This was my first real road trip by bike, but I have to tell you that my (now ex-wife) Caryl was in the car and I was using her as my purse. I pretty much only carried my riding gear on the 2001 Bandit GSF600sk1.
Pictures to prove it! Whoot!
Day 1 – Newmarket ON to Sherbrooke QC
Start Mileage 36695, total 4,492 kilometres yet to ride.
I made the mistake of treating my bike like a car and riding super-slab all day to get to Sherbrooke QC. I was beat up by riding in the wind with a tiny windscreen on the Bandit (a Zero Gravity double bubble), and a textile jacket that was dragging in the wind. We left on a Saturday, and managed to hit Sherbrooke Quebec for our first night, but let me tell you something, I’d exchanged my stock seat for a Corbin “Gunfighter & Lady” saddle that I had shipped to a friends place in Buffalo New York. They build these saddles to last and are serious when they say they use a harder foam. I was 500 kilometres down the road and my butt was in agony on the Corbin, when I simply can’t recall it hurting any more as I’d broken in the seat and it wasn’t a major issue at all provided I stretched a bit at fuel stops. I’d only had it on the bike a week prior to this trip, and had no opportunity to take it for an extended ride. By the end of the trip, I could easily sit this saddle for twelve hours. Sherbrooke was where I found La Belle Province,
La Bell Province The Top
a delicatessen that serves a lovely smoked meat platter that both Honey and I enjoyed once we were safely ensconced in our room for the night.To top it off we had trouble locating a hotel that allowed dogs, so we had to sneak our dog into our room in my duffel bag, and she was not a happy camper for that trek across the lobby, squirming like a mad thing while we hustled across the lobby and up the stairs to the second floor, where she was delighted to get out the bag. She barked a few times at some strange noises but was for the most part very well mannered, so we got away with that one. I snuck her out via the fire door the next morning along with some of our luggage with no plans to return to our room while Caryl settled the bill and met me at the car.
Day 2 – Sherbrooke QC to St. John NB
Leaving Sherbrooke in the morning was a bit of a chore, but it was easy to see it’s Catholic heritage, as Cathedrals dominated the town, and gave it a definite exotic flare, coupled with the French signs, I knew I wasn’t in Kansas any more. Toto, I mean Honey, agreed. The road that led to the small border crossing at Canaan Vermont was much more thrilling than the previous days ride across the 401, and the promise of foothills ahead made the view spectacular.
I’d thought that bringing our dog Honey with us across the border, but they seemed more worried about the beef dogfood I had in my duffel bag then anything else, although when they saw all the olive drab baggage in the trunk of the car, I was asked if I was in the army, to which I replied that I’d served in the 48th Highlanders of Canada but was now retired, that seemed to grease some wheels as we chatted with the customs official and had what could be described as a nice talk.. The officials there welcomed us to the United States and wished us a safe and pleasant journey and we were off, Prince Edward Island bound.
I couldn’t resist pulling over and taking pictures of the mountains in the distance. I began to anticipate reaching them, but found the closer you got, the further off they seemed to be as the elevation changed, the road began to follow the river valleys, and the homes and farms existed on sufferance in the nooks and cranny’s among the rocky out crops. The roads were more entertaining as they followed the river course twisting and turning as the elevation changed.
My first photo stop somewhere near Canaan Vermont on River Road 102.
Route 102 Vermont facing South
Columbia bridge, Groveton Vermont
This was the first time in my travels that I’d seen warnings specific to motorcycles
I was seeing bits of Americana here and there, and as I like to think of myself as a history buff and novice photographer, I took advantage of the ability to stop and snap some pictures of what I felt stood out from the background. I had the camera stashed away in my tank bag, a very inexpensive digital, and as I knew my wife wasn’t terribly happy with all my stops, I began to work out a method for taking clutch hand shots by pulling the camera out of my tank bag.
Now who’s bored?
They have a wonderful view of their backyard
A sleepy little hamlet.
So close you can almost taste them in the air.
Brewed on a smaller scale than I would have thought.
I doubled back to get this one. Yes, they’re made in New Hampshire.
We had headed South East from Canaan VT, and found ourselves on Route 2 heading East towards Bangor Maine, a spot on a map that seemed to get no closer as the day wore on, but the weather was good, the roads engaging, and there was always something new to see even as I’d never taken this route, preferring to use the TransCanada through Quebec and New Brunswick. We stopped here and there for meals and enjoyed the tiny changes, such as “biscuits ‘n gravy” on the menus and other unfamiliar dishes. Variety is the spice of life so I endeavoured to try as many new things as possible when afforded the opportunity. There was a memorable stop at the “Top o’the Hill Diner” along Route 2. The name sounds right, but I can’t for the life of me remember precisely where it was. Honey got some chopped steak surprise for being so patient and waiting outside for us.
I had chosen to ride on Bridgestone BT-020’s and the front tread had begun to lift and give the front end a slight vibration which later on, about 1000 kilometres later on, would give me a tank slapper if I let go the handle bars while in motion. Darn it! Something to worry about. Would I be able to replace it on the island?
Bangor Maine was an anticlimax, as I was taken from a sure route and thrown like a leaf on the wind onto it’s myriad choices of Routes, Roads and By-ways. I must have done something right, as we managed to find ourselves on Route 9 headed for our border crossing at St. Stephen/Calais. Don’t pronounce it Cal-Eh, the locals call it Cal-Iss. 😛 It’s a short line up, and in no time we were parked in a Tim Horton’s parking lot reacquainting ourselves with tea and coffee that tasted strong and comforting.
We were losing our light, and had a province and a half to go, so after talking bikes with one of the local kids we headed off along the coastal highway towards St. John New Brunswick with no idea of how far I’d manage before we’d call it a night and find a place to spend to stay until morning. We witnessed a wonderful sunset over the Atlantic Ocean until the highway drifted inland and the coast was swallowed up by trees, hills and at last darkness broken only by the gleam of our headlights.
Now what about all the moose we’d been warned about? I decided it was prudent to join a conga line of cars and transports and followed them for most of the way into St. John. In fact, I got pretty nervous as the highway runs through quite a lot of uninhabited land, and I couldn’t see far enough ahead on a single low beam motorcycle lamp to feel safe travelling at 110 kilometres per hour which was the posted limit. At long last we arrived in St. John New Brunswick, accompanied by a night time drizzle that bothered me, and I was concerned that it would last into the next day and really make the ride miserable.
Day 3 – St. John NB to Kingston PE
Yep, it was drizzle to start my day, riding around in circles trying to find a restaurant that served a real breakfast with eggs, potatoes and meat candy proved to be much harder than I had thought. But leaving St. John just after rush hour began to die down was worth it. We left the coast and the drizzle behind as we headed inland.
I found myself bound for Shediac when we got East of Moncton, so we followed a bit of the coastline as we made our way to Cape Pele where the Confederation bridge and Prince Edward Island awaited us. You get to ride past some quaint Acadian homes, complete with the flag adorning mail boxes, flying proudly from the odd flagpole, and on roadside advertising for various sundries.
Cap Pele New Brunswick
Now I begin trying my hand at moving shots as my wife was getting grumpy with all my stopping.
Not all my shots were perfect.
Now who is bored?
Prince Edward Island lies ahead
Garmin says I’m getting my feet wet.
Crossing this bridge lets you feel the wind. Maximum posted speed is 80 kph.
This bridge gets shut down to vehicular traffic during excessive winds, which has happened once while I was on the Island, but it was reopened soon after the storm front passed on. Let me tell you that when it is very windy, you do not want to ride two abreast across this thing. The wind’s intensity increases when you leave the shoreline and climb higher in elevation. My KLR handles the wind fairly well, or perhaps I’ve grown accustomed to it, at any rate I thought it important enough to warn you about it. I’ve crossed it about seven or eight times, and only once was it a concern when it would gust and I found that riding in the center tire track gave me room for steering corrections.
It’s all downhill from here.
I knew they made excellent french fries at the Borden Carleton welcome centre, so we stopped for lunch and to let Honey could mark the island. It’s one of the few places that I know for sure I can get fresh cut fries cooked in oil. Seriously. If you’re an islander and want to share the hidden chip truck locations, leave a comment and the latitude and longitude below. I’ll use that information for my next trip which should be this coming summer August of 2011.
Borden-Carleton Visitors centre
Honey claims the island as her territory.
Zip zip, Wendy’s Jerk Russell Terrorist
My big (older?) sister, Wendy-Sue
My Nephew Ryan about to show me how his Yamaha PW80 outperforms the old PW50.
Ryan’s new to him Yamaha PW80
It’s an automatic transmission, but he’s loving it much more than the 50cc machine, and now my brother-in-law is beginning to have a harder time keeping up with him. 😀
The dogs really love all this running and riding around action.
Chasing motorcycles is harder than it looks!
Tyler gets out on the 50 and shows us how it’s done. (He did one lap and parked it.)
Tyler wasn’t really interested in riding that day, but at his mother’s urging he geared up and gave us one lap of the front lawn, pulled up and parked it in the garage. Done for the day and back to watch his own videos while Ryan was occupied. 😛
It looks like she’s rolling a joint, doesn’t it?
Wendy, Tyler and Ryan
Somewhere in the midst of all this I found time to take my bike in to Glenn’s Suzuki on PEI where they had a Michelin Pilot Power that would fit my front rim, but that was sport rubber with a sport touring rubber still mounted on the rear. It’d be quite a mismatch, could I handle it? It had to be replaced, I couldn’t conceive of riding for five more days with a front tire that felt like it was trying to shake my hand loose from the grip, so I swallowed my apprehension in favour of experimentation and had the pilot power mounted on the front rim. It hurt the travel budget pretty badly, but did the bike ever turn in sweetly after that pointed profile tire went on! It tracked straight and true with no vibration and made the Bandit a joy to ride once more! Now I wonder if I used improper tire pressure on the BT-020 and when I returned I made a point of checking on other bikes that mounted BT-020 and found many more in the same sad shape as mine. That was it for the 020 variant. Time to try something in a sport touring Pilot Road flavour perhaps, but that’s another story.
We played tourist
Last year we’d seen all these signs on the island pointing out that “The Cheese Lady” was 9km thataway, so this year Wendy made sure we got a good visit in, and was it ever worth it! She owns a dairy farm, from which she sends a sample of milk to the Ministry for testing, then pipes it into vats where she makes her cheese. The farm, factory, and shop are all located in one place, and a quick stop will let you sample some of the best gouda I’ve ever tasted! It was almost like cream when fresh, then changing in texture and flavour as it aged. Not only that, she sells aged and flavoured goudas at a very inexpensive rate, and they’ll keep without refrigeration for up to three months if unopened. The car left with a bit less suspension travel after that visit.
The North West side of the Island
Caryl had planned a bike-less trip up to Sea Cow pond and to stay a night in a bed and breakfast. So reluctantly I left my helmet at my sister’s house and we took the car and the dog up along the North East coastline along the North Cape Coastal scenic route towards Sea Cow Pond where we arrived in time to enjoy a lobster dinner and see the sunset over the Atlantic ocean. It’s very well marked, and takes you past some beautiful coastal scenery. We passed someone dressed in a yellow rain slicker atop a horse that was in harness dragging seaweed from the surf, and I’d read somewhere that It soon became evident as our server commented on the unusually large numbers of Sea Cows lingering off the beach. The tables enjoyed a panoramic view of the coastline and we were able to watch them as we enjoyed our dessert.
North Cape Coastal Drive
Seacow Pond Lighthouse
Seals can be seen off to the right. mid distance just along the shore line.
Seals out in the water, as seen from the restaurant.
There’s a boat out there if you look closely enough.
Some of the eroding coastline.
The Hunter House Inn – Alberton PEI
Caryl had done some research on the Internet and booked this lovely little Bed & Breakfast located in Alberton PEI. The owner operators had done some extensive gardening, and the place was alive with blooms and foliage. We enjoyed a chat with our hosts and guests before heading up to our room for the night.
Thus ends our North Cape adventure, and we resumed our progress along the North Cape Coastal drive in a southerly direction, heading towards Summerside and eventually back to Kingston PEI.
What the frick is that!?
Zip zip is overjoyed to see us return.
Perhaps not so much
It’s off to the beach for some fun in the sun!
He’s a bit too heavy to do this now.
The Argyle Shore Provincial Park at low tide
It really is worth visiting this park at low tide, as you can walk out in the tidal pools on the sand and sandstone bottom in bare feet, flip flops or crocks. The dogs had so much run chasing each other around in the surf that I spent much of my time taking pictures and video of them.
Tyler photo bombing this masterpiece.
The island is leaking! Which one of you is Dutch?!
There’s no such thing as a white dog on this island. The sand has stained her fur rust colour.
Ryan, Wendy, Zip zip and Tyler
This is where bad boys go for a time out.
Zip zip is not impressed and let’s him out, spoiling our fun.
Kingston PEI to Margaree Centre Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia
I was pretty excited! The big moment was at hand when we’d begin our trek to the Cabot Trail! I was packed and ready to go, but soon found that my sister could have taken some management pointers from Captain Von Trapp. We got the boys dirt bikes loaded in the Ford Pick-up that my sister Wendy and the boys would pilot, Honey and Caryl following in the car, preceded, of course by Kirk on his 2003 DL-650 Vstrom and I on my Bandit. It was an early morning straight ride for the ferry, but as we were late we had to make up time on the road, so Kirk put his head down and got there just as the cars began to load, so we were waved up the line and assigned spots by a female load master that handed us some cam buckle straps to secure our bikes to the steel decking of the ferry. Let me tell you, a wet steel ferry deck that sees a regular parade of oil leaking cages was no joy and if there had been radiator fluid or similar on the deck it would have been even money on whether the bike was going to capsize right as we rode up to our spots. She advised me to secure the strap to the passenger peg, so I tightened it up, put a knot ahead of the cam buckle for safety’s sake and we chatted for awhile about our destination. It turned out she used to ride, and at that time told me that one day I’d have to ride the Gaspe Peninsula to compare it to the Cabot Trail. That ride report is here somewhere as I did it in 2009. We excused ourselves and headed up the gangway to the top deck to see what was to be seen and rejoin the girls.
The Wood Islands Ferry – PEI side.
The only dog aboard, she got more than her share of attention.
After our fast paced ride to meet the ferry, it seemed like time was at a standstill, and we were adrift finding something to look at, something to do while we waited for the cagers to finish loading and for the ferry to cast off.
Once it did, there was nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the ride, or if you’re like me, you take pictures of other people enjoying the ride. 😀
Ryan and Tyler
Me and Honey
Yet another lighthouse
Another and yet another in the same framed shot.
That’s no lighthouse!
My all time favourite candid picture of my Sister’s family.
The Wood Islands ferry – Nova Scotia side.
Tall ships at dock in Pictou Nova Scotia
Pictou Nova Scotia is a quaint, sleepy little town that had a few wonderful blasts from the past, such as a Merchants counting house, built in the classic style of chimney, room, room, chimney. A row house that made maximum use of the flues to heat with wood.
We also stopped in at the Grohmann factory outlet where I bought my Nephews each a knife. In fact, I was a little jealous of the camp knife that I got for Tyler as it was a huge Swiss army style with a fork, spoon, knife and can/bottle opener, but this one slid apart into a separate spoon and fork combo. Most handy for a camp site!
Sorry, no pictures of us blasting along the Transcanada through Nova Scotia and across the causeway into Port Hastings and beyond. In fact, for some reason I took nothing until the following evening in the cabin. Perhaps the camera got put in the car by mistake or I ran out of batteries? That must be it. lol.
We pulled up in Margaree Centre and fuelled up for the last time that evening, and made our way a bit further north to some fly fishing cabins that were now offering off season rates, so Kirk had managed to book us a two room with kitchen pine cabin that was rustic and charming. In fact, it was big enough for a cozy couple with no need of space to call a home, for $75 dollars a night for two nights. You have to like that!
Kirk was determined that the VStrom was a good off-road choice as a replacement for his DRZ400 that he’d sold on, so he, Wendy and the boys left to do some off roading while I did some maintenance on my Bandit that clearly was a creature of the asphalt.
Kirk taking of picture of Wendy taking a picture…
I think that’s the Margaree River…
When they got back to the cabin, Kirk was pretty happy with his bike and the TKC80’s he’d mounted on it, but assured me that it’d never be the off-road weapon the DRZ400 had been. It’s a trade off, he wanted better highway handling and speed, but had to give up a lighter, better suspended bike to get it. He seemed happy. The boys were definitely happy and tired out from thrashing their bikes around Cape Breton, but not tired out enough to go for a walk with their Dad after dark to search for the river that this cabin was supposed to be close to, but their returned a bit dejected and said it was hiding out there somewhere, perhaps through the tree line.
Honey is knackered, and so am I
Honey and I slipped away and went to bed a bit early, only to wake up full of energy and with a desire to explore our surroundings. Besides, Honey needed the toilet, so we crept out for an early morning walk to find that a low lying mist was concealing any distant detail, but we were able to see a forest path which eventually led to this rock strewn river course…
The morning sun burns away the fog
Chip Hart Pool Margaree Centre
River Mountain Dog
It was time to head back to see if the other’s were up and would admire my photography. 😉 Today is the day we’d ride the Cabot Trail! Wake up! Time to go!
This is my first view of the inlet at Margaree Forks most likely
Lobster traps by the roadside
Last Esso for 140km. This would bring ’em in!
I rode for 2,000km to get this picture. It was worth it!
The working harbour down in Cheticamp NS
Pictures to prove it! Whoot!
Pleasant Bay overlook
Kirk and “Steel Butt Iron Pants Ryan”
Another one of my favourite pictures from this trip
The lighthouse as seen from the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck
Ryan, Kirk, Wendy & Tyler
Return trip Day 1 – Margaree NS to St. John NB
I have returned… The cops seem to know that too.
Okay, so I pulled over and asked my wife to take this shot, then we headed down to the Irving to fill up with gas, and the attendant had a Kierstead name tag as well. We chatted, and in parting “So long Cousin!” 🙂
Sadly as you can see it was raining, and I didn’t get too many pictures of the ride home. In fact, I probably ran out of room on the flash card too. 😛