The Gaspe at 50
It was time to turn 50. Get away from it all. Do something that would serve as an exclamation mark for making it a half century. Living in Upstate New York, I needed to pick a destination about five days ride away. Looking at the map, one purdee mouth stood out like a sore thumb. The mouth of the St. Lawrence. This is the story of one man'a quest to cleanse his soul for another half century of living. There is nothing profound here. Just road talk.
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PIcture taken ten miles east of the Thousand Islands bridge in the great country of Canada along the Thousand Islands Parkway. I was a few hours away from home and had ten days at my disposal. Maybe the warmest moment of the trip.
I can't wait to get up that way.
I'm patiently waiting.Bump.
Heading across an international border is always a bit nerve racking. Especially if you are a card carrying member of NORML. The only interesting question asked of me by the Canadian Border Guard was whether I had any form of mace or personal defense spray. Advising her I had some bear spray she asked to look at the can. Seeing the image, she said, "yep, as long as its got a picture of a bear, you're good to go." Off I went and after trading some real American cash in for some funny money, I turned eastward up the Thousand Island's Parkway. it was sunny and warm and about 6PM.
My destination was the Long Sault Parkway which is a very cool series of Islands connected by bridges and an asphalt road. Each Island has a public campground, although only one was open this time of year. I didn't need any provisions so I was able to rip up the parkway enjoying the bucolic scenery, quaint towns and intermittent St. Lawrence River views. My only stop was in Brockville where I needed to pick up a pack of rolling papers, then it was back to cloud nine enjoying those way-cool moments in the infancy of a bike trip.
Made it to The Long Sault Parkway as dusk was beginning to creep up on the horizon. Turning onto the parkway, I was elated as I had imagined this destination for a very long time. Rumbling across the bridge to the first island I came across was McLaren Campground. I knew it to be the only campground still open into the fall. Taking a quick tour in the fading light, I encountered a pretty good smattering of RV-ers whooping it up in style. Couldn't find a single spot which would deliver the back country, first night on the road experience I was dreaming of. So I turned tail and headed up to the next island. No one was around on the next few islands and I had to take a moment to connect with my rebellious self. Technically illegal, commando camping does not cross my personal sense of right and wrong. Of course, the Government would prefer me to bed down with a bunch of yelping RV-ers, but tonight was gonna be about me and a good dose of nature's Splendor. With dusk around, however, I had to turn the ignition key of my DRZ 400 to parking mode. Having changed a few wires, this allowed my bike to stay running with zero lights available to the prying eyes of others. Got the idea from an old military pickup I used to own which had a "black out" mode. Within ten minutes, I found the ultimate place to hole up for the night. It had it all: Waterfront, Killer view, flat spot for my tent, and pretty well hidden from anyone who might happen by.
Turning off my bike and taking off my lid, I sat in silence with a sunset visible through some trees off to the west. I could hear the river flowing along with bird sounds and rustling fall leaves. Taking out my flask, I placed the stainless steel opening to my lips and poured in a half ounce of Cardenal Mendoza Carta Real. It's become my favorite trip elixir and warms the cockles of my soul like nothing else. I was in pure heaven and slowly recounted every single ADV Rider trip report I had read over the years. It was finally my turn, I thought, and what a beginning it was. Dismounting my ride, I was anxious to cast out a line from my pocket fishermen and see if I could catch a little dinner. I had always thought how cool it would be to cook a fish on my first night out. First, I had to pitch the tent and get out of my gear. Maybe take a picture for a ride report I might someday write. Finally I found a worm, baited my hook and cast it ten yards out. Fate would deal me a nice walleye, I was sure. But, It wasn't to be. My line stood untouched in the water as I suckled a doobie in the enveloping darkness. After half an hour I took out my campstove and prepared some Chana Masala along with some naan. I washed it down with a Samual Smiths Nut Brown Ale I had earlier stashed in my pannier. Though I couldn't start a campfire so as to draw attention to myself, a nice moon came out to the north and got the water to shimmering. I took my iPod out and played a little Neil Young through my Goal Zero speaker. As the music played and my buzz moved into it's apex, I realized I wasn't all that different from those RV-ers a few islands away. Just less wheels and less load. Maybe a bit quieter as well.
Slipping and sliding
and playing domino
Lefting and then Righting,
it's not a crime you know.
you gotta tell your story boy,
Before it's time to go
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What a marvelous wordsmith you are. "as I suckled a doobie..." Way to suck us into the ultimate mid-century Weedsport ride.
I (an urban Midwestern Flatlander-ugh!) turned 50 three years ago in the beautifully desolate Black Rock Desert of Nevada on a KTM 990 rental bike, the most awesome performing bikes (rentals) capable of amazing $#!t my personal rides could never do. I still intend to do that RR. You're inspiring me.
BTW, Cortez The Killer is one of my Neil Young favs that finds its way onto pretty much every one of my ride playlists. Cowgirl in The Sand, too.
Looking forward to more of this RR. Lay it on us...
I am enjoying the report and look forward to the next post.
Long Sault Parkway sounds interesting.
Let's hear more.
When commando camping it's essential to arrive at dusk and depart at dawn. No hanging about to invite hassle. I awoke just before the sunrise that first morning out. The night's sleep was one for the ages. I only awoke once in the night to squeeze my lemon. The coldest it got to was 49 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect sleeping weather. My Montbell Super Spiral down bag was merely draped over me like a blanket. She goes down on me to 5 degrees and is by far the most comfortable bag I've ever owned. If you like to sleep scissor-kicked, it's the only bag to own. Tossing her off me, I was encouraged up by the sounds of geese noisily navigating the St. Lawrence. Guess they don't subscribe to the concept of silent flight. Climbing outside, an invisible friend snapped a photo of me stretching off the night's constrictions. I ripped down the tent and packed it along with the bag on the bike. If someone approached now, it would look like I only stopped to get a bit of hot fluid inside my body. So I lit up the Dragon Fly and cooked some joe. It's funny how the simplest activity can bring the greatest pleasure out of life. Making love to lingerie models, no thanks. Quietly sitting alone by the river drinking black coffee out of my double walled titanium mug did it for me on that day.
I didn't look to see what time it was. The sunrise fired it's after burners through a deep blue sky. It arose in exactly the direction I was heading. Truly spectacular, I said to myself. I toyed with the idea of making a big breakfast, but remembered a sign I had seen the night before letting me know the ramifications of getting caught camping. So I tossed the cold remains of my coffee in the river and broke camp. I was careful to not leave any signs of my trespass. Leave nothing but knobby dimples I always say. I do have my ethics.
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The DRZ fired up as if it was raring to get the day going. I turned on my Spot Tracker and let out the clutch. Making my way back to the tarmac reinforced what a gorgeous place I had chosen for my first night out. I crested a small hill and was able to pause and get a good look at the Long Sault Parkway before rejoining it. Needed to make sure the fuzz wouldn't see me. No problem though as not a car was to be seen. I still had a bit of a drive along the remainder of the Parkway to go and it was awe inspiring. Especially against a cloudless early morning sky. Hopping from Island to Island, I took a few moments to explore some trails and take mental notes of other camping spots for future rides. I even toyed with spending a full day there, it was that nice. I had the whole place to myself it seemed.
I came across a dirt road on an island that simply disappeared into the water. Probably the coolest boat ramp I have ever seen. Idling at the edge of the water, I thought of all those amazing ADV-Rider photos that play in a slide show. The absolutely stellar ones. So I took out my Gorilla Pod and set up my camera so it was right at water height. I then wheeled my bike out into the water and turned it around. It was a time to see if my Sidi Adventure Gore Tex boots would hold out standing water. They did. In fact they ended up tying for first place as the best performing gear I had taken along on the trip. Then I set the camera's self timer and ran back to the bike, mounted it, stood and raised my fist high. The camera's longest self timing cycle is ten seconds so I knew it was gonna be close. Having all my gear on doesn't exactly make me a cheetah. I had no idea if I got a good shot when I plucked the camera out of the water and rode on. But later that day, I was impressed with the result. Good enough for ADV Rider fame? Maybe not. Good enough to remind me of the way I was feeling on that cold October morning? Hell Yeh.
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Subscribed... I also turned 50 this year and rode to Gaspé in August.
Crossing the final bridge from the Long Sault Parkway back to the mainland was tough. I was tempted to spend a full day there. It was the middle of the week and, but for the RV-ers on McClaren Island there was not another soul to be seen. The weather was sublime and I entertained the idea of having a lazy camp day next to the river. Maybe take a few hikes and relax. Just the day before I had spent the morning in a busy law office trying to wrap up all the ends that were sure to come loose when I was gone. I could use a day like this in what seemed like an Eden. I actually turned my bike around and headed back down the access road to return to the Parkway. Then I pulled off to the shoulder of the road looking back towards the direction I had been heading. An aimless bastard I felt at that moment. Which way to go?
The great unknown won out as it would many times over the next week. I was soon heading east on Route 2 towards Cornwall. When I rumbled into town it was early enough that Catholic schoolgirls were sauntering on sidewalks heading for a bit of education. Hot Catholic school girls. Only one of them really gave me a good savory look. What, me with my Klim Adventure Rally Jacket on and my DS-4 helmet. I looked bad ass on the all black DRZ with full panniers. I know, because I saw my reflection in a large pane of storefront glass at a light. I passed the school girl by wishing I was ten years younger. But, it did give me a bit of an appetite for something syrupy sweet so I dropped into a joint called Bruyere's Restaurant and wolfed down a Belgian waffle. There I met an interesting older gentlemen who just lost his wife. He talked of tales about a Gaspe trip he had done in the 1950's when his nut sack was "full of compass needles", as he put it. He navigated the terrain in a pick up truck with a buddy. I asked him whether he ever got up to the north shore, across the St. Lawrence from Gaspe. "Nope, always wanted to though," he said. To him it was like the dark continent up there.
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Back on the bike I had planned to continue up Route 2 and hug the shoreline all the way to Quebec City. On the map it looked like a long days ride with great scenery and towns. But something in the way the old man had said, "always wanted to" stirred in my craw. On a whim, I took a quick left and navigated annoying intersections until I found a sign for Rt. 401. I jumped on the turnpike and got my mind wrapped around the concept of jousting with fast moving traffic all day long. A far cry from what I had expected that day if I kept to plan, but I wanted to see this place of dark beauty. The 401 was a way to make real distance and get to the wild country fast. A term kept going through my mind, "collecting kilometers." I had read that in a dude's ADV trip log a few years back. He was from , Estonia, I think and would spend four days on a free way putting in 600 mile days to get to far off mountains where he would then spend all of 36 hours before trudging back. Imagine that? So I kept that term in my head all day long. Not that the scenery wasn't occasionally spectacular. But I was going too fast to really enjoy it. Keep in mind that too fast on a fully loaded DRZ is 65 mph at a prostate shaking 6500 RPM's.
Originally I intended to stay fully south of Montreal and Quebec City and make for Desjardins where I could then set out for Gaspe along the mellow south shore of the St. Lawrence. But, now I would stay fully north of both cities and make for the North Shore. Shoot for a chilly little town called Baie-Comeau and then hop a ferry across the river to Mutane and head east to Gaspe. This was a more ambitious plan, but I would feel more like I scratched the surface of being a real adventure rider. To date I hadn't done anything that I would call epic. This could turn into something bordering on epic, I imagined. And so I kept on collecting kilometers. The day was pristine. Sunny, mild and nothing but blue sky. Something told me that could change quickly.
I had never been to Montreal or Quebec City. Though it would have been nice to take a leisure day in one or the other, I had no desire for neon lights, fast food, and mega traffic. Of course an Asian rub and tug joint would have made for a nice 50th birthday present, but I resisted the strong primordial urge and kept to the highways well north of both cities. Quickly I drifted into the French speaking region, noticing it when I exited for a gas stop. The other folks gassing up their cars gave me a strange look as I openly took a long pull off my flask. Be bold when in new land, I say. After filling my measly 2.6 gallon tank, my credit card was not accepted in the pump so I had to go inside with cash. I stood in line behind a smoking hot, 30-something woman. She was wearing a short black skirt with patterned black pantyhose and must've been a real estate agent or something. I spent five glorious minutes waiting behind her because of an issue with the customer in front. I could smell the wonderful combination of shampoo, perfume and the delicate nylons encasing her legs. I was finding that, like a dog, my sense of smell was becoming more acute on the open road. And this chick was acute to say the least. When she finished paying for her gas she turned around and gave me a big warm smile saying something in French I couldn't understand. Not knowing a lick of French I stood mystified watching her walk out to her car. The cashier snipped at me three times to get my attention. After I paid for my petrol and got back on the highway, I spent a few moments imagining I had blown an incredible opportunity. Oh well. There's still the trip, I thought.
Hour after hour reeled away. Montreal clicked by with its incredible sprawl. Same thing with Quebec City. Though I was about eight hours from home, it still didn't feel like I was out of my element. That changed when I finally picked up Rt. 138 North. I remember coming up over a large hill. Riding down the other side, I was presented with a mountain view that made me feel a real sense of wildness. A moose could be coming along any minute, based on all the warning signs. I stopped on the highway, snapping a picture that now looks tamer than it seemed then. I had a long, long way to go in that direction.
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The day clouded over and it had dropped fifteen degrees over the past 50 miles. I was a bit cold as I chugged along. But too lazy to dismount and bundle up. The scenic views have a way of providing warmth. It was getting a bit late and I had to find a camping spot within an hour or two. I convinced myself that I should stop for a hot meal first at a restaurant even though all day I had looked forward to hearing the whine of the Dragon Fly, my beloved camp stove. It was the thought of French cooking that lured me.
The next town was Baie-Saint-Paul. I pulled in and asked a passerby where a nice plate of Pasta could be found. I also got a great tip on where camping could be had with some fishing possibilities. I needed free camping with no one around. Maybe just a moose or two. The town was very quaint with old time architecture. The town folk were nice enough. The little bit of tourist flow made it feel special. The restaurant and it's pasta ended up being outrageously good. Of course it was the first grub since the early morning waffle so I devoured it and sucked down a red ale in record time. I needed to get back on the road so I would have plenty of time to find the camping spot.
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I had to backtrack ten or fifteen miles to the south west to get to where the recommended campsite was. Somehow I didn't mind retracing earlier steps. The site was on a trout stream of some sort and supposedly had mega fish in it. I figured I could cast a few lines to end the day. I got lost a time or two, before finding a rocky single track trail that got hairy in a hurry. The kind of trail where you become committed fast with no way of turning back. For a while I thought I was traveling down a narrow creek bed rather than a trail. No way could I turn my bike around without removing all the gear on the bike and muscling her for ten minutes. Luckily, I was on the lithe ride of the venerable DRZ and not some 450 pound behemoth. There certainly weren't going to be any F800's where I was going. I dumped it once at slow speed forcing me to take remove my helmet and take a slug off my flask for posterity. But after 15 minutes, I found the stream which clearly was the one I was directed to. It was gorgeous and totally away from it all. Well worth the backtracking and effort. No one else around for quite a few miles. I just had to hope it wouldn't rain as I wasn't sure I'd get out if the trail got any slicker. Though there wouldn't be much mud, It would be all uphill on slippery rock back to tarmac land. I cant say I was looking forward to the ride out. I dismounted and spent a moment relishing the rarity of the moment. I wondered who I should thank. Over the whole day, I had been in the saddle for eight or nine hours, a personal record.
After dismounting, I holstered my bear spray on my belt and pitched the 15 year old half moon tent. Only a fool doesn't carry bear spray in bear country. Plus it can be used on people if the need ever arises. My grin was unmistakeable as I fired up the other half of the joint from the previous night. I snapped a quick photo of the view out the tent. I tried a few casts, but I didn't feel much like ruining some fish's evening. Maybe in the morning, I figured. Instead I fired up the Goal Zero and listened to the album, "Songs from the Wood. " It was quite a bit colder than the night before and the heavens above stank of rain. Just the kind of ominous sky made for cracking a special bottle. It took a few minutes to find the mini-bottle of Patron Anejo my wife had tucked in my pannier the night before I left. I considered pouring it in my titanium mug, but opted to go direct from the bottle. I nursed on it like an infant. Quickly my insides were alive in the glowing warmth of Mexico. Because I was beat, I nodded off within the hour. There was to be no campfire again. What the hell was wrong with me? Again, I slept great. I awoke only once when something big wandered through camp about half way through the night, just as it began to rain lightly. I could hear it walk up to the tent then wander off without incident. Took me a few moments to fall asleep again. I used the image of that girl at the gas station to forget about the possible mauling I might endure and the tough ride out I would likely face in the morning. I pictured her slowly pulling off her hose and throwing them in a heap on the bedroom floor as she recounted the sublime adventure rider she had encountered. Man, I could still smell that smell. Next thing I knew it was morning and day light hit. I stepped out to take a well deserved wizz in a strange rain that can only be described as lightly falling mist. To my surprise, I was able to use a large bear track as a target for my frothy yellow stream. A bear track! When I realized it's size and how close it came to my tent, a horrifying feeling came over me. Slowly I fell to the fetal position on the ground and began sobbing like a terrified toddler. Just kidding. We have bears in New York, as well, and the things don't intimidate me all that much. Not when I'm prepared and ready to for new experiences.
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Great ride report.
Those roads [boat ramps] into the St. Lawrence along the Long Sault parkway are the old No. 2 highway before the seaway project that flooded the area back in 1958.
Good tour of the Hydro Electric dam and video of the project can be had at Cornwall 7 miles down the road. Moved a bunch of houses and created 2 new towns out of 3 or 4 small villages.
Also a small display between Long Sault and Cornwall by the Lost villages Society. Well worth the stop and walk around.
I grew up in the heaviest house moved in the project. [ In Ingleside]
It takes quite a bit to get kicked out of parks but it has been done.
No further comment, as they say south of the St. Lawrence, I will have to take the fifth.lol
Camping under the stars is good for the soul. Even if there is a thick layer of clouds in between. My second night out was as good as the first. Though it lacked the dryness and sunrise of the morning before, I never sleep so good as when light rain is massaging the tent. Plus I was beginning to feel as if I was really out there now. That probably sounds funny to those that have run the Trans Labrador Highway or cut across the salt flats of Bolivia, but it's relative. Tell Reinhold Messner that such trips are tests of endurance and he'd probably have a chuckle.
The night had been cold enough that I needed to at least climb inside the Montbell bag. Maybe it had gotten down to 40 degrees, but I didn't need to zip her up. I secured my bag and broke down the tent cramming it still damp into it's bag. At least it slid in easier. I stashed the gear under the ground cloth. Wasn't going to secure it to the bike until I was sure I could make it back up the trail with a loaded bike. Then I fired up the Dragon Fly and cooked some food. I was lucky to be traveling with half a dozen eggs and a hunk of cheddar. Heated the pan with some oil, dumped in milk & eggs and finally the cheese. A dash of S&P and it was done in five minutes. Topped it with hot sauce. I resisted the urge to make coffee. I was looking forward to having that pleasure served to me by a curvy waitress somewhere on the road.
After downing my grub, I took a walk up the trail. Strange, but it hadn't seemed so steep coming down. It looked a bit challenging. I decided to take the gear off the bike and run it dry. Luckily the nights rain had dried. Getting out wouldn't be easy, but I ain't some jonny come lately to riding. I had my first bike when I was ten, a Harley. Laugh, but I'm serious. The old man worked at IBM and had a Harley dealership across the road from his building. In 1974, they wheeled out an X90 minibike for all the fathers to see. One day near my birthday he walked in and laid down the cash for it. Surprised me with it. From there it was a succession of bigger off road bikes. From 10 to 18 years of age as other neighborhood boys immersed themselves in the silly endeavor of chasing balls around fields, I tirelessly rode the rutty trails around my hometown. True, they got the cheerleaders, but I got molested by older beer swilling tattoo chicks who lurked the field parties I would come across when I rode. "He's so cute," they'd say, as they led me by the hand into the high brush. The shit I was forced to do. Invite me on an adventure ride and I'll tell you sometime.
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It took forty-five difficult minutes to fight my way be back to Rt. 138. I always don aggressive knobbies on my bike. For the trip, however, I had opted for a more road worthy tire. That decision made for a comfortable road ride, but obviously jimmy-sacked me in the off road stuff. If it hadn't been for the rocky terrain, I would be camping by that creek still. Mud would've done me in. It began raining half way out. It spent me pretty good though and tweaked my back a bit. After making it out, I had to huff it back for my panniers and dry bags. My tee shirt and underwear were wet with sweat when the ordeal was done. Getting up to highway speed put an instant, deep chill into me. I wondered if my underwear would dry out as I rode along. Cool experiment, I thought.
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Ripping back into Town, I stopped into a cafe to warm up and have a cup. Then I gassed up throwing on a down vest under my jacket. Getting back on the road I was riding into a seriously cold quagmire of dark rain clouds. Why couldn't it be sunny and warm, I wondered? Why couldn't I have a riding companion to share these amazing sights? It was the first time on the trip I had questions of misgiving. Heading north out of Baie-Saint-Paul you get a taste of some great mountain riding. The temperature dropped fast. Rain and fog everywhere, I could only see fifty feet in front of me. My face shield fogged up something fierce. Rainwater found its way inside my helmet and cold permeated my body. It rained harder. I was experiencing adventure rider misery for the first time. Then I remembered my grip warmers which I rarely use. Flicking the switch to high, I slowly felt the build up of heat. As my fingers got warmer and warmer, I remembered something my father had told me before I left on the trip. "Your gonna face hardships out there, may as well enjoy them. You're doing what you always wanted." Somehow, at that moment, his simple advice worked itself into my frame of mind. Over the course of about three miles I felt a new man. Let it rain, I said. Let it fucking snow. Soak me to the bone, my enthusiasm will grow. And I rode on.
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I can't recall how long I bombed up Rt. 138. The scenery seemed to stop my sense of time. You are treated to a series of mountain climbs and wonderful descents down to amazing St. Lawrence bay views. A few small towns along the way, it was easy to become captivated by the wild scenery. If riding with a boner is wrong, then I was a hardened criminal that day. I remember one moment coming into some mountain village and seeing a lot of activity outside what I thought was a convenience store. I wheeled in hoping to find a cup of earl grey. People watched me getting off my bike as if I was some kind of freak show. Stepping inside I realized it was a cheese factory with a small shoppe. Two French Canadian ladies stood behind a deli case cutting hunks of cheese for people waiting in a sizeable line. I did a double take. Was I really in a cheese factory? I noticed that the only tea available was from a machine that dispensed hot drinks. Putting a few coins in I had to settle for coffee as I couldn't read French to find tea. But, man did that dark concoction seep its warmth into me. I played with the idea of buying some cheese, but I still had a pretty good chunk of cheddar in my pannier. The spices available in the shop were out of this world. Spices you couldn't even get in Wegmans, a mammoth supermarket chain in the Northeastern USA. Spices I hadn't even heard of. And I fancy myself a cook.
But I walked out content with what ended up being a truly tasty cup of coffee. From a machine no less. I felt renewed and looking forward to making a ferry that crossed a fjord in Tadoussac. I had trouble imagining that the ferry was free, although that's what someone told me. A free ride on a ferry seems alien. The fluid did wonders to warm me. The weather improved over the time I was inside. I journeyed on. Each small baytown I rode through was worthy of an overnight stop. I don't remember the names. And along the way there were so many killer explorable dirt roads branching off. I took off down a few wishing it was later in the day so I could begin setting up camp. If I was any kind of adventure rider, I would have checked out all of them. Thousands of miles of trails to navigate. One in particular zig zagged five miles up a mountain to an overlook. Others made their way to hidden bays waiting to deliver incredible camping experiences to enthusiastic riders. I rapidly became convinced that the North Shore is an unexplored gold mine for dual-sporters. I could've spent an intriguing month riding along 500 miles of wild coastline. As I rode along I spent time wondering why doing the Gaspe circumnavigation was my quest. Why not spend ten days making the trip from Quebec City all the way to Kegaska, the Eastern terminus of Rt. 138? The place is so wild and desolate and just positively jamming with riding opportunities. I mulled over the idea as I road along.
Finally I approached the ferry going across the Saguenay River. Wheeling around a bend and descending to the river, I saw the ferry coming in. At a vantage point I was struck with the beauty of the Fjord. Man, what I wouldn't have given to have my sea kayak with me. A chance to get off the bike and paddle upriver spending a few nights river-camping. Maybe even see a whale. I rode down and joined a very small line of traffic for the crossing. Much to my surprise I pulled up behind a Harley with a pair of rough looking customers standing near it. Both spoke English and were nice enough to fill me in on a few things. First, I would need a reservation on the ferries crossing the St. Lawrence to Gaspe. Second, they recommended I cross in Forestville p which was only a few hours up ahead. Snow/sleet was forecast in the next days and large swells were expected to hit the coast. I might get stranded a few days, if I went too far east. The closer you get to the mouth of the river, the greater the chance of ferry cancelations. Great info, I thought. Turns out the two were traveling home about seven more hours northeast. Talk about endurance. They were heading deep into cold, nasty weather and were geared as if they were heading to a clam jam on a cool summer evening. I asked them about it and they said, "we're used to the cold up here." I bid them farewell with a handshake hoping some of their hardiness would rub off on me. On the ferry I also got to take a close up look at lorries which had massive tires on them. I'd seen several of these trucks during the day and figured they were heading to mining operations in Labrador. Next time I struggle muscling a DRZ tire off the rim with my Motion Pro irons, I'll be imagining the mechanic who has to mount these suckers up. Probably has forearms the size of Popeye.
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Riding off the ferry, you enter Tadoussac. It is a touristy place with plenty of charm. I took a ride around the town and considered spending the evening. I did find a chamber of commerce office and a woman was very nice in calling to Forestville and booking me a spot on the ferry for the next day. This was good because it would give me plenty of time to find a campsite for the evening and then hit a local restaurant, which there seemed to be a lot of. I decided to continue up Rt. 138 a bit to locate a place to camp. I ended up finding a campground which had spectacular sites and views. Plus there was absolutely no one except me. Though it was typically 30 bucks a nite for a tent site, I was able to score a half price deal by simply asking. After paying the fee I rumbled down a long zig-zagging access road. I was so far off the highway, it was a faint recollection. The campsite I chose was out of this world. In a small grouping of trees that resembled Aspen, there was a flat spot for my tent, a picnic table and then a 20 foot cliff down to the rocky shoreline/ crashing surf. Because there were swells building, I would be lulled to sleep all night long. I quickly set up my tent, made some tea and took an hour's hike around the area. Trust me, my pictures don't to any justice to the beauty of this area. Given how picturesque it was, I could only imagine how busy the place would get in the height of summer. Having it all to myself was a special privilege, no doubt.
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As dusk was falling I rode my bike the 15 miles back into Tadoussac. I parked and took a short walk trying to find a nice restaurant. I chose a cafe that seemed to have pretty good traffic going in. The only place to sit was up against a window well. Otherwise it was a long wait. No problem as I didn't exactly have anyone else in my company. I ordered off a French menu and got a surprise when they delivered a chicken sandwich. i thought I was getting a huge salad. No problem though as it ended up being top notch. I savored each bite as if my life depended on it. I snagged a great Belgian ale which went down smoother than silk. I could feel the immediate effects of the ten percent alcohol as it slowly infiltrated and mellowed me.
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I contemplated having another, but thought better of it remembering that I wanted to have my night cap in the infamous Hotel Tadoussac. Two drinks is plenty considering I still had to drive back to the campground in the dark with moose lurking about. So I rode the bike down to the hotel and boldly parked adjacent to the front door on their patio. I went into the bar and ordered a glass of port. I was able to drink it in the amazing living room near the foyer while making a call. Fires were roaring and there was even a piano with a couple of saucy babes plinking away. After I finished my drink, I replenished it with brandy from my flask saving a bit of cash. Plus it was way better than the port, which was swill. After another hour is was time to ride back to camp and climb into my bag. The ride was surreal, what with the slight buzz and chance of moose collision. Of course, I'm always more vigilant when riding with a few drinks in me. Hitting camp, I felt isolated and alone. It was seriously dark out, no one else around. I took off my duds and climbed into the bag in the briefs I had been wearing for a few days now. No sooner was I comfortable and falling off when I felt the pangs of an annoying piss coming on. Dang, I knew I had forgotten something. Stepping outside into the night, I walked to the edge of the abyss and cast my fluid off into the raging Saint Lawrence below. I wondered what would happen if I lost footing and fell into the river and disappeared forever. Who, but for a select few people would really give a shit? And how long would their mourning last, a few months? Climbing back into the tent and my bag I felt wonderfully small. Quickly, I drifted off to the sounds of breaking waves and wind. A liter bottle of Fiji water at my side and a can of bear spray. God, I slept good that night.
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Don't leave me hanging.:ear
how about some more???
dont leave us hanging
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