Monday, June 29, 2009

Gettin' way up there

Yup.  Getting way up there.

It's been raining all day, save for some very short periods where it simply looked like it was going to rain, before starting to rain again.  I'm very wet, and very cold.  And the library is closing in five minutes, so I can't make this a real post.  Ah well.  

Going to start heading west now, to the Liard highway.  Which isn't paved, and from what I'm told, is a muddy nightmare when it's wet.  Oh joy.  Wish me luck.

OMHIGAWD so you know what's TOTALLY AWESOME? Making oatmeal with hot chocolate instead of plain hot water.
So I went outside for my morning pee, and quickly discovered the one part of my body that I'd forgotten to put mosquito repellent on. ITCHY.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Its pouring rain, but I'm warm and dry in my tent, finishing a meal of spagettie carbonara w/bacon, and chocolate bars. Life is good.
Amped for the night just south of High Level, AB. Sun won't set for another 5 hours, but I want to stop at the library in town tomorrow.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Its 10pm here, and the sun is still about half an hour away from the horizon. This northern latitude thig is wrecking havok on my circadian (sp?) rythem.

Part 3!

Going north of Winnipeg was . . .

Dammit.  Ontario and Quebec had been so pretty that I hoped people were wrong when they told me about the middle of Canada being crappy.  Oh well.  I camped for the night in a field, making sure to hang my food WELL away from the bike and tent.  I still had most of that sausage, and it smelled very strongly (of deliciousness!)

The next day started out beautiful.  It was sunny, and even though it was very windy, the wind was perfectly at my back.  It was ideal.  I stopped at a rest area, and even took the effort to make some noodles.

The weather didn't hold, though.  The skies ahead started darkening, and there wasn't any alternate route I could take to avoid them.

After stopping to put the rain gear on, I headed east on Rt 60.  It wasn't nearly as pretty as I hoped it would be, really was just kinda straight, flat and boring going through endless forest.  On the upside, I finally started seeing these signs:

Ah, desolation and remoteness.  That was what I came to Canada for.

I passed through one short shower, and hoped that was all the clouds were going to give.  Sadly, it wasn't.  I kept going west, then north, getting to Flin-Flon, where I made this video.  I know I'd posted it earlier in mostly-real time, but for continuity, here it is again.

The next day was better.  Not great, it was still cloudy and cool, but at least the wind wasn't too bad, and there was no rain.  The roads were still dull, with some minor exceptions.

About two hundred miles west of Flin Flon, I had a decision to make.  Do I stay on the nice, safe, paved roads, or was I feeling adventurous?  Should I take the unpaved road that would take me through much more remote areas, and at add at least a few hundered miles to my trip?

Well, I've not taken the safe roads at any other point in this trip, why would I start now?

Soon after, the road rewarded my choice of remoteness with one of the stranger things I've ever ridden by.


I wouldn't be a boy if I didn't stick stuff into random holes, would I?

The road varied from "Okay" to "blah".  Rarely did it ever get scary, but some parts were kinda washboarded.  (And I'm not sure if it was the rough road that caused it, but at one point I suddenly had to take the worst poo ever.  You know the kind that basically explodes out of you in a spray the second you get your pants down.  Yeah, you totally wanted to know that, didn't you.  Thank god I had TP!)

At one point, a sign directed me down what could be generously called a "road", promising sightseeing.

This was at the end of that road

As neat as that sounded, I wasn't quite up for a one-mile hike.  It was hot, and I was very low on water, only half a liter left.  And, I'm a wimp.  But we know that.  So, I headed back to the main road and kept going west.


Save for a small section along route 2 that was paved, I spent the rest of the day on gravel.  I was so remote that I probably could have just pitched my tent on the side of the road and not been bothered, but just to make sure, I headed down a sand path a mile or so, making sure it wasn't someone's driveway.

Deciding it was probably just an old logging road or something, I felt confident in not being pestered, and camped for the night about 100 miles east of Beauval.

Well, I think that's it for this round of updates, people.  The library I'm in is closing in 15 minutes, and I should probably try and actually get somwhere today. 

It's still 650 miles to the Northwest Territories from where I am now, and I'm not sure if/when I'll be in another town.  So if you don't hear from me for a couple weeks, it doesn't mean I got eaten by a bear.  Just that I'm in the middle of nowhere.

Peas out.

Lets try this again, part 2


The next day started out foggy and cold, but cleared up quickly, and by the time we made it to Thunder Bay, was perfect riding weather.

We found the Yamaha shop that I'd called ahead to, and I took a few minutes to install the new speedo cable.

Hooray for a working trip counter again! 

What does annoy me is that my odometer wasn't working for such a long period of time.  Meaning that I'll not have an EXACTLY accurate record of how long this trip was.  Going by google maps, it looks like I covered about 1400 miles with a non-working speedo, so in my head I'll have to add that to whatever the reading is on the odometer.

From Thunder Bay we kept going due west in the vauge direction of Winnipeg.  The scenery was pretty and the weather was great, so we made frequent use of the beautiful highway rest stops.  I took the opprotunity to break out the sausage I'd gotten the day before.

I do love a good wrapped sausage.

Another rest stop later on made a great spot to cook breakfast.  Oatmeal and hot chocolate, the breakfast of champions.

And from the "Pictures of myself next to funny signs" department:

(That "Safe Community" sign makes it even better)

Right outside of Emo (just across from that sign, actually) was one of the smallest churches I'd ever seen.

Finding the door unlocked, I poked my head inside.  It was indeed small, four people would be a crowd in there.

A note on the wall explained the history.

My dad signed the guestbook for us, thwarting my efforts to write something about the great Flying Spagettie Monster in it.

Flipping back through it, other people had some fun with it.

Heading north of Emo, we cleared an area of branches to camp for the night, and the next day, kept going north.


the scenery was fantastic . . . except for the roadwork. 

Oh, how I love gravel.

What made it INFIENTLY BETTER, though, was that I was lucky enough to get stuck behind a water truck spraying down the road.  It might help keep the dust down a bit, but it turned it into a sloppy hell for bikers.

You can't see me behind the water truck, BECAUSE THAT ASSHOLE IN THE CHEVY TRUCK WAS RIDING MY ASS THE WHOLE FUCKING TIME.  Yeah, that's an absolutly BRILLIANT idea.  Tailgating a biker on a sloppy, messy gravel/mud road in a construction area.  Dickhole.  If I'd lost it, I don't think there's any way that twatwaffle would have been able to avoid mushing me.  I hope someone can trace his plates and take a dump on his front porch.

Oooh, neato.

We took the scenic route, and passed into Manitoba sometime mid-day

As we made it to Winnipeg, we saw an OH HOLY CRAP THAT IS SO COOL

I don't think any vehicle has been turned into as many weird art projects as old VWs have.

The top hat makes it just perfect.

Winnipeg is . . . I wasn't impressed with the city.  We tried for an hour to find a hotel, and seemed unable to find someplace reasonably priced that wasn't attached to a bar/strip club, or seemed like the kind of place that rented by the hour.  The whole city, even the "downtown" area, had the feeling that it was kinda falling apart.

We found someplace that was okay, but who's internet was flakey and didn't work well.  (That was actually where I took and posted that video of me pulling a tick off my leg).  The next day, after taking like two goddamn hours to get my oil changed (no place had the filter, then when we found someplace that DID have the filter, the wouldn't take the old oil, so we drove all over the place to find someplace that would take it.

We did take photos of all that, but I had my camera set to full manual macro mode, so the pictures are effectively useless.  Ah well.  I'm blaming my dad for not noticing that something was wrong on the camera.

We parted ways at that point, I heading north, and him heading back to the real world.

Let's try this again

I guess I'm not yet as far away from civilization as I thought I was. I'm in Slave Lake, at their public library, taking advantage of their wi-fi. For a little town, this is a pretty nice library. Smallish, but comfortable, with big squishy chairs for curing up in. So, let's get this party started.

After my dad and I met in Sudbury and tried (unsuccessfully) to get my speed fixed, we headed north in the direction of Timmins. Shortly after I took that picture of the moose sign that someone had "modified" with electrical tape, I spotted something interesting off the highway, and pulled over in a gravel parking-long-sort-of area to have a look. A short hike down a steep, rocky trail seemed to head in the direction that we wanted to go

And lead us to a destination, it did.

(For an idea of scale, check out the pedestrian foot-bridge in the background)

The amount of vertical drop in a fairly short distance was very impressive, and all the boulders created many rushing mini-rivers that would split and then join together again.

This place was just beautiful. We spent a good hour just gawking and crawling around on the rocks.

I was able to make in a stride what took my dad a minor running jump. Ah, the trials and tribulations of the height-challenged.

Of course, my dad being my dad, felt that he needed to desecrate this beautiful wonder of nature. Very mature, dad.

I guess in Canada, if you don't have any highway overpasses to spray-paint your statement of love onto, you do it on river rocks.

More pretty pictures, thumbnailed for the un-interested to more easily skip:

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Heading north I had my first bear sighting. What you can't make out too well in the pictures is that there were a couple of cubs along with the bear, but they were mostly obscured by the bushes in the background.

Despite my dad encouraging me to see if I could get up close to get my picture take with it (I sometimes wonder if he has some huge life insurance policy on me that I don't know about), this was as close as I was okay with being. And even then, note the hand holding the clutch in with the bike still in gear, in case the bear decided I looked like food.

This was a good road. Not too busy, nor aggressively twisty, but still scenic, with lots of pretty things to gawk at.

(Wow, I look funny from behind)

Photobucket Photobucket

We arrived in Timmins ("The home of Shania Twain!", as many billboards let us know) and stopped at a grocery store so I could restock on granola bars and soup mix.

So HERE'S where you get that! I wonder why all those men are always searching for it on Craigslist and at truck stops?

It turns out that we weren't far enough away from the USA to get away from the one thing that the USA is famous for: Really, really, really fat people.

This hambeast literally had to turn sideways to make it down the checkout lane, I'm not even joking. I have never, ever seen a double chin that big. (And yes, I know this is a really assholeish thing to do, taking stealth pictures of fatties to mock them on the internet. I am, in fact, an asshole. We all know this. I'm okay with that. Maybe if we make fun of the lardo's enough, they'll stop bitching about "It's a glandular problem!", and hit the treadmill) Looking at what she was buying, it wasn't any surprise; the belt was loaded with frozen TV dinners, red meat, packaged snack foods and no fruits or veggies.

Anyway, we headed east of Timmins to camp for the night.

Whatever stories people have told you about the bugs in Canada, I promise that they're not near the truth.


Our campsite (which seemed to be off a service road for the utility company) did come equipped with everything that one needs to survive alone in the Canadian wilderness, though.

The next morning, I awoke to the results of me not covering up enough while setting up camp the previous night.

ITCHY ITCHY ITCHY. Almost two weeks later, some of these are still pestering me.

Continuing west, the roads straightened out, and got a bit busier. But the weather started out fairly nice, for the first part of the day at least.

Riding all day exposed to the elements dehydrates you pretty quickly, and as a result I end up drinking a lot. This results in frequent pit stops.

(Oh, thanks for that, dad. I guess that's payback for me taking a picture of you peeing in the river, huh)

Wow, there's a whole park devoted to potholes? I thought that it was called "The city of Chicago"

The weather couldn't stay nice, and eventually the skies ahead started to look more ominous.

Just as it started raining, we pulled into some little town so I could gas up and have a stretch. The gas station was attached to one of those quirky little stores that seemed to sell just about everything.


My dad loaded up on cashews and almonds and banana chips, and I stocked up on beef jerky, as well as a pound of some of the better summer sausage I'd tasted. Mmmm, sausage.

Outside, there was this. I was tempted to climb up it's back and straddle it's neck, but there were a lot of people around and I figured they wouldn't like tourists doing dumb things.

Continuing west, I kept getting wetter and wetter. I was fortunate in that it wasn't that cold (yet), so I was okay just using my mesh gloves and letting my hands get wet.

The rain continued off and on for the rest of the day, but eventually traffic. Stopped. And wasn't moving, at all. People just started getting out of their cars and wandering around.

Not as dirty has it has been, but still more mud then most Hardly-Ableson's would ever see in their whole life.

We chatted with this guy for a while, trying to convince him that this was one of those emergency situations where he was supposed to open up his truck to all the stranded people.

Sadly, he didn't agree, but he was a local and said that they were doing a lot of roadwork up ahead, part of which included blasting through some rock. Last week they'd had a bad blast, debris had flown across the road and knocked down some power lines, and he thought that might have happened again, as the local radio station was down, and a phone call to his wife confirmed the power was out at their house.

We got sick of waiting and poked our GPS to get detoured around the jam, and kept pushing west.

Somehow, I don't think that would take me home.

During a break in the rain, We found a good spot off the highway to camp for the night.

Back at that store, we'd gotten these awesome mesh hats that make setting up camp 10000x more tolerable, but also make you look like some kind of an alien (especially with the suit)

Riding for so long with soaking wet gloves hadn't been kind to my hands.

(Blah, I should straighten that out, but I'm lazy)

Given this spot's proximity to the highway, I wonder if some injured road kill had crawled up here and died. Or if some hunters had field-dressed a carcass and left it here, or what, but there were bones all over. I actually used a rib as a support for my bike's kick stand to stop it from sinking into the wet, squishy ground.

Okay, I'm actually going to break this post up into a couple segments, just in case I get another firefox cash and it all goes away. So, brb.