Sunday, July 31, 2016


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


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.


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.

Around the Cape

Wednesday was our ride around the north of Cape Breton Island on the Cabot trail. This was the furthest from home that we will get, and was the centerpiece and main impetus for the trip. It's one of the most scenic drives in the world.

It's also frequently socked in with fog, which we've come to learn after experiencing exactly that ourselves after a day of rain and humidity.

We also dealt with two construction zones, hard packed wet dirt climbing up to the highlands. Our scenic pictures are attached.

It did clear up for us around noon, after the most photogenic areas were behind us, but in time for us to get at least some enjoyment out of it. I had been trying to hatch a plan in my head to rearrange dome reservations and ride it in the other direction the next day, since we don't often find ourselves here 1,500 miles from home, but we ended up not needing to.

We stopped in at Mom & Dad's campsite, had a beer with them, and bid them farewell. 35 miles further down the road, we are checked in here in Port Hawkesbury and have found a car wash to get all the mud and grit off our bikes. Another late evening, but still got pep in our step and are playing it as it comes.

Thursday, we are back over the causeway, bound for the other end of Nova Scotia and its largest city.

Rob McKenna

I started writing this post on the ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia, and here we are 2 days later and still no update. When this happens (which is often) I usually narrate from the point of view from the moment, with no knowledge of what is about to happen next.

We left at 7:30 am to catch the 9:30 ferry, and, though dreary, it was dry. We had our breakfast, and as we walked out the door, it startef to rain just as predicted. After a 40-min ride to the terminal, the rain ceded once on board. 75 mins later, we disembarked in Caribou NS, rain gear still on, and a km up the road, it began to rain in earnest. This continued for 90 mins as we rode to our rendezvous point with my mom & dad, who unloaded their bike at their campground earlier, and who will remain on Cape Breton for a few weeks until they damn well feel like going home.

So we warmed up & hand dryered for a bit in the Tim Horton's before heading for the Cabot Trail. Rain had stopped and the radar was looking iffy.

There was no "if" as we walked to the bikes and it started to pour. 45 km later, we all walked dripping wet into the Gaelic Music Cultural Centre, where we enjoyed decent food & s-l-o-w service over some Scottish music while the rain again stopped.

Until we put the keys in the bikes. Literally walked out dry, under a brightening sky, and my hair got soaked before I could get my helmet on.

This continued up the first leg of the Cabot Trail, to the cute little fishing / tourist village of Cheticamp where we checked into a cute little mom-and-pop thing and dried off for real. We put off walking for dinner until it stopped raining for a bit. Until we stepped off the porch.

This  actually repeated while we ate qnd left ti walk back. Literally every time we stepped outdoors that day.

Nonetheless, our spirits are up, and tomorrow is supposed to be a much better day on one of the most scenic drives on the continent.

Anybody get the title reference?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

You Were Saying?

The last two days have been kinda interesting.

Monday morning, we left Saint John, headed for Prince Edward Island, with a ride through the only substantial city along the way. There, TD Bank was kind enough to give me $1.32 CAD for my US dollars, and I successfully navigated my way out of town through the traffic circles and whatnot and out to the highway.

The route sheet was a full page for the day, but only 220 easy miles and some photo ops. We'd have time for a little ride on the island, and still be in nice and early.


We were heading north up route 11, with a town I can't pronounce about 90 km away. We sat thru 2 construction delays, and as we rode, we went from 4-lane expressway, to 4-lane rural highway, to 2-lane highway, to potholed mess in the middle of nowhere.  Started to seem rather odd to me for a route that leads to the only bridge to an entire province. I started to get nervous. I assumed the town was at the foot of the bridge, but now I was just anxious to get there and look at a map.

Sure enough, we pull into the forlorn gas station/(closed) kitchen/bait shop/general store and I promptly confirm that we have just ridden 70 miles of monotonous bad road AND the only way to correct the error is to turn a 180 and retrace every one of them and both construction zones. I was pretty sure I was going to get taken out.

So what have we learned here today, kids?

In the end, everyone was gracious, and we even had a bit of a pleasant surprise to follow. We had punched the hotel into Jim's GPS at the stop, and it confirmed our arrival in like 280 miles at around 8 pm. But along the way, I corrected the GPS and we arrived around 6:30 in time to get cleaned up, get some dinner and wander around Canada's version of Independence Hall and its environs.

And I will no longer talk up my orienteering skills.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Campfire Stories

I tell campfire stories all the time. Most times, there's no campfire. Doesn't matter. Yesterday turned out to be one of those Harley-Davidson ads in real life, which actually happen more often you'd think they would

After a long day in the saddle that completely changed our frame of mind from work, chores, and the drone of daily life, to freedom, the wind, and the yellow line, we ended up in front of a fire in Adirondack chairs swapping tall tales with kindred spirits from halfway across the country. We decided to take a taxi to the other end of town for dinner, since the rain that played with us over the last 30 miles was still making up its mind after we got settled in and cleaned up. By the time we called for our ride home, however, the sky was back to blue just in time for the sun to set.

As we decabbed, the fire pit in the court was coming to life, and we were beckoned to join the folks who had ridden in just before us, and opted for pizza delivery. They were from Milwaukee and had just come through thd Poconos on their way to cross paths with us in New Hampshire. Funny guys, quiet but all with the same dry sense of humor. We helped some kid roast marshmallows for smores, and made fun of him for being a Tom Brady fan. We never did figure out what his dad was up to, but he was out on his own recognizance for quite a while and his mom was back in Boston.

Today was supposed to be 350 some miles, but I missed my very first turn out of town and added another 50 to it right off the bat. I never miss turns. Never. I go years without making a wrong turn (without a GPS) but here I am, one day out and 10 minutes from the hotel, and never saw a sign directing NH-15 for what I'm sure had to be a right turn.

Nonetheless, it was a breathtaking, if unplanned, ride through the gorgeous valleys of the Presidential Range, and here we are on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. No campfire tonight, but a nice evening nonetheless on the waterfront. We'll get to sleep late tomorrow and take an easy ride to Prince Edward Island. Weather was gorgeous today, and so far tomorrow looks to be just as nice, and a shade cooler. Sucks that you'll be at work.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


OK so there should be posts from Daytona Bike Week 2015 and some other stuff, along with the promised wrap-up from our California the year before, preceding this. And I *was* going to do that before we left. I really was. In my defense, getting the bikes prepped threw me a bit of a curve, and I'm a pretty busy boy all the way around, but we know what excuses are like.

So here we are, and there it ain't. Maybe I'll put them up and backdate. Anyway, our annual road trip for 2016 is Nova Scotia, with another couple who we've traveled with, and partied with, with great results. So last year one day over beers, we mentioned that Nova Scotia was bubbling to the top of our list. Jim & Dorinda said, "hey, us too!" And that was pretty much all it took.

So, we got up obscenely early this morning, hit the road about 5:45, and here we are 450 miles northeast in North Conway, NH listening to the train whistle of the Mount Washington Railway and plotting dinner. It was really hot once the sun got high, and the bikes got wet and dirty over the last 30 miles or so, but we're cooled off nicely and all is well.

This should be a really fun trip, and lots of cool stuff made it into the plan. Our longest day is already in the books, so from here on it should be lots of pics & lots of fun.  One down, 11 to go!