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Old 01-17-2011, 11:26 AM   #1
lilolita OP
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Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Probbydense, RI
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2 Weeks, 2 Geeks, 2 Countries: New England to Nova Scotia

I know, I know, yet another RR about New Scotland from New England, but I figured it may be of some interest as we were on small bikes. I didn't think we were on small bikes, but I was told over and over and over that we were (or at least I was). I didn't know I wasn't supposed to leave Rhode Island on anything less than a 650.

My boyfriend and I are scooterists. We've ridden them for years and have only sized up in the last few years. We've taken short, one-week camping trips on both the scoots and the vintage bikes, but this would be our first multi-week trip.

We ordered up Canadian insurance cards from both Progressive and Hagerty. “Why both?” you wonder. Well, we were planning on taking the vintage bikes on this trip; me on the Honda CB350 and he on the BMW R75/5. But the Honda just got running a week before we were leaving.


I reeeeally wanted to do this trip on the old bikes, but the other night the boyfriend sat down, looked at me and said, “How would you feel if we had to abandon the trip because one of the bikes had a catastrophic breakdown?” Well, maybe he wasn’t that dramatic, but you get the point.
I looked at him and said, “I would be very unhappy.” I have been thinking about this trip since last spring (2009!) and I really, really, really need a break. So we decided, not even three nights ago, to forgo the rollicking adventure that would have been a BMW R75/5 and a Honda CB350 for his 2001 BMW F650GS Dakar and my 2007 DR-Z400 SM (aka Elsa).


The only problem …I’m getting a Renazco seat and my build date is during the time we’re away. There actually is something worse than the stock DR-Z400 seat — no seat at all!


The night before our departure, my boyfriend and I wrestled together a new seat out of a wreck of an extra seat I picked up with two inches of foam added beneath a layer of marine grade yellow vinyl. It did the trick for the trip.



Finally, finally, finally the day arrived…June 18th. I ran around on the 17th getting last minute supplies (food and bug repellent) and arranged how I wanted to pack stuff. How we lived in a pre-ZipLoc world I will never know. Actually, having just read the Wikipedia article about Ziploc bags, I never did live in a world pre-Ziploc.
I had ziplocs for:
  • kitchen clean-up stuff (sink, sponge, washing up liquid, clothes line and pins, microfiber rags, papertowels)
  • dining (collapsible plates, bowls, cups, knives/forks/spoons, paring knife, cork screw, coffee maker)
  • napkins
  • fire stuff (matches, fire starters, flint)
  • mosquito stuff (coils and citronella candles…I am heading north!)
  • roll of toilet paper
  • spices (thyme, rosemary, oregano, chicken broth, goya mixed spice, pepper)
  • pre-cooked Trader Joe’s rice and lentil packets
  • personal ditty bags (one for him, one for me) for soap, towels, toothbrush/paste, etc.
  • coffee
  • coffee filters
  • first aid kit (including a separate little bag for Advil, Exedrin, allergy medicine)
  • energy bars and fruit leather
I cannot stress enough how well this system worked for us. It could be pissing down with rain and I could easily grab the three or four bags I would need. I could do it in the dark or the light. I knew where everything was at all times. Erik had no freaking clue where things were. But I could (and had to) grab stuff in the pitch black of night and we had everything we needed. Oh, and seriously, BRING A SPARE ROLL OF TOILET PAPER. You will need it.
Elsa & Maxx packed up and ready for the ride to Cape Breton

Friday, June 18th was a warm, sunny morning. We brought the bikes into the back yard and packed them up. As we’re prepping the bikes, my crazy neighbor June starts calling over the fence “Eva, Eva” because of course she thinks that’s my name. Which it isn’t. I ignore her. She starts with “hello, hello” as if I’m not in the middle of packing up the DRZ for over two weeks of touring. I finally look her way and yell over “I’m in the middle of the something here” and she goes away. Too much pot has turned her into a zombie. I cannot have a conversation with her.
I rode out to the street while Erik made last minute adjustments. As I’m idling by the curb, a woman pulls up next to me in a car, rolls down her window and starts to ask me something. I’m wearing a full-face and earplugs and the bike is making its own noise as it’s warming up. I bang on my helmet and yell “I can’t hear you” so, in typical South Providence fashion, she yells back at me. I shake my head and head off.
Erik joins me and off we go! All of a mile to go to the Seaplane Diner for breakfast. After scrambled eggs and blueberry pancakes, we are on our way north!
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Old 01-17-2011, 11:27 AM   #2
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Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Probbydense, RI
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Canada Day 1: Providence, RI to Freeport, ME (186 miles)

We didn’t really plan this trip. All I knew was I wanted to get the hell out of Providence and end up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I’m not very good with spatial relationships, so when I pull out a map, I point and say “We’re here” and “We need to be here” with no reference to the distances between the first here and the second here.
All we had discussed is that we didn’t want to ride on the Interstate. So we headed off on Route 1. It was hot and getting hotter. At one point I looked over and said over the Cardo, “Ummm, I think we’re in Boston…isn’t that Fenway?” Sure enough, we’re in Boston. I hate Boston. Everyone who knows me knows I hate Boston. And here I am, on a bike packed to the gills and wearing full cold-weather gear, sweltering outside Fenway in stop-and-go Friday traffic, trying to figure out how the hell to get out of Boston. I yell over, “We need to find Storrow Drive; that’ll get us out of here!”
Maine...the way life should be (on Route 1)



Like a miraculous vision, a sign appears for Storrow Drive. We hop on and ride over the Tobin Bridge to get the hell outta Dodge. When we enter into Maine, we stop at the Visitor Information booth (yeah, that was fun to find as we were not on I95 but Route 1).
As I’m scarfing down a banana, I ask the gentleman behind the Info desk where the closest state campground is (we’re around Kittery–yeah, didn’t make very good time). We were planning on making Camden Hills, but it was getting late and we really needed to get off the road. I knew we wouldn’t even make Bath before nightfall.
The kindly gentleman behind the desk looks at me and says “Freeport.” I look back at him and say “There’s no state camping in Freeport.” “Bradbury Mountain,” was his reply. “Duh!” I exclaim. I was there as a kid but only on a day hike.
As I turn around, a woman remarks “That’s a bright jacket.” I told her that it was a real sacrifice being safe and fashionable but I don’t think she realized I was joking. Both her and her partner asked me about where we were headed, what were we riding, etc. It felt like Erik wasn’t even there. I thought to myself, these must be the folks in the car with the bumper stickers “Motorcycles are everywhere” and “=”. Sure ’nuff, we walk outside and they’re hanging around their car. I got the feeling they were just sorta hanging out at the rest stop waiting to talk to people on bikes as they were Mainers. Who from Maine goes to the Visitor Information area near Kittery?
Off we rode toward Freeport to stop at Bradbury Mountain. Route 9 was just repaved and a sweet, smooth, and oil-laced roadway. We found the campground entrance and coasted into the grounds. Trying to figure out how to snag a site was another matter. There was a guy in the site “Campground Host” who informed us to just pick any site and someone will be by later to collect the camping fee.
Elsa (DR-Z400SM) and Maxx (F650GS Dakar) at Bradbury Mountain State Park



The campground was about 1/3 full and quite quiet. There were 3 hot showers(!) and a dishwashing station. Luxxxxxxury. After we got settled, I decided to take a shower and wash out the clothes I wore that day because it had been a long, hot & humid, sticky, nasty day. The shower was really nice. My only complaint about the campground was that Route 9 is a busy road and I could hear traffic throughout the night.
I had cooked up some chicken, brown rice and green beans the night before and froze the meal. When I went to pull out the Ziploc, it was thawed and ready to be reheated over my simple one-burner. We were both very tired from the hot ride and the food tasted delicious. Having access to the dishwashing station made me lazy as I was able to carry the dishes over for a quick rinse. No fire this night as we wanted to get to bed so we could take off early in the morning.
When we awoke, Erik made coffee with the GSI collapsible coffee maker and I boiled up some water for my farina and his apples and cinnamon oatmeal. With a hearty meal in our bellies, we headed off toward Calais, ME and the border crossing.
But would we make it?
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Old 01-17-2011, 11:38 AM   #3
Antennas
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Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
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Nice pics

Nice pictures. Keep 'em coming. I will await your Canadian experiences.

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Old 01-17-2011, 12:19 PM   #4
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Location: Port Kennedy, Western Australia
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So far, so good.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:40 PM   #5
lilolita OP
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Location: Probbydense, RI
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Canada Day 2: Freeport, ME to Cobscook Bay, ME (255 miles)

At the Miss Wiscasset Diner in Wiscasset, Maine



We got up this morning and cooked up our first breakfast. Farina for me and apples and cinnamon oatmeal for him. I swore off oatmeal having had to eat the yucky plain kind as a kid every Thursday. Give me cream o’ wheat and I’m a happy girl. As we packed up our stuff, I called my Dad in Bath to see if he might want to meet for breakfast at the Miss Brunswick Diner. No answer. Oh well, at least I tried. This was the Saturday before Father’s Day and I haven’t spoken to my Dad in donkey’s yonks. I wonder if he will even retrieve the message?


We got back on Route 1 and were headed toward the border crossing in Calais, Maine. As we’re riding along, I remember that there is a Belted Galloway farm nearby, but I’m not sure where. We stop at the information booth Damariscotta. Let’s just say that the young man behind the table had no freaking clue what I was talking about. He looks up and says, “Do you mean Cowshit Corner?” Classic information center customer service. You go Damariscotta! You will forever be in my heart as a place that shows it all. I laughed and said, “Um, no, but that’s ok. I need to use the bathroom anyway.”


Throw a leg over and head back through town toward Route 1 again. Oooh, we’re going to go by Moody’s Diner. All my childhood memories are being ignited on this route. There were a lot of roadworks going on and we were stuck in some stop-and-go traffic outside of Waldoboro.We’ve been seeing lots of bikes, but not anything particularly cool. Until now. What should come inching up in the other direction but an orange stallion with a guy in a ‘stich. A gorgeous KTM 990 Adventure. The rider actually stood up a bit and gave me a salute, hand to helmet and out. Freaking awesome. I never see any adventure-type bikes in Rhode Island (seriously, why would I?).


Someone in the Maine thread gave me a brilliant route, taking us the slow way. It was on peaceful backroads with lots of farmland along the gorgeous St. George river. Scenery comes at a cost, though, and it soon became clear to me as the sun was sinking lower in the sky that we were not going to make the border today.
Maine Street, Belfast ME



In Belfast we stopped at the Hannafords because someone who shall remain nameless forgot the USB cable for the camera; the very cable that not only connects said camera to my netbook so I can pull off pics and blog as we ride, but also charges the battery. No cable + no charging capabilities = dead camera. We find a multi-port hub that should do the trick (and I get some tissues as my allergies are bothering me something fierce) and go to the checkout. The guy in front of us turns and asks what we’re riding, where are we going, etc., etc. He recommends a diner to us in Belfast and gives us wonderful directions. I’m stahving for lunch.


We stopped at Dudley’s Diner, now called the Awesome Diner (seriously?!) and I had a delicious BLT. Erik brought the map in as we’re realizing we’re going to have to plan on where to stop before Calais. Hmmm, how about Cobscook. We stayed there when I was little and all I remember are dead squid. Nasty, foul-smelling dead squid every where.


We head the bikes in that direction and ride along Route 1 through the blueberry flats. The berry bushes in Maine grow very low to the ground and in super-sandy soil. They’re almost like dry cranberry bogs. We passed Blueberry World (closed) as the sun was sinking lower and lower. We finally turned into the Cobscook Bay State Park and arranged our campground. I really wanted to take Erik to see the Quoddy Head lighthouse as it’s the eastern most point in the continental US. We pulled the bags off our bikes and immediately headed back out toward Lubec, Maine.
West Quoddy Head lighthouse, Lubec Maine



The road out to the lighthouse was sweet. No traffic and calm as could be. It was getting dark and the air was growing colder. I was glad I had added my fleece under my jacket. Another couple visiting at the same time offered to snap our pic (so few pics of us together) and then we wandered the grounds some. “That’s Canada over there!” I shouted and pointed. But I knew we still had to find something to eat and Elsa (the DRZ) needed gas so we headed into the center of Lubec.


We stopped at the only shop we found as the “grocery store” was already closed (it’s before 8:00pm but it’s pretty rural here). I grabbed some ground meat and cheese as that was about all they had (no beer or wine tonight) and thought I’d make some tacos. As we’re riding back to the park, I keep thinking watch for deer, watch for deer, they like to come out at dusk. Fortunately no deer … this time.
Cobscook Bay State Park, Maine



Back at the park I picked up some firewood and strapped it to the back of the DRZ. My bike has carried a lot of firewood by the end of this trip. Erik set up the tent as I started a fire to get dinner going. We were really tired (another hot day with no sense of direction) and the tacos could not have been more delicious.


As the darkness falls, I see eyes staring at me from the marsh. I’m convinced it’s a frog; Erik thinks it’s some kind of water weasel thing. Whatever it was, it was freaking me out. As the fire petered out, we crawled into the tent for a well-deserved rest.


Tomorrow: Canada!
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:23 PM   #6
Mr Scruffy
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Location: North of Boston, south of Canada
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I'm in!!

Loving this thread! I've not only ridden those exact same roads... I've stopped at the same places! I can't believe you routed THROUGH Boston!! Then again, the highway is no better. Nothing better on a cold January day than re-live a ride through a favored area!
Amazing how New England, for a small geographic area, is surprizingly long to ride through! In a lot of places, the old Maine saying "you can't get theyah from heyah" is true! Rock on.. I'm tuned in
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Old 05-04-2011, 07:56 PM   #7
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Joined: Apr 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilolita View Post
At the Miss Wiscasset Diner in Wiscasset, Maine



We got up this morning and cooked up our first breakfast. Farina for me and apples and cinnamon oatmeal for him. I swore off oatmeal having had to eat the yucky plain kind as a kid every Thursday. Give me cream o’ wheat and I’m a happy girl. As we packed up our stuff, I called my Dad in Bath to see if he might want to meet for breakfast at the Miss Brunswick Diner. No answer. Oh well, at least I tried. This was the Saturday before Father’s Day and I haven’t spoken to my Dad in donkey’s yonks. I wonder if he will even retrieve the message?


We got back on Route 1 and were headed toward the border crossing in Calais, Maine. As we’re riding along, I remember that there is a Belted Galloway farm nearby, but I’m not sure where. We stop at the information booth Damariscotta. Let’s just say that the young man behind the table had no freaking clue what I was talking about. He looks up and says, “Do you mean Cowshit Corner?” Classic information center customer service. You go Damariscotta! You will forever be in my heart as a place that shows it all. I laughed and said, “Um, no, but that’s ok. I need to use the bathroom anyway.”


Throw a leg over and head back through town toward Route 1 again. Oooh, we’re going to go by Moody’s Diner. All my childhood memories are being ignited on this route. There were a lot of roadworks going on and we were stuck in some stop-and-go traffic outside of Waldoboro.We’ve been seeing lots of bikes, but not anything particularly cool. Until now. What should come inching up in the other direction but an orange stallion with a guy in a ‘stich. A gorgeous KTM 990 Adventure. The rider actually stood up a bit and gave me a salute, hand to helmet and out. Freaking awesome. I never see any adventure-type bikes in Rhode Island (seriously, why would I?).


Someone in the Maine thread gave me a brilliant route, taking us the slow way. It was on peaceful backroads with lots of farmland along the gorgeous St. George river. Scenery comes at a cost, though, and it soon became clear to me as the sun was sinking lower in the sky that we were not going to make the border today.
Maine Street, Belfast ME



In Belfast we stopped at the Hannafords because someone who shall remain nameless forgot the USB cable for the camera; the very cable that not only connects said camera to my netbook so I can pull off pics and blog as we ride, but also charges the battery. No cable + no charging capabilities = dead camera. We find a multi-port hub that should do the trick (and I get some tissues as my allergies are bothering me something fierce) and go to the checkout. The guy in front of us turns and asks what we’re riding, where are we going, etc., etc. He recommends a diner to us in Belfast and gives us wonderful directions. I’m stahving for lunch.


We stopped at Dudley’s Diner, now called the Awesome Diner (seriously?!) and I had a delicious BLT. Erik brought the map in as we’re realizing we’re going to have to plan on where to stop before Calais. Hmmm, how about Cobscook. We stayed there when I was little and all I remember are dead squid. Nasty, foul-smelling dead squid every where.


We head the bikes in that direction and ride along Route 1 through the blueberry flats. The berry bushes in Maine grow very low to the ground and in super-sandy soil. They’re almost like dry cranberry bogs. We passed Blueberry World (closed) as the sun was sinking lower and lower. We finally turned into the Cobscook Bay State Park and arranged our campground. I really wanted to take Erik to see the Quoddy Head lighthouse as it’s the eastern most point in the continental US. We pulled the bags off our bikes and immediately headed back out toward Lubec, Maine.
West Quoddy Head lighthouse, Lubec Maine



The road out to the lighthouse was sweet. No traffic and calm as could be. It was getting dark and the air was growing colder. I was glad I had added my fleece under my jacket. Another couple visiting at the same time offered to snap our pic (so few pics of us together) and then we wandered the grounds some. “That’s Canada over there!” I shouted and pointed. But I knew we still had to find something to eat and Elsa (the DRZ) needed gas so we headed into the center of Lubec.


We stopped at the only shop we found as the “grocery store” was already closed (it’s before 8:00pm but it’s pretty rural here). I grabbed some ground meat and cheese as that was about all they had (no beer or wine tonight) and thought I’d make some tacos. As we’re riding back to the park, I keep thinking watch for deer, watch for deer, they like to come out at dusk. Fortunately no deer … this time.
Cobscook Bay State Park, Maine



Back at the park I picked up some firewood and strapped it to the back of the DRZ. My bike has carried a lot of firewood by the end of this trip. Erik set up the tent as I started a fire to get dinner going. We were really tired (another hot day with no sense of direction) and the tacos could not have been more delicious.


As the darkness falls, I see eyes staring at me from the marsh. I’m convinced it’s a frog; Erik thinks it’s some kind of water weasel thing. Whatever it was, it was freaking me out. As the fire petered out, we crawled into the tent for a well-deserved rest.


Tomorrow: Canada!
Hi there,

I am going through and reading all the threads that have anything to do with Maine...and to my shock...in that photo at the Miss Wiscasset Diner...you somehow managed to get my brother in that shot! LOL! He is going by on his old bike in the back ground! HAHAH! Its a small world!

Loved reading all about your trip! The photos are gorgeous! Oh and there were belted cows in Bristol near the swimming hole...on the way to Pemaquid. I cant beleive the kid at the information booth in Damariscotta asked you if you were looking for cow shit corner...lol.
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Old 01-20-2011, 03:48 PM   #8
lilolita OP
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Canada Day Five: Fundy National Park, NB to Five Islands Provincial Park, Nova Scotia


White van in Chignecto North campground, Fundy National Park

Last night as we were making our final bathroom trip before bedtime, the boyfriend noticed a white van in the campsite across from ours. No sign of people. The only item outside of the van was a water bottle on the picnic table. Now we all know what unmarked vans are about. And it was mysteriously gone very early the next morning, as I had gotten up crazy early for me and noticed it was gone.

Everything is wet. But who cares! Pack it up…we’re heading out. I’m a camping girl. I love to camp. I could camp all the time. So what’s a little rain. What’s some cold. Just all things to be prepared for and to overcome.


Flowerpot rocks, NB

Over breakfast of farina and oatmeal, we planned out the ride for the day. There is a park where one can see the Hopewell Rocks (aka the Flowerpot rocks) that looked kind of cool. They are rocks carved away by the power of the tides in Fundy and you can walk around underneath them if the tide is out. Again, we’re not very good planners so we had no idea when tide would be out.


Lover's Arch, Hopewell Rocks

After the bikes were packed up, we took the long way along the water toward the rocks, eventually heading to Moncton and over into Nova Scotia. It was quite cold riding along the water, but as soon as we turned inland, it was really nice. We arrive at Hopewell Rocks, pay the entry fee, and walk in toward the lookover. Turns out our timing was perfect as they were just opening the gate to allow people down into the mud as the tide was flowing out.

There’s something about wandering around in a hi-viz jacket because people come up and start chatting. We met a guy from Halifax who was really pushing us to go visit the city, but I said we were trying to get away from cities. Not that I wouldn’t like to see Halifax one day, just not on this visit.


Black & White Swan couple in New Brunswick, Canada

After we explored the wonderful geology, we got back on the bikes and headed toward Moncton. As we’re riding, we pass a house with a huge lake next to it. We weren’t sure if the lake was part of the house or a park or what, but I saw a black swan. I screeched over the intercom “Black swan! Black swan! Stop now!” as I wanted to go see the black swan. Black swans are rare. And I love swans. Absolutely love them. We turn down what is most likely a private road as all the mailboxes were at the end in one large, mailbox center. Normally I don’t go hiking into people’s yards, but, hey, you got a pet black swan, you should expect some interest. Notice how nice the weather is. I swear, you get away from the water in New Brunswick and the sun comes out. Ebony & Ivory, living in racial harmony. Welcome to Canada.

Ahhh, Moncton. You will always have a special place in my heart. I even started singing a new song, “Straight outta Moncton!” The love will become apparent much later in this write-up. The closer we got to Moncton, the hotter it got. Moncton is a biiiiiig city. There are high rise buildings and double lanes of traffic and strip mall after strip mall after strip mall.


Future Shop, Moncton, NB

The reason we headed straight into Moncton (come on, sing it with me) is because we are still trying to find the cable for our camera. Without this cable, the camera will die and there will be no pictures. For some reason the boyfriend knew that Future Shop in Canada is the same as Best Buy in the U.S. and there was a Future Shop in Moncton (I told you it was a big city). Well, screw you Olympus with your proprietary bullshit cable. The woman as the store was extremely helpful but they didn’t have the cable. So we coughed up the 100 CDN and got a battery charger thing that will charge any kind of battery.

I was also pretty cold this morning and I didn’t bring any hardcore warm clothes. Come on, it’s June. Is it really supposed to be this cold? So I hung my head low and walked into the Wal-Mart. I looked all around the women’s clothing section to try to find some long underwear. I gave up and walked over to a woman who was folding clothes neatly. “Um, would you have any long underwear still out?” realizing that it’s June and this is summer, even though it’s freezing cold. She looked at me in my spaceman outfit, and I explained that I was on a motorbike and it was damn cold riding near the water in the mornings.

“Ahhh,” she sighed. “We’re in the middle of a heatwave right now.” I laughed and said I would hate to be visiting during a cold snap. She actually found one long underwear in grey with pink stitching, but it was an XL. Hmmm, I kind of a small girl. “You’re getting it,” she announced. “It’s 2 bucks. It’ll keep you warm. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.” Well, kind lady at Wal-Mart, I am glad I did and I’ve been wearing it all winter here. Big thumbs up to the excellent service I received at the Moncton Wal-Mart. Again, Canada comes through.


Nova Scotia Welcome Center, Amherst, NS

It took us a while to figure out how to get out of Moncton (again, sing with me), but we finally crossed over into Nova Scotia! A new sticker!

We stopped at the visitor information center to enquire about where to camp. Everyone is so freaking nice in this country. The young woman suggested we head toward Five Islands Provincial Park. I really wanted to stop at Cape Chignecto Provincial Park as it’s on a tip that juts into the Fundy Bay. But it’s a hike-in campground and thought of hiking in with saddlebags simply was not cutting it.

We stopped in Amherst to pick up some vittles for supper and some libations. After the Alma experience, I was getting the feeling that if there’s a biggish town, stop and get food. There’s always food to be had to cook up in the little towns, but not necessary fresh meats or veggies. This trip is not only about riding the bikes, but about camping and spending time in the woods, cooking over a wood fire and unplugging.


As we’re packing the Strongbow cider onto my bike (the NSLC had it this time…shout out to the LCs for carrying my favorite nectar), two guys walk up to us, asking about the bikes. The one guy has a DR750. A what? What the hell. We’re America, we’re supposed to have everything. We have nothing. Canada, again, I love you.

I don’t know why, but we should have invited ourselves out with the guys, but we didn’t. I’m sure that would have been a fun night. I’m still learning how to not be so shy. For two computer geeks with lots of cats, I think we did pretty good.


Random gas station near Apple River, NS

So off to Five Islands we headed. We took back roads, taking our time meandering through divine fir forests, teeny, tiny towns (well, a gas station stop that doubles as a general store) and spectacular views of the Bay. We’re riding along, slowly taking our time, when a swarm of deer jump onto the roadway in front of my boyfriend. He is a magnet for wildlife. He manages to avoid them all, but we up our alertness level to be scanning the sides of the road. For some reason we don’t have any pictures of this ride, but it was absolutely spectacular. No people, no cars, no houses, no nothing but trees, water and deer.

We stopped for gas and it had the old-fashioned pumps, you know the kind with numbers on a roller. We pumped first, then paid. Yah, Canada! We continued to head to Five Islands, arriving pretty late as it was starting to get dark. As we were travelling in mid to late June, the sun didn’t set until 10:30/11:00 pm at night.

We’re tired. We finally arrive at Five Islands and go into the park registration building. We are met by a woman who speaks a language unknown to anyone who speaks a human language. We still have no idea what she was speaking. It was sorta English, but we both had to struggle to understand her. Instead of assigning us a campsite, she wanted us to ride around the park and pick one ourselves. Which is very nice, but I’m so tired, I don’t really fancy riding around, riding back, paying, and then riding back in.

She shows us a map and mumbles something about “gravel” and “slippy slidey” and “one way”. We both nod, just wanting to get on with picking the site. Did I mention she was incomprehensible? And we’re both linguists with a lot of experience with different languages and we literally could not make heads nor tails of what she was saying.

With map in hand, we head off. “Slippy slidey” has now become our code for “don’t take your motorbike there”. The gravel must have just been laid down in anticipation of the upcoming camping season because it was at least 4 inches (10 cm as we’re in the land of moon-man measurements) thick. The heavily laden bikes were extremely difficult to guide through this rock soup.

One screaming match later, the site was selected and I rode out to pay and pick up some firewood. Again, the woman said some words to me and I just smiled and nodded. It was almost pitch black and we still needed to get a fire going to make something to eat.


Five Islands Provincial Park, NS

We got the tent set up quickly and I cooked some hot dogs over the fire. We sat in front of the fire and relaxed for the evening.

I stupidly left the extra hot dog buns out on the table and awoke in the middle of the night to some kind of animal (a bear?!) chowing down. I laid there frozen in my sleeping bag, but it most likely was a raccoon. But a bear sounds so much more dramatic.

Did I mention that the roads into and around the campground were from hell? Slippy slidey my ass…more like, oh, you’ve been riding all day, including freezing in the morning, sweating in the afternoon, deer jumping out in front of you, then here’s our gift of the thickest gravel in all of Canada for you. There was running water and showers. It was posh. But I wouldn’t stay here again.
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Old 01-20-2011, 03:50 PM   #9
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Five Islands Provincial Campground in the morning

Wednesday morning saw me still in a bit of mood over the end of yesterday’s ride and the crappy campground. I really can’t blame the campground. The location was fantastic with outstanding waterviews, but the point of the park is for RVs. Most of the trees have been cut down and the camping spots are flat for large groups of RVers. Luckily we were there before season so there were only a handful of other campers so it was quiet in the morning. I just didn’t like it. The amenities were nice (hot water, showers) but we didn’t use them because I didn’t think I was that dirty.

I was in such a mood that I didn’t even make breakfast. We simply packed up and headed out, having agreed to stop at a diner for breakfast. Actually, I think we said we would stop at a Tim Horton’s because we were, after all, in Canada and we still hadn’t been to a Tim’s. Being residents of Rhode Island, the home of Dunkin’ Donuts, it would be like cheating on your wife with her best friend, going to Tim’s.

Belted Galloways near Lower Economy, NS

Shortly after leaving the park, we’re riding along through rolling pastures, the sky a bit grey like it seems to be every morning in Nova Scotia in June, when I looked over into a field of cows and saw not one, but two, Belties! Of course I had to stop and take a picture. If you look closely, the leftmost two cows are Belties. They are deigning to share the field with plain old brown whatever cows.

Restaurant / Tractor Trailer Training School

I was starting to feel in need of coffee as we came upon a truck stop/truck training school/diner. Now this is my kind of place. We spread maps all over the table and scarfed down scrambled eggs, bacon and cups of coffee. Sustenance food for what was going to be a long day.

Given that we wanted to make it to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park which was a ways from where we were, we knew we would have to hop onto the Trans-Canada Highway. We stopped in New Glasgow to pick up food because after my experience in Alma and again last night, I was realizing that if there was a grocery store, you better stop. Plus, how could we visit New Scotland without stopping in New Glasgow?! Across the street from the grocery store (the Atlantic Superstore which is cheaper than Sobey’s for those who think about these things) was a giant Honda dealer. And boy did I want to go. When I showed the boyfriend the picture just now and I said how much I wanted to go, and he asked why, I said to see all the cool Honda bikes we don’t get. Well, apparently I should have articulated that as we were standing in the parking lot. Note to self: ask for what you want.

I have the stock tank on my Dizz and carry an extra liter of gas. I would get worried about 120 miles and start looking around for a gas station. As we’re riding toward the Canso Causeway on the big dual carriageway, the wind is killing me. My shoulders ache like I’ve been shovelling snow for hours, my neck wants to give up holding my head upright and my thighs have really had enough of gripping the tank. The posted speed limit was 110 kph which is like 350 mph in good ol’ American measurements, and that damn Dizz without a sixth gear is just not interested in purring along sweetly at that speed.

I have had to switch to reserve many times on the Vespa because I don’t pay attention to my mileage and I don’t think the fuel gauge worked even when it was new in 1979. But I’ve never hit reserve on Elsa, that is, until this afternoon. I pull over to the side of the highway and calmly twist the knob, ever hopeful that my boyfriend will notice I’m no longer behind him. I’m at 96 miles since last fuel up. Shit, I think. Why didn’t I stop 10 miles ago when my boyfriend intercomm’d back, “Hey, you wanna stop for gas?”
I get the girl going and meet up with the BMW. I yell over that we should really get off at the next exit because the last sign said something like 30 km to the Causeway. We take the exit and sadly, the sign only has icons for a place to sleep and phone. No gas. “Ahh, that’s an anomaly,” I think to myself, “of course there’s gas.” I ride about 1/2 mile down the road and I pull up to two older ladies, chatting over the post at their mailboxes. “Excuse me, could you tell me where the nearest gas station is?”

MSR bottle comes in handy

“Oh, that would be blah-blah town, up that way.” “Um, and how far would that be?” “Oh, 8 miles.” Yeah, I found that last two people in Canada who still use real measurements! I was still a bit freaked out about how much gas I actually had left (I know, I know) so I asked the boyfriend to empty that 1 liter into the tank. I don’t know where this was, but it was where a road went right next to the railroad tracks.

We got back on the highway and stopped at the big Petro Canada station right before the Causeway because I liked the logo. We snacked on bananas and granola bars and filled our thirsty steeds. We decided to ride over the Causeway and stop at the Welcome Center to pick up a map and check in with the always helpful staff.

Gypsum gone wild!

Crossing the Causeway, you see all these big piles of white stuff. Hmm, what’s that? Well, it turns out it’s gypsum. It’s everywhere in Nova Scotia and I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s freaking cool, these white rivulets covered with fir trees. It’s kinda cool to think that the horsehair plaster walls of my 1885 house may have gypsum from Nova Scotia.
As we left the visitor’s center, we met a couple on a bike from Quebec. There were definitely a lot of Quebecois on vacation in Nova Scotia. It was like being in Woonsocket.

We rode up the left coast of the island, not stopping but planning places we would backtrack to visit. The plan was to stay a few days in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park before heading down to the other side of Cape Breton.

Gulf of St Lawrence, NS

The sea was beautiful. The traffic almost non-existent. The weather, sunny and welcoming. We stopped at one little “scenic overlook” because, well, why the hell not. The place looks so much like the west coast of Ireland it was really freaking me out a bit. If it weren’t for signs in kooky French, I would have thought we were in Clifden.

After we got off our bikes at this stop, a mini-van pulled in and parked near us. Now let me just say, I lived in New York for years and a coping mechanism was to filter out all the unnecessary noise, both audible and visual. So I sometimes miss the big picture when it comes to visual scenes because I’m focusing on the one thing that I find interesting.

The mini-van had the same GPS we have on the dash. The aging StreetPilot 2720. I failed to notice that the people were staring at me, staring at them. Then I noticed that they had Rhode Island license plates! Are you kidding me? No one leaves Rhode Island. Turns out they’re from Cumberland, and were driving Cape Breton in a day or two. I recommended they go to Meat Cove because their friends would not have gone there. They even had Australian Jill as the voice on the GPS.

We got into the campground around 6pm and there was no one official around. We rode around some, and then walked around some, to try to figure out how it worked. There were only 5 or 6 campsites with a fireplace; all the others were fit for a tent or an RV but no fires permitted. We were able to snag the last site with a fireplace but were wedged in with the handful of other campers. The site backed up to a roaring stream.
As the boyfriend set up the tent, I rode back out to the little shop just outside the park to pick up wood because the ranger station was closed (closed in my face as I walked up to the door, thanks for that). It was here, waiting in line to pay, that I got to hear my first bona fide Acadian French! And he missed it. The only word I understood was “oui”. It was very exciting because I really wanted to hear some in natural speech. Man, it’s weird sounding.

I got my bundles and attached them to the back of Elsa, and rode back to the campground. We stayed up late this night, listening to the water in the stream and watching the fire burn. Tomorrow we do the distillery tour and look for dirt!

The view to Ireland
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Old 01-20-2011, 06:03 PM   #10
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more pictures please !!!
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Old 01-20-2011, 06:28 PM   #11
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What he said.

I couldn't see the belted Galloways so I clicked the thumbnail, then still had trouble seeing them, so zoomed in. AAAAHHHH! Belted Galloways! I saw some hill climbing cows while in Nova Scotia this summer, and thought how at home they'd have been in the highlands of Scotland.

I hope you're staying up late working on our next instalment.

With regard to the dual carriageways in New Brunswick, can you imagine five vehicles stuck behind Farmer Brown's old pick up full of firewood? Passing in the oncoming traffic lane was the only way up until last year. (They are straight and boring when they leave the coast line though )
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Old 01-20-2011, 06:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rotten Ronnie View Post
With regard to the dual carriageways in New Brunswick, can you imagine five vehicles stuck behind Farmer Brown's old pick up full of firewood? Passing in the oncoming traffic lane was the only way up until last year. (They are straight and boring when they leave the coast line though )
I believe we were Farmer Brown in this story and the line behind us couldn't wait for the passing lanes to show up.
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Old 02-04-2011, 02:33 PM   #13
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Like it! Great stuff and well written. More please.
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