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Old 09-05-2013, 05:55 PM   #31
masukomi OP
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Day 13 - Baddeck to Antigonish

It started with sun, actual, honest to goodness sun. Not, overcast with sun peeking out, but sun, with an occasional cloud.

If we have learned anything from our time in Nova Scotia is that their weather forecasting is even worse than ours.

After packing up the smelliest hotel room ever (excessively moist boots and tent) we left the door open and the fan on, in hopes that it would have a chance to air out before the cleaning lady got there and passed out from the stench, then let the dogs jump into their sidecar and set out. I'm still wearing trash bags in my boots, because apparently 36 hours isn't long enough to dry them once they've reached total saturation, unless you're in a much drier climate, or do the newspaper trick, which someone on ADV Rider mentioned, and I'd totally forgotten about.

We decided to do most of the Bras D'or Lakes scenic route, which looked spectacular on the map, and started out with some pretty views...





... but after crossing the bridge...



turned into a long stretch of bumpy, poorly maintained roads, with almost no view of the lakes. If you ignored the typical North American houses it could have been any back road at this latitude.



This isn't to say they weren't trying to improve the roads. We spent a goodly amount of time like this...



Because Nova Scotia construction crews like to close down one direction of traffic and do work on big sections of road instead of doing wee patches like we do in the US.

It was nice though: sunny, warm... We opened up our vents, and generally enjoyed not being rained on. There was just one problem. Dachary couldn't hear me in her headset. We tried switching headsets. We tried turning them off and on again. We tried wiggling microphones and base-plates... Nothing worked.

For Dachary it was a somewhat lonely experience. She would talk to me; giving me directions, or commenting on things we were passing, and I would respond with a small set of hand signals. For me it was... interesting. I was allowed to just be quiet. I would respond as best I could, but eventually I stopped even thinking about trying to talk in response. While waiting in line for the construction crews I'd sometimes not bother, because it would mean turning around and yelling loud enough to make it out my helmet, ten feet down the road, in her helmet, and through her earplugs. I did make it a point to get off the bike and go give her a hug every now and then when we came to another line.

Of course, we have a spare base plate. Of course, it's at home, because we dropped the ball on a few things when packing for this trip, and the base plate was one of them. :/ We're still not 100% sure whose is the culprit, but it's probably something to do with the microphone on mine. Dachary says I've been getting quieter for days now.



(We both found the whole "lick a chick" idea a little disturbing)

Towards the end of the day we came across signs for the "Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine" and I had to go. It reminded me of Latin America, which I miss, and it seemed so incongruous to find this here in Cape Breton. Fortunately, it was on the left.

Left is fortunate, because our right blinker has gone out again. We're going to be taking it to the dealer for engine issues when we get back anyway, but in the meantime it just blows bulbs every month or so. We've got remember to stick in the spare in the morning.



I was kind-of excited when I pulled up the drive. It was huge.



But, it was so... sterile. You'd never see something like this in Latin America. It wouldn't be pristine. There wouldn't be large washes of a single color like this. It would be vibrant! It would be alive. You'd feel... something. This was just so sterile. So... white people.

The statues were a little different. Judging by the dream catcher around one's neck I thinking one of the local indians paid a visit.





We met some Mi'kmaq at a gas station earlier in the day. They were, like most Canadians: nice people. I was happy to hear some of them still speaking Mi'kmaq, although I had to ask to be sure that's what it was. Too many native people's abandoning their languages... The sad thing though, was that they were concentrated in one of, if not the, poorest looking town we've seen.

It was in that town that we stopped for "Gas station lunch" which almost always ends up being a pre-made ham and cheese sandwich with some soda and chips. This was the first one we'd had on this trip though, and we found it a surprisingly refreshing, and tasty (not to mention cheap) change of pace. Maybe it's just because they remind us of our Americas trip.

Eventually, the rain came. It was inevitable I guess, but it did hold off until near the end of the day. When we finally came into Antigonish for a fuel stop we were both considering getting a hotel room soon, and that's when an RCMP came up and introduced himself to us as one of the guys who'd followed our America's trip on ADV Rider and had sent us a message about possibly getting together on this trip. Alas, we got the message after we passed beyond his home town. But, there he was in the flesh, filling up at the same gas station, at the same time. Excellent!

Alas, he was on the job, and there wasn't a good place to get out of the rain and chat anyway, but it was still great to meat one of the many awesome folks we've interacted with on ADV Rider. We mentioned that we were considering getting a hotel somewhere around here and he pointed to the motel next door, saying "That one's cheap"... and directly across the street from it was a steak place.

Let's see...
  • gets us out of the rain almost immediately (it was after 5:30 anyway)
  • has steak across the street (i'd been craving it since the seafood overload last night)
  • is cheap.

If they only take pets we'll have a winner.

They do! Just one restriction. No pets on the bed ("keep them on the carpet") or they'll charge us an additional $50.... shit. "Of course" I said, knowing full well the task would be nigh-impossible to achieve, but knowing that we are capable of dealing with simple adversities like this. Dachary grumbled at the restriction, thinking the same thing I did, and then came up with the ultimate solution: lay the sleeping bag over the bed (along with our liners to cover any additional space) and let the dogs get on that. It's not like they don't sleep on it in the tent anyway. Now everybody wins. The comforter stays clean, and the dogs get to be with their pack. :)

There is one adversity we haven't been able to overcome though. We can't close the main window. It's old wood with old paint, and it's just plain stuck, having expanded with the moisture. I'm seriously afraid that I'll break it, or me, if I yank any harder. I took the sticks out of the other ones, gave a little tug, and down they came.

I've acquired steak from across the street, sodas from the convenience store next to the steak place, and the wi-fi was good enough to let us upload images. Now I just need to find a way to keep Dachary warm tonight. ;)
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:24 PM   #32
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I always enjoy the detail in your reports. How is it going.
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Old 09-13-2013, 11:39 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbss1 View Post
I always enjoy the detail in your reports. How is it going.
We're not dead!

We got home and have been enjoying our comfortable chairs. Still have to pull the pictures off the cameras, which I'll do tonight. Over the course of this trip we've come to some interesting conclusions, which we'll write up, in addition to the last few days of riding, and share with you. These have also hampered writing as they've resulted in may hours of internet research.... which should have been done after writing up the last few days. ;)

Unfortunately, despite working ahead and getting everything done for the weeks we were gone Dachary's clients managed to come up with more work in her absence. So, in addition to the normal workload she's got bonus work... and is trying to not go insane with all the typing (on burnt hands no-less (not from anything in the trip).
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Old 09-14-2013, 12:38 PM   #34
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Look forward to more pics.
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Old 09-14-2013, 02:27 PM   #35
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Sounds like you kids are having a great time, look forward to reading more
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Old 09-22-2013, 01:19 PM   #36
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Day 14 - Antigonish, NS to Moncton, NB

Not being able to get the window closed last night led to a surprisingly chilly night. Kay and I hunkered down in the bed, under the blanket and comforter, under the down sleeping bag, and under a pile of dog. It’s a testament to the cold that the dogs stayed piled on the bed with us. My dog, Ben, generally won’t sleep on the bed at night; he’ll hang out when the lights are on, but once they go out, he moves to the floor - usually right next to the bed so he can still be close to us. But it was so cold in the room that he stayed on the bed last night, and none of us wanted to get up this morning.

Kay eventually ventured out to use the SMALLEST SHOWER EVER (seriously, smaller than even any campground shower I’ve ever used - when I raised my arms to wash my hair, I couldn’t do it without banging my elbows on the walls - Kay says it’s as small or smaller than the shower he used to have in an RV back in the day) and discovered that at least we have warm water. I ventured out shortly after, and once we were moving around, we had to force ourselves not to get back in the bed or we’d be trapped by the cocoon of warmth. (It’s worth noting that the dogs showed no inclination to get off the bed - they watched us from the warm pile until Kay finally took them out, and then leashed them to the Ural outside so we could pack up the sleeping bag without them getting on the bed again.)

Eventually, we were off, after a crappy toasted bagel and cream cheese “continental breakfast.” But it was a cheap hotel, so at least our expectations were low. The food matched.

Plan for today was to slowly wend our way out of Nova Scotia, hitting a few points we wanted to see along the north shore. We ended up on the Sunrise Trail - so we’ve driven pretty much every “scenic route” trail on Nova Scotia. It was nice riding - much nicer than yesterday’s “Bras D’or Lakes” scenic route, which turned out to have very little in the way of views.

Around lunchtime, we hit a town that had a knife shop we had been pondering checking out: Grohmann Knives. Apparently they sell handmade knives, including the Russell Belt Knife, and we both love our Leatherman/Swiss Army Knife type things, so we thought we’d check it out. It was pretty much what you’d expect. The craftsmanship was impressive, but we didn’t actually need a knife, so we didn’t buy anything.

I read in one of my guidebooks that we happened to be in the same town as Mrs. MacGregor’s Tea Room, which the book claimed had sticky toffee pudding to die for. One of our friends makes great sticky toffee pudding, but we don’t get it very often as it’s mostly a holiday thing, so I decided we should stop and try it. After all - we’re on vacation!

Wandered over to Mrs. MacGregors, where we discovered that they no longer served food food - just desserts and shortbreads and things. But the helpful gent there (Mr. MacGregor, I think) referred us to the Stone Soup Cafe around the corner for lunch. Kay moved the bikes so we could keep an eye on the dogs, and we had a very tasty lunch of sandwiches and soup of the day, and a nice chat with some ladies who were also having lunch there.

Afterward, I went back to Mrs. MacGregors to get a sticky toffee pudding to go, which I intended to enjoy with Kay back at the bikes with the dogs. I also snagged some of the famous “Scottish shortbread” (in the chocolate and original recipe variants) and they turned out to be super delicious! Yay!

Back at the bikes, I discovered Kay pouring water all over a very bedraggled-looking ‘dido. Turns out, he’d walked the dogs while I was off acquiring sticky toffee pudding for us, and ‘dido had found the most disgusting pile of stinky runny dog poo and started rolling in it! YUCK! Kay had been attacking him with baby wipes (essential for hygiene in a tenting life) and water, and I reminded him that we have liquid dish soap in the kitchen bag. Dish soap was added to the mix, making ‘dido thoroughly damp and hopefully clean enough to live with in a tent.



Ahh, the dangers of traveling with dogs.

In the meantime, I enjoyed the sticky toffee pudding (yes, it was delicious, but our friend back in Boston makes it better!) and shared a little bit with Kay between him rubbing soap and baby wipes all over the poor dog. As it happened on his watch, I felt only fair he clean up the damage. Besides, my sticky toffee pudding was getting cold and the ice cream was starting to melt!

Back on the road after this surprisingly eventful stop, and I steered us to the next point of interest on my map: Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche. They had converted a bunch of railroad cars to themed rooms where you could spend the night, and they had a dining car that served lunch and dinner. It was too late for lunch, too early for dinner, and way too early to stop for the day, so we wouldn’t be buying anything here - but it was a curiosity worth checking out. I found it really cool.





Next stop on our Sunrise Trail tour: Jost Vineyards in Malagash! We’d been seeing stuff about Jost all over Nova Scotia (pronounced yoast, like toast) and they offered free winery tours - I had been wanting to check out one of the Nova Scotia wineries, and we were 45 minutes before the tour started, so this was it! The Ural was running poorly again, so we took the opportunity to pull the air filter and swap it for our spare. I theorized that after all the rain we’d been riding in, plus the mud and wet when we did the TCT, it might just be a wet or clogged air filter and not breathing properly. It’s easy enough to swap - just 20 mins of work or so since we have to pull the air filter housing out to do it, as the K&N air filter is a smidge too tall to fit in with the air filter box installed under the seat. (I insisted we’d have to pull the housing off entirely, Kay thought we could do it with the housing installed... we tried it his way first but I was right.)

Then off to our winery tour... which was very short and not at all what I was hoping for. You walked out to the field adjacent to the parking lot, got a glass of wine, heard a (very) little about how they maintain the grapes and how their growing and harvesting works, then you go into a 3,000-liter wine cask in the parking lot (which is admittedly pretty cool) and hear a bit more about the wine-making process at Jost... but it’s really just an extended ad for Jost. Which is fine, but if they’re calling it a “tour” - I expect to see a bit more than 10 feet and hear a bit more about wine making in general.





After the “tour” - we headed to the tasting bar and sampled a few things. We actually found a white wine that Kay really liked, which is surprising because he’s only just beginning to appreciate wine in general and typically isn’t a fan of most whites, so we bought a couple of bottles and snugged them in a fuzzy blanket in the trunk of the Ural, hoping they’d survive the trip home intact.

Then we got the dogs out of the sidecar again, hung out in the grass for a while, chatted with a gent who knew a fair amount about Urals from his life in Europe, and buttoned things up after our impromptu air filter change. We don’t drink and drive - not even a single beer at lunch or dinner when we’ll be riding afterward - so we stayed a good long while to make sure that the tiny sips of wine we’d sampled would not impact our riding.

Back on the Sunrise Trail again, and that was my last point of interest for Nova Scotia. It was off to New Brunswick. Due to the time we’d spent at the winery, as well as our other impromptu stops for the day, we only got as far as Moncton before it was time to call it a day. Moncton is a bit of a no-mans-land for camping as far as my GPS and guidebooks are concerned. The only camping I knew about was an hour back in the direction we’d just traveled, or an hour and a half forward. We needed dinner and it would have been dark before we stopped, so we opted to stay in a hotel YET AGAIN in Moncton.

Did the standard run around and check prices - we started with Holiday Inn, where Kay convinced me to go in and do the talking since I had more Canadian cash left (typically he handles the lodging booking) but the price seemed high. I came out to check with Kay, and we decided to try a few different spots. We checked at a place across the street that looked nice, but they didn’t have any pet-friendly rooms. (We also encountered the European guy we’d chatted with at the winery at this hotel - apparently Moncton is a place to stay when leaving NS!)

Comfort Inn was across the street, and although we both were tired of their lame continental breakfasts and uncomfortable beds and pillows, we decided it was probably better than Super 8 and opted to give it a try. I wasn’t sure about the place - it was under renovation and the lobby was closed, and instead they had the office in a hotel room with a door that opened to the outside. But as we were starting to pull out again without checking with the office, someone opened a curtain to a room right in front of us - the room actually looked good, so I went in and listened as the couple in front of me chatted with the receptionist. It turned out that they were renovating the entire hotel, and had finished all the guest rooms and were just now wrapping up the lobby and breakfast room. So we ended up getting a newly-renovated room, on the ground floor, where could walk in through a sliding glass door with the dogs and the MC luggage - and it was nice! The bed and pillows were comfortable, it didn’t smell like smoke - it was one of the better hotel experiences we’ve had on the trip, and it was $50 cheaper than the Holiday Inn next door. Score!

Dinner was delivery - again. Neither of us felt like gearing up and going out again to find food after we’d settled in, and nothing was really in walking distance. I saw “donair” on the menu, and decided this was the last time I’d get to eat it and I really enjoyed the donair poutine I had in Dartmouth, so I got it. Turns out, this one had a weird flavor and I decided after eating a quarter of it that it was inedible. Bummer. I filled up on leftover potato chips and beef jerky from our various snack stops during the day, and garlic sticks from the delivery place. One of the most disappointing dinners of the trip, but the day was actually pretty good with all of our stops, so I’d call it a win overall!
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Old 09-22-2013, 01:27 PM   #37
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Day 15 - Moncton, NB to Bar Harbor, ME

Today’s mission: make miles. We have 2 days to cover around 550 miles to home - do-able, but those are surprisingly long days on the Ural - particularly if we want to stop anywhere.

Started off the day with the Comfort Inn continental breakfast. This one was a definite step-up from some of the other continental breakfasts we’ve had - there were hard-boiled eggs, the bread products seemed fresh, and they also had yogurt. We filled up on breakfast before loading up ourselves and the dogs to head out.

Alas, I eyeballed my rear tire on the F650 as we were zipping up our gear, and I noted that it looked a bit low. Mentioned it to Kay. Said “we should probably check it, but I don’t really want to take the time.” He pointed out that I have a much better aptitude for spotting low tires than he does, and we haven’t checked pressures lately, so we pulled out the gauge and checked. It was around 10-15 PSI - not completely flat, but definitely way low. Sigh.

Took off the jackets. Pulled the dogs out of the sidecar so we could unsnap the dog cover and get into the Ural’s trunk, where we’re keeping the tools and things like the Cycle Pump on this trip. Added air to the rear tire (after having yet more trouble with the stupid chuck end on the compressor - that’s my biggest complaint with the Cycle Pump) and decided to check all the tires since we had the compressor out and hadn’t checked lately. They were all just a few pounds low, so we added air to all 5 tires. Sigh. After problems getting the stupid Cycle Pump end to seat properly, and getting the pump put away, buttoning up the dogs, and re-gearing up again, we’d lost a half hour to airing up tires. Bleh.

Still, we were in the Magnetic Hill part of Moncton, and Kay had never done one of those “driving uphill” optical illusions (I’d done one in Ireland and thought it was kinda awesome) so I insisted we head a few minutes down the road to check out Magnetic Hill. After all - we’re on vacation! There was a $5 fee per vehicle, but the guy waved us through since we were on motos. We waited our turn to drive down the road, but you were supposed to pull forward, and then roll backward in neutral. Turns out, that’s surprisingly difficult on a two-wheel bike (at least, I think it is!) - I tried it for half the length of the road, but then turned around so I could roll face-first the rest of the way down the road - much easier, although I think I lost some of the effect.

Unfortunately, the car behind me didn’t wait until I had cleared the lane to start his rolling backward, and he ended up accelerating faster down the hill than I was, so he had to slam his brakes on to not hit me, and I had to roll on throttle to get out of his way, completely ruining the experience for both of us, I imagine. I left the attraction feeling annoyed.

Side trip over, we hit the highway to cover miles. There was highway. And more highway. And lots more highway. The Ural still wasn’t riding well - Kay was maxed out on the throttle and only going 55-60MPH, and losing power up even small inclines again. So it took us a while to cover ground, and it was frustrating because the Ural didn’t feel like it was pulling properly. The highway in New Brunswick is surprisingly beautiful - lots of rolling hills, valleys and small mountains with an occasional ocean view. But it was just a frustrating grind for us.

Stopped around lunch time to fuel up the Ural yet again, and Kay chatted for a few minutes with some bicyclists from Halifax who were riding across NS and NB and into the US for a month. We had gas station lunch, which turned out to be very lame - neither sandwich was good, nor were the potato chips we got, so we both gave up before finishing the food. Even my dog wouldn’t eat the potato chips, although Kay’s dog, a former street dog, was more pragmatic and was willing to much away at them.

Back on the road for more grind. The day was passing so slowly at the speeds we were capable of going. And with Kay’s headset out of commission, we weren’t even able to chat to pass the time. It was just a long, boring slog.

At the next gas stop, I pointed out that we could hit the Chocolate Museum today. We’d missed it on our way into Nova Scotia because we passed it too late in the day, but surely we could hit it early enough today. So that became our goal - get to the Chocolate Museum in time to check it out. We rode. And rode some more. And then it was around 2:30, and we were theoretically in the spot where the Chocolate Museum was located, except we couldn’t find an entrance for it. Kay walked through the little one-way cut through (one way in the wrong direction) and said there was a sign for the museum out front, but he couldn’t see it - but if we left the parking lot and essentially took a couple of right turns, we could come at it from the front and hopefully find it. So we did.

As soon as we pulled into the parking lot in the front, I could see the Chocolate Museum tucked in a corner right in front of the one-way pass through we’d just left 10 minutes before. We’d literally been sitting on the other side but couldn’t see it because of where it was located. So we took off our gear, buttoned up the dogs, and walked in at 2:46. I know this, because the museum was supposed to close at 3pm, and when we talked to the girls at the desk, they told us the last admittance was at 2:45pm. By this time, the clock on the wall behind them said 2:47.

“So we missed it by 2 minutes?” I asked incredulously. The main lady nodded.

I looked at Kay. He looked back. He could see I was disappointed. After the boring, lonely, frustrating riding today, and the crappy lunch at the gas station, I had pinned my hopes on the Chocolate Museum for alleviating the crap of the day. I spoke aloud without thinking.

“We were just on the other side of this one-way pass through - if we’d spotted this place the first time, and hadn’t spent 10 minutes driving around to the front, we would have made it.” I turned back to the girls behind the counter. “And this is the second time we’ve missed it, too - when we passed through two weeks ago, we were too late in the day and you were closed. And now we’re heading home on vacation, and who knows when we’ll be here again.”

I wasn’t really expecting anything to come of my whining. I’m not a whiner by nature, anyway, and it was just the frustration of the day getting to me. I’m human. It happens sometimes. But the ladies apparently saw that I needed a win, so the main lady relented. “Would you like to go inside? We can make an exception.”

I looked at her, surprised. “Oh, could we? That would be so wonderful. Thank you very much!” I paid our admission, and we tagged onto the group of college kids that was currently getting a private tour.

The Chocolate Museum was small - only a few rooms - but it was full of interesting facts about the evolution of this particular chocolate company - Ganong Chocolate, who it turns out were the first people to ever make the Valentine’s Day heart-shaped box of chocolates - and chocolate making in general. I love chocolate, and I’ve toured some artisan chocolate factories before, so it was fun to see how a bigger, more commercial chocolate factory handled things.



There were two groups undergoing private tours - one in each of the main rooms - and I didn’t want to intrude. I felt we’d been fortunate enough to be granted entry, and I didn’t want to take advantage of the ladies at the front who had been nice enough to let us in. So when it was 3:01, I made Kay and I break away without visiting the second room (we’d been waiting for the other group to finish in there) and head out. I hadn’t gotten to see the entire place, but what I had seen was cool, and the ladies being nice enough to let us in made me feel better about the day in general.

We stopped at the little chocolate shop in the front of the building (which was open until 7PM - far after the 3pm close time of the museum) and tried to spend all of our remaining Canadian dollars on chocolate stuff so we wouldn’t have to have them converted back to US when we got home. We did manage to unload most of our change, which made Kay happy. And we got some chocolate treats, which made me happy. All in all, it was a win.

Kay had to pee, and we’d need gas again for the Ural, so I checked the GPS for a gas station where we could walk the dogs, take care of our needs, etc. before dealing with the border crossing back into the US. Last year’s crossing from Canada to the US took something like 90 mins of waiting in the hot sun, including several long minutes being grilled by the border crossing lady. We wanted to make sure we and the dogs were prepared for the wait. So we geared up and got on the bikes to ride the half a mile to the gas station. Down the road, and around the corner... and wait! That’s a border crossing! The gas station was *just* on the other side of it. D’oh!

Kay pulled into one lane, and I tried to pull into the other (there were only two lanes) but the guy in Kay’s lane motioned me over, and then he motioned me forward to behind Kay. “Even though it says to stop here until the vehicle in front is through?” The border guy nodded.

Two minutes later, after a very perfunctory review of our paperwork and asking us a few questions about our vacation, he waved us through. We pulled the 100 feet forward to the gas station to take care of our stuff.

Home! We were back in the US. Everyone in Canada had been super friendly, and we had absolutely zero complaints about our time in Canada... but even so, it felt nice to be back in the US in a way that neither of us could quite articulate.

So we took a little break, walked the dogs, had a pee and figured out our game plan for the night.

Kay suggested we head to Bar Harbor to camp for our one last night on the road. The GPS tried to route us via a direct route, but we decided we’d rather take the coastal Route 1 instead of more highway. So we did.

It was nice riding. It was much more scenic than Route 9 we’d taken to head north to Canada. As a state highway that passed through numerous towns, it was slower and better suited to the Ural than the highway we’d been on most of the day in NB. It was a generally relaxing change of pace, and we even stopped once to get a picture Kay couldn’t resist.

[/url]





Alas, about 20 miles from Bar Harbor, Kay’s headset died entirely and he could no longer hear me giving him directions. Our only option was to change positions - me in front on the F650 although we usually put the Ural in front because it dictates our speed.

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/corporaterunaways/9792108996/]

I was left watching traffic, trying to navigate through a busier stretch and making decisions without being able to consult with Kay. Should we stop for food, or try to make tracks to a campground? If so, at which of these places should we stop for food? And would we have time to grab something to go and still get to a campground and have enough light to set up our tent? It was getting late...

A glance at the sky to the west revealed bigger problems: rain was coming. We’d have to forego food and hope traffic moved quickly enough to get us to a campground and get a tent set up before the rain hit. And alas, this meant we were stuck at the KOA at the edge of Bar Harbor, instead of one of the hopefully more primitive state campgrounds further down the road.

Oh well. Get out of the rain before it hits.

We hit the KOA, and Kay headed in to find out if they had a tent spot available. They did, and a guy in a golf cart guided us there. Along the way, the dogs started barking at a dog we were passing - and then I saw a woman pointing to the sidecar and saying that we had a dog on the ground. I turned around, and saw that ‘dido had somehow jumped out of the sidecar and was running along next to the wheel. But he was still tied in by his leash and harness! I shouted at Kay to stop, which he did, and he got Bandido back into the sidecar. I was horrified - the harness and leash were supposed to prevent that, but apparently he got so excited barking at the dog that he managed to twist his harness sideway and stretch the leash far enough to get out. YIKES!

‘dido safely back in the sidecar, and we made it the remainder of the way to the site and got the tent set up quickly. Then we walked the dogs over to a “lobster dinner” shack someone had set up right in the campground. ‘dido was showing no ill effects from his spill. I’m just grateful that it happened at a few MPH in a campground, and someone was close enough to point it out so we could stop immediately.

After acquiring a ridiculously expensive lobster roll dinner (nearly $50, and it had such a weird taste that neither of us even finished it! What is it with disappointing meals at the end of this trip?) ‘dido was extremely bouncy and runny headed back toward the tent. So I ran around the campground with the dogs (literally) while Kay juggled all the food back to our tent. Then Kay had to run to the front office because the vending machine back by the tent area had eaten my money, and was out of all the beverages, apparently - but it turns out that the front office and store was a surprisingly long way away, and it took him like 15-20 minutes to get there and back and that included running part of the way.

Ate (and discarded) our lobster dinner, and enjoyed listening to the sound of rain on our tent on our last night of the trip. Tomorrow, if all went well, we’d be home. It was bittersweet. I was tired of getting rained on, and tired of spending more time in hotels than we’d planned. Watched an episode of Top Gear on the iPad and just relaxed, instead of trying to pull video or photos or write up posts.

It was nice.
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Old 09-22-2013, 01:29 PM   #38
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Sorry for the delay in posting the end of our trip, folks - we got sidetracked last weekend looking at a potential home purchase in Maine, and this weekend has gotten derailed because we're doing a fly-and-drive for a new toy next weekend... :)

I'll let Kay wrap up the remainder of the posts and then we'll tell y'all about our next adventure ;)
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:29 PM   #39
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Day 16 - Bar Harbor, ME to Cambridge, MA

Dark Skies likes it when we’re inside the US borders, and rewarded us with a precise window, telling us when the rain would stop, and how long we had to pack everything before it started again. We followed its lead, pilled and fed the dogs, and packed up whilst the current bout petered out. Then went out, and started dismantling the tent, and removing its guts so that we could transplant them into panniers and bags.

Midway through the surgery one of the KOA people swung by on his golf cart and we got to discussing his life with llamas, and how many lamas have too much wool to successfully mate without a trip to the barber. It was kind-of interesting, but our rain-free window was closing… He left. We moved faster, and pretty soon we were off into the increasing, scratch that, pouring rain. No breakfast for us.

It’s bad enough getting suited up to ride 10 minutes, but getting suited up, driving 10 minutes, soaking your gloves (and with Dachary’s failing FroggToggs her legs too), pulling over, taking off wet stuff, knowing that you’re going to have to put it back on once it’s had a chance to feel even colder and grosser… This just doesn’t appeal to us. The dogs would probably be disappointed too. “But… we just got going!” And they’d have to sit there with the sides down to keep dry. Just…. no fun.

We rode on.

Someday… Someday we’d go for a ride and not be wet. But, it was not to be this day. We went for miles. Silent, wet, uncommunicative miles. Stupid headset.

Once the clouds began to part we started considering breakfast, and found a place with a breakfast buffet. We opened a flap for the dogs, brought them some scraps, and let them stretch their legs before heading out again. There were miles to be made. There was a shower waiting, and a real bed, and our comfy chairs!

But, as the miles went by we started noticing something. The ural was being a Bad-ass! 70mph with a little left to spare and no drafting required! YES… no wait. Fuck!

We’d been having consistently bad performance with only intermittent bouts of not-bad after visiting with Lutz. It’s timing was good. The Air filter was good. The carbs were balanced… everything was as it “should” be and the thing was still being sucky. “Finally,” we thought, “Finally, we’ll be able to take it to our dealer and they’ll be able to reproduce the problem!” But no. Last day of the trip and the Ural had to be a bad-ass little powerhouse.

Now, if we take it to our dealer they’ll say “Yup. She’s running great. That’ll be $90 an hour please.” It’s like a Heisenbug.

Frustration and joy. The rain had lessened. The clouds had parted. The sun shone down, and the Ural continued on at 70mph, with the best gas mileage we’ve ever seen (still crap but way better crap). 3 gallons for 120km instead of 4! No joke. That’s 24mpg! That’s… that’s just…. wow. That’s just awesome. And yes, I’m afraid to see the final numbers on how many gallons of gas this thing burned through on this little trip. I’ll have to plant a forest to offset the carbon.

Eventually, there was a rest area, a rest area with a Starbucks. My poor wife’d gone over two weeks without her crack. I pulled in, and there was grass for the dogs. UDF kicked in on the way back with the drinks, but then we met a guy who’s Kawasaki we’d been tailing, or passing for a while. Turns out he and his wife were of the adventuring persuasion too, but had succumbed to the media’s campaign to make Mexico into a “dangerous” place. We assured them it was BS (I’ve checked the numbers, Americans are in far more danger in the US than Mexico) and that they should get down there ASAP, because it’s awesome.

Back on the road the Ural continued to be a bad-ass, all the way home.

Upon arrival we covered every available flat surface with crap. Then we took showers.



Life is good.
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Old 09-23-2013, 08:35 PM   #40
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The last two adventures have been hard; each in its own way. We learn. We adjust. We try again.

Going to Colorado was a brutal slog. We firmly believe that having a deadline is the worst thing for an adventure. Being forced to just go go go without the time to stop and smell the roses… it sucks. Doing it in hundred degree weather with hot blowing winds sucks doubly so.

So, we adjusted. Nova Scotia was close enough that, despite the limited days off, we could still take our time. We stopped when we were tired. We took a day off because we felt like it. We went to see things just because we felt like it. And that part of the trip was great, but the feeling that we were being constantly rained on… that wasn’t so great.

When we found that my dog had been abused in our absence on the Americas trip we vowed that we’d never do that again. We adjusted. We bought the Ural, and the dogs came with us on these last two journeys. They loved it, and we learned that while it changed many things about how we traveled. It also made being on the road feel more like being home. The good home. The one where your heart is. They are our pack, and packs like being together.

We’ve thought a lot about the next adventure… about quitting everything and traveling around the world with no deadline. It’s what drives us, especially me. Essentially all of our disposable income goes into something trip related.

We look at our past and try to learn from it.

We learn. We adjust. We try again.

I suspect it started out with a snide comment of mine: a “You know, if we had a four wheeled vehicle…” kind of thing. It became a running joke, because we’re adventure motorcyclists. Ease: Ha! Comfort: Piffle! In Nova Scotia’s rains though, it started to become something more serious. If we had a four wheeled vehicle we wouldn’t be getting soaked right now… If we had a four wheeled vehicle we could stop there for breakfast without having to peel off our dripping wet gear, get warm and start to dry, then put it back on and get soaked all over again… If we had a four wheeled vehicle we wouldn’t have to set up a tent that was still soaked from the last night of rain…

And once we started thinking about one possibility we realized we could talk to each other while we traveled without straining to hear over the wind, without having to rely on technology that kept failing. We could take notes on the place we’d just been while the other one drove. When one person’s tired the other can take over. We could touch each other… or even give the driver a peck on the cheek. The dogs would have space enough to really stretch and move around as the miles went by.

We could wake up, see that it was pouring out, drenching everything around, and smile. Stand up, cook some breakfast, start up the engine hit the road, and stay perfectly dry…. except for the unavoidable dog walk sigh. Then, (and this was huge) we could stop for anything that caught our eye, because there’d be no hot or dripping suits to wander around in, or take off, then put back on…. the list just kept getting longer and longer.

There are downsides though. We’d loose many of our ties with the awesome motorcycling community that we’ve grown to love. And frankly, a couple traveling around the world in a four wheeled vehicle isn’t nearly as inspiring as doing it on motorcycles, and we want to inspire. I want to inspire. I want people to see our adventures and say “If they can do it, then so can I.” I want to see people getting out there and living their dreams.

But you know what? In the end this isn’t about them. This is about us. This is about finding the way that makes us happy, and there’s nothing more inspirational than seeing passionate people enjoying life.

And then, I suggested a Vanagon.

We learn. We adjust. We try again.

Anybody want to buy a Ural?
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Old 09-24-2013, 06:42 PM   #41
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We weren't kidding about the Ural

And no, we weren't kidding about looking for someone to buy the Ural. The ad is here., and of course we're willing to provide detailed pictures and answer any questions about it. You guys have heard our ups and down with it. No point in trying to hide anything. ;)
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:24 AM   #42
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Nice report, sorry to hear you are bailing on the 2/3 wheels.

I have a machine that duplicates the Ural in speed and lack of fuel economy, yet carries all the comforts of home. A 1963 Grumman Kurbmaster, converted to an RV in the early '70's. Top speed of 65mph without a headwind, cruise at 60, 10mpg, 2 beds, heat and air, shower/toilet, frig/stove sink and oven!

Slow enough to see all the sites, plug-n-play at campgrounds. Best of all, can carry 2 bikes on the extended rear bumper!

Not for sale!

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Old 09-26-2013, 01:54 AM   #43
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sorry to hear

Sorry to hear of your misadventures in NS. I did all the Canadian Maritimes in 2011 and according to the locals it was the rainiest summer in a long time - go figure. Even so I loved the trip and wouldn't have done it any different. I think that is saying something since we spent 8 weeks in the Maritimes in mostly rain.

I had three advantages though, one, I had the right rain gear, two, I had the right helmet comms to chat with my partner, three we decided camping was useless with all the rain and went with B&B's (sent the camping gear to a relative's to pick up later). Fortunately in Canada the B&B's are very reasonable, much more frequent than hotels, you meet awesome folks most of the time and most of the breakfasts are great. If you get back that way stop at the local tourist info center as you enter a Province and pick up the tour guide. Each B&B is rated and the ratings are spot on.

I have done some touring in a truck pulling a small toy hauler so I could get places and still enjoy locations on a bike. But I have to say I'm REALLY, REALLY glad I scrapped that idea in 2010 when I started the RTW. Riding a bike full time is truly a different kind of freedom (as you know), I think you'll really miss it if you convert to a 4 wheel solution. I can't imagine going the places I've been and having to deal with the hassles of a cage in traffic jams, bad roads, tight spaces, etc., etc. Being in a cage and seeing the world just misses something. While there are some benefits you can probably tweak things a bit more and get to a level of comfort that may alleviate most of your concerns. It seems like the solutions are fairly direct:
  • Choose a reliable bike to use with a side car - Ural's are quaint but reliable is not an adjective that should be used anywhere near one. Yep, it still means replacing the Ural but it can't be anymore expensive than a good 4 wheel cage
  • Forget the concept of one suit does it all - I've tried several, it just doesn't happen - buy a good mesh riding suit, good durable, high quality rain suit and use electrics. Yep, it means some extra packing but it really does solve the problems, you take off the wet and have the dry stuff on when you go into that restaurant
  • Get good boots - you are so right about wet feet truly sucking. I use the BMW Santiago's - never had a wet foot in 3 years on my RTW. That includes 4 hours of the most torrential rain I've ever seen driving to Prudhoe Bay north of the Brooks range. BTW - Santiago's are completely adjusted both over your arch and around the calf so the work with just about any size - even the lower calf on women.
  • Get good gloves - again, stating the obvious - I use the BMW summer gloves - keeps me dry and warm in a cool rain. If it's really cold I bring out the BMW winter gloves - happy camper here. BMW has figured out some way to transmit the heat from the heated grips through those winter gloves and it actually works - I've ridden in 15F with toasty hands! Gerbings electric jacket keeps me toasty up top, my legs don't get cold (that big tank offers lots of protection) and good wools socks work well in all temps in those boots. I have my daily riding glove, Klim summer's that I leave on in warm rains
  • Get a real comm system. I futzed around with add-ons, finally gave up and invested in a Schuberth with an integrated comm - wow - can't believe the difference, you can hear beautifully, love the bluetooth with the GPS and music, works all the time, etc!! And you have to love the Pinlock shields, no more fogging up in the rain, and the integrated sunshade, no extra shields to carry around

Yep, the stuff is expensive but a few months of paying for gas in a 4wheel buggy and you'll offset that real fast. Another thing to consider is that if you're on an RTW on your schedule you can stop when you want, where you want. On a long term journey you could just find a good hidey-hole and hunker down for a week to get better and rest up. No need to keep pounding miles. I've found that to be key to long term success on the road, whether illness or just road weariness, if I find a nice town and love it I stay for as long as it suits me.

Whatever you guys choose you will still be an inspiration though! It is your attitude and lifestyle that inspires not your just your mode of transportation!
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Old 09-26-2013, 05:17 AM   #44
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Vanagons are cool vehicles, no doubt. However the last year that they made them was 1991 so they're all over 20 years old. They are way under powered. If you are set on one you should buy one that has been completely restored with a new and more powerful engine. I have had them and they are real money pits. If I were to do it again I would buy one that had spent its' whole life in California. There are company's out there that sell completely restored Westys. Go Westy is one of them but be prepared to spend about 40,000 plus for a fully restored one.
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Old 09-26-2013, 05:38 AM   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ob1quixote View Post
Nice report, sorry to hear you are bailing on the 2/3 wheels.

I have a machine that duplicates the Ural in speed and lack of fuel economy, yet carries all the comforts of home. A 1963 Grumman Kurbmaster, converted to an RV in the early '70's. Top speed of 65mph without a headwind, cruise at 60, 10mpg, 2 beds, heat and air, shower/toilet, frig/stove sink and oven!

Slow enough to see all the sites, plug-n-play at campgrounds. Best of all, can carry 2 bikes on the extended rear bumper!
Nice! Now that's what I'm talking about. We love our 2-wheelers and won't be getting rid of them. Someone asked us if we'd trailer them behind the Vanagon and part of me thinks it's SO WRONG to trailer a bike… you should be riding it there! But on the other hand, there are so many practical benefits… we'll just have to see what we end up doing :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BearII View Post
I had three advantages though, one, I had the right rain gear, two, I had the right helmet comms to chat with my partner, three we decided camping was useless with all the rain and went with B&B's (sent the camping gear to a relative's to pick up later).
Those things do make a big difference!

I agree with you re: the right rain gear. My jacket for this trip was a $900 monstrosity that has Gore-Tex bonded into the shell, and Kay took his 'stich ($1,200, custom fitted) on this trip which is also Gore-Tex and held up pretty decently. Both of us were damp in some places but overall reasonably dry under the Gore-Tex bonded gear.

My pants weren't Gore-Tex - they had a "hydratex" liner (Rev'It's version of Gore-Tex) but that liner has historically been crappy, so I bought a pair of Frogg Toggs to go over them a few years ago. My first set of Frogg Togg pants worked pretty well, but eventually it got ripped. I replaced it with a new pair, same type, before we left for the trip… and it did virtually nothing to stop the rain on my pants. I was soaked. I have no idea what the difference was between the old Frogg Toggs and the new ones, but I was majorly disappointed.

Re: boots - I had a pair of $370 Dainese Gore-Tex boots (the prior generation of this model: http://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/d...gore-tex-boots) that has now packed it in twice on me! The first pair stopped being waterproof in Colombia. This pair stopped being waterproof in Nova Scotia. Both have had approximately 8,000-10,000 miles on them when the waterproofing has packed it in. Both were high-end Gore-Tex boots that I would expect should be able to hold up to rain. So… it's not like I was wearing cheap waterproof boots or boots that weren't waterproof. I think I had a reasonable expectation that they'd stay waterproof. (Side note: Gore-Tex has a lifetime warranty, so they replaced my first pair of boots for me for free - haven't gotten around to contacting them yet re: this pair of boots.)

The gloves I wear are Rev'It rain gloves. I bought these in 2010 for our Americas trip, and have been riding in rain with them all this time. This is the first time they've ever gotten so soaked. Kay has been so envious of my dry hands in the past that I bought him the current generation of my rain gloves for Christmas last year, and they held up fine… until the Nova Scotia trip.

Here's the thing: I think any piece of gear, when it's in downpours long enough and often enough, will reach a saturation point and stop being dry. It's just the limitation of fabric. On our prior trips, we were covering a lot of miles through a diverse range of geography and climates, so we were never really in the rain for more than a few days. Things eventually had a chance to dry out. But in NS, we were in a relatively concentrated area… and it just kept raining. And even when we got into a hotel and out of the rain, the air was so damp that our stuff never really dried. If we'd been doing our normal thing, we would have eventually traveled into a dryer/warmer climate and things would have dried, and then we'd have forgotten about the rain. But being stuck in it really drove the point home on us this time.

Helmets: we *love* our Arai helmets. They fit our heads perfectly, and they're super comfortable. I've tried on Schuberth helmets but the head shape just isn't right for my head. From a safety and comfort standpoint, I feel like it's more important to get something that fits properly, and then worry about comm later. And it's not like we're cheap - our Arai's were ~$750 each, and we've now spent over $1,500 in comm units (all of which have eventually failed us, that's true - Sena SMH-10, Cardo G4 and Cardo G9) so we could have had pretty much anything on the market for that price. But I'm not giving up my Arai!

Re: your other points about B&Bs, etc. - traveling with the dogs is a major limiting factor in that regard. Most B&Bs won't take dogs. When they do, it's usually only in one or two rooms, and unless you book well in advance they're generally taken. We had the same problem with hotels - there were several times when their dog friendly rooms were just gone, and they wouldn't book us in a non-dog room so we had to keep hunting.

That's really the thing that has changed our needs and expectations for the moment - traveling with the dogs. With the dogs, we end up hunting around for parking where we can see them from wherever we are, so we can keep an eye on them while we're eating/whatever. There were a couple of times when we didn't stop for stuff because Kay wasn't comfortable leaving the dogs (and on our trip last year, I was the one who didn't want to leave them). It sucks in the rain because they're in the sidecar with the sides rolled down so they stay dry… which isn't a big deal if it's a passing rainstorm and we can open it up again in a few hours, but when it's raining all day long, that's a tiny space to keep them cooped up in for so long.

With the Vanagon, the dogs will have space to move around while we're driving. If it's raining and they don't get out, no big deal - they can get up, stretch their legs, walk around, interact with us and get pets - it's all good. If it's raining, we can just pull over somewhere and climb into the back with the dogs for the night. No need to worry about where we'll set up a tent, packing away the tent wet in the morning, etc. I can have morning coffee even if it's raining out! because I won't have to go outside to make it in the rain. We can wake up, drive somewhere to get breakfast (or carry breakfast fixins in our mini fridge!) without having to gear up, drive 5 minutes, pull over to eat, de-gear, eat, gear back up again…

Also, I can't tell you how many times we intentionally *didn't* stop to check out something that would have been kinda cool but would only have taken like 5-10 minutes because then we'd have to take off the helmets, take off the earplugs, take off the gloves, take off the coats, walk around for 5-10 minutes, then put back on the coat, put back on the earplugs, put back on the helmet, put back on the gloves… it's just a hassle. So if it's a short stop, we'd just skip it. But I don't want to just skip stuff because it's a hassle. I want to stop whenever I want to stop because it's not a big deal - run in, check out whatever it is, take some pictures what have you. It really promotes the slower lifestyle I want to enjoy.

The weekend after we got back from our Nova Scotia trip, we ended up renting a car and driving ~400 miles up to Maine to check out a house we were potentially interested in buying. The rental car place was short on cars, so they gave us a mini-van. Traveling in that thing for 2 days was completely different. That weekend is what decided us not to buy the house, but to get the Vanagon instead.

It started raining on us while we were driving. I LAUGHED. It didn't matter! We were inside!

Oh, what's that shop there? I want to check it out! Pull over, go in, poke around, get back in the van. No big deal!

Hey, I want Starbucks! Let's grab it, put it in the drink holder, and drive on, while I'm sipping my coffee! Can't do that in a helmet.

What's that? Gotta make miles but it's time to eat? Grab lunch, and EAT WHILE DRIVING! HOLY CRAP!

I totally agree that being in a cage misses something. I will never give up riding a motorcycle as long as I'm able to physically do it. But any kind of travel is a series of tradeoffs. Right now, with what we want to do and be able to bring along the dogs, being in an enclosed vehicle is just more practical. But we don't wanna be *too* practical, which is why we've chosen a 31-year-old German oddity that's even slower and more underpowered than our Ural ;)


Quote:
Originally Posted by BearII View Post
Whatever you guys choose you will still be an inspiration though! It is your attitude and lifestyle that inspires not your just your mode of transportation!
Thanks a lot for that! That's one of the biggest things we're concerned about losing by going with a cage instead of a moto - we really want to inspire people to just get out there and see the world. But I feel like it's a lot more boring when we're just a couple of people driving around in our camper van. We'll have to figure out what we can do to spice things up a bit...
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