Nova Scotia to Seattle
In this episode, I am back on the continent after visiting beautiful Newfoundland. I stop in at the Horizons Unlimited Meeting in Ontario and at the Touratech Rally outside of Seattle, visiting several national and state parks along the way in the United States and Canada.
As I have been apt to do, here I offer a “Cliff Notes” video for those pinched for time.
After riding 12 days with my new friend from Germany, Stefan, we eventually had to part ways owing to different plans (for the time being…). We left Port aux Basques and arrived in the rain in North Sydney. The plan was to ride the Cabot Trail the following day, so we holed up in Ingonish on the east side of Cape Breton National Park for the night. My ride the following day on the Cabot Trail was disappointing, especially the east side. It was raining and quite foggy and I didn’t get a chance at all to see any of the coast. The ride on the west side, however, although rainy, was good with lots of twisties through the mountains.
I had to be in Truro, Nova Scotia that night so that the following morning I could get the bike serviced in Moncton, New Brunswick. I stopped in at Atlantic Motoplex and they had me in and out in no time.
The next several days are “transit” days, making my way to the Horizons Unlimited Meeting in Bracebridge, Ontario. So, after my service, I hot-wheeled it all day in the rain and made it to Edmunston, where I was glad to be out of the rain after finding an appropriately named hotel on booking.com.
The next night I had my first AirBnB experience in Danville, Quebec (just south of Montreal) and it was awesome! My host was Claire, a French Canadian, and she had the most amazing stories to tell about life’s philosophies on all things good. She was also a virtuoso harp player and allowed me to video one (included in the video version of this post).
Claire also let me do some much needed laundry!
Another first, the following day, was a night in a 12-person co-ed bunkroom in a hostel in downtown Ottawa. What an experience.
By the time the place was filled, there were folks from about a dozen countries chatting the night away about where they’re from and what they are doing there. This is my bunk mate Mira from Switzerland and she was flat out crazy! But, we all had a good time.
I knew I was in trouble when the bunkroom filled up with nappers about 4 in the afternoon. They all left around 10 that night to hit the town and I was gone in the morning while they were all passed out.
The only negative thing about the hostel was, I guess because of the hostel’s proximity to a homeless shelter, I had my favorite pair of gloves stolen off the bike. Totally my fault for not securing my stuff, but damn, I miss those gloves.
The following four-day weekend, I rode out to Bracebridge, Ontario to attend the Horizons Unlimited Meeting there. The ride through Algonquin Provincial Park was amazing!
Just like the other HU meetings I’ve attended, this is a cool place to be to meet fellow motorcycle adventurers and hear their stories of travel and lessons learned.
Greg, who hosted the event, I met in Virginia a few weeks back and has taken a trip similar to mine.
I also hung out with Richard, who I had also met in Virginia, and we simply had a blast all weekend.
I also met Liz Jansen (again!), who I think is just one of the best people on planet earth. She’s written several books and articles about connecting the road and spirit!
That Sunday on leaving, I paired up with Jim, who is making a run up to Alaska. He’s running a company to provide support to overlanders – http://www.overlandquest.com. Interestingly, when I met up with Neale Bayley back in Charlotte, he had given me this guy’s sticker, which I had on the bike. When Jim pulled out a sticker to give to me, he was shocked to see I already had one! Small world!
After talking to several folks, I decided to go over Lake Superior and was not disappointed. Lake Superior and Sleeping Giant Provincial Parks are beautiful and the riding was fantastic!
I stayed at another AirBnB in Duluth after crossing back into the U. S. My hosts were great and they had the largest cat I have ever seen!!
Back in the U.S. now, the next several days were honestly too much for words – but I’ll try. Just utterly and astonishingly beautiful scenery, which, for an American, I am ashamed I had never visited until now!! Hugging the I-90 corridor, I started in Sioux Falls, where there are falls literally running through the town.
This was also the first day in weeks that I was hot, peeling off layers during the day and eventually having to stop for ice cream!! The next day, I rode through Badlands National Park and was again blown away! It was also hot there, too, nearly 100 degrees, as the color and shapes of the pinnacles and buttes created an oven effect. Still, it was breathtaking.
The next day, I rode through the Black Hills of South Dakota and visited two iconic national treasures, Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower.
Now, the next day, holy jayzus… that one day, I could never do justice for in writing. The entire day was stunning and every turn offered more and more. The day started in Red Lodge, Montana and first up was Beartooth Pass. It was cold and windy as all get out, but the riding and views were amazing!
Then, Chief Joseph’s Highway!!
Then… Yellowstone and Old Faithful!!
Then, if it couldn’t get any better, Grand Tetons! This part of Earth has to be among the most spectacular ever!!
I had intended to camp there, but it was late in the day and all the campgrounds were full. I ended up staying in Jackson, which turned out to be a huge financial mistake because it was unbelievably expensive. But, I was exhausted after this day and just had to crash quick.
The next day I rode into Idaho and swung by Craters of the Moon National Park. Totally surreal!
For that night, I reached out to Lance Gines and asked if I could stop by. He has a great family, but also an amazing dual-sport spirit that permeates the house and family.
Well, they put me up for the night and even fed me! I look forward after my trip to making it back to Boise to do some riding on my KTM350 that’s sitting in storage…
The next day, I had my sights on the Touratech Rally in Plain, Washington.
I did a volunteer stint at the front gate the first afternoon and was amazed at all the people rolling through, including Lisa and Simon Thomas, and Sandy, Terry, and Jack, the AdventureTrio. It was fun while I was there, and I know I missed a lot of cool stuff by leaving early, but I had to see about a girl, Tracy, who I’d left in Virginia nine weeks ago and was now in Seattle.
So, if you’d been following along, you know that Tracy and I decided to move from Virginia to Seattle. We left Virginia on the same day back in April with her ferrying the dog by car and me taking a bit more circuitous route by moto through North, Central and South America. It was so good to see her again and recharge y batteries in Seattle for a week before heading north to Alaska. I’ll see her again in 6-7 weeks when I get back from Alaska heading south!!
1/ I continue to find I am carrying things I don’t need, like an extra rain jacket or warm coat. The motorcycle rain jacket over my inner riding jacket are perfectly fine. Or a doggone 6-pound hatchet that I’ve only used to bang in tent stakes. Or extra clothes… I have been able to find laundry service nearly everywhere I go… I think by the time I hit Mexico in a few months, I may be down to just one dry bag, maybe just a thong… lol.
2/ Planning is still my preference. While I enjoy the adventure of just rolling in and finding a place to sleep, that has bitten me hard twice now, and they were expensive lessons to learn. I still try and plan out using AllStays and booking.com a few days out, but sometimes, schedules slip or I want more flexibility. I am better now than when I left, by I need to get better at being more flexible.
3/ My cell phone bill for Canada came in – OUCH! I thought for sure I was using my data sparingly, but the bill, even though I was on a plan for Canada, was nearly $400. I need to just let go of my dependency on ubiquitous Internet, or pay more attention to free Wi-Fi hotspots. I’ll get there.