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Old 10-01-2007, 04:48 PM   #1
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Thank you, Nova Scotia!

La Donna Fugata and I returned with 1400+ photos and even more fond memories to NYC Saturday from our 2 week trip to Nova Scotia, and it was AWESOME. It was our first big excursion. Months of planning, equipment testing, bike prep, off-pavement training, route planning, and we pulled it off. Not completely without a hitch, but close.

We saw some beautiful scenery, rode some fabulous dirt, camped in spectacular secluded settings, met some great people, and had the trip of our lives (so far).

I'm going to chip away at this ride report over the next few days in between work, etc, but I can already tell you that this report will come up short at describing how awesome a time we had.

We left Sept 15th on the tail end of a storm system. The whole f'ing country was sunny, except for the part we were riding through:



Day 1:



317 miles, Merritt parkway then super slab from NYC to Portland, ME in drizzle... Mr. Happy puppet was not pleased:



A quick stop for lunch



Then it finally started to clear, and back on the slab:



The light in Portland was amazing when we arrived, and we enjoyed walking around,





Found a great place for some oysters and a beer:





Before having the chef's tasting menu with wine pairing at Cinque Terre, yum.



Then back to the Holiday Inn to change the front sprocket on my DR650,



and dry out our wet boots and clothes, and get a good night's rest for the 8am Cat ferry to Yarmouth.



That was the last rain we were to have until our last day in NS, almost 2 weeks later!
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Old 10-01-2007, 04:59 PM   #2
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thanks for the intro and the first day or two...

Screw work.. let's get this report going

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Old 10-01-2007, 05:37 PM   #3
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Day 2

A little backround: LDF has been riding only about a year. She started on a Stella scooter, and quickly moved up to an F650GS. She loves riding off-road. She's cut her teeth riding to and from work in Manhattan, but feels least comfortable on the highway.

Our goal was to high-tail it to NS, then ride as much off-pavement as possible, meandering through the interior of the Provence on logging roads, snow-mobile trails, abandoned rail beds, and fire roads, as well as hitting some of the major coastal "trails" (paved twisty 2-lane roads, scenic as all get-out).

We were looking at this as almost a ski-vacation, where the day's major activity would be riding, and not necessarily taking in cultural stuff.

The interior of NS is criss-crossed with a network of dirt roads, about 90% of which are dead-ends. To plan our routes, I cross-referenced Google Earth, Google Maps, two NS Atlases, and three different map-sets on the GPS's including Canada topo. I had obtained a .pdf file of all the gas stations in NS, and entered in as waypoints those we might be passing near. Some of our routes would be quite remote, and despite all the planning, we occasionally found ourselves on impassable trails, and had to reroute on the fly.

Indispensible to this planning were members of the Nova Scotia Dual Sport Club . A great group that happened to be holding their 2nd annual Cape Breton DS weekend during the middle of our trip, and graciously invited us along. If any of you are planning a trip, I highly recommend getting in touch with them. On to more photos:

Day 2 took us on the 5 1/2 hour ferry ride to Yarmouth, then up the Evangeline trail to the Valleyview provincial campsite.



Boarding the ferry ($85 each way per person, and $105 per bike) 45mph cruising speed:



Bikes tied down, and MHP standing guard:



Leaving Portland... Francine saw whales, but I was in the bathroom so I missed them. We didn't see another whale until Meat Cove.



A quick stop in Yarmouth for some groceries, then up the coast:



The weather was clear, but a little chilly... MHP to the rescue:



This was our first taste of NS... so different from our lives in Manhattan, it was like having jet-lag just from the culture shift. Quickly the traffic (can't even call it that... really just a car or truck every once in awhile) melted away and we quickly dropped into a zone.



We took a little detour up the Bear River gorge just past Digby. Everyone stops in Digby to taste scallops... we wanted to taste some dirt.... ahhh.:







Little views like this were around every corner... For the entire trip! I still can't get over it.



Back on the Evangeline, and as we pull up to Bridgetown where we are to pull off to get to Valleyview campsite, a policeman waves me to stop, and then pulls a barricade across the road in front of me. He says something which I can't hear with the ipod and all, and we just sit there. WTF.

Turns out we were catching the tail end of "Cider-fest". It took me awhile to be convinced the parade wasn't for us.





They were throwing candy from the floats, and I was excited as the kids were. We sat there and watched the whole parade. It rocked.







I know this is all ordinary stuff, but I can't explain... it had been a year since we'd had a proper vacation, and this was definitely not NYC, and not work, and finally was the trip we'd been planning and talking about for months, and it's even better than we thought it would be... I mean, day 2 and we've got a Parade!

Valleyview was nearly empty, and we set up camp, and cooked and made a campfire as it got dark. As the sun set, it got a little chilly, but we slept just fine.

200 miles by ferry, 124 miles riding.
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Old 10-01-2007, 05:54 PM   #4
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Wow!! That's an expensive ferry ride, but I suppose it saves a lot of time on driving right around to get to NS. Glad to see your SO is riding her own bike.. if she cut her riding teeth commuting in the combat zone of Manhattan, she must be a seasoned rider, even if she's only been riding a year..

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Old 10-01-2007, 06:07 PM   #5
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Off to a good start!
Love seeing the Google earth images too.

I'm in the same boat as your SO. A 4-month n00b, I love the dirt, but the freeway sucks on a 650! Can't stand it

What's your cruising speed on the slab?
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Old 10-01-2007, 06:26 PM   #6
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Old 10-01-2007, 07:03 PM   #7
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Day 3

Sept 17.



This was going to be our first big day of dirt, cutting across the interior to Windsor, then to Truro to catch the 4:55pm tidal bore. We were thwarted a couple of times early, and had to jump on the highway to get back on pace. This was the only time we really had to bail on the dirt, but it was a little disheartening to have to reroute to pavement so early on our trip. I was a little concerned that the "roads" I had picked would all exist in theory only on maps, but it turned out this was just an anomaly.

When we woke up it was cold , and though we were prepared, that was the coldest it was the whole 2 weeks. I know, we were lucky with weather.



Our campsite:



Before we left, we took a little walk to the overlook. We had a nice view of the valley (go figure), where the fog had settled:







Bundled up, we started the day's ride:





Where the pavement ends is where the fun begins:



I know she was smiling here, but that was not to last:



The road soon deteriorated:



And down she went. (I had gotten my first drop on day 2, on pavement no less... just lost my footing while stopped). While I picked up the F650GS, she photographed flowers. That's what love is all about.





Try again.



It's not gettin' any better... it's a little much with fully loaded bikes, and a full day ahead, and we've backtracked once already from a dead end, and we can't do this too many times, cause there's no gas out here and we're already playing with our bike's range without any detours.



I don't think we're on the right road... try again:





Uh uh... it's not going to happen... overgrown, with deadfall, no go.



Having GPS lock to road is a little bit of a liability out here, if you follow your instinct, and keep to the obviously more traveled route, it's easy to miss turn-offs like this one:



That was the path we were supposed to take, and after flogging around for about an hour and a half, getting essentially nowhere, we studied the map, routed to the highway,



and spent an hour catching up, then pulled off back to our original route, and stopped for food and fuel:







I love the gas stations out here... they're real service stations, they're not set up as a rest-stop, they are set up to fix your ride, like how a gas station used to be.



And the pumps aren't electronic, so you have to remember to look at the amount you owe before going in to pay. I forgot almost every single time . It was like stepping back in time. How it used to be.

So we saddle back up, and our route takes us on a trail that's just the right balance... not easy, but not impossible:





Excellent. And then....



A huge wash-out. Unpassable. Back-track. Oh well.





Mr. Happy Puppet again to the rescue:



What a morale-saver.

Re-route again, but this time on wide graded dirt... making good time:



And then... looks good:



Maybe? Yes?



What a trooper LDF is, eh? I mean, I felt like an idiot... weeks of route planning, and this is what I keep getting us into... problem is, on the maps, there's no distinction between that wide graded dirt road (a little too easy) and this (a little too rough):



sooooo.... backtrack again,



Made up time / distance on this one...



And then crossed a bridge that was over part of the same tidal-river system as Truro, and lo and behold, the tidal bore was passing right under us! Cool!



The tidal bore is a wave that travels upstream as the incoming tide from the bay of Fundy gets squished into narrower and narrower channels. They have rafting boats that ride the wave which you can see in the distance.







Then on to Irwin Lakes Chalets where we ditched our stuff



before heading into Truro to watch the tidal bore in earnest from the place you're really supposed to watch it from... We made it there with 3 minutes to spare.

The crowd gathered:





Here it comes:



Is that it???



The crowd yawns:



Are you sure that's it???



The time is correct... that must be it...



there it goes:



Yeah, that was it.



So we go into Truro and pick up some scallops and steak and wine, 'cause we've got a grill and a kitchen. And I route us back to the Chalet by way of a GPS short cut that gets us within 0.2 miles and then runs into a unpassable gully, so we have to go around which takes us 20 miles to get back... sheesh. (LDF: grrrrr)



Shadows getting long...



Still pretty, though:



And we make it back before sunset:



Set the ipods to recharge:



And get to grillin':



Yum... maybe my favorite meal of the trip. Maybe... there were a lot of good ones.



That's what I'm talking about :



A cozy fire, upon which LDF melted my cool-max socks :



And our day's stats:



It was a full day... we slept well indeed.
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Old 10-01-2007, 07:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
Wow!! That's an expensive ferry ride, but I suppose it saves a lot of time on driving right around to get to NS. Glad to see your SO is riding her own bike.. if she cut her riding teeth commuting in the combat zone of Manhattan, she must be a seasoned rider, even if she's only been riding a year..

Yeah, it was expensive, but it maximized our NS time... and that turned out to be well worth it. And yeah, she did great on the bike. She rocks.
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Old 10-01-2007, 07:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Antontrax
Off to a good start!
Love seeing the Google earth images too.

I'm in the same boat as your SO. A 4-month n00b, I love the dirt, but the freeway sucks on a 650! Can't stand it

What's your cruising speed on the slab?
Thanks. We go relatively slowly. I'm comfortable doing 75-80mph on the DR650 with the 16 tooth sprocket. She's not. More like 60-65mph. But it's not bad... we stay in the right lane, get passed mostly, or tuck in behind some grandfolks or a camper van, and listen to tunes and just let the miles melt away. We stop every hundred miles or so for a stretch, or gas, or eats. I think the keys for us for the highway miles are:
1. Travel during less-traffic times / days... we were out of NYC at 6:30am on a saturday.
2. Don't be in a rush or hurry... it just adds to the stress.
3. Anticipate that the comfort-zone at fast super-slab speeds will come with time / miles / experience. Don't rush it, don't fight it.

On this trip, she graduated from open ears, to ear plugs, to an ipod... and the last day when one of the headphones got mangled she was like a crack addict... I... need... my... music.... I definitely am of the opinion that good tunes ease the fatigue of droning highway miles. I turn mine off for the serious off-road bits, 'cause I need to hear the revs better, and when we were riding with the guys in Cape Breton, I didn't even use plugs, but that added to the fatigue-factor. Maybe she can add more when she gets home from work.
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Old 10-01-2007, 07:24 PM   #10
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Watching the tide roll in looks like fun!! You should see it at the Bay of Fundy... highest tides in the world..

thanks for the updates and pics

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Old 10-01-2007, 09:21 PM   #11
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Day 4

Sept. 18

Truro to the middle of nowhere.



We woke up early, had a hearty and civilized breakfast...



Another mostly dirt day, and our first night of wilderness camping at the end of it (I hoped to find a good campsite on some remote Crown Land, maybe near a lake or stream. I had some good places scoped out from Google Earth satelite imagery)

LDF wearing her lucky shirt for the day:



Started cold again, but warmed up quickly with the sun:



Packed up and ready to go:





I was starting to figure out which were the impassable roads for us, and which were appropriate. I tweaked our planned route a little and ended up with a glorious morning of riding:



Patches of early morning fog cleared in an hour or so.



A quick stop to ditch some layers and some used coffee.



Making some good time, and passing by some habitation every once in awhile:



Then back into the wilderness:



Stream crossings with bridges and everything... living large.





Passing by unspoiled lakes, with absolutely no shore development. Beautiful.





These are logging roads, but we didn't see hardly any activity.



No power lines, no stop signs, no nothing... just forest, and dirt road.



Every once in awhile, a dwelling. Must be off the grid.



For those of you who live amidst this kind of stuff, you may not realize what a treat it is to just be immersed in it all day. It was a joy.



I know these aren't the most spectacularly photogenic shots ever posted in a ride report, but consider that we live on Broadway in Manhattan, the view from our window:



Do you see even a single tree? Now don't get me wrong... we love living here, but maybe you can appreciate how a vacation like this one affects us.



The contrast is jarring, isn't it?





Another break... those are blueberry fields in the backround... there was one sign that said "No snowmobiling. Blueberries." That's how I knew.







Weird tree:





At this point, I don't think we had seen another vehicle or person yet.





We were making good time, so we made a little detour to check out Black Brook Falls which I had seen seemed close to a road on the map. I had marked it as a waypoint on the GPS, and when we got to that place on the road, we stopped. We saw nothing. We took the earphones out of our ears, and heard this huge sound of a waterfall. There was no other sound competing with it. There was a little break in the forest at the side of the road, we parked the bikes and walked into the woods. There was a barely discernable trail down a steep slope. After a short way, we could see the falls:



The trail picked up through some mossy green area, and continued down.





It was magical, like some fairy tale. I expected woodland gnomes to jump out and start biting our ankles:





We get to the stream, and the falls are even louder, echoing through this small canyon:



The smells were earthy boreal forest, and a short hike upstream revealed this:





We were speechless.













Back on the road, off to try to find a good place to camp.



My first choice was on a road that crossed a stream, then led to a fire tower... I figured there'd be a decent place somewhere along there. But a ways down that road:



There was a gate across the road, and a sign that said:



Whatever that means. We could have gone around, but... (We later found out that it was a maple sap collection area and they had all the tubing set up and didn't want it messed up... makes sense). So, consult the maps, and try plan B. (MHP keeping our spirits up).



Turn around, and try again:



This is the stuff we're riding through... ain't nobody, or nothin' out here:



So we head off to another place that looks promising on the topos and is still in the crown land where camping is legal... we're about half-way there when out of the corner of my eye, I see a break in the woods, I glance down at the GPS, and see that there's a lake in that direction... I catch up to LDF, and tell her to turn around I want to check something out...



Perfect! It was on a totally secluded lake, clean water, (I have a purification filter), level ground, plenty of deadfall wood, and an old fire pit. This was to be LDF's first wilderness camping experience, and to say she was a little apprehensive is an understatement. We had bear spray, for christ's sake. But this place was so beautiful, it won her over.



I'd been riding in her dust all day... so you know what I'm thinking .



Oh yeahhhh!



Set up camp:





Collect some firewood, filter a few gallons of water, have a cocktail:



Heat up some stew... add special seasoning:



Get ready to watch the sun set, the moon rise, and the stars come out. That is one happy camper:



It had warmed up to the point where we were able to sleep with the fly off the tent, and the stars were phenomenal. You could see the milky way.





Some hot chocolate with bourbon (our favorite desert on this trip):



Sun setting through the pines:



The quiet.





So the sun sets, and we make a campfire... about an hour later, we're just sitting there, taking it all in... and we hear a car on the road. Now, we haven't seen a car all day I think. So we think, oh shit. A guy starts walking towards us down the path, and yells out "Hello there". Turns out it's Tim Fitzgerald. He grew up in the area, has been coming out to the lake since he was a kid. (Never had gone swimming in it, said I won a prize for that), told us it was called "Fitzgerald Lake", (even though on the maps and GPS it was called Cuddihy Lake, and the next one to the north was called Fitzgerald Lake, but who are you going to trust... I say the maps have been wrong before. He said he had a cabin near there, and was driving by and was just going to hang out by the lake and watch the sun set, and saw our fire, and decided to check it out.



Mind you, this was pretty much the only social interaction we had had the whole day, and not once did I think "axe murderer". OK, maybe once, but he turned out to be the nicest guy, and told us all about himself, and his kids, and his job, and what it was like to live out there, and really, I think he was trying to put us at ease, which he did. After he said goodbye, and headed back up to his car, he reappeared two minutes later with a pizza that he had bought on his way from work, and even though it was cold, offered us a slice. It takes a true New Yorker to get pizza delivered to the middle of nowhere.



Not a huge mileage day. But what it lacked in distance, it more than made up for in quality.

Thank you, Nova Scotia. You're beautiful.
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DR. Rock screwed with this post 10-03-2007 at 02:59 PM Reason: spelling error.
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Old 10-01-2007, 09:38 PM   #12
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Awesome stuff, can't wait to read more. Definitely want to get to Nova Scotia sometime.
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Old 10-02-2007, 09:56 AM   #13
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Day 5

Sept. 19

From the middle of nowhere to Inverness / Big Intervale Fishing Lodge via abandoned railway bed.



Foggy dawn from inside the tent, but what a view:



Sunrise burning off the fog:



Drying the dew-soaked gear while we drink coffee:



And we're off:



There's nothing like getting an early start, and spending the whole day out of doors from dawn to dusk... watching the shadows cast changes, not checking your watch once the whole day.







The leaves starting to change in places.... as the days went on, we had a real sense of the colors emerging:



The girl sure loves her water crossings:





The Canso Causeway... on the way back we were nearly blown off it.





We were clued in to an abandoned rail bed that skirts up the left coast of CB by members of the NSDSC. It's a rails-to-trails deal, but unlike in the US, they let motorbikes ride on it! Right at the trail head (or foot as we were starting at the bottom), we saw two women who were out for a walk... I turned off the bike and walked up the trail on foot to read a sign that was on the bridge... I thought for sure they were going to say, "you can't ride those bikes in here"... instead they asked where we were from, and what we were doing, and told us we would love riding on the trail. I still couldn't get over the feeling that we were sneaking in somewhere we didn't belong. It was great.











A bald eagle:



As you can see, the weather did not suck .









Eventually, the trail pulls away from the coast, and starts to climb:







Stopped here to peel off some layers:









True to her t-shirt:



The trail started to get a little rougher in patches:



And followed various streams and rivers with well-maintained bridges crossing them:















From here, the trail started to get really muddy and rutted... we had passed a sign that said that it was under construction, but I knew that the NSDSC guys had ridden it the whole way to Inverness last year.



Francine made it through a rough patch at one point, but hadn't picked her line far enough ahead, and got a bad case of target fixation for the muddy ruts on the side of the trail:





I rode on ahead to scope out what was coming up, and it seemed to dry out, so she walked up, and I rode her bike the next hundered yards or so:



But it quickly deteriorated again, and when I scouted up a bit further, I met up with a guy in a steam shovel, tearing up the earth, and he said it got even worse up ahead. We later learned that beavers had dammed up the stream which had flooded the trail, and it had received emergency funding for repairs. But we were almost all the way to Inverness, anyway, so we rode back to the last place a road crossed the trail, and rerouted around the flood.







Then we headed into the highlands, following streams:





Over hill and dale:











Shadows getting long again, and casting beautiful light across the hills:











And we made it. A fine lodge, great cooking, warm hosts.



We stayed in a cabin, and had a fantastic dinner in the lodge. Rumor has it that this may be the base camp for next years NSDSC's CB ride. Stay tuned.





Another great day, soup to nuts... can't be beat!
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Old 10-02-2007, 09:59 AM   #14
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Thank you!

What an awesome vacation! Thanks you for sharing it with us! The pics are great. I wish I could be at Ear tonight to hear about it in person!

Can't wait to read about the rest of the trip!

Amanda
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Old 10-02-2007, 10:22 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DR. Rock

Another great day, ..... can't be beat!
Dat's it right there, what we are all a chas'n.





Man, I love my home Province, makes me wonder why I'm here in the Toronto RatRace.

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