Epic Ride, Days 56 and 57:
This morning I’m at the beginning of the Cabot Trail, a loop around Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, which several riders have told me is the best trip they’ve ever taken.
I’ve had an good couple of days getting here. I left St. Barbe in thick fog and headed around the north coast of he upper peninsula of Newfoundland on my way to L’Ans aux Meadows, the oldest European settlement in North America, dating back to the voyages of Leif Erikson around 1000AD.
After the fog thinned a bit, I came as close as I’ve come to an accident. I was riding through one of the little coast towns, Eddie’s Cove, at the speed limit of 35mph when a woman pulled out of a store right in front of me. If I hadn’t had the good wet-weather tires (Michelin Pilot Road 3s and anti-lock brakes, I would have hit her or gone down missing her. As it was, I came within about 3 feet of her and she never knew I was there.
She poked down the road at about 25mph and I just stayed behind her until she pulled off at the next store. Then I asked if I could talk to her — right there in the rain. She had no idea why I’d want to do that but when I told her how close we’d come, she was shocked and gave the classic driver’s reply: “I just didn’t see you.” I suggest she start looking twice for motorcycles and she told me that her husband rode a motorcycle and that she was VERY sorry! I could tell she was and was grateful that we were having our conversation.
I rode on to L’Ans aux Meadows and followed Shirley’s (my GPS) directions to a dead-end road. On the way out, I ran into Mickey and Dean, the two Australians from the ferry ride back to St. Barbe. MIckey’s GPS was leading him to the same place. They led us to another dead-end road and then I followed my common sense and went to the sign that said “Visitor’s Centre.” Sure enough, that was the place. Mickey and Dean missed it.
From the walk to the Centre, I saw a cow moose:
She’s there. Honest. She’s the dark spot in front of the right-hand clump of trees.
I started walking down the 1/2 mile of boardwalk to the reconstructed Norse village, but it started raining when I was down about 1/2 the 60-100 stair-steps and I decided I didn’t want to walk that far in the rain. But here’s a shot of the village:
This village was neveri intended to be a permanent settlement and was placed here because it was easy to find. With no form of celestial navigation (or GPS, for that matter) the Norse needed places with unmistakable landmarks and Greenland, Labrador, and the northern-most coast of adjacent Newfoundland made L’Ans aux Meadows that place.
In the parking lot I realized that my Denali driving lights weren’t working. I’d noticed the day before that my low-beam headlight was burned out and had been running with my high-beam on. I’d seen a NAPA sign in the village before L’Ans aux Meadows and went there to find out that the NAPA store was in St. Anthony’s. I hadn’t planned on going there, but I wasn’t going to head back down the road with only one working light.
So I rode to St. Anthony and checked into the Haven Hotel. I got some time to trouble shoot the bike and figured out that the fuse for the Denalis was blown before the rain settled in harder. Then while I was enjoying the Fisherman’s Feast in the hotel restaurant it really started to rain hard — sheets of rain with visibility down to less than 100′ at time, along with lightning and strong wind. I was very glad I was in the Haven rather than the haven of my tent!
Yesterday morning I went to NAPA and got a headlight bulb and a couple of fuses for the Denalis. It took me slightly less than a half hour to get the headlight bulb replaced (I really wish I had teeny-tiny hands for things like that!) and the fuse replaced. Another few minutes to reload the bike and I was off.
I didn’t see any moose, but did notice this unusual thing (that’s not so unusual in Newfoundland) with utility poles:
I guess the bog is just too soft to hold some poles up, so they build these boxes around them full of rocks. I also noticed that they don’t creosote their utility poles. No termites, I guess.
The ride back along the north coast was beautiful, but very windy. I could see Labrador and every little village (all of them named “something” Cove, which is also what “L’Ans” means. “Cove.”)
Backtracking into Gros Marne, I took the road to Woody Point, a scenic little fishing village on Bonne Bay:
By the time I got to Deer Lake, it had gotten cloudy and I could see storm clouds to my south. I was three hours and 160 miles away. I made it about half-way when I stopped for gas and met this fox:
When I came out after paying, he was being fed jerky by two guys in a Mustang.
The rain hit not long after that and I pressed on. What was I going to do? I had a ferry reservation and there was no where to stop! I made it to Tim Horton’s, the Canadian equivalent of McDonalds, in Port Aux-Basque at a little after 8, and started trying to locate Paul, my temporary riding buddy. He’d gone Twillinggate, near Goose Bay to buy “ice” wine for his daughter.
I made it to the ferry right at 9:30 and was glad when they said unto me, “Enter into the boat!” I got there, strapped it down, and went up to Deck 9, where Paul and I had $25 reserved seating. The reserved seating has more comfortable chairs that recline more and is slightly quieter and slightly darker than the non-reserved seating. I’d learned a bit and took my jacket with me (we’d frozen on the way to Newfoundland) and my U-shaped inflatable pillow. I’d originally bought it from Travelsmith as a pillow for my recliner. It didn’t work there but is great for camping…and sleeping on ferries. I hadn’t gotten over an hour of sleep on the 7-hour trip to Newfoundland but probably got 6 1/2 on the way back. I woke up once at 2AM and noticed that a lot of people had nice blue blankets. Turned out that we could have asked for those at the reception desk. I don’t know why they don’t tell you these things!
The crossing was slightly rougher than the trip over, but if we hadn’t tied our bikes down they would have still been sitting right where we left them. It wasn’t a rough trip either way.
So, that’s it for now and maybe for a couple of days. I think I’m going to be camping tonight at a Provincial Park and may not have WiFi.
I’ll get stats for Day 56 in later, but here are the ones for
Epic Ride, Day 57:
Stats: Day, 480 miles; Trip, 17,690 miles; Year, 23,696 miles; Total, 75,651 miles.