GREG AND JACEK TRAVEL TOGETHER
July 31- August 17 2001. 18 days.
Countries visited: 2. States and provinces: 14
Continents visited: 1
Gasoline: 430 litres
Ferries: 4 substantial, 2 small.
Motorbikes used: Honda Interceptor VF500. Greg - 1984, Jacek - 1986.
Equipment failures/problems 1984 (Greg's)
broken chain - fixed up on the spot in Newfoundland, bought a new one in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
failure of the speedometer
rear break needed installation adjustment
numerous problems with CB Radio connections
one screw lost
Equipment failures/problems 1986 (Jacek's)
rear break needed installation adjustment
one screws lost
Pictures taken: around 200
Money per person (estimated):
gasoline: $CAD 340 ($US 218)
ferries and toll: $CAD 340 ($US 218)
other: $CAD 750 ($US 500)
Total: $CAD 1450 ($US 950)
Conclusion: travel, travel cheap, do it often.
USA NOVA SCOTIA
Tues, July 31, 01. From Hamilton, Ontario to Ocean Grove, New Jersey. 830 km
J.: We left Hamilton around 9 a.m. That day was meant to be uneventful, mere driving.
G: However, it was nice to see Pennsylvania’s country site and the Appalachian Mountains, very picturesque ride.
J: Sure. We reached Ocean Grove - Asbury Park, right after sunset. Colorful houses well taken care of beautify the resort. Greg's family was awaiting us anxiously. Greg's brother-in-law generously paid for the room we were staying at.
Wed, Aug 1, 01. New Jersey: Ocean Grove. 0 km
J.: Beach time. In Ocean Grove America seemed to be a family oriented country so the only people we encountered were mothers/fathers and lots of kinds and retirees. We met a few young people from Eastern Europe who came to Ocean Grove to work. They were complaining a bit that there is nothing to do there. The place is very religious. You can't buy any beer or liquor either in a store or a restaurant.
In the evening Greg's sister and her husband gave a great recital.
Thu, Aug 2, 01. From Ocean Grove, New Jersey to Hammodasset Beach State Park, Connecticut. 295 km
G: After a short visit to the beach we packed our gear, said good bye to my family and left the resort town around noon.
J.: Interstate highways are long and boring. A highway of that type took us to New York. Lucky me, it was my third visit to New York City this year. This one was the shortest: just a few hours driving around. The drivers seemed relaxed and tired most likely because of quite high temperature (32 C).
G: New York is a fast paced city. We did not want to stay overnight, rather we just wanted to take some pictures with our bikes in front of the most popular landmarks and quickly leave. Still, it took us a couple of hours to navigate the one-way streets to get to the points of interest.
J: We left Manhattan taking a bridge from Harlem. A complicated set of highways under construction followed but we made it through never getting lost.
G: We reached the campsite around 10pm and still there was a lot happening. We even managed to watch a movie in the outdoor theatre.
J: Again, the campsite was populated with crowds of RV's and families.
Fri, Aug 3, 01. From Hammonasset, Connecticut to Bay Point, Maine. 501 km
J.: Boston used to be a beautiful city. And it will turn into a handsome one again in 3-4 years. Right now though, it is a huge construction site. You could compare Boston to Lisbon 3 years ago: comparable amount of detours, roadblocks, etc.
G: Again, we did not plan to stay overnight. We took a couple of pictures and left the city of the BIG DIG.
J: Bunch of highways followed again. We found this nice (privately owned, though expensive: $US20 per site) camping located in the forest.
Sat, Aug 4, 01. From Bay Point to Arcadia, Nova Scotia. 253 km
J.: America lives off commercialism. The ferry that operates from Bar Harbor, Main to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, is advertised as a once in a lifetime experience: the Cat - the fastest ferry in North America. Perhaps it is, but the same type of ferry is used to cross Gibraltar Strait. Big deal: 40 mph. With the commercialism comes the price: $US 118.
The weather was definitely colder and more damp in Nova Scotia that on the continent - an influence of the Atlantic Ocean.
The owners of the camping ground in Arcadia were very friendly. We attended a party in a barn.
G: It was a night out for most of the locals. We were approached by a friendly fisherman who offered us beer. An amicable and pretty educational conversation ended when he exhausted his topic (fishing). By that time most of the party was already boozed, it was better to leave to avoid an unnecessary confrontation.
J: I learned a lot about lobster fishing. A lonely fisherman's wife asked me to dance - I did my best to avoid that but could not refuse - a fisherman's shift lasts for few weeks. My shift lasted only one dance.
Sun, Aug 5, 01. From Arcadia to Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia. 443 km
J: We took the scenic route that followed the coast.
It was very picturesque but from time to time there was a wave of fog that was 5-7 C colder than the air around. Sometimes the visibility was diminished to 50 meters or so. Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia's most photographed place, was also foggy. We decided to stay overnight and to try our luck the next day.
At the campsite we met two riders from North Carolina on their huge machines: Honda Goldwing and BMW RS. The amount of equipment they had, suggested that they were doing RTW (round the world) trip. We call ourselves minimalist bikers - take as little equipment as possible. Ben and Tad belong to the opposite team: take as much as you can carry. The funny thing is that we all are happy traveling the way we do.
G: Friendly dinner and conversation followed at night. It is great to exchange biker stories.
Mon, Aug 6, 01. From Peggy's Cove to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. 578 km
G: Peggy's Cove - still foggy but at least we could see the lighthouse.
We wondered around smoothly water washed boulders for a while, took some foggy pictures and set of to Halifax We spent 3 hours in Halifax. It is a rather small city but very inviting. The vicinity of the harbor makes it more interesting for the tourists and there were quite a lot of them.
We set off towards North Sydney hoping for the overnight ferry. Again, we took the scenic coastal route before we entered the Cape Breton Island.
The ferry was waiting for us. Also it was much cheaper that the American Cat - $CAD 56.
Tues, Aug 7, 01. From Channel-Port aux Basques to L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. 770 km
J.: The night on the ferry was pretty terrible. The passengers were not allowed to sleep on the floor (safety regulations and a way of making people spend more money on cabins). The ship’s crew rudely interrupted our sleep on the cafeteria’s floor. The way to deal with it is to make up a "bed" above the floor - on chairs. So we did.
First thing we did in Newfoundland was to visit Tim Horton’s, the best breakfast place in Canada. We had tea/hot chocolate and some doughnuts. The roads in Newfoundland are good but because of the distances the drive becomes boring after first 200 km. An exception is vicinity of Corner Brook and Deer Lake and especially Gros Morne National Park - picturesque mountains.
The wind was southern which helped because it was very strong (we headed north).
Even though the temperature was around 19 C, it seemed that it was much colder. There was a small village every 50 km or so. No trees, just bunch of white houses. Winters must be really cold and windy here.
We arrived in L'Anse aux Meadows around 7 p.m. It was too late to explore the historic sight of what is left of the Vikings after thousand years. We decided to do it the next day. The closest camping was 40 km away. This is just an example of distances in Newfoundland.
Wed, Aug 8, 01. From l'Anse aux Meadows to Eddie's Cove, Newfoundland. 260 km
J.: There was an unpleasant surprise in the morning: 9 Celsius and light rain. We put on our rain gear and headed for the museum. It was worth seeing. We spent around 2-3 hours there.
We left in the afternoon and decided to go as far as possible. After 100-150 km the rain stopped. We reached Eddie's Cove when a scary thing happened: the moose began to appear near the road. You don't want to hit the moose especially when you are riding a motorcycle.
We found a nice place not far from the road - a dead-end forest road full of garbage: an old car, fiberglass, bricks, etc. There must have been a settlement nearby.
The reason why Newfoundland is called the Rock is that the whole island seems to be exactly this: the rock covered with 2-3 feet of dirt.
Thurs, Aug 9, 01. From Eddie's Cove to Saint John's, Newfoundland. 892 km
In the morning we visited a picturesque Gros Morne National Park with a fjord that ends in a lake.
We decided to reach Saint John's even though the last 200 km we drove after the sunset. I was quite scared of running into a moose so I used the "follow the moose" technique. The moose of course was another vehicle. There were a few tractor-trailers that were speeding in the darkness not afraid of anything, either police or a moose.
We didn't want to waste any time too, even though it was after midnight, right after checking in to the hotel, we headed for George Street - the party place of Saint John's.
G: Naturally we couldn’t resist not entering a bar for a pint of Irish beer. Most of the music you hear on George Street is Irish too.
Fri, Aug 10, 01. Saint John's and Bulls Bay, Newfoundland. 80 km
Relaxing a bit after a long ride, we limited the sightseeing of Saint John's and vicinity to a whale watching trip and a few motorbike rides around the city.
There were around 40 people on our whale watching boat. There was a group of seniors citizens from the States. I was quite amazed how well they coped with the trip. Large waves were tossing us up and down and there was only one passenger that had to “use the washroom”. We saw 4 or 5 humpback whales from a distance. We also cruised by the island inhabited by millions of birds - so it seemed. The stench was unbearable.
Greg's bike has a defect - speedometer failed. Generally, it is not a big problem.
Before enjoying the bar scene again, we checked out the Signal Hill with a beautiful view of St. John's harbour.
Friday night is a busy time in Saint John's. George Street is a stretch that contains over 60 bars. And in many of the bars there is live music.
G: We spent the whole evening in different bars listening to music and striking conversations with locals. In general most of them complained about the lack of opportunities in their city and they thought about moving away. Still they were very happy with their city and its heritage. Their friendliness was more than noticeable. It was rather easy to strike a conversation with a complete stranger. St. John’s experience overall rating: two thumbs up.
Sat, Aug 11, 01. From Saint John's to Gander, Newfoundland. 351 km
The night was eventful, so we had trouble getting up.
We had to adjust rear breaks in both motorcycles. We did this on the Canadian Tire (chain of stores) parking lot. A lot of people talked to us about our trip and how we liked Newfoundland. Very friendly people.
We left Saint John's around 3 p.m. We found a free place to sleep near Gander.
Sun, Aug 12, 01. From Gander to Channel-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. 583 km
It was an eventful day. The roads in Newfoundland were quite boring so the only way to make the driving interesting was to speed. 130-140 km/h was our “speed of the day”. The drawback was that going that fast made the bikes burn more fuel. At the 250 km mark my Interceptor stopped.
After getting some gas from friendly locals and spontaneous tourists, we continued on trying to reach the 5 p.m. ferry. Well, that speed was too fast for Greg's bike. The chain broke. Greg managed to put it together with an extra link I carried and we continued driving this time 80 km/h. At a construction zone of a road near our destination, I wiped out nicely on a huge pothole in a gravel stretch of the road. The bike survived, the rider too. We continued driving. We reached Port aux Basques in time to board the 10 p.m. ferry.
We met Gille and Joanne, the Kawasaki Vulcan riders from Toronto. They were travelling around Atlantic Canada just like us. Few days back they went to Madeleine Island, which according to their description is the Canadian Riviera. Next time.
The ferry was larger and it had sleepers (bunk beds). $16 a bed was a good deal.
NOVA SCOTIA PEI NEW BRUNSWICK
Mon, Aug 13, 01. From New Sydney to Mabou, Nova Scotia. 508 km
What to do at 5 a.m. if you have to wait for a bike store to open? We spent almost 4 hours in a Tim Horton’s coffee shop.
Greg bought and installed a new chain. He did this so fast that the owner of the shop offered him a job.
In full rain gear we headed towards the Cabot Trail, which circumnavigates the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We took a detour from the trail towards Meat Cove. The Interceptor proved to be able to handle a piste road!
In one of the lookouts, a (most likely) French crew was shooting a commercial. Despite their efforts to hide the car from us, I took a picture. Maybe I would make money out of it if I knew how. By the way, the car they were filming was a van, Pegeut 807. Or 806. Who really cares.
The roads were in a great shape but many slow moving tourists prevented us (especially Greg) from fully enjoying the ride. At one moment we were following a couple on a sport motorbike. The Driver was speeding up to 180 km/h. Being light our bikes managed to keep up with the guy. It was pretty exciting.
We spent the night in a clean and pleasant hostel in Mabou. We met tourists from Scotland, Quebec (sisters!) and Germany.
Tues, Aug 14, 01. From Mabou, Nova Scotia to Summerside, PEI. 448 km
The advantage of a motorcycle over a car was clearly visible on a ferry from Caribou to Prince Edward Island. Our bikes took the last two spots much too small for any car.
I found PEI not too interesting. The island is very small and flat. There are some beaches and Cavendish - Green Gables place. Boring...
Summerside (camping) was dead at 10 p.m. even though it was quite a touristy area. A disappointment.
Wed, Aug 15, 01. From Summerside, PEI to Alma, New Brunswick. 406 km
Charlottetown - a nice small town.
The Confederation Bridge which connects PEI and New Brunswick is 12.9 km long and very impressive.
Getting through Moncton was an awful experience - huge traffic.
It seems that there are not too many attractions in this province, so Ministry of Tourist is trying to make money on anything. A Magnetic Hill in Moncton is a 100 m stretch of a road where your car is supposed to go up the hill by itself - what a dumb place! It is a mere optical impression.
At the end of the day we stopped at the Fundy Rocks to see the highest tides in the world: up to 14 metres between the low and the high tide.
We got to Fundy National Park Camping for the night.
Thurs, Aug 16, 01. From Alma to Florenceville, New Brunswick. 346 km
This is the place I will come back to one day. The Fundy National Park. We experienced high/low tides again
and even did some hiking. There was also an interesting covered bridge.
In Hartland we went to see the World's longest covered bridge.
It was difficult to find a place for a free night so we opted to a private camping near the highway. Uneventful - except rain near dawn and constant noise from the nearby road.
Fri, Aug 17, 01. From Florenceville, New Brunswick to Oakville, Ontario. 1301 km
We left around 10 a.m. Weather was unstable. Our rain gear worked well.
The plan was to stop for the night either in Quebec City or Montreal. Well, instead we just kept on driving - 1300 km altogether. The last stretch from Montreal to Oakville was the most painful: my back and butt hurt. In addition it got dark and rain intensified. We reached Oakville around 2 a.m.
The trip was a success - 8850 km in 18 days. Nothing will come close to what we experienced in '98 though. Travelling in North America may be interesting and challenging but everything is so civilized: restaurants, gas stations, people, road signs etc. The only thing that changes is the landscape. That's why I feel some kind of incompleteness after our trip to the East Coast.
G: It was a good summer get away, an item on the “to do list” kind of a trip. Honestly, for Canadians Eastern Canada may be an inspiring place to go to, but for us “adventure hungry bikers”, it was just a trip…….sorry all you Canadians but a road trip in Canada is very far from being an adventure. Maybe an off road tour in the Northern Territories would do. We will see.
J: Greg keeps talking about Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Siberia. Past few weeks (it is October 2001) changed his plans. Now there are different tourists going to Uzbekistan. They also bring different type of equipment with them.
My hope is that rain in Central America would not prevent a motorcyclist from enjoying the ride. Well.... We will see.