|08-08-2013, 01:15 PM||#1|
Joined: Aug 2002
Location: The Nation's Capital
How I spent my summer vacation: From Washington, DC to Gaspe, QC
Warning: This content contains some naughty words and might be considered offensive toward Americans, Pennsylvanians, Marylanders, Canadians, Quebecois, Christians, border patrol agents, Garmin employees, rednecks, lovers of Big Macs and possibly others. Read with caution and maybe a cold beer.
It has been several years since I have been able to do a long trip. I had been going out every year with my two brothers. Unfortunately, they both “retired” from motorcycling and I was left without riding partners. Since then, I have been doing mostly day rides and an occasional overnight rally.
This summer, I had some money saved up and it did not like I would be missing a lot of work as this summer has been even slower than normal.
The question was where to go. I figured I could afford a week on the bike. I did not want to go down south as it is too hot. To the east is flat. And then flatter and very wet. So, east was out. West is too far to get to the good riding, I did not want to do multiple thousand mile days to get to the interesting places. This left north. I have been in New England several times and would definitely do that again but I wanted to go further. That left Canada! I started plotting out mileage and ended up looking at Gaspe.
So, with not just permission but actual encouragement from my wife to get out, I started mapping and planning what to bring. (Hmmm.. why would anybody want me to be away from them for a whole week?)
I booked “reservations” with several ADV Riders. I also needed to find campgrounds within rideable distances. After much time plotting routes and looking at campgrounds, I had routes and places to stay for the entire week.
Next came planning what to bring.
Of course, tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, etc. would be needed. I knew a week on the bike would wreck havoc on my back so I began researching chairs. I ended up with a Kermit Chair. (This was money well spent... I would definitely recommend a Kermit Chair.)
To keep costs to a minimum, I packed single serving cups of peanut peanut butter (http://www.jif.com/Products/Details?...&productId=572) pita bread, some apples, instant oatmeal, snack crackers, almonds, granola bars as well as several sandwiches. This was all kept cool with a bottle of frozen water. For me, camping is even better with bourbon and cigars so they go as well. To save space and weight, I poured the bourbon into disposable water bottles. (I know purists will disapprove but they can suck it.) The only food items I regularly purchased while on the road were ice, and an occasional soda.
On Sunday, July 28, I prepped my 2005 Suzuki Wee-Strom, including a chain cleaning and lubrication, checked the fluids, tire air pressure, etc. and packed the bike. I also unplugged the bike from the battery tender. (At this point, if this were a movie, the music would change into an ominous sound, if only for a moment.)
Monday, July 29, I set out at 6am, leaving my home in Washington, DC, headed to Georgia, Vermont to stay at MARKBVT’s place. As I rolled away from my garage, I realized I had three bars of gas. This was enough that I would not need to buy gas in town where I would get somewhat wet from the high humidity and sweat while riding in slower traffic.
It was well above Baltimore that I needed gas. No, problem, I have a GPS that would help me find gas. Hooray for technology!
Unfortunately my GPS is a Garmin Montana (sucks). I really like this thing when I properly create routes and when it works. But, it has a bad habit of not working when I need it. Like this particular moment. It locked up on me. I decided to stay on the highway as I knew there were place to buy gas further up the road. The only question was would I make it on this tank. Some 60 miles after the indicator lights informed me I was low on fuel, I found gas. I had 280 miles on this tank and probably could have gone another 20 miles or so. That would have been a record for me. My nervousness about running out of gas subsided but what about the suckass Garmin Montana? I ended up trying several things but found I could remove it from the cradle and do a re-boot by powering it off.
With a full fuel tank and a working GPS, I was happy again!
I moved unremarkably on superslab through Maryland and most of the way through Pennsylvania. Right at the two hundred mile mark, I saw a fuel stop so off the highway I go. A sandwich would be good right about now too. After fueling up, I parked the bike and ate my sammy. Salami and cheese... yum!
While eating, I thought of checking the oil. It is never an issue but what why not?
I am glad I did!
I added oil ONCE before in the some 40,000 miles I have put on the bike. It needed it now??? The good news is that the gas station had synthetic oil (which I prefer.) The bad news is that is is $12.00 a quart. I have several quarts of the stuff at home that I paid some $5.00 for but that does not help me now. Oh well.
Off I go, uneventfully to northern Vermont.
I started feeling like I was on a trip once I crossed some water, so I grabbed a snapshot on the road.
I arrived at Mark’s place, set up “camp” and hung out with Mark until bed time.
After a not quite restful sleep due to a cranky floodlight ;-) I packed up and hit the road, bound for the Canadian Border.
Thank you, Mark!
Here is a photo of my fully loaded bike, dripping with morning dew.
On Tuesday morning, my arrival into Canada was a little sloppy.
I handed off my passport to the somewhat cranky guy in the booth after what must have been too long for him. It was well protected in two plastic envelopes to keep it dry, along with some Canadian money and some papers so of course, it took some time to get to. I had pulled up VERY close to the cranky, soft-spoken guy so I could hear his questions through the helmet and earplugs. Even still, “What?” was my initial answer to most of his questions. I did not know my plate number so I had to get off the bike to read it to him. My closeness to him meant that I could not get off the bike very easily. Getting off on the left side was not going to happen, even after several attempts. Upon dismounting from the right, I dropped my money and papers on the ground. AAAUUUGH!
Soon thereafter, I was all put together and on the road again.
Except that I wanted a photo that said “Welcome to Canada” or something like that. Instead, I found “Welcome to Quebec.”
After getting the photo, I hopped on the bike pushed the start button and... crickets.
Yup, the starter sort of sounded like crickets but the engine did not have the normal sound of the fine 650cc v-twin that it is. (Remember I mentioned the ominous music earlier?)
So, off the bike I go. As I was unstrapping the bags to get to the battery, I was thinking through the possibilities of what the problem could be. Maybe a jump start would get me going and I would be fine. Among the things I checked was the tightness of the cables to the battery. What the hell!!!??? They were loose! Hmmm... I tightened them up and hit the starter button. YAY!!! That was the problem! (Happy music in background.)
Now, I am accustomed to getting in an aircraft and after a night of breathing bad air, having some crappy meals and not enough sleep and arriving in a place where things look different and I cannot read the signs around me.
On the other hand, riding into Quebec was different but familiar. It was familiar in that it looks like what I had just ridden through. It even smells familiar. Just like Maryland or Pennsylvania. Like Cowshit. Yup, Quebec smells like cowshit. Sorry. But unlike a trip to Europe this was a much different transition. Sort of like I was dropped on my head. It looked and smelled familiar but I could not read the signs.
My route had me going through southeastern Montreal to get to the north side of the mighty Saint Lawrence River. Unfortunately my Garmin Montana, unreliable as it is, took this opportunity to do exactly what it is supposed to do. That is, it placed me on a point that I dropped into the route. Unfortunately, that point was some ten feet off from where I should have put it. So, the GPS put me into a lane I did not want to be in... one of several lanes that would have taken me to various parts of Canada, just not the part I wanted. Right church, wrong pew.
I realized my mistake the second time I passed this spot after a tour through the spaghetti bowl that is the highways around and through Montreal.
I think the Garmin Montana realized there was a problem. Because, once again, when I needed its help, it decided to lock up on me. Fucking Garmin Montana. It took some time trying to figure out where I was due to the Montana misdirection and lockup. I was also hard to find a somewhat safe place to stop in what was rush hour traffic into Montreal. Even after re-booting, it took a while for the Garmin Montana roach to work properly but I was able to figure my way out of Montreal and onto the highway toward Quebec City.
Eventually, a service plaza came along. I was able to re-sort my money and passport as well as have the obligatory coffee from Tim Horton’s.
I was not in the mood for a donut. Something came along shortly afterward that made me think I should have had a donut. Oh well.
I hummed along uneventfully through Rimouski, Mont Joli and on toward Chaleur Bay. The plan was to get to my campsite on the north side of the bay for the night. This would place me in the right place to do the counter-clockwise loop of the Gaspe peninsula.
Along the way, I noticed the many churches of the French Canadians of Catholic Quebec. Interesting was the silver plated spires of so many of them.
I rode parallel with a lot of rivers, always beautiful. I knew I was in another country as I did not see the abandoned and empty cases of Corona and Bud Lite that seem to litter the backroads of where I normally ride.
The sky was plastic, becoming more dramatic as I approached the bay and my campsite.
After spending a night in a nice campground in Carleton-Sur-Mer (but with crappy wifi... I could not check in with the Mrs.) I set off on Wednesday morning toward the town of Gaspe and further via Perce.
I stopped on the south side of Perce Rocher to make a photo but the view was sort of sucky. The town was quite crowded with fellow tourists and parking was not to be found. I decided to just keep riding, admiring (but not photographing) the view. That is until I got to the north side. On the way up from town, I saw some guy on one of those Canadian tricycles with a motor taking photos of the town. (Those Canams, where somewhat common up there. Do they give them away when you buy ten boxes of Wheaties?) I turned around to snap this photo.
I continued onward toward Farillon National Park.
Within the Park was Fort Ramsey, used in World War II to defend the Saint Lawrence from attacking ships.
One of many small towns along the way:
I took this photo of a monument to women while going through the town of Gaspe for my wife.
Since Canada is nine months of winter followed by three months of bad sledding, they need to work on the roads in the “sledding” season. So, I went through a lot of these “traveauxs.”
Come late afternoon, I was at my campsite on the North side of the Peninsula, across the street from Forillon National Park.
Thursday morning breakfast! The most important meal of the day.
After being on the road for three days with a destination, today was the day just to ride. I route 132, paralleling the Saint Lawrence and then down to Murdockville on route 198.
Another little town:
On the highway:
This was the start of a 2.5 mile traveaux. It was a little snotty at times with an occasional deep rut. At one point, I was glad I did not have the saddle bags on as there was little space between a poorly placed truck and a deep rut.
Upon arriving in the town of Gaspe, I saw this monument to the great French explorer, Jacques Cartier the guy who provided the New World to the French and diamond encrusted watches to the New World... a shopping mall.
The town of Gaspe also erected this monument to celebrate an anniversary of the arrival of Cartier. He brought the same symbol to the New World, we gave back the yellow symbol in the background. I am not sure who got the better deal beyond all the symbolism.
After getting off the bike and hanging out for a bit, I went for a little walk. This is what I found in the back yard of my campsite: Europe! (Look close.)
This is where all that water in the ocean comes from:
I started packing for the ride the following day down to Woolwich, Maine.
Upon falling out of my tent on Friday morning, I saw this:
I had breakfast, packed up and hit the road.
I again took route 132 this time to route 299 through Gaspesie National Park down to Chaleur Bay. It was a fun but unremarkable ride.
At Maria, I had lunch at a picnic area by the bay. I chatted with a guy who lived near Chandler who put half a million miles on his van touring Canada, the U.S. and Central America. He taught himself how to speak English and was happy to speak to a fellow traveller. I realized this was the first real in-person conversation I had with someone from Quebec since entering the province. They just do not seem to speak or want to speak English here. (I think they might get tarred and feathered by Quebecois nationalists if they get caught.)
Shortly after hitting the road again, it started raining. It rained all through New Brunswick and stopped right at the Maine border. The rain was generally not an issue as I was warm enough and did not hinder my visibility. The only minor issue was that my boots leaked. They had been waterproof but that was when they were younger and in better shape. It occurred to me that since riding is a hobby and I don’t commute, it had been quite some time that I actually rode in rain of this amount.
I stopped for gas on the north side of Chaleur Bay near Pointe-a-la-Croix. After filling the tank, I started the bike to pull away from the pump and parked so I could take some ibuprofen. (My back had been bothering me, I think due to time spent in the saddle. I don’t normally spend time on the bike like this.) I hit the starter button and again... crickets. Fuck. I unstrap my bags to get to the battery. The contacts were tight. I started looking at the bike for any other possible issues. Nothing. Then I thought, not likely but it might be the side stand switch. With the bike on the center stand, sidestand up, I hit the starter button. SUCCESS! It really did not make sense but I was not about to question a running motor.
Along the way, the GPS started acting up... again. When I needed some assistance on routing through Campbellton and onto route 17. I was able to figure it out on my own. Fuck you very much Garmin Montana, you suck.
I got to the Maine border and the sun was coming out. I had a feeling (or a hope) this would happen. Yay!
I rolled into the U.S. border and found myself in the wrong lane. It did not move. Actually it did move, just very slowly. By now the other lanes had filled up and I was stuck in this lane.
The border cop seemed to be very thorough. He was looking in cars, looking in trunks. When it was my turn to show my passport, I was hit by a barrage of questions. I have NEVER been asked so many questions at a border before.
“Where had I been?”
“What was I doing there?”
“How long was my trip”
“Did I buy anything?”
“Was it my bike?”
“ Where do I live?”
And the questions continued. I think he asked me some 20 questions. They were all legitimate questions. I have been asked them all before at other passport stops but never all at one stop. This guy was “doing his job.” I am sure if one had an illegal Canadian apple or Osama Bin Laden in their car, this guy was looking to find out.
I stopped at the first gas station on the U.S. side to get some cheap American gas (Canada gas was something like $5.80 a gallon ) and some coffee. American coffee. Dunkin’ Donuts. Not that Tim Horton stuff.
I was heading to Woolwich, Maine to stay with PWRCRZR from the ADV Rider tent space thread. I had expected this leg to take three hours. Before texting him to let him know when to expect me, I double checked the Garmin Montana to see how long it would take. Five hours it said. What!!??? That can’t be right. Oh well, that is what it said. I mount up and go.
Where I was headed is in what seems to me to be a fairly rural area. Something I needed a GPS to get to. So, sure enough, the Garmin Montana messes up. Again. This time, on re-booting, it lost most of my routes, as well as most of my waypoints, including the one to where I was going. Oh yeah.
I pulled out PWRCRZR’s address and re-entered it into the GPS. I got real close to his home. It was the next door neighbors’ home. After being kindly informed of my mistake, I hopped on the bike to ride next door.
So I walked over to PWRCRZR’s place. “I did not hear you pull up,” he said. “Well.. I didn’t RIDE up”, I explained.
We walked back to the neighbor’s to push the bike to his place. I tried the starter and, Yay! the bike started.
After a nice chat with PWRCRZR and Mrs. PWRCRZR it was time for me to hit the sack. I was exhausted and my back hurt big time. The thought that my bike might not get me home without major repairs was also troublesome. But all indication was that it was just a bad battery. And tomorrow was Saturday and a well stocked motorcycle shop was nearby and open.
Come Saturday morning, after a nice breakfast, and more chatting, I followed PWRCZR to his local bike shop. They spent a little bit of time with a load tester on the battery. It was not obvious at this point that the battery was bad. I decided to buy a new battery anyway. (It was blue too. Matched my bike better than the former black one.) It just seemed like the right thing to do as my current battery was four years old. (I purchased it while on another road trip four years before in north Georgia.)
Thanks to the guys at Team Woody’s Performance Center in Topsham, Maine.
PWRCRZR and I then rode back to his place. PWRCRZR, Mrs. PWRCRZR and I chatted some more. I made up my mind that I was not going to Rutland Vermont as I had originally planned but would slab it home to DC. ( I could always get a motel or drop in on family in the Philadelphia area if needed so it was not a big deal.
Thanks David and Ginger!
While pulling into a gas station just north of Gettysburg, PA, there was a poorly parked automobile. I figured they were in a hurry to get to the rest room and they could be forgiven for blocking the exit from the parking lot. As I was filling up, I saw the woman come from the gas station with a carton of cigarettes. I guess she needed a smoke real bad. At the same time, some bubba pulled up in his pickup truck.
Bubba yelled out the window, “HEY CUNT, can’t you park that thing any better?”
Ms. Poor Parker screeched back “What did you say to me, you FUCKING REDNECK?”
Bubba, “ I ain’t no fucking redneck!”
Ms. Poor Parker, “Oh yes you are a fucking redneck, a dumb fucking redneck!”
Bubba, “Oh yeah? You are a redneck. A cunt of a redneck!”
By the time my tank was full their tone calmed down. I realized neither of them were really rednecks, as nobody pulled out a weapon. Just slow country folks at the local gas station.
I rolled on home uneventfully through the cool, dark evening. Hitting the Capital Beltway was a real eye opener! After so many days of the relaxed riding through quiet countryside, the hustle of The Beltway near midnight of Saturday night was somewhat shocking.
It took me 12 hours to get from Woolwich, Maine to Washington, DC. I parked the bike in the garage leaving everything on the bike until the next day. I was happy to be home to see the wife and cats, as well as my own bed.
It was a great trip!
I am taking the advice of all those people that told me, "Hey kid, why don't you go play in traffic!"
Riteris screwed with this post 08-08-2013 at 04:02 PM
|08-08-2013, 02:01 PM||#2|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Georgia, Vermont (that's one town, not two states)
Glad you had a good time, Chris, bike and GPS issues notwithstanding.
Sorry again about the stupid motion light on my barn. You're the first tent-spacer who's stayed since I installed it, so unfortunately you were the guinea pig. Now I know to completely turn it off in the future instead of trying to turn down the sensitivity!
'11 Triumph Tiger 800 XC / '03 Honda XR650L / '01 Triumph Bonneville cafe
My ride reports: Missile silos, Labrador, twisties, and more
Bennington Triumph Bash, May 31-June 2, 2013
|08-08-2013, 04:05 PM||#4|
Grumpy Old Bastard
Joined: May 2008
Location: Mid-Coast Maine
Nice to see your RR...I guess the photographer in you was on vacation as I expected more photo's
Glad to here the new battery seemed to fix the problem as well...How did that POS Montana do on the ride home?
Oh and it took me 2 Beers to get through your RR...I either read slow or drink fast after work
It was good meeting you...you are welcome anytime
However, I am not complaining because I know that I am probably better today then I will be tomorrow, so I try and enjoy every day as it comes, and stay determined to live well and be appreciative of what I still can do..."Stromsurfer"
|08-08-2013, 06:23 PM||#5|
Joined: Aug 2002
Location: The Nation's Capital
I spent a lot of time at super slab speeds so there were minimal pictures. I guess I will have to go back to satisfy your needs. Otherwise, yes, I was on vacation!
I am not sure if it is a good thing or not that my posting leads to more beer consumption.
The POS Montana worked fine. But then, I did not need it, as I knew the way.
I am taking the advice of all those people that told me, "Hey kid, why don't you go play in traffic!"
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