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Thread: more stories of the canadian maritimes

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    Registered User hetkind's Avatar
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    more stories of the canadian maritimes

    Cod Tongue for Dinner

    The specialty of the house is cod tongue said the restaurant owner, a 40s something, handsome woman. And the table was silent Im thinking cows tongue, a cold cut I ate as a child, and now doesnt seem to be easily available outside the Kosher delis. And I havent found one in Dallas yet, nor a decent bagel, a good knish or even a pastrami sandwich. Brisket is however cheap, available and good on the grill. But I digress.

    ÔÇ£How big is a codÔÇÖs tongue?ÔÇØ I ask. She goes on: ÔÇ£it includes cheeks, lips and other head cuts.ÔÇØ I donÔÇÖt think I am going to try the Newfoundland version of fish heads and instead go for the pan grilled cod, which was fantastic. We all ate well that night. In the morning Jill and I were going further north, and John and Peggy were at their turn around point, needing extra time to deal with their bent motorcycle, 700 miles south, in Halifax.

    The restaurant was a low slung cottage across the street from a commercial fishing dock, full of old nautical items and photographs. There was no doubt the fish was fresh or that the cook knew the sea. We were in a fishing village in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, known for the mountains and fjords, and we were eating dinner on the only fjord that was still open to the sea.

    We had left the parkÔÇÖs interpretive center around five and stopped for an early dinner, we had been pitching camp first. Normally, we think of fjords of being in Norway, but there are some in North America. They are a product of glacial meltdown, glacier after glacier, and form steep V shaped valleys with rounded U shaped bottoms. We got to see a dry one from the side the next day. I like to think of fjords as where the mountains meet the oceans.

    Then, full from dinner, we walked the waterfront. The Cape Islanders (fishing boats) set up as sidedraggers and the kids playing on bicycles both got a good eyeballing. Then a beautiful double rainbow appeared against the heavily wooded fjord. It was the first we had seenin fact, since we left Texas two weeks earlier, it was the first clear night past Nashville. We felt blessed.

    Jill and I mounted our faithful steeds, a new K1200R for her and a R1150R Rockster for me. John and Peggy still had the rental car, a sharp looking Chrysler convertible. Not much use for a convertible or a motorcycle in the Canadian Maritimes. The winters are fierce and the summers short. We heard stories on the ferry about being stuck for days in the pack ice even with the modern ice class boats.

    We were told about a nice place to camp on the other side of the same fjord. Half an hour on twisty mountain roads, heavily forested, then five miles of dirt got us to a former lumber town. There were only about 25 sites total, no utilities and no generators allowed, so it was tents or small pop-up trailers. This was camping heaven. The other campers were well spaced and quiet and some of the tent sites were on wooden platform cut into the hill side.

    The bathhouses were special too, they had restroom and shower facilities, plus wood cook stoves, sink areas and picnic tables. A few feet further was the shore, so clean you could barely tell where the beach stopped and the water started. Jill and I took a walk down the rocky shore, skipping stones until we came to the only remains we could find of the old lumber operation, the foundations of the sluiceway. We could only imagine what life must have been like for a lumberman a hundred years ago working these virgin forests, long before mechanization and modern insulating fabrics.

    Then, for the last night together as a group, we dug out the a few cold beers, a bottle of excellent 10 year old rye we found at a lunch stop on the Cabot Trail and JohnÔÇÖs Martin Guitar, which survived the bike wreck better than John did. No slur on the residents of the Canadian Maritimes, but the liquor stores often appear to be largest structure in town, larger than even the grocery store. The beer was expensive, but the domestic rye whiskey was priced on par with bourbon in Kentucky, but of much higher quality. I suspect that many a long winterÔÇÖs night was passed in these parts with song and drink. Finally, after a few favorite folk songs, we turned in to a dry tent, to bright starts and another boat ride in the morning.

    The furthest fjord north in Newfoundland is now fresh water and closed to the sea. A two mile bog separates the west end of the waterway from the road, so one has to park and walk. The only other motorcycle in the lot belonged to a couple we met on the ferry, touring two up on a big Kawasaki sport bike with just a tank bag. They were doing a different type of trip with hotels or B&B and restaurant meals, and like us, were having a lovely time.

    At the end of the bog, often full of moose, we come upon a small dock with a tour boat for what is billed as the parks ÔÇ£must doÔÇØ activity: a two hour boat tour of a pristine land locked fjord. It stays pristine due to restricted access and of course, remoteness. We are the last to board. A sign for gas lead us on another long detour, so we missed getting a seat on the upper deck. Two well spoken, attractive young women were our tour guides, one in English, and the other in French. They were cute beyond reason, wearing neoprene looking fleece jackets which we coveted. It seems like we hadnÔÇÖt brought enough warm clothing for the middle of summer. Later, the jackets were found is a shop in Jacksport at almost $100 each and we rejected them as being too delicate for motorcycle touring use.

    The boat went the entire distance of the fjord and dropped off hikers at the far end. They had to come back over mountain and valley, no trails to speak of, so they encouraged either going with a guide or being REAL good with map and compass. We were jealous of the backpackers. A few days walking through high country would have been fantastic.

    The hiker drop off point was an emotional event for us. It was OUR turn-around point. We had planned to go further, and would have with more time. The constant rains had drained us as did the challenges of traveling in a group of four. St. AnthonyÔÇÖs, St. John with the street of 100 bars, the Viking camp and Labrador would have to wait until our NEXT trip. We had to make it to the national rally in Ohio next, then back to reality.
    Howard Etkind
    Dallas-Ft Worth

    "don't look back, they might been gaining"

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    Registered User hetkind's Avatar
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    The French Clown

    The French Clown

    It has long been said that the main difference between heaven and hell is who does what. Hell is where the police are German, mechanics French and cooks English. Heaven has been reported as the place where the police are English, mechanics German and the cooks French. Our German motorcycles ran flawlessly (aside from Jill needing a new tire on her K1200R in nine days, but that wasnÔÇÖt the motorcycles fault), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police polite and as we were entering Quebec we were looking forward to a few days of French cuisine. We were in heaven.

    The police in Nova Scotia were VERY polite. We had stopped a few days earlier northeast of Halifax on a rain swept hill, so Jill could fix her helmet visor. We hadnÔÇÖt dismounted so we were sitting on the bikes, helmetless, so we could talk, on the shoulder. A Mountie, coming down the road, the other way, on his own business, stopped, rolled down the window and asked ÔÇ£all well, eh?ÔÇØ we replied ÔÇ£yes sirÔÇØ, ÔÇ£riding the cabot trail, eh?ÔÇØ looking at our sport bikes, again, ÔÇ£yes sirÔÇØ and with a ÔÇ£be wellÔÇØ he was off. Down here in the states, a LEO seeing two out of the country motorcycles, stopped where they shouldnÔÇÖt be, would have handled the situation much differently. He probably would have circled around behind us, put on his flashers, run our plates, wait for backup, asked for papers, run our papers and then found some reason to either move us along or give us some piece of paper to remember him by.

    We had stopped at a motel on the Nova Scotia border the previous evening, recommended by a Honda Blackbird rider, we had met at a gas stop. A thunderstorm had just moved through leaving a giant rainbow in its wake. He was going the other way. Plus there was a new front tire waiting on him in Halifax, he wasnÔÇÖt quite down to the core yet, but well past the top of the wear bars. New Brunswick went pretty quickly as we circled around the top of Maine stopping only for lunch and gas and seeing hundreds of Harleys on the roads for a local rally.

    We did have a couple of interesting gas stops in New Brunswick. The first was at a gas station/restaurant that was FULL of motorcycles going to their rally with one guy out behind the place dealing with a set of sheared bolts the held the rear wheel sprocket on his sportster to the hub. He was using an aftermarket wheel with a bolted design, where IIRC the original HD design was steel rivets. As we were gassing up, a gal on a high mileage cruiser pulls in behind us. She was SO butch the Jill didnÔÇÖt even think it was a woman. Black leather chaps and jacket in a manÔÇÖs cut didnÔÇÖt offer any clues nor did the helmet, sunglasses and deep voice. The key was smooth skin of the face, lack of an adams apple and the rainbow sticker on the windshield. We saw much cuter lesbians in New Hampshire. During a later stop that day, on a two lane highway, at an old style gas station, we talked to a 1% on his shovelhead chopper that he had been riding for twenty five years. JillÔÇÖs high tech sport bike impressed him, but he was convinced he would ride his faithful, hand built machine for many more seasons.

    As the afternoon wore on, traffic on the two laner picked up. This was an old road, reminding me of an US Federal Highway after the parallel interstate went in. The motels looked very old and somewhat abandoned, so we were looking for a better place to stop for the evening. Just south of the St. Laurence River, the drivers started to act tired and cranky. When we saw a sign for a campground, around five in the afternoon on a Saturday, we stopped.

    The name of the town was Riviere-Du-Loop, a few hours northeast of Quebec. The nice gal at the Quebec information center told us that Quebec was in the middle of a festival and accommodations would be scarce, so from many angles this seemed to be ideal. We had also gained an hour in a time change that morning, so we had a full evening to relax ahead of us. Relaxing, laundry and dinner were high on our list.

    This was a very French place, the road signs had started out that morning with English on top and French in small letters underneath. By lunch, it had reversed, now they were only in French. Sounds of children swimming greeted us as we pulled down the dusty campground road, and in short order we registered for a tent site, procured laundry detergent and pitched camp. The Canadians, both English speaking and French camp much differently than Americans. Campers are much smaller and are typically pop-up pulled by sedans or mini-vans. They seem to really camp instead of living in a rolling apartment giving a much greater sense of community as opposed to a truck stop for RVs.

    Tent gets pitched, laundry goes up and into town for supplies. Red wine, crusty bread, quality cheese and a small watermelon were found at local market. Back at the campground we found that we in the middle of a party. The pavilion next to the tent area was set for dinner and a large mobile bbq grill (the size of a medium car) was smoking happily. Folks were gathered with cold beer in the tent area across form the pavilion waiting on the start of dinner.

    Later, after their supper, the party moved outside again, and our tent was pitched at the edge of it. Suddenly, a bright yellow VW bug appears and out pops a bright yellow white faced clown. He didnÔÇÖt put a show on, but acted more like a social director. He led the parents and children in a sack race, then a three legged race, and other assorted activities. It was so nice to see how well the parents and their children interacted on this beautiful Saturday evening. No one seemed to be in a hurry, unlike the US, where everyone always seems to in a hurry

    As we drank our red wine, folded clean laundry and ate the watermelon (from South Texas of all places) we felt special to be part of our neighboring French-Canadian culture. Our neighbors in the park came by to ask about our motorcycles and our trip. Many were trying to figure out how to dump enough junk to be able to take off for distant lands on a sport-tourer. Our recommendation was to travel light and leave as much time unstructured as possible. Reservations just tie you down.

    Our ride the following days through Quebec, the Montreal and finally into Ontario was enjoyable. The weather was good, the people friendly, food excellent. As we left the campground the following morning, as quietly as possible, we were looking forward to brunch in Quebec City.
    Howard Etkind
    Dallas-Ft Worth

    "don't look back, they might been gaining"

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    Registered User hetkind's Avatar
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    Skeeball Tickets

    Cashing in Skee-Ball Tickets

    ÔÇ£It was like cashing in skee-ball ticketsÔÇØ commented Jill as we were leaving the duty free store, just north of the 1000 Islands border crossing, east of Lake Ontario. Except instead of getting cheap toys for ÔÇ£games of skillÔÇØ tickets, we got hand rolled cigars and 18 year old whiskey for qualified receipts and the remains of our loonies and ÔÇ£twoniesÔÇØ (plus some folding money.) Then, to make sure we didnÔÇÖt violate any import restrictions, we found a picnic table in the shade and finished off the treats we got that morning at caf?®/bakery/deli just west of Montreal. Finally, we stretched, yawned and pushed our bikes to the border crossing, not bothering to either suit up or turn the machines on.

    Unlike going into Canada, coming back this way was fast and we spent more time chatting with the agent about our trip and motorcycles than anything else. Then it was back roads around Lake Ontario, clockwise. All the warm weather must have been bottled up in the New York and Ohio while we were in the Maritimes or we lost all our heat acclimation in the rain and cold or both. But we were miserable. When we stopped for an early dinner/late lunch, none of the restaurants had air conditioning, or perhaps the 100% humidity was too difficult to dewater. Whatever the case, we were hot and cranky.

    The rain finally did hit, and it hit hard, but by then, we were in a rest area on the NY Thruway, watching it come down while having a milkshake. Jill kept asking ÔÇ£what happened here, was it a plague, a great war?ÔÇØ First it was the failing of the rust belt and the death of heavy industry, then the fall of the glory boys of Xerox, Kodak and IBM. Those three companies brought so much money and so many jobs to upstate New York, you would have thought the boom would last forever. We rode for hours through abandoned farms, overgrown fields and empty resorts. Only when we got well south of the lake did well kept farms, fields and small towns reappear.

    Finally, when the light starting failing and it became the ÔÇ£bambiÔÇØ hour, did we finally stop. We were now in the Niagara region, another failed area. I used to come up here quite often to oversee the cleanup of a nuclear reactor fuel rod reprocessing facility. It was New York States solution to nuclear power. Reclaim the rods in the state, donÔÇÖt pay into the disposal fund, and enjoy power too cheap to meter, like what came off the turbine wheels at the falls. Then, Jimmy Carter stopped that to ensure ÔÇ£wasteÔÇØ plutonium wouldnÔÇÖt fall into the wrong hands, and we have been trying to clean up the mess ever since. The site is still there, but I have moved on, thanks to George Bush and his war machine. How does it go again? Will engineer for motorcycle parts and gasoline vouchers?

    At the Batavia exit, on the south side of the Thruway, sits a massive motel, one side is labeled DayÔÇÖs Inn, the other, Super 8. It was once combined as a fancy Holiday Inn. They connect through a common hallway. As you wander through, you find abandoned meeting rooms, bars, and restaurants. We were glad to sleep cheap and move on in the morning. Once we got going, we didnÔÇÖt stop again until Erie, Pennsylvania, where Commodore Perry built his fleet to battle the British during the War of 1812.

    The welcome center as one enters Ohio is always a good stop. There we met a rolling broccoli rider on a /2 who had a few more days of blissful wandering before the rally. Also, a dozen or so one percenters (the one percent of all motorcyclists that the AMA refuses to sanction) flying colors from Cincinnati who were waiting on a buddy with some sort of mechanical/legal/police troubles with a van towing a broken motorcycle. They liked JillÔÇÖs fancy new bike. They were riding old, worn Harleys. Their machines were runners and not pretty, and we were kindred souls. For them, it was Tuesday morning, 300 miles from home and their weekend run was stretching well into the work week.

    Downtown Cleveland is never good to ride through and we finally picked up the old road, Route 2 that ran by Lake Erie. Route 2 is a lovely old highway that at one time was the main link between Cleveland and Toledo. Taking it all the way into Toledo these days might take a while, and the last time I rode it, pothole city. But our destination was East Harbor State Park, up by Cedar Point Amusement park, ferries to Put-in-Bay and Marblehead light house. As we pull in, we see some BMWs near the entrance, talking. I call to the women riding the K75, Hey Beth, long time and it was the former president of the Toledo club and a couple from Missouri headed to the rally.

    This park has always been a favorite of mine and hosts the annual August campout of the Toledo club. Since the city has lost it dealership (closest are now Detroit, Cincinnati and Columbus) one wonder what the long term fate of the club will be. This is Doug GrosjeanÔÇÖs home turf and he can write about it far better than I can. Anyhow, Beth spends the rest of the afternoon with us in the non-electric pet area (not quite sure where you camped if you had electric pets) while the other couple camps closer to the showers. We get lemonade slushies and firewood from the camp store and spend time going through our giant stack of maps.

    Come morning, it is the 100 miles before breakfast routine via secondary Ohio back roads. We hit the highway and breakfast in Bowling Green, then the final hour to Lima and the national rally. It is a chore to keep our speed down to Ohio standards compared to our run across the trans-canadian. We camp early, share a picnic lunch with Paul and Voni Glaves, hang the IBMWR banner above our tent, pickup volunteer pins from Bruce Davidson to help out at the flea market. Then, we sneak off the rally site, eat at a Chinese buffet and catch the latest Star Wars episode at the dollar theater.

    The tension is building as the rally is starting following day. We relax in home sweet tent. Our bikes hadnÔÇÖt been washed since leaving Texas. Jill wants our filthy bikes to be our badge of honor for our miles traveled. Her goal is to have the newest, dirtiest bike with the most miles on it, and she succeeds. As the rally starts, our adventure is over. The new and exciting has already happened, now is the rally, old and new friends, vendors, entertainment, personal business in Ohio and a run back to Texas. We just wanted to keep on riding west, into the sunset.
    Howard Etkind
    Dallas-Ft Worth

    "don't look back, they might been gaining"

  4. #4
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Thanks for bringing us all along - so colorfully - on your adventures.

    Voni
    sMiling and planning my next
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