Day 85-88: The Train Home

The train built Canada.  If you haven’t taken it before, I highly recommend it.  But there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Canada is a big place
  2. The train does not move very fast
To make things worse, Canada is a resource economy.   Transport of goods by rail was the main reason things developed the way it did – and why BC is even part of the country. So as a result, freight trains get right of way when things are coming in the other direction.  There is a lot of pulling over and waiting for other trains to go by.   The size of the country just doesn’t allow for multiple tracks.   This makes travel even slower.
I just wouldn’t go about it the way I did.  I went on VIA Rail’s site and picked up a seat sale – $225 for a seat from Toronto to Vancouver – 4 days.   Cheap, and you get to see Canada in a way you wouldn’t otherwise -t train travels routes you would never go.  Compared to flying, it’s a better experience.
Most of the 4 days was spent trying to catch up on sleep in a rather uncomfortable position.  I’d do some reading on the Kindle and drift off to sleep with one view…  And pretty much wake up to the same thing.  Aside from the three different distinct sections:  Northern Ontario, The Prairies, The Rockies, it was fairly hard to tell you had gone anywhere.
This sentiment seemed to be shared by the other guys I sat with at the dinner cart on the second night.  Students and the like who had more time than money and wanted to “see the country” like myself.  All of us were a touch sleep deprived – none of us slept well.  Conversation was a little stilted as a result.  My food was also terrible.  Some sort of chicken, but the bottom was completely dried out, but somehow not burnt.  The wine helped, but it was not the most pleasant meal.
A very big change compared to retired, chipper folks at the next table.  I think it was fairly safe to say that they had sprung for the cabin with beds.  They were also travelling with friends and were enjoying themselves.
Northern Ontario:


Breakfast in Winnepeg at Alexis Grill – should have ordered the potatoes well done:


Best part of Winnipeg was the Leg:

Built back when the city was booming and had a lot of money, the managed to build something that would last.

…  Not entirely sure what happened to the pictures …

Prairies – the not so flat bit:



Sunrise in Edmonton:


The best part, by far, was coming up into the Rockies.  For the most part, the tracks run along the road, so it’s not a huge difference from driving from Edmonton into Jasper.  This was the point where I missed Mendy the most – especially when I saw the bikes on the highway riding in the sun.   It was chilly, but absolutely stunning scenery.

Lunch in Jasper:



It’s much nicer than travelling by bus.  But if you can afford to, travel with friends and spring for the cabin.  Or if you can’t afford that, take the best part from Edmonton back to Vancouver – maybe on the Rocky Mountaineer.

Day 83 & 84 – Hockey Hall of Fame and Distillery District

First full day in TO was nice.  Got to take the GO Bus from Stokeville into downtown.  Not a bad ride, but the HOV/Bus lanes don’t seem very efficient or well planned out.  They get you passed a lot of traffic, but quickly leaves you trapped or having to merge back in.  There are toll sections too, but I never bothered to figure out how they work since I wasn’t driving.

Swung by City Hall to check out the farmer’s market.  Nice option in the middle of the city.




Walking by some bikes, the angle of the Kawi caught my eye and I stopped to take a closer look.


Kickstand wasn’t even on the ground!


It should have gone over!  Most likely hit by the van.  Looks like the only reason it was even upright was because the handle bars lined up.  I kind of wondered how close the van came to knocking down both bikes and the scooter.

After lunch out on the patio in the sun at Bier Markt, I went over to the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Not a huge hockey fan, it was still a nice visit.   Especially sitting down and watching the Summit Series.  Lots of drama and tons of political overtones.

Stanley Cup!

Leaving the Hockey Hall of Fame, I passed by the Busker Fest.  I was kind of curious to see how many acts were shared with the busker thing in Halifax.  The organic nature of busking – building up a crowd and keeping them entertained before starting the actual show – and growing it once the show starts is kind of lost when you have scheduled start times.  I understand the reasoning, but still loses some of the magic.


Some random art exhibits on the way there:


One of the shots from the Earth From Above series.  I’ve been following this gallery around the world.  First time I saw it was in London on my very first Europe trip(apparently in 2005).  Great shots… Both makes me want to get into photography and reminds me why I probably never will  – no eye for the shot and certainly no patience to finally get it.

Eventually made it to The Distillery District.  More vibrant than the last time I was there.   It had promise before, but it definitely fleshed out.  Similar vibe to Granville Island, but more… artificial somehow.



Sat around and had a coffee at Balzac’s.  Nice seat, a few birds zipping about.  But what I didn’t notice was that I was sitting under the sign – where the birds hang out when they’re not scrounging for scraps.  Naturally, they decided to poop on me – top dead center of my head.   At least they were little birds and the poop was dry.

Met up with my cousin for dinner at the Mill St Brewery.  Decent meal and I packed up some left overs for the train ride.   Got dropped off at Union station, got my seat and set up for my next 4 days:

Day 82 – Through Ottawa to Toronto

Early morning.   Much too early.  Not as bad as the airport, but still, the bus leaving at 8am wasn’t much fun.  And no plugs/ports meant no Netflix on the bus.  Mostly amounted to getting onto the thing and going to sleep.

It’s a long ride.  Not a solid 8 hours, there is a bus transfer in Ottawa, but my comfort level did not invoke much confidence in my 4 day train trip in a few days.  I woke up and took pictures a few times:



I think the oddest part was waking up and looking outside and knowing where I was –  Kanata!  I can’t see things not having changed after 15 years, but it still looked the same.  Memory isn’t exact, so I guess a Loblaw’s always gets remembered as a Loblaw’s.  Ottawa was greener mid august than I remember leaving it in June all those years ago.  Maybe the sharp switch from snow, dog-poop covered lawns, blooming summer into dry grass was just exaggerated in my mind.   Guess it’s time to visit Ottawa again.

Toronto bus station wasn’t too bad, and I pulled up at a starbucks to wait for my old Barcelona roomie.  Felt a bit silly with all my gear, but not a bad place to people watch:


After meeting up, we went to a nearby restaurant for dinner and drinks.   The sangria was on special, so we ordered a carafe for old time’s sake.  It was good catching up and catching up on shared acquaintances.

After dinner, I dragged my luggage down to Union Station to board a GO Bus to meet up with some newlywed friends out in Stouffville.  They really weren’t kidding when they said they lived a ‘little ways’ out of downtown Toronto.  The metropolitan part of me started to wish I had tried harder to find a place to stay closer to the core, but transit really wasn’t bad at all.  GTA might be very spread out and highways are a bit of a mess, but at least the support for the commute is there.

Having just moved in, their place was still fairly empty.  They had settled into a decent routine and me showing up messed things up a bit.   Very grateful to be part of their lives and have a place to crash!

Day 81 – Grilled Cheese to Surf n Turf

A ‘work’ day –  getting up and going into the office.  Never much fun to begin with, but with some known drama at the office, no one was all that eager to make it in on time.   Pretty much hoping it would blow over before we made it there.   We carpooled in, and made a pit stop at they Timmy’s.

As usual, the Europeans complained about the bad coffee.  I don’t think I complain that much anymore, I’ve just come to terms that the coffee isn’t going to be great, but that a double-double is acceptable.   More of a coffee-flavoured candy drink than real coffee.  But I think their conclusion was to just order the Iced Cap.  Definitely a good go-to drink in the summer.

Not much to speak of happened at the office.  Drama didn’t exactly sort itself out  according to plan.  Avoidance of teamwork, and thereby avoiding conflict, was rather high.  I don’t think very much got done that day.  Kind of nice to be an observer in that situation rather than having to do something about it.

We headed out for lunch at the nearby casino.  I had the pizza – decent thin crust. But the order that sticks out was the ‘lost in translation’ situation.  My friend was having difficulty deciding what to eat and settled on the ‘Grilled Cheese’ at the last minute.   Something registered about his order but I got distracted with having to make my order.   By the time I had time to think about it, the conversation at the table had moved on and I didn’t say anything.

My pizza:


The exclamation and shock at what arrived brought it all back.  Back in Barcelona, I dragged some Canadian friends to Can Cargol – a place that specializes in snails, but has good grilled food as well.  A friend doesn’t have the most adventurous palate, and combined with the jet lag, she looked for some comfort food on the menu.   It might be a sandwich here, but in Barcelona, it’s actually just a chunk/wheel of cheese.  Grilled until melty and topped with some dressing.  Entirely not what she was expecting.

Back in Montreal, expecting a wheel of melted provolone and getting a mediocre sandwich instead, my friend was not impressed.  A good reminder that even the little things can be very jarring when crossing cultural boundaries.  I recall that being one of the growth plans for large chains – in an unfamiliar place, consistency and reminders of home can get you a foothold in a new market.  Stick a Starbucks at the airport for travel weary customers and they’ll pay for it, just because they want to know what they’re getting while they get adjusted to everything else new.

After our recent meal experiences, the only requirement was ‘something good’.  I was banned from looking for ‘cheap eats’ on the internet and we went downstairs to ask the concierge about where to go.  Got a good list, but we decided to stay away from the fine dining options.  And because we were heading out rather late in the evening, we stuck with something close by on Crescent – Dundees.

We grabbed a seat next to a window to do some people watching and talked about food and expense accounts.  We decided to splurge a little bit and order something decent.  Given the restaurant and compared to my meal at Uchi, I wasn’t too worried about doing too much damage to the wallet.  I knew I wanted something meaty, so Steak Frites:


Nice crust, but overdone.  I had asked for medium-rare and gotten medium well.  Service wasn’t the greatest, so by the time I had the chance to mention that my steak was overdone and we still hadn’t gotten our shrimp yet, I had finished half my steak already.  They still took it away and brought me a fresh one.  Very nice of them… And this was actually the first time I had a steak with montreal steak spice and enjoyed it.  Maybe I was just hungry.

After the grilled cheese incident, my friend one upped me and added the two lobster tails to his steak:


And to top it all off the other dev ordered a dessert with his bad espresso:


We had watched an animated GIF about jumping up onto a stack of tires.  The athlete was able to jump vertically almost 7′ and debate about whether or not it was faked.  Some googling determined that Olympic jumpers easily cleared 2m, we determined that it wasn’t fake.  Not something I could do, but there was some talk from me about being able to jump at least the height of a desk.  We wandered around the city, mildly tipsy from the wine, there was some good natured ribbing about finding something I could jump onto.  Fortunately, nothing that didn’t look like an instant disaster showed up.  Between the alcohol and jeans, it could have been a rough tumble.

Random pictures in the city:


Called it a night fairly early – I did have an 8am bus the next day to Toronto!

Day 80 – Pride and Football

Sunday was a slow start.  We weren’t too badly off from the night before, but far from entirely chipper.   Without any real plans, there just wasn’t much incentive to get going.

Eventually, I got tired of sleeping on the couch and ventured out to grab some coffee.  Realizing I still had my Aeropress in my luggage, I made my way over to a nearby Starbucks and picked up some ground beans.  The Aeropress really does made some solid coffee.  It’s no espresso machine, but it’s not trying to be either.  And way cheaper than buying bad coffee throughout the city.   I just kind of wish it packed up a little better.

With some coffee in our systems, we went out to look for a decent place to watch the Barca game.  Crescent Street had M.V.P who promised to put the game for us when we came back later.  We had a few hours before the game started and decided to see if we could find something to eat or a better sports bar.  On our way, we saw a bunch of people in crazy costumes and decided to check it out.

Pride Parade!  I think we got to the staging area about 20 minutes before it was scheduled to start.  There was some debate about how ‘on time’ things were in Canada vs Spain, but we still found a mildy shady spot and hung around to see part of the parade.

The cops on stand up trikes with their bicycle companions drew some comparisons to the parades in Spain.  Bigger crowds mean you need more police presence just to keep things under control.  I guess any reason is a good reason to riot over there?


Parade started maybe 15-20mins late not too bad:


Crazy skinny dancers:


Viagra float:  They were passing something out, but we never managed to snag one.  Probably not their blue pills anyway.


Trojan man winked and posed for my friend as he took a picture:


The parade was moving fairly slowly, so we got bored and walked upstream to check out what was coming down the line.   Long walk – and the people in the parade at the end looked fairly bored.   And they probably had hours before they even started moving.

We made it back to MVP and caught some MotoGP before watching the the Barca game.  So-so food combined with expensive alcohol made it less than ideal.  But at least they had a lot of screens and put our game on the one close to us.  Can’t complain too much.

The game ended around the time another dev from the Barcelona office coming into town for a few weeks.  We were going to meet him and escort him back to the rental apartments and show him around a little bit.  We had checked the arrival schedule and it had said the plane was going to be 40 minutes late – we dwaddled a little, only to realize later that the plane was only 10 minutes behind schedule.  We booted it out to the airport – only to see that the flight had entirely disappeared from the board.   Very confused, but eventually technology saved the day and we got ahold of each other on the phone.

We tried to keep him awake to help with the jet lag.   Down to St Catherine’s for some dinner at Rotisserie Italienne.  The internets said it was good! But the reality was that it’s good for the price.  I think we all would have happily spent a few extra bucks to get something better.

Walked through Old Town, grabbed a drink and then called it a night before our friend passed out on his feet.

Day 79 – Mont Tremblant

Bit of a lazy start to the day and since people said Mont Tremblant is one of the things worth seeing in Montreal, we punched it into the GPS and headed off.  There were a few options for ‘Mont Tremblant’, but since I was still on a Parks Canada kick, I figured going to the “National Park” would be a good idea.

Mont Tremblant #1:  The ‘National’ Park

The trip up was rather scenic.  Decent roads and lots of motorcycles on the road.   Just before Saint Donat, we even passed a good old fashioned biker bar/restaurant and figured it would be a good place to grab lunch on the way back.  We made it to the Visitor Center where we went in to try to figure out what to do.  I went up with my Parks Canada pass, only to be bumped over to the only girl there who spoke English – the first bad sign.  After some explaining, I guess the “National Parks” in Quebec, aren’t part of the Parks Canada system.   Basically, if we wanted to go in and walk around, it would cost us $6 each.  Not really feeling like paying $6 to walk around, we headed back to find something to eat.

Back tracking to the biker bar, we pulled into the parking lot and started to notice things didn’t seem generically biker friendly.  No Can-Ams, no sport bikes.  Just a lot of cruisers. And having followed a police car into the lot, we got to watch a host of bikers come out to greet the officer in his car.  Not entirely sure what was going on, we decided this might not be the restaurant for us and went back into town.

We found parking and settled into a restaurant that seemed biker friendly.   Grabbing a spot on the Patio in the sun, we ordered some food:


And then sat back to watch the bikers come and go.  Mostly cruisers, but it looked like a Can-Am riding group picked that parking lot to meet up at.  It’s really too bad they don’t lean because we’re pretty sure the touring versions have as much (or more) storage than a 2 seater sports car.  But I suppose there’s no good space for a set of golf clubs – the defining factor in North America…

We had a nice chat about Gremlin Bells on cruisers as we watched the giant pack of bikes(possibly from the restaurant from earlier).  In the space of 5 minutes, we saw 3 close calls when they stopped across the street.   First one didn’t put it in gear, so lots of revving and rolling back.   No contact we could see, but damned close to bumping into the bike behind.   Some advice being yelled over the noise should have been some warning to the bike 2 positions back to put their bike in gear…  But nope, same problem.   Didn’t take as long to get moving, but some serious wobbling – which set things in motion for the cruiser behind them.   Riding two up, their serious wobble nearly sent them into the curb.   Very ugly – definitely takes away from the ‘cool factor’ of riding when there’s a distinct lack of competence.


Mont Tremblant #2 – The town & village:

After lunch, we had come to the conclusion that there was no way the ‘National Park’ was why everyone liked Mont Tremblant.  After realizing that we were actually in Saint Donat, we decided to follow the bikers and head over to the town.  Definitely a nice bit of road out around the edge of the park.   Would have been a lot more fun in something better than a Ford Focus.

We made it into the town and had a nice walk.  Typical touristy small town.  Lots of little restaurants and cafes.  Ironman signs were everywhere, but didn’t look like there was really anything ‘official’.  So we got back in the car and looped up to the village and the lake.  The swim portion of the Ironman was going to be here:


We also looped around the Village road, but things didn’t seem quite right.  But we did catch a glimpse of the buildings up on the side of the mountain and made our way over to the Resort.

Mont Tremblant #3 – The Resort:

And as we came up the road, we hit traffic and closed roads everywhere.  We had finally arrived at the Mont Tremblant everyone had suggested we go to.  Kinda like whistler, but looked more expensive for some reason.

Sugar shack maple on a stick – It might not be winter, but still a very canadian thing to do:



Back in Montreal, we grabbed some dinner at a pasta place before heading out for some drinks.   First stop was St Elisabeth’s just off Saint Catherine’s.   Bit of a dive bar, but awesome terrace.  We had walked past the night before, but not know about it, we really just walked right past.

Decent place to hang out.  And once we gathered everyone together, we hopped in a cab to Le LAB.  Nice place, very interesting(and expensive) drinks.

JERKY LAB JACK:   Basically liquid smoke in a glass, garnished with beef jerky.   Interesting, but not something I’d order again.


Zombie 1956 – The drink of the evening:


4 shots of liquor, including 151 Rum and Absinthe.  Plenty of fruit.  $28!


Excellent drink.  Very, very dangerous.   Although the rule of the evening had been “no shots”, when you’re ordering drinks like that, it doesn’t really matter.  It had already been a good night, and finishing on that drink might have seemed like a good idea at the time:



But the consensus was that no one wanted to pick him up and carry him home.   I was tapped to help him out and downed probably a half of it while he wasn’t paying attention and off in the washroom.  We settled the bill and parted ways.

A few of us were silly enough to try to go to one more bar.  The longer I sat around, the more I felt my portion of the Zombie and my last round kick in.   I didn’t participate at the last bar, which was probably for the best since no one finished their drinks there anyway.

But we did head next door to La Banquise where I ordered the Smoked Meat Poutine:


Definitely the right way to end a night of drinking in Montreal!


Day 78 – Montreal

Being on the bus overnight is terrible.  I really do hope the train is a lot better.  Should be, it looked like we were making some pretty good time on the highway and passing a lot of vehicles.  Probably explains a lot of the swaying…

I never got a great chunk of sleep.  But I did watch the 2nd half of The Walking Dead on Netflix.  Coverage was pretty decent – it hiccuped a few times, but I needed the rest to put off the queasiness anyway.

Great colours out the window with dawn:


Got into town and tried to check in – but without any open spaces, the hostel couldn’t give me a room.  I ended up wiping myself down with a wet cloth in the common area washroom.  Left my bag in the locker room and headed out to meet up with a friend for a morning ride.

Streets closed off for Pride weekend:


BMO closed – I needed to pick up a new bank card at an open branch, but it was too early in the morning:


Met up with a bunch of old co-workers for the morning.   Crashed a vid-conference meeting with London and Barcelona and got to see a few people before heading out for lunch.

Wall Street Martini- Tanq 10, vermouth garnished with cucumber.  Seemed a touch questionable when I ordered it.   And after getting it, my concerns were well founded. Wrong on so many levels:


At least the club sandwich lunch was decent:


Got some free tickets to the qualifying events for NASCAR.  Loud, slow, boring.  Not worth risking getting close to anyone, so there weren’t going to be any accidents.   A few of the GT cars got squirrelly under braking and a few cars spun out.  But not much to see:


We figured since it cost us $6 each to take transit in and out, we should walk around the paddocks too.  Interesting experience – the mechs were either not taking things seriously or done for the day.   Lots of them were standing around drinking Bud Light, smoking and yakking about the cars.

After leaving NASCAR, we went back to the hostel for a drink before dinner.  The friend I was with had been complaining about flavourless beer, so I chose “La Fin du Monde” as our drinks.  Just as nasty as I remembered, but he seemed to like it.

Met up with some friends in Montreal and went to Schwartz’s.  Line was ridiculously long, so we just grabbed some takeout and ate on a bench across the street.  Ordered the full fat – very much not necessary.  Should stick with the Medium like everyone else:

Did some shopping downtown before heading over to Crescent St for their NASCAR festivities.   Not much happening, seems like the recession is still in effect.  Used to be 3 closed off streets and down to the one.  Not much free stuff being handed out either.   At least the stage was busy:

Ended the night with a lot of walking and back to the hostel for another drink.  Loud live music, and if we hadn’t wasted so much energy wandering around, it would have been a fun party to join.  But by the time we got there, it was winding down anyway.  The neighbours were complaining about the noise and the band had to stop playing.   Made getting to sleep easier, anyway.

Day 76-77: The Newfie Trucker Experience

I woke up to the noise of trucks and trying to come to grips with what my situation was now.  No veuhicle and sleeping in the back of a dead truck.

My accommodations for the night:

The yard I woke up to:

The radiator patch for truck was done and had set over night, so we went for a spin around Corner Brook with a mock load to test things out.  Nice truck and I got a good tour of the city.  I’m thinking I wouldn’t be able to provide as good of a tour of Vancouver.  Something I should probably work on.

Since we had missed the morning sailing anyway and word was that there wasn’t much traffic for the evening sailings, we took our time getting ready to go.  Mendy was tied down to an old Harley crate bottom and then forklifted onto the back of the truck:

Such a tiny load compared to the grater:


Arriving at the terminal, things didn’t exactly look good.  Four or five rows of trucks were ahead of us.   And as we sat down to wait the hours before boarding, we heard that the ferry coming the other way had broken down and there would not be a morning ferry back to the mainland.   If we didn’t get on the ferry tonight we wouldn’t stuck at the terminal for another 24h.

As my luck was apparently turning, we were the very last truck on that night.  The only thing on after us was a bobtail, which doesn’t actually count as a truck at all.  On the plus side, we got on the ferry with a bunch of people my driver knew.   And that got us access into a berth.  Real beds!  Showers!

Picture of the top deck in the morning – can’t actually make out Mendy tucked in behind the grater:


We did make it to Atlantic Motoplex that afternoon.  As expected, their Ducati tech wasn’t available for another week.  And they suggested that if it were the head/port problem they saw before, it would probably be another 3 to 4 weeks after that to get parts.  I was looking at a week minimum and more realistically, a month to get back on the road.  Trip really was over.

I spent some time shuffling the bags around to get myself the things I needed to go home:image

Got my last picture with Mendy:


And left her to the mercies of Ducati dealerships and trucking companies.


I got a lift to the train station and tried to catch a train to Montreal.  Unfortunately, it didn’t sound like the train has a very good system for last minute trips and savings.  The only thing available was a cabin at $400+ and after jumping through a bunch of hoops, I was ready to book it.   As it turns out it was sold out and I ended up taking the overnight bus to Montreal.

Day 75 – Blown Gasket with the Vikings

Woke up ready to go.   All my clothes were dry and I had a solid night’s sleep.   Grabbed a quick breakfast and chatted with some of the other residents.   Sounds like a few of them got rained out from their camp site.   Water in the tents and they were looking at packing up soaking wet gear.   A little bit of a depressing thought if my gear was rained out.   Little did I know, this would be the least of my worries.

Firing up the bike, I smelled smoke.   Burning oil – but I figured it was just stuff on the exhaust from lubing the chain the night before in the wind.  I limped out and headed for L’Anse aux Meadows.  I soon realized there was something very wrong with Mendy.  Power felt a bit down, but the kicker was the Gear indicator was sliding between 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gear without me doing anything.  I assumed it might be electrical and kept an eye out for a good place to stop.  Shortly after, she started to go into ‘neutral’ – light would come on and she would surge forward before going back into 2nd gear.

By the time I stopped, it was in the L’Anse aux Meadows Visitor Centre parking lot.  As I got off the bike, I noticed that my exhaust was noticeably white.   With a sick feeling in my stomach, I got off to look at the oil level window:


Fouled, I called Atlantic Motoplex and they confirmed that given my symptoms, I was dead in the water.  I hoped I would be able to limp her closer to civilisation, but they said no – anything I did now was likely just to cause more damage and to get a tow truck ASAP.  So, at 1:30pm Newfoundland Time – my motorcycle trip was over.


BCAA wasn’t a whole lot of help.  They just acknowledged that I was in the middle of nowhere and asked where I wanted to go…  The nearest dealership was Moncton, so that was probably the easiest.  Even they suggested that getting it towed that distance was not a good idea, nor cost effective.  So the next plan was to see if the towing company had any suggestions.   Call was placed and I took a quick walk around L’Anse aux Meadows just to check things out.

Art depicting the circumnavigation of the globe by the human population:

Reconstruction of the viking houses:



Eventually I made it back to the Visitor Centre to wait for the tow vehicle.  Two Garry’s came out to pick me up.   Watching them put Mendy on a flatbed brought back memories of the first time she was carried off – and that poor guy had to do it by himself with locked steering.

Buckled down for the trip back to the local shop:


The trip back to the shop was more than a bit questionable.  Quite bumpy and they only had 3 racheting straps.  Not entirely secure as we bounced our way the short distance.

At the shop, we figured we had a few options to pursue:

  • Tow/ship her as is to Moncton
  • Box her up and ship her to Moncton/Vancouver
  • Tow her to Corner Brook and rent a U-Haul and drive her back to Moncton myself
No one was really sure which method was going to make the most sense.  The first instinct had been the U-Haul route, but after watching them put the bike on and off, I did not relish the thought of me doing the same with her fully loaded.
I called Ducati Roadside assist to see if they could provide any new ideas.  The guy on the other end pretty much just laughed about how far I was and mentioned that any phone numbers for tow services in the area probably weren’t valid and I might be on my own.  But he was able to provide me with a phone number for Ducati North America.  The guy on the other end of that was able to confirm that my warranty was valid until the end of August and that he would put a note on my file that I had broken down inside the warranty period. One load off my mind.
After a bunch of calls, we found companies who would be willing to quote us a rate to ship it to either Moncton or Vancouver, but only if it was crated up.  But after a few hours, we couldn’t find anyone who was willing to incur the potential liability of putting her in a crate.   And even then, it was likely to be very expensive, and didn’t do much to solve my problem of being trapped out in the middle of no where without a vehicle.
Eventually, there was some news down the pipeline that there was a trucker heading to Maine for a pickup and would have room for me and Mendy.  This would get me and Mendy to Moncton at least.   I knew Atlantic Motoplex would be able to do the work or crate her up and ship her to Vancouver.   It was a solid plan, the only hiccup was the price.  $1300.
With the time pressure, I placed a few calls to get an estimate for going the U-Haul route.  ~$600 for the vehicle, $150 for the trailer, $200 for additional shipping insurance, gasoline and ferry.  I was looking a t a few hundred in savings if I did it myself, but a lot more risk.
Eventually, I bit the bullet and coughed up the money and we sorted out my ride to Corner Brook.

View of Western Brook shortly before dark.   Just a touch of color on the mountains and the clouds where there was open sky.


We swung into the KOA and I packed up my stuff and loaded up the bike on the flatbed.  Overall, it took us a bit longer than originally planned to get into Corner Brook.  Which was okay, since the trucker I was to meet was still busy repairing a broken radiator.

They offered to drive me into town to find a hotel.  I mentioned I was more than happy just to set up camp somewhere flat or a covered spot out of the rain.  They directed me to a derelict truck and I called it a night.



Day 74 – Western Brook and Viking Return Trail Stymied

Woke up to the sound of heavy rainfall.  The thought crossed my mind to just roll over and go back to sleep, but I ignored it and got up to check my gear.  Picnic table was pretty much washed out:

But everything else was good.  Boots and shoes were dry, nothing was wet inside the tent. I figured I had a few options – go check out the Western Brook ferry tour, or boot up the Viking Trail.  Since visibility didn’t look too bad, I thought it would be worth checking out the ferry – after all, I did keep bumping into people that say that it’s one of the highlights and well worth the money.

From the trail head, it was a touch grey.   Still very pretty, but the chatter on the trail was that it was usually cancelled for 2 reasons – for or not enough people.

Worst part of it all was carrying my gear with the rain jacket.  I was sweating enough that I thought I would get less wet just walking in the rain carrying everything.  Probably not true, but I did it anyway.

2.6km hike down to the water revealed that visibility really wasn’t that bad.  Unfortunately, the crowd was a bit sparse.   Considering the rain in the morning, I suppose it wasn’t surprising almost half the reservations bailed on the trip.

So… The 10am ferry was cancelled.  Hiked down for nothing and now my morning was a bit of a mess.  Without a better plan, I figured I’d shoot up the Viking Trail anyway.  4 each way should be enough time to get there and back before dark.

Stopping off at Port Au Choix:


Getting fairly cold and starting to get wet.   A giant rooftop sign said “restaurant” and I pulled in to grab a bite to eat.  It really wasn’t very good.   Seafood chowder:


And Viking Cod sandwich.  This wasn’t half bad – Kind of like a very good Filet o Fish.


Getting back on the bike, I had realized my rain gloves had blown off the bike.  Spent a few minutes searching for them under the cars beside me.  I went to Port au Choix Visitor Centre and had a nice chat with a family there.  The boys were excited about the trip an the bike.  Definitely an emotional pick me up in the wet.

Went off down the bumpy gravel road to take a picture at the lighthouse:

Gassed up on my way back to the Viking Trail.  Having only partially learned my lesson, I secured my rain gloves and went inside to pay.   Coming back out, I realized I had lost my right glove.  After a few times wandering between the bike and the cashier, I caught it in the corner of my eye, tumbling across the pavement.  Strong winds!

The highway traffic wasn’t great.  Cars and trucks kicking up spray was much more stressful than normal.  Even following them for their lights wasn’t worth it.  Passing them wasn’t exactly great either – there was enough water that they would kick up blinding spray.

With the wind coming crosswise, it was getting past my rain coat zipper and leaking to the riding jacket.  I didn’t have the inner liner in, so eventually the nylon soaked through and I could feel a wet line along my torso and down into the crotch.  Day was winding down, so the closer I got to St Anthony’s the faster I went.   Good thing the PR3’s are excellent tires, but as I got trapped behind a bunch of ‘slower’ cars (ie, going the speed limit), I realized I needed to back off and just give up on getting back to Gros Morne.

Settling in to follow the cars, with the speed adrenaline turned off, I could feel the chill working it’s way into my bones.  I filled up in St. Anthony’s and asked the attendants for suggestions on where to stay.  First option was full up – definitely not something that gave me warm fuzzy feelings.

I did find a hotel with room.  Didn’t even ask the price – they only had a “Deluxe” room available.  Took it and grabbed a shower.   Fired up the heater and the blow dryer to dry out as much as possible.   After a around of drying, I went back out to grab a bite to eat near the lighthouse.

Seafood Chowder


Bacalao Cakes


Very good meal out at Iceberg Alley.  Not a good year for iceberg watching – pretty much no activity.   The previous year, they had stuff floating by for most of the summer.

Would have been gorgeous in the sun:


So:  Didn’t get to take the Western Brook ferry, didn’t return from the Viking Trail and had to pay for two places to stay.  You’d think this is as bad as it gets.