SF Ride Report

After talking with some folks at work about Skyline and Highway 92, someone mentioned that 84 to the coast was where to find the action.  I finally got a day to myself and took a few hours out on the bike.

Unusual for a SF summer day, it was clear and warm, if a bit blustery.  I suited up in the leathers, stuck Mendy in Sport mode and got onto the 280 – windy and not the most stable, but warm and clear.  Onto the 101 -> 380 -> 92… Before Mendy reminded me I needed gas.  I looped east on 92 to find gas.  Fueled up and headed off, all the while the wind reminding me I hadn’t zipped the jacket into the pants.  Pulled over to do just that and then back onto 92.

92 Traffic was horrible as usual.  Stop and go until the turnoff to 35.  Skyline was clear.  A few motorcyclists coming northbound, but it was everything I remembered.  Slow-ish blind corners, lots of shade against the bright Cali sun meant visibility was never that great.  As always, kind of missed my morning rides up Mt Seymour back in Vancouver.  I really hoped 84 was better.

Making it to Alice’s, I hung a right and got onto 84.  Almost immediately, it became what I thought of when riding in California.  Good mix of arid warm sections and green forest.  Still pretty slow, I was stuck behind a few family sedans and another motorcyclist.  But unlike the section of 35 north of Alice’s, visibility was better and the turns connected.   Tipping into the corners and then that slick feeling tilting from one side to the next.  Maybe lacking the rush of a true sportsbike, but being able to enjoy the actions of a single track vehicle in some gorgous scenery is what touring is all about!

84 T’s onto the 1.  I headed south intending to make it to the first coffee shop, pull over and start this ride report.  This really only made sense if I was still north of 92/Half-Moon Bay, but I guess I wasn’t 100% because I still went south.  Not much in the way of amenities, but I did pull over to take a picture:

The California coast is pretty nice on the good days.  But it is the 1, so that meant lots of wind and enough traffic that it’ll never be a great ride.  Just a slow lazy tour to see all the tiny beaches along the way.

I passed Pescadaro, thinking I should stop there, but eventually made it to Highway 1 Brewing Company.  Little brewpub in the middle of nowhere – no internet access!  But I got a coffee and ordered some fried pickles and did some scribbling.   They had some live music and the staff were pretty nice.   Not great coffee, super salty fried pickles – if it weren’t for location, not a place I would recommend.  But sitting there by myself and getting a chance to reflect was really nice.  That place is probably a lot better when you are actually drinking there beer.  But as the middle point in my first ride report in a long time, it will probably be something special for me.

Back on the road, heading up the coast, I considered going back up the 84, but thought I’d try something new.  Again, not the best decision in the world, staying on the 1 meant slow, overcast and windy routes.  I think the best part of making that loop was the reminder of how many micro-climes there are in the Bay Area.  In the space of a few hours, weather was all over the place.

Back home, Potero was nice and warm!  I got off the bike, collected my things to check my phone and a bunch of missed messages and pings from my wife.  From the time I sent the coastal picture until I got home had been a few hours.  And non-communication had freaked her out, thinking I had gotten into an accident or something.  We had a quick phone call, I got changed and went out to meet her at Philz…

Walking there, I realized how much of a toll the ride had taken on me.  My back hurt, my legs were achey, my hands were tired – For the last half hour of the ride, I actually used my cramp-buster throttle lever.  I think upon reflection, my single days of random touring are over.  ‘Motorcyclist’ has always been part of my identity and I’d like for it to continue to be so.  But like so many other things in life, it isn’t something that will just happen anymore.  I’m going to have to invest the time to plan and schedule it in my life.

First Ride to Sausalito

If you want to get something done, gotta do it yourself.  Lucy’s first ride was a failed attempt to get to Sausalito.  Late start and good day hanging out with friends, but not a great ride.  Woke up early after a night of drinking and thought the best way to start off Saturday was a ride to Sausalito.

Beautiful day.  First sign of trouble was outside the Exploratorium ~5mi mark.  I tried to pass two girls and my right calf  just seized up.   All sorts of nasty, so I kept going and tried to stretch it out.   Eventually eased up a little and ran into a bit of traffic outside Ghirardelli Square.  Special Olympics run of some sort.

By the time I made it to Crissy Field and stopped to take a picture of the bridge, both legs were starting to twitch and ache.  Probably from dehydration.  And I hadn’t even started the climbs yet.

But on the climb, I started to figure out what was wrong – my right pedal was crooked.  I stopped on the far side to take a picture.

Definitely coming out.  But none of my tools could do anything about it, so I just left it alone.

Down to the water and back up over the hill to Sausalito, I missed the Ferry terminal and went little bit too far.  When I stopped to pull my phone out to see where the terminal was, my back started to twitch.   Turning around and riding back to the ferry was awful.  Right calf was screaming and left back was entirely stitched up.   Stubbornly rode through it until I got to the terminal.

Success, made it to the terminal in Sausalito and took the ferry back to Pier 39.

Unfortunately, my neglect of Lucy turned out to be a really bad decision.  Pedal continued to work it’s way out and then it stripped the crank.  Had to walk it to the Bike Kitchen.  Fortunately, $5 got me a matching set of replacement cranks.   And since I replaced both of them, I was able to determine that my old cranks were not a set – one was 170 the other was 175.   Might explain why things were so unbalanced.   Lucy is just a little bit better now.

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.


Day 73 – Gros Mourne

Drugged up on Gravol, I did get some sleep.  Far from a good night – but definitely some shut eye.  Sleeping in all my gear on a seat is a far cry from comfort.  At the very least if I don’t splurge on a bed next time, I’d be bringing a sleeping bag.

View from my window as we pulled into the harbour:

Getting down into the hold to release the bikes after docking, we had the pleasure of finding out the Harley that wouldn’t start last night, wouldn’t start this morning either.  The Wings and I pushed him out to the ferry ramp, before health and safety sent us back.  We weren’t to go out of the boat without hard hats on.   Probably a smart idea, but we had to leave the bike blocking traffic, run back to put on our helmets before pushing him off.  We got him  rolling down the ramp and let go…  But he decided to bump start it part way through and stopped at the bottom.   Being the only one who hadn’t headed back, I got to push him around to the concrete.  Gets the blood flowing in the morning anyway.

We disembarked – and wouldn’t you know it, all the Harleys took off.   Abandoned their fellow brand rider to the parking lot.  Just the Wings and I pulled over to lend a hand…

After three of four runs, the three of us were done.  I really hadn’t planned on being so sweaty this early on such a cool day.  Legs were still recovering from the earlier hikes and try as hard as we could, it wouldn’t turn over.  I think our suspicions were that he had popped it into 1st rather than 2nd for the start.   The back tire was locking up rather than turning the engine.  Fortunately, some truckers took pity on us since it was clear we didn’t have any juice left.   They eventually tied the straps to the front forks and bump started it that way.


Getting of the ferry, things were a bit grey.  But even without the sun, it was some great territory.   Loved the mountains and the mist.   Too bad I didn’t have the camera set up in a way to pull it out and take pictures on the road.    I looked for a place to pull over, but I guess the views were too commonplace and no one cared.   I didn’t stop until there was a bit of a backup in traffic where a pickup had blown a front tire and spun around a few times.   I stopped with the others, but realized I wasn’t about to be much help and continued on my way.

Blue skies and puffy white clouds as I pulled into Gros Morne.

I ducked into the Visitor Center to try to get some suggestions on how to best spend my time on the Rock.  The girl was fairly honest in saying that as a park rep, her goal was to get me to spend as much time in Gros Morne as was reasonable.   Eventually, the weather made the decision – the next two days were to be a bit grim, and if I wanted to do any hiking, best do it today.

One of the easier hikes with the best rewards was the Baker’s Brook Falls.  I took that one… It was relatively flat until you got to the water.  I had forgotten about my little morning adventure with the Harley and my legs were burning by the time I made it to the end.   Took some pictures and had a nice talk to a Dane who was coming back to Gros Morne for the 3rd time – he was spending a good 10 days just in the park.  My hit and run trip felt rushed again.  Relaxing at the end of the trail in the sun helped slow things down.

Heading back, my tummy started to rumble.   And really not in a good way.   I foolishly didn’t pay it much mind and kept going.  Well, not entirely, I picked up the pace a little just in case I needed to be back at the trail head.   This did make me count the blessing that probably a good 3.5 out of the 5k trail was boardwalk.

I did bump into a few folks who warned me of a moose up ahead.  So this time, I didn’t rush into things quite as much and got to grab a decent picture.  Moose!

Once it became clear he was going to just keep munching on the greenery, I moved on, attempting to ignore the building urgency in my gut.  Stopping for one of those “it’s too scary to keep walking” moments, I thought I might as well grab a picture.

I continued shuffling along, and kept an eye out for the distance markers and potential paths out of sight.   Trail markers were not promising, I had almost halfway to go -2km.   And eventually, there wasn’t much I could do.   In a relatively forested section, I bolted 20 feet off the trail, hid behind some trees and did my business.  There’s a book in most of the bookstores titled “Who pooped in the woods?”.  I’m sure “the asian guy on a motorcycle” isn’t one of the entries.

This was a fairly stark reminder it was necessary to do my laundry.  The campgrounds at the National Parks didn’t have laundry services in Gros Morne, but there was a KOA in Norris Point.  I checked in for two nights and cleaned myself up.

With Mendy unloaded, I thought it might be fun to go for a bit of a ride and headed out to the Tablelands and Trout River.  As one of the few places on Earth where the mantle is exposed, Tablelands was very alien in comparison to the rest of the park.  I only did the short hike since the day was winding down and I’d rather not ride after dark with the risk of moose at dusk.


Quick ride out to Trout River before turning around and heading back to the KOA.

The KOA was one of the nicer ones I’ve been to.  Aside from the gravel road making me a touch nervous, this park beat most of the National campgrounds.  Lots of space between sites, lots of trees, good shower facilities and not much more expensive.

Snacks and camp fuel at the store was naturally overpriced, but at least it was in stock.  The lady at the counter asked me if I was buying the Coleman fuel to start my campfire.  I’m pretty sure the last time I used camp fuel to help start the fire, my dad lost his eyebrows.   Us kids had dumped some fuel onto the kindling and were attempting to throw  lit matches into the fire pit.  After watching us fail repeatedly, my dad went right up to the fire, crouched down and put the match in with his hand.   Giant fireball and some burnt hair later, we naturally got yelled at…  I still maintain that there was a reason we were standing a few feet away trying to throw matches.

Eventful day, if not quite what I had in mind.   As I settled down for the night, I could hear the soft pitter patter of rain…  Good thing I spent the time to peg out the tent!

Day 72 – Louisburg and the Ferry

Slow start – as far as I could tell, the North Sydney ferry just wasn’t very far away and I had booked the evening sailing.  Puttering around my site, I did some receipt book keeping at the picnic table.  It was almost like camping as I relaxed and the squirrels and birds invaded my site.  Since I still ached too much from hiking the night before, I didn’t have much ambition.  If anything, just to get to Coastal Waters in Ingonish – one of those Food TV/You Gotta Eat Here restaurants.

I had their “Big Lebowski” burger with a side of mushrooom soup.


Good burger, if a touch messy:


After lunch, it was time to head south on the Cabot Trail.  Interestingly enough, that section was quite a bit more entertaining.   Nice tight twisties – too bad there was traffic.  If there was ever a reason to go do some sections twice, that would be it.   Great views, good roads.  Great combo.

Heading towards North Sydney, I wasn’t quite paying attention and ended up on the Englishtown Ferry.  Small toll – $5, but the bigger problem was probably missing out on some decent roads.  On the plus side, as I got closer, I realized I had time to swing out to Louisburg.  Not great weather but still a nice little stop.   The Parks Canada system really loves their recreations and reenactments.  Kind of follows those old TV commercials about the history of Canada.

Local regular turkey.   Strutting his stuff in front of the crowd at the main fort.  There must be something about turkeys I don’t know about because the tourists seemed awfully spooked and most of them jumped if he sneaked up on them and would run away.


Managed to pick up some groceries well ahead of the time I needed to be at the terminal.  As is typical with most of the grocery runs so far, I got greedy.   The big mistake this time was picking up the 6-pack of coke – in plastic bottles.  Financially, it’s a good deal.  Less ideal when you’re trying to cram random bottles into bags and crank down on the cases just to get them to close.  A few did end up getting shoved into the bungee net.

The plan to grab a bite to eat outside the terminal was a bust.  The ferry is a little bit dysfunctional and inconsistently strict with security.  But effectively, once you’re inside, you’re not really allowed out.  You can walk out with your ID and ticket, but it’s a fair hike and my bags were overflowing with food anyway.  I had another great meal of huddling beside the bike and eating out of cans and packages.

Advisories suggest arriving 2h before departure in the busy summer season.  Given my original scheme of eating, I was at the terminal a good 3 hours before boarding.  Plenty of time to be bored out of my skull. I guess since people know they have a captive audience for a few hours, they took advantage by providing some entertainment.

The bikers kept trickling in – but almost all Harleys and Goldwings.


Nice folks and we had a nice chat.  I think the couple from furthest away was Alberta.  They shared in the whinging about following instructions and showing up so early.  I still felt a tad out of place as I was the only chain drive and back to the gills with gear – including those aforementioned bottles of coca-cola.  It wasn’t until much later in the evening before 3 sport bikes showed up.

Boarding process apparently doesn’t make sense to anyway.  They let a few lines of cars before sending the bikes after.   And even then, it was a lot of sitting around.  Worst part was, the very first bike in line was a brand new Harley that had starting/battery issues.  So he had to leave it running while we waited in line.  Uncomfortably loud for me being directly behind it.

We all got strapped in – I learned a few new tricks about the equipment they provide for tying down.  But this is a typical comparison shot – Mendy overflowing with equipment, covered in filth – next to a nice shiny, polished cruiser with maybe one extra bag tied to the luggage rack on top.


Buttoned down, I went up stairs, found a seat next to the window and tried to get comfortable.  They charge extra for berths – so they don’t allow people to sleep on the floor between rows of seats and there’s no way for the arm rests to go up so you can lie down on a row.  I could at least put my feet up on the window sill and tried to get some shut-eye.

Day 71 – Cape Breton

Had to backtrack into town in the morning to get gas, so wandered back and grabbed some food as well.  Bologna was a meat I hadn’t seen offered in a while, so I went for that.


Looped back to grab proof I made it into Cape Bretton:

Western coast reminded me of the old Sea to Sky – just cleaner and less busy.

Went on the short ‘bog’ hike along a boardwalk:

Detour up to Bay of St Lawrence:

But overall, Cape Breton Highlands Park and the Cabot Trail was a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be.  The roads were good – relatively clean.  But not really all that spectacular.  Definitely worth riding if you’re out in the Maritimes – but I don’t see enough of a draw to drag me back out here across the country.

Got me a campsite in Ingonish before heading up to Neils Harbour for some lunch.  Another non-decision with the Fisherman’s Platter at Chowder House:



Fried clams/clam strips were terrible.  Definitely peaked on that one.  Scallops were good, as were the steamed mussels.   And everything tastes better with a side of butter!

The scenic route up along the coast was a better ride than the Cabot Trail.  Roads weren’t as nicely maintained, but more interesting overall.   Better views too.   From what the old timer said back at the restaurant, views were better 25+ years ago before the trees grew in…

Looping down past Ingonish, I went on the Middle Head hike.

Partway through, I realized that the previous day’s hiking had taken it’s toll.  Hip flexors and feet ached and I was not making good time.  Once I got to the point, I pulled up on a rock and took a nap…  Zonked out, by the time the people I passed on the trail caught up with me, there was a kerfuffle about a dead whale near the point.  Spent some time looking for it, but no luck.

Getting back to camp, I lubed Mendy’s chain and sat around staring off into space, trying not to fall asleep.  I had picked out another site with a fire ring(more expensive), so I needed to go back to town and pick up some wood.  But my laziness(and wakefulness!) was rewarded as a guy came by in a pickup a little while later to sell wood.  $5 for an ‘armload’.   Not the driest wood, but cheapest this trip.

I still wish I was camping, and not just road tripping with a tent.   The camp fire makes up for a lot, but usually just means I’m putting off updating the blog.   More procrastinating than actually enjoying the fire for it’s own sake.  And with the ridiculously dinky little elevated fire rings, it’s actually rather difficult to burn a load of wood a night.  I would have had to a lot more hatchet work to finish everything off, but as it was, I let it burn out and woke up with half a log and some kindling left for the next guy.

Day 67 – Clare, Rappe Pie and off to Keji

Had a very hard time getting up out of bed.   Comfy bed, basement room with effectively no lights.  Very cave-like environs led to a bit of a comatose sleep.

Eventually made it upstairs and relaxed in the living room over coffee and caught up with the past decade.  As the discussion went on, more people dropped in for morning coffee and plans were made for the afternoon evening.  As with all meetings, it was very much the  ‘pooling of ignorance’ as everyone seemed to have a very different piece of the picture.  In the end, the gist of it was that a few groups were going to leave in the late afternoon, which meant dinner would be served early.

It was to be a traditional Acadian meal of Rappe Pie.  There was some bantering about whether, as a guest, I should be given special dispensation to eat something else(ie, left over pork chops), or if it would just be more entertaining to watch me choke it down.   I couldn’t see how it could be bad, but anything described as “chicken jello” or wallpaper paste could take a turn for the worst…

Since we figured it was a civic holiday and everything would be closed anyway, we might as well hop in the car and take a tour of Clare.  I got a bit of a history lesson and education about the pace of life.  I definitely see the appeal of retreating back to family and slowing down for a spell.  Can’t say I’ve ever had that opportunity, North Van just isn’t much of a change of pace.

To introduce me to ‘good’ fried clams (and potentially to give me something to eat before the Rappe Pie), we stopped by the “Roadside Kill(Grill)”.  The fried clams were very, very good.  Much better than the ones I had in PEI – although sitting out on the patio in the sun beats indoors looking out the window at the grey gloom.


After a few more stops, it was time to go home and sit down for the traditional meal.  Not quite as ‘sit down’ as the night before, but still a full table.

My plate of Rappe Pie:


It really isn’t the most appetizing looking dish.  I could definitely see a fair population being uncomfortable with the appearance and texture.  No problem for me – I’d say it’s just like baked, starchy chicken congee.  I had seconds and will definitely try to make it myself at home.  Very solid comfort food.

But, eventually, it was time to move on.  If I had been thinking, I probably would have turned down that one beer.   Fortunately, the sun was out and I didn’t have far to go.  It was a pleasure to be with that family and I was sorry I was going to miss the 2nd Annual Christmas in August(where the highlight is the burning of last year’s tree).

Kejimkujik was a nice park – not quite what I was expecting.  Set up camp and wandered out to the evening program.  The Dating Game with the birds of Keji.   And so we were back to the low production values of the Canadian park system.  Plenty of imagination and the kids seemed to love participating.  But the AV and computer mishaps were all back.  I guess it’s an exchange for an interactive program instead of a canned movie production.


Day 70 – Halifax to Cape Breton

Up and at them to Cape Bretton!  Some discussion as I loaded up the bags pointed out I was probably losing a good day of riding to all the packing/unpacking.  I hadn’t thought about it that way – and I think if it were earlier in the trip, I might have gone to MEC or REI and ‘refactored’ the bags.   But I’m so far in that changing things and losing stuff is a higher risk than the time I’ll likely save now.   Something for the next trip…

Riding in the morning wasn’t bad in Halifax itself, but quickly got gloomy near Truro.  Nothing bad, just a little on the cool side.  Would have been perfect with the rain liner in, but not bad enough to make me bother.  Cleared up by the time I was in Antigonish – but I hit awful traffic, as forewarned.  Single lane/alternating traffic meant lots of time sitting in the sun waiting to go.  Combined with a McD’s breakfast – I went in to take advantage of the free coffee – I was quite sleepy.  Not exactly a good combo while riding.  Gonna have to cut back on McD’s food.

Pulled over after the Canso Causeway to ingest some caffeine.   Also got some nice pictures from the Visitor Center:

Back at Peggy’s Cove, I had seen a flyer for wool/sheepskin goods.  I decided that since it was on my way, I’d stop in and check things out.  Eventually settled on a sheepskin to use as a buttpad.  Not sure how useful it will be, but even if it was awful, I figured it’d make a nice souvenir.

Mendy’s staring to look very cluttered:


Arriving in Cheticamp fairly early, I decided to set up camp and do one of the recommended hikes – The Acadien Trail.  Great views up at the top:



Definitely worth the effort getting to the top.  This being me, it was still rather late in the day, so I put on a pretty good pace getting up to the top.  And chose an even faster one going back down.   This meant I was mostly looking at the path rather than around me looking for wildlife.  Rounding a corner, I blundered into a moose!

Fortunately, it wasn’t mating season so he wasn’t all that excitable.  He munched on a few more things before wandering off.  I hoofed it back to the bottom and called it a night, intending to repeat things and go hike the other end of Cape Breton.

Day 69 – New Tire and Halifax

I made it to the shop a little early, and being a bit of a family run operation, they waved me down to the garage and they got to work.  I was a little surprised that they would take me since Ducati’s like to be different and the rear socket is a bit unique.  They were confident and sent me up to the main shop to have a coffee.   But it wasn’t long before the mech called the owner back down for some help.

Much like my previous experience in San Antonio, it doesn’t like to let go.  3′ breaker and 4′ unistrut only managed to torque the socket itself.  Mendy ate a sprocket and still wouldn’t let go of the back tire.  Not exactly giving me confidence about my emergency aluminum socket in my toolkit… Anyway, the internet was consulted, calls were made, tools were purchased.   It did take 4h, but they eventually got the job done.  And now, they’re geared up – so any Duc riders in the area, feel free to swing by Halifax Motorsports!


Since it was well after noon before I got on my way, I was starving.  The one thing I should have in Halifax is apparently one of their Donairs.  I dutifully made my way to Pizza Corner, before realizing that location of King of Donairs was closed.  Since I was downtown and found free parking already,  I dropped by MEC to pick up a few things before making my way back to Quinpool to visit KoD.

Halifax Donair:


Not my favourite Donair.  Meat flavour was similar to the ones in Barcelona, but the sauce was too sweet.  I was informed later that eating it with Mountain Dew was a cardinal sin and I was to try it next time with a Pepsi.

Up to the Halifax Citadel in time to catch the cannon firing competition.  Kind of entertaining to watch the chubby guy run between the gun and the ammo – looked like his pants didn’t fit and were falling down as he hoofed it back and forth.

Walking around, there seems to be a lot of pride in the fact that no one dared to attack the fortification.  I get the feeling it’s untested rather than undefeated.  Eventually, the British just pulled back and gave it up since they had more ‘important’ things to defend back home.  Big step in leading to the Confederation of Canada tho’.

I made my way down Young Ave – what could be a really big gated community in the middle of the city.  Nice area, especially close to Point Pleasant Park.  Nice little beach, if oddly situated right next to the container shipyard.  Similar to Portside Park back home, I guess.

Heading back to Bedford from the city wasn’t much fun – traffic.  I suppose it was rush hour, but I had kind of hoped there would be less of it.  On the plus side, my route took me past the Alexander Keith’s Brewery:

Didn’t go in or anything and traffic cleared up after the Dartmouth ferry.  I knew one of the bridges was a toll bridge, so I took the 2nd one – but that’s a toll bridge too.   Tons of fun trying to sort out  $1 in change, hold it without dropping it and get to the gate.  Then the machine didn’t like it.  I fished some rejected change from the return slot and tried again – no dice.  Fortunately, I had created such a line behind me that the booth operator just waved me through.

Back at the house, we had to come up with a plan for dinner.  Since I had ruined my friend’s plans for going downtown to eat a Donair, we opted for lobsters instead.  Giant fancy pool with a fountain for the lobsters to hang out in.


I suppose it is only expected that these guys are much friskier than the ones we have out west.  Not sure how long it takes for them to get shipped to us, but they can’t be anywhere nearly as fresh.  We also had to go pick up some things at the grocery store.  Guys being guys, we saw steaks on sale and added that to the menu.  Now it was Surf and Turf…  All meat, no veggies.    The corn was on sale too, and we briefly considered that but realized you’d end up with a dozen ears and so we gave up.  Meat and bread.

Back at the house, there were some adventures in attempting to boil water.  Normally, cooking a bunch of lobsters indoors tends to stink up the house.  If there was a propane tank, we’d go outside and use a cooker.  But all the tanks were empty and since the bbq line was hooked up that day, it was important we put it to use.  Especially since the girls were going shopping and we would have ‘plenty of time’.  After wrapping the bottom of a pot in tin foil, we tried to grill the water, then using the infrared broiler.   Succeeded in burning the tin foil(at least we saved the pot!) but couldn’t say it was a win.   Naturally, the girls came back to discover we had accomplished nothing – not even boiling water.

They did eventually get cooked on the stove top.  The four of them chilling out in a giant bowl:


I think after all these meals of Lobster, it’s finally starting to grow on me.  When comparing Lobster to Dungeness crab back in Vancouver, you would really have to get screwed over by your fishmonger to end up with a crab that’s less fresh than the lobster.  I think that’s really the deciding factor – eat local!