The CB goes to JB and points in between

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SleazyRider, Jul 21, 2009.

  1. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    I took a week off work last week and decided to take the CB up North to experience the James Bay road. Ever since I found out that the James Bay is an extension of the Arctic Ocean I've been itching to do the ride and put that notch in my motorcycling belt. The James Bay road and its 225 miles between gas pumps and civilization is a far cry from the urban and suburban New York that I'm used to riding and it was just something that I needed to experience.

    I loaded up my trusted 1975 CB500T, the quintessential touring machine, and left for parts unknown to me with the desire being to dip my toes in Arctic waters.

    The bike:
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    1975 Honda CB500T replete with homemade rear box, deluxe waterproof Dutch military surplus saddlebags, and trinkets of luck.
    Stuffed into the box was my sleeping bag, tent, and air mattress. Into the saddlebags went spare parts, tools, a small stove, and not much else. I strapped a gas can to the seat along with a tarp.
    I also wedged a camp chair between the box and the sissy bar. I used it once and in retrospect was an unnecessary accouterment.

    I left on a Friday after work and blasted up to Yonkers to get drunk and crash at a friends house before leaving on Saturday morning for points North. Getting to the Whitestone bridge was easily the worst part of the trip as I was stuck in traffic for a bout two hours with the bike overheating. I had to pull over to let the CB cool down and then lane split about 4 or 5 miles to get past the traffic and up into Yonkers.
    On Saturday I made my way up through the Adirondacks and into Ontario. It rained horribly that day and I took no pics until Canada. It was the WORST rain I have ever ridden through and was completely soaked. I pulled into a gas station on the cusp of Canada when the rain finally stopped and poured about a pint of water out of my boot. i crossed into Ontario in Ogdensburg, NY over the most terrifying bridge I have ever ridden in my life. The Bridge to Canada in Ogdensburg is probably less than half a mile but its surface is all grated steel. What the hell!? Who makes a bridge like that?

    I stopped in Ottawa to get motel info, entranced by a scale model of the city, and crossed into Gatineau, QC and got a room for the night.

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    I was happy to be dry and settled in to my tiny room at the Motel Montcalm and enjoyed some Ramen noodles, kippers, and French-Canadian TV before getting some restless sleep.


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    #1
  2. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    So when I got into Canada I also realized that one of the packs of kippers i brought leaked kipper oil into my backpack. Everything that would enter my pack would smell like kippers for the rest of the trip. Also, if you plan to ride Quebec take note that the info stations located in each town (just follow the question mark signs) are staffed by hot chics who speak decent English and like to flirt with solo adventurers. But only those that ride old Honda twins. Maybe someone can verify that.

    From Gatineau, I blasted all the way up to Matagami. A LONG day in the saddle. Route 105 up to 117 gets rural real quick after leaving Gatineau and it is a beautiful, stunning motorcycle road. LOTs of curves and sweet straightaways over rippling pot holed roads and through incredibly gorgeous rugged terrain. The air was pure and crisp and it was an amazing morning to be on the bike.

    Route 105 pull over:
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    I stopped in Maniwaki to gas up and then again in Grand Remous, fearing that I might run out of gas on the long stretch of road up to Val D'Or, the next town on 117 after riding though the Reserve Faunique La Verendrye.
    Looking on the map, there is no hint of a town or gas station through the reserve. It did turn that there were a couple gas pumps on the way around the reserve, but make sure you top off because it's a long way up 117. Up 117 was very scenic but not an incredible motorcycle road. Lots of straightaways. There are many dirt roads to explore in the area and lots of scenic spots to pull off and take a break. Northern Quebec is rife with rivers, lakes, and streams. I pulled off down a dirt road in the reserve to have lunch. The sign said 6km to a small lake and at about km 3 I jumped off the bike and stripped down, realizing that I had horrible diarrhea. What the hell? I didn't get diarrhea in Costa Rica, but I get it in Quebec? Immediately black flies and mosquitoes were all over my naked body, undeterred by explosive sharts. I cleaned up and had some oatmeal and spam for brunch.

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    Popped some immodium, exploded again, and was off!

    117 through the reserve and gassing up outside Val D'Or:
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    #2
  3. dlew

    dlew Daypass Adventurer

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    Awesome. Found out about your report on nycvinmoto. Keep it coming.
    #3
  4. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    I entered Val D'Or on 117. First impressions of Val D'Or were that it was a jewel of a town up there in the middle of all that nothing. The buildings werent just hastily constructed warehouse looking things. Val D'Or has a little bit more personality than your average northern Quebec nothing town. After Val D'Or I made a wrong turn and headed back on 117 towards the reserve and realized my folly after gassing up. Instead of again going back on 117 and again through Val D'Or I went North at Louvicourt and up 113, taking 386 through the nothing towns of Sennetere and Belcourt and on towards Amos. If Val D'Or had some semblance of style Amos was a shithole. Amos is the next northerly actual real size town before hitting 109 and the road to Matagami. Val D'Or's info chics were hotter also. The plain chic at Amos' info booth was a perfect fit to its warehouse frontier town style. The people in Amos were real country too, serious bumpkins.

    This was a quarry outside Val D'Or. I've never seen anything like it. Massive! For a sense of scale, the little yellow dot at the bottom of the quarry (next to the white tunnel) is a full size school bus.
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    113 to 386 up to Amos was flat, straight, and boring. But it was miles and miles of nothingness, something I was not used to. So I was loving it.
    From Amos you pick up 109 which takes you to Matagami and the James Bay Road. About 20km outside Amos you hit the last available gas stop until Matagami so gas up! 109 is a great road, miles and miles of nothingness. 109 was great on a bike, lots of long curves, sublime straightaways and boreal forest. It was bumpy and riveted with frost heaves. i was alone on 109 for long stretches with the occasional truck coming my way but virtually nothing headed towards Matagami.

    109:

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    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    That's quite the trip on the CB :thumb
    :lurk
    #5
  6. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    About midway between Amos and Matagami is Lac Paradis, an emergency telephone, and this weird abandoned hotel. The creep factor to this place was high and stopped for a while to check it out and take some pics and vids. Enjoy.

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    Video:
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    Im having some trouble getting the vids to embed, so just click on it. Lots of cursing so be warned.
    I also got rained on pretty heavily just prior to this. This would be a constant theme throughout the trip
    #6
  7. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    109, the home stretch to Matagami:
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    You can see in the vid how knarly the tarmac is.

    After leaving Lac Paradis I again got soaked and made it to Matagami late, around 9pm and a little over 400 miles. It was getting COLD man, like around 50 degrees, which gets you cold pretty quick when youre wet and on the bike. On the way to Matagami I kept looking for spots to pull off and camp in the brush. It was still pretty light out so I just kept on pushing until I made Matagami. I was cold wet and tired and figured that I would treat myself to a room if I could find one. Right when you pull into town there is a hotel/warehouse on the right hand side a little ways down from the gas station. I inquired about a room and they wanted $128 for a room. Forget that. I rode around a little bit more, looking to find a spot to camp when I spotted another hotel. This big orange beast of a motel was a little ways into town. It was there that I inquired about a room. $30 a night.
    They suggested I check the room first.
    This is easily the worst hotel that I have ever stayed at and likely will ever stay at.

    The Hotel Bel'Or:
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    You can't even make this stuff up. Everything was rotten and broken in that place. When you walked it felt like you were going to fall through the floor. The abandoned motel on 109 was way better.
    I was happy to be there though, out of the rain and cold and I only got bit by one mosquito in the room.

    Vid:
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    Dude, the place was so bad I was in love.

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    And the best meal there is for the boy adventurer, Spam and Oatmeal.

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    Make sure to brown the spam a bit first.
    Delicious!
    #7
  8. buick driver

    buick driver Adventurer

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    Great report. I like your bike too.:thumb
    The Bates Motel does seem to have seen better days.
    #8
  9. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    The next morning I was up and out!
    I filled up my tank and lashed the gas can to the seat after topping it off. This was it, the famed James Bay Road. I dreamed of camping that evening on the shores of the James Bay.
    I stopped and checked in at the info booth at km6 on the JBR. The plan was to spend a couple days on the road and then return south via the Route Du Nord to Chibougamau, a very loose plan.
    Immediately after setting out on the JBR the air was clean and COLD. I felt alive man. The road was probably as well maintained as it could be, not as bad as 109 but still lots of frost heaves and bumps. The road would improve after the Rupert River both in condition and in terms motorcycling fun factor. The JBR is really straight up until then and the scenery is mainly boreal forest. The traffic also picks up after the Rupert as you start to get in the neighborhood of the four Cree villages that can be accessed via gravel, and in the case of Chisassibi paved, roads that branch off to the Eastern shores and tributaries of the James Bay. I would find that the JBR is not as sparsely trafficked as I was led to believe. I got a flat, more on that later, and about 5 people stopped to see if I was allright and many more vehicles actually passed me by.

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    The Rupert River was pretty amazing I must say. Very very cool. This river is being diverted by Hydro Quebec and these rapids will soon be no more. See them while you still can!

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    Just on a side note, the black flies by Rupert were extreme. After about 1 minute of getting off the bike I was swarmed with a cloud. A construction worker took my picture by the bridge and this chic was absolutely enveloped in a cloud of them. She was wearing a net, kept spraying herself with bug spray, and had a few mosquito coils burning and all to no avail. Felt really bad for her. She had a book to read though. Lord of the Rings in French, haha.
    #9
  10. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    Like I said earlier, after the Rupert the JBR improves considerably both in condition and an in fun. There are LOTS of long sweeping turns that you can take with aplomb, but be careful please of gravel scattered in the corners by trucks that overrun the corners and churn up the shoulder. The trees thin out a bit and get noticeable smaller the father north you get. It also gets colder if that is possible. A bit after the Rupert I hit reserve and stopped to empty my gas can into the tank. I passed some dude heading south on a red KLR and a few cars and trucks. In a little ways I hit the Relias Router (sp?) km381 gas stop. Gas was fairly expensive, but not obnoxiously so compared to the rest of Canada, about $1.25 per liter. They take credit cards, as did EVERY gas station and store up north, even the two pump station in Chisassibi. Be warned, you must wait for the gas boy at the km381 pumps, and make sure to increase your karma by tipping him your spare loons. He was a nice enough guy.
    The cafeteria is not at all bad at the Relias! The food was not as expensive as you might think and is typical fare for a truck stop. There's a chic that works there who is eager to chat it up with the wayward traveller and practice her English. Weird to see a dolled up trollop up there amongst all the trees and bears. I got a "smoked meat" sandwich, forgoing the poutine for the return leg, and purchasing some French-Canadian bug cream.

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    Coffee is terrible there, but effective.

    Leaving the Relias and on towards Chisassibi I again got soaked.
    I was tired and COLD and stopped at a picnic area for some more coffee, ramen noodles, and canned tuna.

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    On a side note, they sell cans of tuna in Quebec that have other stuff in them, like beans and corn. Havent really seen that so much in New York, but they're a great addition to ramen noodles.
    #10
  11. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    Oh yea, I met some dude at km381 riding a yellow Goldwing with Nevada plates. He was pulling a two wheeled trailer full of crap. Nice guy on a 6 week trip of Canada/US. I must admit, I was a little envious of his setup and his ability to haul pretty much anything. You wouldn't catch me dead on a setup like that though, maybe in 30 years.

    So, I made it to James Bay that night through the rain and set up my tent. I was extremely elated and stared into the Bay watching the pseudo-sunset at 9pm. I was exhausted and set up my tent. I got full cell phone reception and called a few friends from inside the tent. I slept incredibly well and warm in my one-man tent. I borrowed my friend's big agnes air mattress, and that thing was GREAT, so goddamn comfortable and packs way small. Totally worth every penny, will be picking one up soon. I have this Mountain Hardware Sprite single tent I got from Sports Authority for $70. It is a pain in the ass to set up but I stayed totally dry and happy inside. A nice tent, packs real small too. Also, I bought a textile jacket for this trip, a Cortech Accelerator. It did a pretty decent job of keeping me dry in all but the most punishing of rain. I also picked up a pair of Fieldsheer pants, which did a similar job. Both kept me dry and non-hypothermic.

    The following morning:
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    access road from Chisassibi to James Bay, follow the signs for Georges Boat Landing!
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    Cree stop sign
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    Thoughts on the Cree:
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    The Cree were actually incredibly nice people. They were really friendly and kind. The Cree seem to have retained a lot of their culture and pride compared to the realtively few Native Americans I've met in the states.

    To the Trans-taiga!
    #11
  12. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    From Chisassibi I blasted on to Radisson to check out the town and get some more gas. Radisson is a bit of a dump and was probably the most expensive town in northern Quebec in terms of gas and goods on the whole trip. I have no digital pics of Radisson but probably have some on my disposable camera which has yet to be developed. I didnt see the dam or power station but if you have time to kill up north, I hear it is pretty wild. When I was looking for the Bay the previous day I hit up this gravel access road towards LG-2, another dam/power station by Chisassibi, and from what I could see THAT was amazing and massive and the one at Radisson is supposed to top that by far. I also saw a HUGE bear which walked slowly across the road about 50 feet in front of the bike. It was big man, a really BIG bear. It didn't really care that I was there and just walked slowly off into the brush. Couldn't get my camera out fast enough unfortunately.

    From Radisson I hit the JBR south and headed for the Trans-taiga road, a crazy desolate gravel road that stretches even farther north than the JBR and runs basically West to East. There is nothing on save for a couple of outfitters hocking gas and hydro quebec stations.

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    I did about 30 or so miles on the Trans-taiga before having some lunch and turning around. On the way I got drenched again and almost crashed twice in some loose gravel. The bars started slapping wildly and I was able to hold the bike up. I learned that I am not a good rider on gravel. To be able to ride that stuff well is impressive. To be honest, I did not want to risk a crash out there in all that nothing. The Trans-taiga is scary desolate for the solo-motorcyclist on a 34 year old bike.
    I kept thinking of my tires and fear of flats, as the taiga is a renowned eater of tires and tubes.

    Lunch and quarry:
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    So I wound up getting a flat. But not on the trans-taiga per se.
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    Guh, was real lucky to be able to fix that rear brake with zip ties and ingenuity. I could have rode on without it but the front brake on the CB500T is absolutely useless in the rain, so it would not have been fun.

    That really sucked, and took a lot of fun out of the ride. I started to hate the desolation of that place. I lifted my spirits with a chat with Sophie, the km 381 truck stop trollop and some poutine.

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    My first poutine! Delicious French-Canadian junk food. That poutine was like $7 and change and was delicious and worth every penny. It was more than I could eat. So Sophie enjoys working in far out desolate places. She used to work in Nunavut. She is single and enjoys to travel she says.

    It didnt rain for the rest of the night and I stayed dry and camped out under the Eastmain River bridge. Got a nice little fire going. Also, no bugs! Very nice indeed. Got some GREAT sleep.

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    Not a soul around for miles, friends.
    #12
  13. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    I pussed out on the Route du Nord. Save it for another time my friends, along with the Trans-taiga to the end. Maybe when I'm better at patching tubes and changing tires.

    Eastmain river campsite at dawn
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    I awoke to plenty of fog.
    After an hour or so of packing up, the sun came out and dried it all up.
    I blasted down the JBR again towards Matagami. I wanted to get a room in Val D'Or, get some food, and get some rest.

    French-Canadian snack on the road
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    Mission accomplished, at the JBR km6 checkpoint. Very happy.
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    Listen up, the JBR experience may never be the same. Do it now if you can. The Rupert will be damned and diverted.
    As i was leaving they had put in new gas pumps at km237, at the access road to Waskaganish!

    It seems like the Cree communities are getting bigger up there, and the world getting smaller.

    On a side note, i met a Cree dude at the Relias Router km381 gas stop who was on his way to Waskaganish to meet up with some buddies who had taken their canoes down the Rupert! That it is an adventure man. Those rapids are pretty terrifying. Crazy.
    #13
  14. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    So I hustled my ass down to Val D'Or and got a cheap room. I made a tremendous effort at bagging the large breasted hotel receptionist and fueled up on some ribs and two HUGE Molsons at LeBrasserie Pub downtown. Val D'Or is a great town!

    To Val D'Or!

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    fork for scale, big ol' Molsons
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    walking home drunk
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    And of course, walking on the way to the pub, got totally drenched again.
    #14
  15. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    Ah, so waking up in room I checked the weather report and was not plussed. I would be riding into rain for the remainder of the trip if I followed my original plan and went East towards Montreal and Quebec city. So I decided to head West and South, out of French speaking Canada and towards the city of Toronto and then Niagara Falls. I rode through absolutely punishing rain for an hour and a half and got wet through my suit.
    I blasted down nothing roads in Northern Ontario and made my way to Toronto.

    Route 624(?) through Ontario. Cool road, nearly deserted.
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    I stopped in Cobalt, Ontario at the Cobalt mining museum. A really cool road trippy sort of weird little museum that one should check out in "Ontario's most historic city" of Cobalt if one ever finds himself there.

    cool flourescent rocks
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    #15
  16. dentedvw

    dentedvw Where did I put that

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    Cool! I like it!
    Those mannequins are so... lifelike. :rofl
    Fantastic photos, thanks.
    #16
  17. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Desolate Loner

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    So after stopping at the ol' Cobalt Mining Museum I blasted south. Saw another bear just hanging out on some rocks on the side of the road south of Temagami. I stopped, circled back, but to no avail, as the bear went wandering back into the brush.

    Did a ton of miles that day, and was able to ride all the way into Toronto. It was really an awful, boring slog for the remainder of the day and into Toronto. My rear tire was wearing at an increased rate my chain was STRETCHING man, as I was now taking it out almost an entire notch for the past couple days. Some of those roads in Ontario are BORING man, boring and STRAIGHT for a hundred miles at a time.

    Thoughts on the road:
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    I made it into Toronto and set up at late at the hostel. The next I spent off the bike to recuperate, relax, write postcards, and get smashed. I was drunk by noon and maintained a great buzz throughout the day and into the night, harassing my 5 female hostel roommates and chatting with some weird French kid. From the roof of the hostel you could view the CN Tower, which is way cool at night. The sides light up with different colors that travel up and down to the observation platform. i didnt go up to the top because they wanted $28 of my hard earned Canadian loons. Forget that. Toronto is an expensive city. The Canadians levy a tax on everything! Gas, booze, smokes...anything having to with human pleasure and self-destructiveness. But no worry, we are playing catchup here in the states.
    Nonetheless, Toronto is a cool city. I walked around and stopped in a bunch of bars. The hockey hall of fame wanted $18 for admission, as did the art gallery. So I just continued drinking instead. The market in old town is OK. I picked up some real nice kielbasa from a Ukranian deli in there. I threw that in my pack to help balance out the kipper smell.

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    I left Toronto in my wake the next day hungover and ready to see the Canadian side of one of the natural wonders of the world, Niagara Falls.
    There was a ton of traffic getting there. I took a bunch of side roads through the Toronto suburbs to get around the Queensway. This sucked as much as the traffic because the speed limits in Canada are set way too LOW and there was nothing to be seen. I finally got to the falls. Maybe I'm sick and jaded but i wasnt awestruck or terrible excited by there sight. It cost me $8 to park for a little over an hour and there were throngs of people climbing over each other to get shots of the falls. I was WAY more interested in people watching than the falls. But, hey, i saw Niagara falls. The Canadian side does look like it offers a MUCH better view.

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    After the falls I had an OBLIGATORY, or so i was led to believe, meal at the Canadian McDonalds: Tim Hortons.
    Their coffee and food was crap; still not sure why so many rave about Tim Hortons.
    Haha, no really, it wasnt that bad as far as fast food goes, maybe a small step up from most fast food places, but crap nonetheless. McDonalds coffee is better.

    Tim Hortons helmet shot and view from the parking lot.
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    I stopped at the Corning Museum of Glass on the way home. If you are ever in the area of Corning, NY check this place out. It is cool man. They sell a lot of glass souvenirs and i bought a bunch for family and friends at home. Really cool.

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    <embed width="448" height="361" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" src="http://i277.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid277.photobucket.com/albums/kk80/richstaab/james%20bay/VID00033.flv">

    Riding home, upstate New York.
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    Fin!
    #17
  18. Mr. Vintage

    Mr. Vintage Family Dude

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    976
    Location:
    The Palouse
    James Bay, a CB500T, a large breasted hotel receptionist, and explosive sharts: the makings of a perfect ride report. Thanks!:clap

    (I can barely stand the vibrations on my CB450 for more than an hour or so - you are more man than I!)
    #18
  19. bullfrog

    bullfrog Dismember

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    592
    Location:
    Armpit of Texas
    +1

    :super :lurk :super

    this kicks ass!!!
    #19
  20. EsquireTed

    EsquireTed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    163
    Location:
    DC
    Excellent read, thanks!
    #20