8/1/09: Left the house about 06:00 AM. Overcast and foggy. It remained foggy all the way up to Asheboro, NC. It burned off by 10:00 AM or so. Very nice weather from that point. We are staying a little south of Harrisburg, PA. 500.7 miles total today. It got pretty hot (close to 90) by the end of first day. No pics of real interest, just 500 miles of solid slabbing. Ate at Middlesex Diner (Strange name) Staying at Super 8. Since the coffee maker in the room is capable of making 1 m/l of coffee, I decided to fire up our high performance Premium Gasoline fueled MSR Dragonfly. Not sure if this is really legal to use in a motel room. Nevertheless, the coffee was good.
8/2/09: Fighting the rain for about 336 miles.Called it a day north of New Haven, CT. Had a few good tests of bike equipment when you ride through heavy rain for a day.
8/3/09: Portland, ME / Rockport,ME. Stayed at a pretty nice campground in Rockport.
8/4/09: Rockport, ME to Fundy National Park, New Brunsvick, Canada. The fog didn’t lift until about 10:00 PM. That’s what you get when you roam around in the Maritimes. US 1 (Coastal Maine) is not what it was hyped to be, and so we wasted a good deal of time along the ME coast. Some nice areas, but not worth all the time. Got called inside at CA customs (must be my thick southern accent.) Asked a few questions and they sent us on our way. Up through New Brunsvick it was very nice. The landscape changed completely, with rolling hills and twisting valleys. Didn’t get to take any pics of it as it was on the interstate, and we were hauling a$$ to get to Fundy Nat. Park. Very nice campground. No electric hookups???? We needed to charge all our communication and navigation equipment / laptops. The rangers agreed to charge our Icom radio’s.
8/5/09: Pictures from Hopewell Rocks and Cape Enrage. It was pretty foggy out at the Cape Enrage lighthouse. Still a nice sight.
8/6/09: Not a bad sight to wake up to this morning. Spencer Island, Nova Scotia, camping at Old Shipyard Campground. Beautiful place. Did not do much today. Rested up before we start up again tomorrow, and work our way around the bay and in to Truro and Annapolis Valley. Probably won’t make it to Digby, but we’ll be close.
8/7/09: Good day today. Very nice ride from Advocate Harbor through Five Island. A little from Truro south. Had a black bear trying to cross the road in front of us, but he decided to turn around and head back up in the woods. Didn’t get a picture . We settled in camping a little north of Annapolis Royal. Very nice ride into Annapolis Valley. Plan on heading down to Annapolis Royal and then down to Digby for some whale watching. Visited Grand Pre Historic National Site of Canada, and a cool zoo.
8/8/09: Got to Lunenburg tonite. WX continues to stay very nice. Left the middle of Annapolis valley this morning and headed south toward Digby. Stayed there of a while before we headed to Yarmouth, which I think is the southernmost town in NS. Rode all the way to the southern tip, where a gorgeous light house sits. Headed over to Yarmouth Fire Museum to have a look. From Yarmouth we headed up to towards Lunenburg, where we arrived about 6:30 PM. I’ll post some pics tomorrow from town. Pitched the tent at the campground which was actually full, but they managed to squeeze us in anyway. Very nice hosts. We’re both pretty tired from today’s ride.
8/9/09: Another very nice day, spent in Lunenburg. Went whale watching. Didn’t see any whales this time, but it still was a very nice offshore trip. Had the opportunity to film and take pictures of the beautiful schooner “Bluenose II”. Those guys got it made living onboard this ship 6 months out of the year. The ship is based in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
8/10/09: Plan was to camp, but 330 miles in rain and fog dictated a motel room for the night. Broke camp in rain this morning, so we’re trying to get some stuff dried out. Dropped by Peggy’s cove lighthouse and the Swiss Air Flight 111 Memorial. The flight went down in the bay just outside Peggy’s Cove. 229 people parished. Dropped by Citadel National Historic site in Halifax. The WX was deteriorating, so we decided to press on north. We ended up a few miles south of Baddeck along St. Patrick Channel, where we cuddled up at a motel, where we decided on a “Tatum Backyard Special” for supper. Next: Cabot Trail, Louisbourg, Glace Bay, Baddeck.
8/11/09: Pretty calm day. Set up camp at Baddeck Cabot Trail Campground. This is a very nice place to camp. Rode in to Baddeck to visit Alexander Graham Bell’s Historic Site & museum. Plan for tomorrow: Louisbourg (Louisburg Fortress) and Glace Bay (Marconi Historic Site).
A few notes about the equipment we’re using while camping in case anyone cares: The tent is a 3-man Mountain Hardwear Hammerhead 3. It comes up in a matter of 2-3 minutes. A 3-man gives us space enough to sleep and at the same time store our gear in the tent or in the side vestibules. Sleeping bags are “Cat’s Meow” and “Big B”, both made by The North Face. Under the sleeping bags we use Exped 9DLX down mats. They are basically high performance air matresses filled with down, and pack very small. We also carry two Kermit camping chairs that also pack very small. The stove is a MSR Dragonfly multifuel stove that burns anything from Kerosene to Jet fuel. Most of the time we use camping fuel or high octane gasoline off our bikes. We also carry a 12′ Kelty Noah Tarp. It comes in very handy when it rains, or to get some shade on sunny days. For 2 way communication we use Autocom vox operated intercoms in both bikes, and an Icom F21GM VHF radio on each bike. For navigation I’ve got a Garmin Zumo 550 GPS / XM radio on Tor’s bike (also wired to the Autocom intercom.) We carry backup paper maps / Atlas in case the gps craps out. We carry digital camera (Kodak Easyshare), Video Camera (Canon FS200) and two eePC laptops (Asus)
8/12/09: Fantastic trip to Louisbourg to visit Louisbourg Fortress, then to Glace Bay to the Miners Museum and lastly Marconi National Historic Site. Stopped on the way to take some pics. WX was very good all day with about 70 degrees.
8/13/09: Today’s trip went to the jewel of Nova Scotia, The Cabot Trail on Cape Breton. 180 miles of pure beauty. Mountains, ocean and twisties all at once. You can’t ask for more. The trail round trip did not disappoint. We also had time to drop down to Bay St. Lawrence, a little fishing community close to the north tip of NS. Ate lunch there in a very nice little cafe.
8/14/09: Nothing going on today. Just relaxing and catching up on laundry etc.
8/15/09 : We left Baddeck Cabot Trail Campground early this morning after hardly any sleep. A pack of complete morons kept everyone around them awake with their drunk, silly behavior last night. Quiet time was 10:00 PM which was completely disregarded. Got on the Prince Edward Island ferry from Caribou, NS to Wood Islands, PEI. It’s a 75 minute ferry ride. The ride is free (whattttt?????). The ride back over Cumberland Strait on the Confederate Bridge is $40 pr. bike, if I heard right. We plan to roam around on PEI until Wednesday next week, when we unfortunately have to turn our bikes around and start heading home. It got pretty hot today with the temp . hitting 90 by the time we got ashore on Prince Edward Island. We ended up at St. Peters Bay Campground on the North Shores. Very nice place to camp. WX FC calls for clear skies and sunny for tomorrow, just like today. Didn’t take many pics.
8/16/09: Left St. Peters Bay this morning and headed to Prince Edward Island National Park, where we took a few pics and some video. Beautiful views. Continued along Gulf of St. Lawrence and around Baie Malpeque Bay. Very nice area of the island, with rolling farmland, beautiful shorelines and awesome smells. For those of you that don’t ride: The smells go with the views as you ride along, and makes the experience light-years ahead of a car ride. Absolutely no comparison whatsoever. Farming (and fishing) seems to be the major source of income for people. No such thing as big plants around here. Decided to ease off on the daily mileage for the next couple of days, so we booked into Green Park Provincial Park for the night. So far we have camped every night except 3. Two on the way up form SC and one night in the rain in Nova Scotia. Very nice camping WX with daytime temps around 75 degrees and nights in the 55-60’s. Lois stopped by a Wal-Mart (yeah they got them here too) to stock up on different things. Among the things she returned with was a nice, soft pillow. Hope it works.
8/17/09: Left Green Park Provinical Park. Ate a good breakfast in Alberton before we headed north towards North Cape. Windmills as far as the eye could see. They didn’t turn very fast though due to only a slight breeze. Arrived at the tip of North Cape around mid-day. The beaches and beach heads are very eroded, and are mostly red clay. Stayed at the Cape for a while before we headed down on the west side of the island. Small towns, fishing communities, rolling farmland, beautiful colors and amazing smells dominate the ride along the west coast. Before we knew it we rounded the West Cape and headed for Confederation Bridge, where we found a nice campground with a shady spot to set up camp. Staying here until Wednesday, when we have to head back south and home. We’ll try to get down to the beach later today and get some photos of the bridge. it is quite an engineering marvel at 9 or so miles in length.
8/19/09: Left PEI and headed home. Pretty decent day with very nice WX. Called it a day in Southport, Maine.
8/20/09: Got stuck on I91 due to accident. Scorching hot. Backed up for a little over an hour, and was crawling along for another hour. Lost about 2 hours of riding time. We then hit NY and was subjected to the true horror of city traffic. For miles and miles we fought the crawling NY traffic all the way through Washington Bridge / Tunnel. It was at that time we both realized how lucky we were to live in the south. We again got reminded of this fact after spending about 100 bucks for 2 bikes through tolls. Finally ended up in Trendon, NJ.
8/21/09: Took off early in the morning hellbent on getting home today. 650 miles later we rolled in to our carport with two filthy ST1300’s. They served us very well. This has been a trip that we will remember for a long time.
Some observations along the trip:
Very friendly people.
Most of the roads were good. Highway 1 in Maine and New Brunswick, Ca were very rough.
All campgrounds were very well maintained. Nova Scotia’s time is 1 hour ahead of ours on the east coast.
A twoonie is two dollars coin and a loonie is a dollar coin here in Canada, also the lowest amount of paper money is a 5 dollar bill.
The scenery is gorgeous.
Sides of all roads are clean, no trash seen.
Many different assents and languages.
The main language is English and French.
Temperature during the day 70’s and nights 50’s.
They use Celsius and the metric system. Perfect for camping.
All speed signs are in KM (kilometers). So when you see 100 km/hr, don’t go 100 miles/hr.
The leaf in the Canada flag is a maple leaf.
Bathrooms are called washrooms.
A soda or a drink is called a pop.
Nova Scotia got crows as big as bald eagles, and they land on the picnic table every morning at 05:00 AM sharp to wake you up.
Nova Scotians do not know how to make ice tea. They serve what they call ice tea right out of a can and is full of lemon.
The people in Nova Scotia will talk a hole in your head, if you let them. They are also very friendly.
Most of the roads (except major highways) are full of frost heaves.
Their pizza in Nova Scotia does not have tomato sauce on it, it has sliced tomatoes on it with lots of white cheese, but the pizza was very good.
If you ever have a chance to eat a haystack brownie you need to, they are to die for. They are sooo good.
Final Trip Notes:
If you want to go anywhere you want, including places hidden beyond gravel and dirt roads, and there were a lot of them up there, bring a dual-sport bike. This is something we’re going to address at a later point. Taking a 800 # fully loaded touring bike down a dirt path, gravel road, or even a single track, is something I never look forward to, let alone Lois who is tip-toing the ST on flat asphalt. We will probably invest in two enduro / dual sport bikes sometime in the future. Not as a replacement, but rather as a compliment to the Honda ST1300’s. The ST is a perfect bike for the long haul if you stay on the pavement. It is incredible smooth all the way up through triple digit speeds, even fully packed for touring.
The psychological aspect of riding bikes thousand’s of miles from home, even into another country, poses a challenge at times. The first few days you’re on the road, a lot of thoughts go through your mind. Breakdowns in the middle of nowhere, injuries due to a crash, getting sick thousands of miles from home, all these things cross your mind, in particular during the first few days. You just have to let it go, or you won’t enjoy the trip. After that, your mind just relaxes, you enjoy the company (in my case my wife Lois, yes I know I am incredible lucky to have her, and I can’t express enough how proud I am of her riding her bike with me on a long trip like this), the awsome views, all the people you meet and get to talk to, the challenge of riding a bike in heavy traffic, all of these factors are part of the adventure. When you get in the groove so to speak, you don’t get complacent, but you still enjoy what you’re doing. The days blur together in a way, and when you get home, you miss all the places, talking to people, pitching the tent every night, crawling into the tent to crash after a days ride, and a day full of new experiences.
Touring and traveling by motorcycle? Riding 6000-10000 miles in 3-4 weeks? What, are you nuts? No, we’re not.
Traveling by motorcycle is a unique way of travel that is understood by few except those who know it first hand. The independence and freedom of the open road is something that is lost when traveling by car. You are intimately connected with your surroundings. You see a wider range of sights uninhibited by the cage of a car, a vivid array of scents pass into and out of your helmet, the subtle texture of the road is felt through your handlebars and seat, and you sense tiny temperature changes on the back of your neck. This is what riding is all about, and we won’t trade it for anything.