Friday, August 14, 2009


This is the last post for this trip. I usually write a summary of the trip to try to capture it after reflecting on it for a few days.

I rode 5,148 miles from start to end. We were gone from July 22 to August 10, 20 days. Some days we rode a lot (535 miles); other days only a little (~125 on one day). The bike performed flawlessly. Always started and stopped. I actually had two headlight bulbs burn out; one on about the 3rd day and one about 3 days from the end. These big BMW bikes are very hard on headlight bulbs for some unknown reason. The Motolights did their thing with no flaw. It used about one-quarter quart of oil.

The roads in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Nova Scotia, and New Britain were, in many places, terrible. Full of big cracks; missing pavement, potholes, and surface irregularities that were a challenge for the suspension. I would not want to drive my car there for fear of knocking the wheel alignment out of whack. They are indeed rough!

We had very good weather, overall. It rained the second day of the ride and the next-to-the last day of the ride. We hit a few very light showers a couple of times, but it was dry overall during daylight hours. It rained or showered overnight many nights. So, we lucked out that the rain was at night almost all the time.

We rode 5 ferries; Cape May, Bar Harbor, two small, short cable-driven ones, and one to Prince Edward Island. The longest one was from Bar Harbor, and the shortest one was probably 250 yards long. Costs ranged from $171 (Bar Harbor) to free (Prince Edward Island). Each was unique.

Food was good. And reasonable. I was expecting high meal prices, but they were in line with what I'm used to here in NC.

It was a good trip, seeing sights that I've never seen before. The most amazing was in Prince Edward Island, where the land (with farming) ran right to the sea, with no buffer or dunes or anything. Land, then sea. And the brick red soil that dropped off to the sea. Just wild!

Lodging was available without a problem. Prices were about what you'd expect, with an average of about $100 per night. My favorite lodging was on Prince Edward Island, where we stayed in a cabin in a green grass field about 100 yards from the ocean. It felt like we were at the end of the world.

My favorite place was Meat Cove. Located at the northernmost tip of Cape Breton Island, access was via a curvy paved road for about 20 miles and then 5 miles of dirt road. The scenery was awesome, and I had the best meal at the Chowder hut, a bowl of seafood chowder that was out of this world.

But even after all the exceptional things we did and saw, getting home is great. There truly is no place like home.

Adieu until the next adventure.

Random Thoughts

We experienced various electronic equipment problems along the way. While none of them were show-stoppers, each was a hassle when it was occurring. We have bike-to-bike communications that generally work pretty well. On this trip, we had trouble getting the VOX settings right. VOX determines when the microphone cuts on and off. If it is too sensitive, it is on too much, picking up sounds of breathing, wind, engine noise, etc. If it is not sensitive enough, you have to yell in order to be heard. At one point, Gary’s VOX was so sensitive that I could hear every sound he made; his microphone was “on” 100% of the time, which did not allow me to be able to tell him his VOX was 100%. I unplugged my system because I did not want to hear him breathe and grunt. Complicating this was a third rider, Linda. So, we had to stop several times, take the seat off, and make adjustments to try to get it right. After several adjustments, we got it working pretty well. We also learned that an immediate response from the “listener” was not heard by the first speaker because VOX stays on for several seconds when sound has stopped. But it is working well now.

My satellite radio lost its antennae along the way. No, not physically lost it, but the connection between the antennae and the radio became corroded or something, making the connection troublesome. I could wiggle the radio in its cradle and get it to work a few seconds, but it did not last. I tried some dielectric grease on the connections to see if that would help. It didn't help a bit. When I got home, I contacted Sirius to see if the warranty was still good. It was, so a replacement is now on the way. This has happened before, so it’s a weak spot in the system.

Gary’s GPS started working weirdly. At one point along the way, when we were riding and he had not touched the unit, it asked him if he wanted to save the spot where we were. It shouldn’t do that. Also, his screen started doing several things that were not right. I think he may have to send it back to Garmin to have it checked out. The routing works good, so it’s not the end of the road. Oh, and he lost his antennae to his XM radio one day, similar to my connection problem, too. However, his antennae problem was corrected by removing the Garmin and reinstalling it on its cradle.

Cultural differences:

I noted along the way several differences between us southerners and these Canadians. One involved different words, such as:

-Overlook is lookoff. The sign used to denote a place where you can pull off the road to see a scenic site.

-Toilet room is wash room.

-Some manholes are square. I notice manholes when on the bike because they pose some hazard, especially when wet. And I’ve never seen a square manhole until this trip. While there’s a mix of both round manholes and square ones, it seems that the older communities have more square ones than newer communities. It’s just different from home.

-French fries with gravy. Ugh! I tried some, and have to say that the fries I got, with the gravy they provided, were not good. I guess it’s one of those things that if you grow up eating them, they’re good. I didn’t, and they weren’t!

-Their hazard signs are different. The sign is covered in a checkerboard design with an arrow or pictorial showing what the hazard is. After learning them, I like them better than our hazard sign. Just different…

One thing that is worth iterating again—the people in Nova Scotia are the most friendly and helpful people I’ve ever come across. Their attitude is genuinely “what can I do to help”. It seems to be pervasive in the culture of the region, and I love it. If the rest of the world could only have this attitude, we would have a better planet.

Why do I do the blog? It’s for several reasons. One primary reason is to have a place where I can capture my thoughts and feelings and experiences so that they are easy for me to recall later. When you’re on the road for multiple weeks, the days run together, and it’s hard to remember what happened where and when. The Blog takes care of that problem.

Another primary reason is that my brother, Jeff, seems to really enjoy reading them. He tells me that it’s the first thing he does when he gets up in the morning, to look for a new post of my adventures. Knowing that it means that much to him makes my heart warm. So, even though a lot of nights, I’m pretty tired from riding, I want to blog for him. I also do it for other friends and family. I know some others read it regularly, and it’s a good way to share my life with them. I’m not offended if some don’t read it; I’m just happy that some do seem to enjoy it.

So, that’s really why I do it. I like doing it, but truthfully there are some nights when it’s a labor of love.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Frackville, PA to Home

The day started early; Gary set the clock for 6:00am, even though we had agreed on 6:45. Operator error...

Not a bad thing, though, we were ready to get home, and knew it was going to be very hot on the last part of the day. Temperatures around 100 degrees were expected at home.

The morning was cool, and foggy at the hotel, but clear and bright within a few miles of home. Traffic was moderate and moving for the whole ride.

After about 4 hours of riding, it was time for us to split. I 81 works its way south and west, towards his home. Rather than staying on it all the way back and then heading east for home, I decided to split earlier and work south and east to I 95, which runs about 20 miles east of home.

As I headed further south, it got hotter and hotter. I wet and put on the Sarah vest, a special vest that was soaked in water (it has a special polymer that absorbs moisture and releases it slowly for cooling). The vest helped with the oppressive heat.

Finally, I got on I 95 north of Richmond and then ground on home, finishing about 4:00pm. Not a bad ride, but hot and boring.

Mileage for the day was 479.

Home sweet home!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

White River Junction, VT to Frackville, PA

Our final day of mountains started with cool, cloudy weather. A good day for the Bumblebee! We got on the road and rode in the mountains of Vermont, just enjoying the roads and scenery. With it being Sunday morning, traffic was light.

Our goal for the day was to get into southern Pennsylvania for the night.

The first few hours of the day were spent heading south and west towards I 81, the road to make good time home.

The ride went as planned, not making a lot of time; we were enjoying the roads and the ride. Eventually, we got on I 81 and started riding at some speed.

We rolled into Bennington, VT and noted fiberglass moose, decopauged in various motifs. So, we decided to stop and look around the town a bit. We walked several streets, noting the moose, sometimes one alone, sometimes several, and some with calves. All done in bright colors and very nice. The town was celebrating Moose Fest, an all-summer event to attract tourists. It worked!

Gary found a brew-pub, so we had lunch while in town. It was a nice stop on the road.

Shortly, the rain started. Light at first, and then more seriously later. It would rain hard, then light, then hard again. Not a frog-strangler, but a serious rain at times. The Bumblebee was the right thing for a day like today.

After several hours making good time, we came to a traffic slowdown. It was backed up as far as we could see. Having no other options, we went with the flow (a very slow flow). We were moving about 2/3 of the time, but sitting still a lot. After several miles of stop and go when we saw a sign that we hoped explained the problem. It did. It read "Lanes merge in two miles". Two more miles of stop and go!

Finally, we got to the merge spot, went through it (a bridge with one lane under construction) and took off again. About a mile later, the same thing repeated. Again, we took off, trying to make some time. About a mile later, another repeat! Damn, we were getting pretty frustrated.

So, we detoured at the next exit, running several miles to the east, then several miles to the south, then several miles back to I 81. The detour was successful!

We had lost at least an hour of travel time in the slow downed areas, bu tthe rain had stopped. Blue skies were showing out in the west.

So, we headed south again. There was one more slowdown, but it was not bad.

About dark, we found a motel and stopped for the night.

Across the parking lot from the motel was the Dutch Treat restaurant. We decided to try it for dinner, and were glad when we did. I had some Blueberry Crumb Pie and coffee, an excellent dinner.

Miles for the day--about 450.

We made about 450 miles for the day.

Dartmouth, NS to Freeport, ME

A long day on the road. Left Dartmouth at 8am, just after Gary's wife left for the airport. Headed north and west into New Brunswick, then south on Hwy 1 towards Maine.

The roads were fast, and traffic light, for the most part. It was a good ride under sunny skies and cool air.

Got through Customs in Maine with no problem and continued heading south. We got hungry along the way and found a good pub on the way to Black Harbor. We both had fresh fried clams; they were very good.

Continued south to Freeport. I wanted to visit the LL Bean store, a store I had visited 19 years ago in an earlier life. I didn't have anything in particular that I wanted or needed to buy; I just wanted to see it to see what it looked like.

It was larger and had changed some, but somehow it felt much more commercialized than it was before. I was disappointed. Gary, however, found a special hat that he bought. He was happy.

Lodging in Freeport is not cheap. We tried an Econolodge, thinking it would be reasonable. They had rooms, but at $119 plus tax, with all discounts applied. Too much. We saw a Super 8 up the road and went there. They had rooms, but wanted $109 plus tax. While we were talking and trying to decide what to do, two guys on bikes asked about a room, and got the same price. While we were all talking, the manager walked outside and offered the rooms at $99 plus tax. We took a room and they took a room. Not cheap, but adequate.

To sum up the day, it was riding from point A to point B. We covered 535 miles, the most of any day on the trip.

Tomorrow: Freeport to ?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Freeport, ME to White River Junction, VT

Today was a good day and a sad day. It truly marked the beginning of the end of this adventure. We were now on the way home.

We rode from the hotel into the mountains of Vermont. It was a cool morning, clear and bright. The roads were pretty empty and the riding was easy. We rode easy, not in a particular rush, enjoying the roads and the ride. We basically spent the day just riding and having a good time.

As the day was expiring, we found a hotel in White River Junction that had a room available, so we stopped for the night.

After we checked in, we went for a good walk and decided to have dinner at a Chinese buffet across the street. It was fairly good.

Back to the room, it was time to blog. So, I got the computer out and tried to connect to the Internet. It would connect to the network at the hotel but could not get an IP address. So, I called technical support for help. Four calls later, I hung up on them; they were absolutely no help, telling me it was my computer. It made no difference that I had used it successfully all over New England and Nova Scotia. I went to the front desk to ask if they would reset the switch, which they agreed to do. I went back to the room and tried, unsuccessfully to connect. All in all, I spent probably two hours with no luck.

Just before quitting for the night, I made sure they were aware that it was not successful.

In checking out the next morning, I reminded them of the problem, and they did not charge us for the night's stay. It was the right thing to do.

Mileage for the day was about 240.

Tomorrow--Seriously getting on the road home.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Shubenacadie, NS to Dartmouth, NS

Today was a good day. We got up, had some coffee, and went next door to the restaurant for breakfast. We were the first to arrive, and walked into an empty place. After a minute tor two, we knocked on the door to see if anyone was in the kitchen, and the cook, a German woman, came into the dining room. She stated that she was the only one there, and would be the only one all day. Poor woman! This is the same woman who had a good appreciation for our bikes and who kidded that she wanted to ride on the back of mine.

We ordered, and helped ourselves to coffee and water. She seemed to appreciate our willingness to help out. In a bit, the food arrived and what a meal she delivered! I ordered an omelette with cheddar cheese and bacon, and it was definitely filled with cheddar cheese and bacon. And there were 3 slices of bacon on the side! On top of that, it was very good. They ordered pancakes and bacon, and were very pleased with their meals. Breakfast was a hit!

After breakfast, we packed up, got on the bikes, and went to the big bridge to see the bore tide arrive. It was due to arrive at 11:55am. We got there at 10:45am, in plenty of time to see it. They went to an observation platform over the river, and I went under the big bridge.

When I got to where I was going to watch it, there was a creek emptying into the river about 100 yds away. So, I walked to the creek, where there were a bunch of kids playing. What they were doing was mud sliding, where they sat on their behinds and slid down the creekbank to the creek. They were having a huge ball!

The creek bank is red mud. It does not have rocks or other hard things in it, so the mud is safe to play in. And play they did. I took some pics and watched them play for quite a while, waiting on the tide to come. The water in the creek (as well as in the river) is as red as the Yadkin River, which is always red from erosion. This river is also full of silt from erosion, but it's primarily naturally occuring due to the red mud banks.

Finally, at around 12:20, the bore tide arrived. I was disappointed that it was not a wave or a rush of water, but instead just a little water trickling from the opposite direction of normal flow. But as it continued coming, the river, which was pretty narrow in the beginning, became wider and deeper. Within about 30 minutes, the river was a raging river, flowing "uphill" due to the tide. Pretty neat phenomenom.

I went back to the creek area, and it was now a full creek, with several boatloads of kids playing in the mud. They were having a ball.

When we had seen enough,we got on the bikes and headed for Peggy's Cove, just south of Halifax. The ride to Peggy's Cove was on a four-lane highway, and went fast and easy.

Once in Peggy's Cove, we had lunch and did tourist things. Peggy's Cove is a neat tourist trap, with a lighthouse located on huge granite boulders out on a point. Very picturesque and a pretty place. The granite boulders were very pretty; I enjoyed seeing them and walking all over them.

We bought a few souvenirs and then left for the motel in Dartmouth. Tonight is Linda's last night of the adventure; she flies back home tomorrow morning.

Our ride today was about 112 miles.

Tomorrow--leave for home.