A Travellerspoint blog


July 17, 2011

sunny 33 °C


A full breakfast was available at the Travelodge in Saint John but I stuck to raisin bran and yogurt. The powdered scrambled eggs didn't do anything for me. I didn't get on the road until 9:30 a.m. I figured it was Sunday so I could take my time. Besides, I was really tired last night and didn't publish my blog. So I did that this morning before I left.

There wasn't a lot of traffic on the highway heading west out of Saint John. I stopped for gas in a little town about 40 kilometers west of town. I went in and paid for my gas. No hello. No thank you. No good bye. New Brunswickers don't appear to have the same warmth of the rest of the Maritimes. I had my last look at the Atlantic as I went by St. Stephens. After that the road goes inland.

I got to the border at Calais, Maine and had to wait only 15 minutes to get past customs. The border guard was quite friendly. I wish I could get back into my own country as nicely. I rode Hwy. #9 all the way into Bangor then #2 for the rest of the day. Both roads are secondary routes that go through agricultural areas. You go through more towns and villages on #2. From Calais to Bangor, things didn't look too prosperous. On highway 2, some of the villages look gritty and poor while others look quite prosperous. Except for Bangor, most of the towns are the size of Armstrong. There is still the occasional Walmart. The temperature was definitely higher today. It was about 24C when I left Saint John and got up to 33C in the afternoon in Maine. It got quite muggy in the afternoon and early evening. I enjoyed a day without rain.

There were an incredible number of motorcycles on the road today. By far, the majority are Harleys. Quite a few of the Harley guys will wave at you as you go by. The sport-bikers and BMW riders seem reluctant to wave. Helmets are not required in Maine. Most of the Harley riders don't wear them but the sport bikers and Goldwing riders ride with them.

I checked into a "mom and pop" motel in Bethel. As expected, the rate was $84 with taxes and they will cook me a full hot breakfast in the morning. The place is very clean and quite comfortable. They cater to motorcyclists, as they should considering the number on the road. I went down the highway about 200 meters to the Jolly Drayman, and English/Irish style pub and had a wonderful glass of Smithwick Ale (Irish) and a very good plate of fish and chips, complete with malt vinegar. The people that run the place were very friendly.

Bethel is an agricultural town. The fields across from the motel are full of very healthy looking potato plants.

Milage today = 502 kms
Milage todate =10,943 kms

Posted by wpcross625 17:21 Archived in USA Comments (1)


July 16, 2011

semi-overcast 20 °C

I continued my long trip home at 8 a.m. After loading the bike I headed up to the town of Pictou. Pictou is probably the most picturesque town I've ever visited. I was there a number of years ago when we travelled the Maritimes with Al and Linda Thiel and I couldn't go by without looking in. Absolutely nothing has changed except one of the seafood restaurants is now a Thai restaurant.

I headed then, up #6 along the coast to the town of Oxford. Rita's sister Sylvia lives in Oxford with her husband Jimmy and their family. Sylvia was in Kelowna the day after I left on this trip, so I was making up for a lost opportunity to meet her. Oxford is one of many small rural farming communities spread all over Nova Scotia. We had a nice visit for about 45 minutes then I was on my way.

After fuelling-up at the local Irvine station, I headed back to the Transcanada towards Moncton. I rode some of the rural roads south and east of Moncton but found the road surfaces to be brutal. They seem to spend more time patching roads here than paving them. After a couple hours of that, on a bike, you begin to feel pretty beat-up. I got back to the TCH and rode through Moncton where I picked-up #114 and rode along the Fundy Drive for most of the afternoon.

Fundy National Park is along #114 and there were lots and lots of tourists. There are B&B's all along the route and many of them had "no vacancy" signs out front. Again, the road surfaces were not very good at all. The weather was so-so. It was overcast for most of the day with just the odd teaser of blue sky once and a while. If the sun had been shining it would have been spectacular.

I ended-up back on the TCH and headed into Saint John. I had a bit of difficulty finding a hotel room. I tried the Econolodge. I think they had a room but there were two ladies registering in front of me who couldn't get their Interact card to work. I finally gave up and looked elsewhere. The Comfort Inn was full. I finally got a decent room at the Travelodge. I checked out a few "mom and pop" motels but they looked pretty grungy.

The hotel room budget on this trip is way over estimates. I'm hoping that when I cross the border on Sunday, I'll find cheaper rooms in the States. I know I've gotta find cheaper gas.

Distance today = 513 kms
Distance to date = 10,431 kms

Posted by wpcross625 04:47 Archived in Canada Comments (0)


July 15, 2011

storm 16 °C

The ferry sailed from Argentia at 7 p.m. yesterday. It's a 13-hour sail to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. The crossing was fairly comfortable. The sea was quite stormy but I didn't feel much in the way of "rockin' and rollin'. Along with some of the riders I met in the terminal waiting room, we found an upstairs lounge with airplane-like seating. It was a fairly comfortable night and I even got a few hours of sleep in a sitting position. I had the buffet dinner after we sailed. I really enjoyed the salad bar. The proud tradition of "ferry-food" is alive and well in Newfoundland. In fact, I think B.C. Ferries cooks their food and ships it out here

The Atlantic Vision is sort of like a cross between an cruise ship and a ferry. Given that it sails in the open Atlantic, it's a real ship, not a double ender like we have in B.C. She is 600 feet in length and has 180 staterooms. It has not been in service that long. Because there are so many staterooms, there is not a lot of seating. That has been a point of controversy with the people of Newfoundland. She was built in Germany for service in the Baltic to and from Estonia. Marine Atlantic bought her from there and have adapted her for their use. She must have stabilizers because the crossing was quite smooth given the rough seas.

This photo was taken in North Sydney a week ago, when the weather was nice.

As I mentioned, this sailing is over twice the price of the ferry I came over on but it saves almost 800 kilometers of riding across Newfoundland. I think it was well worth it. The ride across the island could entail on "over-night" and that would mean another hotel room. We arrived in North Sydney at 10 a.m. They lost a bit of time because of the rough seas and they lost another half-hour because there was a "technical" problem with the docking. They have the same drill on this ferry as the Port aux Basque ferry. They won't let you onto the car deck until the ship as docked. Again, the unloading process was quite civilized as compared to B.C. Ferries.

The weather in North Sydney was windy and wet. I rode a 100 kilometers of the Trans Canada straight off the island and onto the Nova Scotia mainland. About 35 kilometers south of Sydney, the TCH goes over a high bridge over an inlet. The wind was incredible on that bridge necessitating a reduction in speed to stay in my lane. I fueled-up just after I crossed the Canso Causeway onto the mainland and proceeded to Antigonish where I stopped for a lobster lunch and this little Scottish restaurant. Would you believe that McDonald's sells a McLobster??? It consists of a fairly generous portion of cold lobster in a bun with a sauce on it. It was actually quite good. I still don't know what all the fuss is about lobster. I'll take dungeness crab over lobster any day!

Gas in Nova Scotia jumped to $1.33/liter this week. That is about the same as the price in Newfoundland when I was there.

I rode on the TCH until I got to New Glasgow. I checked into the same "Country Inn & Suites I stayed at when I came through this area last week. I'm a sucker for a good free breakfast. It's a good, well run establishment and the people are nice. After check in I did a load of laundry then settled down for a 2-hour power snooze to make up for the lack of sleep last night. I took it easy for the rest of the day.

I walked across the parking lot for dinner at the Swiss Chalet then I walked across the street to checkout the "Mall". It's Friday night so I will watch the first game of the CFL double header on T.V. The second game won't start until 11 pm Atlantic time so I'll probably be asleep before that starts.

Tomorrow I'll head west towards Saint John, New Brunswick. The weather is supposed to improve tomorrow so I hope to ride a few side roads to take in some of the scenery in Pictou County and along the Bay of Fundy. There were no photo opportunities today. Way too Gloomy! The temperature didn't make it past 16 celsius and the wind was blowing 30 kmph with gusts to 60. Even stronger tonight apparently.

Distance today 273 kms
Distance to date - 9918 kms

Posted by wpcross625 17:10 Archived in Canada Comments (0)


July 14, 2011


It was a balmy 9 degrees celsius this morning in St. John's. I quickly put aside my plans to ride the Irish Loop before catching the ferry back to Nova Scotia. I checked out of the motel and rode down the street about a klic to a CORA restaurant. Cora is an eastern Canadian chain that started in Quebec back in the mid-80's. They have 115 outlets now (franchised). They only do breakfast and lunch. It was a fantastic place to eat. If you're ever in Eastern Canada, give them a try. Check out www.chezcora.com

After a great omelet, I officially started the long ride home by heading west on the TCH to Argentia. I figured I could get a headstart before the rain started and maybe check out the sights in Placentia and Argentia. The weather gods were with me for the 80 km ride west to #100 and 35 km south to Argentia. It didn't rain but the temperature did not go over 9C. I arrived in Placentia at noon and didn't find much of interest so I rode out to the ferry terminal for a long wait to load. I thought I might ride around a bit down the coast, but it's just too darn cold and I don't want to get on the ferry wet.

Apparently, at one time Placentia was the 2nd largest settlement in Newfoundland after St. John's. The U.S. used to operate a military base in Argentia that at one time, was the largest base outside the U.S. It was closed in 1994. Since the cod moratorium, the local economy has gone straight downhill.

About half-way from the TCH to Placentia, I pulled over to get off the bike and stretch my legs. As I was standing there, a couple on a Harley stopped to make sure I was okay. I thanked them very much. I caught up with them later at the terminal. They are from Thompson, Manitoba. They came east through the states and gave me some ideas on a route.

I got the terminal at 1:30 p.m. and checked-in. I went to the terminal and had a coffee in the cafeteria. The couple that stopped for me on the highway (Ty and Joanne) were there and we struck up a conversation. Over the course of the afternoon a lot of other motorcyclists came in to wait for the boat. The rain started about 3 p.m. It was good to have a place out of the elements to wait for the ferry. The couple from Pennsylvania that I met in Corner Brook were also there (Levitt and Betty). As well, I met a chap from Victoria (Vince) who was riding a ST-1300. He was riding almost the identical route that I took across Canada.

The boat left Argentia on time. I found seating in an upstairs lounge that has very comfortable seating. There is however, a T.V. that you cannot turn off and it keeps playing the same movie over and over. We've sent a couple of people down to the customer service desk to get it turned off. If not, I won't get much sleep tonight.

The ocean is a little rough and the boat is rocking a bit, but not that bad. Maybe it will lull me to sleep. It's a 13 hour trip to Nova Scotia. I would have liked a stateroom but they were all taken.

No photos today. The WiFi link here on the ship is pretty slow so I doubt they would upload. We dock in North Sydney at 9:30 a.m. I'll probably ride a couple of hours onto the mainland from Cape Breton Island and find a motel and have an afternoon nap.

Distance today - 127 kms

Posted by wpcross625 18:04 Archived in Canada Comments (0)


July 13, 2011 - "Mission Accomplished"

all seasons in one day 16 °C

It was surprisingly dry this morning when I left Gander. The room last night came with a real "restaurant" breakfast, so I left with a full stomach. The rain, which was forecast, held off for a whole 15 minutes. It was fairly light for the first 100 kms of the 300 I had to travel to St. John's. The middle 100 kilometers was a repeat of yesterday with heavy winds and showers. The rest of the way to St. John's was that famous Newfoundland drizzle, which after the torrential rain and wind, was easy to take. I arrived at noon.

My first stop in St. John's was at Honda One on Topsail Road to see if they could do an oil and filter change on the Wing. No problem. They said to come back at 2 p.m. and they'd get right on it. They suggested a hotel not too far away, so I took off to find a room. The hotel was fully booked. I got talking to a couple who had just checked out. They were from Surrey, B.C. They said there were a couple of conventions in town and most of the hotels were full. I went across the street to another place and they were full too. The girl at the desk phoned 3 places and they were booked also. Finally, she checked her internet reservations and there was a cancellation. She said it would have to be a smoking room. I said I'd take it but by the time she finished with the paper work, she found me a non-smoker. The room is no "great shakes"...... sort of Sandmanesque !

I unloaded my stuff into the room and made a cup of coffee and relaxed for a few minutes while I waited to go back to the shop for the oil change. I phoned Rita to see how things were in Kelowna. Things were fine. I also made a decision to take the ferry from Argentia to North Sydney tomorrow night so I phoned the ferries and made a reservation. It's over 900 kilometers from St. John's to Port aux Basques. Quite frankly, I don't really want to ride it again. The scenery is quite boring and if the rain continues, it will not be any fun at all. It's a 12 hour boat ride. When you consider it will save me 900 kilometers as well as a hotel room, it's cost effective.

I got back to the Honda shop at 1:45 and they got on the bike pretty-well right away. Good service and nice people. The oil change was about the same price as what I paid the last time I had it done at a shop back home (I usually change my own) except I had them put in full-synthetic here. They also gave the bike an inspection to make sure everything was "good to go" for the return trip home.

I then rode to downtown St. John's and rode up Signal Hill. I asked a young lady to take my photo with the bike in front of the monument. You can see by the droplets on the lens, that it was still raining. At least the wind had died-down a bit. Next on the agenda was a ride downtown where I walked around a bit. There were lots of tourists on the sidewalks and in the shops.

The weather was getting better so I decided to take a ride out to Cape Spear. I was going to go tomorrow but the weather forecast for tomorrow is not great, so I thought I'd go today just in case. Cape Spear is about 2o kilometers from St. John's. It has the distinction of being the most easterly point of land on North America.

I rode back to the hotel, stopping at a liquor store to get a mickey of rum. The GPS actually did a great job of guiding me back. St. John's is somewhat like the city of Victoria. There are no straight roads. The weather in the evening is actually quite nice. The sun is almost breaking through the clouds.
I checked the oil and the Wing and crawled underneath to make sure nothing was leaking and everything looked fine.

My big adventure is now half-over. Tomorrow I'll start the trip home. I'm planning on taking the "Irish Loop" which is a circuit around the Avalon Penninsula, south of St. John's. I've driven some of it before but I find the older I get, a second trip down a road I've been on before is almost like the first time. How sad. The trip around the loop will put me close to Argentia from where the ferry departs at 7 p.m.

Distance today - 421 kms
Distance todate - 9518 kms

Posted by wpcross625 15:06 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

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