Wednesday, June 3, 2015

DesTination: My Epic Ride on a Yamaha TW200! By Longroof

Western Flyer Bicycle
Photo ©
Sumer Memories of 1960... One of my earliest adventures is of thudding across sidewalk expansion joints on my Western Flyer bicycle. Around the corner stood the neighborhood grocery store with the smell of fresh produce wafting through its front screen door stenciled with the Colonial Bread Company logo. Inside they sold apples from bushel baskets and potatoes with bits of crumbly earth still clinging to them. Ripe red strawberries in quart sized lime green containers and bright yellow bananas speckled the produce section with vibrant colors, though I reached for a pack of candy cigarettes and “gold nugget” chewing gum sold in the white drawstring pouch; good items to barter with the natives (other kids) in this neighbourhood.

Photo ©
Now provisioned I was ready to pedal to the far side of the block to a captivating and exotic location; a Gulf Service Station. To me this seemed to be the opposite side of the world. Kind of like if you dig straight down in your fathers’ tomato garden you’d eventually pop-up in some kid’s sandbox in China. Here sedans, sullied with the grime of far-off places rested while getting their oil changed and tires rotated in preparation for their next adventure. Someday, I promised us both as I looked at my shinny bicycle, it too would see far-off distant lands; feel the sting of windblown grit on its shiny painted surface and leave tire tracks on some forested path as I inhaled air heavily laden with exotic scents. Someday…

Saturday, June 28, 2014 Mileage 0-449 - Freedom!

The Journey Begins on My TW200
The type of independence that only two wheels can provide. Engine running effortlessly beneath me. Scenery increasing rushing past as I row through the gears gathering speed. The open road lay before me. The plan? There wasn’t a plan except to rendezvous with fellow TW200 Forum member Dryden Tdub in New York State Monday evening. Then Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia Thursday for the three day Horizons Unlimited Maritime Event. I purposely followed I-40, I-81 and I-77 to get out of familiar territory. A fellow rider in my town suggested I ride Highway 219 in West Virginia. Several years ago the wife and I took this highway from north to south in her Mustang. Even had a bear sighting on that trip.

Horizons Unlimited Maritime Event 2014
Photo © Horizons
The road didn’t disappoint. Lots of historic markers, houses, Inns, old mining and lumber towns. I stood on the pegs to let the wind breathe through my Firstgear mesh jacket. Windshields are great at speed or in cold weather, but at my slow 45 MPH pace this afternoon in these muggy temperatures I needed a breeze. Mile upon mile were covered in this way the Yamaha TW200 easily pulling most of these rolling hills in fifth gear with me on the pegs; though giving-up a few miles per hour on the steeper ones.

Towards evening I began looking for a stealth campsite. A remote corner of a field would be nice. I had noted farmers cutting hay and the roads were beginning to fill with farm trucks and lowboys stacked with these 900 pound rolls of fodder. I turned right onto a graveled path that leads to a shiny green John Deere tractor attached to a worn New Holland Baler. Several men are loading a last bale on a trailer using a second larger John Deere tractor. I pause not wanting to interrupt their progress but off to my left several people are visiting near a partially built barn. I introduce myself asking if I could pitch my tent at the back of their field (pointing to a line of trees near the back edge of the property).

Photo ©
Jim says it’s not his field but he knows the owner and he wouldn’t have a problem with it. His wife Debbie adds once I get the tent set-up to come back up to the house and have some supper with them and their family who had been building the barn. I’m reluctant to impose but she insists. Over a course of sugar cured ham, green beans, slaw, rolls, mac and cheese I learn that Jim is a retired West Virginia State Trooper. Debbie is still working at a bank and hopes to retire in three years. Deb’s brother filling his third plate is a corrections officer. The rest of the house is filled with cousins, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters who have come to drive a nail or fill a plate. Late that evening I ride across the field to my tent frightening a curious deer. A great first day. I smile remembering when Jim gave me his business card telling me it wasn’t a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card.

Sunday, June 29, 2014 Mileage 449-830

I continued following 219 through West Virginia. An abundance of historic signs told of the area’s rich history of Native Americans, the Un-Civil War and coal mining. Wind turbines spinning on a lazy breeze told of the area’s continuing ability to supply energy. Signs posted in front yards against “Fracking” told of another unfolding chapter in energy development. 219 lead to Highway 50 in Maryland which then led back into West Virginia intersecting 220 cutting across Maryland and into Pennsylvania. The major oil leak I had experienced in May during the Turtle Palooza event seems to be a thing of the past. The culprit was the O-ring that seals the starter to the engine casting. The Yamaha dealer in Crossville actually had one in stock…probably fits something else too. I can’t remember who suggested where to look for the oil leak at this location…GapRunr or Kelly B. Thanks guys.

Photo © John Tessier
Yesterday I counted two dead deer, their crumpled bodies laying smashed by the side of the road. Today I count an additional three. A month before I left on this ride two friends from up in Indiana, Gary and Dennis had been to “The Wall” in Washington, DC for Memorial Day. Dennis rode his Air Head BMW into a deer on Highway 50 just south of Morgantown, WV. Killed the deer. The motorcycle sustained several scuffs marks and a broken valve cover. Dennis suffered (and is still suffering) five broken ribs. The accident occurred in front of a home of an off duty paramedic. Help was quick to arrive. A year and a month before that Gary and his wife Ann totaled their Chrysler Town & Country hitting a deer just west of Morgantown on I-79. Morgantown’s fauna just aren’t kind to tourists.

220 was another road with great scenery spanning Pennsylvania. But its curves and hills are disappearing under the “improved” 220. Curves are gentler. Hills no longer demand a quick downshift. Towns are bypassed and motorcyclists become bored. I roll into a small community of Greens Landing just south of Sayre, PA. Fred has been working on his farm all day and looks just as scorched and dirty as I feel. I ask about the field on the other side of the railroad tracks. He does better. Up on a hill behind his house he has a shelter by a pond for family events that I’m invited to use. I waste little time following his directions past rusted and idled farm equipment that appear to have last been used by his father and grandfather. No need for a tent tonight. I roll a pad and sleeping bag out on the floor and prepare dinner from my meager rations I carry in the left rear pannier.

I alternate between looking at the scenery, maps for tomorrow’s destination, and reading about the War of Northern Aggression from some reading material I picked-up along the way. I also call forum member Dryden Tdub that I’ll be in his town tomorrow evening. Fred shows-up in his Kawasaki Mule and we talk about tractors, “Is that a Deutz tractor I noticed on my ride up the lane?” I ask. “One of two, the most fuel efficient tractors on the farm” was his reply. We talked till late in the evening. Ethanol and distiller’s grains (the high protein animal feed after starch in the corn is converted to alcohol), government price supports, American industry, antique tractors, fish in the pond, landscaping, and the Barn Swallows strafing to the surface of the pond catching bugs. When night fell I washed off in that reservoir under a canopy of stars to the symphony of various chirps and buzzes of insects. Another perfect day.

Monday, June 30, 2014 Mileage 830-964

Photo ©
Ate breakfast at a gas station’s Dunkin Donuts (their donuts are too sweet) in Sayre, PA. Where are the Tim Horton’s at? This is to be an easy low mileage day and it was. Crossed into New York and the town of Waverly. An old mill caught my attention but then realized it was custom blending animal feed, not milling flour for baking purposes…like donuts. I followed highway 60 northwest out of Waverly. It had a sign posted that it was a suggested bicycle route. I-86 has bypassed the small towns of Chemung and Loman located along 60 and Traveler* and I had the road to ourselves. Stopped at the Revolutionary War’s Newtown Battlefield State Park and learned some history of this confrontation fought in August of 1779. 3,200 Continental Soldiers battled a force comprised of 15 British Regulars, 250 Loyalist Rangers, and a thousand Indians.

Photo ©
I decided to make use of the park’s free showers at the campground. Didn’t want to scare Dryden Tdub when I arrived later that evening. *Traveler is my nomadic companion, trusted steed and pack mule, the mighty TW200. It is named after Confederate Civil War General Robert. E Lee’s horse. Had…or was going to have lunch in the town of Elmira, NY. Discovered a five star rated café that specialized in soup that opened in 40 minutes so I spent that time in the Library catching up on the news by reading the local paper. …well the café was out of locally brewed craft beer. Ordered chicken noodle soup and no flavor…just salty. This can’t be right. Another sip…same result but something else this time. A third sip…what is that smell? Can’t seem to describe it other than not good. The waitress asked how it was going. “Soup is too salty…and something else…just not right.” She took the soup off the bill and brought samples of seven others. I liked the potato but didn’t have the appetite by this time. Several miles down the road I finally realized what the aroma of the potage reminded of. When you scald the feathers of a chicken getting ready to pluck its carcass…that was the ‘fowl’ door!

Photo © Evelyn Hofer,
Time Life Pictures/Getty
From Elmira I followed the highways east to Ithaca where Cornell University is located. Really looking forward to their collections dedicated to science, especially astronomy. After all Carl Sagan of Cosmos fame was a professor here during the time of filming. I stopped at an information kiosk and the person operating this station didn’t know of any museums or collections open to the public on the campus. We studied a map that she had and couldn’t find any information or directions to any exhibit. The only “public display” were the gardens with various plants being exhibited. Another area had numerous small lakes with a wooden pier crossing a wide swath of water. Though this was OK, it wasn’t really what I was looking for. There was an astronomy building; however it was only open evenings for special events. Cutting through an alley after missing a turn I ran across a deer with her two fawns. I don’t mind these low speed encounters. I got within twenty feet of them before they lazily strolled onto someone’s shaded yard and patio. Finally out of Ithaca and heading towards Dryden, home city to TW Forum member Dryden Tdub…and road construction.

Sadly, after 30 years Phoenix Books
is Closing in Summer 2015!
Photo © James Patrick O'Hagan Jr
Fresh hot asphalt radiating volcanic heat. It was like riding along side of a fresh lava flow. I took a break at a bookstore called Phoenix Used and Rare Books located along Highway 13 hoping to add to my collection of ‘adventure’ books. Anything where man and machine face adversities dished out by nature and terrain. But among the musty stacks in the dim light I didn’t discover what I was looking for. No bicycling around the world. No mountain conquering. No rowing an open boat across a sweeping sea. Nothing about kayaking Hudson Bay or motor scooters crossing Siberia.

Dryden Tdub (Tom)
At the Southworth Library I called forum member Dryden Tdub (Tom). Tom couldn’t have been a better host. A firm handshake and brief discussion about my trip he was soon leading the way towards this evening’s camp at Woolastook Campground outside Fredericton. Tom had set his own hunting camp-sized tent up for me to use complete with air mattress and a battery powered fan that came in handy this muggy evening. We had a great conversation but all too soon he had to leave as he was on-call for the company he works for. With sadness I watched his taillight fade into the evening’s twilight and soon the steady thump of the engine was gone too.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 mileage 964-1280

Followed several scenic roads leading southeast before having a bacon, egg & cheese plus coffee near Whitney Point, a town located along I-81. Tom is right to be proud of the area he resides in. The roads roll and twist through unspoiled towns and landscape. Every farm or community seems to have a multitude of beautiful turn of the century homes. The color white is the most popular for these, followed by shades of blue, gray, and yellow. If these homes were in my community they would be termed “historic” and have a plack designating the respected family that built such a grand residence. Here in New York these homes are common but great care is taken to preserve them.

I intersected Highway 7 and followed it east. What a great road. I felt like I was in the movie “Cars”. Seven has been bypassed by Interstate 88 and separating the two roads is the Susquehanna River, farm pastures and it seemed eons of time. This highway wasn’t taking me to a destination…it was a destination. If this wasn’t picturesque enough a ribbon of rail wound in and out of view as it sought a more level route somewhat parallel to this highway. Sensory overload of road, river, rail, residences…and rusty rail cars! I felt sorrow for the tourists following I-88, in such haste to get somewhere to begin their adventure. “Look over here! See what you’re missing! This road will carry you to your destination as well as transport you back in time!”

Speaking of roads...A few years back my wife Debbie and I were in a remote section of Tennessee following county roads that hadn’t seen any sort of maintenance in years. We were driving our then new 2010 bright red Ford Mustang convertible along mountain switchbacks to isolated former coal mining communities with such names as Welch Camp, Smokey Junction, Nicholas Creek and Shea. After dodging ruts, potholes and pickup trucks we stopped at a small store for an RC. The proprietor came out on the porch looking at the car smiling a near toothless grin saying, “Ain’t never seen no flash car like that in these parts before.” Yep. I like traveling back roads. In spite of this being a two lane state highway I made great time and was soon crossing into Vermont then New Hampshire.

Stopped at small towns and especially enjoyed Bennington, Vermont where Hemmings Motor News is located (nice free museum) enjoyed a view from the top of a Revolutionary War Monument ($4.00) and then looked for a coke to drink. Before leaving New York State I’d stopped at a motorcycle dealership to kick tires and talk motorcycles while raiding the soft drink machine. They didn’t have a coke machine and the employees were unfriendly. At the monument their drink dispenser was broken. At Hemming’s there was an old fashion soda counter, but it was closed. Soon I heard a familiar voice asking if I had found something to drink. It was Bill, a customer that I had talked with briefly at the dealership in New York. He found a working coke machine and we toured the museum looking at vintage cars and drinking cold cokes with moisture condensing on the bottles and running down our fingers.

Stopped for the night near Keene, New Hampshire and ventured into town for food and a brew. The brew I chose at the Cobblestone Ale House seemed appropriate; Appalachian Trail Ale for the rugged outdoorsman that I am…or think I am anyway. This is a college town. Antioch University of New England and Keene State College are both located here. The youthful atmosphere and vibrant town life are very evident with formerly wide sidewalks now congested with tables and chairs spilling out from restaurants and teeming with college students and excited conversations. I lingered for a while occasionally joining in a conversation but mostly listening. I wasn’t eager to return to the solitude of my camp. No dead deer today, however there were signs posted about Moose Crossings.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 mileage 1280-1440

Photo © Nova Star Ferry
Plus, 212 miles (185 nautical miles) overnight by ferry Arrived in Portland, Maine at 11:30 AM and booked passage on the Nova Star for $243. This ferry would take Traveler and me overnight from the USA to Yarmouth in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada across the Gulf of Main. Meanwhile I had some sightseeing to do in Portland. Lots of restaurants featuring brews crafted on their own premises. The place I chose had a good menu, but wasn’t sure on the beer. Can’t remember what type of beer I ordered (lager?) but I think the name of it was “Blue Camaro”. The sample I tasted was great, but by the time I finished off the 16 oz. size I was wishing I had the previous night’s trail ale.

Photo © Maine Project
More exploring and I discovered an ice-cream parlor that had a good sized waiting line. After receiving my hand-dipped Pistachio cone a lady invited me to share her table. Turned out she was a local and we had a great talk about Portland, tourism, the local economy, her job and mine, modes of transportation (she bicycles) and donuts. Besides ice cream she is a donut connoisseur too! When we parted company I followed her directions to The Holy Donut and again waited in line for one of the best tasting strawberry donuts I’ve ever had. This was the holy grail of donuts for the trip.

Did some souvenir hunting for Debbie, but didn’t find that special thing that I knew she would like. Retrieved the TW from the free motorcycle parking area and toured some of the outlying areas of the city. No wonder that lady from the ice cream shop has a nice figure. She burns off all those calories climbing these hills on her bike. Arrived at the pier where the Nova Star docks. There were an assortment of large displacement touring bikes, one adventure bike, two Can Am Spyders and my Expedition Bike. I was looking for a pack of three Honda Goldwings and a Victory with Nova Scotia tags but they weren’t to be found. They had passed me on the first day of my journey in Tennessee then again in Virginia. In Keene fuelling up the TW the attendant asked where I was headed. He stated that earlier in the day three Goldwings pulling trailers and a cruiser type bike all with Nova Scotia plates passed through here.

No dead deer or moose sightings today. Nearly some dead motorcyclists though. While waiting to board the ferry an employee of the company invited us (about a dozen riders by this time) to get ourselves and the motorcycles under a canopy in a pedestrian area just before a powerful storm hit. A few minutes later as the storm was passing a lightning bolt struck a light pole a few feet from where a Triumph rider and I had been standing with our bikes. The crew tied each motorcycle securely with 4 adjustable straps; one off each corner. Time they were done it looked like each bike could endure a hurricane.

More on that later... I toured the ship checking out where the lifeboats and restaurants were. Time I got to the rear deck of the ship to look at the skyline of Portland it was lost in the fog and rain. I made my way up to the 8th deck where I had reserved a reclining airline type chair to sleep during the crossing. This far above the waterline I could feel a definite sway as the ship drove its way eastward through varying swells. Sleep started to come to me as I was gently rocked in my recliner…except for the foghorn detonating the calm every 2 minutes.

Thursday July 3, 2014 mileage 1440-1535

I walked to the bow of the ship to watch us dock at Yarmouth. It was so foggy I couldn’t even see the front of the ship at times, and then mysteriously appearing in the gray mist was the outline of the facility where the Nova Star was to dock. A few questions at customs and I was cleared with the inspector wishing me an enjoyable tour of Canada. The city of Yarmouth must be located several, I don’t know how many, meters above the ocean. As I leave customs I began climbing a fairly steep hill and the fog thins. Above the fog I find myself near the center of the city which hasn’t quite woke-up yet. I stop at a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada and using my debit card get 200 Canadian dollars. Next stop Tim Horton’s for donuts and coffee.

From Yarmouth I follow Highway 1 which is also called the Evangeline Trail. Small communities, scenic churches and lighthouses line the route. At one lighthouse I visited with a couple who are also traveling on small 200cc displacement motorcycles. Seems some of their ‘informed’ friends warned them that you can’t possibly tour on anything less than 1,000cc’s, yet this couple from New Hampshire is touring several New England States and a couple of Canadian Provinces. This was their first foray into two wheeled camping.

I rolled into Annapolis Royal about 3:00 in the afternoon. I hadn’t realized until now that I had traveled into the Atlantic Time Zone (UTC -04:00) last night aboard the Nova Star. Still thought I was on Eastern Time. In town I met a BMW rider named Alton and asked if he was here for the Horizons Unlimited Event. He wasn’t but knew where the campsite was located. As we were talking another BMW rider from British Columbia arrived on a F800GS. He joined Alton and me as he led us to the camp a few miles east of town. I registered, set-up my Mountain Hardware Hammerhead 2 tent then met-up with John, the rider from British Columbia and headed into town to eat. The only place open was the Bistro East (4.5 out of 5 rating), a fairly upscale looking place, which turned out to be a good choice. I had the Maple Glazed Salmon which I highly recommend. John had the Pasta Primavera which he said was excellent.

John headed back to camp while I ambled around town visiting the few touristy shops that were still open, hoping to find something for Debbie back home. Walking back to the TW here comes the unofficial town host, Alton. We visit some more and I’m invited over to his place a few blocks from the town’s center. What a great workshop he has. The sweet smell of cherry and oak sawdust permeates the late evening air. Alton designs and builds circular stairways for new or restored homes. Showing me samples from around the shop and photos of his work, what he creates are masterpieces comparable to ‘Gone with the Wind’s Tara’’, or the stairway scene where Jack and Rose meet on the Titanic. Yeah, I know those aren’t circular, but they are just as impressive as what he builds.

We left the shop and passed through the kitchen of Alton’s home picking up a Stella Artois beer on the way through. His home was decorated with antiques and just as impressive is the furniture that he has beautifully crafted. Of the artwork decorating the walls there was one painting I was totally captivated with; a lone tree set against a backdrop of mountains and a setting sun. Turns out that Alton’s wife had painted it and the next room we toured was her studio. We sat in the living room and visited a short while. The house next door he also owns having restored it a few years ago. If I remember correctly he stated both homes were built in the early 1800s. His wife (sorry, can’t remember her name) arrived and she seemed perfectly OK with a stranger in the home. Alton probably brings wayward travelers home all the time living vicariously through the stories they tell.

I finished my beer on the tree shaded patio as a few of their friends arrived. I was introduced to the town doctor and his wife. Then I was introduced to the person renting his house next door, a very gorgeous lady with long blond hair in a stunning sun dress…her emerald green eyes were smiling as bright as her red lips, parted just enough to reveal perfect set of ivory white teeth. Her radiant tan told of endless hours spent strolling carefree along some isolated stretch beach…Alton interrupted my day dream saying, “She’s a doctor too. You need to convince her to stay here in Annapolis Royal and set-up her practice”. I looked at her and said, “Miss, if you are a Doctor of Psychology your services aren’t needed here; everyone seems well adjusted in this community.”

Friday, July 4, 2014 mileage 1535-1659

Awoke to a few final puffs of a light breeze that was driving away a mist of rain. Already the sun was shining across the bay and the weather looked promising. Called Debbie back home to let her know I survived the night and she mentioned a hurricane just off the US coast. “No problem”, I replied. “I’m on the west side of Nova Scotia. It will harmlessly pass out to sea on the eastern side”. There were two rides today; a road ride for the street bikes and an off road for adventure and dual sport bikes. A total of nine of us formed-up for the off road event. This ride would take us to remote areas following pavement, logging roads, then finally on four wheel drive trails to New France, an abandoned lumber camp.

 Foundations Are All That is Left of New France...

Back in camp our hosts had fireworks for us US citizens. The grand finale was a rider mounted on a Harley rigged with fireworks shooting them into the smoke filled air…Forest Gump might say, “except for the beer, BBQ and Harleys, Canada is just like the USA.” Presentations this night were by Madaline Velazquez, “Conquering your Travel Fears”. She is headed to Russia in 2015; the “Trans Canada Trail” by ? (Sorry forgot name again) a British bloke riding a DRZ400 and “Riding Cuba” by Peter Bodtke. Lots of great scenery. The blond posing win the second and third photos is another Debbie. She was headed to Labrador next on her adventure/dual sport bike. That is me in the first and third photos.

Saturday, July 5, 2014 mileage 1659-1659 = 0

Photo © National Hurricane Centre
Hurricane Arthur arrived with a few gusts of wind at about 4:30 AM Atlantic Time. A few drops of rain drummed on the tent fabric. By 5:20 the tent was shaking hard and the rain hitting with force. Occasionally the wind would die down, but in the distance you could hear the wind howling through tree branches gathering to deliver another hammer blow. Where the aluminum tent poles crossed each other they would click together. Click, click, click in rapid succession like two chop-sticks in the hands of an angry Chinaman. Called Debbie at 8:00 and said good morning …then the tent blew flat against my face. Venturing outside two corner stakes had pulled out of the ground and Traveler was laying on its right side.

Arthur Arrives
Got the tent re-staked and picked up Traveler from its peaceful slumber then got to wondering that if it had a soul, is it only cognizant when the ignition switch is on? And totally oblivious to its environment with the ignition off? If so, I didn’t wake him. I placed my front and rear panniers inside the tent for additional weight. Didn’t want my home ballooning into the bay with my possessions inside. It was then that I had my Forrest Gump moment looking at a map. Nova Scotia is located east of the eastern coast of the United States. I was on the Western side of Nova Scotia. Like Debbie said the hurricane is off the east coast…of the USA. The hurricane was crossing the Bay of Maine and I was probably 100 miles from what was left of Arthur’s Eye as by this time NOAA had reduced this to a severe tropical storm.

Ural With Russian Soldier
In my opinion it was a very severe tropical storm. Walked to the building where the Horizons event was being held. The power grid had been knocked out so there wasn’t any electricity or water. Two Honda generators were running to supply power for making coffee and breakfast. I hadn’t paid the extra cash for the breakfast plan, but coffee was available for some small change. With the wind trying to tear the coffee cup from my hand I crouched back to my tent where I had fresh fruit and trail mix. My earlier plan to ride into town had been thwarted by this nasty weather. The weather raged all day, but didn’t stop the presentations. Border crossings, travel photography, trip planning, round-the-world travel and first aid were presented by 6 adventure type riders. We were even able to Skype with fellow adventure riders, Sue and Grant Johnson, in Germany. I’ve known Grant for several years and told him I rode the TW up to this meeting. He replied, “Gordon, that bike of yours is capable of making it around the world.” Kept an eye on the tent. Mine was one of three that didn’t blow down. Found out later that my neighbor noticed stakes getting loose and rainfly flapping like an infuriated duck. He re-staked it for me. Great people here at this event.

Sunday, July 6, 2014 mileage 1659-1901

Dodged fallen trees and tree limbs into and out of Annapolis Royal. No electricity at fuel stations so gas wasn’t being dispensed. Still had fuel from where I had filled-up Thursday when I arrived in town. Another good argument for the XT 350 large fuel tank conversion. Away from the coast I did fill-up 50 or so miles inland. The few stations that were open I passed earlier were crowded with folks filling red plastic fuel jugs; no doubt for generators or chainsaws. I also called a forum member near Halifax where I had hoped to meet-up for lunch. Called several times yesterday and today but couldn’t get through. Though short, I enjoyed my time in Halifax.

HMCS Sackville - Corvette
Titanic Book I have Owned For Many Years

Among the things I wanted to visit was the cemetery where many of the victims of the RMS Titanic are buried. Traveler and I coasted to the side of the road where I was going to retrieve a guide to the city. Perhaps by divine providence, I noticed a sign pointing the way to Fairview Cemetery. To be at this graveyard was a culmination of a 55+ year dream. My Aunt Leila had a book in her personal library about the Titanic and its sinking written in 1912. Though I was at first too young to read the words she would narrate stories as I looked at the pictures. She was 12 at the time of the sinking and vividly recalled the newspaper headlines and gossip surrounding this tragedy. I still have this book she gave me as a young man. Toured the HMCS Sackville, a WW2 era Corvette that escorted convoys across the Atlantic; and strolled the water front looking at ships arriving and departing…then it was time for me to depart. I saved several points of interest for my next visit. Watched for possible stealth camp sites off Highway 7 that I was following, but at the end of the day chose to stay at a small private campground in Sheet Harbor. They had reasonable rates and a hot shower that I soaked in for a long time. Going back into town all the restaurants were closed except for one and it was an upscale place at that. Stopped at the only open fuel station in town and put together enough items to call a meal from their limited selection. On the way back to camp I noticed an ice-cream stand that I had somehow earlier missed. Had a double scoop of Cherry Vanilla stacked on top of a crunchy waffle cone. Posted on the TW200forum that I had survived Hurricane Author and was headed to Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail.

Monday. July 7, 2014 mileage 1901-2236

Cool this morning. Besides the temperature I had low lying fog to contend with too. My windshield misted over and clothing de-humidified the air as it passed over and through my cargo pants. The thickened engine oil was causing the clutch to slip some when I accelerated in the higher gears. No real problem though, as on my winter commutes to the office this sometimes happens on both the TW and the V-Star. Stopped at Sherbrooke for breakfast consisting of 2 eggs, buttered wheat toast smothered with orange marmalade jelly, a couple of sausage links that weren’t too great and 2 cups of coffee for $11.43 Canadian. Visited with a gentleman who sat at the table next to mine. Seems he had a good paying job in a big city that he didn’t really care for so he left to go fishing and never went back. He now is a commercial fisherman supplying the area with fresh caught fish. Talking with him about his previous job was like me talking to myself about my present job that was now only a week away. Wow…I’d already burned through a week’s worth of vacation!

Up the coast form Sherbrooke I spotted this forsaken shipwreck of a vessel beached near a repair shop. I’d guess years ago the cost for repairs were just too much so it was just abandoned to the elements. Except for the flaking lead based paint, asbestos insulation, tetanus and Hantavirus infested rat poop, this would have made a great stealth camp site. As I rode away I got to thinking that if I’d camped onboard, an usually high tide might have refloated this hulk. I’d wake up in the morning adrift somewhere in the North Atlantic riding the Flying Dutchman doomed to haunt shipping lanes forever. Crossed onto Cape Breton late this morning and into the city of Port Hastings.

Found a pair of Pewter Dragon Fly Earrings for Debbie back home that I knew she would like. Sometimes it is best if I just quit writing and let the photos tell the story. Today’s ride was so great I can’t come up with the words to describe the scenery anyway. Somewhere along the highway today I passed the road that leads to a ferry that connects Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. Deb, (another one) pictured with me at the rock, and her traveling companion were headed there. If I only had another weeks’ worth of vacation. Looked for a stealth campsite and found a great one behind a church overlooking the Atlantic at the small town of Pleasant Bay…but no cell phone service. Matter of fact there hadn’t been any service for a long stretch in this area and I’d promised I would call home this evening. Regrettably I left in search of a signal that I didn’t find until I reached Highlands National Park.

Tuesday, July 8 2014 mileage 2236-2690

Called my brother in Indianapolis, Indiana to wish him a Happy Birthday. After the phone call it was time to head back home, but still hoping that the adventure and great scenery would continue. At a motorcycle repair shop near the terminus of the Cabot Trail I paused to stretch my legs. There was a silent Harley Dresser placed upon a red hydraulically operated repair stand. Outside leather clad bikers nervously paced the parking lot like expectant family awaiting word from the doctor as to the condition of the patient. Soon the diagnosis was announced. A fuel line had become disconnected and within minutes their iron baby was chugging loudly on the table.

I worked my way through the bikers to my bike answering their questions about Traveler. Even the doctor (mechanic) and other employees came out and admired the TW. No one had ever seen a pack mule like it before. The $1500 bike generated more interest than the $30,000 chrome plated beasts positioned about the lot. I donned my helmet and started up the bike, enjoying the nice quiet thump of its single cylinder. Snicking it in gear I unhurriedly short shifted the bike and ambled off remembering what one of the adventure riders from Quebec stated at the Horizons meeting. Chrome won’t get you home.

Followed several three digit highways and some single digit roads before stopping for the night south of Fredrickson, New Brunswick at the Woolastook Campground. Electricity hadn’t been restored to this area yet from Saturday’s storm. Placed my tent near the water’s edge and watched dragonflies catch mosquitos that were demanding a meal of me as I ate the last of my reserve food supply. I washed off at the lake’s edge amongst the wreckage of five pontoon boats that were destroyed during last week’s tempest then I bummed a bottle of water from a fellow camper. Called my forum host in Halifax this evening and finally got through. Seems the phone service was knocked-out by the severe weather too and was finally restored this day. Rain threatened during the night so I hastily packed my tent and retreated to the east facing front porch of the check-in office. No problem…stayed dry all night and didn’t have a soggy tent to pack in the morning. No deer carcasses noticed today.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 mileage 2690-3170

Up early and quietly stuffed my sleeping bag into the top case placing maps where they would be handy on top of the camping equipment. Traveler in stealth mode (low speed/low RPM) we crept to the main highway, 102 and followed it till it became 3, then 4 as I headed through the foggy morning to the border crossing; first through McAdam then Saint Croix, Canada. The border guards on the US side seemed to take special interest in me. I sure they were bored as I looked to be their first customer of the day. A courtesy check of one pannier and brief questioning inside at a desk and I was on my way. Entering the US it was very evident that I was crossing into something other than just another beautiful Province of Canada.

There was a stark difference. It looked to be a third world country. Abandoned buildings, shanties, and the look of neglect. Oh look…the American Flag…this is the most prosperous country in the world? The United States of America? Kind of like comparing the USA side of Niagara Falls verses the Canadian side. The US side has rundown, neglected or empty industrial buildings, trash and graffiti. Canada has well-kept touristy attractions, great restaurants, Put-Put golf, smooth streets and nice hotels. My welcome to the USA was shocking; so much so that a few miles up the road I needed to hit the woods. I steered the bike off Highway 6 onto a logging road and behind a brush pile. I didn’t take a book to read because misquotes had found me even before I switched off the motor.

They were coming for me just like Focke-Wulf 190’s on a damaged B24 bomber. I released my bomb load and ran to the bike pursued by a determined enemy focused on my destruction. I managed to smash several opponents on my bombing run and retreat. The spinning rear tire took out several more as I throttled up the motor spraying gravel and mud at the trailing enemy…but they had inflicted a terrible price. My bare behind had numerous welts. One of them became so inflamed that I developed a third cheek… One thing I noticed passing through Maine was the remains of dead deer along the shoulders of some roads in various states of decay. Some were relative fresh and others skeletonized with bits of tendon and hide still attached. A few of these had flattened furry gray piles scattered around the deer carcass.

Oh great…not only do I need to use caution about deer darting or moose meandering into my path, but also coyotes cavorting in the road feeding on these carcasses. Something else to blunder into in my haste to get home. I know some of the readers are following my adventures on a map. Others what to know if I passed near their home so I mention the various highways I followed. It occasionally makes for dull reading, but I’ll continue. The run through Maine was fast following Highway 6, 2, then at Old Town Alternate 2 over to Interstate 95. Back on 2 again to 202 and Belchertown; 116 to interstate 91. It was during this time that I discovered my GPS was trying to route me through New York City. I really didn’t want to go through New York City. I’d been there the year before last driving my 2005 Pontiac Aztek on a wintery and rainy day. So I once again struck-out cross country and at Peekskill, NY crossing the Hudson River on State Highway 6.

This was the most challenging set of curves I been on for some time and the overloaded TW traversed these with abundant grace. Ducati pilots would have been envious of the way Traveler and I strafed the corners, accelerated (I exaggerate) down the straights, then hard on the brakes compressing the forks to their limit and setting up the bike to negotiate the next set of sweeping curves. Somehow Highway 6 turned into 17, a fast four lane road that I followed to Goshen, NY then became 6 again that I followed to Milford, PA. Hooked up with Highway 209 on the south side of Milford and paralleled the Delaware River for several miles until I reached Interstate 80. I debated continuing on 209, but somehow missed the exit, so proceeded on 80 to the interchange with 81, which was my ticket home. I could follow 81 into northeast Tennessee and quickly get home and out of Yankee territory. During this trip those Civil War monuments on northern town’s squares replicent with their staring chiseled gray eyes haunted this rebel as I passed a town’s center.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 mileage 3170-3680

Yesterday and continuing over the next few days, my memories are a blur of interstates, gas stations, cheap hotels, fast food joints and heat. Imagine placing an air-cooled engine inside a searing hot kiln. Then to cool the motor you use a hairdryer set on maximum temperature while heat lamps are focused on the engine that’s spinning at 7,000+ RPM…and doing this for several twelve hour days straight. That is what I felt I subjected my TW to on the return trip to Tennessee. Engine parts spinning faster than shrapnel flung from an exploding grenade are just inched from venerable parts of my body. In the mornings the oil level in the site-glass would remain fine. In the sweltering afternoon when I would check Traveler’s oil at fuel stops I’d always need to add a quantity. Dilution of the oil from blow-by gasses, sheering from the gears and heat boiling up from sections of fresh blacktop can also be blamed for oil consumption.

A 200cc engine with 53,000+ miles pushing a heavily laden bike at 65MPH and occasionally 70 will consume oil too. The oil in my engine that was formerly Shell Rotella 15W-40 is probably 0W-00 in the afternoon and should be a solid chunk of asphalt when I twist the key off of an evening. Will the oil be able to keep this engine in one piece? If so I’m amazed at both the oil and build quality of the TW200. I spent the night just outside of Staunton, VA. This location had been decided by the weather. I could see the wall of water approach as I motored at a brisk pace dictated by the flow of traffic I was caught-up in. Kind of a herd mentality, but I was the weakest animal in this fast flow unable to keep-up and would be culled from the herd by stronger animals; an SUV perhaps. Torrents of rain soon plunged down in thick heavy drops.

This was really the first rain I’ve had to ride through this trip. The air cooled motor was now water cooled and steam enveloped me as I coasted down an exit ramp looking for a hotel. Perhaps this is a good thing as I could hear Scotty down in engineering saying in his Scottish brogue over the com, “Captain, I’m giving you all she got! She can’t take no more!” I soon found a cheap “Class M Hotel” capable of sustaining life and paid my money. Class M? Scotty? Star Trek people will get it… Headed south tomorrow. This would be my final push to Crossville and my rear (all three cheeks) needed a rest. A quick shower and then I doctored my third cheek with antibiotic ointment as it had become septic by this time. Walked to a deli near the hotel and chatted motorcycles with a former rider standing in line.

His last bike was a 750 Honda and he hoped when time permits, like retirement, he would rejoin the ranks of motorcyclists. I ordered my turkey sandwich, vinegar coleslaw and coke to go. Back at the room I discovered the sandwich contained nearly enough vegetables to make an additional salad. Great eating. Readers help me out here. I believe the eatery’s name was Rein’s New York Style Deli…and I believe I was stopped in Staunton…is this right? That night I was restless thinking that home was just a day away, and turning over on my right side where my third cheek was located felt like I was resting on a bowling ball. Today I had counted three dead deer strewn across the landscape of I-81.

Friday, July 11, 2014 mileage 3680-4125…and home 

Put on my still wet boots from yesterday’s rain and gathered my belongings. A dense fog enveloped the early light in parking lot as I packed my gear then checked the oil, which sat at the top of the sight glass when the bike is pulled upright. I try to keep it in this area due to the extra volume of oil required to keep the oil cooler filled. I zipped the upper half of my rain suit closed and aligned the Velcro flap to prevent the wind whipped vapor from condensing inside my jacket. Moisture from the thick fog clung and condensed on the windshield and on the panniers forming rivulets that dripped to the pavement as I finished talking with a fellow rider from Wisconsin.

Following my near two week routine I turned on the gas, pulled the choke, turned the key in the ignition and pressed the starter button…the engine hardly spun half a turn before it caught and the reassuring thump of its single cylinder quietly declared I’m ready for today’s adventure. I glanced back at the motorcyclist from Wisconsin and he nodded his head in approval. He followed nearly the same procedure with his water cooled multi-cylinder fuel injected chrome plated behemoth and together we rolled down the slight incline to the road’s edge. He guided his Goldwing right towards the interstate. As for me, I pondered momentarily then chose left to follow the more adventuresome two lane Highway 11 also known as Lee Highway. Traveler would like it this way. He and Lee hadn’t ridden together for nearly 150 years…

Thanks for reading. Hope you all enjoy. And thanks again Tom for putting this weary traveler up for the night. 

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