A Travellerspoint blog

DAY 16 - TRACADIE-SHEILA TO NEW GLASGOW, NOVA SCOTIA

July 07, 2011 - Three Provinces in Six Hours

semi-overcast 24 °C

After a cup of coffee and a muffin at the motel, I headed out of Tracadie under grey skies and blustery winds. What a change from yesterday. The thunderstorms that looked imminent the night before, didn't materialize. It was 15C in the morning.

I headed south on #11. After a few kilometers, I turned left off the highway searching for a secondary road that followed the beach. It was on the map but I couldn't find it. My GPS was pretty well useless on these back roads. I tried following it's direction but found myself going literally in a circle. So I gave up and went back to #11 and rode to Shediac.

This part of New Brunswick is made up of huge marshes. They actually look like lakes that connect rivers to the ocean. Shediac is a busy little place. I rode into the downtown area to find a cup of coffee at someplace other than a Tim Horton's. The traffic was so congested, I gave up and returned to the highway where I fueled-up and headed south.
DSCN1025.jpgDSCN1026.jpg

I got onto #16 and headed towards the Confederation Bridge. I had some good fortune as I approached the bridge. I stopped so that I could take a photo of the bike in front of the bridge. A car pulled up behind me. The driver got out and told me that some stuff had fallen off my bike. The "stuff" would be my Aerostitch Jacket and my bike cover that I had strapped to the passenger seat. Lucky for me, the jacket fell off just as I was stopping, but the bag with the bike cover fell off a few kilometers back. I thanked the guy very much, retrieved my jacket and headed back to see if I could find the bike cover. Unfortunately, it looks like someone must have stopped and picked it up.

One of the neatest things about motorcycling is that you can almost always find a positive in anything bad that happens. While I lost a $100 bike cover, I didn't lose my $500 jacket. So I figure I'm ahead $400.... right?? Another interesting thing is that up until this morning, I had my passport and some U.S. cash in the inside pocket of that jacket. Something this morning made me put those items in my trunk. If I'd lost the jacket with my passport, I probably would have had to change my route home to Canada from the States.
DSCN1027.jpg

The 12.9 kilometer ride across the Confederation Bridge was much nicer on the Wing than the last time I crossed in a car. On the Wing, I was sitting up a bit so that I could see over the sides of the bridge. In the car you are much lower and can't see much. When I got across the bridge, I rode into Summerside and had a bite of lunch. I rode through Charlottetown and out towards Wood Islands where the ferry goes back to Nova Scotia. I figured I'd grab a motel room or B&B then take the ferry back to the mainland tomorrow. Once you're out of Charlottetown on that side of the island, there are no places to stay. I arrived at Wood Island and the ferry was there waiting to sail. So I paid $40 and got on the boat.
DSCN1029.jpgDSCN1028.jpg

It's and hour and a quarter sail to Pictou. Given the shorter trip, it is more expensive than B.C. Ferries. The boat was old and ratty looking. B.C. Ferries definitely does a better job. There were only 3 motorcycles on the ferry and they put us at the back of the lower deck. In B.C. we get priority loading, always first on and first off.

The ferry ride felt like an eternity. Seating was very uncomfortable. I think this sailing was reserved for those with bratty kids and crying babies.
I got off the ferry in rain and rode about 30 kilometers to New Glasgow. I rode around town hoping to find a "mom and pop" motel but no luck. I went back to the highway and checked out the Comfort Inn but they wanted $140 for a room. I went next door to the Country Inn and Suites and got a room for $104, almost the same as I paid for a real nice hotel room in Ottawa.

Speaking of prices, gas in New Brunswick is regulated. Yesterday it was 1.20/liter. Today it was $ 1.23. I guess they review the prices weekly and change it on Wednesday mornings. Gas on PEI is $1.17 today.

I'm heading over to Cape Breton Island tomorrow. I'm hoping to catch the 10:30 p.m. ferry to Newfoundland from North Sydney. So there may not be a blog tomorrow unless they have WiFi on the ferry.

Distance today = 583 kms
Distance todate = 7,043 kms

Posted by wpcross625 18:45 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

DAY 15 - PERCE, QUEBEC TO TRACADIE-SHEILA, NEW BRUNSWICK

July 6, 2011

semi-overcast 31 °C

I left the motel in Perce at 7am and doubled-back into town to fuel-up and to grab some breakfast. The breakfast, at a local cafe, was included with my motel. It consisted of sausage and eggs, toast and coffee. By far, this was the best motel breakfast of the trip so far. The worst was probably the one at the Comfort Inn yesterday in Rimouski.

The first 250 kilometers this morning was on #132 which follows the shoreline west towards the Bay of Chaleur and Campbellton, New Brunswick. Of that, 200 kilometers followed along the water (Gulf of St. Lawrence), through one small town/village after another. In fact, for 200 kms, there was un-interupted habitation I made pretty good time because there was little traffic and the speed limit was 90 except for populated area where it reduced to only 70 kmph. The "70" zones were through fairly busy areas with lots of blind driveways exiting right onto the highway. Only in "downtown" areas was the limit reduced to 50 kmph. If this were B.C., the limit probably would be 50 all the way!

Road conditions were much better today but there were still a few construction zones and parts where the pavement were rough. It was quite warm when I left Perce but it cooled off enough that I pulled over and donned my Aerostitch jacket. I crossed over the Restigouche River and headed towards Campbellton on Hwy 11. Hwy 11 is similar to the new Island Highway on Vancouver Island. It runs through the bush, away from towns and villages. You can make good time on it but its real boring. I cruised into Bathurst, with just 3 liters left in my tank. I over 400 kms on this tank. Shows you that moderate speeds really give you good milage, even on a motorcycle. Gas must be regulated in Quebec. It was 124.9 in every station I saw.

After a sandwich at Tim's in Bathurst (I'm keep track of just how many Tim's I've been in so far) I headed for Tracadie-Sheila for the night. With the change to Atlantic time, I got off the road at 4 p.m. The temperature got as high as 31C today which is record-breaking for this part of Canada. The humidity is also very high. There were lots of thunderheads building so I thought it prudent to get a room sooner than later.

Tracadie-Sheila is located about 75 miles south-east of Bathurst on the Acadian Penninsula. It is an Acadian town. 95% of the population has French as their mother tongue, but English is spoken by everyone I've run into so far. Highway and commercial signage is in English and French, whereas, in Quebec it was French only. The economy of the area is fairly depressed with no large employer other than government.

I was pleasantly surprised in Quebec as to the friendliness of the people. When Ken Evans and I were in rural Quebec in 1967, I remember how un-friendly rural people were towards us. Maybe because that was the time when DeGaulle made his famous "Vive Quebec Libre" speech at Expo. I only saw that expression once, graffitied on an overpass on Hwy 40 outside Montreal. I was surprised at how many Canadian flags are flown, not just at shops or hotels, but on private homes.

Another thing that impressed me was the friendliness of my fellow motorcyclists. I always wave at other riders when they pass on the highway. Of the 100's of bikes that I waved at, I don't think more than a half-dozen failed to wave back.

New Brunswick is officially bi-lingual. In Tracadie, the French influence is as strong as in Quebec. Road signage is bilingual but commercial signage is almost entirely French. Even KFC is PKF (Poulet Frit Kentucy??)

Tomorrow I am planning on exploring the coastal route between here and the Confederation Bridge to P.E.I.

DSCN1021.jpgDSCN1022.jpgDSCN1024.jpg

Distance today = 486 kms
Distance to date = 6,460 kms

Posted by wpcross625 17:03 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

DAY 14 - RIMOUSKI TO PERCE, QUEBEC

JULY 05, 2011 - HWY 132 ON ON THE GASPE, PENNINSULA

sunny 18 °C

I headed east out of Rimouski on #132 at 7:30 a.m. under a beautiful blue sky. Although the sun was shining, there was a steady wind blowing off the St. Lawrence and it kept the temperature down to 18C most of the day. It was chilly enough to make me pull over and put a fleece on under my mesh riding jacket.

The scenery today was nothing short of spectacular. The first 100 kilometers was through flat picturesque farmland. All of the vegetation is lush and green. After the town of Mantane the vegetation changes to forest and it starts to get hilly. Then once past St. Anne-des-Monts, the hills change to mountains. Not the Rockies but still mountains. Up to this point you can still see land across the St. Lawrence but it must be 25 miles across. Gradually the land disappears and the river becomes the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The further you go along #132, the more things start looking like the Maritimes. Houses change in style from European designs to the boxy structures you see in Newfoundland. A sure-fire sign you are getting east is the lupins growing wild along the side of the highway.
DSCN1001.jpgDSCN1004.jpgDSCN1006.jpg

Around Gros Morne, I checked my mirrors and saw a Harley keeping pace with me. We rode together for 40 kilometers. When we stopped at one on the many construction/repair projects on the highway, he pulled up beside me. He had his wife as a passenger. They were from Montreal and were taking a trip around the Gaspe Peninsula. Apparently, he is a long-distance trucker and was in Summerland on a delivery last month.

The roads in this part of Quebec are anything but consistent. You ride along on beautiful tarmac then all of a sudden it turns to broken pavement, ruts and potholes. You ride on that for a few kilometers and it turns back to good road again. You can't relax much because even on the good pavement, you encounter ruts and dips.

I had planned on staying in Gaspe but it was just 3pm when I got there, so I rode on another hour to Perce. I found a "reasonable" motel with a beautiful view of Perce Rock from my front door and window. I walked a half-kilometer into town for dinner. It's good to stretch the legs after being in the saddle all day. Perce is a real tourist town. There are lots of restaurants and many motels. There are quite a few tourists on the street and in the cafes. I'd guess that over 50% are Quebecers. Perce has a nice walk along the beach. The Atlantic is cold. There was no one swimming in the water.
DSCN1011.jpgDSCN1016.jpg

Distance today = 520 kms
Distance todate - 5,974 kms

Posted by wpcross625 17:24 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Day 13 - QUEBEC CITY TO RIMOUSKI, QUEBEC

JULY 04, 2011

sunny 30 °C

Another gourmet breakfast at the J.A. Moisan B&B this morning. This morning's feast started again with a smoothie then fruit salad as the first course. The main course this morning was a Quiche (served in a pastry shaped like a tulip) and avacado relish. The croissant with breakfast that was pretty well indescribable. No butter needed on this.

After breakfast, Clement took a few minutes out of his morning to take me 2 blocks down the street to retrieve the Goldwing from a locked parking garage. I rode back to the B&B and loaded my stuff. After settling my bill, I was off again on my travels. Before I left, I went into the J.A. Moisan grocery and took some pictures. As well, I picked-up a bottle of the Shiraz infused salt. A bargain at $12 for 4 ounces!!
DSCN0996.jpgDSCN0995.jpg

I took the Rue Champlain through the lower city and rode west hoping to see the Plains of Abraham. The gates to the park were closed, so I didn't see the place where the British defeated the French changing the course of Canadian history.

At 10 a.m., I crossed over the St. Lawrence to the south shore and took Hwy #20 east until I was past Levi, where I cut back towards the river to pick up #132. This part of the morning was wonderful. The topography is very picturesque and traffic was extremely light. The topography is rolling farmland, with dairy farms. It seemed every 5 minutes I had to slow from the 90 km speed limit to pass through a small town.
DSCN1000.jpg

I stayed on 132 for a couple of hours but the road got very rough with a lot of gravel and construction. The geography became less interesting so I went back to #20 and made better time to Riviere du Loup where I stopped for lunch. It is evident that the people of Quebec have inherited the love of food from their French forefathers. Even the Whopper at Burger King seemed to be prepared with care and it tasted way better than the Whoppers at home.

I was a bit worried about how I'd get along with my lack of French in rural Quebec. It has not been a problem. Nobody made me feel unwelcome today and almost everyone has some level of English. As long as I tried to speak some French, people seemed appreciative.

Just outside Riviere du Loup, I had a minor equipment problem. The visor mechanism on my Yellow Icon helmet broke. I stopped to see if I could fix it but it was not repairable. I pulled out my roll of trusty duct tape and temporarily secured it. After checking into the Comfort Inn in Rimouski, I found a Honda dealer and bought a replacement helmet. The helmet was fairly reasonable but the combination of GST and PST in Quebec is over 20 percent. Maybe we're not so hard done-by in B.C. Gas by the way, is 1.24/liter and the price doesn't seem to vary much from town to town.

It's been warm today.... around 30C and the humidity is very high. As I got into Rimouski, there were thunderheads building, so I decided to call it a day and go shopping for the helmet.

I talked to Rita on the phone (actually I'm using the free phone on gmail). She was wondering how a town in this part of Quebec got a Polish name. Later I googled RIMOUSKI and learned that the name comes from the Mk'maq or Maliseet language meaning "land of moose" or "retreat of dogs" referring to the area's fine hunting grounds.

Tomorrow I'll continue towards Gaspe.

Distance today - 355 kms
Distance todate- 5454 kms

Posted by wpcross625 18:20 Archived in Canada Comments (3)

DAY 12 - QUEBEC CITY

July 03, 2011

semi-overcast 26 °C

The first sitting for breakfast at the J.A. Moisan B&B is at 8am and I was there on time. And what a breakfast it was. It started with wonderful coffee and a banana/pineapple smoothie. The next course was a pear, baked in maple syrup and smothered in cranberries and dried plums. Then came a dish of eggs, diced potatoes, green peppers, onions and other stuff sauteed in duck fat. It was actually less fatty than frying in butter. There were a few choices of salt. I chose the Shiraz infused sea salt. The meal was rounded-out with whole wheat and white toast and lots more of that wonderful coffee and a couple of pieces of chocolate for dessert.

Clement and his family operate a gourmet food market on the ground floor of the B&B. It is an amazing store. When you walk in you think you have gone back a 100 years. They offer fresh produce, pasteries, wine, beer, fresh ground coffee or beans, spices, condiments etc. etc. An amazing shop. I have to remember to go into the shop before I leave tomorrow and get some of that salt.
DSCN0956.jpgDSCN0987.jpg

I left the B&B at 9am and walked back to the old part of the city. I wanted to get to the lower city near the waterfront but had some difficulty because the police had closed some of the streets for the visit of the Royal Couple. I finally made it through and walked down to the cruise ship facility where there was a Holland America liner moored. As I walked east along the waterfront wouldn't you know it...... I ran into Prince William and his missus again. They were at a church service on the flight deck of HMCS Montreal on which they sailed yesterday from Montreal.

I managed to get a few more photos of them. The crowds here were nothing like in Ottawa. The crowds were made up of mostly French people and they seemed genuinely excited about seeing the Royals. I ran into a group of protesters later in the day who were attempting to disrupt the Royals' visit to the Citadel. Apparently they weren't allowed to get that close to the couple. It was interesting to note that in Ottawa William and Katherine rode in an open Landau coach. In Quebec they were in a Cadillac Limo with the windows up.
DSCN0961.jpgDSCN0971.jpgDSCN0985.jpg

I walked a lot today. I walked along the waterfront for over an hour to see the Plains of Abraham. It is impressive to see the number of Quebecers who are out enjoying their city. Everywhere you look you see joggers, bicyclists, motorcycles, kids, dogs and families. One thing that is really noticeable is the large number of CanAm 3-wheel motorcycles.

I returned to the B&B around 2pm for a nap then ventured out later for an hour long walk to the western and newer part of the city. This area is not as congested as the Old City but there are still lots of restaurants and people out enjoying Quebec. I had dinner at a pub on Rue St. Foy. The dogs are getting sore so I too a bus back to the Old Town and walked some more there. It's a Sunday and there is a lot of entertainment on the streets.

Quebec City has a population of about 530,000. It's the Capital of Quebec and is second largest in size after Montreal. Quebec City was established in 403 years ago and is the oldest city in Canada. It was declared a World Heritage Site by the UN in 1986. 95% of the population has French as their mother tongue.

Tomorrow I'll cross the St. Lawrence to the south shore and start my ride into rural Quebec out to the Gaspe Region.

Posted by wpcross625 18:52 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

(Entries 21 - 25 of 37) « Page 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 »