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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Mtl_Biker, Aug 26, 2014.
Really enjoying this RR. Nice!
I've reported the issue in the Ask Baldy section, but so far haven't gotten any solution. And if I change skins away from the default, I see the issue others have complained about. And the first post in this thread, one that I THOUGHT I'd successfully edited to remove any text formatting, obviously was not successfully edited. In non-default skins, the text in that message appears different than later posts. And I tried to edit it again, and got the blank edit box with nothing in it. And in that box, it's NOT white text on a white background, because if it was, selecting all and changing the text color would show it up. Doesn't.
I'm sorry for anyone who can't see the text properly, but if you're experiencing the issue, changing back to the default skin will allow you to see the text properly.
Thank you very much!!! I'm happy to hear that you and others are enjoying the report.
Two less than ideal experiences in NFLD absolutely do not affect my impression of the place or the people. Especially since one of the most memorable parts of the trip were at the Anchor Cafe in Port aux Choix on the first afternoon on the island. That was SO OUTSTANDING in all respects, that this is what I remember of the island (plus camping at Twillingate on the cliffs), not a couple of lousy restaurants.
As I said, I didn't eat there or even have a beer there. I just felt that as a single diner, I wasn't very welcome in the dining room, and was totally ignored for 14 minutes at the bar.
The other two Jungle Jim's I visited were really superb. In terms of food, beer AND service.
Thanks very much for commenting so favorably! I'm really happy that you and others are enjoying the report.
Great report so far! I'm trying to go take a trip to Nova Scotia in the coming weeks and this has made me want to go so much more.
Coming from a young guy (22) who also likes beer
And stay tuned... I hope to have my Nova Scotia (Cabot Trail mostly) report up by tonight. There are LOTS of great places to ride there.
And make sure you bring camping gear as one really wonderful place to camp is right on the cliffs at the tip of Cape Breton Island.
Saturday morning was cloudy with light rain but it was supposed to clear up by mid morning. So I had a leisurely breakfast and relaxed while waiting out the weather. It cleared up and was looking like I would finally have a dry riding day.
Someone (Vlad?) had recommended that I ride to Cape St. George on the Port au Port peninsula so that's what I did. I was a bit disappointed because there was nothing at the end and I'd been hoping for a great local seafood restaurant. My "waterproof" DeLorme inReach SE was still not working and the display was so water-logged that I couldn't read it even if the unit was working:
From the end of the peninsula, I had to ride back a ways to A&W's Roadside Takeout and Diner to have lunch. I had a (boring) cheeseburger (I'd really wanted seafood) and fries with a glass of water (they had no beer).
While I was there, two couples with Harleys showed up (riding 2-up) who were from Quebec. We had a nice little chat. They wanted to look cool so they parked their Harleys next to a REAL bike! :)
When I got back onto the Trans Canada heading towards the ferry, the sky got really black again and I really didn't want to spend the evening/night in wet riding gear so I stopped to put on my rain gear. A few minutes later the first drops hit so I stopped again to put on my waterproof over-gloves. And then no more rain. Murphy's Law. I was ready so it didn't come. I continued on for awhile until the sky lightened and I felt safe enough to stop and remove that gear. I was baking in it!
I arrived at the ferry terminal at Chanel-Port-aux-Basques at 6:15 and checked in. The ferry was scheduled to sail at 11:45 pm. There's nothing to do there until boarding starts and no alcohol at all on the premises (apparently they used to have alcohol but for some reason they stopped). So I gave back the ticket stuff and went into town to the Port Club bar they recommended to have a beer or two and kill some time.
The Port Club was totally empty. Just me and Holly. Too bad.
While I was there, two couples came in who were desperate to "Screech In" the two people who had been visiting the island and were about to leave. It turned out that while the Port Club had the Screech AND the COD, Holly wasn't certified to perform the ceremony. Geez, they take that seriously! In the end, they settled for just having a few shots of screech without being officially Screeched In. So no certificate suitable for framing for them either. The group was from "Little Ray's Reptile Zoo" and one couple had come from the "mainland" to help put on a show in Newfoundland. The other couple lived in Newfoundland.
Hard to tell from these photos, but the two women were HOT!! I had to strongly resist telling them about my pet snake. :)
Must be the beer.
Taken on my way back to the ferry waiting area from the Port Club:
I made my way back to the waiting area for boarding the ferry, and had to go through the whole identification thing again before I could get my ticket. Even though I'd been there early and gotten a ticket, I had to turn it in before they'd let me leave. And they stressed that I had to be back TWO HOURS before boarding, or they would give my spot away to someone else. There was apparently an incredible number of people on standby waiting lists. Probably because of the bad weather.
I was surprised at the large number of 4-wheelers who were waiting for the ferry. I chatted with several of them, and found they'd trailered their 4-wheelers to North Sydney and then left their cars/trucks and trailers there and only boarded the ferry with the 4-wheelers. Then they'd spent a week riding through the old train beds from hotel to hotel. They said that a motorcycle could NEVER do the routes they'd taken. Maybe.
At the waiting area I met the three guys I'd passed near Forteau the previous Saturday. Super nice guys from somewhere near Halifax. After we had strapped our bikes in and gotten settled on the boat, I met up with them (where else?) in the bar. But they were just leaving to go up topside to watch the ferry leave the port. These were taken from up there looking back at the empty staging area:
We said our goodnight's and the three of them headed to their cabin (which they'd reserved a LONG time before). I unfortunately, hadn't been able to get a cabin, bunk bed or even one of the reserved reclining seats. I was stuck in the general seating area with seats that reclined probably less than an airline seat. It wasn't going to be a very comfortable or restful night. Not a very happy camper:
I was very lucky that I wear earplugs when riding my bike. I had them with me, and was able to drown out the constant noise around me. I only wished I had thought to buy some of those eye shades you see people using on airplanes. There were large LCD screens all around which remained on all night and as the images changed even with eyes closed there was constant flashing of lights visible.
Next time I'm going to reserve early and get a cabin!! Or bring eye shades!
I had one of the reserved seats when I came across - with exception of spending an extra $25 to not have to fight for a seat and having a few less people around me, the seat was no different than the one you are in. They are very uncomfortable sleeping seats. Next time I am going to just bring my sleeping bag and pillow with me and find a section of floor to sleep on.
After a poor night's sleep we landed at North Sydney about 7:30 am. I was cranky and had a stiff neck and couldn't turn my head to the left. Note to self: If there's a next time on that ferry bring eye shades. The many large LCD TV screens were on all night and even with my eyes closed there were constant flashes of light. Also I was lucky that I had the earplugs with me that I use while riding which helped drown out the noise of the people who never sleep and think no one else should either.
It was looking like a good day weather-wise, and in spite of a lack of sleep I was feeling pretty good. I was riding a motorcycle after all, AND still had a few days of holiday left. I took a good look at my bike before we were let off the ship and my rear tire was really very worn (over 5,000 km by now, and tough ones at that!).
Also my chain was badly in need of lubrication and extremely loose. I needed to take care of both issues pronto. The three guys from Halifax, two others from somewhere else in NS and I sort of agreed to stop at the first Tim Horton's we saw to get breakfast and use the free WiFi. As we approached the intersection with Tim Horton's there was a big lineup to just to get into their parking lot so the three guys kept on going. But the two other guys and a fellow riding with his daughter and I all went in. I got the two guys to help me get the bike onto the center stand (fully loaded and on a bit of an incline, I wasn't able to manage it myself and I didn't want to unload everything for this). While they went inside I set about tightening my excessively loose chain.
After finishing the maintenance on the bike, I headed off on the 105 (Trans Canada) all the way to Whycocomagh (say that out loud!) because I wanted to cross over to the other side of Cape Breton and come up through Mabou to Inverness. Inverness has a great restaurant/bar called the "Coal Miner's Cafe" and their signs all along the highways proclaim they are "Biker Friendly". Indeed they were, as I'd found out a couple of years before when I had numerous breakfasts and dinners there. I was hoping to get there before they switched to their lunch menu and have a good breakfast. Kendra, the charming waitress I'd met several times before, was unfortunately not working until that night and I wouldn't be around then. She was a real sweetie and had let me shoot her portrait the last time.
Pretty uneventful ride, and I did get there in time and enjoyed a great breakfast and lots of coffee. My stiff neck was also starting to feel better.
After breakfast I continued up the Cabot Trail (clockwise) with my first stop planned to be at any tourist/info centers near Cheticamp. My friend Vlad had lost his camera around there and we hoped that someone had found it and turned it in. I hadn't originally planned to do the Cabot Trail this time because I'd already done it, but wanted to spend some more time in Prince Edward Island instead. But really, a guy on a motorcycle doesn't need much of an excuse to ride the scenic and winding roads along the Cabot Trail so I happily changed my plans (don't tell Vlad... I want him to think I tried to do some huge favor for him by changing my plans and riding so far out of my way!).
The park info center didn't have the camera and they called over to the other side of the island to see if they had it. No luck. But they had mis-written Vlad's contact info, so if they'd have found it, they would have never been able to reach him. I corrected that. I stopped at all the lookouts and info centers I passed, and didn't find his camera.
My plan (since I was so strongly begged to reluctantly ride the Cabot Trail again by Vlad) was to spend the night at Meat Cove. That's an outstanding little place, right on top of cliffs by the ocean. And if you get there early enough you can even have a lobster dinner there. It's not fancy, but in such a wonderful environment you sure don't need fancy. I was lucky that as I rode along, for the first day in a long time without rain gear, the sky was bright with some white clouds. But alas, it wasn't to last.
As I rode higher, gaining altitude, I went around a curve and right into a black sky and before I could blink, I was in heavy rain again. And without rain gear.
The rain didn't last long though... Only long enough that I was thoroughly soaked. But as I descended on the other side, the rain let up and near Meat Cove the roads were completely dry. What a fabulous place Meat Cove is!
Here I am sitting in my tent's vestibule, in a camping chair. (Gee, I really love this tent!)
I finished setting up my camp and changed into some more comfortable and dryer clothes. When I finished, another rider arrived with a 2014 F800GSA. (Real nice bike! I wish I had longer legs!). It was Bob, (wudnabob on advrider) who'd ridden all the way from Florida! He was breaking in his new bike with a fabulous trip!
I ordered my lobster dinner...
...and a good time was had by all (except for the lobster who enjoyed it less!).
While I was eating my lobster dinner, Darren (rumrunner here on advrider) and his son Jett showed up. They weren't camping but had found a room somewhere up the road. They just came here for dinner.
After dinner, we took the opportunity to give an advrider salute (left to right: Bob, Darren, Jett and myself):
Then Darren and Jett went out to do some father and son bonding (as if riding days 2-up hadn't already done that) and watch the ocean for awhile:
Here's Bob with a bottle of Nova Scotia beer:
As the sun set over the ocean and it got darker, we continued to talk (maybe drink a little) and just share the beauty of the spot and the camaraderie of touring motorcycle riders in a magic place.
It just doesn't get better than this.
I don't know when you did this, but they do NOT allow sleeping on the floor anymore. I know they used to, but now they make a real big deal about it (and several announcements too) that they don't allow it.
And I'd really thought the reserved seats were better, that they reclined more fully.
I know what I'll bring next time (if there is one)... Earplugs and eye shades I've already mentioned, but I'll also bring a flask of uh, sleeping medicine, to help me over the rough spots. :)
I was through on July 27th - outside the reserved seating area were 8 or 10 people sleeping on the floor. Perhaps it is one of those under enforced rules or depends on which crew member is working.
Just to let you know, all my posts have now been fixed to remove any reference to font or color. So those of you using a non-default skin here should now find this thread easier to read.
Thank you for pointing out the issue.
(For those interested, it was caused by my writing my daily notes in Evernote and then copying and pasting them into my posts. I never specified any font or color, just used the defaults everywhere, but it seems Evernote adds a ton of color and font info, hard coding it in the text. The solution I found was to FIRST paste that text into NotePad on the PC, which strips out any formatting, select THAT text and paste it into my new posts here. Further complicating matters was that I couldn't get back in and edit my posts using FireFox, as the text edit box would be totally blank. I finally tried on another machine running Google Chrome browser and it all worked perfectly. So there's some kind of glitch between the code here and FireFox. Anyway, it's all solved now.)
One of the old ferries had bunks you could get for 25.00 in dormitories with prob 30-40 bunks in a section and a washroom. They would provide you a pillow as well as a wool blanket. Couple of beers, a gravol and some ear plugs and you woud have a decent nights sleep.
Looking forward to the rest of your report!
Whenever I traveled on those boats I'd just grab my sleeping bag and pad and sleep on the outer deck somewhere.
The morning was reasonably clear and packed my stuff away, taking care that I didn't let go of anything that could blow away. The wind on top of those cliffs at Meat Cove are pretty strong and every year several tents and other things are blown over the cliffs. I didn't put on rain gear and hoped the day would stay clear and dry. I headed back down the gravel road to the pavement and then back to Cape North and the Cabot Trail.
I got gas and headed back counter-clockwise reversing the way I'd come.
I really wanted to stop at the Coal Miner's Cafe for breakfast, and hoped that Kendra would be there. As I climbed in the park and rounded a corner the sky turned black and the road was wet as if it had just rained heavily. Wanting to test out Murphy's Law I stopped at a "Look Off" (back home we call them "Look Outs") and put on my rain gear. Murphy's Law didn't work as the sky opened up with heavy rain. Day six of rain. SIGH thought I could bluff out old Mr. Murphy, but no way. He's just too smart for me.
On the way I swung through every "Look Off" in search of Vlad the Crazy Serbian's camera, but with no luck. (Funny that they call them "Look Off's" here, but where I'm from they've always been "Look Out's".) I also stopped at the information center to give them Vlad's phone number (he'd texted me overnight) which they hadn't had. Sorry Vlad, the camera's gone.
After I passed the highest points on the Cabot Trail and descended closer to sea level, the sky cleared up again and it really was very beautiful. If you haven't had the chance to tour the Cabot Trail, you really should put that on you bucket list.
I stopped again at the Coal Miner's Cafe in Inverness for a good breakfast and just made it there 5 minutes before they switched to their lunch menu. Unfortunately Kendra was working nights that week and I wouldn't be able to say hello.
After leaving the Coal Miner's Cafe, I headed towards Port Hawkesbury and the mainland, and again the sky started getting dark and threatening, finally developing into FULL RAIN yet again:
I didn't have a lot of vacation time left, but I really wanted to be able to ride on (maybe not explore, but at least set bike on the Island) Prince Edward Island, so I headed to Pictou to catch the ferry. I didn't know the ferry schedule but when I arrived the lady at the front gate told me to hurry and that they were just finishing boarding. I rushed down lane 4 only to hear the ship's horn sound and to be told the ferry was completely full and that I'd have to wait for the next one. An hour and half later. Just then another bike rolled in... an older Harley Davidson with "CJ" riding it. He'd known the schedule and just missed this one by minutes. We chatted and he lives on PEI. Great! I asked him for advice about camping spots. I wasn't asking for much, just a clean quiet campground within walking distance to a good pub. Like winning the lottery, it's not going to happen.
Since I mentioned beer, he said he would ride back to Pictou to have a beer and invited me to join him. I regret that I declined, thinking that as tired as I was and as thirsty, one beer wouldn't be enough and I sort of had a rule not to drink (much) and ride a motorcycle.
There wasn't much to do at the ferry waiting area - they only had a souvenir shop and fast food outlet besides a waiting area. So I took advantage of the time I had to kill and enlisted a man driving a camper to help me get my bike up onto the center stand. I lubed the chain and saw it really was showing major signs of wear. I hoped I'd make it back home safely. And my rear tire had really gotten worn:
CJ returned and we chatted some more. He was riding to just past Charlottetown and said there was an excellent KOA campground in Cornwall, just on the outskirts of C'town (as the locals seem to call it). He said that he'd ride with me and show me a shortcut, and when he'd wave and turn right, I should turn left and the campground would be just a kilometer or two further down the road.
Loaded and strapped down on the ferry:
Here we are on the ferry:
PEI has more than one micro brewery it seems and CJ was making my mouth water by describing some of the options in C'town. I was really craving a visit to one of the brew pubs and having the "taster's platter" of beer CJ told me about and a really good meal. Yum!
When we disembarked from the ferry, the sky was bright and it wasn't raining. Hooray! We headed off at fairly high-speed along the shortcut he knew. CJ somehow reminds me of Easy Rider, especially in this shot:
We parted company with a wave in Cornwall, and I headed down to the KOA campground. Even though it was quite full it was really quiet and I got a nice tent site:
After settling in I had a big decision to make: Should I ride (on a highway) back to C'Town to the brew pub or not? How could I possibly be in a brew pub and have only one beer? Even that taster platter that I'd been looking forward to would probably put my ride back to the campsite on the wrong side of the law. But boy, I really wanted to eat well and to enjoy some good PEI micro-brew beer(s). The ride back to the brew pub would take 20-25 minutes on a major roadway, and I'd be wearing my full protective riding gear. And from what people were telling me, I would have to park (even a motorcycle) about 2 blocks away from the pub. I decided, with a heavy heart, that it wouldn't be the wisest thing to do, as much as I wanted to. So I made alternate plans.
I was less than 10 minutes away (on smaller roads too) from the center of Cornwall, and I got directions to a liquor store that I was told would have local beers available. My plan was to pick up some beer, get some food somewhere and ride back to my campsite to enjoy it. I got to the liquor store, bought some beer (the bottles were a bit bigger than the normal 375 ml and were 500 ml each). At the cash I asked the lady if she might know where I could find a tv repair shop or a Radio Shack, or something similar. I said what I was looking for was someone who had a soldering iron. (Remember, I had two non-working air compressors with me, and I knew one of them just needed a connection soldered.) She didn't know, but she told me to go next door to the Tim Horton's. She said go in, turn right - not left - and that anyone sitting there would be one of the "local old men" and if anyone knew where I could find someone with a soldering iron, it would be them. So I went to Tim Horton's.
Sure enough, there was a group of gentlemen sitting to the right. I approached them (wearing my protective riding gear and carrying a helmet and they might have thought I was some sort of biker gang member) and they weren't particularly friendly. I explained what I was looking for, and unfortunately they weren't able to help me. I left and walked back to my bike.
Just then a man came out of the liquor store and called over to me, "Are you the fellow looking for a soldering iron?". "If so, follow me, I'm only 5 minutes away and I've got one." Wow! Just then one of the older men from Tim Horton's came shuffling out (he might have thought he was running) and said "Wait, wait! I've got an idea!". He went into another store and came out a few minutes later with a bar-b-que lighter. That's basically a cigarette lighter but with a long "snout" that you could put into the bar-b-que charcoal. He thought that would work as a soldering iron. We tried, but all it did was melt the insulation on the wire without heating up the solder. "I needed a bar-b-que lighter anyway", he said. Imagine that! He really was trying to help!
So my new friend (Bill Moore was his name) led the way down to his home which turned out to be almost spitting distance from the KOA campground. Bill had a full workshop in his garage, and a beautiful gleaming motorcycle:
Bill took his soldering iron and in a blink of an eye, had soldered a strong connection and taped up the wire so that there wouldn't be any strain on the connection:
I was now definitely one happy camper!
As I thanked him and we shook hands and said goodbye, Bill gave me his card and told me that if I had any trouble at all while I was in PEI, I should give him a call and he'd find a way to help me. What an incredibly kind, helpful and generous person he is, and a terrific example of what is often called "Maritime Hospitality". Thank you Bill!
So now happy with a working compressor and several cold beers in my pannier, I still didn't have anything to eat. So I rode back up to that same little strip mall where the liquor store and Tim Horton's was, and there was a Pizza Delight (I'd eaten at one in Corner Brook a few nights before) and I walked up to the take-out counter. As I walked in, a man came in right behind me and was standing there while I was talking to the waitress. I asked her to show me with her hands how large the pizzas were, telling her that I couldn't tilt it and that I'd have to lay it flat in my pannier and take it back to my campsite at the KOA down the road. "You're at the KOA?", the man who came in behind me asked. "You go ahead and order whatever you want, and I'll take it down for you." Wow!!! That was Kent Sentner, the owner of that KOA campground! Imagine my luck! Kent had phoned in his order and his food was already on the counter waiting for him, and I told him that his offer was very kind but that his food was getting cold and that I would manage. Nonsense, he wouldn't hear of it. He actually waited with me about 15 minutes until my own food was ready and then he took it not only to the entrance of the campground, but all the way through to the other end where my campsite was. What a nice guy! And honestly, I do strongly recommend his KOA campground. Well-maintained, spotless washrooms and showers (with great water pressure!) and no rowdiness at night to disturb others.
And I enjoyed a wonderful dinner by lantern light, washed down by some good beer.
By 9pm, the campground was totally silent, and remained that way the whole night. Another terrific day and evening!
Awesome story and pics..
I may have missed it if you mentioned it, but what's the name/model of your tent?
Your story just gets better and better, even despite all the rain. Thanks for sharing all the insights and experiences. I'm an Ontario boy and should I ever get back to Canada, I'll definitely be putting the Maritimes on my to-do list.
Thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying the report.
I did give a link to my tent in an early post, and when I'm finished with the daily reports (just one or two to go) I plan to finish up with a post reviewing the gear I used. What worked, what didn't, and what I'd do different next time.
But after owning about 8 different tents in the last 10 years, and 3 just this year alone, I must say that I really really do like the tent I'm using now. Stay tuned for my final report.
But the tent is a Hilleberg Anjan 2 GT.
Thank you Trane. I don't know what it is with me this year and rain, but I sure seem to attract the stuff. So I'm getting better at weather-proofing and riding in the rain. When people ask me how I can ride in heavy rain, I always answer that as long as it isn't snow, I'm riding!
How long are you in Tokyo for? I've been there twice, and believe it or not, I didn't enjoy the sushi there. I tried a bunch of different places (I generally love sushi, and have a couple of places here in Montreal that are excellent, but I also enjoy it in Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles, whenever I get the chance).
But the sake is quite alright! :)