|08-28-2013, 06:52 PM||#17|
Is it Spring yet?
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, Canada
Was great talking to you at the Wharf Rat Rally! Safe travels!
You can find me out in the garage, or the woods.
My ride report: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=701602
|08-29-2013, 06:36 PM||#18|
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Cambridge, MA
Day 4 - Amherst to Kentville
We woke bright and early... for no apparent reason, got dressed and wandered across the street to grab breakfast at Tim Hortons, which was tasty, but I scoffed mine down to get back to work on uploading images and inserting them into posts.
Next thing we know it's almost about 10:40, and with a suspected checkout time of 11:00 we initiated UltraPack(tm).
The ride was largely uneventful until Dachary noticed a placemark we'd added to the GPS passing off to our side. "Hey, it's that wild animal park. You still wanna go?" "Hell yes!" I respond. So we do. A little backtracking and we're at the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park although the road signage would have you believe it's a Ducks Unlimited place, which it technically is.
When we got there the lady who took our money suggested that they had crates we could stick the dogs in while we walked around the park. We thanked her but suggested that the sidecar was a place where our dogs feel safe and comfortable. Ben frequently jumps back in the sidecar when he's unsure about the place where we've stopped. So, she suggested we park down in the quieter employee parking area, but check in with the office.
We did, and the lady on duty showed us where the crates were, just in case we wanted to change our minds. It was a quiet, cool, out of the way room, and we decided to go for it.
In the park we took tons of photos, but there was a cage, or fence between us and most of the animals, so many of the pictures, came out pretty crap (as we suspected they would)., but some were worth sharing.
We learned from one of the caretakers that the "velvet" on antlers is what carries the blood and nutrients to the antler. I always thought it was the marrow...
This poor guy got one of his antlers stuck in the fencing and the velvet ripped off, which killed the left antler. Now he's holding a 20 pound lump of bone on one side with no counterbalance. Poor guy.
I found some curious signage,
...and then suggested Dachary should "show me your cutlery", which she then proceeded to do.
We also found the future home of the Bighorn Sheep. Presumably this is where the last mating pair will be kept once we've fully destroyed their environment.
There were also some Timber Wolves and Artic Wolves, which looked a bit stressed. I think they just lacked cover, and space to run. There were Coyote's in another pen that were pacing restlessly.
We wouldn't suggest that they're not taking good care of the beasts in their park, and many of them came to them because they were injured or raised by humans, and can never be released into the wild. That being said, wild animals just aren't meant to be living in cages.
There were some beautiful exotic birds, but by this time we were so hot and exhausted that I got head-spinney every time I stood back up from crouching to take pictures. I didn't bother figuring out what these gorgeous creatures were called.
Check out the skin on this beaver's tail:
And, I love this little skunk in the middle of all these people... Just waiting until the perfect moment I'm sure.
Afterwards we made a beeline for the nearest food. We were running on empty and I was so flying on autopilot that I dropped the bike trying to mount it. :/
On the way to the Kentucky Fried Taco Dachary said "I felt something hit my boot. What was it?" and I said "probably just bug", because I've had some big-ass bugs hit my boot, but I did see some black thing bounce away, that looked a bit bigger than a bug... A few minutes later we get to the KFT and Dachary see's this:
which really ought to look like this
and helps keep the forks attached.... nothing terribly important.
So, back I go on the BMW while Dachary stays with the dogs and her ... suboptimal ride. I park on the side of the road, unzip my suit and start walking, then as I pass back by the bike say "fuck that" take off the suit (since it's so damn easy) and continue on without getting heat-stroke. Walk, walk, walk.... until finally:
I never did find the washer that goes under it.
We ate lunch, then I swung by a back-woods VW fix-it place hoping they might have a washer that would work, but they didn't and pointed me to a place I never found, but did stumble across a hardware store where I found a o-ring that I figured might help exert a little pressure on those threads to keep them better in place.
And yes, we have blue lock-tite with us, but we need to undo that bolt every time we check the steering head bearing (worst design ever).
Somehow we managed to find ourselves in the Highland Family Campground (which didn't appear on the map) which turned out be be quite nice for a private campground, if a bit pricey.... $46... which sadly is about the same for private US campgrounds. Dachary helped me get the poles in then ran off to grab dinner while I finished off. We made a time-lapse of the process for you.
You can find it on Vimeo here, we still haven't figured out how to embed them into ADV Rider. :( We've *just* uploaded it so it may be a few minutes before it's ready for viewing.
|08-29-2013, 06:43 PM||#19|
Joined: May 2010
I woke up this morning more-or-less with the sun, and Kay was still sound asleep. So were the dogs. I ventured forth to the washroom, and then I decided to treat myself and Kay to a little morning pick-me-up - hot water for him to make tea, and me to make coffee!
Yes, I brought a hand coffee grinder (burr grinder, of course), fancy coffee beans, creamer and sugar, and a tumbler so I could make coffee. Plus the JetBoil has a french press attachment. Tasty morning ritual, huzzah! Kay stirred while I was making hot water, so he put his leaves in for his tea to steep and I had my coffee. I grabbed my Kindle to read with my coffee - woot! Kay had apparently been in the habit of listening to podcasts in the morning lately, so he asked me to read aloud to him. So I did. It was a pleasant morning.
(If you're curious, I'm reading Pain, Curiosity and a Bear, Volume I. So far it sounds *very* familiar...)
After a leisurely start, alas, things started to drag when it came time to pack things up. I felt like it took longer than it should, and by the time we left the campsite, it was around 10:20. Headed down the road to the gas station/restaurant where I got us dinner last night, and we grabbed breakfast. Alas, that took longer than I thought it should, but with both of us still fighting being sick, grabbing a good meal seemed important.
As usual, we got a little something to feed the dogs, and when we got out to the Ural, a gent came over and started talking with us. It turned out he rode, too, and he filled us in on some stuff to see, and was generally nice and very helpful. He also talked with us about the Wharf Rat Rally in Digby. It seemed like everyone was trying to get us to go check out the Wharf Rat Rally! So when Kay and I packed up, I decided we should head off to Digby to check it out.
Alas, after all of the delays, it was noon by the time we hit the road... that leisurely start we got this morning suddenly seemed less like one of the luxuries of vacation, and more like foolish indolence. Now I was starting to feel a little pressed to make miles in order to have something to show for my day.
Off we went down the highway, and we got to Digby at around 1:30ish. Sure enough, it was in full-on rally prep mode - there were a ton of vendors setting up along the scenic waterfront and boardwalk, but you could tell things hadn't gotten into full swing yet. We decided to park and walk a bit to check it out. When we pulled up, we saw a handful of bikes, but as we wandered around, we kept seeing more and more pour into the town. By the time we left again, the bikes were more plentiful than cars - and it was clear that things were only just beginning.
While we were in Digby, though, we wandered up and down the scenic waterfront.
Found some things that seemed slightly out of place.
Saw some other awesome stuff.
And I decided we had to try some of the World Famous Scallops! Digby is famous for having the largest scallop fleet in the world, and the scallops are supposed to be delicious and fresh, so I left Kay and the doggies chilling in some shade and set off to find us scallops!
Scallops were acquired! And yes, they were delicious and fresh. NOM!
Kay had spotted some soft-serve ice cream when we did the first walk-through, so I decided now that I had a sampling of scallops, I wanted to top it off with a little ice cream nosh. Headed back toward the rally, and we passed where we had parked our Ural - and LO! and Behold! There was another Ural parked 2 spots ahead of us! What were the chances of seeing another Ural in the wild? We had to find the owner of this Ural! But how?
Back down the main drag, heading toward the soft serve ice cream, and Kay spots a man wearing a Ural t-shirt! What are the chances that's a coincidence? Not bloody likely! "Excuse me, are you the one driving the Ural?" He nods. "Ours is the blue one!"
We had a nice chat with this other Ural-riding gent. And it turns out he also had an F650GS, too! Clearly the man has good taste in bikes. He told us about some great spots to ride, including a trail that bisects Cape Breton Island - it's a wide-ish gravel road, but it would get us off the pavement if we'd like. Sounds nice. We'll have to check it out.
He also seemed surprised by how crappy our Ural mileage is. He says he gets around 200km on a tank, and when we told him we hit reserve around 120km, he was shocked. Yet another person who thinks something is wrong with our Ural. We described some of the performance issues we've been having, and he asked: "Is it shooting out a puff of black smoke now and then?" I nodded. "I just started noticing that when I was riding behind Kay today!" He theorized that it was carb-related, and that it sounded like it was running too rich - something we've suspected for a while.
He also suggested it might be as simple as the choke getting stuck open. We've pulled the carbs apart and cleaned them before, but I'm willing to grasp at straws, so when we got back to the bikes, I pulled the choke on both carbs a couple of times with the hope that if something wasn't seating properly, it might help to work it a few times.
Loaded up again (sans soft-serve ice cream - after chatting, it was getting late and I felt the need to make miles) and we headed down the coastal route toward Yarmouth. Off the highway, the driving was nice and scenic - I found it really pleasant. The views alternated between pretty ocean coves and inlets, marshy land, quaint houses and hilly forestlands, occasionally interspersed with a small village. Nova Scotia definitely ranks high on the pretty scale.
Late in the afternoon, Kay announced that he was having trouble staying alert and that he'd like a break. I told him to just pull off anywhere that looks good to him, as he was driving the Ural so he was in the lead, and at that point Yarmouth wasn't too far off, so I told him it was just down the road. Nothing particularly likely sprang out at us for the next little bit, and eventually he spotted a gas station that was a vehicle service center - not the traditional convenience store type gas station that is more common - and pulled off. I pointed out that it didn't have a convenience store, and that we were only 3km from town. But they did have a Pepsi vending machine out front, so if he wanted to stop, we could. He answered "No, it's ok, let's just go try to find something better."
Turns out, we probably should have stayed there. Like a kilometer later, a guy in a truck in front of Kay had come to a stop because he was trying to turn left. Kay was apparently not paying attention, and I saw that he wasn't slowing down, so I yelled "Stopping!" over the headset - it's what we tell one another when someone in front of us stops suddenly in order to give one another a slight heads-up. It got his attention, because he did an emergency swerve at the last minute with the Ural, and managed to avoid hitting the truck. Luckily, a gas station with convenience store was just past this point, and we stopped so we could collect ourselves and so Kay could have a break.
We nommed a Coke, some teriyaki beef jerky and some honey roasted peanuts, and had a little walk around with the dogs. I asked Kay if he wanted to stop in this town, as we'd passed several motels and clearly he wasn't feeling up to driving with his full attention. He answered that he wanted to push on until we found camping somewhere, and that he was feeling better after the stop. As we were packing up again, another gent came over to chat (it's the Ural and the dogs - it really brings people up to chat!) and he told us he used to drive between Yarmouth and Halifax every other day, and that we really had to take the slightly more scenic route along the south shore. We'd already been planning on it, but it was nice to hear it reaffirmed!
Back on the road around 6pm, and I routed us toward the south shore with the idea that somewhere along the way, we'd likely find camping. We didn't. And didn't. And didn't. Time was starting to not be on our side. Every exit, we checked the sign looking for indications of camping - but nothing. Eventually, we reached the town I'd been routing us toward, which my little moto ride guidebook indicated had camping... but there was no camping. It was a myth. There was one symbol on the exit sign that had been painted over blank, and I theorized that it looked like it had been a camping sign underneath - so probably the camping that used to be there was no longer available. We got gas, and headed back toward the highway hoping to see some camping along the way.
At one point, Kay spotted a sign for "cottages and camping" at the next left. The next left came, and it was the middle of nowhere. We rode for a minute or two and saw a sign that the "cottages and camping" place was 11km away. In the middle of nowhere.
One problem: we had our kitchen stuff, but no food to cook. And in the middle of nowhere, there would be no food we could acquire. It was around 7:15, so if we drove the 11km to the campground and there was no spot available (or if the campground had gone out of business) it would be practically dark by the time we got to the main road again. And there would be no food to be had, even if they did have a spot. So we made a quick decision to turn around and hope for a better spot. A few kilometers down the road, we did pass a restaurant - we had a quick conversation about how long it would take us to get takeout from the restaurant, and whether we could get back to the campground we'd passed before dark, and what we'd do if we got food and got to the campground and it no longer existed - and we decided the better choice was to just keep going.
Luckily, at around 7:30, we passed an exit that claimed to have camping! Huzzah! But we had to be fast because sunset was around 8, and we needed to move quick to get the tent up before dark. We drove toward town and didn't see any sign of camping, so we pulled into the gas station and Kay asked the clerk. He told us to turn around and head back down the road, past the stop sign, and it would be on the left. We did. We saw no sign of camping. However, we did pass a sign that looked like some sort of government-y logo and it said "park." Kay theorized that it might be a provincial park, and that it might have camping, so we turned around and headed toward it.
Success! It was The Islands Provincial Park, and the campground was pretty much empty so we more-or-less had the run of the place. We drove to a spot that the guy at the gate recommended, and it overlooked the water and was so, so pretty. And peaceful. None of the road noise from last night's campground. Huzzah provincial park!
We quickly got the tent frame up, which requires two of us, and I pulled the stuff I'd need to populate the tent (sleeping bag, sleeping pads, my pillow, etc.) from the Ural so Kay could take it into town to look for food. I worked on setting the tent up (poorly - I'm out of practice as Kay usually sets the tent up) while it got very, very dark and Kay headed out to hunt down food. Far too long later (around 9 o'clock), I had just finished walking the dogs and was ready to head into the tent, and Kay arrived with food. It was Chinese. As it happened, the town that somehow supported 3 motels only had 4 restaurants, and 3 of them were closed at 8ish on a weeknight. The Chinese place was the only place open.
It was a measure of how exhausted we were that the food tasted FRIGGIN DELICIOUS when we started eating. By the time I had my fill, though, it had begun to taste like what it was - very mediocre Chinese food. My throat was very sore again, which it hadn't been in days - but it was as bad as it had been on some of the bad days at home before we left for the trip. And Kay was exhausted. We started to writeup the day, but I was having trouble with my wireless keyboard disconnecting, and Kay was having trouble with importing photos from my camera, so I suggested (strongly) that we give it up and go to sleep.
By the time we had taken the dogs for the final walk, brushed our teeth and gotten things ready for bed, it was far too late - and we were exhausted.
|08-29-2013, 06:44 PM||#20|
Joined: May 2010
Sure enough - we're getting sick again. Woke up late this morning (at around 8:30) and I didn't want to get out of bed. Kay said that he hadn't slept well last night - he hadn't been able to fall asleep until after 1:30am, and when he did, he slept fitfully. I'd fared better, but I managed to set up my sleeping pad on a rock, and then let too much air out of it, so I kept getting a rock in the hip and did a lot of tossing and turning. I'd also managed to get utterly mosquito-eaten when I stepped out of the tent to answer the call of nature. Neither of us was in great shape.
I decided to forego my morning coffee ritual since we'd woken up late, and I wanted to get to Halifax by the end of the day so we could get the Ural in for service tomorrow morning. Did the morning routine, which includes hand-feeding the dogs a few handfuls of kibble so I can give Kay's dog a pill to help with the arthritis in his gimpy leg.
After all was said and done, we were packed up and out of the campground shortly after 10am. It was a beautiful place, and I wished we had more time there - but the mosquitos were ravenous.
I needed breakfast badly - my body is clearly feeling the effects of being sick, as I felt weak and didn't really feel up to manhandling the Ural around the twisty corners at any sort of speed. Unfortunately, Shelburne didn't seem to have much in the way of food, so we headed off down the scenic route hoping to find something for me to eat.
Around 45 minutes later, I was getting desperate and the road deviated - the scenic route continued to the left, but there was a town straight ahead that might have something to eat. We pulled into a convenience store and Kay went in to ask about food. The girl told him that the pizza place we'd just passed a few minutes back might have something, or we could go into town but the stuff there would be pricey. I said "no pizza" - pricey was worth it if it would keep me safe driving the Ural. So into town we went.
The signage wasn't exactly clear, but eventually we found the main road, and we spotted a couple of cafes and the Town and Country Diner. Diner fare sounded like exactly what we wanted from breakfast, so we headed in. There was no-one around, but the door clanged behind us and a woman came out from the back and told us to sit wherever we'd like. We chose a spot where we could keep an eye on the dogs, and she brought us some menus. Pancakes! Success! With local blueberries. That sounded tasty and tempting, so that's what I got. Kay got his normal breakfast go-to - french toast.
The woman vanished to the back, and a long time later, our food arrived. It turned out that she was the cook, too, and another woman had arrived to help out taking orders in the dining room. The pancakes were absolutely delicious. They were crispy and yummy outside, and cakey inside. The blueberries, however, were a bit of a surprise. It was more of a blueberry soup in the center of my pancakes than the blueberries I was expecting to be scattered throughout my pancakes. I was dubious, but it was actually super tasty. I happily ate as much as I could hold, and I shared my pancake soup with Kay for his french toast as apparently they didn't have maple syrup - when he asked for it they gave him honey instead. I won at breakfast.
But Kay won at having crazy hair.
Alas, because the breakfast took so long, it was 12:30ish before we were back on the road. We were both feeling sluggish and it showed. Neither of us was as enthusiastic as usual today. We decided to cut off a loop of the south shore scenic drive by hitting the highway, and then re-connecting with the scenic route around Bridgewater so we could see Lunenburg (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and some other pretty towns around Mahone Bay.
The plan worked that far. At Bridgewater, when we got off the highway at around 2pm, I needed gas for the Ural again and Kay needed a break. We each ate a protein bar, and shared a Coke between us. At this point, it was already clear that we weren't up for much, and we would be hotel-ing it tonight. I cut a few more things off our scenic south shore plan (exploring sea caves was right out with our low energy levels) and we headed down the road toward Lunenburg.
The town is pretty. I can see why it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, we didn't feel like getting off the bikes and wondering around, so we have zero pictures of it. Sorry. If you're ever in this part of the world, though, and you want to wander around a pretty, picturesque town with tons of shops and a nice waterfront, make it a point to stop by.
A bit further down the road, we encountered the town of Mahone Bay on Mahone Bay. More pretty scenic road.
Then I missed a turn, and suggested to Kay that we get back on the highway until we needed to exit for Peggy's Cove - the final thing we didn't want to miss before getting to Halifax. So we did.
On the highway, I was really starting to flag. The Ural's performance issues were absolutely killing my morale. It finally started to rain on us, which dropped my core temperature right down. I was feeling weak and sick and sorry for myself. Somewhere along this route, I said to Kay over the headsets: "How would you feel if we missed Peggy's Cove today and just headed straight for Halifax? It would add over an hour, and probably closer to two, to our day. It's not far from Halifax, though, so if we really want to hit it, we can try again tomorrow."
Kay acquiesced. I don't think he was feeling much better. So we hoofed it for Halifax in the rain, getting more tired and miserable by the moment.
Into Halifax, and I attempted to pull off at a random exit to find us someplace to scope out hotels. It failed - I just managed to exit onto another highway. I tried again, and this time managed to get us into a Tim Horton's, where we parked and Kay consulted Kayak on his iPhone to try to find us a reasonably priced hotel. It turns out, though, that there are SO MANY hotels here in Halifax that Kayak wouldn't load. It just got to 98% and then froze. Kay tried a different app. No success. Then he tried downloading a new app from the App Store, at which point I suggested I just get the GPS to take us to the nearest hotel - a Best Western at Chocolate Lake (which I had wanted to visit here in Halifax because HELLO! CHOCOLATE LAKE!) So we did.
Alas, it turns out that the Best Western was fully booked. The woman there called Holiday Inn Express for us, and they only had 4 rooms left. Kay took it over the phone, and then we headed off in this direction. Happily, it gets us closer to the Ural dealer.
We got here shortly after 5ish, and loaded our tired selves and the pooped doggies into the hotel. We've used our evening productively in uploading photos and video from the past 3 days of not having good net access, and I took one of the most amazing showers of all time - the water was HOT and the water pressure was GOOD and it felt amazing after being so cold and wet on the bike. We ordered delivery for dinner so we could just hang out and make the most of our net connection, but alas - the meal was lame. I fail at dinner. (Yes, we missed lunch along the way.)
The plan is to hit the Ural dealer tomorrow for its 15,000km service (easier to do it at the dealer for a change instead of trying to find a place to dispose of the oil and the used oil container) and he can hopefully help us diagnose the performance issues we're having. And hopefully, the evening of sitting inside a warm room, and the night of sleeping in a warm bed, will have us rested enough to continue on and do a lot more camping along the way.
|08-30-2013, 03:13 PM||#21|
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Cambridge, MA
Day 7 - Halifax to Dartmouth
Last night was hard.
We'd pulled in relatively early, around 5:00, and started pulling photos from cameras right away. The goal was to get everything uploaded, and the posts written then spend some time relaxing. We'd both gotten sicker as the day had gone on, but we'd forgotten just how much time these posts take to put together.
On our Americas Trip we spent about two hours a night putting together posts. One person would write and the other would relax. It was work, and sometimes we really didn't want to do it, but it wasn't too bad. Last night we spent six hours pulling photos from six cameras (2 ruggedized for on the bike, 2 video, 2 iPhones, and a DSLR), going through them, choosing which ones to upload, titling them and tagging their locations, adding titles to the video, uploading the video…. and we were so exhausted that the actually writing ended up being more of the "this happened, then that happened" sort, instead of posts that describe an experience, which is what we think makes a great ride report.
So, we're not sure what the right way to proceed is… How are we going to manage this on the Round the World trip? How do we find the balance of writing an interesting ride report for you guys, and killing ourselves putting them together. There's got to be some balance between crappy doesn't say enough ride report, and ones filled with lush detail.
Today started off better. The Holiday Inn had a real breakfast with actual hot things like eggs and sausage. So, that helped get things going on the right foot. Sadly, my cold has gotten worse. I was a mouth-breather all last night, ended up drinking a ton of water to compensate, and then peeing constantly to compensate for that.
Finding Kottwitz Werke (the ural Dealer in Halifax) was pretty easy, and Lutz and Reg welcomed us into their shop and set to work immediately, and noticed that the stupid hose clamp that goes from the airbox to the left carburetor had come off… again. Ural has since replaced the 3 piece jury-rigged looking setup with one flexible rubber tube, and Lutz had a couple on hand which he showed me and I eagerly accepted. No promises that it will stay on better, but I'm convinced it will, and even if it doesn't it'll be less of a pain to deal with than the old one.
Lutz told us about a nice walk we could take with the dogs, but with both of us sick we decided after a little way to come back, set up the Kermit Chairs, and just enjoy some quiet down time. Frankly I was wondering if they were ever going to get used. The problem is that most campgrounds seem to be infested with mosquitos, and you don't need them at a hotel.
In the end they replaced the tubes, from the air box to the carbs, replaced the air filter with a paper one. Our reusable one was apparently quite dirty (I still haven't looked) despite having been cleaned just 2,500 km ago. He twiddled the carbs, which were apparently out of sync, despite being synced just before the trip, and checked the timing, which ironically, was fine.
Dachary was chatting with Reg towards the end and noted that they were amused by our bar-risers. Apparently only old people who don't want to bend over get them around here. We want to not be old people who can't bend over so we put them on all our bikes, and our backs thank us for it.
Meanwhile I was having a discussion with Lutz about the virtues of the Aerostich Roadcrafter 1 piece. Lutz swears by his. Me? I'd brought mine on this trip in an effort to convince myself to not bring it on the RTW trip. It's a custom fit, and I love the feel of it, but I keep worrying that I'm going to melt on hot days. Lutz argued that he'd taking his down along the Mexico - US border through some pretty hot days without issue.
So far this trip is having the opposite effect. I'm loving the suit more and more every day. Yeah, I wish it had better ventilation, but it's not bad, and the fact that I can slip it on or off in 27 seconds (I timed it), and have walk-around clothes underneath is so nice.
Anyway, after giving Lutz some well-earned cash we set out for Peggy's Cove. The idea today was to do something then head back to Halifax, grab a hotel early, and just rest. Peggy's Cove, it turns out, was just about 30km from the shop, so down we went.
We've come to the conclusion that Peggy's Cove is the archetypical New England town. It's almost Disney-like in its perfection, of that goal. If you want to see a perfect New England fishing village, come to Peggy's Cove. Also, if you want to see a perfect rendition, of New England, come to Nova Scotia. It does it WAY better than New England.
Dachary sat while I went into the restaurant at the top of the hill with its literal bussloads of tourists, and order us up some grub. It sucks to have to avoid sit-down meals so ofter because of the dogs, but shrug, everything's a compromise.
We grabbed some fish and chips, and some Solomon Gundy (Canada Style, not Jamaican Style) because it's one of those weird sounding foods things you just have to taste.
We took video of it, but apparently the video we uploaded last night never completed correctly, or something, and the current net connection is crap, so it'll just have to wait. :/
There was some concern about the Ural on the way there. It seemed to be stuttering a bit around 80kph, but we didn't have a highaway to get it going any faster on.
On the way back we made sure to hit a highway ASAP so that we could turn around at take it back to Lutz if there was a problem, but there wasn't. It ran great. Plenty of power (for a Ural). So, back into Halifax, and on to a Holiday Inn I'd seen earlier in the day on Expedia that claimed to have a discount today, and after the nice accommodations last night we were kinda looking forward to just relaxing and getting ahead of our colds a bit. But no, they were full.
Turns out that Labor Day weekend is "Party Weekend" in Halifax, kind-of like "Spring Break" on Miami Beach. So, everything's booked. We ended up in a Comfort Inn with chew marks all over the bathroom doorknob because someone locked a large dog in there and went out. The place smells of the ghosts of cigarettes past and the bed is … crap. Dachary suspects bedbugs but a quick inspection for their signs has revealed nothing yet. God I hope not.
Ben, doesn't seem to mind terribly
Bandido's not so sure. We're with Bandido.
|08-30-2013, 06:06 PM||#22|
Is it Spring yet?
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, Canada
Here is what the rally in Digby looked like tonight. (Friday)
lots of noisy pirates, but also some nice vintage bikes to be seen.
You can find me out in the garage, or the woods.
My ride report: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=701602
|09-01-2013, 04:40 PM||#23|
Joined: May 2010
|09-01-2013, 05:18 PM||#24|
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Cambridge, MA
Day 8 - Dartmouth to Boylston
Despite complaining about the room, we both ended up getting a pretty good night’s sleep.
Whilst packing the bikes in the morning we encountered the couple in the room next door. Turns out they’re also from Massachusetts and had just done the Cabot trail in their car. He was complaining about all the curves, saying “I don’t think I’ve ever used the brakes so much in my life!”, and suggesting that there may be too many for a motorcycle. We tried to assure him that motorcyclists are happiest when the curves are most plentiful, but I don’t think he really grasped it as he stood there with his Black Lab. Though, he was amused to see how the dogs climbed into the sidecar and got strapped in.
The riding was excellent, and we came to the conclusion that Dachary wants a house, on a lake, in the middle of the woods, because every time she saw a place like that she’d say “ooh pretty”, and has been doing so for days now.
Dachary suggested we should pull off if we saw another sandy beach, so that the dogs could play again, since they enjoyed it so much the last time. A few minutes later, and the universe provided.
[DACHARY'S NOTE] Ben has never encountered a beach or an ocean before this. I'm happy to discover that he really likes playing in the waves! He had a good time playing, and I had a good time watching him play. I need to find more beaches for him - next time I'll take off my moto gear and play with him in the waves! [/END DACHARY'S NOTE]
We found the spectacular Henley House Pub and Restaurant just down from a gas station, and we blown away by the quality of the brunch we had. Dachary even approved of the coffee, which never happens. If you're nearby, you should definitely stop in for a bite.
There was a shady spot to park the sidecar with the dogs as we ate, and afterwards we took a stroll on their dock, and enjoyed the view.
Dachary and the dogs on a dock by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr
Initially our plan was to ride the eastern shore along toward Canso, but we discovered another Ural changing their back tire at one of our gas stops, and pulled alongside them after filling up our rides. The presence of two Urals in the same place, at the same time drew a crowd even in the middle of nowhere.
Turns out they had waved to us earlier in the day while we ate at breakfast standing outside of a Tim Hortons. They’d talked with someone who had done the eastern shore and suggested that the roads weren’t terribly well maintained, to the point that they had grass growing up through them.
Dachary had been bounced around enough already (The Ural’s shocks do not produce what you would describe as a “smooth ride”.), and wasn’t in the mood to be bounced around more, so we changed plans and decided to head for a beautiful hidey-camp spot we’d seen mentioned in another ride report. There was just one problem. We hadn’t eaten dinner, and didn’t have any emergency food (pasta) in our bags. So, we decided to head for the spot and pick up something in one of the towns along the way.
But things weren't to be so easy. The roads we poorly maintained and had grass growing up through them.**The largest of the towns had only three houses, and no food was found before the final turn-off to the camp-site, so plans changed again, and we set off in search of food, found *a gas station with an attached building sporting the sign of a chicken holding baked goods, which seemed promising, but ended up having nothing to do with chicken. The supermarket next door was closing and *the woman at the door politely suggested that if I wasn’t there to just grab one thing fast I should bugger off. “Pasta!” I said, and rushed in, saw some pre-made “cold chicken” dinners with veggies and two vegetable based mush sides, which later turned out to be coleslaw and potato salad, and grabbed those. I also grabbed pasta, and snagged a couple drinks at the checkout line. Massive success.
Dachary checked the GPS on a whim and found a Provincial Park we’d added to it that was only about 5k down the road. We pulled in and found it was a “Day Use Only” park, despite the fact that the guide book suggested it offered camping, and had “great views of the bay”. Relatively sure someone would be buy to check the grounds and close the gate we continued on, only to find the actual camping park just around the corner.
Way, way up the hill, we found an office, with a man, who took our money and said “I put you in site number one but take whatever one you want.” So, I went back to the bike, where Dachary asked me if I had a map and I said no, and felt like something of an idiot for not asking for one, but he hadn’t offered either, which is atypical in my experience. *Even farther up the hill we found a site with a great view of the bay.
When dark set, it reintroduced us to stars, and Dachary and I just stood there staring at the sky.
I think one of the keys to successful adventure riding is to be flexible, and not loose hope. We changed plans three times today, and I believe that because we kept trying, because we kept working towards a successful resolution, the universe helped us out.
|09-01-2013, 05:22 PM||#25|
Joined: May 2010
The day started off moist. When I woke up, I spotted a couple of places where the tent fly was laying against the tent body, and it was wet. That seems like the first time that has happened with this tent, but Kay's confident it has happened before. Either way, it might have something to do with my dog laying against the sides of the tent - I'm convinced that's how the poles have acquired the slight bend they now sport. When we ventured out of the tent, it looked like we were in a cloud. Mist was everywhere - fog coming off the bay, I assumed. (We actually discovered later that there was a lake just up a bit from where we'd been camping, which might have helped to generate the mist... either way, the tent fly was soaked and nothing we could do was gonna dry it.)
'dido decided to explore while we were packing up, and ended up getting absolutely covered in pine needles. At least he would smell good?
Good thing we bought that dog brush back in... wherever that was.
We packed up in reasonably good time, and decided to forego morning coffee since there was nowhere dry we could really enjoy it. It was my turn to ride the F650 today, so when I did my morning check, I noticed that the rear tire looked a bit low. I asked Kay to check it with the tire gauge while I finished a few packing tasks. He unscrewed the valve cover, and PSHHHHH! The core had gotten stuck open *again* and it was spewing air.
Something is screwed up in this tube - he tried to unscrew the valve core so we could check it or consider replacing it, but it got to a point where it wouldn't unscrew anymore. I'd had this happen a few times at home, so I knew that if we just inflated it with air and then unscrewed the core quickly, it would pop out of the tube with the escaping air pressure. So out came the compressor, we got the tire inflated, removed the core, checked for obstructions (and couldn't find any), put it back and re-inflated the tire. One of these days, I'll get around to replacing the tube - but preferably not on a misty morning when everything is covered with moisture, and I haven't had breakfast or coffee yet.
Finished loading up, and we decided to head toward Canso Causeway to cross over to Cape Breton and look for food along the way, instead of backtracking the 5km into the town we'd passed yesterday evening. Of course the GPS routed us in a way we didn't spot anything until shortly after 10am, when we crossed the causeway and arrived in Port Hastings. Somewhere along the way, the rain had started in earnest, and we were both wet and looking forward to a sit-down breakfast indoors. I had Kay go into the Visitor's Center just at the edge of the Causeway to ask for a recommendation, and they sent us down the road to Country Kitchen at the Hearth Stone Inn.
It fit the requirements - it was warm and indoors. I got an extra big breakfast, with the intent of taking some of the meats out to share with the dogs... and I just kept eating. I ate all three soupy sunny-side up eggs (I prefer them a little more set in the whites, personally, but I was too hungry to complain), and I ended up eating the uber-thick pancake (the worse I've had in Canada, but it wasn't actually bad - I've just had some really good pancakes up here!) all of the home fries and even the wheat bread. And the meats. Poor dogs. We ordered a side of bacon to take out and share with them, since they'd been sitting cooped up in the sidecar with both sides rolled down to keep them dry.
By the time I'd finished cleaning my plate so thoroughly that you could barely tell it had held food (believe it or not, that's atypical for me - as was the 3 cups of coffee I drank - Kay was all "Damn, what's gotten into you, woman?") and we'd fed the food to the dogs and geared up again in our damp motorcycle clothes, it was around 11am when we hit the road.
Today's goal: find the Trans Canada Trail, an abandoned converted railway, just over the causeway in Port Hastings, and take it 92km up to Inverness. We'd miss a good portion of the Ceilidh Trail, which I was interested in, but it was one of the few requests Kay has made for this trip. In my opinion, a happy husband is a good husband, and he's always doing stuff for me, so I wanted to make sure we hit this ride for him. Even though we had no idea what condition it would be in, but there was a good bet it would be sloppy, as it had been raining all morning.
We found the turnoff we'd marked on the GPS with only a little backtracking, and ended up cutting through some cottages to get to the trail, as I spotted a sign that said "Off Road Vehicles May Cross Through Cottages" in the first building. Right away, it was nicely graded red sand... which quickly became a rocky water crossing next to a big drainage pipe. Kay was leading the way on the Ural, and he powered through full steam ahead, so I had no excuse not to try. Got mostly through and was starting to come up the other side, when the F650 got stuck on a rock and I stalled it. But I didn't drop it! Got it started again, gave it a lot of gas and powered it up the rocky bank - and a few dozen feet later it became the nicely graded red sand again. Looking back, Kay noticed a sign that said "Trail Section Closed" or something to that effect. Oops.
Soon enough, we encountered a little pulloff with some benches and a few informational signs. (Here in Canada, they call it an "Interpretive Center.") It was the former site of the Troy railroad station, and it talked a bit about the railway and its history, and how it has been converted to the TCT now. It also had GPS coordinates for subsequent trailheads and stations. We decided "Screw the rain - this must be photo-documented" and pulled out the non-waterproof helmet camera and our ruggedized, waterproof tank bag cameras. And then we proceeded to ride along a lovely coastal section of the TCT.
The going was smooth. The red sand was nicely graded, with only a few ruts that had gotten filled with water by the rain - just enough to make a satisfying "SPLOOSH!" when we powered through them. The ocean beckoned off to our left, offering beautiful views that were definitely better for being seen from a track barely wide enough to accommodate the Ural, rather than the boring mundane old road.
The only annoyance was the Barricades at pretty much every road crossing and even some driveways. The barricades were designed to keep cars and other wide vehicles OFF the TCT, and unfortunately, some of them were very tight for the Ural. Every time we approached one, we had to slow down to practically a stop while Kay tried to maneuver the Ural through the widest opening. I'd watch from behind, and tell him if he could clear the right fender, as it's difficult for the driver to see - particularly with the dog cover and luggage on the Ural. Happily, we could clear every one of them, although we did leave a little fender paint on one. Oh well.
Alas, the idyllic going was not to last. Now and again, the smooth-graded red sand would give way to a rockier section, with wheel ruts on either side and gravel collected in between, or sometimes even grass growing in the middle. This wasn't so bad - at first. But when we'd encounter a deep rut and a puddle on one of these sections, I had no choice but to hit it with the F650 - crossing over the deeper gravel in the center between the ruts did not seem like a good idea. The few times I tried it, the bike went WAY squirrelly. I decided to just stick with the right wheel rut, as it seemed to have fewer potholes, and go with it.
Kay was getting wetter and wetter. At one point, he told me that whenever he went through a big puddle with the Ural, the water was flying all the way up to splatter his face - and he was standing most of the time. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if we'd approached the puddle-filled ruts at a slower speed... but slow is boring. ADVENTURE!
Sadly, my "waterproof" boots were quickly becoming portable puddles. For a while, I'd pick up my boots whenever I crossed through a wet rut, and hold them as high as I could (about even with the BMW tank badge) but that took a lot of energy as the puddles became more frequent and deeper. Eventually, I gave up and left the boots on the pegs, and they got so wet that whenever we stopped and I stepped off the bike, I could feel a "squelch."
Ick. If you've ever ridden with wet feet, you know how miserable it can get. But if you've ever ridden with boots filled with water - so much that you squish and you have to wring out your socks when you stop for the day - it's a morale killer. I was still willing to keep going on this waterlogged route, but I was beginning to lose my enthusiasm.
Unfortunately for me, when we turned inland, conditions continued to deteriorate. There were fewer and fewer stretches with the nicely graded red sand, and more and more rocky sections with deep ruts. Eventually, we encountered a "Caution: Steep Hill" sign - and the hill was indeed steep, with the squiggly ruts that rain wears across a path. When you hit one of those ruts with a wheel, you're pretty much stuck in it, or the bike goes all squirrelly trying to get out. And when the road is deeply rutted, with a tall berm of gravel in the middle and nowhere to go on the sides, you're going to hit those rain squiggles.
So I tried to come at a steady speed and just let the wheel go where it wanted without fighting it. Alas, at the bottom of the steep hill there was a pretty deep puddle... and it was mud. And my Michelin Anakee 2 tires are fine for stuff like the red sand, but they're not made for mud. So of course, when the bike hit the deep puddle and mud wallow, it started to go every which way. Again, I tried not to fight it and to keep the throttle steady, and miraculously just hanging on seemed to do the trick. The bike bucked this way, and then that, with the back wheel sliding out a bit... but then traction! Magic! Going up the other side of the steep hill was still harrowing, as there were large-ish rocks embedded in the dirt so it was pretty bumpy, and there were more of those snakey rain ruts - but I made it. But that particular spot took a lot out of me.
After that, and some more of the ruts with gravel in between, I started begging for the red sand to come back. "Oh, red, sand, why have you abandoned me? Come back!" And whenever it would reappear - which it inevitably did, I'm happy to say, I was all: "Red sand! My dear friend! Oh, how I love you, red sand!"
For the rest of the TCT, it was pretty much that. Red sand. Then a rocky, gravely section. Puddles. Potholes. Rinse. Repeat. By the time we'd hit around 70km (over 2 hours later) I had definitely lost enthusiasm. Even the red sand had gotten saturated by the water at this point, and everything was squirrelly. Solid road surfaces were just a fond memory. Kay offered to switch bikes with me, as the squirrelly wasn't really a worry on the Ural - it's not like it was going to slide out - but my pride had me determined to finish the stretch on the F650.
Happily, the final 20ish kilometers were pretty good again. There were a few sections of gravel and rocky potholes, but it was mostly the red sand, or a darker variant, which was fairly slippery in the wet at this point, but it wasn't too bad if you didn't make any sudden moves and kept the throttle steady. By this point, though, both Kay and I were soaked through - from the rain that had resumed and forced us to put the helmet camera way, and from the puddles-cum-water-crossings after it had rained all morning. Neither of us fancied the idea of setting up a wet tent and spending a damp night in it - particularly as the rain showed no signs of letting up.
When we reached Inverness, the pavement felt strange. It was very flat and boring, and so very... fixed in position. The bike was so solidly planted, I found the sensation odd. It was around 2:30 - it had taken us 3.5 hours to do 90ish kilometers, with a couple of stops along the way - and I had used up my energy. We were both wet and tired, but felt a sense of accomplishment for sticking with it the entire way. But with the rain, and how depleted we were feeling, we were ready to call it a day and splurge on a hotel instead of camping.
We stopped to get gas, and Kay took the doggies to a little park across the street for a quick walk while I consulted the guidebook he had gotten us at the Visitor's Center in an attempt to find lodging. I quickly felt overwhelmed by the options, and daunted by trying to find something with a vacancy as we'd been having trouble in Halifax due to Labor Day weekend, so I routed us toward a random option about 30km down the road. I thought it was closer to other lodging, so we could try a few spots, but it turns out to be sort of off by itself at least 30km from other options. When we rolled up to the Duck Cove Inn, we were praying for a vacancy, even though it seemed very mediocre... it had a restaurant, and we could pull the bikes up right in front of the room, and it was threatening to rain again instead of the steady mist it had been doing for the past half hour. And to be fair, it has an incredible view.
Kay went in to check - and HUZZAH! They had a room! It was more than it should have been for what it is, but we were wet and a bit miserable, and didn't want to drive 30km on the off-chance that the next place would be better, or would have a vacancy.
Into the room with the luggage (very filthy) and the doggies (very ready for a change after being cooped up in the sidecar with the sides rolled down to fend off the rain). Warm showers for all - amazing how different it feels to be wet when the water is warm and you're not wearing motorcycle gear in it - and my socks got wrung out and the boots are now sitting on the floor with the fan blowing into them.
Alas, it was 3:30 when we arrived, and the restaurant didn't start serving dinner until 5:30, but neither Kay nor I was willing to put on wet gear and go out in the rain (it started downpouring again shortly after we arrived) to go hunt down snacks. So we killed time until 5:30 offloading video and photos, and getting more and more sleepy - we were apparently more depleted than we realized.
When the appropriate time rolled around, we got up to head over to the dining room - and Kay let out a bit of a squeak accompanied by an "ouch!" Apparently sometime along the way he's tweaked his back. So off I go to the dining room to order us takeout, which the lady was kind enough to put on a tray for us with cutlery and salt and pepper shakers and everything, and I took it back to the room so Kay wouldn't have to venture out. Both of us are feeling more energetic after the meal, and I've loaded Kay up with Ibuprofen, but his back is still owie.
I've just gotta hope that a night on the hardest bed that either of us has ever encountered in a hotel will fix his back enough to ride the Cabot Trail tomorrow. Maybe I should grab our air mattresses from the bike...
(Also, keep your fingers crossed that our wet gear dries overnight. I hate putting on damp motorcycle clothes!)
Dachary's FroggToggs failed her again. We are very dissapointed and don't know what's going on. Our old pairs worked so well for both of us. The Aerostich Roadcrafter held up quite well, for a while the worst I had was just a damp sensation, but after throwing enough buckets of water at it it eventually soaked through. The Ural seems specifically designed to deposit as much water as possible on the driver during river crossings. For a while we had the inside cover open on the sidecar and the dogs stayed relatively dry but Bandido's butt got soaked because it was hanging out a bit.
Despite my getting soaked we've come to the conclusion that GoreTex Pro Shell is a spectacular thing. We much prefer FroggToggs (when they're working) to GoreTex liners, but when you bond that stuff to a nice outer shell you've got something really great. Yeah, it has its limits, but behind me on the BMW Dachary's top half was only mildly damp after being rained on and splashed all day. I'm convinced I was only soaked because of how aggressively I attacked the puddles and how much of the water comes splashing up on the driver when riding a Ural.
|09-02-2013, 04:57 AM||#26|
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Cambridge, MA
Finally uploaded the video
The video we attempted to upload of us setting up the tent finally got re-uploaded. We've been taking a fair amount but it's damn hard to upload anything on these hotel net connections unless it's really low rez.
The link is here.
I still can't figure out how to embed vimeo here. :/
|09-04-2013, 12:56 PM||#27|
Joined: May 2010
At long last, the day had dawned - today was the day we would ride the Cabot Trail! As it's THE thing that everyone says you must do in Nova Scotia, we'd been looking forward to this as one of the highlights of the trip. After stopping early yesterday, we were both feeling fairly well rested today, and we woke up early and were breakfasted and loaded up on the bikes by 9:30ish.
Happily, laying my boots out and blowing a fan into them until around 6:30am had turned them from portable puddles to mildly damp boots. I could deal with that. Unfortunately for Kay, me putting his boots in front of the fan for 3 hours this morning didn't make much of a difference, so he went with garbage bags in his boots to keep his feet dry-ish - a trick I'd had to employ toward the end of the Americas trip when my last set of boots stopped being waterproof.
The fog had cleared somewhat when we set out, so we were actually able to see the shore on the other side of the harbour from where we'd slept last night.
And we were hopeful that we might have a dry-ish day to ride the Cabot Trail!
The first stretch between Margaree Harbour and Cheticamp consisted of a surprisingly poor-quality road. We were caught off guard by such bad road conditions - lots of potholes, frost heaves and bumps that made us drive a little slower and made the Ural lurch all over the place every time I hit something. This was the main tourist route on Cape Breton, and a road that brought people from all over the world for the scenic drive... and the first stretch was crap. The views were nice enough, though, with the ocean lurking off to our left and putting in an appearance now and again, and twisty roads that probably would have been a pleasure to ride on the F650 but were a fair amount of work on the Ural.
In Cheticamp, we stopped to gas up the Ural, as we'd been told there would be no gas for a 150km stretch - the very edge of the Ural's range (have we mentioned we get crap gas mileage?) On the way out of town, I tried to stop at a bakery that I'd been seeing signs for since we'd set out this morning, but we discovered that it was closed for Labor Day. Boo. It's the first time on this entire trip that I felt like randomly stopping at one of the bakeries along the way, and I was thwarted.
Oh well. On to the Cabot Trail!
A little way down the road, we entered the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I pulled off to acquire us park passes, as we figured we'd stop and do some walking at some points along the way to get the dogs out and about. You don't need park passes to just drive through, but if you want to park at any of the sites along the way, you need the pass. We wanted to park.
Early on, the road had a lot of vertical and twisty stretches. We hit a scenic overlook, and I asked Kay if he wanted to stop and take pictures, and he responded "I... guess?" He didn't seem that interested, so I skipped the turnoff and he said that I should basically stop anywhere I felt like stopping. I was a bit surprised, as he's usually the one who's all gung-ho to snap pictures, but apparently not today - in the midst of all this beautiful.
We drove. We stopped at overlooks. We took pictures. It was beautiful.
Alas, even rising a few hundred feet in altitude put us in the clouds and fog. We started getting moist, and we put down one of the sides to keep the dogs drier, but left the other one open so they'd still have fresh air and a chance to move around.
Down a steep stretch that included some hairpin turns, and we encountered the Rusty Anchor. It was around lunchtime, and I didn't know how many other restaurants we'd see along the way, so I suggested we stop and grab a bite. Sadly, it was one of the most disappointing meals we've had on the trip. We got a sampler that included a wide variety of seafood, from which they somehow managed to extract all of the flavor. It didn't taste of much of anything. Easily some of the poorest seafood we've had here in Nova Scotia, where everything is fresh and flavorful. I got a chicken club, which was decidedly "meh," and Kay foolishly got a veggie burger, which was so boring and tasteless that he only managed to eat half of it.
If you ever do the Cabot Trail, skip this food stop. There are a couple of other restaurants further along, and they can't be as bad as this. Particularly for the price, which was over $50 again. They love to gouge them some tourists up here.
While we were at lunch, we consulted our guidebook and I discovered there was a waterfall not far along that was close to the parking lot. Seemed like it would be a good excuse to get the doggies out for a little walk and take some beauty shots. We found the turnoff for the waterfall just where it was supposed to be, but the book didn't mention it was down a 2km dirt road. The dirt was flat and smooth - except where it wasn't. More puddle-filled potholes reminded me of yesterday's trip up the TCT.
Still, we made it to the falls with no drama, and they weren't kidding about it being right next to the parking lot. You could see it from where we pulled off. We felt the doggies could use a little stretch, though, so we got them out of the Ural and walked the few feet to the falls to get some obligatory photos. While it was a perfectly pretty waterfall, it didn't photograph in a particularly interesting manner, so we only have this shot to show you:
Back on the bikes again, and more pretty riding through national park. As we went up in elevation again, though, the mist was getting more moist. My jacket was pretty damp, although I was staying dry enough on the inside, and I added the Frogg Toggs in an attempt to keep my legs warm. I also put on the fleece under the jacket for some extra warmth, and I was glad of it.
More pretty views.
And then we were approaching the turnoff for Meat Cove, the northernmost point on Cape Breton. I'd read about it being a pretty, secluded cove, and it was supposed to be lovely and not particularly touristed. Our motorcycle ride guide said that it was a gravel road, though, that only experienced riders should undertake. We laughed at the warning, and after a little stressing over the Ural's gas range (we happily found a gas station a little further past the Meat Cove turnoff, so we came back to check it out) we headed up the road to this site.
The ride there was pretty boring for the first 25km or so. It's only the last 8km-ish that is unpaved, and at first, that seemed pretty boring, too. But then it started getting a little bit moist, and there wasn't much gravel - it was mostly hard-packed dirt that got slippery when wet. And I was on the Ural, which didn't have great engine braking, and there was some up and down bits near sheer cliffs with some twists thrown in to boot, and I have a minor problem with heights, so I wasn't thrilled about the riding. Add in a fair amount of washboard corrugations, and more potholey sections like we rode yesterday, and it was a pretty bumpy ride, both literally and figuratively. I was glad Kay had been riding the Ural yesterday, but I felt like I should tackle this today just to get some experience handling the Ural under conditions like this.
We eventually made it to the sign at the end of the road:
And then we went back to Meat Cove Beach, which was down a gnarly steep hill with major rain ruts that ran all over the place, and it was slippery, to boot.
The waves were pretty intense in this stormy weather. My dog, who had happily played in the waves on the sunny beach on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, showed no interest in playing in these sizable waves that were breaking so close to shore. Which was just as well, because I thought the currents would probably be pretty dangerous, so I was glad to have him stay out of the water.
It didn't stop him from enjoying the beach, though.
Stop complete, it was back up the slippery, steep, rain-rutted hill to the main road, and there was a moment when the Ural was sliding sideways and I was just sure I was going to hit the wooden guard rail at the side of the hill - and hopefully it would stop me from falling off the small cliff. But miraculously the Ural caught traction at the end, and we made it, and Kay made it safely up on the F650 behind me. Phew.
Back down the bumpy road, and this side trip had taken a lot out of me. My wrists felt beat up from trying to manhandle the Ural though all of the bumps and keep it going on a straight line. I talked with Kay about it later, and he grips the bars differently, so he gets more strain in his biceps and pecs, and I get it in my wrists - I push the right handlebar more and he pulls the left one more when it comes to steering the Ural. The mist had picked up more while we were stopped, and I was just starting to feel damp and worn out after the effort and stress of the Meat Cove road.
Back to the main trail, and we headed toward Ingonish, where I expected to find gas for the Ural. We rolled into Ingonish shortly after 5pm, and I chatted with the guy at the service station while we filled up. I told him we were heading south, and he asked where we were going. I wasn't sure, but we'd like to stop when we get tired - and is there a place where he'd recommend stopping? He replied "Here" - apparently there wasn't much between Ingonish and Baddeck, 100km south of us.
It was around 5pm, and I was feeling pooped - the idea of piloting the Ural through another 100km of twisties at this point just felt too daunting to handle. I didn't think I'd have it in me to do it safely. Kay suggested that we try to eat and then head south, but I knew it would be around 6pm by the time we headed out after eating, and I was worn out in a way that I didn't feel eating would be able to correct. So we'd be riding until close to dark to get south, and I didn't feel up to driving the Ural that far at this point, so the only sensible thing seemed to be to call it for the day and get a fresh start tomorrow.
We consulted the guidebook for dog-friendly lodging, and rode to one a few kilometers south of us - and as we were riding, we passed another one I'd seen that had a restaurant and a coffee shop on-site. There's a lot to be said for food that's RIGHT THERE when you're stopping for the night - no need for one of us to gear up again and run off for food. It also helps us get on the road faster in the morning when we don't have to go somewhere for breakfast, or get on the road and stop again shortly after. So we took the place that had food nearby, which was roughly the same price as last night's stop but had a way nicer room.
Why weren't we camping, you ask? Because we discovered this morning that the Twisted Throttle dry bag was no longer dry, and our sleeping pads were soaked. We couldn't put wet sleeping pads in our dry down sleeping bag (which thankfully lives in a different dry sack that was still dry) so we had no sleeping pads... and our sleeping bag doesn't have any insulation or padding on the bottom because it's meant to be used with sleeping pads, so we'd have nothing between us and the cold ground. If you know anything about camping, you know that's a bad idea - so we felt the only option was to stop at a hotel and get the sleeping mats off the bike, bring them in, inflate them, and let them dry overnight. Which we did. I've got a few spare dry bags I bring along in case something gets a hole in it, or in case we discover something else that should live in a dry bag - so our sleeping pads and my inflatable pillow are now in their own dry bag.
The hotel was actually a beachside resort. We ventured down to the beach with the dogs in the mist, and discovered that recent storms had washed a whole bunch of kelp up onto the shore. Rotting kelp has a very distinctive smell, which followed us to our room, sadly. But the room itself was nicer than we've encountered recently, so the smell seemed like a small enough price to pay. 'dido enjoyed a good roll in the stinky kelp:
Wandering up to the on-site pub to grab some takeout we could bring back to our rooms, we encountered a couple of other bikers stopping for the night - on Victory motorcycles. I spotted some interesting-looking bags, so while Kay went in to order our food, I asked the gent about the bags when he came back. We started chatting, and he and his wife were super friendly and we had a nice long chat about the bikes (and the dogs). Kay ended up sitting on his Victory, which seemed super comfortable - very much like a Goldwing - and we started talking about the possibility of going with a comfy touring bike.
They convinced me to try the Victory, and I don't believe I've sat on a bike that comfy - I could definitely see us gravitating toward something like that as we age. Particularly as Kay's back has been bothering him since yesterday - comfy bike built for long distances seems like it has a definite place in the grand scheme of things, and I wouldn't be surprised to see us going toward something like that in another decade or two.
Headed back to the room with our pub grub after a nice long chat with them, and we enjoyed some Canadian tv and an early night. It's really gratifying to be warm and dry after a misty day on the bikes, and more Cabot Trail to explore tomorrow.
|09-04-2013, 05:15 PM||#28|
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Cambridge, MA
Day 11 - Ingonish to Baddeck
In the days to come, people will ask us “How was Nova Scotia?”, and we will respond, “Wet.” Eventually they will say something like “Was it pretty?”, and we will respond that “The portions of it that weren’t enshrouded with clouds and fog were beautiful.”
It’s been that kind of a day. Actually, it’s been that kind of a week, so far.
We’ve come to the conclusion that the enjoyment of a motorcycling adventure decreases in direct proportion to the wetness of the rider. Take, for example, the day we rode the Trans Canada Trail up to Inverness. It started off well enough, a bit overcast, mildly misty on and off. As we encountered our first deep puddles I was laughing gleefully as the water repeatedly engulfed my left boot, or splashed up my front. But, as the splashings continued, and the rain picked up, things went from dry, to mildly damp, to downright drenched.
My left boot was such a trooper. It held out for so long, while Dachary’s quickly turned into portable puddles. I admit, I was secretly a bit prideful. A mental “Hah! My boots are more awesome!” At the same time though, I did feel a bit bad. People who haven’t ridden in hard enough rains to create portable puddles in their boots just don’t understand how demoralizing it can be. We’re both agreed that it is the single most demoralizing thing about being wet on a bike. Not the cold. Not the spray in the face. Not the fog in your visor. No, the portable puddles in your boots.
As we approached the last few kilometers of the trail my enthusiasm had dampened along with my flesh. Yesterday I wore plastic bags in my boots, because they hadn’t had a chance to dry. Today I wore plastic bags in my boots, because they hadn’t had a chance to dry. Dachary’s which we dried with a fan overnight, are wetter than mine again. My boots are filled with stink.
This morning we knew the rain was going to hit us again. We discussed our plans over breakfast. Should we hit the route around the Lakes Region or just make miles towards PEI? I suggested that if we were going to be getting wet anyway, and tomorrow looked to be similar, we may as well see the pretty lakes region, so that’s what we set out to do.
Fifteen minutes into the ride we’d decided to “fuck that noize” since every overlook we passed resulted in a comment along the lines of “I bet that would be pretty (if it wasn’t covered in fog).” Eventually, it was more a question of if it was better to open our face shields and be pelted by water, in order to gain a bit more visibility, or to deal with the perma-fog inside them? In either case, the only way we knew cars we coming was because of their headlights.
From time to time, we would pass a pretty flowing brook… that had transformed into a raging torrent. Most of the rivers looked like they were in various stages of flooding. One of them looked like it was getting perilously close to the road. When we passed a wetland, it was clear that there was way more water than there was supposed to be. The land is getting saturated - it isn’t just our riding gear.
( You can see the moisture inside of the glove through the little window)
Dachary was riding the Ural again, because my back is still pretty screwed up, but along the way she thought she was smelling Gear Oil (it has a very distinct smell) and we pulled over to take a look. Nothing obvious, and I laid down beside it in the wet stones to see if there was anything leaky looking underneath. All I saw were drips of dirty water. After she helped pull me back up I took over riding it to see if I could smell it too. I admit I did smell something initially, but it didn’t say “gear oil” to me, and it faded fairly quickly. I also discovered that my back really doesn’t mind the Ural, even when I have to hang off of it, muscling it around corners.
Eventually we reached Baddeck, where the topic of saying “screw this, let’s hunker down for two nights while this blows over” was discussed, and agreed upon. My thought was that this is our vacation, and as we’re not actually trying to get anywhere in particular, the goal should be to enjoy ourselves, and Dachary was miserable.
“Every part of me that’s covered in rain gear is wet.”, she said. “Every part of you is covered in rain gear.” I replied. “And every part of me is wet.” Her FroggToggs had once again left her legs soaked. Her fancy-pants RevIt Everest jacket left her shirt wet on the sides of her belly, and her forearms were similarly soaked. Her hands, covered by RevIt H20 Gloves, were also soaked. Her helmet had done its job well, but her hair was wet from the rain it experienced before putting on the helmet.
I could have kept going. My Roadcrafter had left me dry except for a line along the leg zippers, my hands, in a newer generation of the same gloves were soaked, and icky. My boots, were wet of course, but didn’t feel too bad as I was still wearing my trash bag liners.
That being said, I love my wife, and dragging her through conditions that just make her more miserable is a heartless thing to do.
I got a hotel for two nights, and the universe smiled on us with a good room, at the best price we could hope for. The Wi-Fi sucks in our room, but… shrug At least we were able to wring the water out of our waterproof gloves, unpack our tent which was still soaked from the last camping, and stick a hair-dryer in our boots.
Napping was had, which has been in short supply on this trip. Then, a walk to a nearby convenience store, as our room has a mini-fridge, where we could acquire soda (pop as the Canadians say) and snacks to see us through the next 36 hours. Happily, we even found Coke! (Canada, or at least Nova Scotia, is all about the Pepsi… it was nice to have Coke for a change.)
The dogs got soaked, and so did our walking around off the bike gear. But it was nice to be able to come back somewhere dry, towel off the dogs and hang our wet clothes to dry.
On tonight’s agenda: Canadian National Geographic television! And reading books on our Kindles! If we had to hang out someplace to wait out the rain and let things dry, we could have done a lot worse. And now, for some much needed down-time.
P.S. For those who are wondering: Yes, we used to rave about the RevIt rain gloves. It turns out that they function much better at highway speeds behind full hand-guards than they do at relatively low speeds without hand guards. We’ll have a full review I’m sure.
|09-04-2013, 05:33 PM||#29|
Joined: Jul 2012
If you guys are on the road while writing this, I read that stuffing wet boots with newspaper overnight helps draw out the water.
2005 BMW F650GS Dakar
|09-05-2013, 05:33 PM||#30|
Joined: May 2010
With heavy rain/thunderstorms in the forecast, we had decided to stay in Baddeck today and stay warm and dry in a hotel room. When the day dawned, it was overcast but dry. We debated whether we should chance it and head out, but our boots were still VERY wet, our gear was still wet, and the idea of a day off sounded good. So we decided to stick around and just relax for the day.
Had a leisurely breakfast in the Inverary Resort restaurant, and it was SUPER TASTY. One of the best meals I've had on the trip, huzzah! Back at the room, rain still wasn't on offer. I suggested to Kay that we take our laundry into town to wash it and wander around the town a bit, and Kay said that the forecast suggested that the rain was supposed to hit in the afternoon, so we should head out soon. Umbrellas, doggies, and laundry in tow, we walked into downtown Baddeck.
The laundromat was owned by the people who owned the Blue Heron Gift Shop, and you could go into the gift shop and buy a cap full of laundry detergent, and get quarters for the machines. So I did. Whilst there, we encountered a gent from Denmark who was here in Canada for 4 months on a rented Harley Davidson. All of his stuff had gotten soaked in the rain, too, including all of his dry clothes in his saddlebags, so he was at the laundromat trying to dry things off. Kay ended up chatting with him and told him all about dry bags - hopefully it'll help him keep his stuff a little better in the future!
Grabbed a coffee while the stuff dried, and we walked down to the weekly Farmer's Market to check it out. There were a couple of kids in the entryway playing fiddle, and they were decent - it made a nice, lively atmosphere. Plenty of tables of people selling baked goods and artisan wares, but surprisingly few fruits and vegetables. Everyone seemed to know everyone, and people were chatting in clusters, and kids were playing in the aisles - it was a nice community feel, and I really enjoyed it. We treated ourselves to a couple of the baked goods on offer, and then headed back to collect our laundry. (This is the view from the dock behind the farmer's market.)
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Highwheeler Cafe again to grab some sandwiches to bring back for lunch. Still tasty. When we got back, there was still no sign of the rain we'd been promised - just a few sprinkles now and again - and Kay and I were starting to get annoyed.
Spent the afternoon relaxing, reading, watching Discovery and National Geographic daytime television shows (the Canadian versions, anyway, which did prove entertaining). We did some writing, at one point, to catch up a bit on the blog - and Kay set out to write a review of his Aerostich Roadcrafter suit, but ended up writing what I called "a love letter to his 'stich." (I think it needs a bit of work, but clearly he's loving the suit.)
In the meantime, my dog discovered a "cave" under the sink in the bathroom, and would hang out there any time either of us went in the bathroom. Silly dog.
At around 4, I looked out the window and a downpour was finally happening outside. Huzzah! We were justified in staying! Kinda. But it only lasted about 20 minutes, and then it was back to not much wet again. Blerg.
By the time we decided to head out for dinner around 6ish, there was even a bit of clearing, with the sun peeking through in spots. So much for the weather forecast here in Baddeck, but at least we'd had a restful, relaxing day.
We'd been passing a sign for Baddeck Lobster Suppers, which promised "all you can eat mussels, chowder, bread and more" - and delicious lobster dinners. We haven't yet had a lobster dinner, and it seems to be a Thing You Do in Nova Scotia, so I talked Kay into heading over there.
Way too much money later, we were seated and they asked what we'd like to start with. Kay chose mussels, and I chose chowder. The chowder was tasty, if a bit potato-ey (most of the other chowder we've had here has been *very* seafood heavy, but this place seemed to skimp a bit - probably because of the all-you-can-eat aspect). The mussels, though, tasted perfect - like mussels. You could taste the ocean. They were definitely fresh, and after the seafood lunch we had yesterday where they had managed to extract all of the flavor from the seafood, these fresh mussels were a wonderful change. Kay ate most of a bowl, and I helped a bit before getting my own bowl of mussels for my next dish.
And then there was my lobster.
And Kay's Fresh Local Snow Crab.
It turned out, Kay liked the lobster better, and I liked the snow crab better, so after we'd each eaten a claw and half the tail, I tried giving Kay my lobster. Unfortunately, Kay didn't seem to know what to do with the main body of the lobster, even though there were instructions on the table - it seemed to be too much work to get more lobster meat out. So he went back to another bowl of mussels, but by that point both of us were getting darn full of seafood - which we don't normally eat - and we were getting signals from our tummies that maybe we should stop. So we did.
Still, the meal was delicious. If you're in Baddeck, it's pricey and touristy, but we'd recommend it. (Although the included dessert was very meh.)
That pretty much wrapped up the day. A little more reading, writing, watching tv and rearranging wet things so they could try to dry rounded out the night for us here in Baddeck.
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