Labrador and More

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Squidmark, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. Squidmark

    Squidmark a.k.a. "The Colonel"

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    285
    Location:
    The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
    Short version: Two old New Englanders on street bikes do the Trans-Labrador
    Highway west to east in early-mid June, including the newly opened (12/09) but
    still very much under construction section between Happy Valley / Goose Bay and
    Cartwright Junction, and enjoy New Brunswick, Quebec, hiking, and a freighter
    ride along the way, to boot.

    Long version!

    Much as the Innuit supposedly have 100 words for "snow," Labradorians
    could use 100 different words to describe the surfaces of the Trans-Labrador
    highway, especially now that the new section between Happy Valley / Goose Bay to
    Cartwright Junction is open. They might include:


    <table width="100%"><tbody><tr><td>Flaspbor</td><td>Flat, Straight, Paved and Boring</td></tr><tr><td>Flasmok</td><td>Flat, Straight, Marbles, but OK</td></tr><tr><td>Flasgsuks</td><td>Flat, Straight, Golf Balls, sucks</td></tr><tr><td>Flasdmsuks</td><td>Flat, Straight, Deep Marbles, sucks</td></tr><tr><td>Flasdgbsw</td><td>Flat, Straight, Deep Golf Balls, sucks worse</td></tr><tr><td>Flasdssew</td><td>Flat, Straight, Deep Sand, sucks even worse</td></tr><tr><td>Flasgrssbywywae</td><td>Flat, Straight, Giant Rocks, sucks so bad wish you were anywhere else</td></tr><tr><td>Flaspmf</td><td>Flat, Straight, Pothole Mine Field</td></tr></tbody></table>

    and so forth, with some rare "roller-coaster" and "curvy" variants, but no
    "roller-coaster and curvy" variants, since those are non-existent. Then,
    of course, you need all these with a "W" prefix for "wet." Wet variants are
    similar to their dry counterparts, except that the suffixes that describe
    treachery levels are all notched up by at least one degree. There would be three
    "S-" words, one each for "unplowed," "plowed and packed," and "melting into deep
    treacherous ruts, but they are of no importance to motorcyclists. Well, except
    for a couple of nut cases I heard about that did the Trans-Lab in January, with
    studs or spikes, just so they could claim to be the first motorcyclists over the
    new part. Not shown in all these words is the diacritical mark on the final
    character which denotes "constant 50 mph wind from the northwest." And of course
    there is no one word (other than obscenities strung together) for "Unknown road
    surface - I can't see a damn thing 'cause I'm in the middle of a dust
    storm created by that giant truck that hurtled by a minute ago."

    [​IMG]

    I'd had Labrador on my "To Do" list since a ride across the Gaspe and as
    far as Manic Cinq in 2001 and a ride to James Bay in 2003. Late spring seemed
    like the right time to do it. Friends let me to believe that there might be fewer
    Canadian National Birds (black flies) out that time of year, which turned out to
    be at least partially true. (I got eaten alive on the James Bay trip, which I
    did in late July, so I was particularly sensitive to that aspect of the trip.)
    The new section between Happy Valley / Goose Bay and Cartwright Junction was opened
    in December, 2009, so one could ride all the way up from Baie-Comeau, Quebec to
    and through Labrador and back down to Blanc Sablon in one ferry-less trip. And
    this year seemed to be the right year because the provincial government is
    apparently determined to pave the whole damn thing, which will fill Labrador
    with motor homes and tourons and make the trip a much less interesting
    adventure.

    The original plan was to go north from my home in mid-New England through New
    Hampshire and Maine and western New Brunswick, follow the coast around the Gaspe
    Peninsula, cross the Saint Lawrence from Matane to Godbout, ride east along the
    north shore to the end of the road at Natashquan, take the freighter (the Relais
    Nordik) that services all the little coastal villages out to Blanc Sablon, ride
    north into Labrador, then go west on the Trans-Labrador Highway to the western
    border with Quebec, south on 389 to Manic Cinq and on to Baie-Comeau, then
    follow the north shore west and south to Quebec City for a day or two visit
    before shooting for home. I deliberately left Newfoundland out of the plan. I
    had New Brunswick and the Gaspe in my sights for this trip and wanted to have
    plenty of time to see them. When I do a Newfoundland trip, I will give it
    the time and attention that lovely island deserves.

    So, I called the folks at Relais Nordik back in April to book a ride for me and
    my bike from Natashquan to Blanc-Sablon, figuring that in early June there
    wouldn't be much traffic yet, but got told they were booked solid on their
    downstream runs until late August. Hmmm! Now what? Actually, altering the
    plan wasn't too difficult. I just changed the direction of the Labrador part
    from counter-clockwise to clockwise and booked an upstream ride on the
    Relais Nordik instead. No sweat, although it meant that the very firm
    requirement of catching the boat (it only runs once a week!) would be at the end
    of the Trans-Lab rather than near the beginning of the trip, which made meeting
    it a bit riskier, but I built what I thought was plenty of slop into the plan to
    make sure. It also meant starting the trip a couple of days earlier than
    originally planned, but that was do-able. A minor benefit was that the
    prevailing winds would be generally from behind us on the Trans-Lab part.

    I chose to take my good old (read: sacrificial) but reliable 1992
    Kawasaki ZX6 with 65,000 miles on it. Not the best tool for the Trans-Lab, you
    may think, but although a thousand miles of this trip would be on dirt roads,
    two thousand miles would be on pavement. I had no reason to think the
    Trans-Lab was going to be any worse than any of the thousands of miles of other
    dirt/gravel roads I've been on with this bike. I know its limits, I know how to
    pack it and I know how to fix it. Here it is, clean and ready to go with
    brand-new tires, complete with an extra cooler on a custom rack sitting over one
    passenger footpeg and a 6-liter spare gas can on the other:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And yes, that's a plastic milk carton - my preferred bulk water
    carrier. Lightweight, can be operated with one hand, cheap. And there's also a
    long roasting fork tucked under the stack for cooking steaks, sausages, hot
    dogs, whatever, over open fires. Didn't use it once.

    I invited a friend to accompany me. Safety in numbers, shared expenses, someone
    to shoot the breeze with at camp, and all that. I'll call him Dennis, because
    that's his name, except when it wasn't, which caused some confusion at the
    border. Dennis rides a 2005 R1200RT, which was definitely was not the best tool
    for the job, since it's a big bike, he can only tip-toe it, and he made it even
    bigger by all the stuff he brought along. But he has eons of riding experience
    and is comfortable on it, deliberately chose not to buy a DP bike just for this
    trip, and had the same expectations regarding the quality of the dirt roads we
    would encounter that I did. So R1200RT for him it was.

    [​IMG]

    More to come.

    (And BTW, if for some strange reason you'd like to see higher-resolution
    versions of any of the photos, send me a PM or email.)
    #1
  2. Canadian FJR

    Canadian FJR Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    128
    Location:
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    I gotta hear more about this trip. Keep the story coming.












    Canadian FJR
    #2
  3. SkinnyPedal

    SkinnyPedal Not So Skinny

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    50
    Well that was a nice teaser! More please! :ear
    #3
  4. markbvt

    markbvt Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,964
    Location:
    Georgia, Vermont (that's one town, not two states)
    :lurk

    This should be interesting. Road bikes with street tires would definitely make the Trans-Lab a challenge. :D

    --mark
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    60,266
    Going to Labrador is an adventure in itself... and more so on your bikes! :thumb

    :lurk
    #5
  6. Squidmark

    Squidmark a.k.a. "The Colonel"

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    285
    Location:
    The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
    Monday, June 7th.

    Dennis showed up at 10:00 a.m. for our planned 8:30 start. Standing by my loaded
    ready-to-go bike in the dooryard, I watched him sail right past my house and
    then back again a few minutes later without seeing me or it. He had just been
    there a month earlier. Turns out that not only had he missed my house, but had
    forgotten his cell phone, and he'd had to ride all the way back to his house to
    get it. This is a man with a PhD in operations research.

    I violated my "Back Roads. Period." creed and rode up the highway to somewhere
    north of Concord, New Hampshire to make up some time. Then it was all back
    roads, primarily 113, over to Conway, a stop at Cathedral Ledge off West Side
    Road for the view:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    and lunch at the Glen Junction Restaurant in Glen. (No food photos - I wasn't
    in the swing of it yet - but it's a good breakfast / lunch spot.)

    It was a gorgeous day and in fact, the weather was great for most of the
    trip. If you look at weather almanacs for Quebec and Labrador, you will see that
    June generally has the lowest rainfall of the most travelable months. That was a
    welcome surprise to me. After lunch, we rode the always entertaining Hurricane
    Mountain Road and Maine route 113 up through Carter Notch, went east on US 2,
    north on 17 (with the great view of Mooselookmeguntic Lake) to Rangeley, and 16
    all the way over to Peaks-Kenny State Park near Dover-Foxcroft, a place I had
    been wanting to check out for a while.

    Along the way: Coos Canyon, a nice little park and canyon on the Swift River,
    off 17:

    [​IMG]

    Mooselookmegutic Lake from the height-of-land a few miles south of Rangeley:

    [​IMG]

    Not surprisingly, Peaks-Kenny turned out to be quite empty this early in the
    season. The campsite we chose was lovely and the bugs were mostly just mosquitos
    and therefore easy to manage.

    [​IMG]

    383 miles for the day, the longest one-day mileage of the trip.
    #6
  7. RoyB

    RoyB Dartmouth, Massacusetts

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,578
    Location:
    Dartmouth, MA
    And just like that it stops? We demand more............:clap
    #7
  8. Dave Noel

    Dave Noel Giv'er

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    691
    Location:
    Where the sun shines first
    You rode were on what? :)

    :lurk:
    #8
  9. NewHampWoodsRider

    NewHampWoodsRider Tag Captor

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    447
    Location:
    Way Down North, New Hampshire
    Oh My..

    Great thread in the works folks!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Keeping tuned in!:clap
    #9
  10. hector lethbridge

    hector lethbridge n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    7
    tell us the rest
    i live in Goose Bay and travel the tlh regularly
    #10
  11. BusyWeb

    BusyWeb Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    99
    :clap
    #11
  12. Squidmark

    Squidmark a.k.a. "The Colonel"

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    285
    Location:
    The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
    Tuesday, June 8th.

    It was cold (somewhat less than 40 degrees F) overnight and Dennis suffered in
    the thin, narrow sleeping bag he had brought. And it was a rather cold ride up
    the fairly boring Maine route 11 into the north country. We crossed the border
    at Fort Fairfield into Canada ... and it sucked. In all the times I've
    been into and out of our fair northern neighbor country, I have never
    experienced anywhere near the grief we got that day. Normally, it has been,
    "[Standard questions about guns, alchohol, etc.]" and "Enjoy your visit!," but
    this one time it was, "Pull over there!" and a whole lot of questions and
    examining of saddle-bag contents, etc. plus a mandatory visit to the folks
    inside the office for an "interview." Said interview began with the immigration
    officer shouting "William!" (or something sounding roughly like it - nothing I
    had ever heard before) down the hallway to the area where I was standing and
    beckoning me to join her. So I followed her down the hall and into the
    interrogation, er, interview room and preceeded to answer a zillion questions
    ("How much money do you have?" "About $60 Canadian." "No no no, how much money
    do you have access to?" "Oh, well, maybe $10,000 in cash via ATM, maybe $50,000
    on limits on my credit cards" - (sotto voice: "Yes, witch, I'm not some random
    lowlife American trying to steal a good job from some righteous Canadian!"),
    which seemed to confuse her (along with the denial of any criminal record in the
    US of A.) Well, it turned out that Dennis's real name is William Dennis
    E****, so they confused me with him and on top of that, somehow managed to find
    an arrest report on him from 1961 (yes! 1961!) for setting off a fire
    cracker in the lobby of his dormitory in college (Note that! No charges! No
    conviction! And from 49 freakin' years ago! - You think there is such a thing as
    privacy in this world?). Anyway, we were stuck there for more than an hour while
    they satisfied themselves that we were worthy of entering Canada. And of course,
    with the time change from Eastern (in Maine, etc. USA) to Atlantic (in New
    Brunswick, Canada), we lost an additional hour and that made lunch in the
    nearest town, Perth-Andover, really late.

    [​IMG]

    Perth is on one side and Andover on the other of the Saint John's River:

    [​IMG]

    Floods from ice jams have clobbered the area in the past:

    [​IMG]

    Large dark clouds moved in and rain poured down ... while we were eating lunch,
    warm and toasty, in here:

    [​IMG]

    Finally remembering to follow Advrider trip report requirement #2 ("Photograph
    your food" - #1 must be "Salute the cameraman.") I herewith show you ...

    [​IMG]

    ... a Donair sandwich, something unique to the maritime provinces although
    sometimes also found in the far northern midwest US. Donair meat is beef or lamb
    finely ground with garlic and spices, turned into a paste, and then rolled out
    into thin flat layers and cooked. They're served with Donair Sauce, which is
    basically runny mayonnaise with sugar added. A real treat, if you can get over
    the sweetness of the sauce. Dennis had a respectable Chicken Caesar Salad.

    After lunch and with the rain ending, it was on to Plaster Rock for groceries:

    [​IMG]

    at which point I lost Dennis for the first time. One moment I was shopping for
    dinner and the next not only didn't I see Dennis anywhere in the store, his bike
    was gone! WTF? Turned out he needed to use the bathroom but he hadn't seen one
    in the store and hadn't just asked the folks who worked there where one
    was. Instead, he jumped on his bike and rode down to a gas station somewhere
    else in town. So our quick stop turned out to be 45 minutes. Back on the road
    again, we hit a provincial liquor store for essentials (wine, lottery tickets,
    canoe - you know, the usual stuff you take with you on a motorcycle camping
    trip):

    [​IMG]

    and continued up 385 to Mount Carleton Provincial Park. All along the way, in
    New Brunswick and in Maine earlier and Quebec later, lupins were in full bloom:

    [​IMG]

    The road was paved all the way to the park entrance. That completely baffled me,
    because I had visited this park twice before, the latest time just last August,
    and I was sure 385 from Plaster Rock to the park was gravel. It certainly was
    when I was there in 2001 and I deliberately did not take it in 2009 because it
    was a muddy mess as I left the park in a pouring rainstorm, so I bailed and went
    around on the paved route 17 to the north. But, it was paved now!

    After an unusual argument with the park's administrative staff (they wouldn't
    let us put two (backpacker-sized) tents on one site - who ever heard of
    that restriction?), they finally relented and we entered the park (that's
    Mount Sagamook, 777 meters, in the background). (They also apologized for the
    all the rain. Dennis and I looked at each other like, "What rain?" We had
    successfully missed a week's worth that had passed through ahead of us. The dirt
    roads were a little gooey but otherwise we had a dry time.)

    [​IMG]

    We chose the Williams campground (one of the tent-only ones) and in fact stayed
    at exactly the same site where I had stayed last August. Dennis had made an
    adapter to connect his bike's BMW-type accessory connector to a regular
    cigarette lighter socket so he could charge up his cell phone, but he hadn't
    tried it out before he left, and it didn't work. Here, he's discovering that he
    had hooked it up backwards, and that in turn apparently fried his charger.

    [​IMG]

    Which was not really a terrible thing, since there was no cell service in most
    of the places we were and his wife was mad at him for taking the trip anyway and
    had told him not to call her while he was away. I taught him how to play
    cribbage that night. He pick up the rules and vocabulary pretty quickly and,
    being a pretty sharp guy, got a handle on strategy too, which made him a more
    interesting opponent than most beginners.

    Our campsite the next morning. I had won the coin toss and got the platform. He
    camped in a flat spot on the ground.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Anti-bear measures in bear country (we did this everywhere, garbage and
    groceries up in the air):

    [​IMG]

    Mount Sagamook from our campsite, looking across Lake Nictau:

    [​IMG]

    275 miles for the day.

    More to come.
    #12
  13. Squidmark

    Squidmark a.k.a. "The Colonel"

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    285
    Location:
    The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
    Wednesday, June 9th.

    It was pretty cold overnight. Dennis had another uncomfortable time of it.

    Having been there twice before, but with no time to do anything, today was my
    big chance to actually hike Mount Carleton. It's not real tall at 820 meters,
    but its the tallest mountain in New Brunswick and I think the Maritimes in
    general. This is what I was here for.

    There are two trails to the top, the longer harder West trail and the shorter,
    easier East trail. The park ranger had suggested West up, East down, which made
    sense, so that's what we tried:

    [​IMG]

    The lower part of the West trail was all rocks, roots, and mud:

    [​IMG]

    After about a kilometer of this, Dennis decided to bail. He hadn't been hiking
    in a while and felt like he was holding me up, so he wandered around for a bit
    longer, went back to the start, and spent his day wandering around the rest of
    the park on his bike and hanging out at the campsite.

    He made a wise choice. The trail continued to be rocky, rooty, and muddy until
    you got to this point, where you had to make a choice:

    [​IMG]

    Naturally I chose the Massive, Hairy, Pendulous route over the Tiny Peckered
    Nancy Boy route.

    Well, like all good hikes, they made you work for it:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    and when you got to this, you're really glad to be almost through the boulder
    fields, with the summit in sight:

    [​IMG]

    But they fool you. You get up to the top in the previous picture and discover
    it's not the summit. You still have to get up here:

    [​IMG]

    which entails hiking down into a saddle and then up this:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    but you finally get to the top, where there's a fire tower that hasn't been in
    use since 1968:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The view all around is spectacular:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    that last one being from the grafittied upper windows of the fire tower, looking
    back at the false summit.

    I had caught up with the tail end of a school group from St. Leonard, NB, but
    they had all left by the time I had lunch:

    [​IMG]

    And of course there was no one there to take my picture by then, so I had to do
    it myself:

    [​IMG]

    What was funny about that was that I had set up the camera on a little
    Gorilla-Pod tripod and set the shutter delay for 10 seconds. Well, I damn near
    killed myself trying to hop down the rocks to get into the picture in time and
    get composed. Later I discovered I could set the delay for as much as 30
    seconds, which would have been a lot safer!

    As I started down, I ran into a young couple from Montreal who had been hiking
    one of the spur trails. They said they had come up the "Fire Road," and I
    thought "What? Road??" to myself. Turns out the shorter, East Trail that I was
    on for the trip down was actually the old road that brought supplies to the
    little cabin about 1/2 a kilometer down from the summit where the fire wardens
    used to stay. It was incredibly gentle, especially compared to the West Trail:

    [​IMG]

    It was also pretty boring, but it would have been a way for Dennis to get to the
    top if we had known how easy it was ahead of time.

    I was pretty tired and hot by the time I got down (I was still wearing my long
    underwear from the chilly morning), so I walked fully clothed into Lake Nictau
    and splashed around to cool off and "wash" my clothes. My reading glasses (which
    were in my shirt pocket) are at the bottom of Lake Nictau as a result. It was
    really cold, but really refreshing.

    Dinner, some wine, some cribbage, and an early bedtime. I slept like a
    rock. Dennis froze, again.

    That was a great day and a great hike. (Only 22 miles of riding, just to the
    trail head and back to camp.)

    More to come.
    #13
  14. Sink

    Sink Stay Off The Slab

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    910
    Location:
    Pittsfield, Me
    :thumb

    Looking forward to more :D

    Thanks for sharing
    #14
  15. C-Stain

    C-Stain Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    10,133
    Location:
    Canoodia
    I'm in

    :lurk
    #15
  16. Squidmark

    Squidmark a.k.a. "The Colonel"

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    285
    Location:
    The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
    Thursday, June 10th.

    The sign across from the entrance to Mount Carleton Provincial Park. I hung the
    North American Tag-O-Rama Egg on the back of this sign last August.

    [​IMG]

    We got to Campbellton and hit the Canadian Tire and the Walmart across the
    street so Dennis could buy a decent sleeping bag, a stove that worked (the
    liquid-fuel stove he brought from Massachusetts was missing a key part, causing
    burning Coleman fuel to spread all over), some over-the-counter medication he
    had forgotten to bring, and a few other things. I got some new reading glasses. Had
    a quite serviceable lunch nearby:

    [​IMG]

    (no food photo, sorry)

    and headed across the bridge onto the Gaspe Peninsula. But, we turned left on
    132 instead of right so we could follow the Restigouche River upstream a bit to:

    [​IMG]

    which tells the very interesting story of France's last gasp effort to retain
    it's North American colonies in the face of the British invasion toward the end
    of the Seven Year's War. In a nutshell: The British had already taken Fortress
    Louisbourg out on Cape Breton Island in 1758 and won the battle of Quebec (City)
    in 1759, but were stalled in their attempts to push upriver to Montreal. The
    French King dispatched a flotilla of war and supply ships to New France in
    1760. They lost a few ships to the English navy and in turn captured a couple of
    English ships, from which they learned of the fall of Quebec. That meant that
    they couldn't get up the Saint Lawrence, so they headed for Chaleurs Bay, with
    the English navy in hot pursuit. The French knew the channels of the Restigouche
    at the head of the bay better than the English, so sailed upstream and blocked
    the river. The English blockaded the entrance to the river and slowly worked out
    how to get further upstream. Several battles were fought, but ultimately, as the
    English were about to prevail and stores running out, the French told everyone
    in the area to bail out cross-country to Montreal, burned their ships and joined
    the exodus.

    A delightful docent named Julie gave the tour and the other guy in this picture
    was the guy I had met there in 2001, but I've forgotten his name:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Visit this site. It's worth a couple hours of your time if you have any interest
    in the history of the region.

    We followed 132 back east along the southern coast of the Gaspe. Every small
    bay has its town, with it's Catholic church and silver steeple:

    [​IMG]

    And look! There's a wind farm up in the hills!

    [​IMG]

    It turns out there are lots of wind farms on the Gaspe, which shouldn't be too
    surprising because there's lots of wind on the Gaspe!

    Another necessary stop was Mont St. Joseph, at the end of Rue de la Montagne in
    the town of Carleton. At the top is a combination chapel, museum, and gift shop,
    not yet open this time of year:

    [​IMG]

    However, the view is spectacular. This is looking out at Carleton in front of
    Chaleurs Bay, with the north coast of New Brunswick across the water. The
    plaques in front (and all along a series of walkways around the chapel) detail
    the story of the Acadian people who lived in the area but were driven out by the
    British in The Great Expulsion during the Seven Years War, but I guess they are
    all taken off in the winter.

    [​IMG]

    Oh, and gee, look what was right next door:

    [​IMG]

    We spent a fair amount of time sitting in the parking lot. A mysterious "check
    engine" light had come on on Dennis's bike that morning and he tried to contact
    the shop in New Hampshire he had bought the bike from with the remaining battery
    power in his cell phone. End results: 1) Couldn't tell what was specifically
    wrong without going to a dealer, 2) No BMW dealers anywhere near you or where
    you're going to be, so 3) Just ride it. The light went off the next day as
    mysteriously as it had come on.

    Because of that and dicking around in Campbellton for so long in the morning, we
    didn't get as far around the Gaspe as I had hoped. As dusk was falling, we shot
    off the main road at Pabos Mills and found the Parc du Bourg de Pabos (whatever
    that was) campground tucked behind the village, which initially looked very much
    like a trailer park. There was a gate across the entrance and no one at la
    Reception.
    A couple of guys came out and we jabbered back and forth in
    pseudo-French and many quizzical looks and gestures and finally understood that
    we could sneak around the gate and stay there and pay in the morning. Which we
    did. It turned out that they had a bunch of nice sites just for tents at the end
    of a gravel lane in the back:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We were the only ones there.

    240 miles for the day.

    More to come.
    #16
  17. Squidmark

    Squidmark a.k.a. "The Colonel"

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    285
    Location:
    The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
    Friday, June 11th

    Another gorgeous day.

    Dennis struggled a bit for the next few days as he tried to figure out how to
    pack up his new sleeping bag and keep it and all the other stuff optimally on
    the bike:

    [​IMG]

    We wandered down the bay road to see what Parc Archeologique du Bourg de Pabos
    was and it turned out to be an old fishing village being dug up. No one spoke
    English, it cost several bucks to get in and it wasn't on our radar to begin
    with, so we bagged it and continued east on 132 along the south coast.

    Yawn. More beautiful bays:

    [​IMG]

    and a long view of Bonaventure Island as we came up to Perce:

    [​IMG]

    (Bonaventure Island is home to huge numbers of sea birds for you birding types.)

    (Here's a personal history story: When my wife was little, her family went to
    Perce and took a boat ride over to Bonaventure Island. On the way back, they
    were at the top of the dock stairs when the boat took off without them. And it
    was the last boat of the day. They spent the night freezing in an unheated
    cottage without food and caught a different boat back the next morning, where
    they found a ticket on their car for parking overnight, and the motel they were
    supposed to stay at unwilling to refund their money. As you might expect, her
    father was royally pissed off, but he did persuade them to drop the ticket and
    he did get his money back for the motel. He didn't find the guy who ditched them
    before they left, though. Lucky for him.)

    The obligatory photo of Perce Rock when you get to Perce:

    [​IMG]

    and up close, in town:

    [​IMG]

    and back at the town:

    [​IMG]

    Then you continue on around to Pointe-St.-Pierre and get a look at it from the
    north:

    [​IMG]

    before rolling into the town of Gaspe:

    [​IMG]

    where we had lunch on the delightful Rue de la Reine:

    [​IMG]

    at this deli, which was advertising a special recommended by the young couple in the picture:

    [​IMG]

    So lunch was:

    [​IMG]

    a toasted sesame bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon and a pasta salad
    with crunchy veggies, capers, and a wine vinaigrette. $8.50. Outstanding.

    Then it was onward to:

    [​IMG]

    where we got ourselves a nice tenting campsite (C-90) in the practically empty
    Petit-Gaspe campground in the south sector of the park, with an "upstairs" part
    for Dennis:

    [​IMG]

    and a "downstairs" part for the picnic table and me:

    [​IMG]

    This campground also had very nice bathroom / shower facilities.

    We got there in time (barely) to take the hike out to the very end of Cape
    Gaspe, which was about 4 kilometers from the parking lot, which in turn was a 10
    km ride from the campground. The views to the south were great (except for old
    men in the way):

    [​IMG]

    and you could see Bonaventure Island and Perce Rock in the distance past
    Point-St.-Pierre:

    [​IMG]

    We also came across lots and lots of this:

    [​IMG]

    which we guessed was bear scat, but weren't sure about.

    The trail climbed steeply up to the top of the ridge. Dennis stopped on the
    steep part, so I went on without him, because I was determined to get to the end
    of the cape before the light faded. The trail was a tunnel in the woods along
    the ridge and you popped back into the open at the tip, where the first thing
    you come upon was this:

    [​IMG]

    It turns out that this is the beginning of the International Appalachian
    Trail running all the way back across the Gaspe and down into Maine, and they
    had whimsically put the Mile 0 tag on the outhouse:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The lighthouse, and cannons, and foghorns and so forth are no longer in use:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    That was all explained to me by the guy in the powder house:

    [​IMG]

    Dennis eventually made to the cape and together we took the access road back
    rather than the trail, enjoying the projection of the sun's rays through the
    clouds like something out of a Baroque religious painting:

    [​IMG]

    Later on, we ran into this guy, who we now knew owned the peninsula and crapped
    wherever he felt like:

    [​IMG]

    He was more scared of us than we were of him, though, running off into the woods
    as we advanced up the path, yelling and trying to appear large and gathering
    rocks to throw at him, which we carried for another kilometer or so, "just in
    case," before we felt silly doing so and dropped them.

    Dinner was mystery meat, literally, from Cassivi's market and Donkey, Inc. (I
    guess):

    [​IMG]

    pan-fried with some sauteed fresh mushrooms (an excellent suggestion by Dennis)
    and canned peas. The meat was pretty tasty, whatever it was.

    [​IMG]

    Only 120 miles for the day.

    More to come.
    #17
  18. nordwulf

    nordwulf Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    122
    Location:
    Boyne City, NW Michigan
    I rode around the Gaspe coast on my way to Cape Breton 5 years ago and your ride report brings back great memories. Very interesting report and great pictures! Patiently waiting for more...
    :lurk
    #18
  19. PsychoSayWhat

    PsychoSayWhat Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    437
    Location:
    not in denial
    Road bikes.... this looks interesting :lol3

    :lurk
    #19
  20. Squidmark

    Squidmark a.k.a. "The Colonel"

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    285
    Location:
    The banks of the mighty Nissitissit River
    Saturday, June 12th

    We left Forillon to ride the north shore of the Gaspe over to Matane to catch
    the ferry across the Saint Lawrence. There is a North Sector to Forillon, where
    the cape is all cliffs:

    [​IMG]

    but the sea has not been kind to the coast road:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    nor to ships in the area:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Cormorants sunning themselves on rocks in the bay there:

    [​IMG]

    The north shore of the Gaspe isn't as populated as the south until you get over
    to the vicinity of Ste.-Anne-des-Monts, perhaps because of more cold and wind
    and perhaps because there is less useable land between the bay and the
    mountains. Here's a typical shot at low tide:

    [​IMG]

    The waterfall you see in the distance in the previous shot:

    [​IMG]

    The breakwater at the end of the pier at Cloridorme (I think). Note what it is
    made of:

    [​IMG]

    The riding here is good. The road goes up and down between the tops of the hills
    and the valleys where the little towns sit in the coves where rivers empty into
    the bay. There is practically no traffic:

    [​IMG]

    A cute little house somewhere east of Grande Vallee:

    [​IMG]

    Again, every little town has its large Catholic church. Most have steeples
    painted silver (or maybe their tin sheet). Here's a simple yet elegant example
    that I particularly liked:

    [​IMG]

    At Cap Chat, you pass their large windmill farm, with it unique nifty-looking
    but non-functioning vertical axis windmill:

    [​IMG]

    Eventually, we got to Matane, located the ferry terminal (not hard to find, just
    wanted to be sure!) and went off to the nearby Motel Le Portage's restaurant
    for a great lunch:

    [​IMG]

    with plenty of time to catch the 2:00 p.m. ferry to Baie Comeau.

    Our bikes stashed against the side of the ferry hold:

    [​IMG]

    Leaving Matane,

    [​IMG]

    heading toward Baie Comeau:

    [​IMG]

    Dennis spent an hour or so snoozing on the cool but mostly sunny top deck:

    [​IMG]

    We left the ferry at 4:30 and headed into Baie-Comeau. I was thinking, "Great!
    We'll get to our intended campsite (Manic 2 campground, just 15 miles up the
    road) and have an early, relaxing evening for a change!"


    [​IMG]

    except that there was a detour and I went around in a circle in a nearby
    neighborhood as a result. Before I could retrace the way out, however, Dennis
    took command, plugging "grocery store" into his GPS and setting it for "fastest
    way," and took off without asking me what "Plan B" was. 10 miles later, we were
    on the other side of the detour, about half a mile from where I was headed in
    the first place had we continued correctly around the detour.


    Then, Dennis spent an hour at the supermarket picking out maybe five items for
    dinner and breakfast. I went back in twice with "WTF?" but he was in his own
    little time zone, I guess. Upon finally leaving the store, he discovered that
    he'd left his lights on the whole time, leaving him with a dead battery. And of
    course, those magnificent examples of German engineering, with their modern fuel
    injection systems, can't be bump-started unless you have a loooong downhill in
    front of you, which of course, he didn't, being in the large, very flat parking
    lot of an IGA in Baie-Comeau, Quebec. A very nice guy, who remembered enough
    English from an army stint in England ten years ago to communicate with us, and
    had a motorcycle himself, offered to help if we were still there after he
    finished shopping. We were. So he drove home and brought back a portable
    battery with cables to jump Dennis, which he did, and Dennis packed up all his
    stuff while I held the throttle at something above idle to keep the battery
    charging.

    So, three hours after we landed, we headed up to Manic 2.

    Right at the start of route 389 in Baie-Comeau was this sign:

    [​IMG]

    Fortunately, although there have been a number of forest fires in the Quebec
    back country recently, they were all reported under control and the light wasn't
    on. (I suspect they light up the sign for bad snow conditions or mud, too, but
    those weren't worries for us. Yet.

    We motored the 15 miles, took pictures of the Manic 2 hydro plant as the sun
    went down:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    and arrived at Camping Manic 2. We were told we could camp anywhere except in
    the trailer park in the middle. Well, everything outside the "middle" was a big
    sand pit and after floundering around in sand around the periphery and going
    back to Reception to ask, "Are you sure?" we plopped down in a level,
    not-too-soft part of the desert and set up camp. Dennis shows what we were
    camped on:

    [​IMG]

    The picnic tables were tiny and ratty, too. And the bathroom wasn't the
    cleanest thing in the world and the shower (at least the one I used) wouldn't
    come on any harder than a meager trickle. In short, Camping Manic 2 isn't
    great. On a future trip, I will check out the campgrounds at Pointe-Lebel and
    Pointe-aux-Outardes on the peninsula between the Manicougan and Outarde Rivers
    south of Baie-Comeau.

    But not all was bad. Our next-door neighbors, Riel and Elaine, and several
    other campers (all Quebecois) came over to "chat" and smile and gesture and were
    very welcoming. They looked like they were there for the duration, with a motor
    home, canopy, and at least a whole cord of firewood stacked up. When we
    wondered about the availability of l'eau portable, they brought over a
    case of bottled water and told us to take what we needed. And they gave us this
    giant, stick-in-the-ground candle thing, I guess assuming we didn't have our own
    source of light (and/or maybe bug spray). And dinner was pretty good too: Pork
    chops, baked beans, cheesy pasta, and our ever-present appetizer: bread and
    cheese.

    [​IMG]

    (Aside: That yellow plate is part of a melamine set that my parents bought when
    they got married, in 1948. It became our family camping dishes when I was a
    kid, and now this one last piece does service as my indestructable camping
    plate. When archeologists from a distant planet and time dig around in a
    destroyed or decayed Earth, they may not find much that survived the destruction
    or decay, but I'll bet my left nut they will still find porcelain toilets
    ... and melamine cookwear.)

    224 (road) miles today (plus the ferry across the St. Lawrence)

    More to come.
    #20