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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    It was another clear day and cold in Port Au Choix. The winds off the water were even stronger than the previous day, and in a minute or two my face shield and video camera lens were coated with the smeary salt film.





    The beauty of the road north continued along the water, occasionally drifting away from the beach through wooded areas. Here and there, pickup trucks carried loads of firewood in the back or pulled flatbed trailers covered with wood.

    I began to see small roadside garden plots along the highway. The soil was rich and black and here and there were small gardening patches marked with homemade fences. Some were abandoned and overgrown, but most had been maintained and several had people harvesting vegetables.





    I pulled off at differing communities and rode through the small towns, enjoying seeing the small houses and fishing boats.

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    My exploration of pullouts and side roads added to the length of the day, though the distance towards my goal of L’anse Aux Meadows wasn't that far. The old Viking settlement at the northern end of the island has intrigued me and was my primary goal of coming to Newfoundland, or at least a good excuse to make the ride.





    In many areas along the highway, the scrub vegetation was low enough to expose huge areas of bare gray rock on the landscape and the nickname of the island, “The Rock”, was very appropriate.





    I passed the turn off for L’anse Aux Meadows and continued a short few miles to the town of St. Anthony, seeking a butt break and some hot coffee. I had arrived around two in the afternoon and planned to go to the site for a couple of hours before finding my bed and breakfast. I stopped at the Tim Horton's and as I was taking my helmet off was approached by a man in his North Face and Patagonia attire. He introduced himself, saying he had followed me for couple of blocks to ask a few questions about traveling by motorcycle. He and his partner were currently traveling in a Ford F350 crew cab diesel with a fancy camper on the back. They were exploring Canada after having been to the Overland Expo. He had a 2010 BMW GSA but had not utilized it yet and was in the process of educating himself on how to set it up for a long-term trip he planned. We talked for a while and I inspected his camper set up, which was very well done.





    Afterwards, I sucked down a hot coffee and hopped back on the bike. I got a bit of a rush as I neared the park, realizing my goal was in sight. Rolling into the parking lot, the visitor is greeted with a steel silhouette of a group of Vikings on top of a mound. The visitor center is accessed via walkway and was quite nice. I got into a conversation with a lady in the souvenir shop who informed me that the snowmobiling in Newfoundland was top notch with highly maintained trails. She said she and her husband and family would take snowmobile trips of 400 or 500 km over four day weekends. She said she loves the winter and the snow.


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    The view over the location of the small settlement from the porch of the visitors center was one I took in for a while, before slowly taking the wooden walkway towards the rocky beach. For me it was a mesmerizing experience, standing in the wind and looking out at the sea, buried in thoughts of such a barren remote location and the difficulties in sailing the small boats across the sea and establishing an outpost. The wind made the experience timeless.


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    The foundations of the small sod buildings still remain, along with a reconstructed residence replete with three or four reenactors. Though it was a bit chilly outside, the structures were very warm from the fires inside. The reenactors did a really good job of explaining various aspects of life at the time.


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    Though there's not a Nordic bone in my body, for some reason I was really attracted to being there. I sat for a while in what seemed like a timeless place, and actually had a bit of difficulty in motivating myself to leave.





    The sun was getting low in the sky, so I made the short drive to Hays Cove and found my AirBNB for the night. My host, Wendy, was very nice and a photographer for the area. I dropped my gear and followed her suggestion for dinner a few miles back down the road.


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    I found the little café, “The Daily Catch”, and had what was the best meal of my entire trip. I had a bowl of seafood chowder followed by a meal of pan-fried cod with scrunchions.


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    By time I got back to the little community where I was staying, a small amount of light remained. I pulled down to the bay and sat on the bike, watching clouds suffocating the sunset. It wasn't very long before a man wearing a safety orange outfit and riding a scooter pulled up. He was curious and welcomed me to the community, sharing that he had a motorcycle and had had to sell it due to health issues. He said he had two strokes, followed by six stints and and the clearing of his carotid artery. Amazingly he showed no signs of having had a stroke, though he said one hand has still not returned to 100%. He was the most upset because they had taken away his drivers license, and his wife had no drivers license so they were somewhat stuck. I introduced myself to him and he the same, stating his grandfather had been an expert on the Viking settlement and had introduced the Norwegian couple who excavated the place and made it famous. I told him there was a picture of his grandfather in the visitor center, which raised his eyebrows. He said he had never been in the visitor center yet but certainly would go check it out now.


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    Eventually the light died and the cold wind drove me back to my bed-and-breakfast for the night.
  2. crownhorse

    crownhorse Been here awhile

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    was up there in sept of this year with r1200gsa on back of motorhome, interesting to read your account of your trip. now i want to go back,
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  3. damurph

    damurph Cold Adventurer

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    The woodpiles are cut and sledded in winter to the roadside by the people who will burn it. Your wood is safe on the roadside because nobody takes another mans wood. EVER.
    The gardens are where bogs were excavated to fill in the roadbed with rock and gravel and the locals plant in these areas because there is little soil in the communities.
  4. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    The great weather held and the morning was crisp and clear. My hostess served a great breakfast and wished me well, with the statement "No one ever comes to Newfoundland just once!" There may be a lot of truth in that statement, as I'd fallen in love with the country. Not in a "knock your socks off" way but in a gentler "slip-one-off-at-a-time" way.

    The night before I'd run back the number of days I had left before having to be in New Mexico, as well as wanting to spend a couple of days with my friends Christine and Jules at their soon-to-be traveler's hostel south of Quebec. I realized I needed to look south again, despite my desire to stay a while longer and really get the experience of so much to do in the region.

    The day was another spectacular one, with clear blue skies and sunshine. I headed south from Hays Cove to Hwy 430 where I headed west for a while until the turn south on 432 that looped through Main Brook and eventually reconnected with 430 on the coast. Wendy had said I might see caribou and moose along the road, but I only saw moose hunters, along with a quartered moose across some atv's on a trailer in front of me.

    I hadn't realized that Newfoundland was such a hunting destination, but the number of pickups with plates from New York and Pennsylvania, not to mention the groups of guys from the U.S. at cafe tables along the way, confirmed it. There were lots of pickup trucks and ATVs along the roadway.




    The only wildlife I saw was a large eagle flying low along the roadside though I never relaxed from watching for moose.


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    I topped off at a little gas stop at Main Brook and listened to the local lady talk about the coming snowmobile season ahead. I'd seen a fair number of snowmobiles in the back of trucks or being prepped in yards. My B&B host had said she was surprised at the level of professional trail maintenance equipment that was used in her area.


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    The road through the forest ended at Plum Point and I hung a left towards Rocky Harbour for the destination of the day. The winds, though strong, had lessened from the previous day and the ride was great. I enjoyed riding, and didn't stop much. At Rocky Harbour, I was still energized and continued to Deer Lake where the plan was to spend the night.


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    I topped up the bike and grabbed a snack at the adjacent KFC. A group of school boys came in, excited about the motorcycle and asking lots of questions. They wished me safe travels, kind of shocking me at their genuine conversation and manners. On the way out the door, a couple snagged me about the bike for a few minutes. They were traveling to a moose festival somewhere, where lots of moose based foods would be sampled. With the accent and speed of conversation, I only got about a third of what they said but understood the moose and food part.

    At the bike, the sun was still high and I wasn't tired, so I decided to go a bit further south and find a place. The scenery south of Deer Lake was really nice, with plenty of mountains and vistas of water.


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    Before I realized it, I'd rolled into Port Au Basques. I hadn't planned on going that far south by any stretch, but it was getting darkish and my sunshine-fueled energy was waning. Since it was only about 7:30, I checked the ferry schedule about catching it that evening. As I sat debating whether to book and board the overnight boat, my energy level dumped and the thought of spending the night in a chair sucked. I decided to get a good night's sleep and catch the morning run.

    Though I hated missing much of Newfoundland, the place really hooked me, and I want to return at a pace less than a rolling moto trip. I certainly understand the other posters who've said they want to return or wish they'd had more time. I feel the same way.

    September has been a good time to be here, as I've not seen a single mosquito and hardly a single bug, other than some bee-like creatures who smacked me on the forest road today. The tourists are greatly reduced, generally being older couples, and the limited tourism infrastructure isn't overwhelmed. It's easy to find lodging though a few places begin to close up near October.

    Newfoundland seems to be a place of quiet treasures, where you listen to locals who tell you of places to see, or people to meet. I look forward to returning and doing exactly that.


    The next morning I packed gear and headed for the ferry, about a 5 minute ride away. Another gorgeous day and again greeted by the friendly Marine Atlantic ticket booth gal.





    The line of cars wasn't bad but it took a little while to get into the main lot. My wait time in the line was worth it, as it led to yet another romantic interlude. I was spotted by a young blond haired beauty, who donned an orange safety vest and picked up clipboard, pretending to write down license plates and ask people questions in order to get a chance to talk to me. It happens all the time, female police officers write me tickets for no reason, female nurses shock me with a defibrillator each time I'm rolled into the ER on a gurney, all because they're just too shy to ask me out. I'm used to it. But she was much too young for me, so I just played along and answered her silly question about plants.





    Once aboard the ferry, and after a few conversations with travelers about the bike, I settled into one of the lounge chairs and before I knew it had passed out. It was a very pleasant day of travel and we arrived in North Sydney about 6 PM.








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    I had hoped to get a couple hours further south but by the time I reached Baddeck, the sun was gone. I grabbed a piece of pizza and a motel for the night.
  5. stromsavard

    stromsavard Serge Supporter

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    I have a question that I did not find any anwers while reading your RR...Why did you do this trip on your old GS? thanks!!
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  6. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Hey Strom, finishing my coffee and about to head to Prince Edward Island. I'm on the new-to-me 2013 for it's maiden voyage. Bought it w 9k on the clock and rolled over 19k yesterday. Running good but occasionally has a random momentary howl-screech--grumble when I slow and turn to left. The bike had been sitting a lot so wanted to get it really exercised. As mentioned I have no idea why I have two GSAs now, because my original 2012 looks new and runs like new. :lol3

    BTW I swapped the cases and seat onto the 13 for this trip
  7. damurph

    damurph Cold Adventurer

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    Next time your here I will show you around.
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  8. snglfin

    snglfin this statement is untrue

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    i’m enjoying this ride report, newfoundland is on my list now that i’m back in new england. thanks for taking us along, safe travels!

    best regards,

    johnnyg
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  9. Sal Pairadice

    Sal Pairadice Captain Obvious

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    Interesting report. I was riding an Electra Glide on the Cabot trail up to Ingonish on Sept 12. Seems like we were close to passing each other.
    LoneStar likes this.
  10. Mofrid

    Mofrid Been here awhile Supporter

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    You ... have a vivid imagination!
    And I love it.
    Oh yeah plants
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  11. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Deal! And thanks for clarifying the firewood and garden plots
  12. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    The motel in Baddeck was like a mini reunion from the ferry ride. Two 85-year-old men from Michigan were in the room next door, two moose antler racks in the rear of their pickup truck from a hunting trip in Newfoundland. The truck had been parked next to my motorcycle on the ferry deck, and at breakfast a couple who sat in front of me on the ferry came up to the table to chat about motorcycle travel. Baddeck is obviously a destination for the ferry passengers since it sits roughly 30 minutes from the ferry.

    The weather was substantially warmer when I got on the road, though it was a bit overcast after several sunny days in Newfoundland. My instinct said to head for St. Stephen's and the Maine border, since I've got a specific number of days to get to New Mexico, but since Prince Edward Island was nearby, I decided to ride through the island instead. I caught the ferry at Caribou, New Brunswick, which is free, with the caveat that you must pay upon leaving Prince Edward Island either by bridge or a return ferry.





    The trip took about an hour and a half which I used to plot my locations to see on the island and spent the rest of time sitting in the wind and people watching. I've certainly had my quota of ferry rides on this trip.


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    Just off the boat sits Woods Island Lighthouse, which I checked out before heading northwest for Charlottetown. From there I planned to go on to the National Park and loop around the northwest side of the island, with plans to ride back to Nova Scotia on the Confederation Bridge. Though I had no idea what to expect on the island, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was quite agricultural and rural, passing a lot of farms. The landscape was rolling hills with lots of hardwoods that were beginning to change color.








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    St. Dunstan's in downtown Charlottetown
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    Unfortunately clouds had rolled in and sporadic rain by the time I reached Charlottetown. My weather app showed continued rain on the island in the afternoon, so I scrapped my plans for the National Park and the northwest coast. I just have no desire to ride in the rain where I can't get off and walk around and take photos. Disappointed, I headed for the Confederation Bridge then back to the mainland of Nova Scotia. The bridge is listed as 13 km long and you must pay a toll, $19 Canadian for a motorcycle. Luckily the winds and rain I’d experienced a little earlier were not an issue on the bridge.





    The overcast and rain continued the rest of the afternoon until I reached Saint John’s.

    I didn't sleep well that night nor had I the previous evening, and I was feeling it when I headed out from the hotel. It was gray, drizzly and overcast while I rolled towards the border of Maine. The fog was very heavy at times in the drizzly rain continued. There was little desire on my part to seek side or coastal roads since the visibility was so bad. Disappointing, but again that's part of motorcycle travel.


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    Google had shown the quickest route to my friends place south of Québec by routing me through Maine, then back across the border into Canada. Rain came and went until I made the border crossing outside St. Stephen, which only had a few cars, and after a few questions by the border patrol officer I was back in the USA.


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    Heavy fog and sporadic rain continued until I reached Bangor, and grabbed lunch at a downtown coffee shop. Even though the weather was pretty bad, the vivid colors of fall were showing much stronger in Maine than they had in New Brunswick.


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    Tomorrow, Canada again!
    wilfred, SmilinJoe, Pete S and 22 others like this.
  13. LookingHard

    LookingHard Been here awhile

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    Joseph,

    Clearly it has not been the clear weather and bright colors you might have been hoping for but you are still a great photographer and even better wordsmith, and I for one appreciate all of your effort and hope you get better weather ahead.

    LookingHard
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  14. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Thanks! Yeah, it's good to be on the road, just a shame I've not been able to really document some of the spots like I've wanted to.
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  15. Dilley51

    Dilley51 n00b

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    LoneStar - when heading back south if you are riding through Gettysburg PA again - you are welcome to stay at my place for a night or if you just need a butt break. BTW this is MotoHank's brother.
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  16. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Slept like a baby in a retro Howard Johnson's motel near the airport. It started raining when I checked in and I couch potatoed in the room, watching the rain and finally ordering a Domino's pizza delivered.

    The next morning was sunny and in the low 50s as I headed northwest from Bangor towards the Canadian border. The sun came and went, alternating between mild mist, gray skies and puffy clouds with blue.

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    I really enjoyed the back roads, which twisted and turned their way alongside rivers and in the forest with brilliant stretches of intense reds, orange and yellow's painting the tree leaves. The fall colors in Maine were more intense than they had been a bit further north. It's been a very long time since I've seen true fall colors like the northeast gets, and though this is just the beginning, some of the color intensity I would swear was fake. We get a color change in parts of Texas, but nothing in this league.


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    The various towns and countryside were filled with classic wooden houses and buildings. The ride was extremely enjoyable and I stopped about 20 miles from the border crossing for a short break. One of the local men driving a pickup truck pulled in and parked next to me, striking up a conversation about where I was headed and where I’d come from. He wished me well and headed inside the little store.


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    There were three or four cars at the Canadian border entry, which went pretty smoothly. The young agent with a black beard and heavy French accent, eyed me a bit suspiciously, staring at me with long pauses between his questions. He then said “You are from Texas? Do you have any weapons with you?" I answered “No sir”, and then he said “Do you have any at home?” It surprised me a bit, and I said “You mean in Texas?” He nodded yes. I answered “Yes I have a bunch.” He looked at me briefly, and stepped into the little building and quickly stepped back out with my passport.


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    I rode away wondering what the question about my gun ownership at home had to do with anything. I assume his stepping back into the building briefly, was to press the giant red button to send my info to the Illuminati, who will put me on their assassination list and hunt me down with black helicopters while I'm in Canada.

    The temperature dropped on the Canadian side, and the rural landscape continued with painted colors. There was no question I was back in French Canada, and I saw more of what appeared to be dairy cattle in the region.


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    It wasn't long before I was nearing the area where my friends Jules and Christine lived, but their address did not work in my GPS, only with Google maps. In short order I found myself on dirt roads, muddy from rain and the drizzle I was experiencing. I began to have my doubts about Google maps when it tried to send me down driveways past people’s homes on farms. I continued to play its games until I came into a tiny village named Milan and found myself on blacktop again.


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    I knew I was close, but they hadn't answered my earlier texts so I followed Google which lead me through the town and back onto a much muddier road. The big bike slipped and squirmed a few kilometers through the woods until the narrow road ended at the junction of three little-used two track ruts. I knew they lived in the country, but somehow I didn't think the ruts ahead and to each side would lead me anywhere except stuck.

    Amazingly my cell picked up the signal for just a moment and my call went through which was luckily answered this time. Christine agreed to meet me back in the small town of Milan and lead me to their house. I didn't relish returning down the muddy road but made it without dropping the bike. As I approached the church, I could see Christine waving both arms and arrived to a big hug.

    For those who read my South America ride report, I'd met Christine and Jules at Casa Elena in Antigua, Guatemala. They had arrived while I was staying there, accompanied by the Guatemalan Tourist Police. They had been robbed the previous day at gunpoint on the infamous road south of Lake Atitlan, and just a few days previous to that had been assaulted and knocked off their motorcycles at the Mexico-Guatemala border crossing. They had left Canada to ride to Ushuaia a couple of weeks previous to my leaving Dallas, but after the two incidents and the loss of passports and paperwork from the robbery, they were done and had decided to ship the bikes back home and forget the trip.

    Can't say I blamed them a bit, but after a couple of days together, with some good home-cooked meals by the hostess at Casa Elena, some wine and a lot of laughter, they tentatively decided to continue, but only to Peru. I'm happy to report that they made it all the way to Ushuaia and became skilled travelers in the process. Their plan on returning to Canada was to open a travelers hostel, similar to Steel Horse in Colombia, and they are in process of converting a beautiful small farm they purchased.

    One of the best things about the long journey through South America is the kindred spirit developed with other travelers. Despite Jules and I not being able to communicate in any form, they're like brother and sister to me. It was great to see them again and I'll hang here for a couple of days.
  17. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Hey! Hank told me you lived near Gettysburg and I hate that I missed you. My route back looks like I'll track along south side of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to Kansas and then New Mexico so we'll have to connect another time :( Really appreciate the offer!
  18. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Adventurer

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    Do wish I had read this a few days sooner, as I live at Charlottetown. Much enjoyed your S.A. peddle. This one not to shabby either. By the way, I’m a retired truck pilot and during my 25 years and 3,000,000 miles did all your lower 48. Some states as many as 50-100 times. Your Texas has been my favourite for bout 20 years with the BIG BEND area a place that I have rode many times and look forward to doing again. O, and 5 Mexico moto trips. Mexican people are simply wonderful. Much can be learned from them. Again great riding along with you. Stay a little longer on my Island next time. You be very welcome here. Merlin
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  19. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Thanks Merlin! I have to agree with you on Big Bend area and your comments on Mexico. Great people and country for mc travel. I've enjoyed this trip through the Maritimes so much I'll have to return to spend more quality time.
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  20. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Adventurer

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    The next time you roll thru this part of the world I intend to intercept you. As I have questions bout riding S.A. Although after my wife and I spending a large portion of my 25 truck driver years apart it’s very difficult to leave. However I would enjoy acquiring info on S.A. Do take care. Merlin
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