Atlantic Provinces – NFLD and Labrador

NEWFOUNDLAND – Friendlier, Rockier, & Windier

We boarded the ferry to NFLD in North Sydney, NS and motorbikes were allowed to move to the front of the line and board first – finally, a little respect.  We’ve been on ferries with our bikes many times before, but only the small lake ferries in B.C. where you don’t actually have to tie-down your bike to the deck to prevent them from flying all over the place in high seas.  We nonchalantly watched all the other riders tie down their bikes first and then simply copied what they did.  Sandra was much faster at securing her bike with the tie-down straps than Jordan, she also seems to be quicker at loading and unloading her bike, but that is another story…  5 hours later, we were on The Rock.  It was stunning and exactly what we were hoping for!

Jordan tying down the Dakar

Our ship's heli pad

Fully enclosed life boats

A short ride north on the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) we found a campsite run by Alice and Dennis in the Codroy Valley.  Exceptionally friendly, great facilities and a dinner recommendation – the Wreck Haven Cafe where you sit in the kitchen of the house and are offered two choices for dinner . With a when in Rome attitude, we  jumped in and enjoyed the traditional ‘Jig’s Supper’ of salted beef, pea pudding, and boiled vegetables followed by extremely delicious molasses cake & tea.

Traditional NL jig's dinner

We road north on the only highway available (TCH) which was not a great road to ride, but it was practical and got us to where we anted to go – Gros Morne National Park.  We booked two nights in the park and our first was exceptional!  We stayed at Green Point Campground which had WIFI, though no electricity, which caused a kerfuffle when our neighbour decided to run his generator all evening.  Thankfully, the amazing sunset drew us away from him for a number of hours as we played on the beach with our cameras and enjoyed tea and chocolate.

Bikes & wild flowers - Gros Morne NP

Sunset effects

Everybody loves a sunset

The following morning, the best site in the campground opened up – it was perched on a ledge, out of view from all the other campsites and overlooking the sea… we could watch crashing waves and look at a cute fishing village all for $15 / night.   After walking our tent and things over to our new site, we hoped on Jordan’s bike and rode 2-up to hike The Lookout trail and explore the Tablelands – an area where the earth’s mantel is exposed due to the uprising of an ancient ocean seabed some 470 million years ago.  As one of the only places on earth to study the earth’s mantel directly, it is of geologic importance and has been named a Unesco Heritage Site http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/419

big views - Gros Morne NP

Boardwalks protect the marshy bits

Walking on the moon

Apparently, these rocks have high levels of heavy metals - good for tourists

Once back, while making dinner, it was clear that clouds were on the move, it was going to rain and we needed to deploy our tarp.  We do not argue very often, however when we do, more times than not it involves putting up a tarp, so we’ve agreed never to do this together.   With this in mind, Jordan proceeded to put it up while Sandra continued with dinner prep.  The tarp looked great and we were happy to have a place to sit and be dry during the rain.  Or so we thought…  The rain came in sideways, blowing right off the ocean and effectively making our tarp nothing more than decorative.  We spent the rest of the evening in the tent.

The pounding wind and driving rain lasted all night.  At 5am, the tarp broke free and was flapping around creating an unbelievable racket.  Too much noise for us to sleep, let alone hear each other discuss our options.  Now, we may not have had 100% foresight when we were lured by our sea-front site, but we did manage a few good choices, like bringing in our rain gear to the tent with us.  Jordan put his on and went out to fix the tarp.  In hindsight, he should have just removed it because the vicious wind took it down again an hour later.  The worst part was that the rain was blowing in under our fly and into our tent.  Water was puddling, Jordan’s bedding was wet and neither of us were sleeping.

Sandra bumped into a park ranger, Harold Snow in the loo (literally) and in trade for the free show, he suggested we use the campground’s cooking shelter to dry our things.  He even provided us with fire wood and got the wood stove going making it warm and dry and allowing us to hang our soaking wet tent and sleeping bags to dry from the ceiling rafters.  We sat there all morning until the rain subsided.  We made our coffee and toasted bagels on the wood stove and chatted with Harold.  It is true, we still smell like campfire weeks later, but we were grateful for the his help and the ability to dry our equipment before packing it up again.  Thanks, Harold!   We stayed in a hotel after that experience to get a good night’s sleep.

The site that lured us

Drying our gear, after no sleep

Originally, our plan was to travel to the east coast of the island and visit one of Jordan’s friends in St. John’s (thanks Lynette!), however, with heavy rain in the forecast for another 4 days and Sandra’s back tire needed attention.  Our plans had to change.  We knew that the tire would need to be replaced fairly soon after leaving home, however with the extra weight of all our gear and the daily milage, it was wearing much faster than anticipated.  It was more or less bald, with no discernible tread in the middle of the tire, not good, especially considering all the rain in the forecast.   With this in mind we opted to forego the extra 890 kms and get on with heading south.

Since this was a new, last-minute decision, we could only book tickets for the midnight ferry off the island.  We spent our last day riding the Port au Port peninsula to Cape St. George – an Acadian Heritage area – and the most westerly point in NL.  We found beautiful rock formations, an outdoor bread oven (we should have packed dough) and even alpacas and llamas http://deja-vu.ca/The_Cape_St_George_Connection.htm  Sandra was coaxed by the farm hand to feed grass to an alpaca mouth-to-mouth – she insists this is a better way of being inducted to NFLD than kissing a cod or worse, a puffin’s ass – which are two traditional ways Newfoundlanders get their kicks abusing visitors.

Sandra feeding an alpaca mouth-to-mouth

Hanging out on the cliffs - Cape St. George, NL

Port au Port, NL

hand made lobster traps - Port au Port

Trout Lake, NL

Our final ride off the island was memorable, indeed.  The entire time we were on the island, we heard about ‘the moose problem’.  Moose are not native to NL and were introduced to the island in the early 1900’s. They are now overpopulated as there are no natural predators and pose a real threat to highway users.  As one local GS rider (ADV handle: NewfieRider) we met in a parking lot put it, “meeting a moose on the highway could really ruin your day”.  No kidding.

We ate at a diner prior to the evening ride to the Ferry – waitress’s last words?  “Watch for moose.”, which we did.  We felt like a cylons from Battle Star Galactica – scanning back and forth for animals.  We also continued to fight very intense winds (we saw a sign warning of up to 120kmph winds in the area), and managed more road construction.  Shortly after leaving that diner, we were riding from the top of a hill and could see brown movement at the side of the road – a moose!  We slowed down and sure enough, after looking both ways, the [smart] moose crossed the road just a few meters in front of us and disappeared almost immediately into the forest on the other side.  They are REALLY big up close, especially on a motorbike.  The poor moose we saw at the side of the road a mere 10kms further did not have such a happy outcome.

We boarded the Ferry after a bit of a wait at the terminal, shared a few drinks with a group of fellow riders in the bar and called it a night.  7 hours later, we were back on mainland.

Rocky Harbour, NL

NL:  we’re sorry to have cut our trip short, but we’ll be back.

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Atlantic Provinces – NS

NOVA SCOTIA – Rocky & Windy

Leaving PEI took us back over  the bridge, into NB & eventually Nova Scotia where we were greeted with the most insane winds we have come across yet.  It was laughable, actually.  Literally.  Sandra was laughing in her helmet (again) which would quite honestly have been blown off if not for the strap because, really, it was that bad.  The bikes were all over the road and again we were being knocked about.  The driving rain, and road construction were simply added bonuses.  This meant a motel in the impressive town of Amherst, NS – home to many historic and lovely victorian houses.  Please note, our motel was not impressive – but it was dry and we could hang our clothes out to dry as well.

Drip drying our gear

The day we did the Cabot Trial (298 kms), we reached it from Antigonish (60kms away) and rode towards Meat Cove which, in spite of its name, is a stunning location overlooking the sea at the northern tip of the Cape Breton Highlands another 50kms (there & back) off our route.  We attempted to get there, but again daylight and fuel levels were against us.  We regretfully turned back and made way to our campground.  In short, it was a big day.  Made bigger by ocean views, curvy roads and numerous “look off” sites along the route.  The Cabot Trail is an excellent route that we recommend doing anti-clockwise so as to be able to take advantage of the best views.  Going at it clockwise, the steep curvy bits happen to be downhill and look-offs are across the double solid line – a few more practical reasons to heed the advice.  Jordan felt the route was better suited for a car trip than for a motorbike, but we both enjoyed the ride just the same.

The bikes @ our Cabot Trail lunch spot

Cabot Trail, NS

Fuelling station with a view

Random NS fishing village

We found a great private campsite near North Sydney, NS (add 60 more kms) – the road up to the site was steep & gravelly with a few turns.  After 8 hours and over 450kms on the road, Sandra’s 650 was tired… so it decided to lay down and have a rest on that gravel road.

Tired bike...

This guy lived at our campsite

One of the greatest pleasures visiting the east has been checking out the history that just doesn’t exist in the west.  We spent 2 days in Halifax wandering about the core admiring the old stone walls and historical clapboard houses.  The Old Burying Ground is Halifax’s oldest (1749)cemetery turned historic park and the final resting place for approximately 12,000.  We spent an hour and a half just walking about reading the inscriptions on the hand chiselled stones.  It was interesting to see how the iconography on the headstones changed with the times.  The earliest stones were decorated with death heads, winged death heads, and hourglasses – all signs of reverence for the afterlife.  Later stones depicted cherubs, urns and weeping willows – messages of mourning and the sadness of one’s own death and desire of immortality.

The Old Burying Ground, Halifax

"Here lies the body of the wife of William Carter"

While Sandra was undergoing damage control for her hair at the salon, Jordan went down to the waterfront and checked out the boats.  There were a number of beautiful boats, including a simply gorgeous wooden-hulled sailing yacht from the United States.  The detail on the teak deck and brass work was really impressive, all Jordan could say was “My she was yar, … easy to handle, quick to the helm, fast, right. Everything a boat should be” (quoting Katherine Hepburn in the movie The Philadelphia Story).  After that he went to visit the HMS Sackville, a WWII Canadian Navy Corvette which now serves as Canada’s naval war memorial.  Visitors are able to come aboard and explore the ship on a self guided tour, including the bridge, engine room, battle stations and living quarters below deck.  It was really interesting and highly recommended by Jordan.

A quick walk through the very colonial Public Gardens http://www.halifaxpublicgardens.ca/, a stroll along the waterfront, a climb to the Citadel rounded out a fabulous day that only makes us want to go back for more.

Evidence of English in Eastern Canada at the Citadel, Halifax

Bengal Lancers of Halifax

Someone who really loves The Simpsons

Our final day in Nova Scotia was spent in Digby – home of the famous Digby Scallops and, yes! the town did smell exactly like scallops.  Of course, the ride to Digby was horrifically windy, wet and cold.  The little campground we found offered shelters in addition to campsites.  The campground is near the bay of Fundy which does whip up some memorable weather which is why the shelters exist.  So, we stayed in a tiny shack equipped only with two windows and two wooden platforms – our beds.  With bed rolls and sleeping bags it’s no different than tenting and we were thrilled to have shelter from the wind.

Sleeping quarters in Digby, NS

Atlantic Provinces – PEI

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND – Red and Royally Wet

With the winds and rain, we were nervous approaching the Confederation Bridge.  It is phenomenal at 14km long and 40 meters high.  The last road sign we saw approaching the bridge was “cross winds”.  It was our lucky 15 minutes, though – it was foggy and we couldn’t see the end of the bridge, but the only winds were at our back and the ride was pleasant.  In fact, Sandra was feeling a bit punchy and could not stop laughing at Jordan in front of her who, with a his  yellow rain jacket puffed out from the from the wind and large yellow duffel hiding his own petite backside, looked like a VERY large man!  It reminded her of Guinness’s ‘World’s Fattest Twins’ – who can forget that World Book of Records photograph of them on their motorbikes?

We heard Will & Kate would be at the same north shore beach (Dalvay Beach) we planned to explore so we tried to time it just right.  The trip to the beach from the bridge is about 15kms.  Along the way, we passed numerous people in formal attire (hats and all) hoping the Royals would travel down their slice of road.  We entered PEI National Park and paid for the ‘scenic drive’ fee of $7.80.  However, we are naughty and stopped at beaches anyway (which should have cost 2 of us $14.60)…  we felt safe – all security resources would be tied up with the Royals, right?  The beaches were gorgeous and empty – red beaches and grassy dunes for as far as the eye can see.  The only possible improvement would have been blue skies.

Dalvay Beach, PEI

Red and rocky shore

As we strolled Dalvay Beach crushing the smooth red rocks with our bare hands (they are made of sand and easily broken apart), we saw a Sea King helicopter performing manoeuvres over the ocean in the distance which, as we learned later, was piloted by Prince William.  That was as close as we got to the Royals, as we were turned back by police road blocks in the midst of our $7.80 tour of the park and were unable to get any closer.

Grassy Dunes - PEI

Jordan passing time waiting for Sandra

We road around the island for another couple of hours and stopped in Charlottetown for a coffee and to dry off a bit at Starbucks.  It had been another long day – leaving at 6:30am then riding to and having seen most of PEI over the course of the day, so we made our way back to the bridge.

PEI Farm

Lots of farmland on PEI

Confederation Bridge is a toll bridge – and, according to this link, the most expensive in North America http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederation_Bridge  But one only has to pay to leave the island… getting there is no charge.  We did note that groceries and gas prices were the lowest here since we left Calgary.  The gas was probably just market fluctuations (as of right now, Alberta seems to have the lowest), but we thought it interesting about the groceries and actually expected it to be much higher due to location.

Atlantic Provinces – NB

We rode in and out of the Atlantic provinces as we toured around.  Each had its charms and we felt lucky to be able to spend a full 2 weeks exploring them.

NEW BRUNSWICK – Friendly & Rocky

We continued to ride around the Gaspe Peninsula for a full day.  Eventually, we arrived in New Brunswick and found a cheap and cheerful campground in the town of Dalhousie – a working class town of  mill workers.  Not exactly pretty, but the people were extremely friendly, especially the newest summer hire at the campground – Melissa.  She was the King of Kensington (sorry – 1970’s Canadian reference) and extremely sweet.  We toured about the camp ground with her while she told us how much she loved her new job and she exchanged hearty hello’s with virtually every group we passed.  To one particular group, she called out “Hi Buddy, how’s it goin’?” and then informed us how Buddy is her good friend.  Sandra asked, “Is Buddy the old guy?” (he was the only one in that group who was not part of a couple).  “No”, she said – “he’s the dog!”  While we found Sandra’s comment hilarious under the circumstances, it didn’t phase Melissa – she didn’t have a cynical bone in her body.  We hope she is still loving her job!

Lighthouse at the Bon Ami Rocks campground

New Brunswick offered our first (and only) McLobster (with poutine!) as well as delicious local ice cream at a popular spot just off the highway where we chatted with Jean-Pierre,  a German car expert whose son also rides a BMW GS (albeit an R1150GS).

McLobster & Poutine lunch

Each day, 1 billion tonnes of seawater flow in and out of the the Bay of Fundy!  We rode the windy roads from Dalhousie NB to Hopewell Rocks in the south and spent the late evening exploring the ocean floor & the Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy.  The rock formations have been caused by tidal erosion and are fully exposed during the (dramatically) low tides.  Of course it was cold and grey so we did not have the traditional ‘mud bath’ with contents of the ocean floor, but we hear it is fun, if not ‘healing’.

Sandra on the ocean floor

Sunset through the forest

Hopewell Rocks exposed at low tide

Hopewell Rocks

Grassy marsh to the sea - from our campsite

Our stove, in action

Quebec!

June 27th – July 1

After a quick stop at the CBC store on Sparks Street to by a couple of T-shirts, we tried to track our Member of Parliament down to see if we could get some Canadian flag pins to hand out during our trip.  We couldn’t find him, but we did get one of his assistants who was able to give us loads of pins and a Canadian flag we hope to show off in some future photos.  Then it was across the river to Quebec.

One of Sandra’s colleagues, Steve, has a beautiful chalet near the Laurentian Mountains just north of Montreal, and he kindly offered it to us for a few days.  Merci Steve!!!  We had to hop onto the very busy Hwy 15 for a while.  We’ve met a lot of Quebecois on our trip, and they have been nothing but generous, interesting and a lot of fun.  However, put them behind a steering wheel, mon dieu…!  We were clearly too slow and in their way most the time.  It was a short, tense bit of riding and, thankfully, we were able to get to the cottage by our preferred method of using smaller roads (it will be much worse in Central & South America and we’ll probably look back on riding in Quebec as ‘relaxed’).  We enjoyed a long, hot soak in the hot tub on the first evening under a blanket of stars while watching fire flies (we should bring some of those back with us to Alberta – they’re fun to watch!).   We also found the largest moth we’ve ever seen… We were turning down the lights when Jordan noticed a “hummingbird” flapping around the cottage.  It was not a hummingbird but a gigantic (seriously GIGANTIC) moth.  Well, we were quick to escort that guy out of the cottage ‘tout-suite’.

Summer ski jump training in Laurentians

For the next 3 days, we traveled to Quebec City along the St. Lawrence on a small road – the Chemin du Roy (Hwy 138).  The Chemin du Roy was created in 1737 to connect Montreal to Quebec City and travelled by stage coach http://www.lecheminduroy.com/en/ and was the longest road in North America at the time. It is now a gorgeous tourist route that took us off the main highway and through quaint towns & villages along very picturesque countryside.

We were loving the riding so much, and even though it was getting misty and rainy again, we wanted to continue on.  Normally, we’ve been getting 305kms out our bikes before the fuel light comes on.  After that – we have another 35kms or so.  Today, however, the ride was into strong headwinds, which reduced the bikes’ efficiency.  We were admiring the views and hadn’t been keeping track of the mileage.  Our fuel lights came on a full 30km sooner than usual… which meant our reserve was probably not going to last 35kms either.  The next town on our maps was 60kms away and it was getting dark…

GPS to the rescue!  Even though that darn thing often takes us down the wrong road, gives us confounding directions, and often shows us riding off the road (and once in the ocean!) it is great for searching out things like “gas stations”.  It showed us that there was one 15kms behind us.  We circled back filled up and were happy campers… or roadside motel guests, as it were.

Is this thing on?

Most roofs in the area are tin

Love the red roof!

Cute farm B&B - we didn't stay there...

THIS is where we stayed

Enjoyable, despite the size. PS: evidence of hair disaster...

National Geographic recognized the Gaspe Peninsula as the 20 Best Trips of 2011 and we agree!  We crossed over to the south side of the St. Lawrence at Quebec City and chose Hwy 132 for the trip.  “The Route de Navigateurs” runs along the coast with rolling countryside to the south and cliffs overlooking the sea to the north.  Absolutely gorgeous!  Seeing this area of the country was practically a dream come true!

Approaching 6,000 kms

Gaspe north coast & typical fishing town

Forillon National Park

Bike Shot

We continued on around the peninsula, admiring how we could feel every subtle change in temperature as the road took us in to the fog/clouds on the hilltops and back down to the sea.  We lunched beside lighthouses, and frequently stopped to take photos – it was a great leisurely ride – there were some fun bits, too!  For a part of the ride, the route takes you inland up and down over the hills and around hair-pin corners.  While Sandra often likes to take the twisty bits a little slower, Jordan advised that he was going to ‘have some fun’ (not sure if this is really possible on a heavily loaded, 11 year-old dual sport motorcycle – but he made a go of it).  So we parted ways for a short while.  We were not the only GS’s to enjoy the run – we were both smoked by a R1200 GS (twice the size and power of our bikes) who was obviously not as concerned about 20km/h hairpin corners as we were.  Jordan reluctantly sold is R1200 GS to help finance the trip, so it was an emotional moment for him…

Taking off helmets & earplugs can be a pain..

A typical camp dinner

The peninsula doesn’t last forever, no matter how hard we wished it could.  Finally, we rounded to the actual town of Gaspe, found a nice camping spot and settled in.  It was Canada Day (which did not appear to be really celebrated in that part of Quebec) but we enjoyed our wine and sang O Canada (quietly) on the beach before calling it a night, watching some fireworks in the distance from a nearby National Park.  Today, we really did feel happy to be in Canada and quite possibly in the most beautiful part of it.

Ontario – part 2

June 19-26

The next two days of riding were clear and sunny.  We left the Wawa campground around 9am after a bagel and coffee breakfast at camp.  We just needed to get away from those mosquitos!

Enroute, we stopped at for ice-cream in the small town of Webbwood, ON and met a couple who were taking the summer to cycle from Montreal to Vancouver.  It certainly made what we were experiencing seem much easier all of a sudden.  We shared a few stories, enjoyed some ice-cream and took down a few tips… like, where to stay for the night.  We camped at a small, private campground in the area of Hagar ON.  Nothing fancy, but we are getting tired of $40 night camping in the provincial parks, and the cheaper private places offer luxuries such as wifi which is much appreciated.

In the morning, we packed up, ate our oatmeal and left in the rain and headed to our friends’ cottage north of Toronto, thank you Marina and Alex!!!  The ride took us east across the Canadian Shield past many trees and lakes, through the Sudbury area on massive highways under a lot of construction (this must be a Conservative riding… ).  Still, there was not much traffic, which was a saving grace.

Road signs in Amish country

However, once we turned toward the cottage on hwy 35, the roads were curvy, empty, and cut through thick Ontario forests for the next 150 kilometres.  We arrived at the ESR cottage in the late afternoon, bought some groceries and enjoyed an excellent evening watching interesting bugs and fireflies on the beach with our wine.

Bikes at ESR cottage

Alex and Marina arrived at the cottage a few days later on the 22nd of June.  Alex made us all an amazing dinner out of the random ingredients in the freezer and pantry (had not been there for a few weeks).  We all poured over maps of Mexico while enjoying tequila after dinner.  After the Mexico discussion, we realized we still have quite a bit of research and planning to do.  And we might owe Alex a bottle of tequila…

Planning Mexico

Marina and her Street Triple

Alex & Marina getting ready for the road

Rain held us hostage for 2 more days.  This was not normal rain.  It was serious downpour, flood-your-basement kind of rain.  And, it did not stop at all, not even once.  It is a good thing the ESR cottage is fully equipped with movies, Internet connectivity, and music.  Somehow, we stayed inside for 2 days, though we were really ready to get out of there and on to Ottawa.

June 25 – 27

We tried to leave early – we really did.  We were up, packed, had cleaned the cottage and were ready to go for 9:30am.  But then the rain started… heavily.  After a brief  ‘discussion’ (one person who is not named Jordan was ready to leave in the rain, the other one was afraid of getting wet…), we decided against it.  We hung on, watching some CBC (for some unknown reason Sandra finds the Juste Pour Rire ‘Gags’ show strangely hilarious and can’t seem to get enough of it… )  Finally, the rain subsided a bit and we decided to go for it, the rest of the day was filled with excellent riding across backroads from Minton to Ottawa.  Or at least most of the day, it poured once again just outside of Ottawa, but it was nice once we got into town.

We stayed at a hostel down town so we could be close to Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal and other attractions.  The hostel itself was kind of dingy (as hostels often are) and we both found it a little over priced, although we did get to stay in the ‘Galatic’ room.  Not sure why it was called Galatic, as it had a nothing to do with space and had a mountain-themed mural painted on the wall.  Disappointingly there was not a single Battle Star Galatica reference in sight.

We spent the evening walking around our nations beautiful capital.    We got our diner on Sparks Street, as it was the last night of a huge BBQ cook off competition – a cold beer and some BBQ – just about perfect on a hot summer evening. The Rideau Canal was lovely, and the National War Memorial is beautiful by night.  We also caught a K.D. Lang concert in the park, she can really sing, her version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ is really moving.

The next day started was spent touring Parliament Hill and exploring the museum of Civilization in Gatineau.  Being somewhat geeky, we really enjoyed the tour of our Parliament’s Centre Block and even sat in the public gallery and watched the Senate debate the Canada Post back to work legislation.

Beneath Wellington Street (at Rideau Canal)

Inside Centre Block

Parliamentary Lion

Peace Tower clock from observation deck

Peace Tower

The locks at Rideau Canal

Chateau Laurier from Rideau Canal

BBQ fest on Sparks Street

Ontario – part 1

June 15th

After 2 fun-filled weeks with family and friends, we were ready to go.  To us, leaving Winnipeg and saying good bye to everyone really felt like the start of our adventure.  Our resolve was to leave Tuesday, June 14, but a late night of Scrabble and beer meant we woke up later than hoped.  Instead of getting on the road late and not getting very far, we changed our plan to leave the following day.

The forecast for Wednesday was for a lot of rain – all the way from Winnipeg into Northern Ontario.  We left in pouring rain and rode under thick cloud and showers the entire day.  The roads were devoid of any traffic, however, and it felt good to just be ‘going’ even if we were soggy.  The air was fresh and cool and fragrant.

Each of our bikes have lockable aluminum panniers, Jordan has Touratech Zega panniers (2 x 35l) and Sandra has Jesse Odyssey panniers (2 x 45l).  We also each carry a 70l The North Face Base Camp duffle bag on the back of the bikes.  We pack our camping gear and waterproof riding gear, etc. in the panniers and our clothes and other personal items in the duffle bags.   This allows us to just grab our clothes and personal items off the back of the bikes when we are not camping,  and head in to the hostel or hotel.  Today was a rain test for our luggage – the panniers kept our equipment dry, but Jordan’s duffle let in some water.  We knew the duffles weren’t water proof, so we brought along the rain covers from our backpacks as further protection when it rained and we put our clothes in water proof dry bags before putting them inside the duffle.  It sounds complicated, but it works – without the extra dry bags, Jordan’s clothes would have certainly been  soaked.  Our rain gear (essentially our wet weather hiking gear stretched over our riding suits) also kept us mostly dry, even though we rode through some massive downpours.

We rode to Fort Francis, ON found a cheap motel in the town’s centre and enjoyed pizza and beer while we watched Boston beat Vancouver for the Stanley Cup.  It was a disappointing end to a disappointing series, but it felt nice to be our of the rain.

Ontario - black duffle covers = rain

Sioux Narrows Bridge - near the original Jordania

The Totem Pole hasn't changed in years!

June 16th

The next morning we got a nice early start and rode on towards Thunder Bay.  It was a very nice day and we rode though some stunning scenery along Highway 71.  The Canadian Shield is beautiful, lovely lakes and forests for hundreds of kilometres in every direction.  The roads have been in excellent condition, however the best part is that there is literally no traffic, we go for ages without seeing any cars.  Not sure if it because school is not out yet or if it is always this quite, but it makes for great riding.  We do see a lot of police on the road, the OPP is everywhere and we keep our speed in check.  We’ve seen a few deer, quite a few fox and even a Moose with her calf.

We arrived at Kakabeka Falls just outside of Thunder Bay, for our 1st night’s camping.  Again, the place was deserted, and we had our choice of camp sites.  We set up, made a quick run to the grocery store for provisions and made a yummy(ish) dinner.  We spent the evening exploring the falls and taking pictures, it’s a gorgeous spot and we had the place to our selves.

First Camp - Kakabeka Falls

The Falls

DEET melts the trim on Sandra's jacket (!!)

June 17th

We were up and on the road early, with a quick stop at the Terry Fox memorial just outside of T-Bay.  It’s a beautiful spot and we were both really moved by the monument.  It is well worth a spot if you find yourself in the region.

Again we found ourselves with excellent riding conditions and empty roads, and we rode on until lunch.  We stopped just outside of Rossport, ON, there is a lovely rest area and picnic site along Lake Superior just east of the town,  We had just taken off our helmets when we heard someone calling ‘Sandra!’.  We had run into JD and Susan, a couple of friends from Calgary.  They are spending the summer on an eastern Canada road trip, however we had not made plans to meet up with them, so it was definitely a chance meeting.  We enjoyed the amazing views (Lake Superior looks like the ocean!) and shared a delicious picnic lunch with them.  Although we’ve only been away for 2 weeks, it was nice to see a familiar face from home.

Terry Fox memorial

Ran into Calgary Friends at Lake Superior lunch spot

We camped in another great provincial camp ground, again the place was empty and we selected the best spot along a beautiful sandy beach.  We’ve found the Ontario Provincial Parks to be top notch, but very expensive, $36 to camp for the night seems a bit steep…  Perhaps beautiful views, nice campsites and fireflies by the truck load make it worth while .

Ney's Campground Beach in Ontario

June 18th

We were hoping that the leisurely start the morning would result in a leisurely day, and that was almost the case….

Packing up

As it happened, while driving though the stunning provincial park south of Wawa, ON, Sandra dropped her bike in the parking lot of our lunch spot.  As luck would have it, another motorbike rider was there to help us pick up the bike (the bikes are surprisingly heavy when loaded and are very easy to drop at slow speed).  Everything seemed fine and we had a great picnic lunch on the beach, however once we were back on the trail Sandra noticed a couple of problems with the ABS braking system on her bike.  Although Sandra has ABS on her bike, however Jordan has to make do with JBS, the Jordan Braking System (so far it’s been problem free).  At the next camp site (Pancake Bay Provincial Campground), we did a quick visual inspection of the braking system,  everything looked great, we tried resetting the ABS and even disconnected the battery to see it that would help.  Several test rides later, we learned that although our efforts had certainly had an effect, there was still a lingering ABS problem, however it no longer made its presence know every time Sandra applied the brakes.

A short break where ABS issue was noted

It is worth noting the really impressive service we received at Pancake Bay campground.  Shannon, the park Super Intendant, and fellow biker, made a special effort to meet us and ask about the bike and our trip.  When he learned about Sandra’s braking problem, he tracked us down and delivered extra brake fluid to us and asked it we needed any tools or a place to work on the bikes. He was a really nice guy and certainly made an effort to help a couple of fellow motorcyclists out, much appreciated, thanks Shannon!  Sandra also noted that he was quite handsome, looked great in his uniform and was an excellent representative of the Ontario park system, whatever that means…

Jord looking for the ABS problem