Does it count if you arrive in a tow truck?

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We were riding along hwy 1, minding our own business, about 60 miles out of St. John’s, when I look in my rear view mirror and see Mike on the side of the road flashing his headlight – I turn around and ride back. What comes into view is not good, a streak of oil leading up to the bike, then a massive puddle underneath. Mike’s chain let loose and looks like its blown a hole right in his cases.

Well, shucks. That’s not good (okay, that’s not what I said, but you get the gist).

A tow truck ride brought us to the Fun n Fast Kawasaki dealership, where the nicest and most helpful group of folks got together and worked out a game plan. Good news, it’s not the center case, bad news the oil transfer pipe that did break is on backorder, good news, a call to Nicol and then Beaverton Honda confirms it is available through US Kawasaki. I call a dealer in Maine and he’ll get it to us asap. Bad news, the rear sprockets on both bikes are shot, along with the chains (we knew the chains were on their way out, and were getting new ones anyway in St. Johns), so we get chain and sprockets ordered for the Versys. The BMW is a little more problematic, as the sprocket is only availabe from a few sources, and none can be gotten quickly. I finally call Sprocket Specialists (thanks again Nicol) and have one drop shipped. The chain is in stock at a nearby dealership, and the parts guy at Fun n Fast walks over and gets it for us.

Then, the owner of the shop has us pile our gear in the shop truck and he takes us to our Hotel.

Everything should be ready in about 4 days, barring any problems with shipping times and customs. Then we’ll be back on the road, but probably not in time to visit Labrador, just jump back to the mainland and do a bit of on-the-fly sightseeing on the road home.

Not the trip we’d planned, but at least we’re stuck in a fun town with lots to do, and our room has a small kitchenette, so we’re not living on McDonalds.

People here are nice, and they have the neatest accent, sort of soft scottish brogue with a twist. Crazy thing is some people have a very thick accent, others don’t have any at all. We’ve met lifetime residents who sound like they could be from Oregon, others who sound like English is a second language.

The island topography looks a bit like the highlands in Glacier National Park or some areas of Alaska; there’s very short pine and some aspen in the middle of the island, but the edges have hundreds of small ponds, surrounded by granite and dark green scrub. What’s not water is rock, what’s not rock is bright green with foliage. Much of the rock has an element that gleems and shines like wet rock, even when its dry. Very pretty!  Back millions of years ago, the glaciers scrubbed this island completely bare, no topsoil (oh, which if you were a Newfoundlander, you would pronounce “topsl”). There is soil now, but not very deep.

I really enjoy places like this, its neat to see the bones of the earth. Trees are beautiful, but wide-open vistas and rocky crags are more interesting to me.

Today we’re off to old town, wish me luck in keeping Mike from buying out everything motorcycle-related at the antique stores!

In the meantime, here’s video of our ride on Cabot Trail a few days ago. I totally forgot to say how beautiful this ride is, very much worth it.


We’re in Newfoundland!

Oh, and it’s raining. But not torrential, and yesterday when we arrived it was beautiful blue sky if a bit windy.

The ferry ride was uneventful, if not restful. Mike slept a bit on the floor, I think I might have dozed off a few times. After debarking we got geared back up and rode to Gander, around 300 miles away.  We spent the night in a nice little hotel, and now we’re ready to tackle the last bit to St. John’s.

Photos are posted, click any picture to the right to view the new stuff.

We’re still having fun and haven’t killed each other yet, so life is good!

This was an ‘easy’ day?

We scheduled today as a short day, with a nice (cheap) stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Moncton New Brunswick.  We got in early, and started planning for tomorrow, which will be semi-epic. By the time we got done eating dinner and writing down every possible bit of info we’ll need, it’s after 9pm. and time to hit the hay.

We’ll be leaving here early in the morning and heading for Cabot Trail, after riding the loop, we’ll drop down to Sydney and wait patiently until our 1am (yep, AM!) crossing to Newfoundland. Cross your fingers that we’ll be able to get a couple of the coveted “sleeping chairs” or we’ll be some tired puppies when we debark 7 hours later!

Off to bed now for some much-needed sleep. Todays ride was pretty boring, so sorry, no pictures worth printing!

Thanks to everyone that’s been keeping up with us and commenting – I’m sorry I’ve been so lax replying to emails, but heck, I haven’t even called Mom in 5 days!

Quebec City to Riviere Du Loup


We spent most of the day walking all over Quebec City, starting at the top of the hill, we watched the changing of the guard at the Citadel, then took a tour of the grounds. This was excellent, a wonderful mix of history, war and architecture. Just the kind of thing Mike and I both enjoy.

We wandered through the twisted cobblestone streets and just enjoyed pointing out neat details to each other. So many neat buildings here.

Next we dropped down to the Chateau de Frontenac and spent some time checking out this awesome old hotel. Our last stop was unexpected, we took a different sidestreet back to our hotel and stumbled upon the Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church. This beautiful and timeless beauty was a great way to end our too-short stay in Quebec City.

Everyone we’ve met in Quebec Provence has been wonderful. I wanted to say they all went out of their way to be helpful, but that’s not right, I think it’s just their way to be helpful. And although many people do speak excellent english, we also met quite a few who spoke only french. Also, street signs and directions are only in french, making navigation, er, challenging at times. On the upside, this part of Canada actually felt like a completely different country.  Very gracious and beautiful, but we’ll be happy to get back to the english-speaking section of Canada. This trip is enough of an adventure without the addition of a language barrier!

Leaving Quebec, we got turned around and took a few wrong roads, we finally got headed in the right direction along with the rest of the holiday weekend traffic (Canada also celebrates Labor Day). It was slower going than we anticipated, so we didn’t arrive at our small hotel in Rivier Du Loup until after dark.  A quick meal in the room (the bread and cheese here is really, really good), and now we’re ready for bed.

Tomorrow we’re headed for Moncton, and hopefully we’ll be able to see some of those crazy tidal changes in the Bay of Fundy!

So, you’re from Oregon, eh?


September 2, 2009 Marquette MI to Arnprior Ottawa Canada, 620 miles.

We actually beat the sunrise this morning. Light was barely filtering through the darkness, so we took our time getting loaded up, and the sun had started to show as a red glow in front of us as we pulled out of the motel.

About 5 miles out of town, we rounded a corner in the road to see the sun, a huge red ball, taking up an inordinate amount of space on the horizon. It was perfectly framed by the roadside trees, forming the dot on the “i” of the road we were on.

It was a chilly morning, and about to get colder. Dropping down a little hill, we saw wisps of fog backlit by the rising sun. The mist sat just below treetop level, and hung like a gauze awning above us for miles.  I had my liner cranked to 11, but was still chilled. After 20 miles riding under the fog blanket, I was seriously thinking about finding a place to pull over and find a hot cup of coffee to wrap my fingers around, but Mike wasn’t giving in, so I wouldn’t either.

Suddenly, after nearly an hour of cold, the road climbed ever so slightly, our mirrors fogged, and the temperature rose so quickly it felt like going from the freezer to the sauna. Amazing how fog can hold the cold to the ground like that.

We crossed into Canada at Sault Ste Marie, an industrial town that processes iron ore coming from our lake regions in the states.

We didn’t have any plans for the day other than ride, get gas, much some granola, get back on the bikes and ride some more.  I thought we’d be stopping at Pembroke for the night, but Mike decided we’d push on further. By Arnprior, I was sleepy, hungry and cranky. Mike found us an excellent room (no wifi, unfortunately) at the Country Squire Motel. The owner was Indian, and I could smell the most wonderful curry in the office, I mentioned it to him, and he said it was this tortilla-like bread his wife was making. After we got checked in, he asked if we wanted a taste of the bread and we said sure! His wife brought us out some of the dough, and also one of the tortillas that had puffed up into something that looked like a taco salad shell, but was just so light and crispy (not fried).  It’s made from rice flour, cardamom, curry and other spices. Really, really good stuff!

A good nights’ sleep and we’ll be headed towards Quebec City tomorrow.

Day, uh, four? Really, is that all? No kidding.

We are behind schedule, but it feels like we’ve been gone much longer than four days. Don’t know how those to facts jibe, but it is what it is.

We left our quiet motel this morning at around 7:40, this time the late start was on purpose, as we’d been warned the next leg of the ride would include lots of furry creatures bent on destruction. By waiting until a little later in the AM, we’d have a better chance of missing them.

Sun shone softly through mist rising off the hundreds of lakes we rode by. The flowers and birch trees were still dappled with dew well into the early afternoon, not something we’d see in the dry air of Central Oregon.

We’d be traveling between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, but I figured the majority of our views would be trees. Unfortunately I was right, but pretty little towns and some farmland dotted the landscape to keep it from being completely boring.


Tonight Mike found us another quiet, cheap motel at the edge of Marquette, and tomorrow we’re Canada bound!

Minnesota, eh?

The planets aligned, all our ducks were in a row, and we were on the road at 7am!

Riding down the highway as the sun broke over the hills and worked its way free of the morning haze was really special. I do love this time of morning, I just wish it didn’t happen so early in the day.

We waved goodbye to Montana, and hello to North Dakota, which surprised me with varied and quite pretty terrain.  At  noon, we pulled into the Open Road Honda shop in Bismark, we wanted to get that master link replaced with a rivet link (to make Pam feel better), and also we’d noticed a broken bolt on my skidplate. It’s was a weird 8mm shaft bolt that was nearly 9″ long, unusual because it’s really dumb to have any bolt that size be so long.  Shawn in the parts department went over and above the call of duty, calling all around for us, finally finding a bolt dealer that had threaded stock that would do the trick. Mike went and picked it up, then brought it back, they rolled my little yellow piggie into the shop and had the link replaced and the bolt created and looking like new in less than an hour.

We expected about a $100 bill, were only charged $37, and Shane gave us two t-shirts to boot!  Absolutely above-and-beyond service from an excellent dealership. If you’re ever in the area, look them up

Rolling down the highway is sort of relaxing, if you can ignore the aches and pains that come from sitting in one position for extended periods of time.  I listen to my music, watch out for dead skunks and think philosophical thoughts. We both wear Camelbak backpacks, so there is the option of a long cool drink of lemonade, but hunger has to wait to be taken care of until the next gas stop.

Tonight we’re in the cutest little motel in Detroit Lakes (!) Minnesota.  I’m so ready for sleep, my eyes are drooping and it’s time for bed.  Night all!

Whoo, hoo, livin’ on the Chain Gang

Got started this morning at around 7:30 (yes, we wanted to get going at 6:30) and continued down I90. Our goal was Dickinson ND, a butt-busting 615 miles away.  About 30 miles out of town, we were cruising along at 80mph when I heard a loud POP! and the engine rpm raised as the bike slowed. I quickly pulled in the clutch and chopped the throttle, jabbed on the turn signal and coasted to a stop by the side of the road.

I really thought I’d blown 6th gear or something horredous.  Fortunately, I’d just lost a masterlink.  Mike ran back and picked up the chain from the middle of the road.  We surveyed the damage, one chain guard gave its life to save the case and assorted other tender fragile components, and that was it. Whew! After locating a new masterlink, we were back together and ready to ride.  We’ll keep a close eye on the link, and hopefully find an open shop in the next few days where we can get a pressed link installed.

We’d lost some time, and by 7pm we were still 100 miles from our target.  I was getting tired and was at the point of telling myself stories to stay alert (Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, but don’t tell anyone, okay??), when Mike signaled and took the exit for Miles City.

So, here we are in a Motel 6 in pretty little Miles City.  Not as far as we wanted to be, but happy healthy and ready to roll again tomorrow.

Day 1, Terrebonne to Missoula Mt – about 600 miles

The sun was warm and the smoke had been washed away by yesterdays rain. If anyone thought we’d be on the road by 7:30 instead of 6:30, you were right!

The ride was pretty, and uneventful – except for the burning semi beside the road.

A night in an old Motel in Missoula, dinner via Safeway, and up and at ’em again tomorrow.

We’ve got a room in Glendive Montana for Sunday night