Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Riding New England, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia - 2013

  1. #1
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, Ill
    Posts
    997

    Riding New England, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia - 2013

     photo pretrip_zps79c34a0b.jpg

    Interstate 80 is always merely a means to an end for me. By the time I reached Pennsylvania though 80 becomes interesting again here I was done with it. Lockport and the low Mountain ridge to the North beckoned, so I pulled off, gassed up at the ubiquitous Gas Station/C Store/purveyor of bad fast food/and cheap wine location and started to navigate by compass again. North by Northeast should do it....

    Let me back up....A couple of days earlier I left Chicago and spent the first night as a guest of old and new friends in beautiful Grand Haven, Michigan. Grand Haven is a charming lakeside town, with a nicely gentrified town center and great views of sparking Lake Michigan to the West. I spent the afternoon on their deck, alternately petting their smart and discerning pet Lab, Reilly and watching the colourful Finches, Cardinals depleting their respective bird feeders.

     photo Birdfeeder_zps639c3591.jpg

    Hummingbirds buzzed my head as they hovered at their special feeder on the window behind my comfortable chair. Reilly the dog is an astonishingly talented creature and has both unlimited energy for, and serious talent at, finding tennis balls swatted into their surrounding forest.

    My friends graciously fed and watered me and provided a nice room, somehow fascinated by my half baked plans to ride to Novia Scotia's Eastern Coast.

    The following day I left late, more or less rode the width of Michigan, and rejoined I-80 somewhere South of Toledo. Since I had left late and had encountered a horrific traffic jam caused by an equally horrible accident, I was running very late on my more or less non-existent schedule. I stopped at one of the omnipresent Indian owned motels which was suitably run down...and shocked when they robbed me of $80 for a room that should have gone for $40. Or $30. Cheap motels and free camping are a game I play when solo motorcycling 'shame they hadn't gotten the memo.

    Illinois, Indiana and Ohio are generally forgettable stretches of this Interstate.

    Back to my story....

    Navigating by compass I rode up into the low mountains and then headed Northeast by East towards New England. I always welcome advice from locals and on this advice also visited the Grand Canyon of the East which would have been spectacular in October... but merely very green in August.

     photo grand_zps2b34ad47.jpg

    Temps were in the mid 50s... which is great riding weather. I stopped at a local diner and sat at the counter as the wait staff all of whom could have been sisters (though they all denied it) hustled and bustled around efficiently. I had the special of the day at the counter, tipped well and continued my Eastward ride on a very scenic two lane Highway
     photo IMG_7784_zpscc45549d.jpg

    Eventually I rejoined the Freeway shot across that small part of New York State and entered my old stomping grounds of Connecticut. I reverted to compass navigation again, and headed North paralleling the New York State Line on a winding highway that was often a twisting tunnel through the deep forest.

    I did note, as the sun set and dusk crept in, that deer were grazing at the edges of grassy fields and meadows in the lengthening shadows. Yeah, deer are no fun to play with years ago my car was broadsided by a giant buck in Connecticut, not far from this very road, knocked my sideview mirror off and dented the door. That same collision on a bike would be bit worse.

    I used my Garmin and found a local and nearly empty Connecticut State Park with camping. I pitched my tent and bedded down for the evening next to a burbling clear mountain stream.

    The next morning I stopped at a local restaurant for coffee and a breakfast burrito (Don't go to Kent, Connecticut for their Mexican food however do go to Kent for their cool covered bridge)

    I went further East and revisited a town where I lived for a decade of so, Avon. Avon in the fashion of this part of the country, was established around 1725 and in this and the surrounding towns have the wonderful white churches and crumbling graveyards to prove their history.

     photo IMG_1103_zps995e77e1.jpg
    Last edited by Beemer01; 11-06-2013 at 08:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, Ill
    Posts
    997

    Report continued

    I stopped by and briefly visited old friends and then headed North by Northwest up into the Berkshire Mountains of Western Mass. I rode thru Norman Rockwell country and wound up in Southern Vermont where I camped in a nice locally owned private campground, where I found the young owner wistfully eying my BMW..he had recently sold his when he acquired this tidy campground.

    If I forgot to mention this important factoid, my interim destination was Burlington, Vermont where a friend was arriving on a flight the following day...he had rented a Bike from Moto Vermont to be ridden to our next destination, The famed Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia.

    However this day lent itself to leisurely motorcycling ever Northward, I arrived at the Southern end of Lake Champlain and took the scenic loop route around most of it, arriving in Burlington and the very late afternoon.

     photo IMG_1115_zpseaa127c1.jpg

    I violated my cheap motel rule AGAIN and stayed in the same fancy digs as my arriving riding partner Doctor Balaa. I'd met Marwan a year earlier on a motorcycle tour in Austria where he and his nephew provided excellent conversation and were adroit riders as we toured the Alps. The good doctor had immediately agreed to accompany me on this trip when invited....flying in from California for the week.

    The next morning he and I met in the breakfast room and swapped stories and lies over coffee. Moto Vermont showed up in a van to collect their newest customer and I followed through the light Burlington traffic to their fairly well hidden shop. (Walk in traffic probably isn't much of their business plan)...but they do offer an impressive array of BMW and Japanese rental bikes for touring New England.

    Doc had reserved a BMW R1200GS... a bike that he was a bit sceptical about....he rides a new R1200R back in the Bay Area...he was a little concerned about the riding position and towering seat height on the GS. He was also concerned about the seemingly weak battery in the bike but the bike started, so it must be OK right?
    I assured him that they are all that way. (Famous last words)

    We strapped his gear onto the GS, attached my other Sena headset to his helmet, and rode off..more or less East by Southeast.

  3. #3
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, Ill
    Posts
    997

    Continued

    That day was spent riding in Vermont and New Hampshire, we camped in Eastern New Hampshire that evening...I then was reminded of several things...

    1. Marwan had never camped before...ever.
    2. Like all my newbie camping riding Partners he paid little to no attention to my very detailed, specific and probably OCD instructions on which tent, sleeping bags and pad to buy
    3. He's a very organized and precise guy... and sometimes uncomfortable with my navigation by compass and dead reckoning. He'd requested a detailed agenda and travel map in advance...when he asked the third time I assembled one in Google Maps that might have actually reflected our eventual route about 5% of the time. My OCD doesn't extend to my routing for trips.

     photo IMG_1118_zps2743fe1b.jpg

    Now having said all of this I did get us lost at least three times, me with the paper maps, the $600 Garmin Zumo and not one but three nav apps on my iPhone.

    Oh well, no one died.

     photo IMG_1119_zps0199a3b0.jpg  photo IMG_1120_zps5bdb887c.jpg

    Note, there are no seemingly bad riding roads in Vermont or New Hampshire it's a great region with charming little towns, small valleys, winding roads and graceful churches and an abundance of gently rusting and bestickered Subarus driven by aging Flower Children with gray hair in ponytails. This is I believe the official car of the aging New England Hippy sect.

    Back to camping...Marwan took to it like a duck to water...not only didn't I offer guidance or assistance ...I sat back on my new Kermit chair and offered unhelpful comments and instructions as he struggled and assembled his tent for the first time.

     photo IMG_1172_zps25ef1dfb.jpg

    He is admittedly pretty mechanical for a Doctor.

  4. #4
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, Ill
    Posts
    997

    Continued

    The next day we rode out to Maine...and the mechanical and electrical gremlins that lurk in all machines showed up. We pulled into the toll booth on the I-95 tollway in Maine Marwan's GS died and had to be pushed and paddled over to the shoulder. I parked and came back as he pressed the starter button with no effect. Quickly even the display on the dash faded from view. In my newfound effort to keep gear weight down, I had removed the 2.5 oz. Multimeter from my toolbag (duh), but I was reasonably certain that we were looking at a dead battery. A few sweaty attempts to push start the big GS resulted in the rear wheel locking up on the gravel strewn shoulder.

    Yeah, that wasn't going to work.

    Marwan got on the phone with Moto Vermont and they tried to be helpful, they even offered to bring him a different bike of his choice, dangling a K1600GT out there as bait but at this point they were at least 5-6 hours away. In the end they suggested that we buy a new battery, they located one for us and I was off to find the designated auto parts shop in Portland. To cut a long boring story short, we did eventually get a new working battery into the GS..but had lost some four hours of riding...so that evening we made it only to Bar Harbor and Arcadia National Park.

    Which was actually a good thing, since one of my primary purposes for the trip was the consumption of Lobster.

    (Linguistic point of order... the regional pronunciations are BAA HABA and LOBSTA respectively. The missing 'R's are carefully saved and sprinkled randomly at the end of other words such as Idea, pronounced IDEAR).

    (Regional note for those of us who grew up in the Midwest only seeing Lobster on fuzzy B&W TVs, the actual experience of dismantling this crustacean seems like entirely too much work and way past messy. I ate most of the Lobster on the pictured plate, and from there on outsourced the work of lobster extraction to local people more skilled than me and ate only Lobster Bisque and Lobster rolls)

     photo IMG_1124_zps31ef4cc9.jpg

    We camped in a KOA campground and I tried valiantly to keep a campfire going with the semi-damp wood Marwan purchased from the office. I'm the experienced camper but struggled to sustain a blaze restarting the fire several times as we drank wine, discussed global politics and smoked cigars. After the fifth restart attempt the neighboring campers, evidently generally agreeing with the bent of our political discussion brought us some properly dry wood for our smoldering firepit. That was the ticket... we thanked them and kicked back with one last cigar illuminated by a blazing fire.

     photo IMG_7785_zpsb210695d.jpg

    We awoke and had breakfast in Bar Harbor (Blueberry pancakes natch) and then rode Arcadia National Park... what a treat and lovely ride.

     photo IMG_7789_zps9593c9b7.jpg

  5. #5
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, Ill
    Posts
    997

    Continued

    We arrived at the Border crossing at around noon, I went first and was puzzled by the length of time the Canadian Customs agent spent examining my passport and his detailed and probing questions. It turns out that my passport had expired the week prior, no problem he assured me. The better prepared Marwan sailed through customs. Now I wondered if I'd be able to get back into the States? Oh, well ? I?d worry about that later.

    This set us up for a 600+ mile day as we eventually reached Nova Scotia, looking for a campground or cheap motel as the sun set in the West. Note 'small towns' shown on the map on the NS coast may in fact be only a couple of buildings on a wide spot on the road. It got darker and we got hungrier or at least Marwan did.

    We stopped for gas and Marwan wandered into still another version of a Canadian donut shop attempting to restore his blood sugar level...however a muffin and a cup of coffee is definitely not a satisfying dinner. My lack of actual trip planning might bite me in the butt this time.. his good nature was taking a turn for the worse as he gazed into the gathering darkness and the placid Atlantic Ocean on the other side of the highway munching on a stale muffin and sipping a coffee.

    It was fully dark when we finally reached a reasonably sized town i.e. with actual buildings and to my delight I saw a storefront pizza parlor which seemed to still be open! I slewed to a stop and radioed to Marwan who had ridden right past it that we were in luck! Not even removing my helmet, I walked over, quickly opened the door and asked the older guy behind the counter if they were still open? Glancing at a warming rack (that still had several slices available) he smiled and nodded.

    You gotta love owner/operators who know how to make a buck.

     photo IMG_1130_zpse911aad3.jpg

    Marwan joined me and we quickly demolished a couple of slices of Pizza and quaffed soft drinks. Marwan noted a sign advertising a traditional Sharwama, and asked about it it took about 30 seconds for the owners and Marwan to find common cultural ground, all parties there (except me) were from Lebanon, specifically the beleaguered Beirut area .

    Small world, and I?ve since realized that the Lebanese are disproportionally scattered all over the world and are known for their business, technical and academic acumen. I felt honored to be included in their conversation but there was no offer of additional free pizza. (See the preceding sentence about Lebanese business acumen)

    We were both beat and grabbed a couple of rooms at a roadside motel, arriving just as the owner was closing for the night and turning off the lights. Next day...the Cabot Trail!

    Breakfast was enjoyed at the hotel bright and early and we headed off East!

    The Bay of Fundy is the land of giant tides...evidence of this was visible everywhere we looked as we rode the NS highways and byways, 55 foot tides are seen seasonally and are always very extreme, recorded as the largest in the world. 40-60 foot fishing boats...at low tide rest on the tidal flats....at high tide (which happens quickly) the same boat is sitting in deep water.

     photo bayofFundy_zps6d6cb330.jpg



    There is a long stretch of road where there seems to be constant wind blowing across it, and our Canadian friends are capturing this with a dozens of wind turbines...from our standpoint said wind made it interesting trying to stay on the road, let alone keep a line!

  6. #6
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, Ill
    Posts
    997

    Continued

    We made good time, even though my GPS directed us to a closed ferry, which led to us getting lost (sorry again Marwan) and eventually made it onto the Trail just after lunch. The Cabot Trail is lovely, especially the long dead end road out to Meat Cove, where Marwan's GS shone, and Bryan's GT....felt like a large fish slightly out of water. The road is in excellent shape, with ample pull offs for photo shots. The reason to ride the Cabot Trail is the scenery, the road itself is smooth and easily ridden, nothing technical or difficult here. We rode briskly, with Marwan setting a very fast pace for most of this section.

     photo IMG_7815_zps58aa941d.jpg photo IMG_7807_zps801ff631.jpg photo IMG_7800_zps26d95c8b.jpg photo IMG_1140_zps8cc7acde.jpg


    The biggest danger on the Trail was actually a local vehicle with an old and worn Queen sized mattress more or less roped to the roof with the front of said mattress lifting up and straining the rope that held it whenever the driver reached a downhill grade and picked up speed and a headwind. The drivers arm would then reach out and try and hold it down. Right. Thor wouldn't be able to hold this thing on when that skinny plastic rope snapped. We would pass this looming disaster, and then stop for pictures, only to watch him flap by leaving us to again pass this ticking bomb again and again.

    On the last leg of this day's trip we began to run low on fuel. Which soon became VERY low on fuel, which led me to recall the phrase, We're either just going to make it... or we're just not going to make it. Coasting down grades, and feathering the throttles we discovered that both bikes can get at least 230 miles on a tankful. I seriously doubt we could have gotten 231 miles thank heavens Cheticamp had an open gas station!

    We had a delightful seafood dinner in an upscale restaurant and camped in a nice fairly remote RV style campground on the ocean once again we arrived in the dark and set up using headlamps. Marwan had charmed the pretty young Canadian waitress and she found us this campground by calling around. He's really good at this stuff....must be his unplaceable foreign accent.

    The following morning we did our respective ablutions in the communal shower. I had gone first and came back to break down my tent and pack my bike Marwan went second and when there he noted a gentleman cleaning the sinks and toilets. Adhering to a very proper and polite tradition unknown to me and evidently the owner of the campground Marwan tipped him as he left.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 11-06-2013 at 09:02 PM.

  7. #7
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, Ill
    Posts
    997
    About five minutes later the gentleman came to our campsite and explained that it was not traditional in Canada to tip the owner of the campground as he toiled on his business. He returned the money to Marwan...probably didn't want to set a precedent.

    No good deed goes unrewarded. Chuckle.

     photo IMG_1135_zps9d304762.jpg

    The next day we powered hard and made it back to Maine as I tried valiantly to be on a work related conference call using my Sena Bluetooth headset and Marwan's phone since he had planned ahead and activated international phone service... and I of course had not. Trying to provide input on a concall while riding at 80 MPH is an exercise in futility BTW.... We reached the States and I was allowed quickly back in, expired Passport or no...we initially headed toward Bangor into the setting sun, but decided that Lobster was again in order, so headed back to BAA HABA to have some more LOBSTA. I outsourced the process by ordering lobster roll. (I recall that I got us lost again that day)

    I should add that our evening camping/campfire ritual had become a well oiled machine. Tents were pitched, pads were inflated, Kermit chairs unfolded and assembled and the fire was lit all in a matter of minutes. We are both serious connoisseurs of Gas Station Wine (GSW) and I had brought a small folding tableand we had good stories and discussions every evening. A few fine cigars met their demise as well.

    The following morning we navigated more or less West by compass on narrow twisty and scenic secondary roads, making it to roughly the base of Mt. Washington. We decided against riding to the summit...Mt. Washington had strong winds and temps in the low 40s that day at the peak.

     photo IMG_1112_zpse99e053f.jpg

    The following day we broke early and rode most of the way back to Burlington, we parted company enroute...Marwan to return his bike in Burlington and to fly back to the West Coast and me to navigate back to Chicago.

    I took my time heading back down through the Berkshires, stopping at a nearly abandoned campground staffed by the 90 year old owner. I paid him the $20 fee to him in his rustic shack, was issued a handwritten receipt and camped in an open meadow surrounded by RVs all dark, weathered and covered by a litter of leaves and pine needles ...several had open doors that hung at awkward angles. A passing breeze in the dark surrounding forest moved a swing on the old playground equipment with a squeak. I distinctly heard a rustle in the brush by the clearing.....

     photo IMG_1164_zps34691b10.jpg

    I was the only person there....I may also have been the only camper to visit this year. During that night I was woken when something was dropped or was thrown against my tent this went on for perhaps five minutes.... Stephen King would have had a field day with this place.

    The next morning I rode South and had breakfast in Winsted, Connecticut at a local diner and within a few hours I was back on the freeways (See earlier note re Freeways) heading back to Chicago...arriving with a rear time so worn that the steel cords shone in the sunlight.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 11-06-2013 at 09:04 PM.

  8. #8
    Registered User jandhumphreyme's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Central Maine
    Posts
    73
    Thanks for the great post. I've ridden many of those same roads myself.
    So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
    And we never even know we have the key

  9. #9
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    2,220
    Great ride report. You have a great way of writing! Very entertaining
    Dan

  10. #10
    George K1200RS GeorgeK1200RS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    237
    Very much enjoyed your ride report. It brought back many memories of trips I took through the same areas.

    I ate my first lobster on a dock in Bar Harbor with the help of a local. My daughter had her first lobster on a different trip in a seaside town just north of the lighthouse on the Maine quarter. The fishing boats virtually unloaded their catch at the restaurant.

    I did not have a problem with someone hauling a mattress on the roof. My issue was with logging trucks I would pass going uphill that would roar by me on the downhill side. 20 mph above the speed limit was not enough to keep them from passing me....this was in Maine.

    Thanks for the memories!!!
    George
    R1200RT, K1200RS. Previous K1200LT, R80RT, R100R, R75/5

  11. #11
    Out There Somewhere bmwrider88's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Harrisburg, PA
    Posts
    927
    Nice! Thank you for posting, this brings back fond memories.

    We had the distinct pleasure of riding some of what you rode, including a stop at Bar Harbor, and Acadia/Cadillac Mtn- by way of the wonderful Kancamagus Highway- then riding on up into Nova Scotia and the Cabot Trail. To do it over again, instead of hot-footing it over to "Olde" Quebec City, I'd stay on Cape Breton Island for.... EVER.
    BTW, I cannot overstate the positive aspects of a stop at Glenora Distillery
    http://www.glenoradistillery.com
    for a couple small (quite portable) bottles of Glen Breton Nova Scotia single malt... Since I didn't see it mentioned in your RR, maybe NEXT time, eh?
    Be The Change You Want To See In The World

  12. #12
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, Ill
    Posts
    997

    Hmmmm.

    I think the the Good Doctor was buzzing The Cabot Trail so fast that I didn't even see any signs for a Distillery. And yes, to be sure If I had seen it I'd have included the visit in my report. As you said - 'Next Time'.

    Bryan

  13. #13
    Out There Somewhere bmwrider88's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Harrisburg, PA
    Posts
    927
    Quote Originally Posted by Beemer01 View Post
    I think the the Good Doctor was buzzing The Cabot Trail so fast that I didn't even see any signs for a Distillery. And yes, to be sure If I had seen it I'd have included the visit in my report. As you said - 'Next Time'.

    Bryan
    Yeah, it's a bit south along the coast- off the Trail, as it were... There are signs, (I think I saw ONE) but they don't make it easy. However, if you happen to go by, you cannot miss the place. I only knew because I'd had a few threads here, and "around" some -ahem- "other" motorcycle forums with large, travel savvy memberships. I asked for suggestions and fave places from locals (and others) along our travel route, and got lots of great suggestions to help me plan our adventure... We found the distillery because we were actively looking. It'd be worth either most of a day for a full tour, or an overnight- sitting at the bar is supposed to be awesome people watching!

    Among some other goodies gleaned from here & elsewhere, were (not in order) Two Cats Restaurant for breakfast (really wonderful) in Bar Harbor, the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, and the Lahave Bakery (OMG) on the peninsula of Nova Scotia, south of Lunenburg, along the Lahave River.

    We went in mid June and everywhere we went, was basically deserted- with the exception of the Kancamagus hiway, which we rode on THE warm, sunny Saturday of the Laconia Bike Week event, when the whole world of motorcyclists was out enjoying the scene (thankfully, zero RVs tho!). The Kanc was fun, but even better were the roads coming in from the west- with zero people on them.
    We had the Cabot Trail all to ourselves!

    Cheers, Bryan, and thank you again for an enjoyable read.

    Tom
    Last edited by bmwrider88; 11-13-2013 at 01:01 AM.
    Be The Change You Want To See In The World

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •