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Old 08-02-2008, 07:31 AM   #1
guenael OP
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Location: Orlando, Fla.
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7 ferries, 2 trains, 1 bike - Florida to Newfoundland, and back



July 23

I have now left on my journey to the Great North. The trip’s objectives are the following
1) get away from the office 2) get away from thinking about work 3) visit North America 4) eat a healthier diet 5) breathe the wonderful outdoor fresh air 6) see as many states/provinces as possible in two weeks time



I love trains. This Amtrak thing is sort of a jump in the past, but it just adds to the charm. Surprisingly the train is packed, mostly with snowbirds and families with lots of kids. Actually, why am I surprised? These are the demographics most likely to use such a service! European trainspotters have easier places to get their bogie and locomotive rush than Sanford, Fla and Lorton, Va.



http://picasaweb.google.com/guenael/FloridaJuly23

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Old 08-02-2008, 07:40 AM   #2
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:52 AM   #3
guenael OP
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Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Orlando, Fla.
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Virginia & Maryland

July 24

Approximate miles: 350



Summary: exhilarating day

I’m on the road! I’m on the road! Look at me! I’m finally on the road!

With a bike I’ve never ridden! Why is this not going into first? Why can’t I find neutral? Is my bag secured?

Eschewing any kind of sensible preparation, I throw myself onto I-95. After five minutes of running at 100 mph, I remember that I am supposed to avoid interstate highways. Besides, this is boring. Mmmh. Change of plans. Let’s jump on the first road I see: US-1. Wow, are all roads the same here as they are in Florida?

The roads take me to the “Northern Neck” of Virginia. Very flat, lots of forests and lots of corn. Nature is beautiful, but the houses seem dilapidated. In fact, there are lots of abandoned dwellings on the side of the road.



I stop in the middle of nowhere at a salon that “thanks its customers for shopping here”. Unfortunately, I am escorted back to the entrance because they are “busy”. Strange. I go get a coffee next door, and that’s where I email my final for school (a week late…). Everybody in the café is rooting for Obama – in spite of the obvious religious overtures in the décor. I guess folks are a little bit more open-minded up North.



I proceed to Williamsburg and all the historical sites (Yorktown, Jamestown…). It’s pretty, it’s beautiful, but just as I start using the gasoline reserve, gas stations immediately disappear. I run around in circles following signs towards gas stations and I invariably get lost! It’s amazing. And once I find one (after 40 miles on reserve), I keep bumping into gas station after gas station. Is fate toying with my feelings?



I have this obsession with “putting on miles” because I want to reach Labrador – I quickly realize I won’t be able to at the rate I’m going. So I take the highway, hoping to reach Norfolk and the Bridge-Tunnel. Bad idea: there is an accident and it’s bumper-to-bumper before the bridge at Newport News, which is closed. And thus starts my 24-hour decent into American Ghetto. I ride through pretty bad areas, until I reach the Bridge-Tunnel. Nothing extraordinary there, but at least it’s a straight line with virtually no traffic!



Arriving on the Delmarva Peninsula, I realize it’s getting late and I start worrying about finding a place to sleep. I am very fortunate that 10 minutes before dusk I stumble upon a National Forest with campsites available. I set up the tent in the dark and proceed to getting some dinner somewhere.



Town is 7 miles back on the highway and I try to stop at Hardee’s but get lost driving around the block. Unbelievable! I bump into a pizzeria that looks straight out of the 70’s. I park and proceed towards the door. It’s empty. A young woman is mopping. She seems me, I wave, she ignores me, and then disappears in the back of the restaurant. Completely unbelievable! I guess they don’t want customers.

So I ride back to the starting point and enter Hardee’s. A young man is mopping near the entrance and I give my jovial “hi”. No response. The guy looks at me in the eye, but doesn’t utter a word. I walk forward to the counter, and he follows me. He stands next to me and looks me up and down and smirks, in an almost threatening manner. Absolutely surrealistically unbelievable! What planet am I on? I leave immediately and proceed to find a gas station for snacks. I end up 9 miles in the middle of nowhere to a rundown village. The gas station is dilapidated and folks are riding their bicycles to buy booze. I buy my beef jerky and ride back to the campsite as fast as I can. Am I still in 21st century USA?



http://picasaweb.google.com/guenael/...MarylandJuly24
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Old 08-02-2008, 08:04 AM   #4
guenael OP
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Location: Orlando, Fla.
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Delaware & New Jersey

July 25

Approximate miles: 300



Summary: miserable day



The plan today is to get out of the South. Direction: Delaware and the ferry to New Jersey. Based on a good friend’s recommendation, I reach Rehoboth Beach. It’s cute, but the traffic is surreal. I’m sweating like a pig in the armour and there’s a traffic light with trucks and tourists all over. Quick! Off I go to the ferry!



The ferry is great. These guys deserve a medal when it comes to marketing. The website is great, the phone service is great, the terminal is great, the ferry is great, there is a historic ship in the marina, a pirate/mascot/goofball to entertain the kids, a full bar… Nice bikers on the boat explain to me who to get around NYC without getting stuck. And their only recommendation: don’t go through the Bronx! Sounds easy enough…



In New Jersey, I decide to skip the state altogether! Why bother? The turnpike is actually very nice, albeit a little crowded. The good thing is everybody’s driving 80 mph, which suits me well. Only issue: there is a toll plaza every 10 miles or so. 25 cents here, 70 cents here.. by the time I arrive in New York, they’ve made me stop 10 times, not including the traffic lights! Yes! The New Jersey expressway (a toll road) has two @#$*$ traffic lights along the way!



At 5 I stop on the side of the road for a cup of coffee and I try to find campsites in Long Island. Not good! They’re all full and they’ve been full for months. Apparently camping in Long Island is exceedingly popular. So I change my plans completely and decide to go North of New York City. The plan calls for going around the City through New Jersey and reaching Poughkeepsie or Albany, depending on how far I can get.

You’d think rush hour is over by 6:30pm! No! At 10:30 pm I am driving miserably in the middle of God-Knows-Where and there is congestion absolutely everywhere. My plan to avoid the City fails miserably as well. In spite of all my efforts to steer clear of NYC, I end up on George Washington bridge ($12, even for motorcycles) and then into Manhattan. Yes! Manhattan!?!? The attendant at the bridge said something about “95 North then Hutchinson” to reach Poughkeepsie. OK, let’s take I-95 North (apparently all roads lead to I-95, wherever you are). At one point I realize I missed a “Hutchinson Parkway”. Quick! Turn around! I get off the highway and I am… yes! In the Bronx. People are swerving around me, stopping erratically, getting out of their cars and chatting with people on the side of the street. Trying to turn around, I end up in an industrial estate full of busses. Same deal: people are chatting in the dark on the side of the road. I try to find my way back to I-95 only to end up in a dark alley surrounded by cars and trucks driving ridiculously fast and suspiciously close to me. Was I feeling uncomfortable? You betcha. The whole area for miles and miles consists of dilapidated high rises. Anyway, I jump back onto 95, find the Hutchinson Pkwy and proceed North as fast as I can. Quickly the road starts wiggling and the true direction becomes obscure. Before long I am on a road that heads… yes… towards NEW YORK CITY! I am about to blow up. It’s 10 pm, I’m tired, sweaty, my back hurts, my feet are burning, I haven’t had a meal in two days (just eating fruits and vegetables from gas stations), and I have yet to see a sign mentioning the word “North”. I pull into to a parking lot to call a friend who’s been trying to find accommodation in the area… and the parking lot is a La Quinta! OK! That’s it! I want a room, right now!

http://picasaweb.google.com/guenael/...wJerseyJuly25/
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Old 08-02-2008, 08:15 AM   #5
guenael OP
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Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Oddometer: 40
New York & Vermont (1)

July 26

Approximate miles: 400



Summary: ecstatic day

With the sun up, the area doesn’t look half as bad as it looked at night. In fact, we are surrounded by forests. After five minutes of following the road north, I end up on the Taconic State Parkway – quite by accident. But that is the best three lane highway I’ve ever ridden on! It’s beautiful, scenic, comfortable, well maintained… not like those horrible patched-up pieces of junk you have to ride over in NYC.



It’s exhilarating: riding 100 mph through the mountains, with the cloudless sky over me. In no time I am close to the Hudson River trails that I had planned on following. At this point I realize that my free AAA maps just can’t help me tell a road from a crease in the paper. In minutes I am lost on miniature county roads with exquisite residences on each side.



Looking for gasoline (again), there is no gas station in sight, but the sights are wonderful. Eventually I reach a big intersection, fuel up and get my first meal: a giant vegetable omelet in what is probably the cheapest diner in the country (7 bucks with drink included).



I buy a real map in the gas station, and with the help of a very knowledgeable local I leave on a path that is crystal clear. For the rest of the day I did not get lost at all. I went to a Bluegrass music festival – a unique experience.




I go through the Green Mountains of Vermont – a place of stupendous beauty. Everything seems out of a colouring book: the houses, the gardens, the forests, the hills… Restaurants are picturesque and even gas stations have a certain charm. There are no “chains” or “national franchises” to be seen anywhere. The whole area has a character of its own.



I reach a superb campground and set the temp up by the river. What a wonderful day. For dinner I ride back to Londonderry where I eat a seared ahi dinner with rice, stir-fried cabbage and a creamy green onion coulis. With a glass of Pinot Noir, it crowns a day of riding pleasures and experiences to be remembered.



The plan is working!

http://picasaweb.google.com/guenael/...VermontJuly26/
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Old 08-02-2008, 08:16 AM   #6
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Old 08-02-2008, 08:30 AM   #7
guenael OP
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Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Oddometer: 40
Vermont (2)

July 27

Approximate miles: 300



Summary: Who needs a plan anyway?

Decisions, decisions. Where should I go? East or North? My map has marks for going through the second half of the Green Mountains, then veer East into New Hampshire to do some more sightseeing.



In spite of my new map which has a better resolution, I manage to get on the wrong road again – and end in Rutland. That’s way off. Back on the road, and I end up again on the wrong highway, thinking I’m going North – but I’m heading West. That’s it! Screw the plan!



The idea of an adventure trip is that you must go wherever the wind is blowing. I wasn’t supposed to go to Long Island, then maybe I wasn’t supposed to go to New Hampshire either. This leaves me with no choice (or such my twisted mind tells me): Quebec! And I wanted to see the Bombardier museum in Valcourt anyway (the small town where the infamous Raelian cult is headquartered). Quebec it is!




I arrive in the evening and camp in a gorgeous provincial park (Mont Orford).



I am invited to dinner by the neighbours in the campground. Their name is Tony and Sylvie. The food is fabulous (barbecued ribs), we had wine and cigars around the camp fire. Life is good. Quebeckers get a Gold Medal for hospitality. What joie de vivre!

http://picasaweb.google.com/guenael/...ntinuedJuly27/
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Old 08-02-2008, 08:43 AM   #8
guenael OP
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Oddometer: 40
Québec

July 28

Approximate miles: 350



Summary: keep the eyes on the prize

I start the day by dropping my bike. For two days I’ve had a constant pain in the chest due to a pulled rib muscle. Pushing the bike off the centre stand isn’t easy! So with a gentle slope in the back and the right hand side, boom the bike’s down. In retrospect, it’d been better if I had stood on the right hand side. I cut the engine and try to lift it up. Mmmh. No. The pain is just as intense when I try to lift it up and I haven’t practiced the right technique that uses only the legs. Thankfully Tony is there to help, and I’m the road again.



I visit my Bombardier museum (a little light but cute) and then head to Quebec City. The roads are in terrible condition. Sometimes I even hit dirt roads. The countryside is pleasant, and houses are cosy and well-maintained. I get pulled over by a cop for going 50 in a 30 mph zone, but he leaves me off the hook – he hopefully realized that you can’t expect a non-retired long-distance rider to respect their ridiculously low speed limits?



The city of Quebec is fabulous. There are thousands of people in the street of the city that is celebrating its 400-year history. I have lunch in a café overlooking the cathedral and the chateau Frontenac.





In the evening I stay in Maine, in a trailer! Yes, the whole trailer! I was going to get a tent site but the owner just left me use one of his spares for the night at a decent price. He even lets me use the internet in his office after he goes to bed. All I have to do is turn off the light when I’m done.

I just keep bumping into such nice people everywhere.

http://picasaweb.google.com/guenael/QuBecJuly28/
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Old 08-02-2008, 09:14 AM   #9
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Great writing and excellent pictures! Keep it coming!
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Old 08-02-2008, 09:59 AM   #10
guenael OP
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Location: Orlando, Fla.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scarysharkface
Ah yes, I found lots of horror stories about Labrador on the web, so I'm sticking to Newfoundland and Quebec. And I'm using Nova Scotia in between!
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Old 08-03-2008, 07:52 PM   #11
guenael OP
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July 29

Approximate miles: 300



Summary: Soaked

Right from the get go, it rains. And then it rains more. At the end of the day, there is such a thunderstorm that everybody is going 10 mph on the road and my tank bag is taking in water. The maps is being turned to purée.



Today I’m going through Bangor because I am being audited by the IRS. Bangor is the only IRS help centre that is on the way to Bar Harbor. It takes me about an hour and a half to file an amended tax return, then I’m off again. In the rain.





In the evening I reach Cobscook Bay Park. It is the most amazing campground I have every seen. Most sites overlook a bay, and they are all completely isolated from one another by lush vegetation. At dusk, fog forms on the lake which, with the sun setting, adds to the eerie atmosphere surrounding the entire park.



http://picasaweb.google.com/guenael/MaineJuly29/
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Old 08-03-2008, 08:16 PM   #12
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Beauty

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Old 08-03-2008, 10:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guenael
July 24

I proceed to Williamsburg and all the historical sites (Yorktown, Jamestown…). It’s pretty, it’s beautiful, but just as I start using the gasoline reserve, gas stations immediately disappear. I run around in circles following signs towards gas stations and I invariably get lost! It’s amazing. And once I find one (after 40 miles on reserve), I keep bumping into gas station after gas station. Is fate toying with my feelings?


[/url]
Where exactly is this house? Got a name or address?

I love colonial/federal houses, and plan to build one along these lines. If it has historical designation, perhaps I can get plans or drawings from the local historical society. Any suggestions much appreciated!
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Old 08-03-2008, 10:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guenael
400/DSCN4166.JPG[/IMG]

In the evening I reach Cobscook Bay Park. It is the most amazing campground I have every seen. Most sites overlook a bay, and they are all completely isolated from one another by lush vegetation. At dusk, fog forms on the lake which, with the sun setting, adds to the eerie atmosphere surrounding the entire park.



http://picasaweb.google.com/guenael/MaineJuly29/
This is a seriously beautiful photograph. You have the eye.
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Old 08-04-2008, 07:51 AM   #15
pdoege
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Cry

For those who haven't met him Guenael is a great guy.

I got email from him yesterday saying that he may have fragged the motor on the bike , and that he is trying to limp it back to the States.

Fingers crossed!

If any of you Canucks stumble across a BMW moving slowly towards the south do me a favor and help him out.

Peter
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