Corporate Runaways: BOS -> NS w/ 2 dogs

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by masukomi, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    Last night was hard.



    We'd pulled in relatively early, around 5:00, and started pulling photos from cameras right away. The goal was to get everything uploaded, and the posts written then spend some time relaxing. We'd both gotten sicker as the day had gone on, but we'd forgotten just how much time these posts take to put together.



    On our Americas Trip we spent about two hours a night putting together posts. One person would write and the other would relax. It was work, and sometimes we really didn't want to do it, but it wasn't too bad. Last night we spent six hours pulling photos from six cameras (2 ruggedized for on the bike, 2 video, 2 iPhones, and a DSLR), going through them, choosing which ones to upload, titling them and tagging their locations, adding titles to the video, uploading the video…. and we were so exhausted that the actually writing ended up being more of the "this happened, then that happened" sort, instead of posts that describe an experience, which is what we think makes a great ride report.



    So, we're not sure what the right way to proceed is… How are we going to manage this on the Round the World trip? How do we find the balance of writing an interesting ride report for you guys, and killing ourselves putting them together. There's got to be some balance between crappy doesn't say enough ride report, and ones filled with lush detail.



    Today?



    Today started off better. The Holiday Inn had a real breakfast with actual hot things like eggs and sausage. So, that helped get things going on the right foot. Sadly, my cold has gotten worse. I was a mouth-breather all last night, ended up drinking a ton of water to compensate, and then peeing constantly to compensate for that.



    Finding Kottwitz Werke (the ural Dealer in Halifax) was pretty easy, and Lutz and Reg welcomed us into their shop and set to work immediately, and noticed that the stupid hose clamp that goes from the airbox to the left carburetor had come off… again. Ural has since replaced the 3 piece jury-rigged looking setup with one flexible rubber tube, and Lutz had a couple on hand which he showed me and I eagerly accepted. No promises that it will stay on better, but I'm convinced it will, and even if it doesn't it'll be less of a pain to deal with than the old one.



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    Lutz told us about a nice walk we could take with the dogs, but with both of us sick we decided after a little way to come back, set up the Kermit Chairs, and just enjoy some quiet down time. Frankly I was wondering if they were ever going to get used. The problem is that most campgrounds seem to be infested with mosquitos, and you don't need them at a hotel.



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    In the end they replaced the tubes, from the air box to the carbs, replaced the air filter with a paper one. Our reusable one was apparently quite dirty (I still haven't looked) despite having been cleaned just 2,500 km ago. He twiddled the carbs, which were apparently out of sync, despite being synced just before the trip, and checked the timing, which ironically, was fine.



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    Dachary was chatting with Reg towards the end and noted that they were amused by our bar-risers. Apparently only old people who don't want to bend over get them around here. We want to not be old people who can't bend over so we put them on all our bikes, and our backs thank us for it.



    Meanwhile I was having a discussion with Lutz about the virtues of the Aerostich Roadcrafter 1 piece. Lutz swears by his. Me? I'd brought mine on this trip in an effort to convince myself to not bring it on the RTW trip. It's a custom fit, and I love the feel of it, but I keep worrying that I'm going to melt on hot days. Lutz argued that he'd taking his down along the Mexico - US border through some pretty hot days without issue.



    So far this trip is having the opposite effect. I'm loving the suit more and more every day. Yeah, I wish it had better ventilation, but it's not bad, and the fact that I can slip it on or off in 27 seconds (I timed it), and have walk-around clothes underneath is so nice.



    Anyway, after giving Lutz some well-earned cash we set out for Peggy's Cove. The idea today was to do something then head back to Halifax, grab a hotel early, and just rest. Peggy's Cove, it turns out, was just about 30km from the shop, so down we went.



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    We've come to the conclusion that Peggy's Cove is the archetypical New England town. It's almost Disney-like in its perfection, of that goal. If you want to see a perfect New England fishing village, come to Peggy's Cove. Also, if you want to see a perfect rendition, of New England, come to Nova Scotia. It does it WAY better than New England.



    Dachary sat while I went into the restaurant at the top of the hill with its literal bussloads of tourists, and order us up some grub. It sucks to have to avoid sit-down meals so ofter because of the dogs, but shrug, everything's a compromise.



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    We grabbed some fish and chips, and some Solomon Gundy (Canada Style, not Jamaican Style) because it's one of those weird sounding foods things you just have to taste.



    We took video of it, but apparently the video we uploaded last night never completed correctly, or something, and the current net connection is crap, so it'll just have to wait. :/



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    There was some concern about the Ural on the way there. It seemed to be stuttering a bit around 80kph, but we didn't have a highaway to get it going any faster on.



    On the way back we made sure to hit a highway ASAP so that we could turn around at take it back to Lutz if there was a problem, but there wasn't. It ran great. Plenty of power (for a Ural). So, back into Halifax, and on to a Holiday Inn I'd seen earlier in the day on Expedia that claimed to have a discount today, and after the nice accommodations last night we were kinda looking forward to just relaxing and getting ahead of our colds a bit. But no, they were full.



    Turns out that Labor Day weekend is "Party Weekend" in Halifax, kind-of like "Spring Break" on Miami Beach. So, everything's booked. We ended up in a Comfort Inn with chew marks all over the bathroom doorknob because someone locked a large dog in there and went out. The place smells of the ghosts of cigarettes past and the bed is … crap. Dachary suspects bedbugs but a quick inspection for their signs has revealed nothing yet. God I hope not.



    Ben, doesn't seem to mind terribly



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    Bandido's not so sure. We're with Bandido.
    #21
  2. fredgreen

    fredgreen Proud Canoodian

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    967
    Location:
    not in Lunenburg County!
    Here is what the rally in Digby looked like tonight. (Friday)

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    lots of noisy pirates, but also some nice vintage bikes to be seen.
    #22
  3. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    Looks like a great party! I'm kinda sorry we didn't make it back, but after basically losing a day in Halifax to servicing the Ural/doing Peggy's Cove, we felt the need to press on instead of backtracking to Digby. We kept encountering people heading that way, though - it felt wrong to be heading in the other direction! Hope you had a blast!
    #23
  4. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    Despite complaining about the room, we both ended up getting a pretty good night’s sleep.

    Whilst packing the bikes in the morning we encountered the couple in the room next door. Turns out they’re also from Massachusetts and had just done the Cabot trail in their car. He was complaining about all the curves, saying “I don’t think I’ve ever used the brakes so much in my life!”, and suggesting that there may be too many for a motorcycle. We tried to assure him that motorcyclists are happiest when the curves are most plentiful, but I don’t think he really grasped it as he stood there with his Black Lab. Though, he was amused to see how the dogs climbed into the sidecar and got strapped in.

    The riding was excellent, and we came to the conclusion that Dachary wants a house, on a lake, in the middle of the woods, because every time she saw a place like that she’d say “ooh pretty”, and has been doing so for days now.

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    Dachary suggested we should pull off if we saw another sandy beach, so that the dogs could play again, since they enjoyed it so much the last time. A few minutes later, and the universe provided.

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    [DACHARY'S NOTE] Ben has never encountered a beach or an ocean before this. I'm happy to discover that he really likes playing in the waves! He had a good time playing, and I had a good time watching him play. I need to find more beaches for him - next time I'll take off my moto gear and play with him in the waves! [/END DACHARY'S NOTE]

    We found the spectacular Henley House Pub and Restaurant just down from a gas station, and we blown away by the quality of the brunch we had. Dachary even approved of the coffee, which never happens. If you're nearby, you should definitely stop in for a bite.



    There was a shady spot to park the sidecar with the dogs as we ate, and afterwards we took a stroll on their dock, and enjoyed the view.

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    Dachary and the dogs on a dock by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    More riding…

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    Initially our plan was to ride the eastern shore along toward Canso, but we discovered another Ural changing their back tire at one of our gas stops, and pulled alongside them after filling up our rides. The presence of two Urals in the same place, at the same time drew a crowd even in the middle of nowhere.

    Turns out they had waved to us earlier in the day while we ate at breakfast standing outside of a Tim Hortons. They’d talked with someone who had done the eastern shore and suggested that the roads weren’t terribly well maintained, to the point that they had grass growing up through them.

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    Dachary had been bounced around enough already (The Ural’s shocks do not produce what you would describe as a “smooth ride”.), and wasn’t in the mood to be bounced around more, so we changed plans and decided to head for a beautiful hidey-camp spot we’d seen mentioned in another ride report. There was just one problem. We hadn’t eaten dinner, and didn’t have any emergency food (pasta) in our bags. So, we decided to head for the spot and pick up something in one of the towns along the way.

    But things weren't to be so easy. The roads we poorly maintained and had grass growing up through them.**The largest of the towns had only three houses, and no food was found before the final turn-off to the camp-site, so plans changed again, and we set off in search of food, found *a gas station with an attached building sporting the sign of a chicken holding baked goods, which seemed promising, but ended up having nothing to do with chicken. The supermarket next door was closing and *the woman at the door politely suggested that if I wasn’t there to just grab one thing fast I should bugger off. “Pasta!” I said, and rushed in, saw some pre-made “cold chicken” dinners with veggies and two vegetable based mush sides, which later turned out to be coleslaw and potato salad, and grabbed those. I also grabbed pasta, and snagged a couple drinks at the checkout line. Massive success.

    Dachary checked the GPS on a whim and found a Provincial Park we’d added to it that was only about 5k down the road. We pulled in and found it was a “Day Use Only” park, despite the fact that the guide book suggested it offered camping, and had “great views of the bay”. Relatively sure someone would be buy to check the grounds and close the gate we continued on, only to find the actual camping park just around the corner.

    Way, way up the hill, we found an office, with a man, who took our money and said “I put you in site number one but take whatever one you want.” So, I went back to the bike, where Dachary asked me if I had a map and I said no, and felt like something of an idiot for not asking for one, but he hadn’t offered either, which is atypical in my experience. *Even farther up the hill we found a site with a great view of the bay.

    When dark set, it reintroduced us to stars, and Dachary and I just stood there staring at the sky.

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    I think one of the keys to successful adventure riding is to be flexible, and not loose hope. We changed plans three times today, and I believe that because we kept trying, because we kept working towards a successful resolution, the universe helped us out.
    #24
  5. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    The day started off moist. When I woke up, I spotted a couple of places where the tent fly was laying against the tent body, and it was wet. That seems like the first time that has happened with this tent, but Kay's confident it has happened before. Either way, it might have something to do with my dog laying against the sides of the tent - I'm convinced that's how the poles have acquired the slight bend they now sport. When we ventured out of the tent, it looked like we were in a cloud. Mist was everywhere - fog coming off the bay, I assumed. (We actually discovered later that there was a lake just up a bit from where we'd been camping, which might have helped to generate the mist... either way, the tent fly was soaked and nothing we could do was gonna dry it.)

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    'dido decided to explore while we were packing up, and ended up getting absolutely covered in pine needles. At least he would smell good?

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    Good thing we bought that dog brush back in... wherever that was.

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    We packed up in reasonably good time, and decided to forego morning coffee since there was nowhere dry we could really enjoy it. It was my turn to ride the F650 today, so when I did my morning check, I noticed that the rear tire looked a bit low. I asked Kay to check it with the tire gauge while I finished a few packing tasks. He unscrewed the valve cover, and PSHHHHH! The core had gotten stuck open *again* and it was spewing air.

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    Something is screwed up in this tube - he tried to unscrew the valve core so we could check it or consider replacing it, but it got to a point where it wouldn't unscrew anymore. I'd had this happen a few times at home, so I knew that if we just inflated it with air and then unscrewed the core quickly, it would pop out of the tube with the escaping air pressure. So out came the compressor, we got the tire inflated, removed the core, checked for obstructions (and couldn't find any), put it back and re-inflated the tire. One of these days, I'll get around to replacing the tube - but preferably not on a misty morning when everything is covered with moisture, and I haven't had breakfast or coffee yet.

    Finished loading up, and we decided to head toward Canso Causeway to cross over to Cape Breton and look for food along the way, instead of backtracking the 5km into the town we'd passed yesterday evening. Of course the GPS routed us in a way we didn't spot anything until shortly after 10am, when we crossed the causeway and arrived in Port Hastings. Somewhere along the way, the rain had started in earnest, and we were both wet and looking forward to a sit-down breakfast indoors. I had Kay go into the Visitor's Center just at the edge of the Causeway to ask for a recommendation, and they sent us down the road to Country Kitchen at the Hearth Stone Inn.

    It fit the requirements - it was warm and indoors. I got an extra big breakfast, with the intent of taking some of the meats out to share with the dogs... and I just kept eating. I ate all three soupy sunny-side up eggs (I prefer them a little more set in the whites, personally, but I was too hungry to complain), and I ended up eating the uber-thick pancake (the worse I've had in Canada, but it wasn't actually bad - I've just had some really good pancakes up here!) all of the home fries and even the wheat bread. And the meats. Poor dogs. We ordered a side of bacon to take out and share with them, since they'd been sitting cooped up in the sidecar with both sides rolled down to keep them dry.

    By the time I'd finished cleaning my plate so thoroughly that you could barely tell it had held food (believe it or not, that's atypical for me - as was the 3 cups of coffee I drank - Kay was all "Damn, what's gotten into you, woman?") and we'd fed the food to the dogs and geared up again in our damp motorcycle clothes, it was around 11am when we hit the road.

    Today's goal: find the Trans Canada Trail, an abandoned converted railway, just over the causeway in Port Hastings, and take it 92km up to Inverness. We'd miss a good portion of the Ceilidh Trail, which I was interested in, but it was one of the few requests Kay has made for this trip. In my opinion, a happy husband is a good husband, and he's always doing stuff for me, so I wanted to make sure we hit this ride for him. Even though we had no idea what condition it would be in, but there was a good bet it would be sloppy, as it had been raining all morning.

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    We found the turnoff we'd marked on the GPS with only a little backtracking, and ended up cutting through some cottages to get to the trail, as I spotted a sign that said "Off Road Vehicles May Cross Through Cottages" in the first building. Right away, it was nicely graded red sand... which quickly became a rocky water crossing next to a big drainage pipe. Kay was leading the way on the Ural, and he powered through full steam ahead, so I had no excuse not to try. Got mostly through and was starting to come up the other side, when the F650 got stuck on a rock and I stalled it. But I didn't drop it! Got it started again, gave it a lot of gas and powered it up the rocky bank - and a few dozen feet later it became the nicely graded red sand again. Looking back, Kay noticed a sign that said "Trail Section Closed" or something to that effect. Oops.

    Soon enough, we encountered a little pulloff with some benches and a few informational signs. (Here in Canada, they call it an "Interpretive Center.") It was the former site of the Troy railroad station, and it talked a bit about the railway and its history, and how it has been converted to the TCT now. It also had GPS coordinates for subsequent trailheads and stations. We decided "Screw the rain - this must be photo-documented" and pulled out the non-waterproof helmet camera and our ruggedized, waterproof tank bag cameras. And then we proceeded to ride along a lovely coastal section of the TCT.

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    The going was smooth. The red sand was nicely graded, with only a few ruts that had gotten filled with water by the rain - just enough to make a satisfying "SPLOOSH!" when we powered through them. The ocean beckoned off to our left, offering beautiful views that were definitely better for being seen from a track barely wide enough to accommodate the Ural, rather than the boring mundane old road.

    The only annoyance was the Barricades at pretty much every road crossing and even some driveways. The barricades were designed to keep cars and other wide vehicles OFF the TCT, and unfortunately, some of them were very tight for the Ural. Every time we approached one, we had to slow down to practically a stop while Kay tried to maneuver the Ural through the widest opening. I'd watch from behind, and tell him if he could clear the right fender, as it's difficult for the driver to see - particularly with the dog cover and luggage on the Ural. Happily, we could clear every one of them, although we did leave a little fender paint on one. Oh well.

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    Alas, the idyllic going was not to last. Now and again, the smooth-graded red sand would give way to a rockier section, with wheel ruts on either side and gravel collected in between, or sometimes even grass growing in the middle. This wasn't so bad - at first. But when we'd encounter a deep rut and a puddle on one of these sections, I had no choice but to hit it with the F650 - crossing over the deeper gravel in the center between the ruts did not seem like a good idea. The few times I tried it, the bike went WAY squirrelly. I decided to just stick with the right wheel rut, as it seemed to have fewer potholes, and go with it.

    Kay was getting wetter and wetter. At one point, he told me that whenever he went through a big puddle with the Ural, the water was flying all the way up to splatter his face - and he was standing most of the time. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if we'd approached the puddle-filled ruts at a slower speed... but slow is boring. ADVENTURE!

    Sadly, my "waterproof" boots were quickly becoming portable puddles. For a while, I'd pick up my boots whenever I crossed through a wet rut, and hold them as high as I could (about even with the BMW tank badge) but that took a lot of energy as the puddles became more frequent and deeper. Eventually, I gave up and left the boots on the pegs, and they got so wet that whenever we stopped and I stepped off the bike, I could feel a "squelch."

    Ick. If you've ever ridden with wet feet, you know how miserable it can get. But if you've ever ridden with boots filled with water - so much that you squish and you have to wring out your socks when you stop for the day - it's a morale killer. I was still willing to keep going on this waterlogged route, but I was beginning to lose my enthusiasm.

    Unfortunately for me, when we turned inland, conditions continued to deteriorate. There were fewer and fewer stretches with the nicely graded red sand, and more and more rocky sections with deep ruts. Eventually, we encountered a "Caution: Steep Hill" sign - and the hill was indeed steep, with the squiggly ruts that rain wears across a path. When you hit one of those ruts with a wheel, you're pretty much stuck in it, or the bike goes all squirrelly trying to get out. And when the road is deeply rutted, with a tall berm of gravel in the middle and nowhere to go on the sides, you're going to hit those rain squiggles.

    So I tried to come at a steady speed and just let the wheel go where it wanted without fighting it. Alas, at the bottom of the steep hill there was a pretty deep puddle... and it was mud. And my Michelin Anakee 2 tires are fine for stuff like the red sand, but they're not made for mud. So of course, when the bike hit the deep puddle and mud wallow, it started to go every which way. Again, I tried not to fight it and to keep the throttle steady, and miraculously just hanging on seemed to do the trick. The bike bucked this way, and then that, with the back wheel sliding out a bit... but then traction! Magic! Going up the other side of the steep hill was still harrowing, as there were large-ish rocks embedded in the dirt so it was pretty bumpy, and there were more of those snakey rain ruts - but I made it. But that particular spot took a lot out of me.

    After that, and some more of the ruts with gravel in between, I started begging for the red sand to come back. "Oh, red, sand, why have you abandoned me? Come back!" And whenever it would reappear - which it inevitably did, I'm happy to say, I was all: "Red sand! My dear friend! Oh, how I love you, red sand!"

    For the rest of the TCT, it was pretty much that. Red sand. Then a rocky, gravely section. Puddles. Potholes. Rinse. Repeat. By the time we'd hit around 70km (over 2 hours later) I had definitely lost enthusiasm. Even the red sand had gotten saturated by the water at this point, and everything was squirrelly. Solid road surfaces were just a fond memory. Kay offered to switch bikes with me, as the squirrelly wasn't really a worry on the Ural - it's not like it was going to slide out - but my pride had me determined to finish the stretch on the F650.

    Happily, the final 20ish kilometers were pretty good again. There were a few sections of gravel and rocky potholes, but it was mostly the red sand, or a darker variant, which was fairly slippery in the wet at this point, but it wasn't too bad if you didn't make any sudden moves and kept the throttle steady. By this point, though, both Kay and I were soaked through - from the rain that had resumed and forced us to put the helmet camera way, and from the puddles-cum-water-crossings after it had rained all morning. Neither of us fancied the idea of setting up a wet tent and spending a damp night in it - particularly as the rain showed no signs of letting up.

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    When we reached Inverness, the pavement felt strange. It was very flat and boring, and so very... fixed in position. The bike was so solidly planted, I found the sensation odd. It was around 2:30 - it had taken us 3.5 hours to do 90ish kilometers, with a couple of stops along the way - and I had used up my energy. We were both wet and tired, but felt a sense of accomplishment for sticking with it the entire way. But with the rain, and how depleted we were feeling, we were ready to call it a day and splurge on a hotel instead of camping.

    We stopped to get gas, and Kay took the doggies to a little park across the street for a quick walk while I consulted the guidebook he had gotten us at the Visitor's Center in an attempt to find lodging. I quickly felt overwhelmed by the options, and daunted by trying to find something with a vacancy as we'd been having trouble in Halifax due to Labor Day weekend, so I routed us toward a random option about 30km down the road. I thought it was closer to other lodging, so we could try a few spots, but it turns out to be sort of off by itself at least 30km from other options. When we rolled up to the Duck Cove Inn, we were praying for a vacancy, even though it seemed very mediocre... it had a restaurant, and we could pull the bikes up right in front of the room, and it was threatening to rain again instead of the steady mist it had been doing for the past half hour. And to be fair, it has an incredible view.

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    Kay went in to check - and HUZZAH! They had a room! It was more than it should have been for what it is, but we were wet and a bit miserable, and didn't want to drive 30km on the off-chance that the next place would be better, or would have a vacancy.

    Into the room with the luggage (very filthy) and the doggies (very ready for a change after being cooped up in the sidecar with the sides rolled down to fend off the rain). Warm showers for all - amazing how different it feels to be wet when the water is warm and you're not wearing motorcycle gear in it - and my socks got wrung out and the boots are now sitting on the floor with the fan blowing into them.

    Alas, it was 3:30 when we arrived, and the restaurant didn't start serving dinner until 5:30, but neither Kay nor I was willing to put on wet gear and go out in the rain (it started downpouring again shortly after we arrived) to go hunt down snacks. So we killed time until 5:30 offloading video and photos, and getting more and more sleepy - we were apparently more depleted than we realized.

    When the appropriate time rolled around, we got up to head over to the dining room - and Kay let out a bit of a squeak accompanied by an "ouch!" Apparently sometime along the way he's tweaked his back. So off I go to the dining room to order us takeout, which the lady was kind enough to put on a tray for us with cutlery and salt and pepper shakers and everything, and I took it back to the room so Kay wouldn't have to venture out. Both of us are feeling more energetic after the meal, and I've loaded Kay up with Ibuprofen, but his back is still owie.

    I've just gotta hope that a night on the hardest bed that either of us has ever encountered in a hotel will fix his back enough to ride the Cabot Trail tomorrow. Maybe I should grab our air mattresses from the bike...

    (Also, keep your fingers crossed that our wet gear dries overnight. I hate putting on damp motorcycle clothes!)



    Kay's note:

    Dachary's FroggToggs failed her again. We are very dissapointed and don't know what's going on. Our old pairs worked so well for both of us. The Aerostich Roadcrafter held up quite well, for a while the worst I had was just a damp sensation, but after throwing enough buckets of water at it it eventually soaked through. The Ural seems specifically designed to deposit as much water as possible on the driver during river crossings. For a while we had the inside cover open on the sidecar and the dogs stayed relatively dry but Bandido's butt got soaked because it was hanging out a bit.

    Despite my getting soaked we've come to the conclusion that GoreTex Pro Shell is a spectacular thing. We much prefer FroggToggs (when they're working) to GoreTex liners, but when you bond that stuff to a nice outer shell you've got something really great. Yeah, it has its limits, but behind me on the BMW Dachary's top half was only mildly damp after being rained on and splashed all day. I'm convinced I was only soaked because of how aggressively I attacked the puddles and how much of the water comes splashing up on the driver when riding a Ural.
    #25
  6. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    The video we attempted to upload of us setting up the tent finally got re-uploaded. We've been taking a fair amount but it's damn hard to upload anything on these hotel net connections unless it's really low rez.

    The link is here.

    I still can't figure out how to embed vimeo here. :/
    #26
  7. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    At long last, the day had dawned - today was the day we would ride the Cabot Trail! As it's THE thing that everyone says you must do in Nova Scotia, we'd been looking forward to this as one of the highlights of the trip. After stopping early yesterday, we were both feeling fairly well rested today, and we woke up early and were breakfasted and loaded up on the bikes by 9:30ish.

    Happily, laying my boots out and blowing a fan into them until around 6:30am had turned them from portable puddles to mildly damp boots. I could deal with that. Unfortunately for Kay, me putting his boots in front of the fan for 3 hours this morning didn't make much of a difference, so he went with garbage bags in his boots to keep his feet dry-ish - a trick I'd had to employ toward the end of the Americas trip when my last set of boots stopped being waterproof.

    The fog had cleared somewhat when we set out, so we were actually able to see the shore on the other side of the harbour from where we'd slept last night.

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    And we were hopeful that we might have a dry-ish day to ride the Cabot Trail!

    The first stretch between Margaree Harbour and Cheticamp consisted of a surprisingly poor-quality road. We were caught off guard by such bad road conditions - lots of potholes, frost heaves and bumps that made us drive a little slower and made the Ural lurch all over the place every time I hit something. This was the main tourist route on Cape Breton, and a road that brought people from all over the world for the scenic drive... and the first stretch was crap. The views were nice enough, though, with the ocean lurking off to our left and putting in an appearance now and again, and twisty roads that probably would have been a pleasure to ride on the F650 but were a fair amount of work on the Ural.

    In Cheticamp, we stopped to gas up the Ural, as we'd been told there would be no gas for a 150km stretch - the very edge of the Ural's range (have we mentioned we get crap gas mileage?) On the way out of town, I tried to stop at a bakery that I'd been seeing signs for since we'd set out this morning, but we discovered that it was closed for Labor Day. Boo. It's the first time on this entire trip that I felt like randomly stopping at one of the bakeries along the way, and I was thwarted.

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    Oh well. On to the Cabot Trail!

    A little way down the road, we entered the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I pulled off to acquire us park passes, as we figured we'd stop and do some walking at some points along the way to get the dogs out and about. You don't need park passes to just drive through, but if you want to park at any of the sites along the way, you need the pass. We wanted to park.

    Early on, the road had a lot of vertical and twisty stretches. We hit a scenic overlook, and I asked Kay if he wanted to stop and take pictures, and he responded "I... guess?" He didn't seem that interested, so I skipped the turnoff and he said that I should basically stop anywhere I felt like stopping. I was a bit surprised, as he's usually the one who's all gung-ho to snap pictures, but apparently not today - in the midst of all this beautiful.

    We drove. We stopped at overlooks. We took pictures. It was beautiful.

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    Alas, even rising a few hundred feet in altitude put us in the clouds and fog. We started getting moist, and we put down one of the sides to keep the dogs drier, but left the other one open so they'd still have fresh air and a chance to move around.

    Down a steep stretch that included some hairpin turns, and we encountered the Rusty Anchor. It was around lunchtime, and I didn't know how many other restaurants we'd see along the way, so I suggested we stop and grab a bite. Sadly, it was one of the most disappointing meals we've had on the trip. We got a sampler that included a wide variety of seafood, from which they somehow managed to extract all of the flavor. It didn't taste of much of anything. Easily some of the poorest seafood we've had here in Nova Scotia, where everything is fresh and flavorful. I got a chicken club, which was decidedly "meh," and Kay foolishly got a veggie burger, which was so boring and tasteless that he only managed to eat half of it.

    If you ever do the Cabot Trail, skip this food stop. There are a couple of other restaurants further along, and they can't be as bad as this. Particularly for the price, which was over $50 again. They love to gouge them some tourists up here.

    While we were at lunch, we consulted our guidebook and I discovered there was a waterfall not far along that was close to the parking lot. Seemed like it would be a good excuse to get the doggies out for a little walk and take some beauty shots. We found the turnoff for the waterfall just where it was supposed to be, but the book didn't mention it was down a 2km dirt road. The dirt was flat and smooth - except where it wasn't. More puddle-filled potholes reminded me of yesterday's trip up the TCT.

    Still, we made it to the falls with no drama, and they weren't kidding about it being right next to the parking lot. You could see it from where we pulled off. We felt the doggies could use a little stretch, though, so we got them out of the Ural and walked the few feet to the falls to get some obligatory photos. While it was a perfectly pretty waterfall, it didn't photograph in a particularly interesting manner, so we only have this shot to show you:

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    Back on the bikes again, and more pretty riding through national park. As we went up in elevation again, though, the mist was getting more moist. My jacket was pretty damp, although I was staying dry enough on the inside, and I added the Frogg Toggs in an attempt to keep my legs warm. I also put on the fleece under the jacket for some extra warmth, and I was glad of it.

    More pretty views.

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    And then we were approaching the turnoff for Meat Cove, the northernmost point on Cape Breton. I'd read about it being a pretty, secluded cove, and it was supposed to be lovely and not particularly touristed. Our motorcycle ride guide said that it was a gravel road, though, that only experienced riders should undertake. We laughed at the warning, and after a little stressing over the Ural's gas range (we happily found a gas station a little further past the Meat Cove turnoff, so we came back to check it out) we headed up the road to this site.

    The ride there was pretty boring for the first 25km or so. It's only the last 8km-ish that is unpaved, and at first, that seemed pretty boring, too. But then it started getting a little bit moist, and there wasn't much gravel - it was mostly hard-packed dirt that got slippery when wet. And I was on the Ural, which didn't have great engine braking, and there was some up and down bits near sheer cliffs with some twists thrown in to boot, and I have a minor problem with heights, so I wasn't thrilled about the riding. Add in a fair amount of washboard corrugations, and more potholey sections like we rode yesterday, and it was a pretty bumpy ride, both literally and figuratively. I was glad Kay had been riding the Ural yesterday, but I felt like I should tackle this today just to get some experience handling the Ural under conditions like this.

    We eventually made it to the sign at the end of the road:

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    And then we went back to Meat Cove Beach, which was down a gnarly steep hill with major rain ruts that ran all over the place, and it was slippery, to boot.

    The waves were pretty intense in this stormy weather. My dog, who had happily played in the waves on the sunny beach on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, showed no interest in playing in these sizable waves that were breaking so close to shore. Which was just as well, because I thought the currents would probably be pretty dangerous, so I was glad to have him stay out of the water.

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    It didn't stop him from enjoying the beach, though.

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    Stop complete, it was back up the slippery, steep, rain-rutted hill to the main road, and there was a moment when the Ural was sliding sideways and I was just sure I was going to hit the wooden guard rail at the side of the hill - and hopefully it would stop me from falling off the small cliff. But miraculously the Ural caught traction at the end, and we made it, and Kay made it safely up on the F650 behind me. Phew.

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    Back down the bumpy road, and this side trip had taken a lot out of me. My wrists felt beat up from trying to manhandle the Ural though all of the bumps and keep it going on a straight line. I talked with Kay about it later, and he grips the bars differently, so he gets more strain in his biceps and pecs, and I get it in my wrists - I push the right handlebar more and he pulls the left one more when it comes to steering the Ural. The mist had picked up more while we were stopped, and I was just starting to feel damp and worn out after the effort and stress of the Meat Cove road.

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    Back to the main trail, and we headed toward Ingonish, where I expected to find gas for the Ural. We rolled into Ingonish shortly after 5pm, and I chatted with the guy at the service station while we filled up. I told him we were heading south, and he asked where we were going. I wasn't sure, but we'd like to stop when we get tired - and is there a place where he'd recommend stopping? He replied "Here" - apparently there wasn't much between Ingonish and Baddeck, 100km south of us.

    It was around 5pm, and I was feeling pooped - the idea of piloting the Ural through another 100km of twisties at this point just felt too daunting to handle. I didn't think I'd have it in me to do it safely. Kay suggested that we try to eat and then head south, but I knew it would be around 6pm by the time we headed out after eating, and I was worn out in a way that I didn't feel eating would be able to correct. So we'd be riding until close to dark to get south, and I didn't feel up to driving the Ural that far at this point, so the only sensible thing seemed to be to call it for the day and get a fresh start tomorrow.

    We consulted the guidebook for dog-friendly lodging, and rode to one a few kilometers south of us - and as we were riding, we passed another one I'd seen that had a restaurant and a coffee shop on-site. There's a lot to be said for food that's RIGHT THERE when you're stopping for the night - no need for one of us to gear up again and run off for food. It also helps us get on the road faster in the morning when we don't have to go somewhere for breakfast, or get on the road and stop again shortly after. So we took the place that had food nearby, which was roughly the same price as last night's stop but had a way nicer room.

    Why weren't we camping, you ask? Because we discovered this morning that the Twisted Throttle dry bag was no longer dry, and our sleeping pads were soaked. We couldn't put wet sleeping pads in our dry down sleeping bag (which thankfully lives in a different dry sack that was still dry) so we had no sleeping pads... and our sleeping bag doesn't have any insulation or padding on the bottom because it's meant to be used with sleeping pads, so we'd have nothing between us and the cold ground. If you know anything about camping, you know that's a bad idea - so we felt the only option was to stop at a hotel and get the sleeping mats off the bike, bring them in, inflate them, and let them dry overnight. Which we did. I've got a few spare dry bags I bring along in case something gets a hole in it, or in case we discover something else that should live in a dry bag - so our sleeping pads and my inflatable pillow are now in their own dry bag.

    The hotel was actually a beachside resort. We ventured down to the beach with the dogs in the mist, and discovered that recent storms had washed a whole bunch of kelp up onto the shore. Rotting kelp has a very distinctive smell, which followed us to our room, sadly. But the room itself was nicer than we've encountered recently, so the smell seemed like a small enough price to pay. 'dido enjoyed a good roll in the stinky kelp:

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    Wandering up to the on-site pub to grab some takeout we could bring back to our rooms, we encountered a couple of other bikers stopping for the night - on Victory motorcycles. I spotted some interesting-looking bags, so while Kay went in to order our food, I asked the gent about the bags when he came back. We started chatting, and he and his wife were super friendly and we had a nice long chat about the bikes (and the dogs). Kay ended up sitting on his Victory, which seemed super comfortable - very much like a Goldwing - and we started talking about the possibility of going with a comfy touring bike.

    They convinced me to try the Victory, and I don't believe I've sat on a bike that comfy - I could definitely see us gravitating toward something like that as we age. Particularly as Kay's back has been bothering him since yesterday - comfy bike built for long distances seems like it has a definite place in the grand scheme of things, and I wouldn't be surprised to see us going toward something like that in another decade or two.

    Headed back to the room with our pub grub after a nice long chat with them, and we enjoyed some Canadian tv and an early night. It's really gratifying to be warm and dry after a misty day on the bikes, and more Cabot Trail to explore tomorrow.
    #27
  8. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    In the days to come, people will ask us “How was Nova Scotia?”, and we will respond, “Wet.” Eventually they will say something like “Was it pretty?”, and we will respond that “The portions of it that weren’t enshrouded with clouds and fog were beautiful.”

    It’s been that kind of a day. Actually, it’s been that kind of a week, so far.

    We’ve come to the conclusion that the enjoyment of a motorcycling adventure decreases in direct proportion to the wetness of the rider. Take, for example, the day we rode the Trans Canada Trail up to Inverness. It started off well enough, a bit overcast, mildly misty on and off. As we encountered our first deep puddles I was laughing gleefully as the water repeatedly engulfed my left boot, or splashed up my front. But, as the splashings continued, and the rain picked up, things went from dry, to mildly damp, to downright drenched.

    My left boot was such a trooper. It held out for so long, while Dachary’s quickly turned into portable puddles. I admit, I was secretly a bit prideful. A mental “Hah! My boots are more awesome!” At the same time though, I did feel a bit bad. People who haven’t ridden in hard enough rains to create portable puddles in their boots just don’t understand how demoralizing it can be. We’re both agreed that it is the single most demoralizing thing about being wet on a bike. Not the cold. Not the spray in the face. Not the fog in your visor. No, the portable puddles in your boots.

    As we approached the last few kilometers of the trail my enthusiasm had dampened along with my flesh. Yesterday I wore plastic bags in my boots, because they hadn’t had a chance to dry. Today I wore plastic bags in my boots, because they hadn’t had a chance to dry. Dachary’s which we dried with a fan overnight, are wetter than mine again. My boots are filled with stink.

    This morning we knew the rain was going to hit us again. We discussed our plans over breakfast. Should we hit the route around the Lakes Region or just make miles towards PEI? I suggested that if we were going to be getting wet anyway, and tomorrow looked to be similar, we may as well see the pretty lakes region, so that’s what we set out to do.

    Fifteen minutes into the ride we’d decided to “fuck that noize” since every overlook we passed resulted in a comment along the lines of “I bet that would be pretty (if it wasn’t covered in fog).” Eventually, it was more a question of if it was better to open our face shields and be pelted by water, in order to gain a bit more visibility, or to deal with the perma-fog inside them? In either case, the only way we knew cars we coming was because of their headlights.

    From time to time, we would pass a pretty flowing brook… that had transformed into a raging torrent. Most of the rivers looked like they were in various stages of flooding. One of them looked like it was getting perilously close to the road. When we passed a wetland, it was clear that there was way more water than there was supposed to be. The land is getting saturated - it isn’t just our riding gear.

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    ( You can see the moisture inside of the glove through the little window)

    Dachary was riding the Ural again, because my back is still pretty screwed up, but along the way she thought she was smelling Gear Oil (it has a very distinct smell) and we pulled over to take a look. Nothing obvious, and I laid down beside it in the wet stones to see if there was anything leaky looking underneath. All I saw were drips of dirty water. After she helped pull me back up I took over riding it to see if I could smell it too. I admit I did smell something initially, but it didn’t say “gear oil” to me, and it faded fairly quickly. I also discovered that my back really doesn’t mind the Ural, even when I have to hang off of it, muscling it around corners.

    Eventually we reached Baddeck, where the topic of saying “screw this, let’s hunker down for two nights while this blows over” was discussed, and agreed upon. My thought was that this is our vacation, and as we’re not actually trying to get anywhere in particular, the goal should be to enjoy ourselves, and Dachary was miserable.

    “Every part of me that’s covered in rain gear is wet.”, she said. “Every part of you is covered in rain gear.” I replied. “And every part of me is wet.” Her FroggToggs had once again left her legs soaked. Her fancy-pants RevIt Everest jacket left her shirt wet on the sides of her belly, and her forearms were similarly soaked. Her hands, covered by RevIt H20 Gloves, were also soaked. Her helmet had done its job well, but her hair was wet from the rain it experienced before putting on the helmet.

    I could have kept going. My Roadcrafter had left me dry except for a line along the leg zippers, my hands, in a newer generation of the same gloves were soaked, and icky. My boots, were wet of course, but didn’t feel too bad as I was still wearing my trash bag liners.

    That being said, I love my wife, and dragging her through conditions that just make her more miserable is a heartless thing to do.

    I got a hotel for two nights, and the universe smiled on us with a good room, at the best price we could hope for. The Wi-Fi sucks in our room, but… shrug At least we were able to wring the water out of our waterproof gloves, unpack our tent which was still soaked from the last camping, and stick a hair-dryer in our boots.

    Napping was had, which has been in short supply on this trip. Then, a walk to a nearby convenience store, as our room has a mini-fridge, where we could acquire soda (pop as the Canadians say) and snacks to see us through the next 36 hours. Happily, we even found Coke! (Canada, or at least Nova Scotia, is all about the Pepsi… it was nice to have Coke for a change.)

    The dogs got soaked, and so did our walking around off the bike gear. But it was nice to be able to come back somewhere dry, towel off the dogs and hang our wet clothes to dry.

    On tonight’s agenda: Canadian National Geographic television! And reading books on our Kindles! If we had to hang out someplace to wait out the rain and let things dry, we could have done a lot worse. And now, for some much needed down-time.

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    P.S. For those who are wondering: Yes, we used to rave about the RevIt rain gloves. It turns out that they function much better at highway speeds behind full hand-guards than they do at relatively low speeds without hand guards. We’ll have a full review I’m sure.
    #28
  9. CaptnSlo

    CaptnSlo Derelicte

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,421
    Location:
    VA
    If you guys are on the road while writing this, I read that stuffing wet boots with newspaper overnight helps draw out the water.
    #29
  10. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    With heavy rain/thunderstorms in the forecast, we had decided to stay in Baddeck today and stay warm and dry in a hotel room. When the day dawned, it was overcast but dry. We debated whether we should chance it and head out, but our boots were still VERY wet, our gear was still wet, and the idea of a day off sounded good. So we decided to stick around and just relax for the day.

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    Had a leisurely breakfast in the Inverary Resort restaurant, and it was SUPER TASTY. One of the best meals I've had on the trip, huzzah! Back at the room, rain still wasn't on offer. I suggested to Kay that we take our laundry into town to wash it and wander around the town a bit, and Kay said that the forecast suggested that the rain was supposed to hit in the afternoon, so we should head out soon. Umbrellas, doggies, and laundry in tow, we walked into downtown Baddeck.

    The laundromat was owned by the people who owned the Blue Heron Gift Shop, and you could go into the gift shop and buy a cap full of laundry detergent, and get quarters for the machines. So I did. Whilst there, we encountered a gent from Denmark who was here in Canada for 4 months on a rented Harley Davidson. All of his stuff had gotten soaked in the rain, too, including all of his dry clothes in his saddlebags, so he was at the laundromat trying to dry things off. Kay ended up chatting with him and told him all about dry bags - hopefully it'll help him keep his stuff a little better in the future!

    Grabbed a coffee while the stuff dried, and we walked down to the weekly Farmer's Market to check it out. There were a couple of kids in the entryway playing fiddle, and they were decent - it made a nice, lively atmosphere. Plenty of tables of people selling baked goods and artisan wares, but surprisingly few fruits and vegetables. Everyone seemed to know everyone, and people were chatting in clusters, and kids were playing in the aisles - it was a nice community feel, and I really enjoyed it. We treated ourselves to a couple of the baked goods on offer, and then headed back to collect our laundry. (This is the view from the dock behind the farmer's market.)

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    On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Highwheeler Cafe again to grab some sandwiches to bring back for lunch. Still tasty. When we got back, there was still no sign of the rain we'd been promised - just a few sprinkles now and again - and Kay and I were starting to get annoyed.

    Spent the afternoon relaxing, reading, watching Discovery and National Geographic daytime television shows (the Canadian versions, anyway, which did prove entertaining). We did some writing, at one point, to catch up a bit on the blog - and Kay set out to write a review of his Aerostich Roadcrafter suit, but ended up writing what I called "a love letter to his 'stich." (I think it needs a bit of work, but clearly he's loving the suit.)

    In the meantime, my dog discovered a "cave" under the sink in the bathroom, and would hang out there any time either of us went in the bathroom. Silly dog.

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    At around 4, I looked out the window and a downpour was finally happening outside. Huzzah! We were justified in staying! Kinda. But it only lasted about 20 minutes, and then it was back to not much wet again. Blerg.

    By the time we decided to head out for dinner around 6ish, there was even a bit of clearing, with the sun peeking through in spots. So much for the weather forecast here in Baddeck, but at least we'd had a restful, relaxing day.

    We'd been passing a sign for Baddeck Lobster Suppers, which promised "all you can eat mussels, chowder, bread and more" - and delicious lobster dinners. We haven't yet had a lobster dinner, and it seems to be a Thing You Do in Nova Scotia, so I talked Kay into heading over there.

    Way too much money later, we were seated and they asked what we'd like to start with. Kay chose mussels, and I chose chowder. The chowder was tasty, if a bit potato-ey (most of the other chowder we've had here has been *very* seafood heavy, but this place seemed to skimp a bit - probably because of the all-you-can-eat aspect). The mussels, though, tasted perfect - like mussels. You could taste the ocean. They were definitely fresh, and after the seafood lunch we had yesterday where they had managed to extract all of the flavor from the seafood, these fresh mussels were a wonderful change. Kay ate most of a bowl, and I helped a bit before getting my own bowl of mussels for my next dish.

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    And then there was my lobster.

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    And Kay's Fresh Local Snow Crab.

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    It turned out, Kay liked the lobster better, and I liked the snow crab better, so after we'd each eaten a claw and half the tail, I tried giving Kay my lobster. Unfortunately, Kay didn't seem to know what to do with the main body of the lobster, even though there were instructions on the table - it seemed to be too much work to get more lobster meat out. So he went back to another bowl of mussels, but by that point both of us were getting darn full of seafood - which we don't normally eat - and we were getting signals from our tummies that maybe we should stop. So we did.

    Still, the meal was delicious. If you're in Baddeck, it's pricey and touristy, but we'd recommend it. (Although the included dessert was very meh.)

    That pretty much wrapped up the day. A little more reading, writing, watching tv and rearranging wet things so they could try to dry rounded out the night for us here in Baddeck.
    #30
  11. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    It started with sun, actual, honest to goodness sun. Not, overcast with sun peeking out, but sun, with an occasional cloud.

    If we have learned anything from our time in Nova Scotia is that their weather forecasting is even worse than ours.

    After packing up the smelliest hotel room ever (excessively moist boots and tent) we left the door open and the fan on, in hopes that it would have a chance to air out before the cleaning lady got there and passed out from the stench, then let the dogs jump into their sidecar and set out. I'm still wearing trash bags in my boots, because apparently 36 hours isn't long enough to dry them once they've reached total saturation, unless you're in a much drier climate, or do the newspaper trick, which someone on ADV Rider mentioned, and I'd totally forgotten about.

    We decided to do most of the Bras D'or Lakes scenic route, which looked spectacular on the map, and started out with some pretty views...

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    ... but after crossing the bridge...

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    turned into a long stretch of bumpy, poorly maintained roads, with almost no view of the lakes. If you ignored the typical North American houses it could have been any back road at this latitude.

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    This isn't to say they weren't trying to improve the roads. We spent a goodly amount of time like this...

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    Because Nova Scotia construction crews like to close down one direction of traffic and do work on big sections of road instead of doing wee patches like we do in the US.

    It was nice though: sunny, warm... We opened up our vents, and generally enjoyed not being rained on. There was just one problem. Dachary couldn't hear me in her headset. We tried switching headsets. We tried turning them off and on again. We tried wiggling microphones and base-plates... Nothing worked.

    For Dachary it was a somewhat lonely experience. She would talk to me; giving me directions, or commenting on things we were passing, and I would respond with a small set of hand signals. For me it was... interesting. I was allowed to just be quiet. I would respond as best I could, but eventually I stopped even thinking about trying to talk in response. While waiting in line for the construction crews I'd sometimes not bother, because it would mean turning around and yelling loud enough to make it out my helmet, ten feet down the road, in her helmet, and through her earplugs. I did make it a point to get off the bike and go give her a hug every now and then when we came to another line.

    Of course, we have a spare base plate. Of course, it's at home, because we dropped the ball on a few things when packing for this trip, and the base plate was one of them. :/ We're still not 100% sure whose is the culprit, but it's probably something to do with the microphone on mine. Dachary says I've been getting quieter for days now.

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    (We both found the whole "lick a chick" idea a little disturbing)

    Towards the end of the day we came across signs for the "Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine" and I had to go. It reminded me of Latin America, which I miss, and it seemed so incongruous to find this here in Cape Breton. Fortunately, it was on the left.

    Left is fortunate, because our right blinker has gone out again. We're going to be taking it to the dealer for engine issues when we get back anyway, but in the meantime it just blows bulbs every month or so. We've got remember to stick in the spare in the morning.

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    I was kind-of excited when I pulled up the drive. It was huge.

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    But, it was so... sterile. You'd never see something like this in Latin America. It wouldn't be pristine. There wouldn't be large washes of a single color like this. It would be vibrant! It would be alive. You'd feel... something. This was just so sterile. So... white people.

    The statues were a little different. Judging by the dream catcher around one's neck I thinking one of the local indians paid a visit.

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    We met some Mi'kmaq at a gas station earlier in the day. They were, like most Canadians: nice people. I was happy to hear some of them still speaking Mi'kmaq, although I had to ask to be sure that's what it was. Too many native people's abandoning their languages... The sad thing though, was that they were concentrated in one of, if not the, poorest looking town we've seen.

    It was in that town that we stopped for "Gas station lunch" which almost always ends up being a pre-made ham and cheese sandwich with some soda and chips. This was the first one we'd had on this trip though, and we found it a surprisingly refreshing, and tasty (not to mention cheap) change of pace. Maybe it's just because they remind us of our Americas trip.

    Eventually, the rain came. It was inevitable I guess, but it did hold off until near the end of the day. When we finally came into Antigonish for a fuel stop we were both considering getting a hotel room soon, and that's when an RCMP came up and introduced himself to us as one of the guys who'd followed our America's trip on ADV Rider and had sent us a message about possibly getting together on this trip. Alas, we got the message after we passed beyond his home town. But, there he was in the flesh, filling up at the same gas station, at the same time. Excellent!

    Alas, he was on the job, and there wasn't a good place to get out of the rain and chat anyway, but it was still great to meat one of the many awesome folks we've interacted with on ADV Rider. We mentioned that we were considering getting a hotel somewhere around here and he pointed to the motel next door, saying "That one's cheap"... and directly across the street from it was a steak place.

    Let's see...

    • gets us out of the rain almost immediately (it was after 5:30 anyway)
    • has steak across the street (i'd been craving it since the seafood overload last night)
    • is cheap.

    If they only take pets we'll have a winner.

    They do! Just one restriction. No pets on the bed ("keep them on the carpet") or they'll charge us an additional $50.... shit. "Of course" I said, knowing full well the task would be nigh-impossible to achieve, but knowing that we are capable of dealing with simple adversities like this. Dachary grumbled at the restriction, thinking the same thing I did, and then came up with the ultimate solution: lay the sleeping bag over the bed (along with our liners to cover any additional space) and let the dogs get on that. It's not like they don't sleep on it in the tent anyway. Now everybody wins. The comforter stays clean, and the dogs get to be with their pack. :)

    There is one adversity we haven't been able to overcome though. We can't close the main window. It's old wood with old paint, and it's just plain stuck, having expanded with the moisture. I'm seriously afraid that I'll break it, or me, if I yank any harder. I took the sticks out of the other ones, gave a little tug, and down they came.

    I've acquired steak from across the street, sodas from the convenience store next to the steak place, and the wi-fi was good enough to let us upload images. Now I just need to find a way to keep Dachary warm tonight. ;)
    #31
  12. tbss1

    tbss1 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    22
    Location:
    long island
    I always enjoy the detail in your reports. How is it going.
    #32
  13. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    We're not dead!

    We got home and have been enjoying our comfortable chairs. Still have to pull the pictures off the cameras, which I'll do tonight. Over the course of this trip we've come to some interesting conclusions, which we'll write up, in addition to the last few days of riding, and share with you. These have also hampered writing as they've resulted in may hours of internet research.... which should have been done after writing up the last few days. ;)

    Unfortunately, despite working ahead and getting everything done for the weeks we were gone Dachary's clients managed to come up with more work in her absence. So, in addition to the normal workload she's got bonus work... and is trying to not go insane with all the typing (on burnt hands no-less (not from anything in the trip).
    #33
  14. BcDano

    BcDano One Lucky Dude

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    337
    Location:
    Rolling on the RTW
    Look forward to more pics.
    #34
  15. DandyDoug

    DandyDoug Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    414
    Location:
    Lewisville, NC
    Sounds like you kids are having a great time, look forward to reading more :deal
    #35
  16. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    Not being able to get the window closed last night led to a surprisingly chilly night. Kay and I hunkered down in the bed, under the blanket and comforter, under the down sleeping bag, and under a pile of dog. It’s a testament to the cold that the dogs stayed piled on the bed with us. My dog, Ben, generally won’t sleep on the bed at night; he’ll hang out when the lights are on, but once they go out, he moves to the floor - usually right next to the bed so he can still be close to us. But it was so cold in the room that he stayed on the bed last night, and none of us wanted to get up this morning.

    Kay eventually ventured out to use the SMALLEST SHOWER EVER (seriously, smaller than even any campground shower I’ve ever used - when I raised my arms to wash my hair, I couldn’t do it without banging my elbows on the walls - Kay says it’s as small or smaller than the shower he used to have in an RV back in the day) and discovered that at least we have warm water. I ventured out shortly after, and once we were moving around, we had to force ourselves not to get back in the bed or we’d be trapped by the cocoon of warmth. (It’s worth noting that the dogs showed no inclination to get off the bed - they watched us from the warm pile until Kay finally took them out, and then leashed them to the Ural outside so we could pack up the sleeping bag without them getting on the bed again.)

    Eventually, we were off, after a crappy toasted bagel and cream cheese “continental breakfast.” But it was a cheap hotel, so at least our expectations were low. The food matched.

    Plan for today was to slowly wend our way out of Nova Scotia, hitting a few points we wanted to see along the north shore. We ended up on the Sunrise Trail - so we’ve driven pretty much every “scenic route” trail on Nova Scotia. It was nice riding - much nicer than yesterday’s “Bras D’or Lakes” scenic route, which turned out to have very little in the way of views.

    Around lunchtime, we hit a town that had a knife shop we had been pondering checking out: Grohmann Knives. Apparently they sell handmade knives, including the Russell Belt Knife, and we both love our Leatherman/Swiss Army Knife type things, so we thought we’d check it out. It was pretty much what you’d expect. The craftsmanship was impressive, but we didn’t actually need a knife, so we didn’t buy anything.

    I read in one of my guidebooks that we happened to be in the same town as Mrs. MacGregor’s Tea Room, which the book claimed had sticky toffee pudding to die for. One of our friends makes great sticky toffee pudding, but we don’t get it very often as it’s mostly a holiday thing, so I decided we should stop and try it. After all - we’re on vacation!

    Wandered over to Mrs. MacGregors, where we discovered that they no longer served food food - just desserts and shortbreads and things. But the helpful gent there (Mr. MacGregor, I think) referred us to the Stone Soup Cafe around the corner for lunch. Kay moved the bikes so we could keep an eye on the dogs, and we had a very tasty lunch of sandwiches and soup of the day, and a nice chat with some ladies who were also having lunch there.

    Afterward, I went back to Mrs. MacGregors to get a sticky toffee pudding to go, which I intended to enjoy with Kay back at the bikes with the dogs. I also snagged some of the famous “Scottish shortbread” (in the chocolate and original recipe variants) and they turned out to be super delicious! Yay!

    Back at the bikes, I discovered Kay pouring water all over a very bedraggled-looking ‘dido. Turns out, he’d walked the dogs while I was off acquiring sticky toffee pudding for us, and ‘dido had found the most disgusting pile of stinky runny dog poo and started rolling in it! YUCK! Kay had been attacking him with baby wipes (essential for hygiene in a tenting life) and water, and I reminded him that we have liquid dish soap in the kitchen bag. Dish soap was added to the mix, making ‘dido thoroughly damp and hopefully clean enough to live with in a tent.

    [​IMG]

    Ahh, the dangers of traveling with dogs.

    In the meantime, I enjoyed the sticky toffee pudding (yes, it was delicious, but our friend back in Boston makes it better!) and shared a little bit with Kay between him rubbing soap and baby wipes all over the poor dog. As it happened on his watch, I felt only fair he clean up the damage. Besides, my sticky toffee pudding was getting cold and the ice cream was starting to melt!

    Back on the road after this surprisingly eventful stop, and I steered us to the next point of interest on my map: Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche. They had converted a bunch of railroad cars to themed rooms where you could spend the night, and they had a dining car that served lunch and dinner. It was too late for lunch, too early for dinner, and way too early to stop for the day, so we wouldn’t be buying anything here - but it was a curiosity worth checking out. I found it really cool.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Next stop on our Sunrise Trail tour: Jost Vineyards in Malagash! We’d been seeing stuff about Jost all over Nova Scotia (pronounced yoast, like toast) and they offered free winery tours - I had been wanting to check out one of the Nova Scotia wineries, and we were 45 minutes before the tour started, so this was it! The Ural was running poorly again, so we took the opportunity to pull the air filter and swap it for our spare. I theorized that after all the rain we’d been riding in, plus the mud and wet when we did the TCT, it might just be a wet or clogged air filter and not breathing properly. It’s easy enough to swap - just 20 mins of work or so since we have to pull the air filter housing out to do it, as the K&N air filter is a smidge too tall to fit in with the air filter box installed under the seat. (I insisted we’d have to pull the housing off entirely, Kay thought we could do it with the housing installed... we tried it his way first but I was right.)

    Then off to our winery tour... which was very short and not at all what I was hoping for. You walked out to the field adjacent to the parking lot, got a glass of wine, heard a (very) little about how they maintain the grapes and how their growing and harvesting works, then you go into a 3,000-liter wine cask in the parking lot (which is admittedly pretty cool) and hear a bit more about the wine-making process at Jost... but it’s really just an extended ad for Jost. Which is fine, but if they’re calling it a “tour” - I expect to see a bit more than 10 feet and hear a bit more about wine making in general.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After the “tour” - we headed to the tasting bar and sampled a few things. We actually found a white wine that Kay really liked, which is surprising because he’s only just beginning to appreciate wine in general and typically isn’t a fan of most whites, so we bought a couple of bottles and snugged them in a fuzzy blanket in the trunk of the Ural, hoping they’d survive the trip home intact.

    Then we got the dogs out of the sidecar again, hung out in the grass for a while, chatted with a gent who knew a fair amount about Urals from his life in Europe, and buttoned things up after our impromptu air filter change. We don’t drink and drive - not even a single beer at lunch or dinner when we’ll be riding afterward - so we stayed a good long while to make sure that the tiny sips of wine we’d sampled would not impact our riding.

    Back on the Sunrise Trail again, and that was my last point of interest for Nova Scotia. It was off to New Brunswick. Due to the time we’d spent at the winery, as well as our other impromptu stops for the day, we only got as far as Moncton before it was time to call it a day. Moncton is a bit of a no-mans-land for camping as far as my GPS and guidebooks are concerned. The only camping I knew about was an hour back in the direction we’d just traveled, or an hour and a half forward. We needed dinner and it would have been dark before we stopped, so we opted to stay in a hotel YET AGAIN in Moncton.

    Did the standard run around and check prices - we started with Holiday Inn, where Kay convinced me to go in and do the talking since I had more Canadian cash left (typically he handles the lodging booking) but the price seemed high. I came out to check with Kay, and we decided to try a few different spots. We checked at a place across the street that looked nice, but they didn’t have any pet-friendly rooms. (We also encountered the European guy we’d chatted with at the winery at this hotel - apparently Moncton is a place to stay when leaving NS!)

    Comfort Inn was across the street, and although we both were tired of their lame continental breakfasts and uncomfortable beds and pillows, we decided it was probably better than Super 8 and opted to give it a try. I wasn’t sure about the place - it was under renovation and the lobby was closed, and instead they had the office in a hotel room with a door that opened to the outside. But as we were starting to pull out again without checking with the office, someone opened a curtain to a room right in front of us - the room actually looked good, so I went in and listened as the couple in front of me chatted with the receptionist. It turned out that they were renovating the entire hotel, and had finished all the guest rooms and were just now wrapping up the lobby and breakfast room. So we ended up getting a newly-renovated room, on the ground floor, where could walk in through a sliding glass door with the dogs and the MC luggage - and it was nice! The bed and pillows were comfortable, it didn’t smell like smoke - it was one of the better hotel experiences we’ve had on the trip, and it was $50 cheaper than the Holiday Inn next door. Score!

    Dinner was delivery - again. Neither of us felt like gearing up and going out again to find food after we’d settled in, and nothing was really in walking distance. I saw “donair” on the menu, and decided this was the last time I’d get to eat it and I really enjoyed the donair poutine I had in Dartmouth, so I got it. Turns out, this one had a weird flavor and I decided after eating a quarter of it that it was inedible. Bummer. I filled up on leftover potato chips and beef jerky from our various snack stops during the day, and garlic sticks from the delivery place. One of the most disappointing dinners of the trip, but the day was actually pretty good with all of our stops, so I’d call it a win overall!
    #36
  17. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    Today’s mission: make miles. We have 2 days to cover around 550 miles to home - do-able, but those are surprisingly long days on the Ural - particularly if we want to stop anywhere.

    Started off the day with the Comfort Inn continental breakfast. This one was a definite step-up from some of the other continental breakfasts we’ve had - there were hard-boiled eggs, the bread products seemed fresh, and they also had yogurt. We filled up on breakfast before loading up ourselves and the dogs to head out.

    Alas, I eyeballed my rear tire on the F650 as we were zipping up our gear, and I noted that it looked a bit low. Mentioned it to Kay. Said “we should probably check it, but I don’t really want to take the time.” He pointed out that I have a much better aptitude for spotting low tires than he does, and we haven’t checked pressures lately, so we pulled out the gauge and checked. It was around 10-15 PSI - not completely flat, but definitely way low. Sigh.

    Took off the jackets. Pulled the dogs out of the sidecar so we could unsnap the dog cover and get into the Ural’s trunk, where we’re keeping the tools and things like the Cycle Pump on this trip. Added air to the rear tire (after having yet more trouble with the stupid chuck end on the compressor - that’s my biggest complaint with the Cycle Pump) and decided to check all the tires since we had the compressor out and hadn’t checked lately. They were all just a few pounds low, so we added air to all 5 tires. Sigh. After problems getting the stupid Cycle Pump end to seat properly, and getting the pump put away, buttoning up the dogs, and re-gearing up again, we’d lost a half hour to airing up tires. Bleh.

    Still, we were in the Magnetic Hill part of Moncton, and Kay had never done one of those “driving uphill” optical illusions (I’d done one in Ireland and thought it was kinda awesome) so I insisted we head a few minutes down the road to check out Magnetic Hill. After all - we’re on vacation! There was a $5 fee per vehicle, but the guy waved us through since we were on motos. We waited our turn to drive down the road, but you were supposed to pull forward, and then roll backward in neutral. Turns out, that’s surprisingly difficult on a two-wheel bike (at least, I think it is!) - I tried it for half the length of the road, but then turned around so I could roll face-first the rest of the way down the road - much easier, although I think I lost some of the effect.

    Unfortunately, the car behind me didn’t wait until I had cleared the lane to start his rolling backward, and he ended up accelerating faster down the hill than I was, so he had to slam his brakes on to not hit me, and I had to roll on throttle to get out of his way, completely ruining the experience for both of us, I imagine. I left the attraction feeling annoyed.

    Side trip over, we hit the highway to cover miles. There was highway. And more highway. And lots more highway. The Ural still wasn’t riding well - Kay was maxed out on the throttle and only going 55-60MPH, and losing power up even small inclines again. So it took us a while to cover ground, and it was frustrating because the Ural didn’t feel like it was pulling properly. The highway in New Brunswick is surprisingly beautiful - lots of rolling hills, valleys and small mountains with an occasional ocean view. But it was just a frustrating grind for us.

    Stopped around lunch time to fuel up the Ural yet again, and Kay chatted for a few minutes with some bicyclists from Halifax who were riding across NS and NB and into the US for a month. We had gas station lunch, which turned out to be very lame - neither sandwich was good, nor were the potato chips we got, so we both gave up before finishing the food. Even my dog wouldn’t eat the potato chips, although Kay’s dog, a former street dog, was more pragmatic and was willing to much away at them.

    Back on the road for more grind. The day was passing so slowly at the speeds we were capable of going. And with Kay’s headset out of commission, we weren’t even able to chat to pass the time. It was just a long, boring slog.

    At the next gas stop, I pointed out that we could hit the Chocolate Museum today. We’d missed it on our way into Nova Scotia because we passed it too late in the day, but surely we could hit it early enough today. So that became our goal - get to the Chocolate Museum in time to check it out. We rode. And rode some more. And then it was around 2:30, and we were theoretically in the spot where the Chocolate Museum was located, except we couldn’t find an entrance for it. Kay walked through the little one-way cut through (one way in the wrong direction) and said there was a sign for the museum out front, but he couldn’t see it - but if we left the parking lot and essentially took a couple of right turns, we could come at it from the front and hopefully find it. So we did.

    As soon as we pulled into the parking lot in the front, I could see the Chocolate Museum tucked in a corner right in front of the one-way pass through we’d just left 10 minutes before. We’d literally been sitting on the other side but couldn’t see it because of where it was located. So we took off our gear, buttoned up the dogs, and walked in at 2:46. I know this, because the museum was supposed to close at 3pm, and when we talked to the girls at the desk, they told us the last admittance was at 2:45pm. By this time, the clock on the wall behind them said 2:47.

    “So we missed it by 2 minutes?” I asked incredulously. The main lady nodded.

    I looked at Kay. He looked back. He could see I was disappointed. After the boring, lonely, frustrating riding today, and the crappy lunch at the gas station, I had pinned my hopes on the Chocolate Museum for alleviating the crap of the day. I spoke aloud without thinking.

    “We were just on the other side of this one-way pass through - if we’d spotted this place the first time, and hadn’t spent 10 minutes driving around to the front, we would have made it.” I turned back to the girls behind the counter. “And this is the second time we’ve missed it, too - when we passed through two weeks ago, we were too late in the day and you were closed. And now we’re heading home on vacation, and who knows when we’ll be here again.”

    I wasn’t really expecting anything to come of my whining. I’m not a whiner by nature, anyway, and it was just the frustration of the day getting to me. I’m human. It happens sometimes. But the ladies apparently saw that I needed a win, so the main lady relented. “Would you like to go inside? We can make an exception.”

    I looked at her, surprised. “Oh, could we? That would be so wonderful. Thank you very much!” I paid our admission, and we tagged onto the group of college kids that was currently getting a private tour.

    The Chocolate Museum was small - only a few rooms - but it was full of interesting facts about the evolution of this particular chocolate company - Ganong Chocolate, who it turns out were the first people to ever make the Valentine’s Day heart-shaped box of chocolates - and chocolate making in general. I love chocolate, and I’ve toured some artisan chocolate factories before, so it was fun to see how a bigger, more commercial chocolate factory handled things.

    [​IMG]

    There were two groups undergoing private tours - one in each of the main rooms - and I didn’t want to intrude. I felt we’d been fortunate enough to be granted entry, and I didn’t want to take advantage of the ladies at the front who had been nice enough to let us in. So when it was 3:01, I made Kay and I break away without visiting the second room (we’d been waiting for the other group to finish in there) and head out. I hadn’t gotten to see the entire place, but what I had seen was cool, and the ladies being nice enough to let us in made me feel better about the day in general.

    We stopped at the little chocolate shop in the front of the building (which was open until 7PM - far after the 3pm close time of the museum) and tried to spend all of our remaining Canadian dollars on chocolate stuff so we wouldn’t have to have them converted back to US when we got home. We did manage to unload most of our change, which made Kay happy. And we got some chocolate treats, which made me happy. All in all, it was a win.

    Kay had to pee, and we’d need gas again for the Ural, so I checked the GPS for a gas station where we could walk the dogs, take care of our needs, etc. before dealing with the border crossing back into the US. Last year’s crossing from Canada to the US took something like 90 mins of waiting in the hot sun, including several long minutes being grilled by the border crossing lady. We wanted to make sure we and the dogs were prepared for the wait. So we geared up and got on the bikes to ride the half a mile to the gas station. Down the road, and around the corner... and wait! That’s a border crossing! The gas station was *just* on the other side of it. D’oh!

    Kay pulled into one lane, and I tried to pull into the other (there were only two lanes) but the guy in Kay’s lane motioned me over, and then he motioned me forward to behind Kay. “Even though it says to stop here until the vehicle in front is through?” The border guy nodded.

    Two minutes later, after a very perfunctory review of our paperwork and asking us a few questions about our vacation, he waved us through. We pulled the 100 feet forward to the gas station to take care of our stuff.

    Home! We were back in the US. Everyone in Canada had been super friendly, and we had absolutely zero complaints about our time in Canada... but even so, it felt nice to be back in the US in a way that neither of us could quite articulate.

    So we took a little break, walked the dogs, had a pee and figured out our game plan for the night.

    Kay suggested we head to Bar Harbor to camp for our one last night on the road. The GPS tried to route us via a direct route, but we decided we’d rather take the coastal Route 1 instead of more highway. So we did.

    It was nice riding. It was much more scenic than Route 9 we’d taken to head north to Canada. As a state highway that passed through numerous towns, it was slower and better suited to the Ural than the highway we’d been on most of the day in NB. It was a generally relaxing change of pace, and we even stopped once to get a picture Kay couldn’t resist.

    [​IMG][/url]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Alas, about 20 miles from Bar Harbor, Kay’s headset died entirely and he could no longer hear me giving him directions. Our only option was to change positions - me in front on the F650 although we usually put the Ural in front because it dictates our speed.

    [​IMG]

    I was left watching traffic, trying to navigate through a busier stretch and making decisions without being able to consult with Kay. Should we stop for food, or try to make tracks to a campground? If so, at which of these places should we stop for food? And would we have time to grab something to go and still get to a campground and have enough light to set up our tent? It was getting late...

    A glance at the sky to the west revealed bigger problems: rain was coming. We’d have to forego food and hope traffic moved quickly enough to get us to a campground and get a tent set up before the rain hit. And alas, this meant we were stuck at the KOA at the edge of Bar Harbor, instead of one of the hopefully more primitive state campgrounds further down the road.

    Oh well. Get out of the rain before it hits.

    We hit the KOA, and Kay headed in to find out if they had a tent spot available. They did, and a guy in a golf cart guided us there. Along the way, the dogs started barking at a dog we were passing - and then I saw a woman pointing to the sidecar and saying that we had a dog on the ground. I turned around, and saw that ‘dido had somehow jumped out of the sidecar and was running along next to the wheel. But he was still tied in by his leash and harness! I shouted at Kay to stop, which he did, and he got Bandido back into the sidecar. I was horrified - the harness and leash were supposed to prevent that, but apparently he got so excited barking at the dog that he managed to twist his harness sideway and stretch the leash far enough to get out. YIKES!

    ‘dido safely back in the sidecar, and we made it the remainder of the way to the site and got the tent set up quickly. Then we walked the dogs over to a “lobster dinner” shack someone had set up right in the campground. ‘dido was showing no ill effects from his spill. I’m just grateful that it happened at a few MPH in a campground, and someone was close enough to point it out so we could stop immediately.

    After acquiring a ridiculously expensive lobster roll dinner (nearly $50, and it had such a weird taste that neither of us even finished it! What is it with disappointing meals at the end of this trip?) ‘dido was extremely bouncy and runny headed back toward the tent. So I ran around the campground with the dogs (literally) while Kay juggled all the food back to our tent. Then Kay had to run to the front office because the vending machine back by the tent area had eaten my money, and was out of all the beverages, apparently - but it turns out that the front office and store was a surprisingly long way away, and it took him like 15-20 minutes to get there and back and that included running part of the way.

    Ate (and discarded) our lobster dinner, and enjoyed listening to the sound of rain on our tent on our last night of the trip. Tomorrow, if all went well, we’d be home. It was bittersweet. I was tired of getting rained on, and tired of spending more time in hotels than we’d planned. Watched an episode of Top Gear on the iPad and just relaxed, instead of trying to pull video or photos or write up posts.

    It was nice.
    #37
  18. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    Sorry for the delay in posting the end of our trip, folks - we got sidetracked last weekend looking at a potential home purchase in Maine, and this weekend has gotten derailed because we're doing a fly-and-drive for a new toy next weekend... :)

    I'll let Kay wrap up the remainder of the posts and then we'll tell y'all about our next adventure ;)
    #38
  19. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    Dark Skies likes it when we’re inside the US borders, and rewarded us with a precise window, telling us when the rain would stop, and how long we had to pack everything before it started again. We followed its lead, pilled and fed the dogs, and packed up whilst the current bout petered out. Then went out, and started dismantling the tent, and removing its guts so that we could transplant them into panniers and bags.

    Midway through the surgery one of the KOA people swung by on his golf cart and we got to discussing his life with llamas, and how many lamas have too much wool to successfully mate without a trip to the barber. It was kind-of interesting, but our rain-free window was closing… He left. We moved faster, and pretty soon we were off into the increasing, scratch that, pouring rain. No breakfast for us.

    It’s bad enough getting suited up to ride 10 minutes, but getting suited up, driving 10 minutes, soaking your gloves (and with Dachary’s failing FroggToggs her legs too), pulling over, taking off wet stuff, knowing that you’re going to have to put it back on once it’s had a chance to feel even colder and grosser… This just doesn’t appeal to us. The dogs would probably be disappointed too. “But… we just got going!” And they’d have to sit there with the sides down to keep dry. Just…. no fun.

    We rode on.

    Someday… Someday we’d go for a ride and not be wet. But, it was not to be this day. We went for miles. Silent, wet, uncommunicative miles. Stupid headset.

    Once the clouds began to part we started considering breakfast, and found a place with a breakfast buffet. We opened a flap for the dogs, brought them some scraps, and let them stretch their legs before heading out again. There were miles to be made. There was a shower waiting, and a real bed, and our comfy chairs!

    But, as the miles went by we started noticing something. The ural was being a Bad-ass! 70mph with a little left to spare and no drafting required! YES… no wait. Fuck!

    We’d been having consistently bad performance with only intermittent bouts of not-bad after visiting with Lutz. It’s timing was good. The Air filter was good. The carbs were balanced… everything was as it “should” be and the thing was still being sucky. “Finally,” we thought, “Finally, we’ll be able to take it to our dealer and they’ll be able to reproduce the problem!” But no. Last day of the trip and the Ural had to be a bad-ass little powerhouse.

    Now, if we take it to our dealer they’ll say “Yup. She’s running great. That’ll be $90 an hour please.” It’s like a Heisenbug.

    Frustration and joy. The rain had lessened. The clouds had parted. The sun shone down, and the Ural continued on at 70mph, with the best gas mileage we’ve ever seen (still crap but way better crap). 3 gallons for 120km instead of 4! No joke. That’s 24mpg! That’s… that’s just…. wow. That’s just awesome. And yes, I’m afraid to see the final numbers on how many gallons of gas this thing burned through on this little trip. I’ll have to plant a forest to offset the carbon.

    Eventually, there was a rest area, a rest area with a Starbucks. My poor wife’d gone over two weeks without her crack. I pulled in, and there was grass for the dogs. UDF kicked in on the way back with the drinks, but then we met a guy who’s Kawasaki we’d been tailing, or passing for a while. Turns out he and his wife were of the adventuring persuasion too, but had succumbed to the media’s campaign to make Mexico into a “dangerous” place. We assured them it was BS (I’ve checked the numbers, Americans are in far more danger in the US than Mexico) and that they should get down there ASAP, because it’s awesome.

    Back on the road the Ural continued to be a bad-ass, all the way home.

    Upon arrival we covered every available flat surface with crap. Then we took showers.

    [​IMG]

    Life is good.
    #39
  20. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    The last two adventures have been hard; each in its own way. We learn. We adjust. We try again.

    Going to Colorado was a brutal slog. We firmly believe that having a deadline is the worst thing for an adventure. Being forced to just go go go without the time to stop and smell the roses… it sucks. Doing it in hundred degree weather with hot blowing winds sucks doubly so.

    So, we adjusted. Nova Scotia was close enough that, despite the limited days off, we could still take our time. We stopped when we were tired. We took a day off because we felt like it. We went to see things just because we felt like it. And that part of the trip was great, but the feeling that we were being constantly rained on… that wasn’t so great.

    When we found that my dog had been abused in our absence on the Americas trip we vowed that we’d never do that again. We adjusted. We bought the Ural, and the dogs came with us on these last two journeys. They loved it, and we learned that while it changed many things about how we traveled. It also made being on the road feel more like being home. The good home. The one where your heart is. They are our pack, and packs like being together.

    We’ve thought a lot about the next adventure… about quitting everything and traveling around the world with no deadline. It’s what drives us, especially me. Essentially all of our disposable income goes into something trip related.

    We look at our past and try to learn from it.

    We learn. We adjust. We try again.

    I suspect it started out with a snide comment of mine: a “You know, if we had a four wheeled vehicle…” kind of thing. It became a running joke, because we’re adventure motorcyclists. Ease: Ha! Comfort: Piffle! In Nova Scotia’s rains though, it started to become something more serious. If we had a four wheeled vehicle we wouldn’t be getting soaked right now… If we had a four wheeled vehicle we could stop there for breakfast without having to peel off our dripping wet gear, get warm and start to dry, then put it back on and get soaked all over again… If we had a four wheeled vehicle we wouldn’t have to set up a tent that was still soaked from the last night of rain…

    And once we started thinking about one possibility we realized we could talk to each other while we traveled without straining to hear over the wind, without having to rely on technology that kept failing. We could take notes on the place we’d just been while the other one drove. When one person’s tired the other can take over. We could touch each other… or even give the driver a peck on the cheek. The dogs would have space enough to really stretch and move around as the miles went by.

    We could wake up, see that it was pouring out, drenching everything around, and smile. Stand up, cook some breakfast, start up the engine hit the road, and stay perfectly dry…. except for the unavoidable dog walk sigh. Then, (and this was huge) we could stop for anything that caught our eye, because there’d be no hot or dripping suits to wander around in, or take off, then put back on…. the list just kept getting longer and longer.

    There are downsides though. We’d loose many of our ties with the awesome motorcycling community that we’ve grown to love. And frankly, a couple traveling around the world in a four wheeled vehicle isn’t nearly as inspiring as doing it on motorcycles, and we want to inspire. I want to inspire. I want people to see our adventures and say “If they can do it, then so can I.” I want to see people getting out there and living their dreams.

    But you know what? In the end this isn’t about them. This is about us. This is about finding the way that makes us happy, and there’s nothing more inspirational than seeing passionate people enjoying life.

    And then, I suggested a Vanagon.

    We learn. We adjust. We try again.

    Anybody want to buy a Ural?
    #40