Going to the Dogs, chasing my tale through Labrador and Newfoundland

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MapMaster, Sep 28, 2014.

  1. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Much like the trip itself, I've struggled to get this ride report started because a title and a theme were both lacking.
    I would've loved to have come up with an absolutely brilliant title. One that would convey a sense of how fantastic this trip was.
    A title that would foreshadow how awesome the countryside I rode through was.
    A title that would proclaim how helpful, friendly, generous, and warm the people I met along the way were.
    A title that would also hint at the minor and major travails I (minor) and other riders (major) sufferred.
    A title that on its own, would earn the thread a 5 star rating.
    All in a dozen words or less.

    All my efforts along these lines have come to naught, mirroring much of the success I had with the three goals had I hoped to achieve setting out on this recently completed 38 day jaunt to the north. I had hoped to see an iceberg, aurora borealis, and whales. A whale, check. The others, goose-eggs.
    However, during the trip, my girlfriend Clare, who adores goggies, tasked me with getting pictures of the two titled breeds in their place of origin. Something gave me 'pause' and I suggested that she check to confirm whether or not Labradors came from Labrador. Turns out that they originated on Newfoundland as well, and were given the other place name to distinguish the two breeds. I'm happy to say I had better luck with her goals than mine. Looking through all of the pictures that I took, there are a great many canines (but alas, no Great Danes). So my muse has barked, time to start scratching.

    Edit - 12/15: When I wrote this, most of the individual posts were titled based on a song that came to mind during the days ride. Sometimes I would elaborate on the choice in the post's text. After ADV did a changeover this year to a different software platform, the individual post titles went away. So to anyone reading this now, those elaboration notes won't make much sense, but that's why they're there. At some point I hope to come back to this and edit further to include the Songs of the Day in the individual posts.

    Beau:
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    Nieves and Sebastien:
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    #1
  2. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    SOD (Song of the Day): "Beginnings" - Chicago Transit Authority

    * On most days of the trip, a specific song title or lyric came to mind in response to stimuli at some point. If I were a multi-media savvy kind of guy (something else I'm not likely to be mistaken for), I would hunt up a clip of the particular lyric and embed a link to it. But I'm not, so hit the play button on your mental Wurlitzer, or google up a u-tube clip if you're interested.

    T-minus 214 days and counting (Feb 8):
    "Congratulations" said Mike, my cross-cube-aisle co-worker. I had just concluded the details for purchasing a Trimph Tiger 800XC over the phone with a friend, also Mike, who also happens to be the general manager of Motohio, a Triumph, Duccati, BMW, & a few scooter brands dealership in Columbus. I was working away from home and had come into the on-site office on a Saturday to catch up on personal business. Phone conversations are not actively easedropped upon, but close proximity means that bits of any long conversation will always filter through, so Mike was the first to know that I had found a new mount for my long hoped for trip.
    I can't recall exactly when the intention to ride the Trans-Labrador Highway across the "Big Land" first formed, but it was within a few years after a 2-1/2 month, 20,000 mile y2k trip to Alaska.
    I bought a used KLR several years ago with the plan of using it for the ride, but a 3 day trip from Charleston, SC to home revealed that my right wrist was not at all compatible with a big single cylinder engine.
    I contemplated taking the ferry to NF as part of trips on my VFR in both '09 and '11, but the time budget wasn't generous enough to allow doing it right.
    Last year I made a trip to California (ride report link in the sig line) that forced me to realize that it was time to put the VFR into semi-retirement. The accumulated mileage meant that a major part failure was becoming more likely and the ready availability of replacement components was drying up. So something with long distance capability (for me) and on the lighter side of the equation was on the shopping list. Having ridden a Tiger 800 roadie (the non XC stablemate) a couple of years ago, I was comfortable with choosing the XC and conversations with Mike, the dealer, answered my outstanding questions. So I pulled the trigger, even though I wouldn't be able to pick up the bike until April. Triumph had a promotion going, free heated grips, larger windscreen, and a top box (that I will never use and have to get around to selling sometime) that was set to expire at the end of March, so I sent the check so they could process the sale before that expired.

    T-minus 127 days and counting (Mar 28):
    As it turned out, I was able to get home and get a ride out to Columbus to pick up the bike at the end of March.

    Here it is with the happy seller:
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    And with the pleased owner (it will never look so clean again):
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    The inaugural ride was slightly damp, cool, tentative given break-in rpm limitations, new tires, and lack of familiarity, and great!
    #2
  3. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Sorting out how to load up the new bike took more effort than I anticipated.
    I decided against using the Triumph hard bags that I bought because they were more weight than I wanted to carry, so I opted for the Ortlieb waterproof, soft, saddlebags that served me well on my trek to Alaska.
    Modification 1 was to create a bracket to keep the left bag off of the exhaust. The Triumph bag lower mounting arm provided a great anchor point for my Erector Set inspired solution:
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    Blacked out looks better, but I wasn't trying to put lipstick on a pig, I taped the metal straps to minimize wear/chafing on the bags:
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    I could use my trusty dry bag for camp gear, strapped to the rear seat.
    But I couldn't mimic the long polished packing routine of the VFR mainly because I couldn't use my 'go-to' tank bag. I've loved my MotoFizz bag because of its oversized map case on top and a mid section that held my netbook perfectly.
    Fortunately, the map compartment can be used solo. I opted for a tail-bag that I've used for short trips to make up for the lost tank bag space, but that begat its own set of issues. The drybag for the camp gear cut down the availble space to securely rest the tail bag on. So it was off to Lowes again. The extension created from some 3 sided aluminum channel stock bolted right to the top where provisions for mounting a top box provided easy anchor points.
    A couple of weekend camping runs served as shakedown runs.

    This was the launch configuration:
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    ...in 3 - 2 - 1
    #3
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  4. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    SOD: "Mexican Radio" - Wall of Voodoo
    (I passed by Mexico, PA)

    8/2/14 Home to Succasunna, NJ - 408 miles

    The first three days of the trip would be spent reaching the real start of the trip. The real start being when all the roads were new to me. Today's destination was the home of long time friend, fellow ex-nuc', former co-worker, riding partner, name-giver, and funniest ride commentator that I know; BrotherPat.
    Life too often gets in the way of maintaining frequent contact with good friends, so I touched base with him earlier in the week and upon confirming his availability, set my sights for Succasunna, NJ.

    Starting odometer:
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    In between starting and ending slab stints I managed some marvelous mountain macadam and linked a few county roads in the middle of PA that were new to me.
    At the first stop at an overlook along U.S. 30, a few other riders were taking in the sights. Getting the helmet off and extricating the ear plugs allowed time for the others to observe the loadout so, the first question proffered was, "How long have you been on the road?" "About 2 hours." :lol3

    At a refreshment stop at a gas station in the afternoon, just before jumping on I-80, I met two MA riders on mismatched BMW's (new R1150ish type and an '81 R100) who had just finished tanking up. Fred walked over, noted the home state plate, and said, "Maybe you can help us figure out were to go in the Pennsylvania Wilds region?" Pleading guilty to the accusation as I was getting out of the 'stich, I confessed my ADV identity and offered counsel. I think the words to his buddy Matt as he walked back to get his map were, 'We just struck gold!' :deal

    NJ overlook:
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    Got to Pat's in the early evening. Wings, beer, pizza and eye candy at the Barn and some great conversation made for an enjoyable night.
    #4
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  5. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    SOD: "Woodstock" - Joni Mitchell
    (Yeah, that Woodstock)

    8/3/14 Succasunna to Kingston, NY - 320 miles

    Noj was happy to keep the bed warm after I got up:
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    While there is some very nice riding to be had in NW NJ, I had a brunch date with future mission definer Clare in CT this morning, so another slab session started the day.
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    Being a pleasant morning, we ate outside which allowed me to observe the Tiger observers. Had a couple nice chats with guys curious about it.

    I had two days to get to the vicinity of Montreal and the weather forecast for tonight wasn't a promising one, so I had hit MsLizVT's tent space listing and contacted her before starting out yesterday. It turned out that she was going to be in Kingston, NY tonight at her friend Jeanie's place. They were both doing motocrew duties for a bicycle race out of Tannersville, NY in the Catskills today. Jeanie, via Liz, said come on over. I was early enough to loop around county roads finding the back way into Tannersville and met them at the parking area where the motocrew would debrief.
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    While waiting for things to wrap up, I gave a lost tourist directions to Cooperstown and another motocrew rider a route past Hudson.

    Talk about a bike rack!:
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    We were behind the Last Chance Shop:
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    I liked the carving:
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    We rode through Woodstock on the way to Jeanie's place where I met her Schnauzer Teah (taya) (there were a couple cats around too :D):
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    I think it was Liz who asked where my gps mount was. I quoted BrotherPat, "GPS stands for Greg Pointing System", he goes where I point.
    It was very interesting conversation over dinner and desert, running the gambit from Lifesavers holes to Higgins' boats. We might have talked about motorcycles a bit as well. :evil
    #5
  6. barbsironbutt

    barbsironbutt Bungee Rancher

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    :lurk
    #6
  7. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Hi Barb, :wave
    How's school and my camp gear provider of unfortunate choice?
    (He said he was back to normal, 'stiff and grumpy', :lol3 but I don't believe him.) :evil
    #7
  8. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    No SOD, the mental radio was broken

    8/4/14 Kingston to St. Julie, QC - 435 miles

    When the worst problem of the day is a brain cramp first thing in the morning that only costs a little bit of time, that's a good day's ride.
    About 10 minutes into the ride, the thought struck that a couple of maps might have been left behind. When I pulled over to check, I didn't see the cover I was expecting (cause some dumb idiot had refolded them :shog). So I got to pet Teah one more time.

    A Japanese Smoke Tree in the neighborhood caught my eye:
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    Breakfast a the Village Diner in Red Hook, one of my favorite road food spots, filled me for the day. A countryfied eggs Benedict was the special - poached eggs, Canadian bacon, and sausage gravy over biscuits. After my arteries loosened up a bit, I proceeded more or less northeasterly. Duchess County, NY never fails to reward me when I go hunting for the less direct option. County roads 56 and 50, with a dash of Columbia County 2 wiped out any residual mental ass-kicking over the morning start and the rest of the day through VT and into QC with a detour to NH was a very nice one.

    The brief jog into NH was to stop at the Fireside Inn in West Lebanon. Two motives: one to confirm my reservation for next month's return, and two was to get a picture for trolling purposes.
    For the past 14 years a small VFR based gathering has been staged out of this town the weekend after Labor Day. Its less than serious title is the "We Don't Give A Hoot" rally, spoofing on the now defunct Honda Hoot. The end point of the trip was based on attending this year's edition before heading home. As it turned out, a reminder was posted to the group list about it being the last day to book a room with the group rate. So I had a perfect response to post with the picture, "I'm here, where is everybody? Oh, wait, .... never mind."

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    Re-enforcing the botany lesson of the morning, another Japanese Smoke Tree was in it's glory - left side of pic.

    Tonight's aim point was St. Julie, QC and the home of a fellow VFR rider. John had made a trip to California in the spring of 2012 and I provided a lot of routing assistance. When I mentioned this trip to him at another small rally in WV this spring (COTU - Center of the Universe) an invite to visit and road recommendations were immediately offered. So after my diversion it was time for a direct back country ride to the border. Northern VT was in fine form, route 14 was a bit rough, but not to the point of disturbing the Tiger's prowling and the scenery impressed as always. Further north, 105 was very nice.
    (Road conditions in New England are subject to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principal, so don't make any planning decisions based on the assessments given here.)

    I like to use the small border crossings out of the desire to hit all of them eventually. Today's outpost of choice was between East Franklin and Frelighsburg and netted only a minor grilling.
    Made it to John's before dusk, met Christina and pooch Scoobydoo (sorry I was still learning that the smart phone is not all that great at capturing canine images). I enjoyed the first beer on the back deck before the heavens opened up and doused the outdoor cookout. Timing is everything.
    #8
  9. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    BOD: "Stranger in a Strange Land" Robert Heinlein
    (I'm sneaking a book title in on you)

    8/5/14 St. Julie to Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC - 345 miles

    Not counting a brief stint on the same slab I came in on last night, today was the first day of entirely new-to-me roads. I savored the novelty.
    Poked along south of the St Lawrence passing through a mix of variable sized towns and farm country. Waiting at a construction stop, I watched the mayhem of a MotoGP daycare recess. Several boys were on plastic motorcycle push toys, lapping the swing set and slides. One was buried in a turn by a hard charging competitor coming up on the inside. No quarter given. :evil

    The only minor fly in the ointment today was that heavy rain in the area led to the abandonment of the highly recommended Parc Mauricie loop. Guess I'll just have to come back. The rain began as I crossed the St Lawrence around lunchtime and cleared as I got north of the park area, leaving a long, scenic ride on 155 up to the Lac Sainte Jean region. It got warm and sunny and I struggled to stay alert for a while. Coffee or a Monster stop was desired, but it was a long time coming. Eventually I got caffeinated and continued pleasantly meandering around the north side of the lake.

    Yesterday's evening finish did not lead to any interactions with Quebec strangers, so today was my first attempt at apologizing for not speaking French, in French.
    Je suis désolé , je ne parle pas français
    I picked this phrase up from a comment posted to another TransLabHwy ride report (http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=984421).

    The initial utterances did not go well, but it got easier as the days passed and most people began to understand what I was trying to say. It did seem to make the interactions more pleasant then they were on a trip around the Gaspé Peninsula a few years ago. I think not so much because of the feeble attempt at their lingo, but from the implicit acknowledgement that I was the inferior one in this exchange. That or they were laughing too much to be in a bad mood.
    To me, the definition of an ugly tourist (of any nationality, American's do not have a monopoly on the concession) is one who expects, or assumes that anyone they meet should be able to speak their language.

    Approaching Dolbeau-Mitassini I realized that my timing was now off a bit.
    I was two days late for the blueberry festival in the area, but enough signage was left to permanently etch a new bit of Quebec-French** into my limited reading vocabulary, bluets (just don't ask me to pronounce it).
    I wasn't too late to check in at a tourist info center and located what turned out to be a great campground.

    Des Chutes indeed:
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    **Writing this, I discovered that in France-French, bleuts would be cornflowers rather than blueberries. :dunno I give up! :lol3
    #9
  10. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    8/6/14 Dolbeau-Mistassini to Sept-Ilse, QC - 441 miles.

    Mist over the falls, a beautiful day, good breakfast stop in Alma; it doesn't get much better.

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    The morning's route was 172 down the north side of the Saguenay Fjord:

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    But the water wasn't in sight very often, so I turned off the main road for a stop in St-Rose du Nord and was rewarded with some pretty nice views.

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    Wharf Dogs!:
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    The serene riding continued and aqueous views of the now Gulf of St. Lawrence unfolded regularly on the starboard side after I reached QC Route 138, aka the Jacques Cartier Hwy, aka Route des Baleines, aka Corset Stay Road.

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    Lots of bike traffic along the coast, predominantly Harleys, but a good number of Honda STs, and a lot of street ski-doos stood out.
    A short stop for gas in Baie-Comeau, and I checked in with Clare since I had good cell coverage there. For those of you thinking that I was about to be out of coverage for the next 365 miles to Labrador City, nay-nay. A left turn was not in the program.
    After all the effort to reach this neck of the woods, I wasn't going to start the haul north before checking out what lay to the east. Far to the east. Kegaska was the aim point for this segment.
    Progress in that direction was held up for a bit by a construction zone timed light that was counting down from 440 seconds when I pulled up behind one car. I have no idea how many vehicles were in the queue when we finally got the go light. It wasn't a heavily travelled road, but that was a lonnng stop. As the traffic sorted it self out behind me, a couple hard charging cars came to the fore and once those rabbits were running well ahead of me, it became a very spirited run over a moderately swervy and heavily heaved road. I had to rein in the cat when I noticed that my dry bag had shifted to the left far more than desirable.

    Just before reaching Sept-Iles, I had to stop to take some dam pictures:

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    Reaching Sept-Iles late in the evening, I stopped at the info center and discovered that they had camping right there. But only for VRs (sic) as the very cute girl with far better English than my French put it (the transposition makes sense). I couldn't talk her into letting me setup my tent in a far corner, but she did tell me about the free beach camping east of town. The only problem was that the skeeters were out in force as I tried to set up without letting any of them get into the tent. An effort that was not totally successful as evidenced by the four I killed when I woke up the next morning. No prizes for guessing where the blood in them came from.
    #10
  11. kag

    kag Wander Lust

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    I have to do this
    #11
  12. Emmbeedee

    Emmbeedee Procrastinators

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    I know this one - read it years ago. But the author's name is "Robert A. Heinlein".

    Interesting ride report!
    #12
  13. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Dayum, I phat phingered and I can't edit a post title. What's worse is that I did that after checking the spelling for the e-i or i-e sequences in his name. :doh
    Well spotted, I'll have to fire my editor.
    #13
  14. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    SOD: "Sweet Mademoiselle" - Styx
    (In honor of the cute girls manning the Info centers - must be a hiring requirement.)

    8/7/14 Sept-Iles to Kegaska and back to Harve Saint-Pierre - 394 miles

    After eliminating 18 billion future unborn mosquitoes, I got out of the tent and beheld the view that was too dark to enjoy last night:
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    The Neighbors - I hate overcrowded campgrounds ;)
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    The above tent was the abode of Norman and his wife (sorry, forgot that name), from Ottawa. They came by with their dog Zara. Last night Mrs. Camper had walked Zara by the tent as I was setting up and the dog gave me a good yip-yipping. I had a chance to make nice with her this morning and gave her a good skritch while chatting with her keepers.

    A beautiful start to the morning:
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    But that distant fog bank wasn't so distant after I stopped for breakfast in Riviere-au-Tonnerre, the afternoon was cloudy and the evening was drizzly.
    The sights were still very good:
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    I encountered English capable folks today at most every stop. The further east I went the more common this was. I read or was told that a lot of Newfoundlanders have migrated to this coast through history. I would hazard a guess that having more non-Quebec traffic is also an influence. During the previous days, riding around the Lake Saint Jean region, I only saw one non-Quebec license plate. After reaching the coast, it has not been such a rarity.

    As rugged as the countryside appeared, it's not a completely pristine environment, as evidenced by this sign I saw at a pullout:
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    Kegaska's welcome mat:
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    It's definitely the end of the main road:
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    That's not a sea-serpent under the "FIN" sign, people actually swim up here :vardy:
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    Of course I had to check out both directions from the "official" end.
    A left turn led to the airport and a sandy dirt road went beyond. While I got the Tiger to do the rough roads that this trip would entail, at 475 pounds it is most certainly not a dirt bike. So this was far enough for me:
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    Backtracking into 'town', I went out onto the pier.
    Here's an absolute end to the road (I'm not aware of any amphibious motorcycles):
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    I stopped at the store/restaurant in search of a souvenir patch, but had no luck with my quest, so it was time to start the return.
    The road out of town looked surprisingly similar to the way in:
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    Coming in to Kegaska, I didn't know how high the km markers would go, so I grabbed this shot on the way out:
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    Even if converted to miles, that's a long-ass road! :cromag

    Some pictures of the river that required the main bridging effort for this segment:
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    Now that I knew I wouldn't be by here again anytime soon, I had to get a pic of one of the large versions of the signs that I'd been seeing for the last 500 miles:
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    After that it was backtracking time. Tried to make it to Sept-Iles again, but the evening marched along faster than I could keep up, so I stopped in Harve-St-Pierre and found a gite (b&b) for the night.

    Coming in to safe harbor for the night:
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    When I got settled, I was too tired to go out for beer or food, so I settled for the last of my beef-jerky and peanuts. Not a bad dinner actually.
    #14
  15. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    SOD: "I Can't Drive 55" -Sammy Hagar

    8/8/14 Harve-Saint-Pierre to Manic 5 - 424 miles

    Rain was in the forecast, but that's where it stayed for the most part. A short stretch of wet road approaching Baie-Comeau was the only evidence of direct precipitation I saw today.
    However the indirect evidence was overwhelming. There are rivers galore and with the extended coast run, I pondered the different ways by which they end their existence in the sea.

    Some are resigned to their fate and gently flow into a shallow tidal basin and slip serenely into the salty realm of Neptune.

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    Some tumble down rocky ravines vainly resisting gravity's demand, dragging gravel and sand with it to its briny berth.

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    And others defiantly cling to their freshwateriness until finally making like Thelma & Louise, breaking up into ever smaller droplets and mists and by evaporation, cheating the ocean of the full measure due.

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    Went along the waterfront in Sept-Iles, viewing several of them:

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    And observed some of the second of the only two types of ships in the world - targets:

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    The first type are submarines (says the former MMC/SS knuckle-dragger :evil)


    I also noticed a street with the French spelling of my name:

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    Of course I had to make that turn. It was kind of old and cracked, but with a nice ess kink to shift you off vertical. (Any resemblance to the author is purely intentional.)

    A fun ride into Baie-Comeau was only a prelude to later merriment, and I took the waterfront route though there as well.

    Another target:
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    The street was too narrow to stop for a front shot of this statue of Robert McCormick. He was the owner of the Chicago Tribune and established a paper mill and associated dam to power it, bringing a lot of development to the town.

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    This marker, near the McCormick statue has me puzzled:

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    Translated it reads:
    "Here died Quebec democracy June 23 1982. Murdered by the government of the party Quebecois. History will judge."
    My research was inconclusive. Anybody?



    After the short sight-seeing excursion it was time to point north, but as soon as I started out on 389 I had to stop for this picture:

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    The next 22 km to Manic 2 were a fabulous frolic and the source of the Song-of-the-day.

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    I'm convinced that when Canada went metric and shifted from mph to kph, they saved money by only changing the units on the speed limit signs.

    Manic 2 momentarily muted my motions.

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    The road beyond opened up a bit and was rougher, but still kept a wide smile behind the visor. I took the side road to Manic 3, but a gate barred access before that dam view.

    I couldn't believe that there were no ADV or other stickers stuck on this sign:

    [​IMG]


    Made it to Manic 5 in the evening and after gassing up (at $1.60/l - OUCH - it would get worse before it got better), a couple of southbound KTMs pulled in. I forget what model, but the plastic molding on top of these side cases were pieces to a truck that the rider discovered and needed for his own similar vehicle.

    [​IMG]

    They were pushing on, I got a couple of beers and headed up the hill to a dam overlook for the night.

    [​IMG]

    Post trip, WIki reading revealed that Manic Cinq is the name of the generating station and what you're seeing in these pictures is the "Daniel-Johnson Dam, formerly known as Manic Cinq." I got news for them, it's still known by the latter.

    Figuring that others may come up in the evening/night to have a fire at the overlook itself, I set up camp down in the parking area. Lubed the chain, aired down the tires for tomorrow's dirty doings, and was enjoying the view when a couple dam workers arrived.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Paul and Daniel drove up with a load of wood from a burned out house. It was a good evening chatting with them, they offered me a beer (my two were already gone) and we got a fire going. They were just coming up for a couple of hours to enjoy the view. Paul's a surveyor and Daniel's a driller (of rock/concrete for dynomite or anchor bolts). Both were from Quebec, Paul spoke very good English and I got a couple more French lessons while watching the night settle in.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It was getting chilly, so I went back to the tent to get a sweater, Paul said to bring back some girls. As it so happened.... (dayum I'm good!)
    A mini-van pulled into the parking lot and three girls got out. I was already on the path back to the overlook and I didn't want to creep them out by waiting in the dark for their approach, so I just went back up to the fire and said "Mission accomplished." I wish I could have seen his face as he then heard the girls coming up chatting in French, the rest was up to him.
    He never did go over to them while they were at the railing. Daniel did when they were taking pictures and offered to take one of all three of them together. They chatted briefly and then left. I was dashed, the makings of an epic tale lay in the ashes of the fire. Called his bluff I guess, I'm never going to go through all that karmic effort again. ;)
    #15
    nk14zp likes this.
  16. Emmbeedee

    Emmbeedee Procrastinators

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    11,388
    Location:
    Near Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Probably this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meech_Lake_Accord
    #16
  17. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,766
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    But the Meech Lake 'conference' was later in time and from other reading I've done, the Accord was scuttled anyway. A revision(amendment?) to the Canadian Constitution that the Meech Lake Accord was supposed to achieve seems to be dated for June 23, 1982, but I'm confused as to whether or not it's ever been properly ratified.

    Regardless of that, I can't tell if the marker is a protest against Quebec efforts at separation, or a protest against the Quebec government for not insisting on separation. As I said, puzzling.

    Nice to know that the U.S. doesn't hold a monopoly on convoluted, confused, constitutional politics.
    #17
  18. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,766
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    SOD: "Over the Rainbow" - Arlen & Harburgh, The Wizard of Oz
    (Prompted by the dirt road sections, 'We're not in Kansas anymore Toto')

    8/9/14 - Manic 5 to Hermine CG, 25 miles E of Lab City - 263 miles


    My journal notes were pretty extensive for the day, so further embellishment (other than the pictures that is) is pretty much limited to minor edits and some post ride research comments.

    Woke at 5 when a car pulled in to catch the sunrise I assume. Went back to sleep and hit snooze a bit, so up at 6:36
    [​IMG]

    Rolling at 7:40, down to the gas station/gift shop/camp store/motel/restaurant. Coffee and a double chocolate oatmeal based cookie for breakfast.

    [​IMG]

    Met Jim Fox, driving an Explorer SUV towing a big RV with Colorado plates. He was after info about gas stops - only gets 200 miles a tank pulling the RV!
    He pulled out well before me. Passed the pulled over RV much later, no one in sight. I hope he stopped at Relais-Gabriel, but even if he hadn't, he was only about 160 miles from Manic 5, so I doubt he was out of gas (unless he had severely misjudged his range).
    Headed out and stopped for some dam pictures at a few places before finally rolling properly:

    A dam big arch:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    The road ahead:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    A dam big buttress:
    [​IMG]

    Top of the Dam:
    [​IMG]

    South Side:
    [​IMG]

    North Side:
    [​IMG]

    Dry and dusty - much better than wet and slippery:
    [​IMG]

    Put the dust mask to use:
    [​IMG]

    Ended up bleeding on the bridge of the nose slightly. Also developing a blister on the right palm below the ring finger. All worth it! Riding on the gravel/rock/dirt was demanding and the bike was lively underneath, but I see the attraction that long time dirty riders talk about. I still want a road - I don't bounce well anymore, but having the tires dancing around is a whole new world (hence the Oz song choice for the day)
    60 miles to Relais-Gabriel. 51st parrallel sign. No stickers on it - same as the 50th one yesterday, but that one was out of reach. All the FFs in the asylum are falling asleep.
    [​IMG]

    Three mile section of pavement right in the middle of the dirt stretch from Manic 5 to RG. Why there? Test section is what was said later, but still, why there?
    [​IMG]

    Construction zone being fed by dump trucks hauling fill from only a few miles south. At another traffic light controlled zone along the way a truck with a load came up behind me and honked as I started on the single lane. I waved and pointed forward to indicate that I would be pulling off once beyond that zone. Let him pass (don't want a large load riding my ass), but the bastard ended up being far slower than me. I ate dust for a couple of miles, but he dropped his load as I waited at that light and waved to me as he started back. Learned my lesson, I only pulled over for anyone who gained on me from behind when I was at pace.
    At R-G, I met Bob Ray on an NT700. His was travelling with Mike on a Wing (Mike was inside at the moment):
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    They had made it as far as Labrador City and Mike decided he didn't want to face the TLH with the Wing, so they were going back (wise man to recognize his limitations and Bob was a great supporting wing man). I noted that Bob had an Iron Butt "Rally" (not Rider) plate holder and I knew what that meant.

    [​IMG]

    He had done it three times, the last time on a scooter in 2001. He's a big guy to be doing the Rally on a scooter. His only knock on the NT was that he was too tall for it. Loved getting 60mpg from it.
    We went in, I met Mike, had coffee and pie (don't really know what kind, looked like a shoo-fly base) didn't want to spend $14 for a breakfast at this point. The coffee and pie rang up at $6.45. Understood for being on the backside of nowhere, but it's still steep. Gas was $1.70/L!
    Bob mentioned that there was still more gravel ahead. Just ahead is how it sounded, 100 miles ahead was the actuality.
    Neither of them had done the TLH, so I couldn't get a comparison of it to what I had just done.
    They were gearing up to head out when a group of 4 riders on KLRs and KTMs pulled in to the pumps. Bob joked, "anyone can ride this road with those bikes."
    Those guys were also heading southbound. QCers but enough English that we could describe our routes.

    The one with tanker duties for the group:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    They had never been south before, so again no comparison possible. I guess I'll just have to ride it to find out.

    Tall sights:
    [​IMG]

    Wet Sights:
    [​IMG]

    Went through the 'Ancienne' Site of Gagnon:
    [​IMG]

    I got a chuckle out of this sign. The mind interpreted it as 'ancient'.
    For something that probably lasted only 20 years and was cleared recently doesn't exactly make it 'ancient' in my book. Lots of TLH ride reports talk about it. I don't see what the fuss is about. A town that was there for a short time was depopulated and they pulled all the buildings down (there weren't that many to start with).
    A Wiki search later revealed that it existed from 1957 to 1985 - 28 years, so it was born after I was and died young. If they call that ancient, I'd hate to think how I could be described. :eek1

    "L'Ancienne" actually means 'former' but that knowledge was acquired too late, my slant was already tilted. :evil

    The 42 miles of gravel from Fire Lake to Mont Wright was more demanding then Manic 5 to R-G. Twistier, more uneven, narrower, totally absorbing.
    Lots of pictures today. Mountains, the road, mines, railroads, lakes, rivers. It's all good! eh ;)

    Time to yield the right of way:
    [​IMG]

    A long time:
    [​IMG]

    A really long time:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    Into Lab City, another Province checked off the list:
    [​IMG]

    Gassed, found air, ate at a McD's and caught up on email and the journal.
    $12.45 for a chicken wrap with the buffalo chicken poutine upgrade on the fries.
    Coffee and chocolate chip cookies for dessert later after most of this update was done.
    7:30 local time now - time zone change at the border. Will head to the campsite east of town a bit and call it a day.
    Another good one.

    [​IMG]

    A the camp ground Cavil, the proprietress, finally appeared. "We are completely full, I don't know where I could put you." "How about that field down there next to the picnic table?" Done deal, $15 for the camping, $4 more for the shower.

    Toby, Holly, Megan (3), and Tiara (white poodle) walked by as I was setting up. Toby had a Canadian in his hand. I said that that was a sore distraction and he pulled another out his pocket and gave it to me! :clap:clap:clap
    On their way back they invited me down to their site - a permanently moored RV. I finished my chain adjustment and lube, went and got a shower, washed sox and undies, and then went down and chatted a bit. Nice folks. Late 30s. Holly was checking news on her phone (if held in just the right spot they could get a signal, and told us about a fatality on the TLH that day. The driver was from Mary's Harbor which is where Toby was from. News didn't have a name but reported the age of the victim as 34. Toby's 37, so chances are he knows the fellow. Passenger was badly injured as well, both thrown from the vehicle. I later learned that the passenger had died as well. More about this later.

    Larry and Todd from Ontario were setting up tents from their minivan when I got back to mine.
    Told them not to be unduly worried if it sounded like a bear was snarling in the vicinity during the night.
    Next morning, Todd said that Larry won the snoring contest. He didn't hear anything from me.
    #18
  19. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,766
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    SOD: "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" - AC/DC
    (Emphasis on the dirt)

    8/10/14 - Hermine CG to Paradise River Rest Area (TLH 510/516 Junction) 498 miles

    A high mileage day, facilitated by the fact that I had to hit the road early and ride for about two hours just to reach the first coffee dose.
    While breaking down camp Todd offered some oatmeal mix (his mix, not a store bought thing), but he failed to make it sound particularly appetizing. He said that his kids thought it tasted terrible and that his wife didn't like the smell of it. I was definitely convinced to seek my breakfast down the road, however long that may be.

    A long way from camp:
    [​IMG]

    Still a long way to coffee:
    [​IMG]

    Highest perch in the area:
    [​IMG]

    Churchill Falls was where that first caffeine hit was obtained. The girl at the gas station responded to my question about a place to get a good breakfast by saying that it depended on who was working. So I opted for their coffee and a packaged cinnamon roll.

    CF may be a substantial community, but there was absolutely no signage for any points of interest. The rapids leading to the falls are an impressive boulder garden. I thought that it would be quite impressive during spring run-off, but I guess that doesn't happen. I didn't realize the size of the falls until googling it later, but that also revealed that the flow is entirely diverted to the hydro power station, which is underground.

    White water rafting no more:
    [​IMG]

    A 60 km stretch of rough gravel greeted me just east of CF as I headed for Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The word was that paving was supposed to start in the coming week.

    At an overlook several miles west of HVGB, a fellow on an HD stopped as well. It was his turn around point for a short ride that day. He never stopped talking, but filled me in on what I was seeing, dust in the distance was for the Muskrat Falls hydro project which is well underway. This explained the large clear cut swath of land that had mainly paralleled the road since CF. While most of the power is intended for NF and Nova Scoatia with follow-on transmission to NB and the states, a chunk of it was going to be sent west to the mines in Lab City. Lots of industry at far removes from the source.

    Transmission line path, future home to more high aeries:
    [​IMG]

    Muskrat Falls dust in the distance:
    [​IMG]

    Overlook valley view:
    [​IMG]

    Hit the visitor's center in HVGB around 3:30 local, got a current map, quick wifi check and then proceeded to source a gas carrier.
    The Ultramar station had one gallon bottles of wiper fluid that would be perfect. Told the clerk what I needed and said that I would buy a bottle (5.50+), but that I had no use for the fluid. Another guy working there said he could put it in his truck, but the head man said he would buy it for the station's squeegee water (took me a moment to figure that one out) and then give me the container. SCORE!

    I gassed up the bottle and the bike, then headed through to the GB side of things and stopped at a Tim Horton's for dinner (turkey/bacon combo, lemon poppy seed muffin, coffee and two chocolate chip cookies - good for the rest of the day). Further stop at another gas station for a Monster for down the road and a couple sleeves of peanuts. Pricey! (8 something, peanuts were 1.50 each, damn Monster is expensive around here).

    A quick 'effing cannon' photo stop for a T38 commemorating a SAC base and I was finally on my way for the big dirt run it was around 5:00 now.

    Left:
    [​IMG]

    Right:
    [​IMG]

    The next services 405 km down the road. The night's destination was 300 km away.

    510 starts:
    [​IMG]

    You've been warned!
    [​IMG]

    I'm ready, 'TPC - Trip Packing Configuration - #2':
    [​IMG]

    DUSTY!
    Lots of truck traffic for the Muskrat Falls project, but once I cleared that (within 30 miles I'd guess) things were much better on the dust and traffic front.

    [​IMG]


    Stopped at a pullover about 60 miles out to put the gas from the bottle into the tank where it belonged and for the Monster break, another eastbound p/u stopped as well and then a westbound working p/u stopped in case we were having any trouble.
    He said the accident scene that I had heard about yesterday, was another 20 klicks down the road. I asked if he would take care of my now empty monster can and he said to put it in the bed of the truck. He then offered me a replacement and so did the first stoppee guy. A favored beverage indeed and I was now well supplied (a red one that I hadn't tried and my usual green flavor).

    20 klicks turned out to be 30 miles, but the smashed p/u was still there as well as a RCMP officer and another guy assessing the damage. I asked if I could take pictures and was given the go ahead. The cab looked largely intact. Seatbelts probably would've saved the life. So sad.

    [​IMG]

    Rammed Dodge:
    [​IMG]


    Chatted with the officer a bit and he told me to stop at Trapper John's in St. John's and tell them I was a first time visitor to the island. He didn't know about kissing a cod, but said that a puffin's arse might be in the mix.
    Gravel observations - very smooth for the most part, the work p/u driver said that it was good road to the Cartwright junction, but much rougher after that. Graders and weather will change those conditions in a heartbeat, but that held up well enough, he was just off a bit as the stretch from about 50 miles north of the junction for the next 25 miles was a lot rougher than the rest of the evening's trek.

    Sometimes the gravel is red, sometimes gray. I have formed no definite preference as of yet.
    Washboard was visible in many places, but it has far less impact on the Tiger than the VFR would feel from similar conditions. The larger front wheel and greater suspension travel can take the credit. I haven't seen anything yet that the VFR couldn't handle, but it certainly would not have been fun, would have taken much longer, and been a bit dicer in the loose stuff.

    Where I'd been:
    [​IMG]

    Where I was going:
    [​IMG]

    The final hour or two to the Cartwright Junction was in the dark and things cooled off fast once the sun went down.

    Fading Light:
    [​IMG]

    I camped at the rest area next to the Paradise River which had a nice informative sign about the area. The bridge crossing the river gave off periodic CLANGS! as it contracted from the day's heat. It sounded like a truck hitting the crossing, but there was no approaching hum. Startled the shit out of me the first time it happened.
    #19
  20. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,766
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    SOD: "Sandman" - America
    ('Ain't if foggy outside')

    8/11/14 - Cartwright Junction Rest Area to the Cartwright Junction Highway Maintenance Depot Resort and Spa* - 125 miles, but finished only 2 miles from the starting point.

    *Not listed in any guide books, but I highly recommend it.

    A new personal record for furthest miles travelled for least total displacement. One that I would have rather not set in the manner with which it was achieved.

    Up early again, but still an hour later than local, I haven't shifted the internal clock yet and the late finish last night didn't help.
    The red Monster served as a morning caffeine fix - not a new favorite, but drinkable enough.
    Got bitched at by three pine squirrels as I broke camp.

    The bridge that kept going BANG in the night:
    [​IMG]

    I was long overdue for a laundry stop, so the plan was to visit Cartwright on what is now a spur road, Route 516 (google lies and calls it 530), come back to 510 and head south with the goal of finding a b&b or motel with washing facilities for the night.

    A river weir near the community of Paradise River:
    [​IMG]

    Several TLH ride reports have commented quite negatively on the graders used to maintain the road. This morning was my first experience with the process and it was a positive one. The basic process requires at least three passes (more on wider sections of road). The first pass scrapes one side, creating a ridge of loose gravel/dirt/stone in the center of the road. Not something you want to ride over without slowing down and squaring up to as much as possible, but when set up properly for it, no problems. The second pass scrapes the other side with the first ridge being overlapped, creating a larger ridge. The remaining pass(es) spread the ridge of loose material back over the entire road, creating the loose marble effect many have commented on. The marbles stage never bothered me much, all credit to the bike and tire combination I had. When riding on freshly scraped sections, it felt as good as pavement.
    Though a caveat to this, other reports have recounted experiencing severe pucker moments, likely caused by an existing hole being only loosely filled in. ymmv :deal

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Beautiful day:
    [​IMG]

    Civilization nears:
    [​IMG]

    Cartwright is a dreary ...town (to use the term very loosely) situated on a beautiful looking bay. It was foggy when I arrived and looking out over the glass smooth water, there was no discernible transition from the water to the air.

    A very still life:
    [​IMG]

    The sole dining establishment was closed, the two stores in town had nothing appealing to offer, the bakery in the one was generating some great aroma, nothing was out of the oven yet though. I was forming a very unflattering impression of the place. But I stopped at the Mealy Mountain Gallery and had a very pleasant conversation with Pete, the female owner/artist in residence. She was an Innu and very informative about the native peoples in the region.

    I can't easily summarize the history of the Innu, Inuit, and Beothuk, nor will I even attempt to cover the topic of the current Innu and Inuit culture, but I did find it fascinating. I learned more about the cultures as the travels unfolded and I gained further knowledge from a history of the Newfoundland and Labrador that I picked up and just finished. "As Near to Heavan by Sea" by Kevin Major. I recommend it.

    Pete also told me of a museum north of HV on a short spur that I will check out on the return if time permits. Very nice work on display. Alas for her, but good for my wallet, I saw nothing that I had to take ownership of.

    [​IMG]

    Coming out of the gallery, the fog had lifted:
    [​IMG]

    Leaving Cartwright, I gassed up at the only station in town and it took 15.6 liters, so I would have made it without carrying the extra gas, but I would have been sweating bullets the whole way.
    Peter was the man on the spot at the station, they didn't sell coffee, but he fixed me up with a cup from his personal machine. The first of many kindnesses that would be extended today.
    I had a Sara Lee orange muffin that was quite tasty to go with the java.

    This small little shop had a most eclectic collection of stock. M/C batteries - both AGM and conventional, and a bearing selection that looks like it would cover most wheels.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    But he did not have any larger sized inner tube patches, a fact that it was my misfortune to discover by satellite phone from 34 miles down the road. The one souvenir I did pick up was a bent rusty nail that tore about a two inch crooked rip into my rear tube. Crap.

    Feeling a decidedly mushy wobble from the road that wasn't there heading in to Cartwright, I pulled over, observed the flat bottom on the rear tire, unloaded the bike, found the nail, extracted it, and then removed wheel (very easy to do considering - the VFR removal is easier, but would have taken longer to wait for the muffler to cool).

    I will now detour from the current accounting and dial the wayback machine to the weekend before this adventure began. I had two new inner tubes originally destined to be on board spares and two new tires to mount. The Tiger has spoked wheels, but the rear wheel rim is designed for tubeless tires. I changed the tires myself and in the process learned a few things that now loomed with great significance.
    I learned that breaking the bead of the rear tire was not something I could accomplish with just some tire irons (the front was no probelmo, I just stepped on the sidewall and the bead popped). I also learned not to lever a tire iron past vertical when prying the new tire on if pinch flats were to be avoided. This lesson necessitated putting the spare rear tube into service at the start of the trip. I intended to patch the now leaky tube and take it with me as a emergency standby, but didn't get around to it. Given the difficulty with breaking the bead, I figured that if I got a flat in the rear, I would have to get to a shop anyway, so when time ran out, I just went with a patch kit and left the tubes at home.

    Back to the present timeline, I discovered that rolling down the road with a flat loosened things up enough that I could break the bead without much trouble. :clap This might not be too bad.
    I pulled out the portion of tube around the nail hole, and found nothing but virgin rubber. :scratch
    Pulled out more of the tube and finally found the 'hole'. 'Houston, we have a problem." Nail at 2230, tube tear was at 1900, the tube didn't move, so the tire must have spun a bit. This surprised me, but I'm sure this contributed to the ease of the bead breaking task. This may also have contributed to the fact that I did not find a simple little hole. It was about a 2 inch ragged tear. :uhoh
    The patch kit I had did not have anything big enough to cover that gash.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Yard Sale:
    [​IMG]

    One vehicle stopped while I was still working on freeing the tube, having broken the bead, I was still optimistic about taking care of it there and he went on his way.
    Shortly the roadside repair hopes were dashed, Robert and Alex(?) stopped. Two young guys doing field work for permafrost research and they had a satellite phone. A receipt from the CW gas station had Peter's phone number, which allowed us to determine his lack of tube patches and we also exhausted the other possibilities in CW. We did get the number for P&K Sports in Port Hope Simpson and contacted Tom there. He said that he had a car tube that should be suitable because they had used one in another m/c in past. So with that the closest possible solution, I loaded the wheel with tire (still on with one bead in the channel, tube (in case patching became necessary/viable) suit and helmet (didn't want to leave them exposed to the elements) and map case with laptop/wallet and cell phone in case I got coverage and had time to kill; into the capped extended pickup (an essential and common vehicle around here) and they drove me to Cartwright junction. They were headed north, but dropped me at the maintenance depot about a kilometer south of the junction. The crucial fact they told me was that this was a wifi hotspot. I was soon able to catch a ride with Ernest, Norma and son Maurice for the ride to Port Hope. Maurice had earbuds in the whole time, but I had a good conversation with Ernest and Norma while being terrified by Ernest's driving. Too ironic to contemplate that if a crash came, this was the most unforeseen scenario.

    At P&K I met Rocky, an old dog with the run of the place, and had a ham sandwich and Pepsi while waiting for Tom to get free from a truck they were working on.
    He pulled out a car tube that had worked for the other m/c, but the valve wouldn't fit though my rim. I wasn't ready to start drilling just yet, so they found a larger patch. Pete (popular name in these parts) helped me patch and install, there was still a leak and a second look revealed two pin holes below the major tear that I missed the first time around. Another patch and successful levering of bead and this time it was holding air, but had a small leak somewhere. Figured I could get by with it stopping every 30 minutes or so to pump it up again.
    It was now late afternoon, but I soon caught a ride back with Lawrence and Margerie, very nice folks, very religious as well, but not obnoxiously so.
    They told me about a NF dish that I should try if the opportunity arises - a Jigs dinner.
    They dropped me back at the junction and I hoped someone running to CW would be by soon. As it dawned on me that I hadn't seen anything southbound in quite some time, and nobody had passed Lawrence's slow pace the whole way up, I was wondering how long of a wait this could turn out to be. I put my suit on to stave off the evening bug buildup (the DEET had worn off). I was about to put the helmet on for the same purpose when Lawrence and Margie came back into sight. They decided they couldn't leave me there and drove me to my bike. I got there with just enough daylight to get the wheel mounted and gear loaded.
    Starting out easy, I hoped to get back to the junction rest area I had camped at last night. 5 miles down the road that plan had to change. The patch failed. After assessing the tire and seeing that it was still very well centered, I decided to limp very slowly back the junction maintenance depot. I moseyed along with low revs, low speed, and no ear plugs so that I would hear it if the wheel started making contact with the road.
    A falling star flashed and a beautiful moon was out, so the 18 mph putt to the depot passed with some pleasant diversions.

    When I got to the depot (around 11ish?) lights were on in the bunk house and several guys were up inside. Wallace, the usual night shift inhabitant was in company with an overnighting road crew that was doing guardrails in the area.
    After outlining my plight, an okay to pitch my tent next to the building was readily given. It had been quite a long day, so I turned down an offer for some rum and beer, but readily accepted the offer of a cup of coffee.
    After chatting with them for a bit, I booted up the computer and got on line to get the number for Frenchies, a m/c place in GB, and also put out a post for information help to the RidetheRock m/c forum before finally going to bed.
    #20