Sunday, August 7, 2016

Tale of the Tape

Interesting stuff along the way:

This was in many was the "Trip of Missed Opportunities."  We did not get to see the most spectacular part of the Cabot Trail at all, which was as close as you could come for a singular "destination" for this trip.  My miscalculation on that first Monday cost us any exploration of Summerside and Prince Edward Island.  We didn't get out of dinner in Halifax until after dark when the street performers (busker festival in town) had mostly packed up.  And I always have some weird photo stops in my trips that make us look back and laugh.  We missed, for various reasons, a day our of Prince Edward Island, the Skowhegan Indian, a giant Paul Bunyan, a Blueberry Man, and in the Bay of Fundy, a reversing waterfall and a tidal bore.  A tidal bore is an actual wave come the wrong way up a river.  There were, of course, a couple World's Largest something or others in there as well.

We did get to the 45th Parallel marker and giant mastodon, and ironically that was not a good moment.  There was a lot of tension in the surrounding hours over time and distance and sightseeing was not a priority.  All ended well.

We always adjust on the fly on our trips, and some things always get cut out and end up being a reason to go back.  I don't know if these amount to a reason to repeat a 3,300 mile trip, but we've traveled further for less.

The tools never came out of the bag.  That's always good.  Jim did replace a headlight, and I had some wheel weights depart their home, but both were minor and fixed with only a keychain screwdriver.  2 segments of my LED fuel gauge quit, though, and made things a bit interesting.  I'll have to replace that now that we're home.

We made a college-age man go "awww..." along with some of his coworkers.  In Halifax, the hotel had valet parking underground.  Nobody valets bikes, nor would any sane person let them, so we took them down ourselves.  The morning guy saw them parked side by together with our license plates that read "2 SOUL" and "MATES" and it made him all sappy. The first thing out of his mouth was "which bikes are yours?"

Speaking of which, we are the best people we know at what we do, and we seem to be better off ourselves.  We love our friends, some of whom are better riders than others, some of whom who are more agreeable than others, but we really do seem to be 2 unique people and we can just kill it when we're out there together.  It's how we met, and it's us at our best.

There's another anecdote yet, and another observation that I hope to get up here in a day or two.  And we've sorted the pictures so I'll try to get some in the Picasa gallery that's linked.  Since we got back 4 days ago, I fixed the dryer, we did all the laundry, and came back up here to Lake Wally to finish sealing the deck.  Friday, we leave for Ohio.  Ya gotta live while you're alive.

3295

Sort of sounds like the price of a gallon of paint or something.

3,295 miles and 12 days later, here we are back in the 18036.  We pulled in nice and early at around 2:00, which would have left us time to get unpacked, get the laundry done, and go through mail - except we found out 2 days ago that the dryer died.  So, it left us enough time to do those other things, and to take the dryer apart.  I did, and found a broken belt.  The Sears Parts facility in Allentown has one for under $10, so we'll be doing laundry one day later than plannned.

The last two days of the trip were somewhat uneventful.  Dorinda's brother is the chef at the Parker House Omni in Boston, and he took us to a fabulous restaurant for dinner a short walk away on the harbor, which Jim graciously covered for the entire group.  Brother John is a Jersey boy and found out the hard way that there's no such thing as pork roll in New England, so he actually has a stash he keeps in the freezer in both Boston and at the summer cottage, and he busted out the goods to produce some incredible breakfast sandwiches for us in the morning.  He and his wife Nancy are wonderful people and treated us like family.

During the ride from Boothbay, ME to Springfield, MA, it turned cloudy and threatening every time I put my sunglasses on, and like magic they began to part the minute I took them off. Remember the other day in Canada?  Just like that, but simpler - I didn't have to stay indoors; I just kept my sunglasses off and remained blinded by the sun the entire afternoon.  Problem solved.

Speaking of weather, all week was cool while on the move, or even just in the shade, although the sun made you hot when neither condition was met.  This was also true back here in the US and in fact all the way home.  We had one day of rain, and unfortunate fog / mist the following morning that also required the gear and obscured the "breathtaking scenery" part of the ride, but for the most part the weather was good and in some cases downright spectacular.  We'll take it.

Back to the actual travel - once back in New Hampshire, Jim led the group as a result of his familiarity with the area from many trips to Laconia Bike Week, considered by most to be the third of the Big Three, after Sturgis and Daytona.  We'd been to both locations but not events, and then managed the actual Daytona bike week last year.  Jim took us to the famous Weirs Beach sign near Laconia for our tourist picture, as well as to the Harley dealer for a poker chip and a great spot for lunch.

Not long after, just as we're bunching up to pass a car on a rural 2-lane road, I had a bird strike at speed, something that has never happened to me before.  I never saw it until it was falling out of my lap after ever so lightly bumping into my chest.  Later, the feathers on the mirror stalk and blood on the switchgear and sweatshirt told the tale and confirmed it as a fatality.  Donna saw it and thought it was just me losing another personal item on the highway.  She was betting on "glove."

We passed through some Massachussetts towns that dated back to the mid-1600's (MID SIXTEEN HUNDREDS!) and stopped for a quick picture at the old Indian factory just up the road from our hotel in Springfield.  Tuesday was Donna's birthday, and the only 2 hotels the entire trip that did not have a restaurant either on the property or right across the street were the first and the last.  We managed to get by on pub food from the lounge (I bought - last of the big spenders :) and stuck a cocktail straw in a slice of cheesecake and lit it on fire for the birthday girl.  I had brought a card and picked up a memoir gift along the way, so we got where we needed to be for the occasion.  We find ourselves on the road as often as not on August 2, so it certainly wasn't the first.

For Wednesday morning, we mapped out a quick detour to avoid Hartford rush hour, popped out on the "big road" around 9:30, and from that moment it was hammer down.  We were in 5 states that last day, which sounds like a big deal, but in New England is really not.  I'm pretty sure we did 7 once.

In any case, as exciting as it is to furiously get everything in order, set the alarm, and head out on our adventures, it sure is nice closing the garage door at the end and sleeping in our own bed.  Poorer in assets, richer in experience.  This is the good life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Down East

Still in Maine. Moved from Lubec to Boothbay Harbor to visit Dorinda's brother and spend the night as guests of him and his wife. Easy day and enjoyable evening here.food has been so good. We're going to gain 50 lbs before we get home.

All this shore, salty sea stuff ends for good first thing in the morning. Tomorrow is our last night on the road.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Adieu

Today, we bid adieu to Canada and are back under the American flag here in Lubec, Maine - the easternmost point in the United States. Donna and I were here a few years ago in this same little Mom & Pop motel, and that time, my fantastic idea was to set the alarm for o-dark thirty and head over to the actual point, under the lighthouse, and be the very first people in the country to see the sun that day. Except, of course, it was fogged in, and we could barely see the water, let alone the sun. There will be no such shenanigans tomorrow.

Also, the people at the campfire our first night told me that due to the elevation and the Earth's tilt, the first rays actually hit the top of Cadillac Mountain down the road in Acadia Nat'l Park, which I kind of remembered having heard at one point. So, whatever.

The people we're with don't seem to be much for sightseeing, so we'll probably ride by tomorrow and skip the park and the view in the interest of time. Another place we'll have to come back to...

We had a fantastic breakfast at the train station this morning, and after a nice ride along the northern shore, picked up the high-speed Trans-Canada highway just before crossing back into New Brunswick and then hightailed it over to the US border. From there it was under an hour down US-1 to Lubec.  I metered out my Canadian currency (Canadians have way cooler money, by the way) perfectly, and spent the last dime at the duty free shop.

So here we are, following non-metric road signs, carrying American money, in the Eastern time zone (bonus hour today - woo!) and heading for home. We'll take 3 days to get there, with little in the way of sightseeing, but also little in the way of busting ass or fighting traffic. Still better than work.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tatamagouche

This morning dawned foggy (surprise) as seems to be the norm when the North Atlantic is within view. We pulled out of Digby on time at 8:00 and headed out for a 250 mile ride back up the Nova Scotia side of the bay to complete our tour of the province and position us for our run homeward. We ended up on some sketchy backroads for a bit, but otherwise had a nice ride in some superb weather. Funny listening to all the Canadians bitch about how hot it is, as we ride around in long sleeves or jackets.

We checked out Burntcoat Head park, near the base of the Bay of Fundy and home to the highest tides in the world, ranging from 30-50 feet. As we rode through the morning, the tide had been receding, so we got to walk around on the mud of the ocean "floor" and look up at the high red cliffs. Very cool.

I chose a restaurant fou lunch based on two signs, and turned into the "driveway," which was in reality a dirt road that we gave up on after 1/2 mile. Our Softails are by no means light and agile, but full dressers like Jim & Dorinda's are a real bitch in that stuff. Getting them turned around was some work and some stress.

We ended up at a travel plaza right on the 45th parallel, exactly halfway between the equator and north pole, and we opted for Tim Horton's (I still don't like it,) while they went KFC. At this time, it was Jim's turn to be a bit gretzy. From there, it was a short ride and early arrival to the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche, where I write this from our caboose for the evening, and where everything is hunky-dory and friends are friends.

This place is super cool, and dinner in the dining car was fabulous. I had a lamb ragout, a nice change up from seafood, although I also had chowder as I have pretty much every day. We were lucky to get the last two cabooses when we called in May.

Tomorrow is kickstands up at 8 as we start closing the distance between us and home. We'll actually be retracing our route from mid-morning on, which I hate to do, but which is pretty much the only option right here if we are to get home by Wednesday. By day's end, we should be back in the good ol' USA, at it's very easternmost point.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Coast to Coast

OK, not quite as big a deal as, say, New York to California, but we did go from the south (open ocean) coast to the north (Bay of Fundy) coast today. Yet, it was by far the shortest mileage (kilometerage?) day of the entire trip, and still the shortest after including a side trip to Peggy's Cove, which we're all glad we did.

We've become familiar with the coastline drive and the routine of descending with the inlet on your left, looking across, crossing the creek at the apex, and continuing up the other side, looking back across at where you just were. I should have a lot of cool pictures on the camera, which I can't upload until we get home since we didn't bring a laptop.

The first stop was the side trip to Peggy's Cove, which is a quaint & picturesque village with a lighthouse that is more tourist destination than fishing village, but one look and you'd know why.

Before turning inland, we hustled down the "expressway" to Lunenburg, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is much more a legitimate fishing village, but probably just as touristy. Got us some maple walnut ice cream, and off we went through the boonies to tonight's destination in Digby. Another 20 mins of highway along the north coast, and here we are overlooking the 30-foot Fundy tides again.

We actually sat down to dinner at 5:30 while our clothes were in the dryer, and although it's nearly midnight, we have our packs filled with clean clothes, my rainsuit had the mud washed off it and is hanging dry instead of festering in the bag where it was shoved while still wet, AND I have updated tide charts for the weekend AND I got 3 posts done to get this up to date.

Tomorrow is wagons ho at 8, and we'll be spending the night someplace really cool 250 miles later.

Halifax

Thursday, we had our shortest planned day so far, and decided to get out a bit later after having returned from dinner after 10 the night before. The day's ride took us along the southern coast after a ride across the interior broken up only by a stop in Sherbrooke Village, a restored village of the 1800's. Pretty cool, especially with the folks walking around in period garb and kids playing tag.

Back to the coast, and back to cool air and periodic fog. We decided to go just beyond Halifax and take advantage of our short day by visiting the Harley dealer for an oil change for Jim and a poker chip for our collection.

Our short day ended up longer after Jim waved us onto a route indicated by his GPS, but which took us directly through the center of both Dartmouth and Halifax during rush hour. This sucked, especially since my error from the other day could have been discovered by having the GPS programmed with our destination, and today, it took us off the quicker route I had planned. But it got us there, and made us "even" in a sense.

I got kinda gretzy that night, because I'd wanted to do laundry, and post an update, and not get up from the dinner table at 9 o'goddamn clock at night every night, and, oh, there was a cool street festival. Donna, bless her heart, tolerated me, and Jim and Dorinda knew what was up but I kept it low key and all is well. Service has been generally horrible the entire week, and we haven't been out of a restaurant in under 2 hours, I don't think. Food has been mostly good except for last night (Wed) though, and tonight we managed to get out and walk the waterfront & festival a bit.

Tomorrow is dven shorter and will have us back on the Bay of Fundy side after a cool sightseeing stop or 2. Hopefully we'll get in early to do that laundry & blogging and maybe even some stargazing in the dark sky preserve.