LoneStar's Adventure to Newfoundland

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Aug 29, 2019.

  1. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    So... it's been a year since I returned from my South America trip, and life has thrown a couple of curves which have prevented me from any serious riding since then. However, Newfoundland has been a goal of mine for many years. It seems to be an intriguing place simply because it's there and I've met folks who've visited and told me tales of the kindness of the local population. Not only that, it's to the far northeast of the North American Continent and a perfect counterbalance to having ridden to Alaska. Yes, that's about as deep as my planning gets...


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    Whereas the previous ride reports from Alaska and South America featured 2nd and 3rd world challenges - grizzlies, earthquakes, landslides, machete-wielding men at barricades, river crossings and mud and snow in the Andes, this trip should instead be chock full of horrifying first world problems… rants about not being able to stream Pandora consistently, someone farting in the line at McDonald’s, or worse, getting poked by a feather quill from the down pillows at a hotel, not to mention my inability to speak or understand French, much less whatever dialects and pronunciation will be spoken in Newfoundland. My lack of Spanish made everything south of the Texas border to Ushuaia an additional adventure, so I suspect no less of one in French Canada.

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    On a side note, I am bringing camping gear which may allow for additional 1st world excitement. However, keep your expectations low and we’ll all get along just fine…

    Circumstances kept me from leaving for Newfoundland and Labrador until this late date in the season, so I'm hoping I get lucky with weather that far north and an early winter doesn't set in. If plausible, I may try to do the Trans-Lab as well after riding "The Rock".

    I'll avoid all the reasons why I didn't get to ride much this past year and save them to pad out the story later. The few short rides I’ve been able to do this summer were brutal in the sweltering Texas heat. Yes, I’m a snowflake now.


    With a complete lack of planning and only a sense of heading northeast, I left Dallas a couple of days ago when rain was threatening and highs were expected to be in the lower 90’s, a good portent that my now fat(ter) and out of shape arse might not suffer a stroke and have to turn back before reaching Texarkana. In fact, it was Texarkana where I gassed up after crossing into Arkansas and the reasonable weather made the ride pretty nice.

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    My initial plan was to slab as far to the northeast as quickly as possible since the weather may turn in Newfoundland, but I was contacted just before leaving by my friend Ward from Canada. Some of you may remember that Ward and I connected in Ecuador and he had the unfortunate experience of riding with me in the snow and mud in the Andes in Peru. I really enjoyed my time with him. He was a good sport about me giving him flack for his rain gear, or lack thereof. Any rate, he was riding from Toronto to Deals Gap so we decided to meet up and ride the Tail of the Dragon.

    Sorry Ward, I couldn't resist
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    But back to my exciting story. My butt was definitely feeling the 450 mile day when I finally rolled across the mighty Mississippi on the bridge into Memphis. It was early evening when I found Beale Street and was waved in behind barricades to park. A few bikes had gathered on the street and more were trickling in.

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    The dude in the blue shorts was an amazing athlete, doing backflips down the entire street and other wondrous things involving limited human flight
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    Two riders parked next to me and informed me they had ridden down from Wisconsin to be on Beale Street for "bike night." As luck would have it, my timing was accidentally perfect. As darkness began to fall, the entire street became a mini-Sturgis.

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    Gaggles of folks video'd the bikes roaring down the street
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    Pirates were abundant
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    Lots o' vintage bikes in attendance
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    Though I'm not one for such gatherings, the friendliness of the Tennesseans made the event quite pleasant and I ended up staying until 9 or 10. There were a lot of interesting vintage bikes and a lot of good conversations had, pausing for the bikers revving their engines as they rolled down the street. As the event began to really pick up, I finally ran out of steam after a full day of riding and then hanging out on the street.

    I found a reasonably cheap hotel on the eastern edge of Memphis just as my yellow fuel warning light came on. It wasn't long before I was asleep, though my date with the sandman was delayed by a long conversation with the foreign desk clerk about motorcycle travel in general.


    This morning I awoke early and felt a bit groggy, fueling up the beast before hitting the nearby McDonald's for some good coffee and a fair tasting Egg McMuffin. After a bit of staring blankly out the window and listening to various conversations, I clambered back on the big GSA and headed out the eastern side of Memphis towards the country. Ward's plans had been changing so I'd decided to get off the Interstate and take some back roads towards the Deals Gap area, with Chattanooga my likely goal for the day.

    The morning air was a relatively cool 81 degrees but the sun had some sting in it as I sat at a stop light on the outskirts of town. To my left, a green Mini Cooper convertible rolled up to the light, highly polished and sparkling in the morning sunlight. Motion in my peripheral vision caused me to look left. The top was down and there was an attractive lady in a sun dress and designer sunglasses smiling brightly at me. Suddenly, everything went into slow motion, I could see her brown hair being lifted and tossed by a gentle breeze while the sunlight highlighted individual strands of her hair, almost copper in color. Her perfect teeth were as white as snow and glinted as she smiled, then slowly mouthed the words “I LOVE YOUr bike!"

    My love for her was instant and deep and I knew she was the one. Though technically she had said she loved my bike, at least it was a start.

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    I knew this was real love, and it was easy to imagine the life we'd have together, just her and me, the Mini and the GSA. Then the light changed and she turned left.

    Just as quickly as the angelic visitation had come, it was gone, leaving me with a quivering chin and a broken heart. Oh well, easy come, easy go. At least she had good taste.

    The sky was blue and cloudless as I ran through rolling hills and fields of green crops in the Tennessee countryside, what the crops were I’m not sure. The temperatures were a bit hot in the sun, probably the low 90’s, but definitely a relief from the heat in Texas. Here and there along the rural highway, a pickup truck or Suburban would be parked in the front of the yard with a "For Sale" sign on it. Randomly, old recliners would also be alongside driveway entrances, either to be given away or picked up by the trash men. The lack of state troopers on the Interstate the previous day was explained by the number of them parked along the rural highways in speed traps, their black and tan paint jobs being a bit less threatening than the all black SUV's of the Texas Highway Patrol.

    The small towns featured old brick buildings on the square, historic and quaint. The life pace was much slower, and much friendlier as I found out each time I stopped. At another McDonald's about 3 hours in, I spent a good 15 minutes talking with an older woman who came out just to look at the bike. A bit later a couple of Gold Wings stopped in for coffee and conversation. They were heading north to Knoxville for a "Wing Ding" gathering. On hearing I was headed for Deals Gap, they were quick to warn me how crowded it would be, especially considering it was a holiday weekend to boot.

    Mild horror ensued as I thought about how bad the crowds would likely be there, as my mind had been on other things and hadn't even thought about the holiday. Yikes!

    As the day wore on and my butt wore down, the gentle rolling hills of the countryside slowly transformed into higher and higher hills, signaling the landscape that inevitably lay ahead. I rolled into the Eastern Time Zone and then Chattanooga about 6:30, finding a Peet's Coffee for a break and to find another cheap hotel.

    Tomorrow I'll head through Tellico Plains and towards the Tail of the Dragon.

    Adios Amigos
    #1
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  2. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan aka SkiddMark ;^)

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    IN!!

    And thank you taking this on.
    #2
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  3. Smidty

    Smidty Been here awhile

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    :lurk
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  4. Dalmatino

    Dalmatino Been here awhile

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    Nufiland in Sept! Brrrrrrr!!

    Just be careful, them Nufs will rope you into drinking, partying and general social mischief :lol3
    I'm sure it will be as good as the last report :beer

    Have a safe and enjoyable journey...
    #4
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  5. TheNetworker

    TheNetworker Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Moin Joseph,

    Ahhh - missed your writing and pictures. Great you are back... :clap

    IN!
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  6. Out4aRip

    Out4aRip Adventurer

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    My reaction when seeing the new thread...


    Great start, Joe! :thumbup
    #6
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  7. Scotty707

    Scotty707 Been here awhile

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    I'm in. Love the images and words.
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  8. AdventureTrail

    AdventureTrail Wannabe Adventurer and YouTuber

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    This should be awesome. In!
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  9. sgio

    sgio Been here awhile

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    I had forgotten how great your photos are, but the night time street shots were a great reminder. Fall weather has already started here in upstate NY, with morning temps in the low 50's. Definitely following along with this one!
    #9
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  10. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Supporter

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    You’re going to love Newfoundland! I just got back from doing Newfoundland and Labrador earlier this month. Can’t wait to go back.
    #10
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  11. Grynch

    Grynch Long timer

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    The Wordsmith is back! Your photos are pretty good too.
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  12. Smashy

    Smashy Been here awhile

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    Nfld is on my bucket list for sure, can't wait to see your pictures.
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  13. BorderJeff

    BorderJeff n00b

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    I did a ride on the '84 Guzzi Cali II back in 2010 from Tampa, FL to Sydney, NS. Then ferried to Channel Port-aux-Basques, NF. The camping and hospitality in Gros-Morne National Park was tremendous, as were the locals in a fishing village in Trout River. Approaching a group of fishermen who were fiberglassing a boat, I asked if someone could fiberglass one of my saddlebags that was cracking apart. (These were original vintage Guzzi bags, not known for durability), and the next day the job was done, professionally. The challenge was in communicating. It's definitely a different language the fishermen spoke, though based in English. Once I expressed, hmmm, desperation maybe?, the accent became less intense and we got to some version of English I understood.
    I have a Florida friend with a place in Harbour Mille, over toward eastern NF, along Fortune Bay. I stayed there a few days and then made off to St. Johns. I always thought I'd go back and do the Labrador part of the tour, but from Arizona...it will have to stay on the bucket list another year, and on the Africa Twin. This year it was British Columbia. Good Luck!
    #13
  14. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

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    Good stuff Joseph! What an interesting start to the trip by stumbling upon "bike night" in Memphis! Fantastic storytelling and photography as always!

    Will be following along - safe travels Lonestar!
    #14
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  15. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    I Cha-Cha-Cha'd outta Cha-Cha-Chattanooga about 9 after some parking lot conversations with a couple of Harley riders on their way southward for a rally. The temperature was in the high 60s and felt fantastic after so much summer sweat.

    The road took me towards Tellico Plains and eventually Deals Gap where I hoped to say hello to Ward before riding the Dragon northward. The night before, I realized I had left my cold weather gloves in Dallas, and even my off-bike shoes. Suddenly I could hear the slow swishing sound of a giant Karmaic hammer coming my way for giving Ward sh*t about wearing plastic bags, because I'll probably be wearing plastic shopping bags over my gloves when it gets cold and wet... and potentially a plastic rain suit made entirely of roadside litter and duct tape...

    If I don't find a Ross or DSW on the way north, I'll probably have to make a set of shoes out of leftover whale blubber and fish skin when I get to NFL, since I'm sure it'll be all over the island and free for the taking. But enough of that.


    The day was beautiful and in short order I overtook a sportbike with its racing-leathers-clad rider, slowly following a KLR with its rider in a hoodie and jeans, waving as I passed. They exited behind me and caught up at a stop sign where the Klar rider shouted and asked where I was headed. He gave a thumbs up upon my answer and we all took off together. Immediately the sport bike rider screamed the engine and shot past me before grabbing the brakes hard and falling back into line behind his partner. I chuckled at the display.

    They soon disappeared behind me as I made my way to the little town of Tellico Plains and onto the Cherohala Skyway. It was a pretty and placid ride alongside a river before winding its way higher and higher. It was a good motorcycle road and I missed a couple of overlooks from being focused on riding hard and fast-ish, enjoying the ride after a summer of Dallas highways.

    I detoured slightly to Robbinsville, NC for a butt break and coffee, and to see if Ward had responded on WhatsApp confirming he'd arrived in Deals Gap.
    There was no answer from him but I assumed he had no cell service there. A loose conglomeration of riders were gathered at the combination gas station/McDonald's, with bikes ranging from Goldwings to Ducati Monsters. Riders sipped coffee or scarfed down burgers before heading off towards the Dragon. I followed suit and enjoyed the scenery to my destination a few miles away.

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    The Deals Gap store / motel had a bunch of bikes there, but not as slammed as I expected. I parked the bike and wandered towards the camp area where I spotted Ward about to don his helmet. He and a couple of buddies were about to head out for the day. We chatted a bit and had a couple of laughs before they took off on their KTM supermotos. Ward's F800GS is still in South America, having gone through several subsequent adventure riders.

    Ward aka "Paisamed"
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    The weather was spectacular and I sat and watched the bikes come and go, conversing with some other riders. A girl in her late twenties with her boyfriend wandered over to my bike, and I overheard them discussing whether the Patagonia stickers were because the rider had actually ridden there or if they were just decoration. The girl said she suspected whoever owned the bike probably had ridden there, otherwise he'd look like an idiot... Like an idiot I piped up that they were indeed souvenirs, which opened up an hour long conversation between the girl and I. She was from Alaska and had ridden her Harley to Newfoundland a few months back. After that experience she decided she needed a different bike and had just recently purchased a BMW 650 twin. She had a lot of questions about long-term travel and heading for South America, so it was a fun conversation.


    Wearing my older Nolan X-Lite X-551 hemmet this trip - and glad I did. Light, aerodynamic and zero peak vibration.
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    After building up an appetite purchasing a couple of stickers, the 1/4 lb hot dog hit the spot (I told you this report would be 1st world boring)
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    The tree of shame - luckily I added nothing to it :D
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    The beautiful day and the relaxing atmosphere caused me to hang a bit longer but I wanted to at least make Knoxville, so I finally took off and rode the dragon's tail. The road really was a lot of fun and it's easy to understand its popularity, being somewhat similar to the roads off highway 101 on the Pacific coast and the Mil Cumbres in Mexico



    There were a couple of state troopers parked along the roadside to keep speeds down, but I passed a couple of sport bikes and of course several Harleys, whose riders were substantially older than me. It felt good to feel like a squid. It was an enjoyable ride and ended a little too soon, but I continued on northward to Knoxville for the evening.

    It was a good day, with spectacular weather and a chance to meet up with a friend. As well, I've now got a dragon sticker for my cases, which after all is the most important thing right? Tomorrow is Kentucky, and I'm bummed to see that most of the distilleries are back to the west now that I detoured to Deals Gap. Oh well, onwards.
    #15
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  16. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Thanks! Any tips or suggestions?

    Good to hear! Maybe I'll default to a deep East Texas drawl to get the fishermen to try harder :lol3
    #16
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  17. seismic52

    seismic52 Adventurer

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    Very nice to see you're on the road again! I love your writing and pictures and will follow along. Have a safe trip.
    #17
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  18. twflybum

    twflybum Prodigal Biker

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    I've missed your witnessing your photography skills and forgotten what an articulate writer you are. Thanks for the new RR.
    #18
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  19. SavannahCapt

    SavannahCapt Long timer

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    In. Thanks for being willing to do another thread. I know it's a lot of work but you do it so well. We all appreciate it.
    #19
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  20. johnnywheels

    johnnywheels Been here awhile Supporter

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    Keep an eye in your rear view mirror or B-line north before heading east. Dorian is coming up the coast behind you.
    #20
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