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Old 08-07-2010, 06:45 PM   #1
PackRat OP
Huey Guns
 
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Joined: Jan 2004
Location: Copper Canyon, Texas
Oddometer: 1,454
Texas to Goose Bay, Labrador -Solo- 2010

I attempted this trip in August 2009 and cancelled it after riding two weeks during Hurricane season and dodging Hurricanes Bill and Danny. After getting to Maine, I decided that paying to go to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland so I could sit and watch rain was a poor choice! So back to Texas for Plan B….go in June of 2010.

Now Phase 1 of plan B, Amendment 6, Modification 3, Version 4, reprint and do-over twice (This is starting to sound like a government operation, isn’t it!) is now under way. Several friends offered to ride with me for several stages but most backed out and I rode with Eric for two days in Illinois. Most riders have more sense than to start a trip that required BOTH hot and cold weather gear, and survival & camping equipment.

My objective was to go all the way to Goose Bay, Labrador, tackle the Trans-Labrador Highway, camp out as much as possible, go slower, see more, take lots of photographs, see old friends, make new ones, stay off the super slab, use as many small roads as possible, and smell a lot of roses. This is the first trip that I have ever planned with no time frame except to be at ferries when I had to. I didn’t know when I would be back home and I decided to spend more time talking to folks along the way – especially the old veterans in the breakfast cafes along the way (now that I am one!)

Day 1 - June 6 (Odometer 46461) Low temp 80°, high102° in Denton, Texas. Stopped at the McDonalds in Whitesboro, TX. My ‘02 GSA looks like it has already hit a dozen yard sales:

Hustled up to Arkansas where there are no bad motorcycle roads! Ran up Hwy 123 from Clarksville to Harrison…always a great ride! Dodging buzzards, turtles, tourists (oh, I are one!), and the usual dead deer.

Piney River Bridge:



The Mt. Judea store sells T-shirts that say “I survived Hwy 123” – I passed on that one: I didn’t need to double my summer wardrobe yet!

I started looking for a campsite about 4:00 PM and found several state parks closed (seems the economy has hit a lot of states and these are high on the hit lists). I considered pulling off and finding a remote campsite – or like we said in Recon, a harbor site…however, here it could become a “kudzu cavern or coffin” and grow over the tent, bike and all by dawn! (like the song “The MTA”…. “Will he ever return….” That’s what happens to your mind when you listen to XM Radio while riding.) I also noticed that campgrounds are not popular on small back roads, and by 8:00 PM, I felt like a glazed donut so I opted for a small Mom and Pop motel near Poplar Bluff, MO. I know, you are saying to yourself: “what a wus!” Captain Morgan and I assumed the position!
Ending Odometer – 50,088 = 647 miles.

Day 2 - Poplar Bluff - low 83°, 94° high. I headed up into Missouri and drove east on Hwy 142 to Fisk, where I really appreciated the city park rest rooms for their instant availability and very clean condition (enough said- use your imagination!!) For the record, a lot of construction zones have porta-potties in case of any gastric distress!

Went to Cairo, IL to see Fort Defiance at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers but it was closed down, chained shut and overgrown! I then went north on Hwys 3 and 127 to meet Eric in Anna, Illinois. We went east to Golconda and Cave in Rock;

Cave in Rock:

This was a site of river pirates back in the day! There is also a small free ferry that goes over to Kentucky that I had taken before.


We then headed north on small back roads looking for campgrounds and found a city park in Grayville, Ill that was free, quiet and had all the necessities (rest rooms were a little rough). There were two restaurants downtown (1 Mile) and we had steaks at one and breakfast at the other. Eric and I flew helicopters in the Marines and Captains Eric (who has quit drinking) and PackRat had a great night (without Captain Morgan’s – the things we do for friends!) and assumed the position of “duty rack
Ending Odometer – 50412 = 324

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Yungas Rd.-Bolivia, Alaska '08 - Labrador '10 -
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Old 08-07-2010, 06:48 PM   #2
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Old 08-07-2010, 07:19 PM   #3
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Joined: Jan 2004
Location: Copper Canyon, Texas
Oddometer: 1,454
Day 3 – Jun 8, Low 70°, High 95°. We made a leisurely departure after a long breakfast and conversations with other vets and went North on Hwy 1 and 33 to Wabash River at Hutsonville, where we split up so Eric could go back to work. I crossed the river into Indiana and continued north on Hwy 63 and east on 245 where I promptly had a flat rear tire. (Of course, it was drizzling.)
Tire:

I unloaded all the gear and had to dig a small groove to get the center stand down. Getting the Pig on the center stand without the 4 plus inches of rear tire lift is a bitch! After cleaning and searching I finally found a small U-shaped flap that hid a nail hole. I got it plugged and inflated while it continued to rain.


Got all “My sierra in one bravo” and headed to Greenfield, IN where I stayed in a KOA Cabin to dry my mesh gear while a BIG storm went east over me that night.
Ending Odometer – 50660= 248 miles and very wet! Squish, squish, squish…

Day 4 – June 9 RAIN, high 87 ° – broke out the ‘Stitch and packed dry mesh gear. All the creeks, ditches and rivers were full, and by 9:00 AM, the sun came out when I stopped in Anderson, IN for a McD’s biscuit. A nice guy named Rudy, who was a coach, proudly advised me that Anderson had the largest high school gym in the state. Nice to see a lot of pride in a person. Lunch consisted of a Gatorade fierce grape and 3 Fig Newtons – did I mention I wanted to lose weight? Highway74, the smallest of the paved roads got even narrower:

Hwy 74:

I later had to almost stop for a girl in a Firebird on the one lane section – she was smart enough not to trust the wet shoulder on the farm road. Beautiful farms, straight rows – I think they use a GPS with “auto steer”. The smells after a rain are also clean. Found a neat campground near a lake:

Camp site:


And the paper work:

Ending Odometer – 50970 = 310 miles


Day 5 – June 10 low 60° high 80° . West Salem Ohio to Gainesville, NY. Beautiful back country roads – lots of Amish farms. Found a nice wooded campground on West Hoy Creek.



And, of course, Captain Morgan:

OK, no more campsite Photos - ya'll get the idea!
Called my wife, as I do every night when I stop (so she won’t send the Marines or Highway Patrol to look for me), and she informed me that a campground in Arkansas had been flooded and people were drowned and missing. Hmmmm, where is the high ground?
Ending Odometer - 51335 = 365 miles.

Day 6 -June 11 Gainesville NY to Baldwinsville, NY to visit another Marine friend, David, and his son Jack. Enroute stopped at Letchworth State Park Gorge:


This park is immaculate – the staff obviously work hard to make it pristine. Mount Morris is a quaint little town that seems very relaxed.

Stopped at Lake Canandaigua and after reading about the wine tour, decided to save the Erie Canal and fingerlakes for a future RV trip with my wife.

Stopped at Barcelone NY and a cute girl in this store put a gun to my head and made me buy a BIG chocolate chip cookie which I enjoyed as I looked at the Barcelona Light house.



Ending Odometer 51500 = 165 miles

On Sat, June 12, David, Jack & I toured the Lake Erie Canal locks and Fort Ontario at Oswego, where I forced David and Jack (at gun point) to eat BBQ at the Dinosaur BBQ:

Think this tire is the right choice for the Trans-Labrador Highway?

We also went to David’s sister’s home on the St. Lawrence waterway near Alexandria Bay. The thousand island area is really impressive. Some islands are considered in the US and some are in Canada.

Day 8, Sun, June 13 Odometer 51500, Lows 60s high 89°. Drove up through Sackets Harbor, Rts. 3 to 9 to Vermont. Hwy 78 to Newport was tied up and slow with construction.

At Chazy, I saw pretty yellow flowers with Lake Champlain in background:



Stayed at Mountain Lake Campground ($31.00) at Lancaster, NH – very nice. With the cost of some small hotels around $55.00 and some campgrounds close to $41.00 for a cabin, it makes you re-evaluate the economic advantage of packing up wet camping gear.

Ending Odometer 51941 = 441 miles. I told you I was poking along!


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"Packrat" IBA# 11205, AARP, ATP, CFI, A&P, USMC
__________________________________________
Rigor Mortis will be the first indication that I've grown up!!
Yungas Rd.-Bolivia, Alaska '08 - Labrador '10 -
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Old 08-07-2010, 07:54 PM   #4
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Joined: Jan 2004
Location: Copper Canyon, Texas
Oddometer: 1,454
Day 9 June 14 Lancaster to White Mountain State Park, very little traffic. Saw the first dead moose.
I had Breakfast at Glen Junction, then decided to drive north on Hwy 16 up New Hampshire then east on Hwy 2 then back south on 113 – a gorgeous ride.



Lots of ski lifts and expensive cabins – I toasted the God of Spandex at each ski lift!

Arrived in Gray, Maine at the home of friends Harry and Gail. I changed to TKC 80s that had 2400 miles on them from last year’s attempt. Wouldn’t do that again – I’ll always use new ones. The maximum mileage I can get out of new TKCs is 4500 miles to the bald spot on the rear!
Ending Odometer 52095 = 154 miles

Day 10 –Tuesday, June 15 at Harry and Gail’s – visited Wildlife Park:
Eagle with broken wing:




Infant moose:


Slow! We don't want a reptile disfunction!


Day 11 – June 16 low 50 ° at 6:00 AM, 75° at noon. Up to Norway for McDs biscuit again and saw a motorcycle accident as they were cleaning up scene. It looked as if the Bike slid about 40 feet as if it had been hit from the rear.


Baxter State park:


Logger's Restaurant:


Crossed into Canada at Van Buren and St Leonard. The Canadian Customs Agent was so good looking I could hardly speak without stuttering! She asked if I had ever been to Canada – then she seemed incredulous and wanted to hear about my Alaska trip on a motorcycle. Probably an interrogation technique! She asked if I had ever been to court in Canada – how did she know I was an inmate? She asked about alcohol and when I mentioned that I had some Captain Morgan’s rum in a canteen with a label on it, she laughed and said that was fine.

Then I headed up to Carlisle on the Gaspe and stayed in a small hotel where they speak only French.
Ending Odometer 52653 = 558 miles
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"Packrat" IBA# 11205, AARP, ATP, CFI, A&P, USMC
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Rigor Mortis will be the first indication that I've grown up!!
Yungas Rd.-Bolivia, Alaska '08 - Labrador '10 -
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:20 PM   #5
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Location: Copper Canyon, Texas
Oddometer: 1,454
Day 12 June 17th 4:30 AM Daylight at 64°. Continued east on leeward (south) side of Gaspe, lots of full RV parks, lots of Provincial Parks, and low speed limit. You should allow yourself at least two days to do the Gaspe Peninsula. The north side is windward and cooler with gusty winds.

New Carlisle shore:




Coast near Perce:



Gaspe rocks:



One way traffic control countdown timer at construction sites - 220 seconds max.


Ferry gate—6 hours early: Schedule changed yesterday! So much for my prior planning!



Steel fabrication yard with dormitory units:



Commercial ferry loaded cars full of steel.with rail



Ferry to Baie Comeau ;



Ending mileage 52995 = 342 miles.
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"Packrat" IBA# 11205, AARP, ATP, CFI, A&P, USMC
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Rigor Mortis will be the first indication that I've grown up!!
Yungas Rd.-Bolivia, Alaska '08 - Labrador '10 -
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:06 PM   #6
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Joined: Jan 2004
Location: Copper Canyon, Texas
Oddometer: 1,454
Day 13 June 18th Up at 4:30, 60°. Fueled up at 5:00AM See how bright it is!:



North on Hwy 389. Nice scenery, but more than an occasional pot hole to keep you alert. The whole area is supported by hydro-electric power and logging industry.



It is hard to take a photograph without a wire running thru it!



Electric power station:



Refueled at Manic Cinc and met a cute young couple on BMWs
just packing to head north. I told them about my weather brief that stated there was rain coming tomorrow. He was probably hoping for a few rain days!



Lots of construction. Takes a few miles to get my “Gravel Legs” back – memories of the Dalton and Laird Highways. 12° grades and clean rivers. Since I brought everything except pontoons, I wanted to get ahead of any potential weather problems (spelled MUD and full potholes!) so I figured if I could make it to Labrador City by 1:00 PM, then I could make it to Goose Bay before dark.

The road is not to be underestimated in daylight and is treacherous at night – not to mention the wildlife casually strolling down the road after dark! If you see a moose cow in the road be prepared for the bull to jump out and chase pheromones!

I brought enough food, water and survival gear for 3 days of sitting or wrenching.


Pavement is rare!



Typical small bridge:




The section from Lac Fire to Mont Wright was the worst: It parallels the railroad track, crossing it at least a dozen times; and the surface changes quickly with the over-abundance of potholes!

You don’t dare ride this road with the potholes full of water because you cannot tell the size or depth – much less dodge them! It would be helpful to find a pick-up to follow so you can assess the water hazard before hitting it! I stood on pegs most of the 20 miles. The fuel tankers made big dust clouds in the dry areas.



Lots of nice rivers:



Large Iron Mine near Labrador City:



Labrador City at 12:30, McDs Burger, map recon, ibuprofen, fuel and off we go again!


Re-fueled at Churchill Falls. Lots of construction with new (deep) gravel the last 20 miles into Goose Bay.


Requisite Labrador photo:



Did I mention dust?



Loooooonnnnng straaaaaaaaight road!



Construction - get used to it! He (or she) is dressed for black flies not cold!
Don't open your visor while you wait!



And of course, the Goose Bay sign!


I Got Hotel room and did laundry.

Ending Odometer 53729 = 734 miles of dirt, gravel, mud, sand, dust, rocks, but beat the rain!
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"Packrat" IBA# 11205, AARP, ATP, CFI, A&P, USMC
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Rigor Mortis will be the first indication that I've grown up!!
Yungas Rd.-Bolivia, Alaska '08 - Labrador '10 -
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:28 PM   #7
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So far so good. Thanks for the report.
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:45 PM   #8
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Location: Copper Canyon, Texas
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Day 14 - June 19th Goose Bay to Port Hope Simpson
Did a little shopping for gifts, packed clean clothes and headed to the gas station. While I was refueling a couple walked up and asked where I was going and I said “Port Hope-Simpson”. They asked “On the new road?” and I nodded in the affirmative. They said “I don’t know what you heard about it but it is 10 times as bad!” He pointed at his Camry and told me he “Almost tore up my car and it is 2 weeks until the next ferry!” As I was smiling, the wife looked at my dirty 'Stitch riding suit and muddy GSA and said “You must like that kind of road” with a trace of venom in her voice. I continued to smile and said “Yes Ma’am”.

I got to this sign and figured with the prospect of lots of lower gear riding I would be glad I stuffed the fuel tank (7.9 gallons) until it dripped overboard. This road was not marked well the day I was there and this sign is after you turn off Hwy 500.


I was constantly doing fuel computations from gallons to liters and miles to kilometers.



The first bridge had a steel grate deck with larger grate spacing than I had ever seen before and it was a “white knuckle” crossing as the knobbies sought any track but the one I was suggesting! I kept my head up, watched the other end of the bridge and let the bike wander “a little” but don’t expect me to tell you how much! It’s similar to teaching a student to hover a helicopter: “Keep your head up, look way out ahead of the aircraft . . .” I tried to make the motorcycle hover across that bridge!





This phase III had lots of construction in the heavy category – rocks the size of watermelons being dumped by trucks. The first 60 miles was fine but then the heavy stuff started and continued to about 85 or 90 miles. Very slow with 18 wheelers going so slow their trailers were swaying about 30 degrees each way at 5 mph. One finally stopped and waved me around.

Temporary bridge:


Construction crew is changing a couple of tires on this big blue dormitory trailer:

Some of the pickup traffic was flying at 70- 80 mph, making dust clouds much like a crop duster! I was running as slow as 2-3 MPH over the bulldozer divots and as fast as 70 on the good gravel. I came close to dropping the bike in a cross ditch the dozer had made to drain a gravel pit, from which they were hauling large loads. Seeing my predicament, the flagman actually jumped out of my way!


One of several temporary bridges:








If I had to sit through this construction, so do you!




They did try to level it!


Alexis Bay, finally!


The bridge to Port Hope Simpson in the distance:



I started at 10:45 AM and got to Port Hope Simpson 265 miles later on reserve fuel at 5:30 PM = 6 hours + 45 minutes either in the saddle or on the pegs. Very challenging surface and a million potholes. Lots of very remote rivers, tundra-like marsh, tall evergreen trees and a long straight road.

I saw no wildlife, but did see tracks of some bikes ahead of me.

Stayed at Alexis Hotel ($60.00) which had a good restaurant.
Ending Odometer 54004 = 265 miles.
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"Packrat" IBA# 11205, AARP, ATP, CFI, A&P, USMC
__________________________________________
Rigor Mortis will be the first indication that I've grown up!!
Yungas Rd.-Bolivia, Alaska '08 - Labrador '10 -
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:57 PM   #9
Holeshot
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Great ride and great ride report, I enjoyed it very much. Your right, solo riding is really enjoyable.
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