Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eastern Canada Loop: SUMMARY

Sitting here in front of the laptop in my childhood home in Ohio, reflecting on the Trans Labrador Trail ride and the loop thru eastern Canada, am much more satisfied than disappointed with the ride itself. Every ride has its ups and downs, the "oh hell" and the bliss moments.

Every day is a fresh beginning with a world we have never seen before opening in front of our eyes. We call it adventure riding, maybe we should call it new horizons riding.

Like every ride, this one too had its ups and downs. Here are a few:


Reconfirming my belief there are great people waiting to be met everywhere in the world.

Safely completing then checking the Trans Labrador Trail off my riding bucket list...

Meeting friendly fellow motorcyclists in every state and province...

Seeing parts of Canada I have never been to before...

Riding three weeks straight without having to don my rain suit...

Capturing some memory photos along the way. Still have to edit them though...

Had a few new and unique sightings, experiences...


Sunburn neck and forearms riding across Louisiana then up the Natchez Trace Parkway...

Stranded in Nova Scotia for four days... after shredding the rear tire...

Rear wheel bearing failure (again) in Maine...

Massive number of black flies in Labrador. 
When you opened your mouth, they would fly in...

All camping spots taken in Canadian National Parks. They were booked up months in advance, while I did not know where I would be from night to night... 

Unchanging scenery for miles and miles crossing unpopulated Labrador... not bad, got boring.

So many tourists in Alma, New Brunswick near Fundy Nat Park on the Saturday I arrived.  Could not even find a safe place to park so I could take photos of the grounded shrimp boats at low tide...

Canada was more expensive than anticipated... or maybe was what I was ordering...

 Overall was a great experience out riding the horizon to new destinations on new roads with Damit, my three wheel mule.

Thank you Canada for allowing Damit and I to see and meet your great country. We'll be back next summer to visit your western provinces.

Am very glad and thankful to be alive and still able to pursue my dreams, 
riding the horizon on this beautiful planet we live.

Next month we start a new adventure..... till then...

Nite All

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eastern Canada Loop: Chapter Thirteen: North Shore St Lawrence Seaway

Abandoning the wedding suite in Baie Comeau for the open road, we ride Route 138 southwest along the north shore of the St Lawrence Seaway. A very relaxing experience, beautiful scenery, though the tourist traffic increases the further south one goes. Even in the middle of the week.

Best of all am done with the gravel roads, now gliding along on pavement. Not without danger though, according to the Transports Québec. This is what happens when signs collide.....

This corner of Québec is still boreal forest. Millions of little creeks and streams, all breeding grounds for those nasty little black flies. No bridal suites for them. No votive candles, no mirrors on the ceiling. No siree, just a shallow slow moving water source, of which Canada has in abundance.

What Canada needs more of are these two legged insect harvesting birds. Watched one as it snagged larva after larva from the water. Always careful to hunt where its shadow or reflection did not fall, not wanting to cause its food source to scatter.

Cut and Stacked.

Route 138 takes a few sharp turns in some towns, does not always go straight through. One has to watch the road signs. In Tadoussac, rode straight through the congested downtown touristy area when the road abruptly ended at a ferry dock. At first I thought I had taken a wrong turn and this was a ferry to cross over to the south side of the seaway. Had seen on the map there were several such ferry crossings available along this route. Nope, I was wrong. Am on the right road, seems a bridge has yet to be built to connect the north end to the south end of Route 138.

The ferry crew were very fast and efficient in getting everyone on and and off in a timely manner. There were two ferries working to shuttle all sorts of vehicles across the cold choppy channel. 

This very tall statute of electric bolts in a round-a-bout was impressive. The east side of Québec has at least five hydroelectric dams that I saw producing electricity for the country. Most of the roads I have been riding follow along either railroad tracks or transmission lines. Most likely those roads were the original construction/service roads for those industries.

Passing a tree farm I realized those were all christmas trees. Stopped for a photo and talked with one of the workers. He said they had over a millions trees at various stages of growth on the farm. Very impressive for a family operation.

Committed a major error today. Reached Québec City around four PM. Thought I could get in and out before rush hour started. WRONG! Promptly got lost on a detour. Could not figure out how to get to the bridge that would take me to the south side of the seaway. Could see the bridge, but because of the detours and one way streets, I could not get to it. Frustrating! 

Stopped and asked a stranger out walking if he spoke english and could he help me with directions. Turns out he is from Chile and was visiting his son's family here. Had a great conversation with Jose from Concepcion, Chile. He called his son who gave me directions over the phone. At least they got me pointed in the right direction. I was looking at the wrong bridge. The one I saw only went to a nearby island, not across the seaway. 

Am not using a GPS on this ride, just relying on small maps and talking to people. Makes for an interesting misadventure experience. 

Back on the right route, ended up spending over three hours inching along on three of the six wide lanes of hot pavement filled with bumper to bumper traffic. Wedged between two diesel smoke spewing overloaded eighteen wheelers. Shoulder to shoulder with tires as tall as my helmet. Was worried Damit would overheat or burn up the clutch on the uphill sections.

No photos of rush hour traffic. Both hands were busy working the throttle, brake and clutch. Finally by seven PM we were over the bridge. Now on the south side of the seaway, we located the cross country route that would take us toward the border crossing with New York state.

Near Sainte Marie, Québec we stopped at a regional airport, asking the owner for permission to camp there that night. Everyone has been very receptive to my camping requests. He later came over to take a few photos of Damit and to bring me a cold beer. That was thoughtful of Bruno. 

With the stress of Québec City behind us, on to more tranquil relaxing photos of blue skies and wild flowers. 

Breath deep...  meditate...  exhale...  relax...   All is right with the world once more.

Peace, ya'll

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Eastern Canada Loop: Chapter Twelve: Labrador City to Baie Comeau, Quebec

From camping west of Goose Bay to Labrador City, yesterday was a long day of riding. Obviously not too inspiring since I took no photos.  Was a colder ride, but finally got the electric jacket and gloves working so all was good with the world.

Today, August 15th, got on the road by 6AM with plans to make it to Baie Comeau, Quebec before dark. Only 363 miles, but not sure what shape the road will be in.

A cold wet fog hung over Labrador City at 6 AM as Damit and I rode past the city limits sign. With the riding wind chill factor, it felt like it was below freezing.

The sun started to burn off the fog, but the temps stayed the same.

Leaving a cold foggy Labrador...

... entering sunny Quebec.

Soon the pavement ends and more gravel to ride. Here it is more like dirt and slit, not like the stones and rocks we encountered a couple of days ago between Red Bay and Goose Bay.

Then the rains moved in and the fine dirt becomes MUD! Slippery, slimey mud. 
Sliding in the numerous curves and downhill runs keeps one awake, alert and puckered.
Damit will need a good bath when we reach the city.

Over half of the road to Baie Comeau is dirt, half paved but NONE of it is straight and flat.  I doubt there is a mile of straight flat road anywhere between Labrador City and Baie Comeau.

Riding a sidecar requires more upper body strength as one uses the arms and back to turn the rig in curves.  No leaning like on two wheel motorcycles. I got a workout today.

When I can no longer ride sidecars, I'll get a BMW GS. 😜

There were numerous road construction stops along the way. Some with flagmen, others with portable traffic lights.  

What I do not understand and maybe someone can educate me on: through out the ride in Canada the traffic signs and road side signs have been in English and French.  However in Quebec, the road signs are only in French. I read 23% of the Canadian population speak French, so 77% speak English.  Do they ban English in the Quebec schools? Or is the Quebec minority trying to teach the rest of the country French?

I have never met a haughty frenchman when we were in France. 
In Quebec I met several French Canadians with an attitude. 
May be the foggy weather or...?

After a long and tiring day, arrived in Baie Comeau looking for a warm bed for a good rest.  Pulled into the Motel du Rosier. They said the only room left, was their deluxe with a king bed. 
Don't care, just point me to it. I was exhausted. 

Opening the door I was greeted with...

... the honeymoon suite with little red votive candles and a multitude of mirrors! 

King size bed with a Temperpedic mattress, jacuzzi tub under a huge ceiling mirror, spacious bathroom, see thru shower...  everything decorated with flowers, candles, red trim and red lights.

Am sure not much sleeping happens here, but tonight would be different.
 This tired old body plans to saw some wood... zzzzzzzzZZZzzzzzZZZzzz

Good night and sweet dreams ya'll

Monday, August 14, 2017

Eastern Canada Loop: Chapter Eleven: Labrador

Arriving in Labrador, the ferry off loads in Blanc-Sablon, Quebec then only three short kilometers to Labrador and on to Red Bay for the night. 

What was surprising was how southeast Labrador looks like the highlands of Scotland.

Red Bay is a very clean small fishing village on the southeast coast of Labrador.

Here the pavement ends and the start of the gravel road north to Happy Valley/Goose Bay. Or what adventure riders call the Trans Labrador Trail.  Every year they pave more miles of the road until one days it will be ridden by any Harley and GoldWing rider. Then the adventure will be gone forever.

For now, the road is home to the dual sport adventure riders on BMW GS's, KTM's, and KLR650's.  Only saw two other motorcycles going in the opposite direction.

A common sight along the trail, stacks of firewood and a sled to haul behind your snowmobile.  Some stacks were so large near a grouping of homes, I wondered if maybe it was a community wood pile to shared by all in need.

The road goes on and on.... sometimes in the hills..

sometimes times across marshy flats. 
Never saw any wildlife though the signs say to watch out. 

Finally arrived at my destination for this ride, Goose Bay. Gassed up, took a photo then pointed Damit west toward Labrador City and the Quebec border. 

Met a rider on a BMW from Monterry Mexico at the sign. We took photos for each other.  The bugs are nasty this summer. Am thinking all of my photos are going to have little black spots on them with all the bugs flying in front of the lens. 

 Seventy-five kms west of GB, found a sand quarry to set up the camper for the night.

"Two roads diverge in the wood, and I ...
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

Even Robert Frost would be hard pressed to take the road less traveled on the left...  though
it would make a difference.

Nite all,

Easter Canada Loop: Chapter Ten: Newfoundland

Note: Have been corrected, it is not pronounced Nufunlan, but New Found Land, so says a Labbie, 
not a Newfie.

The new tire arrived in Antigonish, was quickly mounted and we were on our way once again. This time to Sydney, NS to make reservations for the ferry to Newfoundland.  Heard reservations are needed with all the vacationers traveling this summer for Canada 150 - the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Canadian national parks.  All national parks are free this year. Camping sites have been booked months in advance. 

Arriving at the ferry terminal, the young lady informed me this afternoon's boarding closed twenty minutes ago.  Before I could answer, she said, "Wait!" Called someone, gave me a thumb's up and said "You're on. That'll be $225 please".  

Two Hundred Twenty five Canadian Dollars, with no cabin, just for the bike and myself including the senior discount.  It is a sixteen hour overnight ferry ride to Argentia/Placentia, NFL.  There is a shorter ferry to the western end of NFL but then I would have to ride east across the island to reach Cape Spear and then ride all the way back west to reach the ferry to Labrador.  There will be no backtracking across NFL by taking the ferry to Argentia on the southeast corner.

There must have been twenty or more motorcycle riders going on that ferry. Plus the dozens and dozens of cars, trucks, campers, RV's eighteen wheelers and buses.

Waiting in line for the ferry, was adopted by a Harley biker gang of Canadian Veterans from the Toronto area. They and their wives all loved Damit.  Damit has to be the most photographed motorcycle I have ever owned.  Is one of a kind and people recognized it for that.

Lining up to load the ferry.

A crew member directed me to a quiet sitting area in the rear of the ship. Grabbed a reclining seat and piece of floor to stretch out on for sleeping.  Was one of the coldest nights for me.  Carpet on steel does not make a warm bed.

Leaving the Port of Sydney, NS in our wake.

Next morning, the village of Placentia in the distance.

Boats in Placentia harbor.

From there I rode to St Johns and Cape Spear, the eastern most point of Canada. 
On a globe, Cape Spear is south of Greenland. 

Where the Atlantic greets Canada every morning.

The old original lighthouse has been restored.

Leaving Cape Spear,  Damit and I take two days to travel west across NFL. At a rest area near, Gander, had an interesting two visitors. First was a Jehovah's Witness who wanted to save my soul.  He gave up when I corrected his analogy that the seasons are like clockwork. I informed him that nature and God do not operate by clocks.  That is a human invention.  Everything living in the natural world was a rhythm.

After he left a retired Canadian sailer decided I needed to see photos on his cell phone of a chopper motorcycle he had built. Every third word out of his mouth was "F" this, and "Mother" that.  When he informed me he had been a sailor, it all made sense.  Reconfirmed that old stereotype, "He cusses like a sailor".

At Deer Lake we turned right and started north, up the western coast to the ferry port for Labrador. That night we camp along the shore in Gros Morne Nat Park. Listening to the waves lull me to sleep.

Was a cloudy overcast day.  Passed through several small fishing villages at low tide.

One sees a lot of stacked lobster traps along the coast. The newer ones are all steel cage and netting. This old style made of wood is disappearing.

Next...  Labrador.

Nite all,

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Eastern Canada Loop: Chapter Nine: The Blow Out

Up at dawn, Damit and I ride toward Nova Scotia and the ferry to Newfoundland. but first time for a truck stop breakfast.  Too many tourists, service is slow. 

Crossing Nova Scotia we take the dike road to Cape Breton Island, up CA-105 north to Sydney and the ferry.

Thirty-nine kilometers north of Port Hawkesbury there is a sudden loud POP and the rig veers to the left crossing the center line. Without braking and with the throttle lock holding the gas steady, we manage to steer Damit back to the right and off onto the shoulder, coasting to a stop.  

The driver immediately behind me stops to see if we are okay. He speaks perfect french, very little english.  We communicate enough for him to offer me the use of his cell phone to call toll free AAA, which relays the call to CAA for roadside assistance.

The rear tire is blown. Not sure what or how it happened, still has sufficient tread left.  Rim does not look to be damaged. We were doing about 55 mph at the time of the blow out.

Hmmmm, didn't bring a big enough patch to fix that flat. 

Eric, the CAA wrecker driver arrives 90 minutes after calling. We load the rig (sorry no photos) and he takes Damit and I back to Antigonish, NS, a town large enough to have a Walmart and various tire repair businesses. He said there is a small clean mom & pop motel near the Walmart, Keppoch Inn. We will be there until we can get a replacement tire. Being a holiday weekend, businesses will not be open until Tuesday, today is Saturday. 

Room 107 on the end will be home for the next four-five days.

Just up the road from the Baptist Church.

Saturday was warm and sunny, Sunday it rained...  all day. Good day to be off the road.

Monday was once again sunny, but the Tuesday forecast was for more rain... again. 
So Monday I jacked up the bike and removed the rear wheel. 

After searching the internet for hours and making numerous calls, no tire is available in Canada in the size I need.  165/80R15.  Located one company who offered to ship me the tire, in eight to ten days... which means it was being shipped from the states and has to pass thru customs.  No guarantee exactly when it would arrive.

Called Claude at Freedom Sidecars in PA to find out what alternative tire sizes would work. 

In this type of situation one analyzes what you have to work with, what the alternatives are, investigate those alternatives, their cost, time involved and choose the best course of action.  Many times there is no perfect answer. But indecision can be worse than no decision. I have found it is easier to correct course, change a decision, even a bad decision, than to procrastinate and never make a decision.  Too many people worry so much about making a bad decision they make no decision at all. 

Will never know the cause of this tire failure. 
Did I hit something on the road? Don't remember that. 
Was the tire cracked by hitting a pot hole or debris earlier in the trip? Very possible.
Should I go slower? Carry less weight? Was the tire defective?

What I can't control is what caused the failure. What I can control is where we go from here.
I cannot get the exact same size tire in a timely fashion.
The sidecar tire is the exact size I need for the rear wheel. 
I do not know which other tire size will fit on the rear due to limited clearance without trying them.
There seems to be more clearance for the sidecar tire than the bike's rear. 

Move the sidecar tire to the rear wheel for the bike. 
Order the only available though slightly wider tire for the sidecar. It will be a smaller diameter.
Then see how the rig handles.
That should get me back on the road asap.

Here the sidecar tire is newly fitted on the rear wheel. That part is done.

The sidecar sits on a jack stand waiting for the new tire to arrive, which they say will be Wednesday. The small garage a few doors down from the motel has ordered the replacement tire and is dismounting and remounting the tires for me.  They also lent me jack stands and a hand truck so I would not have to carry the heavy wheels/tires to their shop.

On the plus side, found the Snow Queen restaurant only five - six blocks away from the motel, serves great fish and chips.. but best of all...

... they make a chocolate milkshake the old fashion way.  The other half of the shake is handed to you still in the metal mixing cup.

While in Antigonish, have had time to write for the blog and catch up on laundry. 

Eric the CAA wrecker driver stopped in to see if I was okay.  Says the holiday traffic is still heavy, expects it to be so the rest of this week. 

Tomorrow the tire arrives, then back on the road to Newfoundland and Labrador.

More later,