Hotter than Hell: 12 Days across Newfoundland and Labrador

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RG1984, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Everyone has a fight plan until they get punched in the mouth.

    Here's where I planned (click for link)-
    And here's where I get punched in the mouth.

    After some discussion with another rider on this forum, I decided to leave a day early so I could meet up with him and another rider and go across the TLH with them. I never saw them once.

    Rather than leaving on July 21, I moved everything up one day and left the 20th. I spent the 19th putting the finishing touches on my bike, then took everything off and put back 3 times so I felt confident everything was where I wanted it to be and that it was secured to the bike. I never had a problem the whole ride with how my gear was secured. I wouldn't change a thing about that.

    Taking the bike off the center stand and backing it out of the garage it started to lean hard towards me and I braced the bike against my arm and shoulder, taking the right hand side mirror out of alignment. Struggle and heart pounding, I kept the bike from going down, but it was a good reminder before I even turned it on that I should be cautious through the journey.

    The machine shuddered to life in typical GS fashion and giving it one more mental look over, took off up the road and onto my adventure.

    My first destination would be Glover, Vermont where and old friend of mine has a lake house.
    Instead of riding the highway straight there I took a series of roads through Connecticut to get me to Route 7. On my way up this path I came across 3 guys on adventure touring bikes- 2 GS's and a big KTM. I gave a wave as I passed them and felt I should turn back, something about their body language didn't look right. A brief conversation later it was clear they were lost. The guys were looking for Route 8 which they were going to take up into New Hampshire. They were about half a state away. Connecticut isn't that big, but half a state is still way more of a state than they wanted to be off their route. I pulled up my map and they got a plan together to traverse across Massachusetts to link up with the road they wanted.

    I bid them farewell and continued on up Route 7 through Massachusetts myself and into Vermont. I took a few smaller roads and got over to VT-100, the Green Mountain Byway. It was nice but overly warm. It was near 90 degrees the whole day. While it was warmer than I wanted it to be, it was sunny and not raining, so I considered myself lucky and pushed on.

    The whole path was green, and I made a mental note that I would love to take this trip again with my fiance in the fall. The only difference is that by the time the leaves change color she'll be my wife.

    My thought was I would continue on up VT-100 taking my time until my friend Tom contacted me asking me where I was, then I'd find the highway and get to his place making time. Somewhere around 2 pm when I was filling up the tank at a gas station I saw a text from him asking my ETA. I punched in his address on my gps and set it for fastest time. I'd be there in 2 hours I told him. 90 minutes later I was in his driveway.

    Getting off the bike he and his son marveled at all the stuff I had strapped down to the r1200. They both particularly liked the tires, I went with Metlzer's Karoo 3- which performed great the whole trip and have much more tread left on them than I was expecting.

    Tom greeted me with a bottle of beer and asked me if I wanted to head out to a brewery, saying that if we wanted to get there we should leave shortly. He took me to Hill Farmstead Brewery, and on the way was explaining that they had twice won, by some organization, been selected best beer in the world. I laughed to him and asked how in the hell they could know claim a beer to be the best in the world. We went in and each had a pint of what they had. I'll be honest- it might actually be the best beer I ever had, no kidding.

    We went back to the house and took his boat out on the lake, then got a fire going and had a few too many beers and washed them down with hamburgers. I drifted to sleep with a history podcast playing through my headphones.
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  2. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    6540E3CD-81A0-47F4-8B2F-C1FA562FAB89.jpeg 52507593-FB23-400D-ACA7-AC8B43939C18.jpeg 9013E5D6-3AD2-4F1C-BEA1-1408B2ABA296.jpeg
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  3. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Day 2-

    I woke in the morning with no rush. I took a shower and skipped breakfast as I had brought plenty of food for the trip and don't typically have much of a breakfast.
    I made sure the bike was packed the way I wanted and headed off towards the highway with a stop to fuel up. I filled the bike's tank and while I could have and maybe should have waited until later to fill my fuel bottles I decided to do it now because I like the extra fuel for my mind's sake.
    The highway to the border was crisp and cool, but it wouldn't be for long. The temps rose quickly and would park themselves somewhere in the upper 80's and low 90's depending on where I was.
    Crossing the border was easy. Just questions, no inspection. I was asked if I was bringing any weapons, which gave me half a second for pause because I had a hatchet and buck knife plus a bottle of bear spray. But I did not have a firearm so I answered "No, weapons," but clarified that I had a "camping hatchet and knife." That was no problem. The bear spray was almost a point of concern it seemed as "mace" was not allowed in Canada. I offered to display it as it indeed was specific for bears, but my offer was declined.
    I was on my way.
    I spotted some non divided highway routes to take, and after a while pulled over to a Tim's to get some tea and stop at an ATM for some Canadian cash.
    Here's a big mistake I made- I switched on my GPS and let it direct me onto a highway. I should have kept going the side route, because not before long the highway turned into a parking lot and I spent the next 3 hours in start and stop conditions. Had I stuck to my initial plan it looked like maybe a 45 minute- hour long stretch.
    When the opportunity finally presented itself, I got off the highway, fueled up again and got something to eat. I was going to just grab something from a Subway, but the line was moronically long so I grabbed something from the gas station. I was hungry and it tasted great- a chicken salad wrap. I hooked my phone onto the wifi as I sat outside and was able to find an escape route to the water and off the highway.
    When I got to the costal area (on Route 132) I was all sorts of relieved and mad. The views were incredible, the weather was breezy and cool and I had just spent 3 fucking hours miserable going no where on the highway. Got to the bridge across to Quebec City and took no time at all getting to 138 which I'd be on for some time.
    There were an unbelievable number of motorcycles, slingshots, and Can-Am Spyders all over the road. It really was a sight to see. The weather was cooperating but it was just wickedly hot.
    I took the ferry across Riviere Saguenay and snapped some pictures. After that I was on a mission to get to Baie Comeau. I opened the throttle and made it to the turn off for 389. I should have pulled off somewhere and camped on the side of the road, but I opted to stay at the Manic 2 Campground. I paid whatever it cost in cash and got a campsite that looked fine, but there was a fire ban, so no campfire. I was able to get my canister stove going and made up some tea, then a chicken and rice combo. I took a shower and filled up my water containers and turned in for the night. I was mostly restless and didn't sleep too well, but I was more than content with the distance I had travelled.
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  4. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    52DD24A8-0E8F-4010-AD38-644A89D1FDBF.jpeg 8A3A28F8-6E12-40C6-BF8C-4F1C32090543.jpeg 83C708AA-ED7E-4EC7-9A75-5C36473C7A65.jpeg Here are a few pictures I snapped along the side of the road on 138.
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  5. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Through the night I had a little mosquito battle, but was able to mitigate it with my mosquito net draped over my bivy.
    I got up in the morning, packed up and had something quick to eat and took off before anyone else seemed to be awake or moving around. The gate was closed to the campsite- it was a chain that hung across the driveway, but I was able to ride around it. I took off on the road and kept a steady pace.
    I recall someone on a Ducati absolutely flying past me- to each their own but I wasn't all that comfortable at speeds above 60/65 mph. This guy must have been doing at least upper 80s. I had an uneasy feeling for him but was more than relieved that I never saw him pulled off or crashed.
    I kept on for a while, gassed up at a place that had WiFi and was able to FaceTime with my fiance (now wife). It was really great to talk to her and may have made me a little more homesick than I had felt previously.
    I was making really great time and began thinking that if this kept up I would elect to push past Labrador City and make my way to Churchill Falls and camp out there.
    Absolutely wrong.
    I am not as strong an off road rider and kept my pace slower than most others do I'm sure because the last 80 or so miles I slowed down to the mid 20's for great stretches, so what I thought was going to take just a bit more than an hour turned into closer to 4.
    As I was cresting over the top of what I'm certain was more a mountain than a hill I could see off in the distance what looked like rain, and I could see lightening and darkened clouds. I wondered what chance I had in avoiding it. I pulled over and put my rain gear on. Continuing on lightening was flashing, thought not much thunder so it wasn't a close I guess, but the rain started, then a heavy downpour and eventually hail. I have it on video and I hope to post it because it was intense. There was a van that pulled over and I pulled in behind them, but the hail roughly pea sized felt the exact same on me riding as it did stopped so I just kept going. Either due to the hail or due to being wet my iPod died and never worked again. I got into Lab City and decided I was going to get a hotel. I found a room, the price was what it was- more than I wanted to spend but better than sleeping in cold wet gear.
    I grabbed a burger at a McDonald's and felt disgusted with myself for wimping out on camping my way across the trip. But that's life. I bought a 6 pack of Black Horse beer and hooked onto the wifi in the hotel room. I took a shower, hung my gear up... and a decision I'm sure was the right one but really wished I hadn't made, I took virtually all of my gear off my bike and brought it in. it took a long time, but better safe than sorry. Several trips had to be made and it was at least an hour taking it all off and maybe a little more in the morning to get it all back on- but I really didn't want to come out to a bike with any gear missing.
    I finished the beer while I FaceTimed with my fiance. I went to bed and slept great.
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  6. LowExpectationsPeter

    LowExpectationsPeter Bighorn NF on a ride to & from Glacier NP.

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    Nice story, and I agree with sticking to the plan. I've made minor changes to plans of mine, and regret it. When I stick to the plan, all works well.

    I rode up that way a couple years ago, up CA 138 to The End of the Road, to find they just put the waterproofing down on a new bridge I had no idea was there...the new end of the road is now another 28 km North of the 17 KM dirt road we took to the river. Have to get back up there someday, it is beautiful riding. I'll post this story as soon as I'm done posting my Ride Across America post.
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  7. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Leaving Labrador City the temp was warmer than expected in the low 60's but climbed throughout the day. There were more flies than previously but still nowhere near what other folks have talked about. My helmet system was on the fritz for a while, the Sena would repeatedly announce that there was some intercom failure. Not known for an extensive amount of patience I quickly grew frustrated and shut it off. I stopped a few times to mess around with it. I eventually shut it off for about a half hour before turning it back on. That did the trick and I was able to put some podcasts back on to keep me some company. I don't really enjoy riding without a little music or entertainment.
    I rode steadily across Labrador sweeping my eyes from side to side and I eventually saw a bear. It took my breath away, it was so large, and I'm sure it was a relatively small bear. I stopped at one point to take a few pictures, took a little video with my phone and gave my bike a look over to make sure everything was holding up alright. I check the straps and a few other points just for the heck of it. Nothing was out of place and I had a fairly satisfied feeling that I did a decent job preparing for the trip and packing everything onto the bike.
    I slung my leg up over the seat and took it off of the side stand and encountered no resistance whatsoever as I completely toppled over onto the right hand side of the bike. I'm laughing to myself as I'm writing this because I have no idea what I did to just keep going over, but at the moment I had obvious concerns that I might have done some damage. I wrestled the bike upright and did my once over of the machine a second time. I was mostly concerned that I might have damaged or otherwise punctured the gas cans I was carrying on either side of my side bags, however luck was on my side and nothing was damaged. Just my ego. Even though no one was around to see it, I made point of telling people when the trip came up just to not tempt fate, and had my dose of humble pie.
    I filled up in Churchill Falls, despite initially having a slight touch of trouble finding the gas station, I was pretty impressed with the amount they had for sale inside. I guess being the only game in town they needed to carry all that people might need. I pushed on and rode through really incredibly clear skies but a hotter temperature than I thought I'd encounter. I pulled into Happy Valley Goose Bay and grabbed something to eat. I ordered a poutine and a chicken sandwich. Either I was really hungry, it was really good or both, because it was exactly what I wanted. I made my way to a now defunct campground at Gosling Bay.
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  8. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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    photos are great :lurk
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  9. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Another image from the ferry, in lower Quebec. IMG_1629.JPG
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  10. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Images from my stop on the side of the road somewhere in the middle of Labrador, just before I put the bike down while I was getting on it. IMG_1651.JPG IMG_1652.JPG IMG_1653.JPG
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  11. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    The campground looked strangely well kept, and I wasn't alone, there were really several other people. I set up my motorcycle close to the banks of the lake. A couple of guys, who I surmised were actually a couple were there and I chatted with them for a while. A bunch of people showed up with trucks and some sedans and several people took turns on a snow machine blipping it across the water. It looked cool for a minute or so, but it was obnoxiously loud so it got old pretty quick. I spent time minding my own business, listening to some podcasts, one was about a WWII spy- and made tea on my cook stove. I went around looking for wood to burn, but I actually found a huge amount of charred wood, like charcoal, and that burned perfectly in my firebox stove. Kept the mosquitoes away and gave me some entertainment. On a whim I checked my phone, low and behold it had service- I tried calling my fiance mostly expecting not to be able to connect to her but we were able to talk for a few minutes. I wasn't expecting that because I had previously read there was no service. I guess that's changed.
    After a decent night of sleep, it took me a while to pack up. I was eager to get moving so I didn't waste time. I had wanted to get to the gas station, top the tank off and see how far I could get before needing to tap into the reserve fuel bottles I brought. It took me somewhere around 45 minutes to get my bike all packed up, my gear on and when I got on my machine, the sand began giving way under my feet and I tipped it over again. Instead of going right over I tried holding it up but the horn button was depressed by the tank bag. I struggled for more than a minute, but it sounded like much longer. The couple in their camper came out seeing if I needed assistance. I was able to wave them off and ultimately I was able to upright the machine, not nearly as easy as on solid ground. Completely awake I made my way to the gas station, fueled up and grabbed a few liters of water as I drank the rest of what I had the previous night.
    I was mostly alone on the road, every once in a while a truck would pass. As the day wore on I saw more people, mostly large pickup trucks or SUVs traveling at really high rates of speed, every so often something on the order of a smaller Subraru, but no other motorcycles. The large graders were out there where the pavement ran out, but the road was dry, the sky was clear and it was easy riding for now.
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  12. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Views of the lake and campground. IMG_1661.JPG IMG_1663.JPG IMG_1657.JPG
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  13. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Another round of views of the campground and from inside the setup. IMG_1668.JPG IMG_1679.JPG IMG_1672.JPG
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  14. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    As the pavement ends I was met with more of the usual dirt/hardpacked ground/and light gravel. It was fine, enjoyable at times, but mostly my cautious side was ever present because I wasn't then, and still am not all that comfortable with the terrain. Better safe than sorry for sure. I didn't really exceed much past 50mph when I had a clear lane, but when the gravel got shakier I would slow it down considerably.
    Near in my mind was the advice most have advocated for which is when the bike gets wiggly to throttle down and rise up out of it, but when I would do that I didn't feel confident enough, so I would slow down as needed and would speed up when able. All of this was well and fine, until I got closer to the shore. Anyone who has taken the trip recently can attest that the deep gravel sections they have which they're going to pave are terrible. End of thought, full stop. I think I was kept at 20 miles per hour for what must have been almost an 80 mile stretch. Very frustrating.
    As it happened, I brought 6 liters of extra fuel with me on the stretch from HVGB to Port Hope Simpson, but didn't use any of it. I made it the whole way with what I had, but the peace of mind that came with bringing the extra fuel was well worth it. On this stretch at some point between HVGB and PHS I saw 2 beaver which were gigantic and a porcupine, which I thought looked really awesome. Just after fueling up in PHS I saw another black bear, bigger than the first by a ton.
    My plans were to make it to Pinware provincial park and camp out there for the evening, but the weather showed rain for the evening, and I had booked passage on the ferry from Blanc Sablon early the next morning and decided for the second time to throw my plans away and find a hotel. I continued through the afternoon and early evening to look for a hotel.
    I made it to the Northern Light in somewhere around 6 pm local time, and I was absolutely excited to sit down to a dinner, put back a few beers, take a hot shower and relax for the evening. I had read some reviews that everything was basically top notch but the WiFi sucked, and I thought no problem with me. I went in and asked for a room only to find that they were completely booked. I was crestfallen especially because I had my heart set on it- I didn't really know what to do, so I was going to head on to the ferry terminal and camp out somewhere but really had the wind taken out of my sails.
    The women that worked at the hotel were absolute angels though. They said they knew of a couple that rented out rooms in their home and I jumped at the chance, I really had my mind made up at that point to not camp that night in the rain. These ladies went so far as to call the renters from their work phone for me and arrange my stay. Then they hand drew my a map to get their, which was basically a stone's throw and there would be next to no way to miss it. Then disaster strikes me again. My debit card was not cooperating with the ATM in the hotel lobby. That twinge of panic started setting in and I don't know why it didn't cross my mind to just go to another gas station or something to take money out but it didn't- they offered and I accepted- they rang me up a bogus receipt from their register on my debit card, and gave me the cash. They made it look like an $80 bill for the bar and I was on my way out the door to the private home. I can't say this enough, the women at the hotel were fantastic. I wouldn't have the same experience the next day with the women at the ferry terminal.
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  15. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    The next morning I got up, packed my bike up and made my way to the ferry terminal. I had previously made arrangements to book passage and had my reservation. To make the story as quick as possible I walked in at 7:00 am and the woman at the desk said "We already called last call. You're late, we gave your reservation away." I asked what time last call was and she told me 7. I said thats what time it was now. There was no way to win that battle, so I was pretty fucked and my blood was boiling. I was wait listed and really thought I was going to be in poor shape to get on a later boat or even the following day. Ultimately it worked out. I was the last guy on and in the end it worked out, but I still haven't gotten rid of the bitterness I felt. In short- fuck them, but now I know. And so do you. Be there early because evidently a matter of seconds can wreck your plans.
    The boat ride was somewhere between two and three hours, and I got breakfast and watched the waves. Seas were calm and comfortable. I had a conversation with a couple who were riding HDs. They had street tires on their bikes and said that the gravel was bad but they got through it. So there ya go... a man and a woman on two Harley Davidsons with street tires did exactly the same route as I did on my adventure bike with dual sport tires. If you're reading this and wondering if you can do the trip- you can. Just do it. The weather cooperated with me for nearly the whole trip to this point, so while luck was on my side, perseverance and determination usually rule the day.
    Getting off the ferry the rains threatened and the winds picked up. The winds kept picking up. I rode south having decided I really just wanted to get to my family's place. The pull of being around them outweighed my desire to go north and see the Viking Settlement. My wife and I can go back and check that out together. Taking 430 south towards Rocky Harbor, and it was all I could do to keep my bike in my lane. For the next 2.5 to 3 hours it was a near constant full body fight to keep myself in my lane and upright. I slowed way down, and way too many times to try and count I pulled to the side to let cars pass me. In no uncertain terms this was the most difficult riding I've ever had. Nothing could prepare me for how difficult it was. Even with a reduced speed and leaning hard I was frequently blown full on into the opposite lane. As luck would have it this wasn't into any oncoming traffic, but that very easily could have happened. I also noticed that my fuel mileage was notably decreased. Once I got into Gros Morne and the lands blocked the wind it was much easier, but one last time I have to underscore that this stretch of the road was brutal.
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  16. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    I continued out and made myself to Trans Canada 1, and made short order of the highway getting to Glovertown. I have family that's up there and I was in a real hurry to see them. I spent the next couple days enjoying the somewhat unseasonably warm weather and did a fairly decent job of avoiding putting my foot in my mouth. Not always easy.
    They took me out fishing for cod, which actually was really an experience but I had no stomach for the sea. We caught whatever the legal limit was for our outing and then went in. The rules and regulations must be pretty strict because there was no messing around with it.
    There was kind of a weekend festival going on and we played some games in the municipal center. A game of washers was a good time, and soon enough after a couple of nights out I had overdone it enough that I stayed in and went to bed early on the last night.
    After a few days with my family I had to get going and start making my way home. Being on the road was something I had looked forward to all year but I was ready to get home.
    I had previously booked passage on the ferry out of Port Aux Basques and needed to get there for the 11 pm crossing.
    The weather was good in Glovertown, but it showed it would be really coming down hard when I got out east. I had great weather for most of the day, but the last 2.5/3 hours it soaked me. The rain and wind had me all sorts of miserable, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I got in line for the ferry and went inside to grab some food. I was quite wet, and very slowly started to dry off. Back in line for the boat I talked to some of the other motorcyclists and had a nice time hearing about their trips. From what I could piece together from the couple I was in line with was that I somehow managed to ride with the rain the whole way, because per their telling it, they were just behind it the whole time and never got wet. Go figure.
    On the ferry I found a seat by myself, and did my best to catch some sleep but it never came. I mostly sat uncomfortably in different positions the whole night through. At least by the time the boat docked I was basically completely dry, so I was grateful for that. When I was down in the belly of the beast to leave the folks I was talking to the previous night said they had looked for me to share their room with me but couldn't find me. Lol, that's the way it goes sometimes. I bid them farewell and we pulled off in our different directions.
    I had wanted to do the sunset trail route, but I was in a big hurry to get over to PEI for 2 reasons. First, I was getting over tired and needed to get some sleep soon. And second, more importantly there was a band of bad weather that was going to be pushing up the east coast and I had a 36 hour window to get home without getting caught in any bad storms.
    I got over to the ferry in Caribou and had a very short wait before I pulled into the boat.
    I thought the ferry was going to be about 45 min, but turns out it was more like an hour and a half or more. So that kind of sucked. I was tired and restless so I meandered about the boat for a while but just couldn't get comfortable. When it docked I got made time down the road and stopped in at a local grocery store called Coopers (I'm almost certain) to fuel up and grab some Island beers. I made my way over to my Uncle's place in Orwell Cove. I visited with some folks that afternoon and crashed out relatively early that night.
    My uncle offered to lighten the load off my bike, and while it wasn't really necessary I left a few items with him that I wasn't going to be needing for the trip home. The following morning I would be getting going on my trip from PEI down to CT. I've done it before a few times. It's a long ride, can be kind of tiring but I was ready to be home with my fiance and our dogs. It had been a great trip, some folks like to take a slower pace. I can make all the justified arguments to explain why I was in a hurry to get home, but in the end that's just my style.
    On the way home I fueled up somewhere in Mass and I talked with a dude on a really sweet bmw sport bike with the ralley stripes. I forget his name but his basic story was he was riding up from Virginia to Maine to get a Lobster roll. I love people's riding stories.
    When I made it back to Connecticut I got stuck in some brutal fucking traffic and was at a complete standstill for nearly an hour, not exactly the way I wanted to have the trip wind down, but at least I made it home in one piece.
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  17. RG1984

    RG1984 Been here awhile Supporter

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    To wrap this up, I'll put a few thoughts on this thing.
    I didn't care for the tent I brought. I thought for sure that it would have been a good choice and given me space, but it was a dumb move. I should have just brought my mountain tent. On future trips I'm sticking with the Eureka.
    The cot I brought was awesome, I don't think I'll leave that behind, it was much more comfortable, but who knows.
    I brought way too much food, didn't cook hardly any of it. I guess that was good bring because if I had gotten stuck and would have needed it then it would have been handy, but again I didn't make much.
    I brought 6 liters of fuel and never needed it. It was a decent insurance policy, but in the future I'd bring maybe half of that.
    The Metzler Karoo 3's were excellent, if you're in need of an all around decent set of tires I can recommend these.
    I'm happy to have done this ride, it was something I had long wanted to do, and I feel a great sense of pride and a sense of accomplishment. However I was really burnt out on it by the time I got home, and felt a good amount of homesickness. Being away shortly after getting engaged probably contributed to that but I was able to text and call my fiance (again, now wife) almost every day. This resulted in my taking a long time to put the report together. I wanted to put enough time between the return so I could look back on the trip a bit more fondly than I did when I just got home. I didn't want to be overly negative.
    #17