From Alberta to the East Coast

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by thedopplereffect, Jul 8, 2021.

  1. cal08

    cal08 Long timer

    May 28, 2007
    Good job on trusting your gut-vibe. Anytime I've rationalized away my intuition, it's usually headed south.
    thedopplereffect likes this.
  2. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    I didn't come through Manitoba on the Trans Canada so I was never stopped at the border or told anything about how long I had to get across. I just drove in and then drove out again. I'm sort of relying on restaurants though so I didn't feel like spending much time there doing the take out thing.
    B10Dave and Cal like this.
  3. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    I didn't mean any kind of slight to you or to Manitoba. It's been a little trickier than I anticipated to keep track of who lives where and even when I'll be coming through certain areas. When things are more opened up again I'll have to give that area another go
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  4. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    July 19, 2021: Thunder Bay

    After putting out my last post in the Tim Horton’s in Thunder Bay, I was headed out to my bike and started gearing up when a gentleman on a Zero DSR pulled up beside me! I had seen the reviews and watched videos of them before but this was the first time I’d seen one in the flesh. What a beautiful bike, and the total silence of it all is just brilliant. He said that he used his for commuting but also for cruising around the backroads because it was so quiet it allowed him to see a lot of wildlife while he’s out and about. It got me thinking more seriously about having an electric bike. My bike isn’t loud by any measure, but you still don’t really hear the birds or anything like that, even when you’re cruising around at low speed. I thought about that in Saskatchewan especially because I was looking forward to hearing a meadowlark while I was laying in my tent one night, but unfortunately it never happened. Next time I guess!

    So after having some breakfast and talking to Howard about his Zero, then I spend most of the morning just cruising around the Thunder Bay area. It was very smoky, and there are a number of different industrial relics on the shoreline in that area. It lent things a very dystopian aura.

    To cap my morning off I went and had a tour of a retired Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker named the Alexander Henry. I think the largest boat I have memories of being on is a wakesetter so I was entranced. The tour was originally going to be just me and the guide, but right as we were setting off an older couple with a couple grandkids in tow arrived. The gentleman was a former Coast Guard and he had served on a ship that was almost identical to the Alexander Henry so he had some very interesting tidbits to add to the tour that even the guide was unaware of. I was looking forward to seeing the engine room to try to compare the size of the engines on the Henry to the ones I’m familiar with in the oil and gas servicing industry. From the pictures they had available it looked to me like these were much bigger, but alas, the engine room had not yet been restored.
    Yours truly at the wheel. Not in the wheelhouse though, this is in a room directly above the rudder, where they would take control if the remote systems to the wheelhouse failed.

    Around 1:30 I met back up with my host, Alex. She showed me around the city a little more and then also took me to the Terry Fox memorial. Truly a Canadian icon. What a story and what an incredible feat.
    You can see a bit of how smoky it was here. Ususally from that point you can see out over the water and the city.

    After visiting the Terry Fox memorial we went to a local swimming hole at the Trowbridge Campground and cooled off in the river there. There’s a small falls there where the water runs over and down around some huge sloping slabs of rock. They made for some very nice spots to relax and cool down in the water, or sit up in the sun.

    Restaurants are just opening up here for indoor dining once again, so we ate at the Madhouse for dinner, which is a pub style spot that had great food with very generous portions.
    Sasha, Alex's guard dog.

    July 20, 2021: Marathon

    I started the day a little early, eager to get on the road and continue the journey. The goal for the day was Marathon, and on the way was three or four hours of beautiful road going up through the Canadian Shield.

    My first stop was Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. So named because when viewed from the water, the 300 metre tall cliffs at the end of the peninsula are said to look like a giant laying down for a deep sleep. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to view them from the water, but I was able to take the road all the way out to the very tip of the peninsula, where it loops around through a little cottage community called Silver Islet. On the way back up the peninsula to the highway, there was a turn off to go up to the Thunder Bay Lookout. The sign warned of a steep, rough road, and it wasn’t misleading. It was 9 kms of gravel up to the lookout, which is maybe a third of the way down the peninsula and 100 metres up above the water of Lake Superior. Thankfully, the smoke had cleared off quite a lot and I could see the city of Thunder Bay off in the distance. One of those stunning views that pictures can never do justice to.

    Shortly down the road from Sleeping Giant, is Ouimet Canyon. Ouimet Canyon is unique in that it doesn’t have a river or stream running down it that was responsible for carving it out of the rock. The two competing theories for the creation of the canyon are that the weight of the glacier ice during one of the ice ages caused part of the rock shelf to slowly slide on the more slippery rock underneath, or that the meltwater from the retreating glaciers eroded the softer rock beneath the canyon and caused the upper layer to collapse, creating the canyon suddenly.
    Another unique aspect of Ouimet Canyon is that on the canyon floor there are plants that are only found in the arctic circle. Because of the depth of the canyon, the ice and snow in the very bottom doesn't always melt, even through midsummer, which has created a sort of mini tundra type ecosystem.

    My next stop was at the Nipigon Bridge Lookout Tower. In the parking lot there I met John, Brenda, Rick, and Debby. They are from Barrie, Ontario and were just heading home after a tour up to Thunder Bay. Wonderful folks and definitely brightened my afternoon. The view from the tower was also fantastic, as was the bridge.
    Looking towards Lake Superior, from the Nipigon lookout tower.

    Aquasabon Falls was my next stopping point. The falls were very nice, but nicer yet was the selection of folks that had stopped there! Two gentlemen on Super Teneres pulled up shortly after me. They had just gone up to the Yukon and were on their way back to the Toronto area. Must have put in some long days to cover those kinds of miles, all since July 1st. There was also a couple from Nova Scotia that were on the way west to visit a daughter in Kelowna, and a young couple from I think Hamilton that were driving from Kenora back home, all in that day.
    Aquasabon falls and gorge.

    I made camp for the night in Marathon, at the Penn Lake Park Campground. It’s now the morning of the 21st and that’s where I still am, typing this up before I hit the road. Today I’ll be aiming for Sault Ste. Marie, where I’ll be leaving the lakeside and heading inland, towards Ottawa.
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  5. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    This was actualy supposd to be with the last post. One of the last picnic areas before Marathon. I thought about setting my tent up here because it was so secluded and had such a nice view, but I was a little nervous about bears...

    July 21, 2021: Lake Superior Provincial Park

    What a beautiful day today was! I’m writing this while sitting in a hotel in Sault Ste. Marie. This was supposed to be my first official stop in a hotel for laundry and a refresh. I was able to do laundry in Thunder Bay but I thought I’d treat myself anyway.

    To be honest, yesterday I wasn't in a good state of mind. I was starting to wonder why I was doing this trip, whether it would be worth it, and that kind of thing, just really getting down on myself. I think part of that had to do with not getting enough sleep, so that was priority number one last night. I woke up this morning after getting a good night’s rest and did some stretching and got a little exercise. That always seems to help bring me back to the present, and keep me focused on what I’m doing instead of the existential what if’s that the future might hold. I know that a lot of you probably don’t care too much about my mental state during this trip, but I knew that something like this was bound to happen at some point. I also don’t think it’s uncommon for people to struggle with mental health when they’re out away from home for extended periods of time, so I think it’s important to talk about.

    I started the day in Marathon and headed east on the 17. My first real stop was in Wawa at Young’s General Store. In 2005 my dad had cycled across Canada with a church group and I remember seeing a picture of him in front of the same store, so I thought I’d try to recreate it a little.

    While I was in Wawa I also stopped at the Tim Horton’s and ran into a couple on an FJR who were doing a tour around Ontario. They had been doing a trip through Eruope when COVID first hit, so they actually have another FJR in Europe awaiting their return. They had tried to have it shipped back to Canada but it was going to be more hassle than it was worth, so when a good deal on another one came up they bought it just so they wouldn’t be without a bike for the summer.

    Shortly after Wawa is Old Woman Bay. Old Woman Bay was recommended as a stopping point to me by multiple people. It’s a beautiful spot with a sand beach leading up to a pebbly shore. The parking lot was packed but I saw only one person in the water. For good reason too! I pulled off my boots and waded in up to my knees. I don’t think I was in the water for more than 30 or 40 seconds before I started to lose feeling in my feet from the cold. Quite the contrast to the burning hot sand on the beach.
    Old Woman Bay.

    Another hop, skip and jump down the highway was Katherine Cove. I pulled into the parking lot and as I was pulling off my helmet I looked up and saw four bikers waving wildly to me, the friends from Nipigon! I rode over and chatted with them for a bit. They had just finished with a swim in the cove and highly recommended it. They told me to drive down the road for another few hundred yards and then pull down into the ditch to follow a trail through the trees and out to a sandbar that was on the other side of the cove. I took their advice, and I am sure glad I did. It was a little treacherous to go down the embankment into the ditch but it was worth it. There was a short path through the trees that opened up onto the side of a sand dune. The sand dunes carried along towards the shore line before finally giving way to smooth, sandy beach. The beach ran down for about half a kilometer, where it came to a point that extended out towards a pair of small, rocky islands.

    I threw on my shorts and waded out into the water. It was an almost transcendent experience. Before my feet even touched the water, I was anticipating the cold. I knew that there would be a sharp contrast from the heat of the sand to the chill of the water, but it still surprised me. Even so, the water was crystal clear and the sand extended into it a long way, so it was easy to keep wading out. I waded out until about waist deep before diving into an approaching wave. As soon as my whole body was submerged it was like some sort of switch in my body flipped, and the water didn’t seem so cold anymore. I couldn’t have been the only one who had that kind of experience either, because I watched a few other people wading in and reacting to the cold. But the people who had already been swimming for a while didn’t seem to be affected. It was very strange, but wonderful all the same.
    The water was crystal clear.

    My last stop before Sault Ste. Marie was the Agawa Rock Pictographs. The pictographs are paintings on a rock wall, down by the edge of the lake, that were created by indigenous people. The pictographs themselves were very interesting, but the trail down to the water’s edge was entrancing. The parking lot sits probably about 80 or 100 metres above the water and the trail there was only labeled as being 400 metres long. The first section drops through a mossy forest before reaching a fork. The left branch of the fork keeps descending to a boulder field at the edge of the water, across which lies the pictograph wall. The other fork leads a short way down a corridor that has split down the rock cliff, all the way to the water down below. But a boulder was trapped about halfway down. The mossy cliff faces and the way the light played off everything created a truly spectacular sight. As I was climbing up from the pictographs I was able to witness a group of about half a dozen folks reach the fork in the path and look down towards the stuck boulder and exclaim things like, “Golly!”, “Holy smokes!”, “Wowee!”, and their various expletive laced derivatives.
    The aformentioned stuck boulder, and the view all the way down to the water below.
    The most striking of the pictographs. If my memory serves me correctly, the dragon like creature is the spirit of the lake in Ojibwa mythology. (Please forgive me if that is totally not true.)
    The viewing area for the pictographs. Definitely not somewhere you want to lose your footing. Along the pathway down there were half a dozen signs reminding visitors that their lives were in their own hands and informing them that there have been multiple fatalities and serious injuries to people that have been swept off the viewing ledge during adverse weather. Fortunately, the water was fairly calm while I was there.

    The 100 km stretch of highway just south of Wawa passes through the Lake Superior Provincial Park, and it might be the most beautiful stretch of road I have ever ridden down. I’m still young so maybe it will be upstaged at some point in my life, but I was blown away. There aren’t exactly rocky peaks like in the mountains out west, but there are still jagged precipices that stick up above the trees, and sheer cliff faces that look out over the water to the horizon. The valleys are most often filled up with small lakes, and the slopes between the two extremes are covered in this thick and impenetrable covering of foliage. There are starting to be more and more hardwood trees now, and actually today was the first time I’ve ever seen a real maple tree! That’s gotta be another badge on my “True Canadian” sash.

    I have mentioned signs here before, but I need to do it again. Since entering Ontario I’ve passed dozens and dozens of moose crossing signs, yet I find myself smiling every time. The moose on Ontario’s sign is this proud and determined creature that is striding forward into what appears to be a very stiff head wind. He is on a mission and will obviously not let a road stand in his way. The moose on the Alberta moose crossing sign on the other hand, is this ghastly looking creature that appears to have been drawn by someone who has only ever had a moose described to them by someone speaking in a foreign language. Big points go to Ontario when it comes to the sign department!

    I ended the day today with a walk around Sault Ste. Marie. I had an excellent meal at Johnny's Chophouse and then strolled along the river front. Just overall an excellent day.

    And for tomorrow I’ll be heading down towards Sudbury and hopefully a bit past it. That will put me in position to hopefully take on Ottawa on Friday. Onward and eastwards.
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  6. dmcharley

    dmcharley Adventurer

    Oct 7, 2019
    New Brunswick
    Hello form NB. Nice ride report...Keep the journey going!!
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  7. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Sep 26, 2008
    north vancouver bc
    nice pics!
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  8. Phuket198491

    Phuket198491 Adventurer

    Jul 23, 2021
    Really enjoying following along on your trip. Keep the reports coming!
    thedopplereffect likes this.
  9. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    July 22, 2021

    When I left Sault Ste Marie it was overcast and cool with the threat of rain at any moment. Thankfully the rain never actually fell, it just spat here and there.

    My destination for the day was somewhere past Sudbury, near Lake Nipissing. Unfortunately there isn't too terribly much of interest between those two points (that iknow of anyway...), so when I saw a sign for a Canadian historical sight I leapt at the opportunity to get off the highway.

    That historical site was called Fort St. Joseph, on St. Joseph's Island. The fort was at one point the most westerly of all British forts, and played an important role in the first British offensive movement of the War of 1812. When news of the way broke, a group of British soldiers, voyageurs, and indigenous warriors assembled there and then mounted a surprise attack on the American fort on Mackinac Island. Unfortunately not much of the fort remains, but they have quite a good museum set up showcasing the history of the site as well as some of the artifacts that have been recovered there from when the site was in active service.

    St Joseph's Island was also a joy to ride around. It has a thick maple forest covering much of it and then farmland covering the rest. There are a few small towns, but nothing too substantial. In my way back from the fort I was able to witness a ship passing by through one of the channels surrounding the island.

    I also stopped at a picnic site by the bridge leading out to the island. Because it was my first look at Lake Huron I figured I should capture the moment for posterity.

    After that it was an uneventful drive until West Nipissing. I stopped for dinner at a spot called Kate's Kountry Kitchen and had the smothered chicken, which was fantastic! It was extra good because someone anonymously paid for my dinner while I was still sitting at my table. So whoever you are, if you're reading this, thank you so very much!

    While I was sitting and eating my dinner I was looking up places to stay. John, the fellow I met with his friends in Nipigon had suggested I look up Bunk A Biker. I looked at the map and there was a pin right down on Lake Nipissing, about 20 minutes from where I was. I called the number and was connected to Pierre. He said it wouldn't be a problem for me to throw a tent up in his yard so off I went.

    Pierre and Tammy were more than welcoming so big thanks to them for letting me spend the night there, and best of luck on your adventures as well!

    July 23, 2021

    From West Nipissing I decided to get off the highway and take a very extended detour up along the Ottawa River, through Rouyn-Noranda, through Val-d'Or, and then back south through La Verendrye Wildlife Reserve, and into Ottawa by way of Gatineau. Quite the detour.

    The first few hours were fantastic. Beautiful countryside, good roads, light traffic, just perfect. Into and past Rouyn there were more and more big trucks, due to the mines in that area, so it wasn't quite as enjoyable of a ride. I'm still glad I went because it gave me a good opportunity to contrast the feel and look of an industry town like Rouyn or Val-d'Or with what I'm more familiar with in Alberta.

    I camped for the night in Riviere-des-Outaouais, which I can't say that I would recommend. In order to camp in the park you need to choose your site beforehand. You can't just roll into a site you like and then pay for it at the front, they're all controlled by the ranger offices at the park entrance. That unfortunately meant I was just choosing a site randomly, so my exhaustion got the best of me. I was very tired and was getting quite sore so I chose a site that was as close as possible. When I arrived I found that it definitely catered to those with RVs. The sites were quite close together and the campground host said that I was only the second motorcyclist he had seen stay there in more than three years.

    That was the first day where I hadn't taken any photos, so I took one of my view out of my tent as the last light of the day was fading.

    July 24, 2021

    I set off fairly and made my way through the rest of the wildlife reserve. Beautiful area with lots of lakes and exposed rock beside the road. The rocks seem to be a magnet for graffiti artists, even if they're in the middle of nowhere without a convenient place to pull over.

    Out of the reserve it was back into the rolling farm country. I stopped at a picnic area overlooking the Gatineau River and found the whole hillside was covered with raspberry bushes. I picked a few handfuls of berries and enjoyed the view of a small waterfall under a covered bridge.

    I decided that I might as well check the bridge out as well. Pretty cool to see an old wooden bridge like that still in use. That's just not something we have out in western Canada.

    I was told that the area north west of Ottawa was beautiful, and I wholeheartedly agree. The topography of the area gives a really nice character to the road and makes for an engaging ride.

    I'd arranged with another Bunk A Biker host, named JP. I made my way through Ottawa and then stopped at his house to set up my tent. My plan after that was to head into downtown Ottawa to visit Parliament Hill, but my bike didn't seem to like that idea.

    I had noticed a lot of chain noise over these last few days, but it got drastically worse once I was in more stop and go type riding going through Ottawa. I had adjusted the slack the previous day and it was already way too loose again, so something was obviously wearing quite quickly. I stopped at a dealership and was able to buy a new chain as well as a chain tool. JP was gracious enough to let me use his garage to change the chain over, and then he also fed me supper as well. Thanks again JP, setting the bar high for Bunk A Biker hosts!

    I think what happened is that when I was prepping my bike for this trip I may have been a bit overzealous with my chain cleaning. I had seen people on YouTube using kerosene as a cleaner so that's what I had done as well. I didn't dry the chain well enough after cleaning it so I think some of the kerosene might have seeped into a few of the rollers and degraded the grease inside of them. Lesson learned I suppose, I'm just glad it happened when it did and not when I was way out in the sticks somewhere.

    Overall the bike has performed marvelously. The engine is pretty mellow down low but it has a really great midrange that gives it nice passing power. The ergonomics are definitely good, though I have found that my back and shoulders have been getting a bit sore these last couple days. Those of you who also have the Versys know all about the seat and how it slants forward a bit. This one is no exception so I often find I'm sitting right at the front of it, up against the tank. I do wish the handlebars were a little taller so it would be more comfortable to stand, but that's not really what this bike is made for I suppose. Overall I've been very happy with it and this chain situation is the first issue, and one that I take full responsibility for.

    So now tomorrow the plan is for Parliament Hill and then onwards, in the direction of Quebec City.
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  10. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    July 25, 2021

    Overnight my tent and I experienced our first true rain storm of the trip. It's not an expensive tent by any means but it performed really well! A few drips through the one door's zipper when the rain was really being driven by the wind, but totally dry inside other than that.

    I started the day off with a fantastic breakfast courtesy of JP. Quite the cook! I glossed over it in my haste to get to the story about the chain but last night he prepared a feast of roasted chicken, steak, and some vegetables for family members that were in town, and he was kind enough to offer me a plate as well.

    After breakfast I set off to tour Ottawa. I had come through it from the Gatineau side the night before so I had experienced some of the Ottawa traffic already. Riding through unfamiliar cities and trying to follow GPS directions is always a bit of a stressful experience for me, but the ride downtown went really well. It being Sunday, I was able to park right at the parliament buildings, just outside of the fenced area that encircles the grounds. Then I set off on foot.

    The buildings were very impressive. The gothic revival architecture still looks just as grand and imposing as I’m sure it did when it was brand new. They are doing fairly extensive rehabilitation on some of the old stonework to make sure that it is preserved for years to come, so that was too bad not to be able to see parts of the buildings, but it’s for the best.
    20210725_105457.jpg 20210725_105558.jpg 20210725_111737.jpg
    Some of the construction is visible here on what I believe was the Eastern Block.

    This was my first ever visit to Ottawa, so it was good to be at the seat of the confederation. I thought it was interesting that the only vehicles that were allowed onto the grounds, at least while I was there, were the parliamentary security detail. There must have been a couple dozen of them roaming around keeping an eye on everyone. I suppose it’s good to have them there when they’re needed. There were two demonstrations going on in the area, one for democracy in Cuba, and one for the ongoing investigations uncovering the tragedy of the residential schools.

    After touring parliament hill, the war memorial, and a few of the locks on the Rideau Canal, I went for a ride to the Rockcliffe Park lookout point. The route took me past the Prime Minister’s house as well as a number of the foreign embassies. Then it was back to JP’s house to pick up my things.
    20210725_112911.jpg 20210725_113401.jpg
    I have never seen locks in action before so it was fascinating to watch the process of transporting all the pleasure craft from one to the next. It looks like it would take about half a day to get all the way up or down though. The boats themselves were also quite spectacular. I'm sure some of them were worth more than a few dollars. I inquired as to how much of the lock infrastructure in orignal and was told that although most of it has been replaced, how it works is still essentially the same as when they were first built.

    JP offered to ride with me out to Cornwall in order to get me out onto a scenic route. I haven’t done much riding in groups and he has so he was able to explain some of the protocols and hand signals to me on the ride out, which was great to finally learn. We took a bit of a back roads way out to Cornwall that was just a pleasure to ride. JP turned back at Cornwall and I continued on, eastwards along the northern bank of the St. Lawrence River.
    The man and the machine, courtesy of JP.

    I had spent the morning admiring old architecture and I was able to spend part of the afternoon admiring new architecture. Along the bank of the river are these absolutely palatial estates with manicured yards, guest houses, private docks, tennis courts, and the whole nine yards. And then interspersed between them are these tiny old houses or even trailer parks that you can tell have been there for far longer, and have really only been grandfathered into the area, but would sell for a fortune. Quite the contrast.

    Soon after Cornwall I was back in Quebec. I crossed over the St. Lawrence to the south side and continued inland. I stopped for a hot dog at a roadside stand called Kirk’s Burgers. I’ve noticed that these walk up burger and fry stands are very popular here in Quebec, and I think I’ve only seen about two Mcdonald’s the whole time I’ve been here. Interesting again to see the differences between the provinces.

    The ride through southern Quebec, along the American border goes through such a beautiful area. Lots of big maple groves, fields of corn, and farms of all kinds. That area makes up Quebec’s wine country as well, so there were all kinds of vineyards and orchards. I even passed a farm that had what must have been a champion bull elk in one of the pastures. An absolutely huge set of antlers weighing down his head in a lonesome field with no harem to fight for.

    I arrived in Cowansville around 7:30 pm where I met Karen, another Bunk A Biker host. She was accompanied by her guard dog Chelsea. Karen made some fantastic homemade bacon cheese burgers and even offered me a bed to sleep in for the night, which I eagerly accepted.
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  11. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    July 26, 2021

    Karen offered to make pancakes for breakfast, which we ate, accompanied by real, fresh, maple syrup! Then shortly after, I was on the road again.

    As I was riding I was reflecting again on the differences that become apparent between the provinces when you see them all in quick succession. One of the things that has struck me the most is the differences in speed limits. Ontario and Quebec seem to have two opposite views on speed limits. In Ontario 90 kms/hr is about the fastest limit you’ll see on any road, even the TransCanada, where there are shoulders on the road that are as wide as a full lane, and ditches cleared of trees on either side of the road. Quebec on the other hand will have a country lane with no shoulders at all, forest growing up to the side of the asphalt, winding around corners and up over hills, with driveways coming into the road on the apex of blind corners, and still have the speed limit at 90 kms/hr. I think that has a lot to do with the European influences when the two areas were colonized.

    As much as you might not want to say it to too many Quebecois, the French and the Americans had a lot in common during the years leading up to confederation. They both had their revolutions not too far apart, and both were spurred on by similar core values of freedom and individualism. It seems to me that that legacy still lives on in Quebec in things as simple as the right to go 90 kms/hr when maybe you shouldn’t. I know from travelling through Montana that there are some similar roads with 80 mile/hr limits that felt a little sketchy. Ontario on the other hand, was British through and through, right up until confederation. With the influences of the monarchy still at play, Britiain didn't have the same culture of individualism that the French developed. I’ll admit that these could just be blind ramblings though, so feel free to disregard if you so please.

    The goal for the day was Quebec City. My previous night's host, JP, had been kind enough to reach out to his parents, who live in Quebec City. So I stopped at the home of Jean-Yves and Linda to set up my tent and drop some of my things off, before going out and exploring the historic city.

    And what a beautiful city it is! I was able to park at the parliament hill and then walk around the Plains of Abraham, the Citadel, the Chateau Frontenac, and the historic walled city. Incredible to be walking down a street and stop to look in a shop window, only to notice a plaque on the wall stating that the building had once housed such-and-such historic figures, 350 years ago. Such a difference from the kind of history we have in Alberta.
    The gateway into the citadel, as viewed from up on the outer walls. If you zoom in you can see two of the members of the guard, in their red coats and bear skin hats. The citadel still serves as an active military base so the guards visible are active servicemen.
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    The imposing structure on the left is the Chateau Frontenac.
    Inside the courtyard of the Chateau Frontenac, which is now a 5 star Fairmont hotel. I wasn't shooed away, but I was given some sideways glances...
    From the waterfront, looking back at the hill side.
    Lower historic downtown. The tourist strip with all the boutiques and gift shops. A number of empty stores though, that I'm guessing went out of business because of the pandemic and the slowdown in tourism.
    The Festival d'ete de Quebec just finished up, so some of the decorations are still up, and many of the crowds are sill here as well.
    The monument to Samuel De Champlain. It was difficult to get it in a light were you could see any of the details, but it is obvious is held in very high regard. Dali's La Venus Spatiale is also on the same square.
    And that same square was where the street performer did his routine! Here's the closing stunt.

    After walking around the city for a while, I was on my way back to the parking garage when I stumbled upon a street performer in front of the monument to Samuel de Champlain. It was a hand balancing show that was definitely worth the price of admission! As the show was finishing up then the rain started to fall. And just a few days after my first rain at all, I got my first ride in both the rain and the dark, back to my home for the night.

    July 27, 2021

    The rain continued to fall through the night, in fits and spurts, but again the tent performed marvelously. I woke this morning to the birds singing and the squirrels chittering to announce another splendid day.

    Linda and Jean-Yves offered me breakfast this morning, which I was able to enjoy before sitting on the deck, where I am now. They have an oasis of a backyard and have been incredibly welcoming. Jean-Yves has even offered to wash my bike while I finish writing this up.

    When I set off on this trip I told people that I was most excited about all the people I was going to meet along the way. The first bunch of days I started to wonder how I was going to meet all these people I was looking forward to seeing. Then slowly I started breaking out my shell and talking to more people at the roadside attractions I stopped to take in. But the Bunk A Biker group has broken things wide open. I have always loved that the community of motorcyclists is so connected, but the way I’ve been received by all these people that didn’t know me at all has blown me away. The hospitality and good nature of everyone I’ve met has been incredible, and I am even more excited and grateful to be on this journey than when I set off.

    Today I’ll be going from Quebec City to Rimouski, following the south shore of the St. Lawrence.
    MotoRojo, CoopsDL, snglfin and 7 others like this.
  12. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks

    Jun 17, 2009
    Langley,B C
    You are doing a great job of showing us the sites. Also well written details.
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  13. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    July 27, 2021

    I feel like at a certain point I'll have recycled my adjectives so many times that they'll lose some of their meaning, but the ride today was once again very beautiful and scenic.

    At Quebec City the St Lawrence River is choked down to about 500 metres across at its narrowest point. Where I am now, in Rimouski, it's nearly 50 kms across. So all throughout the day the river was getting wider and wider beside me. Which made me wonder, at what point does a river turn into something else? In that stage before it's actually hit the ocean, but it's so big that you can't really see across to the other side, then what is it?

    So far as I know, there's no English word for it, but in French they call it the fleuve, which translates to a lake that flows. I met two gentlemen this evening that had ridden their bikes along the same route as me today and one of them said that word when talking about the river and I thought it was interesting that there was an answer to what I'd been wondering all day, it was just in French.

    But anyway, today I rode alongside the fleuve and even though I didn't stop at any internationally known landmarks, the views were breathtaking.

    20210727_134619.jpg 20210727_134748.jpg
    There was this random spiraly tower at one point that comemorated something, and offered a chance for advertisers to plaster sponsors everywhere. It also had a shrine for the Mother Mary, so it was really touching all the bases. Very nice view though. And I met a couple that had once been avid motorcyclists but had given it up and were now doing their touring in a little Mazda Mx-5. I have thought at different points along this trip that a little sports car would be nearly as fun to do a trip like this in.

    For the first hundred or so kms the highway ran up on top of the river valley edge, with a clear view to the other side more often than not. It seems like the north bank of the river is mountainous almost immediately from Quebec City, which makes sense seeing as how that was the side they built the old fort on.

    It wasn't until around that 100 km mark from the city that the south started to also have some rocky outcroppings pop up here and there.

    Then at about 150 kms the road came down off the valley rim and into the flood plain. In my opinion, that's where the most stunning section began. I love farmland, and to see it skirted on one side by the St Lawrence and on the other side by these rocky outcroppings was perfection.
    Looking back to the North, across the St. Lawrence.
    Looking South.
    Just a random spot that I stopped at. Everything is so much bigger in person. That boulder in the foreground on the left was about 8 feet high and climbing up on top of it offered a nice view of surrounding area.

    I rolled into Rimouski at around 7 pm and made my way to my home for the night, up above the city to the south. I am staying at the chalet of a gentleman named Bruno. Bruno is another connection from JP in Ottawa, so many thanks to you Bruno, and to JP! I dropped my things off and then made my way back into Rimouski to take in the Urban Terrace.

    As I was walking around downtown I saw a sign that said the town is celebrating 350 years. Quite the contrast to the 100 or so years that my home town has celebrated.

    I enjoyed an excellent fish and chips meal at Bistro de la Forge, where I'm writing this right now. And soon I'll be heading back to the chalet to get a good night's sleep in a real bed once again!

    Tomorrow, to stay in Rimouski or head onwards to Gaspe, that's the question now…

    July 28, 2021

    I ended up electing to stay in Rimouski for one more day. That was partly on the urging of the wait staff at Bistro de la Forge to go see Le Bic, which is a provincial park just up the road from Rimouski. I also was all in favour of having the chance to sleep in a bed for one more night.

    I slept in a healthy amount before heading out to Le Bic. When I arrived I was told that the park was at its capacity for the day, one of the measures put in place for COVID. It was around noon so I continued on down the road to find some lunch instead.

    I ended up eating at a restaurant called Bon Voyage, and had the salmon tartare, which was a new experience for me.

    As I was eating there was a lively and good hearted exchange going on between a couple gentlemen about my age and one of the waitresses, and I couldn't help but feel like I should have studied up on my French a little more before this trip. You can certainly get by with just English. Enough people here speak it, and my French is good enough to figure out menus and whatnot, but I'm not really conversational at all. Without being able to do all the small talk it can make dining alone a bit more of an isolating experience. Even with that aside, I have nothing but good things to say about the way I've been received here as an anglophone.

    I wasn't sure what to do after lunch but beside the restaurant there was a scenic viewpoint sign, pointing down the road. I followed it down the hill and through a little village to a public beach.

    The beach was sparsely populated, as it really wasn't very warm out. But there were a few people with kayaks, and others just sitting out in the sun. The rock that made up the sea shore was shale, so the little broken flakes of shale were actually what made up the beach.

    It was low tide when I was there and I was walking along the water's edge, mostly hoping to see some little crabs. There were little creatures moving around through the water and I was admiring how effortless it looks like it was for them. I bent down to get a close look, assuming that they were very small minnows, and they were crustaceans! That's probably no surprise to those of you more familiar with the ocean, but they were what looked to me like little shrimp.

    I walked around a while longer, admiring the view, before continuing on.
    20210728_142956.jpg 20210728_144001.jpg

    When I returned to Le Bic they were able to let me in. The park is made up of a section of coastline that includes two small peninsulas as well as an Adirondack peak called Pic Champlain. It towers to the respectable height of 365 metres, and it was my first stop.

    The trail up wound through a thick forest the whole way before depositing me at a well equipped lookout. The view was excellent. Thankfully the air was clear and I was able to see all the way across to the other side of the fleuve.
    Such a nice mossy trail leading up through the trees.
    20210728_161216.jpg 20210728_162010.jpg
    The view from Pic Champlain. In the second picture, that beach thats about center of the photo, on the right side of the little peninsula, is where I was earlier in the day and also where those two earlier photos were taken.

    I inquired of one of my fellow hikers whether the water at this point was salty yet and learned that it is, or it's at least brackish.

    After hiking I toured the rest of the park on my bike. I stopped at a few points that are known for seals, but wasn't able to see any that were close enough to be visible with the naked eye.

    Then it was back to Rimouski. I walked around downtown for a bit again before sitting down to eat some sushi at a place called YinYan. I really enjoyed it, but in hindsight, that was a lot of raw fish for one day…

    And tomorrow I'll be back on the road, headed to Gaspe.
    MotoRojo, B10Dave, snglfin and 2 others like this.
  14. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    July 29, 2021

    Today I followed the 132 from Rimouski to Riviere-au-Renard, where I'm camping in the backyard of Arnold, a friend of Jean-Yves (who I stayed with in Quebec City).

    Riviere-au-Renard is at the beginning of the Land's End portion of the Gaspe Peninsula. I was aware that I was in a tourist area when I was in Rimouski, but I didn't realize the extent of the popularity of this area. It would seem that if you are a French speaking Canadian then this whole peninsula is the place to be.

    The ride here was stunning. The further east I got, the less you could see of the northern bank of the St Lawrence, until finally it sank out of sight all together. The highway follows the coast fairly closely for most of the way. There are multiple times when the road is the only thing separating the mountains from the sea. Sheer cliffs one one side and crashing waves on the other. At some points there were signs warning that waves sometimes come over the road, right alongside signs warning of rock falls and avalanches.

    The coastline varies between little coves, peninsulas and gentle sweeping curves. So sometimes, when you've just come out of an inlet, you are surrounded on three sides by water that stretches out all the way to the horizon. Quite an interesting experience for someone from the prairies. It made me wonder what it would feel like to be out on the open ocean and not be able to see land in any direction. Maybe that's comparable to being in the middle of Saskatchewan and only being able to see canola in every direction... Even so, it's easy for me to see why the ocean has been such a source of fascination and obsession for people throughout history.
    20210729_100652.jpg 20210729_114351.jpg 20210729_141405.jpg
    I especially liked this spot. Seeing the cliffs fade into the distance and knowing that the road wound down around them was just excellent.
    The odd wave would be way bigger than the rest, or at least crash way more violently. I was nearly splashed a few times but I escaped still dry. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be swimming in that water though. There was a stiff breeze blowing inland so the water was quite stirred up.

    At one point as I was riding down a fairly straight stretch, I looked to my left and there was a bird that I think was a sea gull, flying along beside me, a hundred yards out from the shore. There was a bit of a tail wind but that bird kept pace with me for at least a minute while I was doing 90 km/h. Doesn't really have anything to do with anything but I was very impressed.

    Tomorrow I'm planning to ride around the peninsula to the very tip and then hike the final few kms out to the most Eastern point. Then one more night here in Riviere-au-Renard before heading south for the New Brunswick border.

    July 30, 2021

    I woke this morning to a clear sky that was clouding over fast. A quick check of the forecast showed rain for the next three days. Since it was still dry, I packed my things, and just as I was getting them strapped onto the bike the rain started to fall.

    I rode to Cap-de-Rosiers to see the tallest lighthouse in Canada, but was dismayed that due to COVID no tourists are allowed inside it. The cliff that it's built on still offers a beautiful view of the end of the peninsula, off in the distance.
    20210730_092009.jpg 20210730_092056.jpg

    The next stop was in Forillon National Park. I was originally planning to do the hike out to the eastern tip, where there is another lighthouse, but the weather wasn't very good and I felt like I could pass this one up and make up for it somewhere down the line.

    But, on the ride through the park, I turned a corner and stumbled on two moose out in the middle of the road! One cow and one bull with antlers still building up in preparation for the rut. Very intimidating animals to come across by yourself on a bike. The bull was holding his ground in the middle of the road while I was stopped about 50 yards away. After a minute or so an SUV rounded the bend behind me and he spooked into the trees. Also pretty incredible how a big animal like that can just seemingly evaporate into the trees.

    My next stop in the park was at one of the old homesteads in the town of Grande Grave. Grande Grave was a fishing village when the park was created in 1970. The residents were forced to relocate when the government expropriated their land. They had some quotes from former residents who were reflecting on how the move impacted them, and what their memories of the area were. It made it a little more sobering to drive by the little cemetery and see some of the same names on the headstones. In talking with one of the park staff members I also learned that, like so many of these kinds of things, many of the residents weren’t given appropriate compensation for their land and their livelihood. All the residents were forced to move out at once, which caused a housing price boom in the surrounding area. So the compensation that would have bought families a new house of approximately the same size could now only afford them half of what they were forced to leave behind. Not something I have ever thought of when going through a national park before, but I imagine that Forillon is not the only place where it’s happened.
    The waves were crashing on the beach across the road from the village. Watching the waves has the same effect on me as watching a campfire, just mesmerizing.
    The couple that built this homestead were independant fishermen and subsistence farmers. The little shed down by the water had some of the old fishing gear that the original owner had built himself. The origninal house dates to 1902, which oddly enough, is about the same age as the house that the folks I'm currently staying with live in. It still amazes me how history in this part of the country is just part of every day life.

    Just outside of Forillon, before Gaspe, is Fort Peninsula. The fort is a 150 metre long bunker that served as a defensive measure for the Gaspe Bay during World War 2. There were a series of chambers as well as two 4.5 inch cannons that were capable of sinking hostile ships within 15 seconds of receiving a command to fire. The cannons were still in place but everything else that had been in the bunkers had been stripped away. Still pretty cool to walk through and learn a little bit about Canada's military history.

    After Forillon, the rest of the afternoon was spent driving to Caplan, where I am staying the night with Dany and her family, another Bunk A Biker host. On the way I passed through all kinds of places that I know I would have loved to stay for a few hours at least if the weather were more favourable. But, I don’t mind covering a little extra ground either.
    20210730_131913.jpg This rock in particular is known to be very photogenic. It is located near Pearce which was bustling with activity, despite the weather.

    At one point, as I was riding through a little village, I passed by a golf course that was well populated with people who were eager to get a round in, despite the rain. I was thinking about how ridiculous it was that people were golfing in weather like this, and then I caught a glimpse of myself in my rearview mirror, and I couldn’t help but laugh a little.
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  15. pitbull

    pitbull Long timer

    Aug 24, 2004
    Fantastic photos and report, thanks for bringing us along with you.
    thedopplereffect likes this.
  16. MotoRojo

    MotoRojo Still in the asylum

    Dec 21, 2014
    Beautiful British Columbia
    I am really enjoying your ride report. Keep going and thanks for your taking us along!
    thedopplereffect likes this.
  17. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    July 31, 2021

    After a wonderful, dry night's sleep in Caplan, courtesy of Dany and her family, I made my way back out into the rain. Thankfully Dany was perfectly fine with me sticking around for a good part of the morning, while the worst of the rain was falling. I was able to watch a little of the Olympics, which I had forgotten were going on, before leaving around 11.

    Caplan is on the southern shore of the Gaspe Peninsula so I followed the coastline west to Pointe-a-la-Croix.
    It was a windy day, so perfect for kite boarding!

    On the road just before Pointe-a-la-Croix there was a viewpoint sign pointing down a side road. It was near the bottom of a big hill so I had very high expectations! I followed the road back around the hill where it turned to gravel. No problem, I've got my 80/20 tires so I thought it would be no big deal. It turned out the road didn't really switch back at all though, it just turned to gravel and went straight up! The rain had washed out a good portion of the road, leaving a loose stone bed behind. The Versys and I very quickly reached the very limits of our off road ability, but thankfully the road flattened into a little parking area before things got too hairy.

    More trails and tracks continued up the hill, but the baby's head rocks and exposed roots convinced me to leave the bike behind and hike up the last few hundred metres. The view was definitely worth it! There was a great view over the town, the river valley, and the bay off to the left. I'm sure a more skilled rider or a more capable bike could have made it right to the top, but I was happy to have walked up. The descent back down the part that I had ridden up was puckering enough!

    Throughout the whole day the sky was incredibly dynamic. Periodically there would be rain showers for a few minutes, but then moments later the clouds would part and the sun would pour down. Quite the battle to decide if I should keep my rain gear on or not… thankfully I only got caught in the rain once without my gear on. 20210731_114255.jpg 20210731_133452.jpg 20210731_143752.jpg 20210731_145107.jpg

    Then it was down through Campbellton and into New Brunswick. COVID restrictions lifted at midnight last night so I was able to roll right through. The costal highway is called the Acadian Route or something like that, and that's what I was following until I got to Bathurst.

    In Bathurst I stopped for a mid-afternoon snack and tried to work out where to sleep. I reached out to an old co-worker from Alberta who had grown up in New Brunswick, and he pointed me to his parents in Miramichi.

    On the stretch from Bathurst to Miramichi the highway has deep woods on both sides, there were also a number of moose warning signs. And koodos to New Brunswick for the gender inclusivity because their moose sign features a female moose! It's got great detail and is unmistakably a moose, but it has no antlers. 10/10 New Brunswick, impressive work!

    In Miramichi I stayed with Janice and Perry. They were fantastic hosts and offered me a spare room for the night. Both of their families have been in the New Brunswick area for around 200 years, and the land that their home is on was cleared for farming by Perry's ancestors. Very cool!
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  18. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    August 1, 2021

    Today was a bit of a slower day. I started in Miramichi and I'm ending the day here in Moncton, which is only an hour and a half straight drive. 20210801_095519.jpg

    The old bridge over the Miramichi River.

    I made the drive down the coastline on highway 117. 20210801_111653.jpg Some fishing boats that were in for repairs in one of the fishing villages I passed through.

    It's a beautiful road that sweeps through a coastal wetlands area before coming into the north end of Kouchibouguac National Park.

    I stopped at the park visitor center to try book my ferry tickets to Newfoundland. It turns out that I should have tried to book them last week, before COVID restrictions were lifted. The earliest I was able to get to Newfoundland was August 18, with a return on the 25, so I'm going to be spending a little longer in the Maritimes than I had anticipated! I'm not too terribly disappointed though.

    Kouchibouguac National Park features a variety of different habitats in close proximity. Parts of it are fully forested, then there are wetlands, salt marshes, a series of sand dunes, and a section of sandy beach. The variety makes it an important spot ecologically.

    I spent a few hours at the beach, but only dipped into the water once. Yikes, that was cold. Definitely colder than Lake Superior. And then when I went back to the change room facility I was a little disappointed to see that the showers had been closed due to COVID. You could say that I was a little salty even…
    20210801_140621.jpg 20210801_140611.jpg
    Quite the spot!

    After the beach I made my way to Moncton on highway 132, which is more of the Acadian Trail. In Moncton I met up with David and his family. They were gracious enough to let me set up my tent in their yard, and also recommend a good restaurant for supper. They sent me to Skipper Jack's, where I feasted on a mixed seafood platter that was fantastic. It was made even better by a couple of strangers from Quebec who ended up picking up my bill!

    Tomorrow I'll be touring the Hopewell Rocks and then making my way to Fredericton.
  19. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    August 2, 2021

    I woke late but finally convinced myself to get out of bed around ten. That gave me just enough time to pack up my tent and put my things on the bike before the rain started to fall again.

    I was very impressed by the Hopewell Rocks. The tide was still receding while I was there, but it was low enough that the rocks that are featured in all the tourist brochures were clearly visible. Quite amazing to be walking around in an area that will be covered with water higher than your head in a matter of hours.
    20210802_111759.jpg 20210802_112610.jpg 20210802_112856.jpg 20210802_113325.jpg

    I spoke with one of the interpretive guides who was walking around down on the ocean floor and she pointed me to an area called North Beach. She said it was her favorite area because of all the snails and hermit crabs, and I wholeheartedly agree. They're a bit hard to spot at first but once you know what you're looking for the area is just crawling with them. Somehow I'd always imagined that hermit crabs were much larger.
    They certainly don't appreciate being held though. They just push themselves back and away as far as they can with total disregard for the potential hazards of a fall.

    While I was down on the beach the rain started to get quite a bit worse. I hightailed it back up the bank and found some shelter to hide under for a while. Ada, one of the interpretive guides was kind enough to lend me an umbrella so I was still able to walk around a bit more without getting too wet.

    Eventually though, I'd seen just about all there was to see and it was time to ride again. I was planning to do the Fundy Trail, at the suggestion of David. But it was a little too cold and unpleasant.

    I ended up going straight to Fredericton where Dave and Andrea had offered to host me for the night. Dave is a fellow inmate, and actually the first one I've met so far. They're a fully biking family with all the kids riding too. Dave also helped patch together a repair on a crack that has been forming in my windscreen over the last few days. Fingers crossed that it holds for the foreseeable future!

    Tomorrow I'm hoping to retrace my steps a bit in order to ride the Fundy Trail. I've got some time to kill now before going to Newfoundland, but I haven't even touched Nova Scotia or PEI yet, so there's still lots to see.
  20. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2021
    Alberta, Canada
    August 3, 2021

    Before I set off from Fredericton this morning, Dave had worked out a backroads discovery tour for me that included the Fundy Trail.

    The Fundy Trail is a very little publicized scenic route along the coast between St. Martin's and Sussex. There are tons of scenic lookout points and picnic areas along the cliffs overlooking the bay. It ended up being a perfect clear day and I was able to see all the way across to Nova Scotia. Quite the contrast from yesterday's weather.
    20210803_130202.jpg 20210803_131032.jpg 20210803_135754.jpg 20210803_140240.jpg 20210803_141308.jpg 20210803_140822.jpg
    There's also a walking trail along the road and into the trees, so if you were more inclined to walk through the trees it would be a great spot for that too.

    I stopped around supper time in Alma and picked up a lobster roll from Tipsy Tails. Unfortunately they were very understaffed so I offered to be their host for the rest of the evening, but they didn't go for it.
    20210803_175854.jpg 20210803_191511.jpg
    Before I ate the tide was so low that all the boats were sitting in the mud. In the hour or so that I was in the restaurant they were all floating again.

    After supper I headed to David's (from Moncton, who I stayed with two nights ago) cottage in Riverside Albert. It's going to be my home for the night and then tomorrow I'm hoping to get out onto PEI.

    August 4, 2021

    Today I made my way from Riverside Albert, New Brunswick to Lower Darnley, Prince Edward Island.

    I've been having some fogging issues with my visor in the rain so I stopped in Moncton at a few moto dealers to try to find a pin-lock for my helmet but had no luck. I bought a spray instead so hopefully that does the trick!

    I also stopped in Shediac for lunch at a place called Chez Linda. It was recommended to me by two different folks in the grocery store so I thought I'd give it a shot. The food was fantastic! And the waitress that I had had just been out on the island the previous weekend for Atlanticade, so she recommended a few spots for me to check out while I'm here.

    On the island side of the Confederation Bridge they have their whole COVID screening station set up. I was a little worried that it was going to take an hour to get through but it was pretty streamlined. You need your PEI pass and then because where I originally came from is outside Atlantic Canada I had to get a rapid COVID test. It would seem that there wasn't much hanging on that though because they didn't even make me wait ten minutes for it to give results. Overall, a relatively painless experience.

    Shortly after that I met Brian and his wife Patty. Brian has a BMW 1250GSA and has traveled very extensively. They had some company over, and the other gentleman had also done some moto touring. It was great to hear stories from people with more experience than myself.

    Brian and Linda also took me out to Thunder Cove Beach, as the sun was setting. What a beautiful spot!
    I'm told that the Teapot rock is an island icon.

    Tomorrow I'll be trying to get up to North Cape and then circling back to spend one more night here.
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