The James Bay Road and a Defective Duc

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by dhgraves, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. dhgraves

    dhgraves lurker extraordinaire

    Joined:
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    First off, this is my first ride report – first post to ADV, actually. I have been lurking, reading, enjoying for a few years now, and I figure it was time to make a contribution.

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    The plan was for my brother and me to tackle the James Bay Road (JBR), gaze at the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on">Rupert River</st1:place> rapids, tour the hydroelectric facility in Radisson, and camp on the bay in Chisasibi. He on a Suzuki Wee-Strom, and me on a Ducati Multistrada. (Note: I am sure that many or most of you are familiar with the JBR. If not, check here: James Bay Road. Many have contributed their JBR reports on ADV in the past.) We have been planning this trip for over two years. Last year’s attempt was foiled by a couple of defective Ducati layshaft bearings:cry. This year’s attempt was almost foiled by some defective Ducati valve guides:becca . Does there seem to be a theme here? Defective and Ducati have become synonymous in my book, but more on that later.



    Me, just before heading out; full of optimism.
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    The Duc, loaded up.
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    Bro, ready to go...
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    The Wee, loaded up.
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    The journey began in Mid-Michigan early on Thursday, August 20th. A trip up the back roads of northern lower Michigan started the trip off right. There was no rain immediately, but all the roads are wet, and the sky continued to threaten.

    The plan for day 1.
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    Norther Lower Michigan
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    Not a tank in sight.
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    Approaching the mighty Mackinac Bridge (you have to look closely).
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    Fuel stop in Mackinaw City.
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    Across the bridge we go, from the lower penisula to the upper penisula.
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    Under one of the towers.
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    Half of the bro behind me (I need some more practice with these behind the back shots).
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    One lane in each direction between the towers consists of steel grating. It is a little unnerving as the bike wanders around between the grooves.
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    You can see the water a few hundred feet below.
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    The rain actually holds off until we reach Sault Ste Marie Ontario. From there we decided to head up 129 from Theselon. WOW!, what a great road. It reminded me a little of the Ozarks in stretches – only without the large elevation changes. It would have been a whole lot better if it wasn’t raining and near the end of a long day. The first signs of bike trouble appear here. I notice a just the shadow of some smoke as I start my bike after gassing up.


    Appraoching the bridge between Sault Ste Marie Michigan, and Sault Ste Marie Ontario Canada.
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    Border control station.
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    Now on the bridge.
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    Cossing over the Soo Locks.
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    The St. Mary's River.
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    The line to get into Canada.
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    Killing time while we wait.
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    The skies are questionable at best.[​IMG]

    Putting on the rain gear in Echo Bay, ON.
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    A rest stop in Thessalon.
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    I told you it was raining
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    A peak up 129, looks promising.
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    Gassing up at the Tunnel Lake Trading Post. This is were I first noticed some exhaust smoke. Note for future travelers: if you stop to fuel here be sure you know how much gas you pumped before you head in to pay, just do it - you'll see.
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    Cruising up 129 along the Mississagi River.
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    This appeared to be a burned over area, interesting.
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    Another rest stop on 129. We just pulled off the main road, and come across this bridge.
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    We planned on camping most of the trip, but decided to get a room for the first night. Lucky that; by the end of the day every thing was soaked. We made good use of the hair dryer that was provided in the room over the next several hours.
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    Obtaining lodging in Chapleau was more difficult than expected. While there were multiple suitable places, they were mostly filled with construction workers toiling on a large project on 101 west of Chapleau. The <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Riverside</st1:place></st1:City> was full of ‘em. They were mostly all lit :freaky when we got there at about 7 pm. It felt like we were invading their private residence. They mostly just stood around only feet from us and our bikes silently gawking, like they had not seen non-construction workers in some time:norton .
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    We decided to take a walk around town in the rain to find something to eat. This place was eerily quiet, almost spooky. Some kind of Greek restaurant was the first place we came upon. Nothing to write home about.

    Arrival in a rainy Chapleau ON.
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    Walking through town. The soft focus in the picture reflected our general feelings.
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    Chapleau Jesus welcomes you.
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    Back to the Riverside, note the drunk construction workers wandering around.
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    How cound you go wrong?
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    To be continued....
    #1
  2. selkins

    selkins Gotta light?

    Joined:
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    Nice intro. Bring it!
    #2
  3. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    So far so good... the Mutli is holding up :lol2

    :lurk
    #3
  4. zadok

    zadok Long timer

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    Looking good.:clap:lurk
    #4
  5. DetR6oit

    DetR6oit Been here awhile

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    we almost could have ran into each other, I did my James bay trip the week before. Even though it was a week earlier, I still had the rain like that all in ontario too.
    #5
  6. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

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    I am looking forward to the rest of your report......
    #6
  7. timk519

    timk519 Long timer

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    great start!
    #7
  8. donnymoto

    donnymoto Long timer

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    Sounds like this'll be a good one :thumb Subscribed


    Nice Shoei helmet BTW... :D
    #8
  9. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer Supporter

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    Hey - I just found the post, and what: it's already done? Do go on...

    Am thinking James Bay next season myself - let's see what two streebikes (effectively) do.
    #9
  10. dhgraves

    dhgraves lurker extraordinaire

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    Thanks all for the nice comments and encouragement so far. It makes a n00b poster feel good.:D I should get an update done later today.
    #10
  11. Kyler

    Kyler Geezer

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    In! I did this trip last year with my brother.
    #11
  12. dhgraves

    dhgraves lurker extraordinaire

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    The weather the next day initially continued with rain. It broke briefly, but by the time we geared up it was raining again. We gassed up in Chapleau in a downpour. The drive across 101 toward Timmins seemed very remote but quite scenic. The rain stopped just west of Foleyet, were we removed our rain gear. We blasted into Timmins for lunch. It was really strange to come upon the thriving metropolis of Timmins after hours and hours of wilderness. Another sign of trouble with the duc happened when it stalled as I pulled in for gas.

    The route for day 2, Chapleau to Km 80 on the JBR.
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    A temporary morning break in the weather, it would not hold.
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    Packing back up.
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    Stripping rain gear in Foleyet.
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    Do these Toggs make my butt look fat?:rofl
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    The home town of Shania Twain.:evil
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    Gassing at the Canadian Tire/Home Depot. This is were the MTS stalled as I turned into the lot.
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    Thriving Timmins. Our very first traffic of the entire trip.
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    Bro Mike picked this place for lunch.
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    Gold (?) mine tailings were all around this area.
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    The next stop was the Ontario/Quebec boarder. Again, it was predominately just remote wilderness. Except for the signs, there was nothing to physically distinguish between the two provinces. Shortly after entering QC, the landscape radically changed though. Thick forest gave way to rolling farm land. The effort to clear that land must have been tremendous. We pass through a number of quaint looking French-Canadian towns. After fueling up in Amos, it was north to Matagami, and the JBR. The smoke at start-up was getting worse, to the point that Mike commented: "You should put some premium it that thing." We raced an ominous looking front off to the west the rest of the day.

    Between Provinces.
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    That's Quebec, can't ya tell?
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    Clearly Ontario.
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    Some random town in QC, Taschereau perhaps?
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    Another fuel stop, this time in Amos. Just posting these pictures now, I realize that based on the number posted, I must have thought that gas stations were really, really interesting. Only a few more the rest of the way, I promise.:D
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    Fueling our bodies too.
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    Did I mention an ominous looking front to the west?
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    Leaving Amos, and civilization. Getting a little better at over the shoulder shots.
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    A stop for rest at a spooky abandoned motel half way between Amos and Matagami.
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    It appeared that the owners just up and left one day. There was still a full pickle jar sitting on the counter.:huh
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    There was cool lake directly behind the Motel. The green water gave the appearance of glacial runoff.
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    We finally made it to the start of the James Bay Road! :clap I did not take a picture of the gas station in Matagami, I know you are sad. But be patient, the station has a featured role in this story comming up.

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    Exiting the check point building at the start of the JBR.
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    Now we had been lead to believe that it was manditory that all travelers register at the check point. Due to the remoteness of the road, the authorities needed to know when you passed through, in case you were never heard from again. I would classify the "security" as inconsistent at best, and mostly unnecessay based on the amout of traffic we encountered. But more on that later, I do not want to get ahead of myself.

    We did make our first contact with our personal favorite check point man. I never did get his name, but we imagined it to be Jean-Pierre. When we first arrived, he proceeded to tell us the location of each and every point of interest along the way to Radisson. We tried to tell him that we were familiar with the JBR, and have spent a lot of time researching and planning our trip. He still continued to prattle on in a version of English that was not easily recognizable. My absolute favorite comment from JP was regarding the Rupert River, "Good for looking!" was his sage advice. Yeah, no sh!t, JP. :huh :norton It was starting to get dark, and we had been riding all day, and we were just anxious to get to our destination at km 80. I finally just walked out mid sentence, and left Mike to deal with him alone.

    The front seemed to be closing in on us as we made our way up the JBR.
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    Crusing the James Bay Road.
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    Just a few miles short of our planned destination for the day at the Ouescapis Lake Campground at km 80, it happened.....










    Teaser pic.
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    #12
  13. timk519

    timk519 Long timer

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    It's not hard to tell the difference between QC roads and just about anywhere else. :lol3


    Auuugh!
    #13
  14. donnymoto

    donnymoto Long timer

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    Great stuff here! Nice shots too. :thumb
    #14
  15. nofate

    nofate what blackflies?

    Joined:
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    Too bad I missed you when you stopped in Chapleau. If you had checked the 'tent space' thread you could find some fellow ADVers to connect with. I would have made your Chapleau stop more interesting. :D

    Looking forward to the rest of your trip. Carry on.
    #15
  16. dhgraves

    dhgraves lurker extraordinaire

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    I actually did see your entry in the tent space thread. I was hesitant to hit you up considering that I had never actually "contributed" to the site before. The tenting would have been miserable anyway, since we were soaked to the bone.

    We may make another run up there in the near future though. Thanks for the offer.
    #16
  17. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Enjoying your ride! Keep it coming :lurk

    Looks like the Multi's sprung a leak :(:
    #17
  18. dhgraves

    dhgraves lurker extraordinaire

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    The small amounts of white smoke evident only at start-up morphed into a full-fledged cloud nearly fogging out my trailing partner. Mike noticed a distict failure a few kilometers before turning into the campground at Ouescapis Lake.

    After I pulled into the camp entrance, I was enveloped by an enourmous white cloud. :eek1 Oh crap! Mike pulled in behind me shaking his head, "You have a major problem!" I limped it down the short dirt road to the campground and attempted to assess the problem. Clearly the bike was burning oil, but how and why. I took a look at the exhaust and there was fresh looking oil seeping from most every joint in the system. As I mentioned before, this trip was almost foiled by defective valve guides. I had just had them replaced, and I immediately suspected that the replacement had gone bad. It was about 8 PM by this time and starting to get dark. We decide to try and put it out of our minds, and deal with it in the morning.

    I am no certifed Ducati mechanic, but this did not look good.
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    [CAUTION: RANT ON] As any Ducatista will tell you, defective valve guides were installed at the factory in many 1000DS engines around 03-06 +/-. Ducati has even issued a service bulletin documenting the problem. I thought that I was one of the lucky ones since I had over 20K miles on the engine before they initally went bad. Most failures that I am aware of happen much sooner. Ducati has historically been replacing the crap guides even for bikes out of warranty. Their "good faith" warranty repair policy has officially ended based on the word from Ducati North America’s National Service Director. Mr. National Service Director told me that unless you are the original owner (I am not), and the bike is within one year of the warranty expiration date (mine had expired over 2 ½ years ago), DNA offers no compensation. I offered multiple examples of recent good faith repairs, to no avail. I ended up just grabbing the ankles and got the repair done. I love my duc, but this is without a doubt my last one. [RANT OFF]

    A rainbow actually geeted us to our campsite. Foreshadowing what?, we were not sure.
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    There was a Wee and the end of this rainbow.
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    Our humbe home for the next few days.
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    An evening fire.
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    Chillin' round the flames.
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    The remoteness of the JBR has been emphasized in all our research of the area. This was certainly not our experience. Imagine our surprise at our arrival at the campground greeted by three sets of French-Canadians in their fifth wheels, complete with generators that ran most of the night. This actual lack of remoteness was a common theme for the trip. The sections of the JBR that I frequented over the next couple of day were actually fairly well traveled. There were sections of 129, 101, and 109 that had much less traffic than the JBR.

    Miraculously, there was faint, unreliable cell service right at our shelter. Our neighbors clued us in to this as the came over multiple times to make their calls. If you stood on the bench and held the phone out very still, a call could probably be completed. Speaker phone was required as to not move the phone.

    The front that we were keeping our eyes on the day before arrived with a vengeances in the middle of the night. It continued to rain until mid morning.

    Morning view of day 3 from inside the tent.
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    Our neighbors, thankfully pulling out.
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    Due to the cold and rain, I do not think that we would have been going north to our planned destination at Chisasibi, even if we had two functional bikes.
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    Waiting for a slight break in the weather. Even considering our immediate circumstaces, we were still smiling.
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    Breakfast.
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    The first order of business now was to call the stealership that performed my valve service. The service manager thought that it could be one of three things; the valve job was bad, a piston ring was bad, or oil was coming up through the breather. His advice was to fill it back up with oil (it was just below the lower line in the view window) and keep a good eye on it. As the engine heated, the problem should lessen. He would talk to the mechanic when he came in a few hours later to see if he had any advice. So I was off on a borrowed Wee to see if I could secure some oil in Matagami. I would become quite familiar with this 100 mile round trip over the next few days.

    I was able to secure some suitable oil at the Shell Station, Shell synthetic 5W-30, cool. I used the pay phone (calling card came in VERY handy) to check with the shop again. The mechanic had no real useful information to contribute. Even if the problem was diagnosed, there is really nothing I could do about it in my current situation. Great. So I head back to Km 80 with three quarts of Shell’s finest.

    Waiting outside the Shell station between phone calls.
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    This guy seemed to belong to the sandwich shop attached to the gas station. He appears to be mocking me here, but he was actually just a friendly old dog.
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    The weather was clearing as I waited. [​IMG]


    I arrived back at the campsite and proceeded to pour about 1 1/3 quarts in to fill it back up, and crossed my fingers as I thumbed the starter. Holy crap! Stand back! The oil was literally boiling out of every push joint in the exhaust. :eek1 It was barley visible however, through the thick smoke cloud. It was now clear. This bike was going nowhere under its own power. :cry :cry In my despair, I failed to document the smoke clouds with pictures. This adventure ride had just morphed into a rescue mission.

    Taking stock: one dead bike, approximately 950 miles from home, nearest town with any services - 50 miles (Matagami), nearest town with minimal services - 170 Miles (Amos), nearest town with any real services - 350 miles (Timmins).

    Arriving back with the oil.
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    Again, not a certified mechanic, but this does not look right.
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    This guy was certainly trying to tell us something.:lol3
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    Since the cell phone was dying and becoming more unreliable, its was back to Matagami to the pay phone to begin to mobilize a rescue effort - man is the old lady is going to be pissed!

    Back at the Matagami Shell, stealing juice for the phone.
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    Mobilization of a rescue included lots of waiting.
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    My veiw as I waited between calls.
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    After several hours and countless phone calls home and elsewhere, a tentative plan was hatched. To my surprise, a 10 foot U-haul truck could be secured from the Amos "area" for a somewhat reasonable rate. :deal This sounded acceptable, but the "area" part came back to be a headache later. The truck would be ready in two days. That gave us the next day to do "something."

    Riding bitch with the bro was quickly ruled out, :rofl so the hydro tour was canceled, along with the dream of camping on the shores of the James Bay. It was proclaimed however, that at least one of us is going to see Rupert River rapids.


    Back at the site again, our spirits were still high despite our predicament.:freaky
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    Bro was busy the last few hours.
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    Another fire. I like fire.
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    Campground info sign.
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    This was attached to our shelter. WTF?, anybody know?
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    #18
  19. donnymoto

    donnymoto Long timer

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    Wow, what a story. I broke down this past August right before heading up the JBR but was able to get my bike to Amos where it was fixed.

    You might have mentioned it but I missed it; when do you take this trip?
    #19
  20. dhgraves

    dhgraves lurker extraordinaire

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    It was at the end of August this year.

    I remember reading you RR from that trip and thinking we had parallel experiences. :norton We even have the same Shoei helmet.:D
    #20