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Around My Local Riding Area in 80 Days…

Epic Ride, Day 80:

The “Local Riding Area” reference is to a set of decals I’ve got on my panniers.  Bill Thweatt, a member of the Iron Butt Association, came up with the decals and I liked them enough to put them on my panniers after I painted then rattle-can satin black:

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Home!  It was exciting to ride into Colorado, then it was even more exciting to ride into Morgan County, and then to ride into Fort Morgan and onto my street!

Home… my cats even act glad to see me.  My wife even acts glad to see me.  I’m guessing that all the cats want is food, but Joanne is really glad to have me here!

Today’s ride from Lincoln to Fort Morgan was only a little over 400 miles, but it was tiring.  It was 77 when I went out to leave and I thought I was going to be hot, but by the time I got just west of Crete, it was raining.  I was in and out of the edge of a cold front for about 150 miles and kept getting light rain and jogs up and down in the temperature.  It did get up to 70 once, but also got down to about 53 a couple of times — and this was the first day in a while that I didn’t at least have a long-sleeved shirt on.  I started to put on the heated jacket, but kept getting lured farther west by sunshine.

It was also very windy until after my last rainy stretch which was about 25 miles into Colorado.  Then the wind slacked way off and was probably only 10-15 mph.  Before then, from Crete to Wray, CO, I’d guess that it was never less than 25 and sometimes up into the 40-mph range.

A member of the NT-Owners Forum asked me why I was doing this Epic Ride and he said that saying “Just because it was there,” wouldn’t count as an answer for very long.  So here’s my answer to him:

Since I started riding in ’97, I’ve enjoyed long rides.  I’ve made a long trip nearly every year since then, ranging from 1-11,000 miles.  On every one of those rides, I’ve enjoyed the riding itself.  I didn’t have a list of places I wanted to see or things I wanted to do, but I did have a list of roads I wanted to ride.  That’s been growing and when I first heard about the Four Corners Tour seven or eight years ago, it went onto my “bucket list.”

I’d been to Alaska once, but only as far as Hyder, which is just across the border from Stuart, BC, and is about 1300 miles from the next closest place you can ride to in Alaska.  I really wanted to ride to Alaska.  Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador were places I’ve flown over coming back from Europe on my two trips there and I wanted to see them from the ground.

So, I started thinking about the Epic Ride about 5 or 6 years ago.  As Jim and Rick, the two friends who rode with me for more than a few miles can tell you, I didn’t plan it obsessively.  In fact, I barely planned it at all.  A friend loaned me “Mileposts,” the huge and detailed guide to the Alaskan Highway and I never even opened.  I looked at Streets and Trips and outlined a couple of routes, but most days the planning consisted of looking out in front of me (or us, whichever the case might have been on a given day), punching a destination into my GPS and then, when I got around to it, getting on the bike and riding.  I never had a reservation more than a couple or three hours in advance of arrival and usually didn’t have any reservation.  And it all worked pretty darned well.

People kept telling me I needed to see this or that or that I needed to eat at one place or another, and I appreciated all those suggestions, but I didn’t act on very many of them.  Mostly I just rode.  I’ve got a strange kind of memory.  I remember roads I’ve been on years ago in fairly vivid detail.  I have gone back to a road where I was a passenger in a car when I was 12 or 13 and remembered every turn (not every curve, but every time I needed to choose which way to turn) and navigated it to get where I wanted to go.  This ride gave me a whole bunch of new material for those memories.  I don’t know if that qualifies as an answer that will count for more than a little while, but that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it.  🙂

I rode all but five of the 80 days and every day was a really good day.  I didn’t have any days (or hours either) when I regretted being where I was and doing what I was doing.  I was amazingly lucky with weather.  I think the worst weather were the days in Canada when Jim and I were riding on roads that were under construction.  The hardest rains were in Florida and Georgia, but they didn’t last very long.  The coldest I got was in Newfoundland the night I was riding in the rain from Deer Lake to Port-aux-Basques to catch the ferry back to North Sidney, Nova Scotia.  The hottest was in the desert of south Arizona when it got to 112F.

The best places?  The Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper; the ride into Valdez; the Cabot Trail; crossing Vermont; Newfoundland’s Gros Marne National Park; Lunenburg; Labrador — and I could go on and on.  There are an incredible number of beautiful places and roads in the US and Canada and all of them are worth visiting.

People were great everywhere I went, too.  Motorcyclists were always fun to talk to, no matter what they were riding or what they were wearing, they were friendly and helpful.

Would I do it again?  Well, probably not, but I went to lots of places I’d be willing to back to and visit again in a more leisurely fashion.  There are several I’ll be taking Joanne to in the next few years.

My average day was only 264 miles.  The average of the 75 days I was on the bike was 281 miles.  The average during the Four Corners Tour was 364 miles.

The bike was practically flawless.  A headlight bulb burned out and both brake lights burned out.  One of my Denali D1 driving lights got water inside it and shorted out the driving light circuit.  I replaced both tires, the rear at Gainesville, FL, had 13,560 miles and would have lasted another 2-3,000 miles.  The front had 19,982 miles and would have gotten me home.  Tim Wilkes changed the oil and filter for me in Baton Rouge, LA,, when I had 9,800 miles since the previous change.  Since then, I’ve put another 9246 miles on and will probably get an oil and filter change in the next week or so before I got up to Thermopolis, WY, for a meeting there

I’ll be posting a few more additions to the blog as I have some time to reflect on things in a more organized way.

Day 80 Stats:  Day, 419 miles; Trip, 21,090 miles; Year, 27,091 miles; Total, 78,949 miles.

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Long Day, Short Post…

Epic Ride, Day 79:

I’m in Lincoln, Nebraska, after my longest day of the whole trip:  612 miles.

I’ll be home tomorrow after 409 miles and almost 6 hours (according to MS Streets and Trips).

Today was cool when I left South Bend, rainy in western Illinois and hot and windy in Iowa.

I rode for an unknown distance with my right pannier open until a Good Samaritan pulled alongside, pointed at the bike and mouthed “BAG!”

More later!

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PA-OH-IN…

Epic Ride, Day 68 (with a look back at Days 64-67):

My title isn’t very melodic, but it reminds me of some of the names I’ve seen for towns and rivers up here in the northeast, as well as in the Maritime Provinces of Canada.  A lot of them, most of them I’d guess, come from Native American languages and have been transliterated into some words that I can’t even begin to pronounce.  I’ll probably do a post on the blog just listing my favorites.

On Sunday, Day 66, Elliot and I took out the family’s Herreshoff 12 1/2, a boat designed by Nathaneal G. Herreshoff.  It was designed for safe family sailing and racing in it’s own one-design class.  It’s called a 12 1/2 even though it’s nearly 16′ long because of its waterline length, 12′ 6″.  It’s got a 735-pond lead keel which makes it stable and gives it some mass to push through swells.

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Except for the few minutes at the helm of the 48′ ketch in Lunenburg Harbor, I hadn’t sailed since the mid-70s.  But I was pleased to learn that sailing is like riding a bicycle — it comes back!  I was impressed with myself as well as the H-class boat.

If you’ve read the whole blog, you’ll remember that one of the high points of my trip had been meeting Margaret and Fred in Bay St. Lawrence on Cape Breton Island and getting to go on board Double Crows, their replica of Captain Joshua Slocum’s Spray.  As I’d ridden to Cataumet, I saw a sign pointing to Fairhaven, where Slocum had built/rebuilt Spray, and then while Elliot and I were sailing, we saw what I’m pretty sure was another Spray-replica:

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On Monday, I left Cataumet and rode into rain on my way to Sturbridge to meet Karl Roth, an NT-Owners Forum member:

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Karl and I enjoyed a visit at the McDonalds in Sturbridge and then we bought me some gas and he hopped onto I-84 with me and led me to Hartford before he had to split off and go to work.  😦

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After Karl left me, I rode on into Pennsylvania, passing Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.  At Scranton, as I looked down the long hill leading into town, I couldn’t help but sing Harry Chapin’s classic ballad, “30,000 Pounds of Bananas.”  “30,000 pounds of mashed bananas…”

I got Millinville where the Comfort Inn’s WiFi wouldn’t connect me to the internet last night, but did this morning…probably because the day clerk was willing to go upstairs to the 2nd floor and reset the router.

Epic Ride, Day 68 Stats: Day, 399 miles; Trip, 19,489 miles; Year, 25,490 miles; Total, 77,348 miles.

Today I left Millinville and spent half my day getting across Pennsylvania.  Once again, I was surprised at the lack of urban sprawl.  Pennsylvania was a beautiful ride on a clear, chilly day.  The high didn’t come till western Ohio and then the 69F only lasted for about 30 minutes.

As pretty as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana were, today’s ride was not much more than a slog.  Tomorrow will be even worse as I need to make 600+ miles to get to my Concours Owners Group friend Chris Baum’s house.  I don’t have much of Indiana left, but Illinois and Iowa stretch a long way before I get into Nebraska and ride to Lincoln where Chris lives.

Tonight I ate at a Ponderosa Steakhouse across the street from the Motel 6 and my charming waitress was a young woman who rides a Harley-Davidson Nightster and a Honda 230 dirt-bike.  She was very interested in the Epic Ride.  If she reads the blog, I need to apologize for not even getting her name.  if you’re out there, darling, make a comment so I’ll know who you were!

Epic Ride, Day 69 StatsDay, 570 miles; Trip, 20,059 miles; Year, 26,060 miles; Total, 77,918 miles.

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Heading Home…

I would have posted an update last night, but the night guy at the Comfort Inn  here in Mifflinville, PA, was baffled by the task of resetting the router and I couldn’t get online.  This morning I can, but I need to get on the road.

I’ll do a bit wrap-up tonight if I stop early enough.  I’m thinking I’ll get somewhere near South Bend, Indiana today and then hopefully to my old Concours Owners Group friend Chris Baum’s Wednesday.

It sounds as if my route home along I-80 might not work due to the big bolus of water going down the Platte after the flooding in Colorado.

It’s past Fort Morgan, but the Weather Channel just said that it would probably close 80 in Nebraska by Thursday.

Oh, well…  My routing issues are nothing compared to what the people along the streams in Colorado (and the people in Mexico) are enduring.

Oh, I just realized that today’s ride let me color in all but one of the states on my “States Ridden In” map.  I still lack Hawaii and probably won’t ride to get there, but the day may come when I manage to ride while I’m there.  We’ll just have to see on that one!

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The Shortest Post…

I’ve been at my old high-school friend’s house since Thursday night, having a wonderful time reconnecting with him and enjoying being on the water in his boats.

I’m leaving in a bit to head west.  I’ll meet Karl from the NT-Owners Forum at about 10:30, then get towards home as rapidly as weather and energy level will allow.

Fort Morgan has had some flooding, several friends and colleagues in other parts of the Colorado have been forced from their homes, but Joanne and our place is well above the water level.  I shouldn’t have any trouble getting home, but I’ll be monitoring the condition of I-80.

More later!

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Twisted Throttle and Beyond!

Epic Ride, Day 63:

It’s actually Day 64 now, but I didn’t get anything written yesterday.  When I left the Super 8 before I was half-way to Twisted Throttle, I had rolled over 19,000 miles for the Epic Ride and 25,000 for the year.

At Twisted Throttle, they were waiting for me with my new Givi topbox and the silver cover, lights for the Givi, and were ready to troubleshoot my driving light issues (they were blowing fuses pretty quickly).  I’d been sitting there in their lounge area, trying to resist the temptation to buy one of everything they had (and they had LOTS of stuff, all very well presented and very, very, very tempting.

I was talking to a man from Connecticut who was having his Wee-Strom worked on when a ruggedly-handsome, tall and lanky man walked in.  He and the Wee-Strom were talking and he looked over Wee-Strom guy’s shoulder and said, “Hi, Phil.  How are you?”

I said, “Do I know you?” and he ignored me.  About the same time Kevin from TT came in and I asked him who the guy was.  Kevin sat there and I said, “Does he own an NT?”  Kevin said, “Well, he did…” and I said, “OK, he must be on the Forum.”  Finally Kevin whispered, “That’s Mac.”

Mac only lives about 20 miles or so from Twisted Throttle and he knew I was going to be there so he came over to harass … excuse me, visit with me.  He hung around for two or three hours and I really enjoyed meeting him and the Wee-Strom guy (who, by the way, is running for King of the World).

Since Twisted Throttle did have a 120/70X17 Michelin Pilot Road 3 I decided to go ahead and replace my front PR3 which was at 18,982 miles.  I think it would have gotten me home, but this tire has a lot more tread on it.

The Givi installation went quickly, but the Denali troubleshooting did not.  Several times they thought they had things worked out and then the fuse would blow.  When I got there I had told them that there seemed to be moisture in the right light pod, but they didn’t think it was inside the pod, just behind the plastic lens.  As they were working, they seemed to be convinced that the problem was somewhere in my slightly-less-than professional wiring job.

After their 3rd or 4th try and still no joy, I asked if they’d looked at the pod with moisture in it and they decided to check that.  It turned out that the light was full of water and that was the short.  They replaced that light under warranty and I decided to also add an Admore light bar that has LED tail-light, brake-light, and turn-signal lights.

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One of the neat things about Twisted Throttle was the Project Bikes.  I saw several that I can’t tell you what they were, but the Wee-Strom and the NC700X were very impressive.  I should have gotten pictures of them and of Mac, but I didn’t.  My bad…

Finally by 5, they were finished and I left after an enjoyable day to ride to my old high-school friend’s house in Cataumet, MA, near Woods Hole and Falmouth.  Other than about 10 miles of backed-up traffic south of Providence, Rhode Island, traffic getting out to the Cape Cod area, it was an easy ride.

Today, Elliot and I went out for a brief cruise on his 24′ Grady White fishing boat.  It was great!

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Elliot and I hadn’t seen each other in 52 1/2 years.  Obviously he hasn’t changed as much as I have.  🙂

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The Cleveland Ledges Light near the mouth the Cape Cod Canal.

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Elliot’s family Herreshoff 12.  I’m hoping we’ll get some wind and be able to sail on Sunday.

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The Merchant Marine Academy is off the Canal.  This is one of their training ships, the USS Kennedy.

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A sea-going tug at the Merchant Marine Academy.

And some of the yachts on their moorings near Elliot’s family’s house:

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Later in the day, Elliot and I drove over to Woods Hole and saw some more boats and watched one go through the drawbridge there.

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Elliot, Dudley, and me.

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Elliot and his wife Gail…

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The family home.  Gail’s mother told me that she and her husband bought it in 1946 …. for $12,000.  Whatcha’ wanna’ bet they could get a few dollars more for it today?  It’s a beautiful place and I love the surrounding area.  On my way here yesterday I passed the sign for Fairhaven, the town where Captain Joshua Slocum built/rebuilt the Spray, the sloop he sailed alone around the world in the late 1800s, and the boat which inspired my Cape Breton Island friends, Fred and Margaret Lawrence to build their ship the Double Crow.

Stats:  Day, 97 miles; Trip, 19,090 miles; Year, 25,091 miles; Total, 76,949 miles.

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Back In the USA!

Epic Ride, Day 61:

I’m home!  Sorta’.  I left Moncton, New Brunswick yesterday morning and rode through St. Johns on my way to St. Stephens and the US Border.  It was a grim-looking morning with rain predicted, but I managed to miss all but a very few drops.  I got back to the US border and proceeded fairly quickly through customs (only about a 5-car backup and they opened a 3rd lane just as I go there, so it was nowhere near as bad as coming back into the country had been at Blaine, WA, back in August.

I rode 9 down to Ellsworth where I was meeting Dan Lux, a member of the NT-Owners Forum.  I had cleverly forgotten the name of the place where we were going to share pie, but could remember that it was a restaurant with a woman’s name.  So I asked my faithful sidekick, Shirley the GPS, and all she came up with was Sylvia’s.  That sounded reasonable, so I went to Sylvia’s.  No Dan.  I ordered a bowl of lobster chowder and a cup of coffee and went outside to try to call Dan.  I got him and he was waiting for me at Helen’s I chided Shirley and waited for Dan.  When he got there we learned that Sylvia’s closed at 3PM.  So, we went back to Helen’s and I enjoyed what Life magazine once called the best blueberry pie in the US.  It was pretty good.

Better was talking to Dan, a geology professor at the University of Maine in Bangor.  We not only share interests in motorcycling, but geology is a fascination with me and we’d both lived in (or near) Houston.  Dan had a meeting with the Geology Club back at U of Maine, so our visit was nowhere near long enough.  He led me down US-1, over the magnificent suspension bridge at Penobscot Narrows and then split back to the north, while I came on down to Belfast to spend the night with my Madawaska riding buddy, NT-Owners Forum member Alex.  He has a lovely and hospitable home and we enjoyed our visit.

Alex runs the soup kitchen here in Belfast, a unique establishment that offers not only food for the hungry, but the even more important ingredients of warm hospitality served with generous dollops of dignity and respect.  We’ll eat lunch there after he gets back from making a food run to Augusta.

Here are some pix from the ride:

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The colors are just starting to change in New Brunswick.  If I’d have been a couple/three weeks later, it would have been spectacular.

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Stats:  Day, 305 miles; Trip, 18,685 miles; Year, 24,686 miles; Total, 76,544 miles.

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Prince Edward Island

Epic Ride, Day 60:

As usual, I didn’t get an early start, but I rode to Caribou from Truro and learned that what someone had told me was true — you don’t pay to ride the ferry to Prince Edward Island.  They collect the toll when you come back, so if you do what I did and take the Confederation Bridge off the Island, you don’t pay for the ferry.

It was a smaller ship than the ones we’d taken to Newfoundland and Labrador, but even with all the wind, the trip was smooth and my tiedowns kept the bike from falling down and going boom!

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I took back roads to Charlottetown and one of the things I noticed was a “Free Church of Scotland,” to go with the Anglican and Presbyterian and United Church of Canada churches I’d seen in other places I’ve ridden in the Maritime Provinces.

There were lots of pretty churches:

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and houses and farms:

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Even though I didn’t do any of the “tourist stuff” on the Island, I did think about Anne Shirley, the heroine of the Anne of Green Gables stories.  I enjoyed watching those on PBS back in the day.  There was a beauty and neatness to the Island that made my visit very satisfying.

It had been very windy and I was worried about riding over the Confederation Bridge.  I needn’t have been — there was a high bulwark that made it the least gusty place I rode all day.

I’m back in a Motel 6 for the first time since August 22, Day 42.  This is the nicest Motel 6 I’ve been in yet.  And tonight at Jean’s, a restaurant about 2km from the Motel 6, I had the best clam chowder and blueberry crisp I’ve enjoyed anywhere on the trip.

Tomorrow I’ll be back in the USA, meeting Dan Lux and spending the night with Alex Allmyer-Beck, two members of the NT-Owners Forum.  Alex rode to Madawaska with me.

Stats:  Day, 213 miles; Trip, 18,380 miles; Year, 24,381 miles; Total, 76,239 miles.

 

 

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The Cabot Trail

Epic Ride, Day 57:

Even though I slept well on the ferry back to Nova Scotia from Newfoundland, I was pretty tired.  I sat at the nice lobster place updating the blog for long enough to eat breakfast and lunch on Friday morning before finally starting up the Cabot Trail.

A gentleman had approached me as I was getting ready to ride away from the lobster place and told me to be very careful since the first few miles toward the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s was very rough.  Well, it wasn’t, but a few klicks up the road that was rectified.  Lots of frost heaves and potholes, but even with my weight and the weight of all my gear, the little NT’s suspension proved up to the task, letting me breeze through the twisty bits with confidence and joy.

Before getting to Ingonish and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, I enjoyed some picturesque scenery, steep grades and some great views of the ocean:

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In this picture you can see the first part of road that I’d be climbing as I headed for Ingonish.

After Ingonish, I entered the National Park.  There was a magnificent golf course next to this church, but I didn’t get a good picture of the course (sorry, golfing buddies!).

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From Neils Harbour, I took a coast road that provided more views of the sea.

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And this lighthouse at Dingwall.

From Dingwall I rode to Bay St. Lawrence.  Lots of folks had told me I “had” to go to Meat Cove, but the road to Meat Cove had about 10 miles of gravel and, after all the rain of the previous few days, I opted out of that.  Bay St. Lawrence proved to be a serendipitous choice.

I got off the bike and looked at some of the fishing boats in the Harbour:

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and at this boat tied a different wharf:

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Just as I was getting on the bike to ride, a woman pulled up and went down the gangway to the wharf carrying groceries.  I called out to her and told her how much I admired the boat and she said something back to me.  I killed the bike, pulled of my helmet, pulled out my earplugs and asked her to repeat what she’d said.  She said, “I told you to come on down if you want to look her over.”

So I did.

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As I approached the boat it seemed naggingly familiar.  When I got on and went below, I introduced myself and Margaret Lawrence introduced herself and I mentioned my sense that the boat was something I’d seen somewhere.  I told her it reminded me of the Spray.  She beamed and said, “It should, the hull is an exact replica, built from Joshua Slocum’s own plans.  We took liberties with the interior layout and the cabin-top and deckhouse, but the hull is exact… except for the fact that we’ve got an engine and the Captain only had a sculling oar.”

Most of you probably have never heard of Captain Joshua Slocum.  He was a clipper-ship captain who was “on the beach” as steam replaced the clippers at the end of the 19th century.  A friend gave him the wreck of a boat that was on the beach near Falmouth, MA, and Joshua rebuilt it.  As he did he conceived of a voyage around the world.  It took him three years, but he not only made it but wrote engagingly about it in his book, “Sailing Alone Around the World.”  Whether you’re a sailor or not, “Sailing Alone…” is a great read, a true classic.  I’ve probably read it seven or eight times.  The only comparable book I can think of is Lindburgh’s “Spirit of St. Louis.”

Margaret was cooking and a friend arrived, followed shortly by Fred, Margaret’s husband.

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Fred told me that he and Margaret had neither one sailed before building the Double Crows, but they had taken her (and their two young children to Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba.  Both of them were fishermen, working the lobster traps during the summer, and catching other fish in the spring and early fall.

The Two Crows was loaded with history.  The anchor chain had come from a whaling station on South Georgia Island, just north of Antarctica, and the location Earnest Shackleton had reached when on his desperate rescue mission to save his stranded crew after the wreck of the Endurance.  There were also winches, blocks, deadeyes, and other pieces of hardware that had been on a boat built by Alexander Graham Bell, who was a Nova Scotian.  When I mentioned to Fred that Double Crows also reminded me of boats designed by a naval architect named Ackerman, he smiled again and said that Nate Ackerman was a personal friend and that his boats had been the inspiration for Double Crow’s deckhouse.

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Margaret had a campground, the “Jumping Mouse Campground,” and I decided  to spend the night there.  I got a good sunset out of it, and a great night’s sleep.  I wish I could show the stars I saw at midnight.  They were incredible.  There was no light anywhere except what they provided and the air was dry and free of dust, smoke, and any other pollution.

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Stats:  Day, 121 miles; Trip, 17,816 miles; Year, 23,817 miles; Total, 75,722 miles.

Epic Ride, Day 58:

I woke up, visited with Fred some more, got a chance to go into his boathouse, and rode south back to North Cape to head west on the Cabot Trail.

More magnificent scenery, some delicious twisty bits and more steep climbs and descents.  After riding though mountains, I ate a very late breakfast at Pleasant Bay, and saw more great ocean views:

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I rode through the Park, down to Cheticamp, and continued south along the coast road.

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Crossing the CANSO Causeway, I saw this big ship loading either coal or some other kind of ore.

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I had planned on riding to New Glascow to be poised for catching the ferry to Prince Edward Island today.  But a fellow motorcyclist told me that it was forecast to rain all day today and I decided I didn’t want to see PEI in the rain.  And to further sabatoge my plan, there weren’t any motel rooms in New Glascow.  A helpful clerk at the Travelodge called ahead to the Super 8 here in Truro, which bills itself as the “Hub of Nova Scotia.”  It must be — this is the 3rd time I’ve been here in two weeks.

That turned out to work well for me, since the Empire Theatre is a block away and I’m about to go see “The Butler,” a film Joanne told me I had to see.  And there’s a good restaurant next to the theatre plus laundry facilities here in the motel.

So, tomorrow:  Prince Edward Island by ferry to leave by the bridge and head for Maine.

Stats:  Day, 351 miles; Trip, 18,167 miles; Year, 24,168 miles; Total, 76,026 miles.

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The Cabot Trail … Ready to Get on It

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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.”)

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Backtracking into Gros Marne, I took the road to Woody Point, a scenic little fishing village on Bonne Bay:

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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:

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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.

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