"I've Been Everywhere, Man" Living the song on two wheels.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by swedstal, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
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    Wednesday, September 6th

    I awoke with a feeling of relief. It was morning. No one had chased me out of my spot. Sleep is just another resource and I had gotten enough of it to have an effective day.

    Mysteriously, though, I found that I was wet. I didn't think it had rained in the night, so I was a bit confused. It turns out that this dampening was an inside job. My hydration pack, which was uphill from where I was sleeping, had begun to leak in the night. My pad and sleeping bag were drenched. I wan't too upset, my mind went immediately to how I would replace it, given that it is my only method of carrying water.

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    No worries! Everything's already wet anyway! Let's get Kingston (Verse 2 Line 2), place 23 on my list.

    You may be thinking that Kingston, ON is not the most notable place in the Western Hemisphere which has that name. That honor would probably go to Kingston, Jamaica. So why am I not going there? I would refer you back to this excerpt from my first post:

    "Furthermore, there was an extreme bias given to places that are accessible by road. Part of this was purely logistical, but the song does include the lyric, “I’ve traveled every road in this here land”. There are no mentions of planes or boats. Thus, “Kingston” will be Ontario rather than the more notable Jamaica."

    (That post was published over four months ago....wow)

    My first stop of the day was at a Flying J truck stop. They had decent wifi and a bench in their entryway next to a power outlet. Looks like an invitation to me!

    Then it was on to Kingston. Kingston sits at a very strategic location, where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario.

    The city has a strong British influence. Many Loyalists (American colonists who supported the British during the Revolutionary War), relocated to this area during America's war for independence. Americans attacked Kingston during the War of 1812. In the 1840s, the city actually served as the capitol of Canada for a few years.

    Today, it is possibly best known as the home of Queens college and as a major tourist destination.

    I had almost arrived when rain began to fall. Three days in Canada, three days with rain. I was able to navigate down into the city centre and the rain had mostly abated by then.

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    Kingston City Hall

    As I peeled off my rain gear, a nice couple from New York via Germany via Bangladesh came and talked to me. They were on a bus tour, but he was adamant that my method of traveling was the way to go. After explaining the scope of my trip, he asked if I was a millionaire. I didn't tell him that I had been sleeping next to a freeway on ramp a few hours earlier. :-)

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    The city square

    The guys at the Visitor Center were really helpful. They offered some suggestions for places to get some classic Kingston images. They also invited me to roll Annie up next to their new sign, where you get to act like a letter.

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    I really like this picture. :-)

    I rolled over to Fort Henry to get a good panorama of the city.

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    I rode around for awhile, just sort of checking things out. I knew I wanted to find a new water pack, so I went to the store where any Canadian goes when they need to get anything. Let's say it all together now:

    Canadian Tire!

    I found a sack that was the same size (2L), but I would have to devise some sort of system to hook it up. As I roamed the aisles, I studied my old pack carefully. It was then that I felt pretty dumb.

    I did not have a leak. The tube was just unscrewed.

    :-)

    Yes, I am very smart.

    I laughed heartily, then returned my new pack to the shelf.

    There was plenty more to see in Kingston, but I decided to move on. I had been in cities for a number of days, so I felt like getting out into the wilderness. I found a free campsite listed way out in the backwoods of Ontario. I couldn't program it into my navigation app, but I took some screenshots of the map.


    Civilization became progressively sparser as I rode north. Even though some of the roads were water-logged, most of them were in good shape.

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    I really enjoy this kind of riding. It takes persistent attention, but produces ample excitement. Any mistake in line selection or speed can cause a spill, so it offers a good challenge.

    [youtube

    Nearing my destination, there was a sign indicating that the road would be closing in three days for a month of construction. I was really lucky to have beaten the deadline!

    Exhilarated by the fun ride, I stumbled upon a camping area tucked back in some trees. There was no one around, but many signs that people had camped there recently.

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    I almost unpacked, but decided to ride a little farther down a hill. It sounded like there might be a stream below. I found a second camping area, this one right next to a serene lake.

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    What an upgrade!

    There were also many signs that people had been here recently, but again, there was not a soul around.

    (Totally unrelated side note: I just had a really good idea for a horror story. There's a campground in the middle of nowhere. One day everyone vanishes and is never heard from again. The camp lies empty until one day when a weary traveler from far away arrives seeking shelter........wait, that's not helping)

    I could not believe how quiet it was. There was not a breath of wind, nor any sign of another person.

    I sat beside the picturesque lake and decided to do something out of the ordinary. No, not skinny-dipping, that's been done before. Rather, I decided to actually have supper. Don't get me wrong, I do eat, but it is normally "Eating And": Eating and writing, eating and editing pictures, eating and planning my next stop, eating and setting up my tent, eating and reviewing camera footage. I rarely just eat. I cooked up the last one of my meals in a bag and had a wonderful supper.

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    Knowing I was back in bear territory (though just black bears), I hung up my food about 50 yards from my tent. It was so quiet that I probably could have heard one a mile away. I had arguably the most peaceful camping night night of my whole trip. It was truly a place fit for a king!
    Davidprej, KiwiPewe, Maggot12 and 5 others like this.
  2. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Thursday, September 7th

    I woke up and by some miracle I was dry! What a pleasant sensation! It's good to be the king!

    I packed up early and was nearly gone by sunrise. I was reluctant to leave my perfect spot, but knew that I had lots to do. On the docket for the day was Canada's capital, Ottawa (Verse 1 Line 3).

    The conditions were fairly clear as I began my trek back towards civilization. Once I was back on pavement the skies clouded, rain began and thick fog rolled in.

    [​IMG]

    Four days in Canada, four days with rain.

    (You know how when you are sick, you have to urinate more regularly? That's the body's way of trying to flush out an infection. Maybe that's what Canada is trying to do to me?)

    I tip tapped away at Tim Hortons, getting some updates completed. As I worked, a tall guy with a Canadian smile (it's different than an American one, trust me) approached. "Are you trying to win the award for the largest top case?" he asked me. That's how I met Joe. It turns out Joe might be as crazy as I am.

    He is a fellow adventure motorcycle rider as well as a fellow blogger. I highly recommend checking out his website: ADV Joe. On his website you will see how a real motorcyclist and real blogger documents his journey. He does a great job.

    He is from Ottawa, so I sought his advice about getting the right picture there. He had also ridden the road to Labrador and had some advice for how best to traverse that road. He was in a bit of a rush, so our time together was shorter than I would have liked; but our conversation was chock full of good advice and good vibes.

    I rode into Ottawa looking for the Visitor Center. Time to play everyone's favorite game: How long will it take Brett to find a parking spot? It wasn't too bad this time and the garage I found was much more reasonable than the one in Toronto.

    I began walking towards parliament hill and paused for the changing of the guard at the WWI memorial's tomb of the unknown soldier.

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    Parliament was just a couple of blocks away.

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    As I began perusing the grounds, it began to rain again. This was actually kind of nice, because most of the people disappeared. I walked as far around it as I could. Everyone I had talked to about Ottawa indicated that my picture should be of parliament, so I wanted to scout a spot for Annie and I. The grounds around are crawling with RCMP (Canadian Police), so I wanted to be selective.

    I got a good one sans-Annie:

    [​IMG]



    After walking a bit, I decided to check with the Visitor Center (right across the street) to see if they had any good ideas for me. They had never heard my question before, but were very helpful. I decided to saddle back up and start circling. If only I could have gotten the bike down here. I really like this picture:

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    I found a couple nice pictures, but no place that could accommodate Annie. Stoplight selfie it is!

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    It was about 3pm and I decided to head out. As with Toronto and Kingston, there was still so much that I was not seeing of Ottawa. I've chided myself a bit, that I did not do my best on these trio of Ontario stops. I've been so focused on Schefferville and I did not want to miss the unique intersection of fair weather and the train schedule that seemed to be forming. As much as I want to truly experience each place, sometimes the practical element has to win out. I really don't want to be stuck in snow in the great white north.


    Just one Canadain stop remains. I now train my sights on Schefferville!

    BA
  3. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    I love the sweatshirt! I know you're past Kingston, but if you go back that way, the ferry going to NY stops on Wolf Island. When I was riding through there several years ago I met a couple on the ferry that had some kind of yoga retreat on the island. For $10 they let me camp on their grounds. Use their showers! And swim off their dock. It was a nice area.
    Go Chiefs!
    swedstal likes this.
  4. vicmitch

    vicmitch Been here awhile

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    Your mentioning of Flying J reminded me of another possible freebee for you. Truckers get a shower credit for each 50 gallons of fuel they buy. Many have more credits than they need, others are near home and some are day drivers hat don't use the credits. you can ask if anyone has a shower credit they are not using. I have never not gotten one, also, the clerks often can give you one if you ask. All Truck Stops have this
    240ADV, eakins and swedstal like this.
  5. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    2-0 baby!

    What, can you smell me or something? :-) Thanks for this. I had not thought of this before.
  6. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    I almost missed this.

    Ok. This is my ride report so I make the rules, right? I am instituting a new rule here: If you own an AMC car.....nay, if you even see one....you are required to post a picture in this ride report! If you all cannot abide by this rule I would kindly invite you to slither back to the facebook abyss from whence you came!

    Seriously though....please share. :-)
    Davidprej likes this.
  7. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    OK.

    Time for the Schefferville story, the toughest place in the whole song. I've already typed up over 8,000 words and I am not yet done. Sometimes I try to just summarize here, but I'm not sure what I can leave out. Accordingly, I will paste the full story here and may God have mercy on your soul.
    Davidprej, 240ADV and rrrnnn like this.
  8. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    I headed east from Ottawa towards Montreal. Time to enter a foreign language locale for the first time on my trip. The Quebecois really love their language. There is an interesting dynamic which shows how strong this is. Throughout most of Canada, especially in Ontario, official signs along the road are bilingual: First English then French. Even when a portable construction billboard is needed, two are rolled out to facilitate the two languages. Upon entering Quebec, however, English completely disappears. This is kind of funny to me, considering that Quebec is probably the most bilingual province in Canada (citation needed).

    I had postponed my Spanish study for a couple of days, focusing on French instead. I always want to begin every conversation in French and take it as far as I can before switching to English (or hand signals). That just seems like the respectful thing to do. I've gotten pretty good at the phrase, "I'm sorry, I don't speak French. I speak English, German or Spanish." At least I can give some options. :-)

    The only problem with greeting people with "Bon Jour" is that I naturally repeat it in my head four times, then bust into think-singing this Alan Menken classic:

    [youtube


    My first Quebec stop was a visitor center just across the border. I practiced my French greetings in the parking lot before entering. The lady there was absolutely fantastic. You never know what you are going to get at these places, but I could tell this lady (I totally forgot her name....let's go with Sophie) was legit right away. As she pointed out places on the map, she wrote notes UPSIDE DOWN so I could see it as she was explaining it.



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    When I told Sophie where I was going she let out a little gasp and had to dig through her drawers to find the appropriate information. The best pamphlet I received was a guide for the road up to Labrador. It showed all of the fuel stops and the distance between landmarks. I would not need to carry extra fuel. Yay!
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    I left with a full sack of pertinent information and even got to practice some of my French phrases. I cannot imagine a better welcome to the province.

    On the edge of Montreal, I made another stop to attempt to find a sim card (is this number five, six?), this time at a Best Buy. The guys there were super helpful, but I couldn't find what I wanted. I decided to finally let the sim card go and continue with what I had.

    I had another big decision to make: To get my new tire now or later. There was one waiting for me around the Vermont/New York/Quebec border. I could dip down and get it quick, but then I would need to find a place to get it installed. Doing so could cost me a day and being a day behind could actually put me four days behind due to the schedule of the train to Schefferville. I decided to roll on with my old tire, hoping the decision would not be a fateful one.

    I continued for another hour or so until darkness began to creep in. Time to go tent spot hunting again. I did not want to repeat the frustration of the last couple of nights, so I only gave myself 30 minutes to find a place. If I hadn't by then, I would go to a real campground. My search time expired quickly and I set a course for Camping Alouette.

    The office was closed by the time I got there and the signage was all in French. I could not make sense of what I was supposed to do. Thankfully, a couple wearing Kawasaki jackets happened to come by and could tell I was confused (my default expression, actually). They did not speak English, but were able to show me the envelope to take to enter the campground. I would then settle up in the morning. They were super helpful.

    As I set up my tent, a special event was about to take place: The opening game of the NFL season. I have been a long-time Chiefs fan and they were playing the Patriots this evening. I really love sports. One of the first things I did when I started working after college was establish a "Championship Fund," setting aside enough money to attend a Chiefs Super Bowl or a Huskers National Championship game (though a flight from South America was not included in this calculation). My fandom will have to slip a little this year, but I want to follow along as much as I can.

    There was spotty wifi in the campground. After setting up my tent, I decided to move Annie around so that I could plug in an extension cord to power my laptop. Right before pushing her around, I noticed I was a little light headed. I had not eaten much all day. But no, worries, I've pushed Annie around thousands of times.

    I don't know how it happened, but:

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    Annie's frunk was open when she got away from me. The sound of plastic breaking seemed to pierce my very soul. What had I done?!

    Before I could answer that question, a difficult task still remained. With the way Annie fell, I was going to have a hard time righting her. The curb weight of the NC700X is 474 pounds. I'm not sure the exact weight of all of my luggage, but I would guess at least 150 lbs. This means I have around 600 lbs. to hoist each time she falls. Because the weight pivots around the wheels, it is not the same as deadlifting or squatting this much weight, but it is still a lot.

    With the position of the tree, I could only use the handlebars to lift. This put me at a biomechanical disadvantage. I heaved multiple times until I finally reached enough clearance to get my knee underneath for extra leverage. Finally, she was standing.

    The damage was difficult to diagnose in the dark. The frunk lid was still attached but it did not close. I would have to put it out of my mind for now and take a closer look in the morning.

    I ate some supper and followed the play by play of the game. At halftime it was already 10:30, so I decided to turn in. I knew that I would have the additional task of repairs to take care of in the morning and needed to make full use of the daylight. Call me a bad fan all you like. :p



    Friday, September 8th

    As soon as my alarm went off I checked the score of the Chiefs game. A 42-27 win warmed me up a little.

    It was chilly in the morning, so I decided to begin my day with a shower. Unfortunately, I only had a single quarter to put in the coin-op machine. I would have to be swift. I was not swift enough. There was still a little trickle coming out of the head which was enough to wash most of the suds off of me.

    Annie looked a little sad, her right hand guard hanging off in addition to the frunk damage.

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    I was encouraged upon further examination. There was not substantial damage to the plastic, only a few pieces were chipped off. I thought I could fix it. I unmounted the seat and frunk lid until I had access to the bracket on which the plastic mounts.

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    It was bent up, but it looked sturdy enough to absorb some blows from the back end of my hatchet. (The C-clamp was one of the last tools I packed, primarily to use as a makeshift oil filter wrench. I've actually used it numerous times.)

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    After some "aggressive negotiations" it was approximately in the correct shape. I remounted the lid, pushed it down, then....*CLICK*. It locked neatly into place. Disaster averted! Re-aligning the hand guard took a bit of time, but I eventually got that sorted too.

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    Not quite flush, but good enough for who it's for.

    Though it was a successful morning, I did not leave the campground until around 11am. I had consumed a lot of daylight. The staff in the campground office were really friendly and invited me to visit them again on my way back through. The cost was $39 CAD (about $31 US). Not too bad. My lodging expenses for the trip have now finally eclipsed the $100 mark. :-(

    (Unless you deduct the $50 the generous owners of the campground in Baraboo gave me. Then I am still under.) :-)

    The goal for the day was to get set up to take the road up to Labrador the next day. Baie-Comeau would be the ideal spot, but I wasn't sure I could make it that far. I suppose I should mention that I didn't need to ride the road up to Labrador. The same train I was taking to Schefferville begins its route in Sept-Iles (Seven Islands), a city on the St. Lawrence. But even though I can't get Annie to Schefferville, I felt obligated to at least ride as far as possible.

    I rode on, crossing the St. Lawrence River at Quebec City. The St. Lawrence is really a sight. It is a river for awhile, but at some point it has to be considered a bay or an inlet or something like that (remember I'm from Nebraska, I don't know much about coastal waterways). The bridge at Quebec City is the last one. Any further east, a ferry is the only option.

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    I was running behind so I made few stops. There was one special one though. My new friend George, the one who arranged my Labrador connections, suggested that I stop at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. It was a beautiful sight, providing a stark contrast to my hastily consumed lunch.

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    The scenery continued to impress as I rolled along. Though, predictably, some ominous rain clouds began to roll in. I've gotten pretty good at anticipating rain. If one can get suited up in rain gear before any moisture hits, it is a real bonus. I watch for moisture being carried into the tire tracks of the oncoming lane as well as the wipers of the cars I meet. I was suited up in plenty of time.

    Still, five days in Canada, five days with rain.

    I reached the Saguenay River and had my first ferry ride of the trip. It was a smooth process and completely free. Two ferries were running back and forth. I would guess that each of them had the capacity to carry 30-40 vehicles. I was ushered into a position and we departed soon. All of the Quebecois surrounding me acted like this was no big deal, but I took a bunch of pictures and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was undoubtedly grinning like an idiot. I never strayed too far from Annie, wanting to be present to steady her in case we crossed rough waters.

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    I would be interested to see the calculations of the economics that make a ferry more cost effective than building a bridge. It seems like there is ample traffic here.

    Daylight was waning, so it was time to think about finding a place for the night. I stopped at McDonald's to grab a bite and use the wifi. I couldn't translate any of the items on the value menu (my usual selections) so I just ordered a "nombre un trio" (number one combo meal). I googled the sunset time and decided that I had better hustle up to find a place.

    I made the same deal with myself as the previous night: Search for a free spot for 30 min, then go pay for a campsite. I headed inland for a few miles before pulling off on a little trail next to a creek. It wasn't perfect, the ground being full of dips and ridges, but it would work.
  9. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

    Joined:
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    Canada's ocean playground
    Are you in Halifax NS by any chance. Co-worker thinks he saw you.

    PM incoming....
    swedstal likes this.
  10. jackalsour

    jackalsour Dreamer

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    You piqued my interest as I live on the Saguenay River and ferries were also a never-ending debate where I grew up (rural NB with many cable ferries to this day) also during the construction of the $1.3B Confederation Bridge between NB and PEI. So a little googling and of course they've been debating building this bridge since at least the '60s. Here's the cost-benefit analysis conclusion I dug up from a 100+ page study circa 2009 (rough translation from français)

    Under the baseline scenario (40-year horizon, 5% discount rate, average demand, project and two-way approach), the overall benefits of $ 615 million, of which 45% were in time savings and 24% in eliminating the costs of the crossing, are insufficient to cover the overall costs of $ 704 million, mainly construction. The benefit cost ratio is 0.87. The IRR is 4.15%, which means that for discount rates below this value, the benefits would outweigh the costs. In practical terms, three factors could contribute to make the project desirable from the point of view of benefit-cost analysis: higher demand (for example, forecasting strong demand leads to problems of summer congestion by 2015) more pronounced for the long or very long term (reduction of the discount rate to 4%) and optimization of the project in terms of cost. The net effect on the attractiveness of new tourism customers in Québec is not included in this calculation.

    source (only available en français) "Impact study of the project to build a bridge over the Saguenay River"

    So I guess the question is, would more or less ADVriders (and other tourists) travel to Tadoussac if there was a bridge? To be honest I enjoy the ferries especially when free and especially when they let motorbikes jump to the front of the line.
    swedstal likes this.
  11. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

    Joined:
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    It is you.... I PMed my phone number. If you need anything, tools, garage/tent space let me know.

    20170918_121447.jpg

    swedstal likes this.
  12. stilcrazee

    stilcrazee Adventurer

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    Addison, IL.
    It's good to be king!
    https://play.google.com/music/previ...utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-songlyrics
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  13. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    Ask and it shall be give, huh? That was interesting. I'm with you about the ferries. For someone from Nebraska, it is a real treat. If I were taking it every day, though, I imagine the novelty would wear off. They were super efficient. I don't think I waited longer than 10 minutes either way.

    That is definitely NOT me. Who would put such a ridiculous top case on a bike? Must be some other Nebraskan. :-)

    Thank you so much for the PM and the invite. I wish I would have seen it sooner. I appreciate you reaching out. I thoroughly enjoyed your province. Updates coming....eventually. :-)

    New one to me. Thanks.
  14. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    Schefferville, part 2


    So why is Schefferville even a place? I've gotten this question a number of times as I've explained where I am going.

    Schefferville was established in 1954, after deposits of iron ore were discovered in the area. The town was built by the Iron Ore Company of Canada, the same company that founded Labrador City. At its peak in the late 60's, Schefferville was home to around 5,000 people. It must have been a large enough dot on the map in 1962 that it caught the eye of Australian composer, Geoff Mack, as he perused his atlas for places to add to the Americas version of the song.

    In 1982 mining in the area was shut down. The population dropped precipitously, now being listed as a meager 213. Most of the remaining residents were indigenous people, who inhabited the area before mining operations began.

    There has been a recommencement of some mining operations in Schefferville, so perhaps it is poised to make a comeback. Surely the extent of this comeback hinges on my reporting of conditions there, right? :-)



    Saturday, September 9th

    Newfoundland and Labrador day! I'm always excited to have a day where I can visit a state/province/country where I've never been before. By my rough count, this would be just the 8th time it had happened on the trip. (4 new provinces and 3 new states previously. No new countries....yet)

    I knew a tough ride awaited me. Labrador would make me earn it. Rte.-389 is kind of infamous among locals for being a dangerous road. The joke about the worst section, where it winds sharply on a poor gravel, is that you can see your own tail lights.

    My new friend, ADVJoe, had described the surface conditions as "snail snot" when it gets wet. Good thing it hadn't rained each of the last five days....wait.

    An early start was vital, so I was all packed up right at sunrise. The downside of this is that you never get a good picture of your campsite. It was not as cold as I thought it would be (probably 45 ish). I could see my breath, but mostly due to humidity rather than temperature.

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    I made it to Baie Comeau, where my north bound road begins, around 7:30. I made a quick stop at Tim Hortons to make some final preparations. I order a wrap that looked fitting called le travailleur (it actually means "worker" not "traveler" (-: )

    As I was preparing to leave, a nice guy on a Harley started talking to me. "Talking" is perhaps not the best word. He didn't speak English, German or Spanish; but he knew a lot more English words than I do French. We probably communicated for about 15 minutes. He was familiar with the road I was taking, as he used to drive freight trucks up there. He signed Annie's right side case as we wished each other "Bon voyage."

    North we go!

    Map from the Quebec welcome center:

    First part of 389 (I started at the bottom, heading up):

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    Second part of 389:

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    The opening stretch of highway 389 is absolutely fantastic. It has all of the things that make it a great motorcycle road: Ample turns, sparse traffic, smooth surface, signs with speed suggestions at every turn, very small chance of falling to one's demise.. It was great!

    You can see the smile on the bridge of my nose:

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    Sonic tried to play it cool, but he was really enjoying himself too:

    [​IMG]


    The road follows a similar path to the Manicougan River, a major source of hydroelectric power. Two of the dams, Manic-2 and Manic-5, are visible from the road.

    [​IMG]
    Manic-5 is an absolute monster. One of the biggest dams I have ever seen. My pictures didn't really do it justice, but I'll have another chance on the way down. It unfortunately marks the end of the hard surface. Continuing on the pitted gravel road is much less fun. The rain from the previous days was actually helping matters, keeping the dust down in many spots.

    Furthermore, the dampness in the dirt makes the road easier to read, as you can see the contrast between rock and dirt more clearly. This greatly assists in choosing the best possible line. I was able to cruise around 50 mph for most of this stretch.

    [​IMG]



    At Relais-Gabriel I had the most expensive fuel of my trip (equivalent to $4.99/gallon). Thankfully I needed less than a gallon, as I had just filled up in Manic-5

    Hard surface returned for a bit and soon I was at the abandoned town of Gagnon. It is another mining town that dried up after its mine closed. At one point, over 4,000 people lived there. The story I got was that the mining company made an agreement that if the mine was closed, the land would be returned to its pre-developed state. Thus, every structure was torn down in 1985.

    It is different than a ghost town, in that there are no dilapidated buildings in various states of ruin. Everything is just gone. All that remains are curbs, driveway cut outs and storm drains. It is really odd and a bit eerie.

    Sounds like a great place to stop! I was getting chilly, so I stopped to make some tea (insert British joke here). This is another benefit of having a stove along, being able to heat yourself from the inside out.

    [​IMG]
    Shortly after Gagnon, the pavement ends again. This was the worst stretch of the road by far. Where there was gravel it was pitted and uneven. Where there was dirt it was wet enough to be slippery. Add to this the presence of lots of trucks on the road. In hindsight, I probably should have released some air from my tires to aid in traction.

    At this point, I looked up into the sky and....you know what happens next....the clouds began to....oh, wait....there are no clouds. A rain free day! If you were to offer me this deal: You will have persistent rain for five straight days in Canada, but a clear day to tackle Rte. 389; I would have asked, "Where do I sign?"

    (wow, that paragraph was an adventure in punctuation)

    I didn't have any really close calls, but I was white-knuckled for the bulk of this stretch. When the pavement finally returned, I was more than a little relieved.

    The station near Manic-5 has T-shirts that read "I survived Rte. 389 (at least I think that's what they say, it's in French). I have to say, I didn't think it was that bad. Maybe I just caught the road on a good day, but it was miles better than the log roads leading to Ombabika(or do you say "kilometers better" here?), and also better than the rocky path leading up to the Salmon Glacier.

    After a few dozen more kilometers, I crossed into the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The former is the island off of the east coast of the continent, the latter is where I was now. I would be in Labrador until I was at Schefferville's doorstep.

    [​IMG]

    (Insert your instagram joke here)


    At this point my trip ended, in a sense. I had my first significant completion. As I entered the province, I also entered into Atlantic time zone, the sixth and final time zone that I will visit. Though the east coast of Brazil sits significantly further to the east, its time zone is the same as Labrador's. So thank you for reading my RR. It's all over now. You don't have to go to facebook, but you can't stay here.

    If only. :-)

    I passed through Labrador City, but that was not the home of my hosts. Gord and Bev live in the town of Wabush which is just a couple miles down the road. The area is known as "Labrador West", I assume because there is absolutely nothing else on the west side of Labrador.

    Just to reintroduce the connection: I fortuitously met Kevin and Catherinanne at a rest stop in southern Ontario. We got to talking and really hit it off.

    I told them about my travel plans and they said that they used to live in the Labrador West area. I asked them about finding a place for me to keep Annie as I took the train to Schefferville. Instead, they found a couple who were either so crazy or so generous (I wasn't sure which one) that they would host me for my whole time in the province. Friends of theirs: Bev and Gord.

    Bev was out golfing, but I was welcomed warmly by Gord. He ushered me down to their basement, showing me my luxurious accommodations. While I took my first real shower in a week (my goodness, what a great shower), he cooked me up an amazing steak dinner. I don't think I've ever had a restaurant nail "medium rare" like he did. :-)

    It was really easy to talk to him. I was eager to learn all about his history, the history of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the history of the town of Wabush. I found each of these histories fascinating.

    Bev returned home, greeting her disheveled stranger of a guest with a big hug. She was a welcome addition to the conversation and I enjoyed hearing her back story too.

    OK, I have to write aboot this. I hope they won't mind:

    One of the things I really enjoyed about Labradorians was their accents. It is such an interesting mixture. I've never really heard anything like it. It has some of the northern vowels, so "about"="uh-boot" and "sorry"="sew-ree" (not quite that exaggerated though). But they also possessed some vowels that sounded Irish. "Might"="moight" and at least sometimes "boy"="bye". Gord and Bev's daughter, Kim, referred to me a couple times as "Brett-Bye." It really made me smile. :-)

    There were also some interesting consonants, sometimes "thing"="ting". Bev also had a unique way she would say "yeah" sometimes. She would say it while breathing in. I've heard this before, but only from native Scandinavians, so it was a surprise to hear it here.

    Now let me say this: I talk really funny too, but only with one word: Newfoundland. It took me the full duration of our stay together to get the pronunciation even close to correct. I entered the province saying something like "NEW-fn-lund", where the right way is closer to "new-fund-LAND." It rhymes with "understand" and has the same emphasis and cadence.

    I like to analyze a little bit. Can you tell?

    I joked earlier that my hosts were either crazy or generous. It turns out that they were actually crazy generous. Their help would become even more vital over the next couple of days.



    BA
  15. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    132
    Sunday, September 10th

    Ahhhhh.....what a day. This was my first "zero mile" day of the loop. I was really needing it too. I logged quite a few tough miles in the preceding 10 days.

    Though I'd known them less than 24 hours, Bev and Gord just seemed like old friends. They were so interesting, easy to talk to and they kept filling me with good food.


    The bag for my tent had developed a bit of a tear. These can easily spread if not addressed.

    [​IMG]

    I asked Bev if she had any needle and thread for me to use. That was not going to happen....

    [​IMG]

    I can't say it was as good as new, that would be untrue, because she also reinforced some of the other seams. It was better than new!

    I met a good number of Labradorians on this day and told them my plans. Almost unanimously, they had a less than favorable opinion of Schefferville. Though I think I only met one who had actually been there.

    With one guy I joked, "You mean you don't get many visitors from Nebraska who are heading to Schefferville through here?"

    He responded jokingly, "Oh yeah, lots. They just never come back."

    I heard a number of comments like this, mostly said in jest. But these sorts of statements usually have some connection to reality, or at least a perceived reality.

    I believe some of this is due to the disconnect between White Culture and Native Culture. (I know those are maybe not the perfect terms to use, but bear with me.) I am terribly equipped to offer any kind of insight or opinions on these sorts of things, but I don't think I can accurately report on Schefferville without acknowledging that a rift exists between these world views.

    Schefferville is now mostly a First Nations (Canada's word for their indigenous peoples) inhabited community. I think that is the main reason why white people in the area would feel some trepidation about visiting there. I wouldn't call it racism (surely we can all agree that this word gets thrown around too casually these days), but rather a cultural divergence.

    Ok....how did I do? Those paragraphs took a lot of time. I hope I was able to be both honest and sensitive.



    Monday, September 11th

    Schefferville day! Let's do this!

    I awoke with a sense of nervous excitement. Also with a somber spirit, remembering the events that had transpired 16 years earlier.

    I had overlooked an important detail in my planning: The train does not come through Labrador City. I'm not sure how I missed this, as it is clearly listed on the website. I would need to catch it at a place called Emeril Junction, about 45 minutes east of town. As if Bev and Gord hadn't done enough already, they gladly agreed to take me there and pick me up.

    Additionally, they had a friend named Ross who works for the railroad. Normally, it is kind of a guessing game as to when the train will arrive. Though it leaves Sept-Iles at 8am, it's stops are highly irregular. Ross was able to pull up the exact location and speed of the train, as well as forsee any delays. The train was running well this day, scheduled to be in Emeril Junction around 5pm (I'll be speaking in Quebec time throughout this post).

    Gord and Bev's daughter, Kim, joined us for a great lunch. In a funny way it almost felt like a "last supper" before I was to head off to a most unfamiliar place.

    Gord let me borrow this wonderful, huge backpack for my trek.

    [​IMG]

    I was packing a lot, considering I would be in Schefferville for less than 12 hours. I needed my tripod for pictures, of course. In lieu of Annie being able to make the trek, I unmounted her windshield/nametag and also brought Sonic along for the ride. For "lodging", I brought my camping hammock. This has been one of the most superfluous items I have lugged across the continent so far, but I thought it may have a chance to shine in Schefferville. My tent was just too big to take. My hosts also packed a nice luch/supper for me to take along.

    See you later Annie!

    [​IMG]
    I began to get more nervous as we made our way towards Emeril Junction. What the heck was I doing? The sight of the "train station" at Emeril made me laugh. I actually neglected to get a picture of it, but I found this one online.

    [​IMG]

    Also waiting for the train were a Native couple (I'm going to be using this word in the post, just for brevity) and a trio of Newfoundlanders. They were heading to do some work at the Menihek dam, one of the last stops on the line before reaching Schefferville. I'll post the map of the train route below. Emeril, where I was boarding, is just north of Ross Bay Junction.

    [​IMG]

    All three of them had been to Schefferville before and they offered some valuable advice, both while waiting for the train and during the ride. It was fitting for me to receive their help, as I was reminded of the events that had taken place 16 years earlier.

    Many Atlantic flights were rerouted to Newfoundland after the 9/11 attacks. The people of this province demonstrated immense hospitality in caring for the passengers who were, in a sense, stranded on their island. HERE is a good article about the events of that day. I guess we Americans are just a needy bunch. :-)

    Around 4:15pm, the train came into sight. This was earlier than normal. It sometimes arrives up to three hours later. It would take approximately four hours to get to Schefferville. I would not be there in daylight, but at least it wouldn't be the middle of the night when I arrived. Once again, things seemed to be lining up well for me.

    [​IMG]

    Here was my last chance to turn back. Maybe I should just go to Schaefferville, Illinois and call that close enough? One vowel shouldn't make that much of a difference, right? No....this was happening!

    All aboard!

    [​IMG]
    The train was short, having 2 locomotives, 4 freight cars and 4 passenger cars (the lead passenger car was a diner car). Emeril Junction marks a transition for this rail line. At that this point it changes from being owned and operated by QNS&L (Qubec North Shore and Labrador) to being owned and operated by Tshiuetin Rail Transportation (TRT). The TRT is the only rail line in Canada owned and operated by First Nations peoples. At Emeril, the crew all of whom make the full journey, also changes. It truly is an odd arrangment.

    I had hoped that the Native workers on board would be good English speakers, but that was not the case. One of them (I'm going to call him "My Buddy" since I have no clue what his name was) spoke a little more English and was friendly and helpful.

    [​IMG]

    As the train started moving, I was given my ticket and instructed to go pay my fare ($42 CAD) in the diner car. The ticket also lists all of the potential stops along the way. None of them are towns, per se, but just areas. It is not uncommon for the train to be flagged down in the middle of nowhere to have additional passengers board. According to my GPS, the cruising speed was usually 72 km/hr. (around 45 mph).

    [​IMG]

    I enjoyed the scenery. It is really marshy/forested country, which explains why there is no road that leads to Schefferville. Taking pictures out of a train is always a crap shoot, but a few turned out alright.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Most of the passengers appeared to be of Native origin, but not all of them. It was an eclectic mix of people. I got quite a bit of writing done as we rolled along. It was nice to be able to travel and document at the same time!

    The only annoying part is that Sonic did not want to stay in his seat. He kept trying to feel the wind in his quills. I probably should have left him at home.

    [​IMG]

    Gradually, the sun set to our left.

    [​IMG]

    My Newfoundland friends disembarked at Menihek and wished me well. Soon I could see the lights of Schefferville and we slowly chugged into town. I spoke with My Buddy before I got off, verifying the time I needed to be back in the morning (7:15am). If I missed this train it would be four days before my next opportunity to leave. I also checked my phone against his watch to verify I had the correct time zone.

    I stepped out into the unknown:

    [youtube

    So I have been to Schefferville, man! But I still need to survive the night and get some good pictures. There's a lot left to this story. :-) Tune in next time to witness what is surely the oddest accommodations of my trip.
    roadcapDen, GHOC, vicmitch and 9 others like this.
  16. Jim-Mer

    Jim-Mer Slowing Down

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    162
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Hey Swedstal, just letting you know we are still following along, and living this dream vicariously through you! I like your unconventional approach to travels and finding ways to have your own adventure.

    Keep Rolling!!!

    Jim
    Canton, OH
    swedstal and rich_mc like this.
  17. SOLOKLR

    SOLOKLR Back to work

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    405
    Location:
    Green Valley, AZ
    Leave Sonic behind!? No way! He's in this thing with you
    swedstal and rich_mc like this.
  18. Drybones

    Drybones It's an RX3 Cyclone

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    114
    Location:
    Oro Valley, AZ near 77
    Great job on this unique ride...one of the best on ADV!
    taranaki and swedstal like this.
  19. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    132
    Schefferville part 4

    There's not much media in this one unfortunately. More will come soon!


    Monday, September 11th (cont.)

    Our story left off with the video of me wandering in the rail station parking lot. I had no sooner put my camera away when a couple of Native ladies drove up and offered me a ride. They spoke a little English, but were obviously more comfortable in French (and probably a couple of other languages too). In trying to tell them about my plans for the night, the word "hammock" did not seem to mean anything to them, so I used the French word for tent. They gasped a little and advised me to be very cautious. I thanked them warmly in English and as well as I could in French.

    Originally, my plan was for Schefferville to be my first hotel stay of the trip (or at least, technichally, the first one I would pay for). I then found out that a room for the night is around $200. I couldn't justify that. I had a couple of plans, though niether of them were too specific. I thought I could find a safe-ish spot for my hammock. All I need is a couple of trees. Worst case scenario, I figured I could stay up all night working. I had lots to get caught up on anyway. This way, niether bear nor human could sneak up on me.

    So.....neither of those were great plans. I think that I spent all of my planning on getting to Schefferville. What to do when I arrived was scarcely an afterthought.

    My three Newfoundland friends from the train had recommended a restaurant called Bla Bla's, specifically saying that they had wifi there. I don't know why I thought wifi would solve my problems, but decided to make that my first stop.

    [​IMG]

    It was almost 9 pm when I entered, close to closing time. I was their last customer of the day. I talked to the waitress/hostess/cook (she did all of them quite well) about my plans and asked if she could think of a good spot for a hammock. She instantly seemed really worried, advising me that bears will just walk right into town at night and that there are often malicious drunk people out and about.

    I ordered a cheeseburger and she advised me to talk to someone at the store across the street while she cooked. They were of no help, so I crossed back to Bla Bla's. The wifi was not working, which my w/h/c said happens sometimes. Since it was the end of the night, she loaded my plate with fries and later came by to sneakily hand me a little something for breakfast.

    [​IMG]

    "I just feel so bad for you" she said repeatedly. I tried my best to not seem worried myself, informing her that this was pretty much a normal Monday night for me. While that's true, the sincerity of her concerns did make me a little uneasy.

    I left around 9:30, feeling very well taken care of. I never even learned her name, but her genuine care was really special.

    So....what now? Wander the streets? Well....what else is there to do.

    My wanderings were at least fractionally purposeful. I knew I would have less than two hours of daylight in the morning to take pictures in Schefferville before I needed to head for the train at 7am. I was hoping to scout the town well so I could be efficient with my use of the sunlight.

    I didn't have much of a usable map, so my wanderings were not very effective. At one point, I ended up walking in a large circle, having no idea how I'd arrived back where I began. I have decent directional sense, but being in the dark on roads I'd never traveled was disorientating.

    I was tired, but didn't want to sleep somewhere unsafe. I was reluctant to let go of my consciousness.

    I was starting to feel very alone and insecure. Darkness has a way making any place seem ominous, so I tried not to make any judgments about Schefferville. That said, I was definitely not enjoying myself.

    My circular route ended on a street where something had caught my eye earlier...well two somethings: School buses. As I'd walked by them the first time I had observed that they looked quite bear proof, but going in one would be wrong. Upon my second go round, I was getting more desperate and the prospect of being surrounded by a yellow, metal cocoon was too alluring to pass up.

    This was a great decision strategically, but it was poor one morally. I often tread in moral gray areas in picking nightly spots, but this one definitely crossed the line. It was trespassing and it was wrong. I will not defend the moral grounds of this decision.

    But buses are locked, right?

    Some of you may know that my last job before this adventure began was as a bus driver. It was the perfect part time gig, which allowed me to devote time to the planning of this trip. I drove for Lincoln Public Schools and for a company called Windstar Lines. I got to operate a plethora of different models and machines. Luckily, I was well familiar with the one sitting in front of me.

    It was a Blue Bird transit style (48 passenger, I believe), but unlike most transits it has the engine in the front. This style is preferred for a bus that does a lot of driving on dirt roads. It also has a shorter wheel base than other buses of similar length, making it a great choice to shuttle around drunk sorority girls in the tight confines of downtown Lincoln. (Yes, I'm also kind of surprised I did not find a wife one of those late nights)

    Getting in this type of bus is really simple, but I do not feel it would be prudent to broadcast such information over the internet. Ask me in person sometime. :-)

    So I was in. But I still did not feel totally secure. The buses were parked right around some houses and there had been foot traffic within about 20 yards as I waited for an opportunity to enter. I could not use a light, for fear of attracting attention to myself.

    These buses were not abandoned. I could tell they were still in use. For what, I did not know. If they were used for transporting school students, I knew I would probably be safe inside until about 6am, you can't really drive out into the country to pick up kids (no roads), so any route this bus would take should start close to school time. If this bus were used for a different purpose, it might leave at any given time in the morning.

    So how is one to find out? The same way you find out anything else: Dig through the trash. I did not find any name tags, worksheets or important notes addressed to parents; so it was safe to assume this bus was not used for school. There was no way to know its purpose. I could tell that it was filthy with dust, but that didn't mean much to me.

    I decided to set my alarm for 4:45. I set the one on my tablet as well for backup. I tried to think if I had ever had a more important alarm in my life? Oversleeping would cost me four days.

    Thus my September 11th came to a close. I was feeling lonely and even a bit hopeless.

    My thoughts were clouded with old memories of the terrible things that had happened years earlier on this day and new memories of the hardships that I had endured to get here. A positive thought entered my mind: Look for the helpers.

    Take it away, Mr. Rogers:

    [youtube

    I thought about all of my helpers, by now a countless number of them. I was not here by my own strength, wisdom or cunning. I was here because of those helpers. Perspective can easily change perception and mine was changed as I searched for sleep.

    Finally, mercifully, I lost consciousness.



    Tuesday, September 12th

    The night was restless but I did sleep some. Many sounds around the bus had awoken me in the night.

    But now there was a sound on the bus.

    The front door opened and on walked the driver.

    It was 4:15am.

    So what are my options here? I could bail out of the rear emergency exit or I could announce my presence. Having been in the drivers position many times before (stepping into a dark bus in the wee hours of the morning), I chose the latter. I began babbling and apologizing in English.

    He showed very little interested, chuckling a little and asking in a thick French accent, "You pass all night in here?"

    I had strategically placed my belongings around me and had been sleeping with my shoes on, in a case a "throw and go" exit was necessary. As I stuffed my belongings into Gord's big back pack he turned on the dome lights to assist me. Within about 30 seconds, I was ready to go.

    I began my walk of shame towards the front of the bus and he asked his question again, "You pass all night in here?" I'm not sure whether he thought I was "passed out" or if he was porting over the French verb "passer" into English. As I came up behind him he reached out to the door lever and opened it for me. I had no idea what to say so I just told him to have a nice day.

    "You too!"

    It appeared that this was just a normal Tuesday morning for him :-)

    So where was this guy going? Had I been able to inspect the color of the dust on the bus floor, I should have known instantly: The mines. My jeans picked up a bunch of the red dust.

    [​IMG]

    Real time update: And they still have a reddish hue at the knees!

    No pics of the bus unfortunately. :-(

    Even though I was now out on the streets, I was very thankful. First of all, I had gotten some sleep, enough to last me for the day. Secondly, the interaction with the bus driver could have gone any number of ways. I could not imagine it going much better.

    The forecasted low for the night was 48 F, but it felt colder than that. The wind was blowing steadily. However, mid 40s is unseasonably warm for a night time low in Schefferville. Pouncing on a mild weather pattern was one of the reasons I had rushed up here. I was about a layer or two deficient, but I would survive. I ate some sweets that Gord and Bev had sent along to try to kickstart my metabolism.

    Well, what now? I figured that there was at least an hour until sunrise, when I could take some pictures. I knew that a picture of the airport, which probably sports the biggest "Schefferville" sign was a must. I began my march to the east side of town.

    Schefferville is home to a lot of stray dogs (maybe more of them than people). Some of them are nice, some....not so much. I had a pack of three of them try to execute a move left over from their wolf DNA: Two of them barked and distracted me from the front, while a third silently circled around and approached me from behind. I just sort of laughed and reminded them that they were not wolves.

    I never really figured out how to greet people in Schefferville. Hello? Bon jour? Konichiwa? Language seems to be rather fluid, even judging by their street signs.

    [​IMG]

    It was not uncommon to see French street signs (Rue des Laurentides) with an English stop sign. I guess they just use what they can find.

    I made it to the airport safely.

    [​IMG]

    There was not much else to do except try to stay warm. I ran some wind sprints and did some other calesthenics to stoke my internal furnace.



    .....and we aint done yet!

    Soon the sun will rise upon this tiny community in the wilderness. That will change everything.
    2tires, Davidprej, B10Dave and 8 others like this.
  20. taranaki

    taranaki Gaucho Marx

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,730
    Location:
    The children's table
    Not just good ride reports to look forward to here but also fine, nuanced reads. It's one thing to tell about a day's events but another to make the reader feel as though he too experienced them.

    :thumbup
    fasttortoise and swedstal like this.