But before I explain that, I’ve got to catch up a bit; so, backing up to Sunday, September 1:
Epic Ride, Day 52:
I had met Paul Mater, from Somerville, KY, on Saturday night as we were checking into the Cape Breton/North Sidney, Nova Scotia, KOA. We went to supper and discovered that both of us were riding to Newfoundland on the night ferry to Port au’ Basques, the southwest corner of Newfoundland.
On Sunday morning, after the single worst night’s sleep I’ve had on the whole trip (every joint my body ached, with the exception of my metal knees — don’t know why), I woke up at about 6 to the thunder of rain on my tent. I stayed in bed, dozing on and off till 10 when it quit. I got up, got dressed, packed all the stuff in the tent in its bag…and the rain started again. So I sat there and read and it stopped pretty quickly. I got up, got the tent taken down and packed and was putting my last and lightest bag on the bike when the bike just fell over on its left side!! The kickstand had sunk into the mud. Paul and the KOA owner helped me get it back up quickly, with no damage done to me or to the bike.
Paul and I had to be at the Ferry dock by 9:30, so we had about (or should I be saying, “Aboot” like the Canadians do?) 10 hours to fill. We rode to Sidney, found a coffee shop, ate some breakfast, and then rode out (or “oot”) to Fortress Louisburg, a French fort and it’s neighboring village that they had started building in 1746. It’s been greatly restored and archeological work is still going on. Louisburg had been vital for the cod fish that were shipped from it back to France. At the time, France, a mostly Roman Catholic country had 250-some days when meat could not be eaten. The cod from the Grand Banks were a more important import from the New World than all the beaver hides ever were.
There were people in period costume to explain how things worked and it was a pleasant, if chilly and damp afternoon.
About 45 minutes before the fortress closed for the day, it began to mist; by the time we’d taken the 5-minute bus ride back to the visitor’s centre, it was raining.
But we were out of it by the time we got back to North Sidney, the port of embarkation for our 7-hour ferry ride to Newfoundland. There were quite a few Newfies and three Quebecois waiting to catch the boat with their bikes. They’d all been to Digby for the Rat Wharf Rally there. We enjoyed talking to them. I especially enjoyed talking to one couple from Quebec who were both just blown away that a man of my age could be on a trip like the Epic Ride. When we got off the boat the next morning they both made a point of coming up and telling me what an inspiration I was. That was kind of cool.
MV Blue Puttee (named for the blue cloth Newfoundland’s soldiers wrapped around their legs during WW-I), waiting for us to board.
Looking aft from the passenger lounge on Deck 7 to the vehicles parked on Deck 5, an open deck for trucks and trailers. Our bikes were parked inside on Deck 3, and we ended up buying reserved seating on Deck 9, where it was quieter and more comfortable.
Stats: Day, only 93 miles, a new “Shortest Day”; Trip, 16,623 miles; Year, 22,624 miles; Total, 74,589 miles.
Epic Ride, Day 53:
The light at Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland
After seven hours on the Blue Puttee, we docked at Port Aux Basques, and were off the boat by 7:30. We immediately did what every one else getting off the ferry die — we rode to Tim Hortons for breakfast. It took close to an hour to get served, but was a quicker way to get food (and coffee for me!) than riding to Corner Brook would have been.
Newfoundland was different — farther north, smaller trees, bigger rock than you see on the surface in Nova Scotia:
It was a fairly comfortable 58F as we left Tim Hortons, but that deteriorated down to the upper 40s by the time we were an hour north. The scenery continued to be stunning:
But the weather went downhill…by the time we reached Corner Brook, it was 41F and raining. We got to Deer Lake and left the Trans Canada Highway and headed west toward Rocky Harbour and Gros Marne National Park. At Rocky Harbour, I was ready to quit for the day, but Paul convinced me that we could get father north. So we booked passage on the MV Apollo, which would sail from St. Barbe to Blanc Sablon, Quebec, at 8AM on Tuesday morning. We pressed on and the weather got better and back up to 56F until about the last 30 miles or so. By the time we got to the Dockside Motel, it was down to 49F and felt colder.
Pictures from along the way between Deer Lake and St. Barbe:
Stats: Day, 371 miles; Trip, 16,994 miles; Year, 22,995 miles; Total, 74,950 miles.
Epic Ride, Day 54:
We caught the ferry without any difficulty other than freezing (almost literally) during the 40 minute or so we had to wait in the loading area on the dock (which was a whopping 3/10s of a mile from our motel). It was 34F. We had an enjoyable ride on the Apollo, with a good breakfast and good conversation with Bill, from Michigan, who was riding a KLR650 around the Labrador Trail, planning on meeting his wife somewhere west of Labrador City.
Paul had wanted to go from here to Goose Bay and Labrador City on his way to his daughter’s house in Michigan. He’d been told that it was paved all the way, but that conflicted with what I’d read and heard. We got some confirmation that there was still a good bit of unpaved road from members of the NT-Owners Forum, and more from people on the boat this morning. About 5-600 miles of gravel between Red Bay and Labrador City! Paul definitely lost his interest in riding his $30,000 Ultra-Glide over that much gravel and his decision was confirmed when he realized that the highest grade of gas you can buy in most of Newfoundland and all of Labrador is 87-octane Regular. His Harley has been tuned for performance and usually drinks 93-octane. She wasn’t running so great on the 87-octane stuff.
Bill headed north from Blanc-Sablon about the time we did, but he didn’t stop for pictures at the Labrador border:
Paul Mater, my accidental riding companion, and….
The ride from Blanc Sablon, Quebec, to Red Bay, Labrador, was only 53 miles, but it took about an hour and a half. Red Bay is the end of the pavement northbound and it was the home of a great restaurant that a pilot who was on the Apollo with us had told us about. Along the way:
These gents, on their BMW R1200GS bikes will play into the story a bit later…
As we were riding down a steep, twisty hill into Red Bay, I missed a milestone:
I didn’t get to see my odometer roll over to 75,000 miles. That makes two significant numbers I’ve missed: 66,666 miles a few miles north of Grant’s Pass, Oregon, and 75,000 miles about a mile south of Red Bay, Labrador. I’ll try to pay more attention and catch 77,777 on my way home.
The Whale Station was as good as we’d been told. Their fish and chips featured fresh cod that was outstanding and we had a really good bowl of seafood chowder to go with the cod and the chips.
Part of the décor that went with the great food.
Basement rock, pre-Cambrian, part of the Laurentian Shield.
The Pinware River a few miles before it empties into the Straits of Belle Isle.
MV Apollo, a much smaller ferry than MV Blue Puttee.
SScooter Trash, from L-R: Dean, an Australian machine tool maintenance guy, riding from Ushaiah to Prudhoe Bay, across the northern part of Canada, down the US, the Gulf side of Mexico and the Atlantic side of South America, a very nice, very funny guy; good ol’ ? , an Americanized Brit who worked on Wall Street and now is doing consulting work; Paul Mater; me; and good ol’ ?? , ?’s friend, another Americanized Brit, who worked on Wall Street, sold his company to Enron in March of ’01, managed to get jobs for all the 72 people who worked for his company after Enron fired them and then lost three of them in the Towers on 9/11 — the way our country came together after 9/11 was what tripped the trigger for him about coming an American citizen — now’s he started a wine-import business; and *??* , another Aussie who was riding with Dean. They’d met while their bikes were on a sailboat being transported across the Darien Gap, the missing link in the Trans-American Highway. He was another very nice, very funny guy. Paul and I wished we could have spent a week with these four.
The two ex-Brits were the guys we met on our way to Red Bay. They live in Connecticut and were doing the Labrador Trail clockwise. They’d run into the two Aussies west of Labrador City and, although the four weren’t riding together, they’d run into each other five or six times after their first meeting. Yesterday, the guy with the wine business had had a wreck when he hit a sharp edge of bladed gravel and went down. His stock BMW pannier was destroyed, his handlebar looked like a pretzel, and his clutch’s hydraulic line broke. You can shift a bike on the move without too much trouble, but since you’ve got to start a Beemer in neutral getting stopped and started was … interesting. They were nursing his bike along on their way to Edmunton, New Brunswick, where the BMW dealer will have the parts they need on Thursday. On the ferry, Dean, the Australian tool-maintenance-guy, picked up a pipe and straightened the handlebar so the bike will be more easily ridden. If he’d had a bit more time than our hour and a half ferry ride offered, he probably could have crocheted a hydraulic clutch line.
Stats: Day, 106 miles; Trip, 17,100 miles; Year, 23,101 miles; Total, 75,066 miles.
Tomorrow, I’ll ride to L’Anse-au-Meadows, the site of the first European settlement in North America — Vikings who came in 1,000AD.
Oh, I said I’d be heading in a new direction and that I would explain that. I’ve now been as far north as I’ll go on this side of the continent. I will be going farther east and it’ll be the farthest east I’ve ever been in North America. But after I leave L’Aux-en-Meadow tomorrow, I’ll be heading toward home.