From Alberta to the East Coast

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

  1. cavebiker

    cavebiker Old School Adventurer

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    Most excellent report and the pics are A1. This take considerable effort posting a report this detailed and doing an epic adventure at the same time, this is great. You said technically you are now on your return trip. There is a motorcycle ride effect HorizonsUnlimited teaches, it's about returning home and the closer you get the faster you tend to go and the more dangerous it gets. I think of this all the time, I slow down purposely to counteract this effect for safety, and it extends the joy of the ride of course. Keep it up! Unreal first ride report!
  2. Banditryder

    Banditryder What I used to ride.

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    Getting concerned about our young traveler's silence? All is well, I hope.
    thedopplereffect likes this.
  3. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    Sorry folks, a few days with no wifi.

    August 25, 2021


    What a fantastic day. Newfoundland truly saved the best for last.


    The forecast had called for rain till 11 or so, which conveniently was also the checkout time for the hotel. For once the weatherman was right and as 11 rolled around the sky started to clear up.


    I went north out of Rocky Harbour and made my way to the north edge of the park at Cow Head. I stopped quite a bit along the way. Gros Morne is truly a special place.
    20210825_114727.jpg 20210825_115101.jpg 20210825_115317.jpg
    The wreck of the SS Ethie. She ground ashore in 1919 and the waves have town her apart a little more every year since.

    After hitting the north edge of the park I turned around and retraced my step. On the ride back through the park I didn't stop very much, but just enjoyed the ride and the sunshine.
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    After getting out of the park I made a stop at the Newfoundland Insectarium and Butterfly Gardens. The name is fairly indicative of what it contains but I very much enjoyed my time there. There were hundreds of butterflies in the butterfly garden as well as a few little frogs. The frogs were evicted while I was there though because otherwise they grow up and eat their more aesthetically pleasing roommates.
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    In the second level they had hundreds of pinned insects from around the world as well as terrariums with live samples of some of the more spectacular species. The most impressive was the leaf cutter ant farm. Their terrarium was probably about 4 feet wide by 8 feet long and 4 feet tall, with little tubes that connected them to smaller enclosures all throughout the building. So even right when you walked in the front door there were a couple enclosures with leaf cutter ants parading around with their little trophies. I was absolutely entranced.
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    This lovely lass has the highly creative name of spiny stick insect.

    There was also a beehive with clear sides so you could see them all at work. The bees had their own little highway to get outdoors and were very active. The queen was even clearly visible laying eggs in each cell of the honeycomb.


    The third floor of the building houses the tarantulas. They had half a dozen varieties there but I'm not actually convinced they were real because I stayed for quite a while and didn't see a single one of them move. Perhaps they were just feeling lethargic…


    After the Insectarium I made my way to Corner Brook, where I stopped for supper at the Crooked Feeder Gastro Pub. I had a great meal there complete with good company from the bartender and a great bread pudding with ice cream for dessert.


    Then there was nothing left to do but make my way to the ferry. The sunset was kind enough to put on a brilliant show for me on the way there too.


    Now I'm sitting in the ferry, waiting for the dawn, and with it the arrival back in Nova Scotia. The ride home is truly underway.
  4. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    A few pictures that didn't fit in the last post. There were so many wild flowers all over the place. All different kinds but lots of purples and lots of yellows.
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    Even Newfoundland has some nice sandy beaches!
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    The sunset was absolutely awesome. It made it almost painful to leave. The whole last day and the whole week on Newfoundland was incredible. I'll be back.
  5. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    August 26, 2021


    I wasn't able to sleep quite as well on the ferry ride this time unfortunately, but I was able to take in the sunrise.
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    After clearing Nova Scotia border control I made my way back to the Cabot Trail. I stopped for breakfast at a place called the Clucking Hen and enjoyed some french toast while looking out over the ocean. I also met a fellow there named John, who was riding his bicycle. His brother is a big fan of motorcycling and actually runs the Motorcycle Mojo magazine. Pretty cool to make all those connections.


    It was a beautiful day and because I was retracing my steps I didn't stop quite as much. It's hard not to stop though with some of the beautiful view points along the road.
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    One of the spots that I did stop at was the lone shieling, which is a trail through some of the old growth hardwood forest that the road runs through. Some really incredible old trees, up to 350 years old according to one of the signs there. 20210826_112023.jpg


    I also decided to hike the skyline trail this time. When I passed through last time the whole area was covered in fog but it was totally clear today. It was also very hot so it seemed like a little longer hike that I really was counting on, but the view was worth it. It goes out to a headland that overlooks the road on one side and the ocean on the other. Really spectacular all around views.
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    One lookout on the trail has this twisted old elm tree. 20210826_134006.jpg
    It was really cool to be able to see the twists and turns in the road from a distance. 20210826_134556.jpg

    After the Cabot Trail I kept on heading south along the coast of Cape Breton. I stopped at a few places to try to whale watching but because it was such a nice day everyone was all booked up. One more reason to come back!
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    Just asking the coast South of Cheticamp.
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    A perfect farm valley. Sunflowers and some great big trees.

    I had planned on getting down as close to Moncton as I reasonably could, so I'd arranged with a fellow named Shawn from Bunk a Biker to stay at his place. He and his wife Melissa have a totally off grid homestead in the bush between New Glascow and Truro. It was an interesting experience and they were very kind and hospitable.

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  6. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    August 27, 2021


    I took off early and rode pretty well straight to Moncton today. I'd had some tires shipped to David's house, the fellow I stayed with on my way through Moncton the first time.


    The original plan was to change the tires myself with the help of one of his connections but the tire machine ended up being unavailable so I called Clay's Offroad. They were incredibly helpful and managed to fit changing my tires over into their service schedule for the day. The folks there were also absolutely first class. I had a long chat with Mike, the co-owner, about all things motorcycles and even ate some fish and chips in his office. The fish and chips were from a place down the street called Chef Gaston's and they are easily in the running for best fish and chips I've had on this trip.
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    The tires were a little over cooked. This front was on when I bought the bike but I would guess it had about 25000 kms on it. The front edge of all the tread blocks really feathered down over the last few thousand though, which made it quite a bumpy ride at low speed. 20210827_115136.jpg
    The rear had just over 15000 kms on it. It would be much better to have had it changed at 12 though.

    After getting my tires changed I did a tour of all the motorcycle dealers here in Moncton to see if I could pick up any gear on sale. I came out thinking maybe the gear I've got will be able to last me the 20 odd days to get home.


    I was planning to do a little scenic ride but the traffic was a little backed up and I happened to drive by a nice looking park so I pulled in and took a nap in the grass instead.
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    Clay was kind enough to shine my bike up a little after changing the tires out and she was positively beaming in the afternoon sun.

    This evening was spent with David and his family having a little party in the backyard. No better way to spend a Friday night than in a great place with good people! 20210827_210023.jpg
    And I mean dance party :rilla
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  7. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    I'll be taking a couple days off so you may not hear from me for a bit. Fear not, all is well. Rubber side down, everyone.
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  8. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    No. You must post at least once a day. Firm!
  9. Banditryder

    Banditryder What I used to ride.

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    So glad to have you back online and back in the saddle. Enjoy your break!
  10. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    August 31, 2021


    I spent the last few days unwinding and enjoying some great food with some great people but now I'm back on the road.


    I spent last night in Miramichi, staying with Janice and Perry. I stayed with them on the way through the first time and it was great to see them again.


    I left Miramichi this morning and headed inland. My course took me through the heart of New Brunswick along the 108 highway. Before actually hitting the 108 I had to do 20 odd kms on the 420, which is a hard packed sand road. It was fun to be able to put the fresh tread on my tires to use right away!


    I emerged from the woods near Plaster Rock and continued North towards Edmundston. The road followed the St. John river, which forms the border between New Brunswick and Maine. With the Americans keeping their border closed until the end of September it felt like such a tease to be able to peer across the river and over the border but not be able to cross it.
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    I took a short, accidental detour up near Mt. Cormier. More beautiful farmland in the valley leading up to it. 20210831_140514.jpg
    In short order I was over the provincial border and into Quebec, and shortly after that I was back down onto the beautiful St. Lawrence flood plain. I must have taken a lot of the rain with me when I came through the first time because things were very dry. There was even a small wildfire burning on the side of one of the rocky crags that forms the side of the valley. It looked to be mostly under control by the time I rolled by, but there was still a water bomber flying low overhead on its way to do another pass.
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    I love this road. The 132 making its way through the farmland.

    Tonight I'm staying at Camping de la Batture SEBKA, which is right next door to the Tête d'Allumette microbrasserie. I'm writing this while sitting on their patio and watching the sun dip down below the horizon. Another few hundred miles closer to home, and still lots more to go. 20210831_190836.jpg
  11. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    September 1, 2021


    I started the day down in the St Lawrence River Valley, surrounded by farmland and I'm ending the day in Cowansville, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians.


    The 132, which follows the St Lawrence River is such a beautiful road. I've said it already probably too many times, but I love that road. It has all kinds of gentle curves and little rises, and the whole time you can look out over the water on the one side and up at the cliffs on the other with the ripening crops in between.


    I headed inland just after passing Montmagny. After getting out of the floodplain you very quickly find yourself in hill country. Highways 216 and then 112 took me most of the way to Cowansville. Along the way the road is winding up and down the hillsides and through little one church towns, past orchards, and dairies.
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    I passed through this old covered bridge at one point. If you look along the open section you could see how much the suspended sections have sagged over the years. 20210901_133039.jpg
    There was a fragment of an old rope swing hanging from the bridge so I'm guessing this is a popular swimming hole for the local youths.

    It sounds a little bizarre but the area of Alberta that I grew up in has a lot of dairy farms, so when I ride by a dairy out here and smell the manure it reminds me of home. It can be especially pungent this time of year when the farmers are spreading manure on the fields as fertilizer. Not always a pleasant smell, but a heart-warmingly familiar one nonetheless...


    The hills here are pretty heavily forested, where the land isn't cleared for farming. Lots and lots of maple trees. When I rode through about a month ago everything was this brilliant, deep green. And now, things are still very much green but the hillsides have a ruddy hue to them. I can only imagine how brilliant the reds and yellows will be in a few short weeks.
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    I'm staying the night at Karen's house, who I also stayed with on the way through the first time. Karen ended up taking me over to her friend Brian's house for dinner. He has a beautiful spot right on the lake in Cowansville. They were kind enough to put together a feast of filet mignon with all the fixings, which we enjoyed on the deck while the sun was setting. Brian is also a motorcyclist and had some great stories of his time out on the road.
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    I've been spoiled rotten with sunsets lately. One of the benefits of the shortening days I suppose.
  12. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    There’s one thing I don’t ever recall seeing in Alberta and that’s a covered wooden bridge.
  13. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    September 2, 2021

    I took off from Cowansville this morning on a little loop that Brian had mapped out for me. I headed south east until just shy of the Vermont border, and then turned west again. Beautiful hills, forests, orchards, and even an eccentric millionaire's mansion.
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    This orchard must have gone pretty well right up to the border. So cool too see all the mountains in the distance, surrounded by the blue haze.
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    Same picture, but that's the tree I climbed to try get a better view for that first picture :lol2

    I followed the 202 right along the border, which is actually the same road I rode through when I was heading east. It passes by a Safari Park and I stopped in to see if they had a shuttle or something that I could take through the park, but unfortunately COVID shut all that kind of stuff down and I wasn't too keen on going through on my bike…

    I stopped for a quick bite to eat in Havelock and then rode pretty well straight through the rest of the way to Ottawa. I crossed the St Lawrence at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and then crossed the Ottawa River at Hawkesbury. I rode along the Quebec side of the Ottawa River on the 148, which is a gorgeous old two lane. With the new autoroute 50 built to connect Ottawa and Montreal, the 148 was basically empty.

    I crossed back to Ontario on the cable ferry at Thurso and then made my way back to JP's house, who I stayed with on the way east. 20210902_161630.jpg

    I spent some time chatting with his neighbor, Donny, and his wife ended up offering me some dinner! Thank you very much Donny and Natasha for the supper, it was excellent!

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  14. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    I grew up on a Midwestern dairy farm, and I generally avoid cities. Wondering about east-west routes further north. Eh.
  15. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    You could definitely take a more rural route than I did. The trade off becomes the city driving versus the additional time and distance. I'm not particularly fond of riding in unfamiliar cities either so avoided Montreal and the Toronto area. I think I'd enjoy exploring those areas more without worrying about my bike.
    B10Dave likes this.
  16. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    September 3, 2021


    Today's trek took me from Ottawa to the Coin Lake Campground in Algonquin Provincial Park.


    I stopped briefly in Pakenham at the stone arch bridge there. The plaque informed me that it is the only stone bridge in North America that has five stone arches. It failed to mention whether there are any with four or perhaps six, but it was impressive nonetheless.
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    You could also see the foundation of the old saw mill that used to be beside the bridge.

    Shortly after that I stopped for lunch at the Black Bird Cage which had a very interesting decor. It was set up to feel like an early 1900's apothecary, or something along those lines. It seemed likely that the building also dated from that time period because there was a noticeable slope to the floor. It was significant enough that I had to be extra conscious not to bump the table because when I did everything on it slid two or three inches to the left.


    The road I was riding to Algonquin is part of what's called the highlands loop, and there are oodles of little boutiques and restaurants along the way. It's also an area that's steeped in a lot of history so there are lots of old stone farmhouses and things along the way. All in all a very nice ride.
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    This was a historical marker talking about how many of the first settlers found this area to harsh to live in and ended up moving elsewhere. 20210903_143923.jpg 20210903_171205.jpg
    At the entry to Algonquin.

    After setting up my tent and sleeping things at Coon Lake, I went back out to the Lookout hike. It's a 2 km hike that climbs up to a west facing cliff edge. I was up to the top about an hour before sunset, so I made myself comfortable and waited for the light to fade. It was wonderful to sit up above the trees and listen to the birds in the trees below.


    I might have mentioned this before but loons have a special place in my heart. And as I was sitting there and the sun started to go down a loon started to call from one of the many lakes that dot the park. The call was echoing out across the park in a hauntingly beautiful way.
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    After the sun was down completely I made my way back to the campground. Shortly after I arrived my camping neighbors pulled in. Their names were Linda and Sherfield, and they were both school teachers from Toronto. They had a bit of trouble setting their tent up in the dark so I was able to help them out. They offered to let me join them for a fire and we had some great discussions about the meaning behind adventures and the state of the Canadian education system. Thank you both and thank you to Samuel L. Jackson the dog for the entertaining evening! 20210903_233433.jpg

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  17. twowings

    twowings Comfortably Numb... Supporter

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    It's unfortunate that so many have been schooled that 'history' belongs to the colonizers who 'tamed' the 'wildnerness' when functioning civilizations and societies had been in place for thousands of years prior.
    At any rate, the photography and descriptions have been fun to view. Enjoying the ride with you! :beer
  18. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    September 4, 2021


    Today's ride took me from Algonquin down to Barrie.

    When I first woke up at about 6:30 it was chilly! My phone claimed it was 5 degrees C and I believe it. That is just about the limit of my sleep system I think because I did wake up a couple times through the night. I ended up staying in my tent for a couple more hours until the sun had climbed a little higher.


    When I did get up there was a dense fog that was just starting to burn off. It made for a very cool scene to see the sunlight doing its best to make its way through the vapour. It took another couple hours before I was able to dry my things out and pack it all up.
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    The scene at the lake was particularly cool with all the fog.

    I took off and went back up the main road to the Beaver Pond trail. It's a 2 or 3 km loop that goes around two beaver ponds and up to a cliff face overlooking a small lake. I really miss my woods back home that also features some beaver ponds so I really enjoyed the walk. Algonquin trails all have interpretive guides to go along with them that are written by experts in whatever field that they focus on. The Lookout trail had a guide that focused on the geology of the park and the Beaver Pond trail focused on the ecology. Both of them are so well put together both information wise and I'm the quality of the prose!
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    This was a cool sign to see because I was actually part of the Calvinist Cadet Corps when I was in elementary school and junior high. It's basically the boot scouts but affiliated with the church. I didn't go to this particular camp but I had some friends that did. 20210904_112856.jpg

    After my hike I continued out the west end of the park and then turned south on highway 35. I stopped briefly for a very late breakfast at the Mill Pond and then continued on until I hit the 45, where I turned west again. The 45 somehow tuned into the 12, which brought me to the Old Barrie Road. The whole circuit for the day was made up of very good riding and there were tons of bikes out taking advantage of it.


    I went for another little walk through Scout Valley, and as I did some reason fell. Thankfully the beautiful maple canopy was able to protect me from getting wet at all. Although I did had a squirrel throwing acorns at me at one point… 20210904_171555.jpg
    One of the offending projectiles. Fortunately for me, my adversary lacked the spatial reasoning to land any direct hits.

    I stayed in Barrie with John and Brenda, who I had met in Nipigon on my way around Lake Superior. They were kind enough to feed me a home cooked meal and give me a couch to sleep on for which I am very grateful! They were also the couple that told me about the Bunk a Biker group, which totally changed my trip for the better, so thank you both so much!


    Tomorrow I'll be spending the day in Barrie and then on Monday I'll be heading to Tobermorry to catch the ferry to Manitoulin Island.
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  19. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    September 6, 2021


    I had a great day in Barrie yesterday spending the morning with John and Brenda and then the afternoon with a friend of mine that came up from Toronto.


    I took off from Barrie today just after noon. The goal was Tobermory so the route took me west out of Barrie and then up the middle of the Bruce Peninsula. With it being the last day of the long weekend there was pretty significant traffic in some places, but nothing too unmanageable.


    I got hit with a bit of rain near Owen Sound but otherwise the ride was fairly uneventful.


    I was told by John and Brenda that Barrie is now the most expensive place in the country when it comes to real estate. And it shows that there's some affluence in the area, especially up towards the peninsula in the Blue Mountains. I was passed by a number of Ferraris and Lamborghinis on my way through and some of the homes were very impressive.


    The landscape of the Bruce Peninsula is also very impressive. I hadn't actually realized that there was a National Park on the peninsula, but unfortunately I didn't have enough time before my ferry to stop much. One more thing to do on the next trip!


    At the ferry loading area I met Matt, Matt and Ken, who were from Virginia and had come up to do the Lake Huron Circle Tour. They had done a few trips as a trio both in North America and in Europe.


    I also met Joseph and Mary-Sue, who were from Regina. They were riding two up on a V-Star and had a beautiful little tent trailer that they were pulling behind them! It was a fantastic little compact unit that was made in Canada by a company out of Oosyoos, BC. They had double booked their accommodation on Manitoulin Island so they actually offered their second site to me! I hadn't sorted my accommodation yet so I was grateful to accept.


    The ferry ride was about two hours and by far the roughest of the ferries I have done so far. That was mildly concerning due to the fact that the tie downs provided were short lengths of rope… I am many things but a sailor isn't one of them, and my boy scout days are long enough behind me that I didn't have too much faith in my knot tying ability.
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    I explored the ship as much as I could and then sat down with Bill Bryson's book, Neither Here Nor There, which John had been kind enough to send with me. It's been fantastic so far and had me stifling laughter to avoid funny looks on the ferry.
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    Thankfully all the bikes had remained upright through the voyage. With only about a half hour of sunlight left it was a bit of a mad scramble to get out of there though.
    20210906_190230.jpg I ended up staying at the Providence Bay Tent and Trailer Park for the night.
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  20. thedopplereffect

    thedopplereffect Adventurer

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    Alberta, Canada
    September 7, 2021


    It was quite chilly overnight again. And unfortunately my air mattress has been feeling less than motivated about performing its duties so it woke me up in the middle of the night in order to get some encouragement. There was no sun in the morning either so I had to pack the tent up while it was still damp for the first time.
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    The Bay was calm. When I arrived last night it had some really nice waves crashing against the shoreline.

    It was also very humid. Campgrounds generally stock one ply toilet paper, which happens to dissolve in high humidity. I almost felt like I might have been better off wiping with the morning mist itself.


    So after a quick shower I was out on the road. Pretty quickly the deep contrast between this side of Lake Huron and the Bruce Peninsula became apparent. As I mentioned earlier, the peninsula had all kinds of fancy resorts, houses, and cars but Manitoulin Island is obviously a much less popular tourist area. Access from major population centers explains a lot of that disparity I think but it was still quite the contrast.
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    I rode by this mural in downtown Providence Bay and thought it was interesting.

    There was poor weather expected for nearly the whole day, so I didn't spend much time on the island. From what I could see on Google there are a few decent hikes but not tons and tons of tourists type activities.


    I made a quick stop in Espanola for lunch but other that I didn't stop much aside from for gas and a couple pictures.
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    Just north of Espanola. 20210907_151803.jpg
    Peak tourist season has come and gone and there were a lot of motels and restaurants on the side of the road that had closed down for the season.

    I'm spending the night at Joy's house, who I connected with through Bunk a Biker. She has a beautiful acreage on the 638, which is in itself a beautiful ride. It stormed hard already this evening and it made me glad not to be in my tent.
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    Highway 638 20210907_194256.jpg
    The view off of Joy's back deck. A little slice of paradise. There are two hummingbird feeders hanging behind where I'm standing to take this picture and they were very well used. While we were sitting outside the hummingbirds were constantly whizzing back and forth from the deck to the big white pine in the yard.

    The plan for tomorrow is to see how the weather shakes out and if it's not too bad I'm going to backtrack a little to take the 129 north from Thessalon, up to the 101 and then in the back way to Wawa. I was told on my way east that the 101 is a beautiful ride but it feels pretty risky because I know that section from Wawa to Sault Ste Marie is breathtaking. Hopefully it all pans out. It'll be nice not to be backtracking the whole way.

    September 8, 2021


    It was raining when I woke up this morning and it is forecast to rain all day so I'm taking a day off. Joy is totally fine with me taking a rest day here and then leaving tomorrow. It's supposed to be sunny and warm tomorrow so I'm planning to leave early and make my way to Marathon.