Thursday, August 21, 2014
The Burgman finished the trip with the usual excellent fuel economy, 3.4 litres per 100 km. But on this trip, I was worried about the Burgman much more than on the last trip. After the trip out west, we needed to replace the rear drive bearings on the Burgman, which was one reason for concern on the eastern trip where the roads were rougher. Also, the speed limits in the maritimes are sometimes very high considering the condition of the roads. On the trip west, we rarely had cars and trucks following us trying to get by. But this year, it seemed like there was always traffic trying to pass us.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Saturday, August 16, 2014
We are not home yet, but staying at the Motel des Deux Lacs, 2 km from the Quebec town of Waterloo. It rained most of the day, but we stayed warm and dry in our rain suits.
I took no pictures because of the rain, but I wish I had one of the main street in Thetford Mines, where we stopped at Chez Mes Roses for lunch. The street was closed for a festival and a band was playing, but nobody was there except us in our space suits.
Friday, August 15, 2014
We stopped here at the Wigwam Motel, a short walk from the old centre of town. There are lots of narrow winding roads, murals, and endless historical plaques for Mary Ann to read. Next we went to Cafe du Coin du Monde. We chose it because it was busy and was centrally located. I got a picture (below), of Mary Ann and the bottle of cider she ordered.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
When we woke up this morning, I was hoping for a nice boring ride through New Brunswick. That did not happen. Mary Ann's childhood dream, apparently, was to drive along the St John river, and today was the day that dream had to come true. Never mind that it was raining all day long. Regardless of the bumpy, wet roads. Despite the advice of a local resident, and the surprise 37 km detour just at the end of the day.
We arrived at the Leo Motel in Grand Falls looking very wet, at the rainiest part of the day. The lady at the desk took pity on us and lent us the motel owner's Toyota Corolla to drive into town for supper.
Picture: Mary Ann calls dibs on driving The Corolla home to the motel, whose motto is: "You're only a stranger once". So true.
We have a cabin for the overnight ferry ride to Nova Scotia. It has its own bathroom with a shower, two bunk beds, a porthole, writing desk and chair, pillows, towels, soap, lots of lights, curtains, and two card-keys for the door. The only irritant is that all three AC outlets in the room are dead. To recharge the smartphone, I have to sit in the bar or the lounge, where it's still tricky to find a good spot even at 3 AM.
Speaking of good and bad, this is where you would normally reflect on the trip itself. This trip, more than any other motorcycle trip I've been on, had forced me to rethink motorcycle trips. And not just because Mary Ann often wears a T-shirt that says RETHINK. In the end, I have a new appreciation of why I like motorcycling, and of the difficulties (or, as they say, challenges) of motorcycling.
On this trip, we had lots of rain and fog. The most scenic roads were littered with dangerous potholes. We needed to pre book the ferry and wait for the booking date, even though normally motorcycles can fit anywhere. I also had some age related health issues, on my first trip as a senior citizen.
But despite the downside, and defying logic, I think the motorcycles still made the trip worthwhile. Because of the motorcycle and scooter, we met some very interesting people, and have more stories and memories that I could not imagine having with a car.
So to summarize without all the details, the more difficult, or unusual the mode of transport, the more interesting the trip. Not everyone will understand, but after this trip, I think I might be getting there.
Before I forget, last night we were in the bar lounge talking to some other travellers, including Michael, who was the singer (as I mentioned before, this is more like a cruise than a ferry ride). Michael plays the guitar, sings local folk songs, tells a few stories, and generally provides the entertainment. He gave Mary Ann a mention during his performance, which is maybe the event that just got me thinking about what this trip means to her, and not just what it means to me. It came clearer as I watched her lead all the other motorcycles onto the boat, and then saw her strapping Burgie down for the boat trip. Its not just a cruise, it's an accomplishment. Trips don't all have to be about being pampered. Just ask the people why they ride bicycles across Canada, or why they walk or run. It also helps you understand what Terry Fox did.
Friday, August 8, 2014
Because our ferry leaves Monday, we found a nice hotel to hide from the rain for 3 nights. It's near downtown, has a 36" TV, and free parking underground. Mary Ann saved $20 per night by getting us a room without a view of the harbour. I said What am I going to look at all day. She said There's some chairs in the lobby where you can see the harbour for free. Or, you could stay in the room and look at me, but I'll have to charge you $20 a night. Plus tax.
So we ended up watching The Big Bang Theory on TV, instead of arguing whether tax is applicable between the two of us.
Tomorrow we will visit the St John's Farmers Market. I already told her Newfoundland doesn't have any farmers but she wants to go anyway. She will quiz them about how they grow their produce, to screen out the fakes. That's how she caught the mushroom "farmer" at the Kitchener farmer's market, who said he grew the mushrooms in a greenhouse. It should be entertaining.
Picture: the guide at Cupid's archaeology site two days ago, carrying three umbrellas. Cupid's is the oldest English colony in North America.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Technically, we are not staying in Harbour Grace, we are still at Fong's Motel in Carbonear. But it is very close and we did spend the day in Harbour Grace. Right behind the tourist information hut is the wreck of the SS Kyle. In 1949, it was used as a ferry between Newfoundland and Cape Breton. On the other side is a statute of Amelia Earhart, because she took off from Harbour Grace in 1932, on a solo transatlantic flight. Nearby is an old DC3 on a pedestal. At the other end of the street is a nice Museum at the site where Peter Easton set up a fort.
Easton is referred to as a pirate, but from what I can make out, he was more like an unpaid, independent admiral of the Royal Navy, trying to defend and govern Newfoundland, and make a buck or two on the side. We need to learn about these people in History, even though they don't fall into neat categories like Blackbeard, or Drake.
Pics: me in front of Newfoundland train that no longer runs. Mary Ann and Amelia, a model of the SS Kyle.
Monday, August 4, 2014
I first heard of Carbonear on the ferry, they were playing Newfoundland music, and one started
I met a girl from Carbonear who said she liked to dance, and if I knew just what to do then maybe I'd have a chance.
Since then I heard other songs about this girl. BTW Carbonear rhymes with over 30 one syllable words, may have contributed to her popularity.
Last night I was unable to post my blog from Heart's Content, it was the first dead zone I came across for my smartphone. Ironic, isn't it, that Heart's Content was the very first place in the New World to receive electronic signals from Europe.
Here's another turnaround. Usually I'm sitting in Kitchener watching Newfoundland get pounded by bad weather on TV. Yesterday in the restaurant, the TV was on showing some unlucky place up to their hubcaps in rain. Yes, it was Kitchener.
According to Google maps there are four ways to enter Carbonear from the south. Carbonear is a place in Newfoundland we passed through on the way to the Winterton wooden boat museum. So to help out any adventuresome travelers following our footsteps, this hint. Main street dead ends on the wrong side of the bay. Another road must traverse a pile of rocks washed up by the sea like a sandbar. Another narrowed to one lane, then was blocked by a parked pickup truck. The last became a driveway into a house which I actually drove in to, marvelling at how the road had improved. This last way was the best, as the proprietor was just leaving to go shopping at the Carbonear mall, so he told me to follow. Google maps can also take note.
Leaving Carbonear going north, I made one last effort at adventure riding and found one of the best roads I have ever seen. It is Freshwater Road. Too bad I didn't get a picture.
Winterton is a nice little place that used to be called Scilly Cove, until residents got fed up with the jokes and changed the name. It seems like the residents of Dildo, South Dildo, and Witless Bay are thicker skinned.
Pic: the boat museum.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Mary Ann had to drive Burgie to Cape Spear today because it's the furthest east point in North America. Now we go West again.
After Cape Spear we needed to go shopping in St John's, and it was still busy. We grabbed a Java at Grabba Java. The girl at the counter asked Mary Ann if she wanted butter on her scone, but Mary ann could not understand butter, because of her accent. I was curious because it did not sound Newfy-like. I asked Are you English?
Just Newfoundland then?
I was ready for another guess when she stopped me.
Then she asked Were you just going to go through all the accents until you got the right one?
Pictures Me, Mary Ann, Gilles and Josee at Cape Spear. It's the third time we have met by chance. Also they saw us riding the scooter yesterday, but we didn't see them.
Yesterday we got a room for two nights under the Irish Loop Cafe. We also went on a Gatheralls boat tour, then went for the evening to George Street in St John's.
Everyone says you should not drive at night in Newfoundland, but we did anyway, and arrived back at our room at 11:30 PM. This is why. We started out for town at 6:30 because we both fell asleep after the boat tour. Then we had trouble finding the Sundance Saloon because Google maps mislocated it at Queen and Water, also Queen has no street sign at Water. Then we found out there was a festival going on, and it cost $30 per person to enter George St., which we paid. Then, we walked the length of the street to get our money's worth which is slow because it's packed with people, and Dr Hook hasn't even started playing yet. We ordered wings and nachos, but could only order a Labatt beer because of the festival.
Just a side note. Newfoundland seems to have a lot of rules that only make sense to Newfoundlanders, like you need to have a reservation to go standby. So when I'm told a new rule I don't ask for further clarification, it just gets worse.
Now back to the beer. I order a Lime-a-rita because I see a giant picture on the wall, but in real life, the can is like a Puffin, WAY smaller than you ever imagined.
It was dark by the time we finished and Dr Hook was playing and now George St was packed solid. You can't fall down, you can hardly move. But Mary Ann plows ahead slowly but steadily. We could go on another street, but we paid for George St. It seems impossible, but by 10:45 we are past the worst of it. (Or best if you like that sort of intimacy with strange women)
Finally, a dark ride home is made brighter by the off road lights of a monster truck tailgating all the way home.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Riding off the ferry at 10:15, I have now officially visited all ten provinces of Canada. Without a room on the boat, we had a mediocre sleep, luckily a room will be available for our return.
First we drove into Placientia and got a room at the Ocean View. Then rode the bikes down to Cape St Mary to see the cliffs and the Gannet colony. While there we ran into Gilles and Josee, a motorcycling couple from Quebec. We met them the night before on the boat.
Yesterday, also on the boat, I met Barry from Peterborough riding his pedal powered trike from Halifax to Cape Spear. Today we met him again but we were going opposite directions on highway 91, aka the "dirt road". We were all on the road by mistake, and it was such a bad road, we might as well be meeting in Outer Mongolia. We stopped, chatted, exchanged horror stories about what lay ahead.
Pics: Barry and Mary Ann, a good road (hwy 92), and Gannets.
We killed time today just waiting for the ferry. Now we're in the forward lounge sitting in comfy bucket chairs around a small table, looking out the forward windows at fog and waves, drinking Iceberg Beer, eating pizza, listening to a lounge singer, singing "Don't tug on Superman's cape" .
This is what I think of that, and why I like it. Newfies know that there is only one kind of pizza, and there is no pineapple on it. Everybody talks to everybody else on the boat, even if they are from Quebec and don't speak English. Beer can be made out of anything, even icebergs. Newfies don't take advice like don't tug on Superman's cape seriously.
I might just enjoy visiting Newfoundland.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
We spent the day in North Sydney yesterday, and I picked up a litre of oil at Canadian Tire. I added about a quarter of it to Lost (the Vulcan 900) and Burgie took almost all the rest. The Burgman 400 has always used more oil than the Vulcan so I don't know if I should be worried. Although it also took a big gulp of oil in PEI , we use Burgie as a taxi when we stay somewhere, and we put maybe 300 km on it in the Magdalen Islands, while Lost was parked. The scooter has done over 4100 km since Kitchener, and has about 50,000 km on the odometer.
It's not just Burgie,Mary Ann and I are having more physical problems on this trip than going west in 2012. After I added the oil yesterday I needed help to stand up, and had a backache all night. At least I got a seniors discount on the cruise ship to Newfoundland. Together, it still adds up to about a thousand dollars return fare. We are getting packed for the trip this afternoon to Argentia.
Picture: I hope this is North Sydney humor, and not what's happening to the place.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
We are resting today after going into North Sydney for breakfast at Robena's. Like much of North Sydney, Ronena's is down to earth. All day breakfast, coffee included in every breakfast item. But you can substitute. An early bird special is also available all day. I guess it's always early somewhere.
I really wanted to make a suggestion to the ferry company that they allow standby for motorcycles, but after Googling all their other problems, I will just withdraw my suggestion. They have so many other complaints. Example, cotton tablecloths in the restaurant cater to luxury tourists, not the good kind of tourists like us. And when crossings are cancelled due to bad weather, or ships running into buildings, the help lines and reservation lines get swamped .
I actually feel lucky that we could get through to the reservations area three times without going through a phone tree, or having to wait while being assured my call is important to them.
Monday, July 28, 2014
Also, they didn't have any spaces available for the next three days.
So we went back to our motel room, checked the internet, made a couple of calls to the help number, reviewed the calendar and decided on a new plan. Our original plan was to go standby to the western side of Newfoundland (Port Aux Basques), drive across to the eastern end, and take the return ferry from there.
Instead of our original plan, we booked a return trip to the eastern side (Argentia), leaving Wednesday at 5:00 PM. Returning August 11. The ferry to Argentia had lots of room. It is a 15 hour voyage, and takes us to and from the East end of the island. If we still want to see the western part, it will mean doing a lot of driving.
Our new plan costs more, but we may avoid a lot of boring transcanada highway riding.
Pics: I have one of the ferry we're not taking, the "Highlanders". Instead, we will be on the "Atlantic Vision". Unlike the Magdalen island ferry, it does not have a movie theatre. (Update: It does have a movie theater - it's called a TV lounge, but it plays movies on a big screen just like the Magdalen Island ferry.)
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Lost and Burgie drove in four of Canada's provinces, Quebec, PEI, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, today. We woke up at 5 AM on the Magdalen Islands, (Quebec), rode to the ferry crossing to Prince Edward Island. Rode across PEI to the bridge to NB, then continued to finish in Tatamagouche, NS. We are now at the Balmoral Motel. Is there any shorter way to ride a motorcycle in 4 provinces?
Pics: army delivering hay to Tatamagouche? Wake of ferry. A small sailboat on the beach at Magdalen Islands.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Friday, July 25, 2014
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
We decided to stay till Sunday. Changed campsite this Morning, 30 kph winds. Today we drove to la Grave at the end of Sandy Hook. Stopped at the Cafe Grave, a must see, according to our waitress last night at the Couvent. Then toured that island including some mountain trails. Stopped for gas and met Brigitte again. (We originally met her on the ferry, she has a Virago 1100).
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
We are on a 5 hour ferry ride, so after we paid for our tickets, and we had a lunch in the bistro, and walked the decks, Mary Ann settled in the Quiet Lounge, while I headed for the Movie Lounge. And because we have 2:30 left in the voyage, I will just review the movie, even though I missed the beginning.
The movie was Zookeeper, starring Kevin James and Rosario Dawson. Now for the bad parts. As I said already, Kevin James. Also, the movie was dubbed in French, as we are now back in Quebec. Thirdly, the movie lounge in this ferry vibrates so much like a Harley, it blurred my vision. But, it didn't really make too much difference, as the movie was only DVD, not high definition.
Now for the plot. I guess you don't need to be fluent in French to laugh at the part where the gorilla drives the zoo van right into the side of a parked car. (Belated spoiler alert!). But you may miss the more profound social subtext, so I will explain everything here in case you plan to watch the movie on this boat.
Kevin is a zookeeper who gets fed up with his lowly life shovelling elephant manure, and being admired by Rosario, and talking to the animals such as the wise old gorilla. So he quits his job and becomes an exotic car salesman, and gets a blonde for a girlfriend, and moves into a fabulously decorated condo loft with her.
But then, wouldn't you know it, just before the mariachi band plays, he realizes his mistake and heads back to the zoo. But Rosario is GONE! (Guess I should have had another spoiler alert here). So the gorilla offers to drive him to the airport. Leading up to the best scene in the movie, that I mentioned earlier.
Overall, I give it a surprising 2 and a half out of five.
And now we can see the islands appearing over the horizon.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Pics: Us with Anne of Green Gables cardboard cutout. Mary Anne Talking to statue of John A. MacDonald. John A went to Charlottetown to discuss confederation.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Monday, July 14, 2014
We passed right near Perce rock today. Then went for a tour of the preserved fishing post at Paspebiac. I was able to get some important research done on my great grandfather, especially about the type of fishing boat he had. On the internet I had found a boat called the Gaspe Schooner. It was the wrong type, mainly because it was too big. The boat he actually had was called locally a fishing barge, or "Barge" in French. All the local fishermen had them. They were a bit over 10 m in length. Any smaller and they would not be able to handle the sea. Often fishing was done more than 30 miles offshore. Also, the barges were rigged with two masts, like much larger Schooners. But the sail layout was different. Finally, mysteries about my great grandfathers boat solved, thanks to a very obliging carpenter at the museum shipbuilding workshop. They had no less than 5 models of this type of fishing barge. A small tabletop model, a half? sized model, a full size skeleton, a partially constructed model, and an old partly preserved barge. Plus a movie from 1937 showing the barges actually going out fishing, and a very knowledgeable resource person to answer questions, although you would need someone to translate if you don't speak French.
Tonight we are tenting on a sandbar. Mary Ann and I were sitting on the beach eating our pita wraps when a whole flock of gulls flew in and around our heads for about five minutes then suddenly flew away. Later we went back to the picnic table that was right behind our chairs, to put away the food. Our last pita bread was gone, taken right out of the bread bag by some enterprising and very quiet Black Backed Gull. (We don't say Seagull any more)