that we would hit up the gas station for our water and milk, then after a tea at the nearby Tim Hortons, we would look for a campsite in the immediate area and end our day. I for one would be quite happy to get something hot into me, and watch the sun set knowing I'd be nice and dry in my tent for the night, for we were assured of cool but dry weather in the forecast which was a good thing, as it was so chilly today that rain heaped on top of that would have had me park the bike and hitch a ride home. (Not really, but now you know my state of mind. Get it done, get the tent up, and rest and relax.)
Caroline found us a likely prospect, 12 minutes away further East in Grand-Métis at Motel Métis- Camping where we got checked out by the owner Ginette's two dogs, and after booking the campsite, were handed a lovely little fresh loaf of bread with our host's compliments for the evening. What a wonderful touch! That bread turned out to be terribly difficult to carry to the campsite as I had no room to put it anywhere that wouldn't crush it into a pancake in an instant, and I opted to place it on top of my tankbag, and nearly watched it hit the ground a couple of times as we made out way around to our campsite.
You know what happens now... The tent gets put up first, then you can do all that extra stuff on your mind, like taking off your boots and getting comfy. Hahaha. We were a well trained team now, and had our tent up and pegged out in under seven minutes, then blowing up our pillows and air mattress so we could crawl into bed at our leisure.
Sunset over the Saint Lawrence River,
Caroline and I would work at the bedding, or getting comfy by pulling off our motorcycle boots, etc. then pause to take yet another photo of a gorgeous sunset. But with sinking sun went the last heat of the day, and out came the wool hats and sweaters to stay warm as we cooked our supper of dollar store rice and costco chicken over the butane stove on top of the picnic table. It must have been the chicken, or curiousity, as Ginette appeared to have a cat in her menagerie, and he came down to check us and our gear out, briefly pausing to play with the draped rain fly's guy ropes (I nearly had heart failure as I imagined claw holes in my three hundred dollar tent) before ambling over to rub Caroline and I, marking us as his staff to other cats.
Photo Credit: Caroline Kelly
Supper for the night, a bit of gas station food and a heap of chicken rice. I shared both with Caroline, and we saved some sandwiches for breakfast in the morning that we'd also purchased at the gas station.
Chicken and Rice with a pepperoni and cheese burger on the side
Ginette can bake bread!
We had a couple of pieces of bread with supper, and Caroline used hers to mop up all the chicken and rice on her plate, leaving it almost spotless (at least by headlamps light).
Are you done with that rice?
Lesa had gifted Caroline with some orange marmalade and she produced it as just the thing for a bit of dessert with supper, Orange marmalade jam on bread. Mmmm! Was she right! It was wonderful, and sort of silly to think how satisfying such simple fare can be. Campsite cooking. Lol.
For dessert, two gifts, some orange marmalade and a slice of bread
It was time to clean up from supper with some hot water, and then hit the bathroom once more before heading to bed, and turning out the light swinging from the gear loft at the top of our tent. It was cold, and I was very happy that Caroline had brought her unauthorized, unnecessary useless picnic blanket, as we used it underneath our air mattresses to increase the R value and add another barrier between us and the cold ground.
Sunset over the Saint Lawrence River, Grand-Métis Quebec
Wow was it cold! Caroline said it had dropped down to 5 degrees Centigrade that night, but all I knew was it was cold, and I stuffed my riding pants down over my feet to create more dead air space, and pulled my heated vest in over my stomach and shoulders for a bit of added warmth, all while still wearing my full base layer and a wool toque. We were nearing the limit of what our gear could comfortably handle in dry weather, and it was showing. How had I ever managed to camp for Fall Colours tours a couple of years ago?! This must be freakish weather brought on by the hurricane that stirred things up in the East.
Friday Day 13: Grand Metis QC to Charlottetown PE - 551 km
You would have thought it would make for an early day for us, but we still managed to take a bit of time before moving, and having a tent simply covered inside and out with dew from moisture laden air (our breathing inside the tent) was not going to help. I dreaded putting the tent away wet, so was happy to leave it standing until the last minute as the sun's rays finally found it.
We were 614 kilometres away from home, about 6 hours and 45 minutes saddle time, so it was looking like it would be a full day of riding to put that kind of mileage behind us, but today Caroline would get to ride the 132 Est all the way from Mont Joli down to Campbellton New Brunswick, so sooner started, sooner ended.
We had breakfast done and over with, and were all packed up and ready to roll at 0830, with every layer of clothing on, but for our rain gear to keep us warm that morning. It was a brisk 8 degrees, and climbing to somewhere near 14 or so later on during the day, and I regretted not bringing more fall/winter like riding gear.
As we retraced our steps back into Mont Joli to get onto the 132 Est, as we neared the roundabout Caroline asked:
"Left at the roundabout, right?"
Being the arsehole that I am I ignored the question mark, and giggled.
"You have to pick one or the other... Which is it to be?" I responded,
"Left at the roundabout, correct?" Was her reply.
An hour later we were firmly on QC 132 Est and in the town of Amqui when we stopped for a break and a small coffee so we could keep going at a decent pace today.
Cathedrals dominate the skyline in these small towns in this part of Quebec, the focus of the community.
Sometimes not being the fastest on the road is a good thing.
Farther south, the 132 follows La Riviere Matapedia where it joins the Riviere Restigouche in the town of Matapedia, but before you get there, you have about 175 kilometres of mostly wonderful road that follows the Matapedia a very great distance. It's beautiful and was definitely worth adding to the itinerary for this trip. Between Sainte-Florence and Matapédia is a stretch about 50 kilometres long where the bulk of these pictures were taken as the highway follows the river valley towards the coast line, or rather, the Restigouche River.
Highway 132 Est on the way to Matapédia QC
We stopped for fuel and another break just in Matapedia itself.
I love the t-shirt "John Beer"
That's Campbellton New Brunswick up ahead, and we've officially left the province of Quebec, and now it was going to be more of the same old, as Caroline and I had both been on this highway a month or two back when we had ridden the Gaspe. This wee stretch was a bit newish though, to one of us, at least.
And now that we were back in New Brunswick with only another five hours to go, so the push was on... helmet down and go!
We hit a quick gas stop, then entered the outskirts of Bathurst NB and pulled off for a coffee, and perhaps a bit to eat, but neither of us were interested in the sandwich so we got it to go, and headed back out to the bikes as we were still 340 kilometres from the island and home.
I might have been chatting with the clerk at the Tim Hortons, and have said in a somewhat loud, boorish tone when ordering the turkey bacon BLT on white, "Not to put any of that nasty honey-mustard on it." which preceded a discussion of why Mayonnaise is far superior to honey-mustard especially for a turkey sandwich, when Caroline popped up with "I like Honey-Mustard." I felt guilty, especially as the girl I'd been chatting with me clearly thought mustard on a poultry sandwich was an aberration as well. I might have gloried in it for a minute, become all over passionate about what crazy American employee of Tim Horton's had decided that honey and mustard belonged on turkey. Oops. Sorry Caroline, I'll get it plain next time. ;)
Mayo, not that honey mustard stuff!
Once the ranting was out of the way, I tossed the uneaten sandwich into my top box, and we hit the highway again, stopping for fuel again in Miramichi, and for the last time in Shediac New Brunswick before we followed a line of slow cars seemly led by a blind and dumb senior citizen incapable of driving anywhere near that speed limit on a highway in New Brunswick, and opted to bail on that bunch and enjoy a rip through Murray Corner, our favourite highway 16 bypass only to find that all the stories we had been hearing from home about the damage done by the hurricane were real, and with the number of felled trees in the area, and clear signs that the roads had been cleared by chainsaw, we slowed down and took it easy, all the time in aw of the force of mother nature.
It was onto the Confederation Bridge, our last link in the journey back to our home on the Island.
The obligatory bridge selfie!
And for our celebration cup of coffee and cherry cheese danish at the Borden-Carleton Esso!
Home at last after a thirteen day odyssey, and as this was a Friday, we had another two whole days to unpack and relax before heading in to work on Monday morning.
And we're back on the Island!
Thanks for following along!
What do you think? Not quite ready for prime time? Hahaha! I think you are right on that score but we sure had fun in the making!