Wednesday, June 24, 2009

6-13 through 6-20

After I left the airshow, I stopped at a gas station just outside of town to top off my spare tanks in preparation for the journey north. Best I could tell on the map, I had about 230 miles until the next gas station in Chibougamau, and I can get maybe 180 miles on the main tank if I'm lucky. Now that the spares were full of fuel, I figured I needed a more secure way to mount them, so I ended up with this amalgamation of bungee cords and rope.

Of course . . . you see that long blue bag on the side there? That would be my tent poles. Notice something about the buckles that I usually used to hold them on?

Yeah . . .

(I've already posted this video here a while back, but for the sake of continuity, here it is again)

Well, dammit. At that point, the main tank on the bike was almost empty, I was running on the reserve. I refueled the bike from the red tanks, and headed back the way I came. It was almost midnight by the time I got back to town, where I got a hotel and let the internet know that I'd been stupid again.

The next morning, I refilled all the tanks, and treated myself to some congealed sugar. Mmmmm, sugar.

The next day (6-14-9), I took Rt 155 south in the vague direction of Montreal. The weather wasn't bad, it sprinkled a little bit here and there, but was mostly dry, and very pretty.

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One thing that really struck me about Canada so far, and more specifically Quebec, is that even in these tiny little out-of-the-way middle of nowhere towns, all of the houses are very well maintained. I spent the better part of three weeks riding through the midwest and Appalachia, and had just gotten used to seeing miles of falling-apart trailers, mobile homes, and houses that you would SWEAR were abandoned was it not for a light on inside.

You simply don't see that in Quebec. Even the mobile and pre-fabbed homes (of which there are a lot of) are all in really excellent shape, with well-cared-for lawns and landscaping. And then when people did have houses, they tended to do . . . awesome things with them.

Check out the little baby dragon hatching at the base!

Well, that's a very . . . unique choice of colors.

Anyway, that night I got a hotel somewhere north of Montreal, and the next day headed south along the St Lawrance River. I passed a sign advertising a pull-off for the Thousand Islands parkway, which I figured had to be better then interstates.

But holy crap was it cool! This is roughly near the "Town" of Shearwood Springs, Ontario. The river is full of hundreds of these little islands, some of which are no large then a few rocks, but all of them have something built on them! Everything from full houses with manicured lawns, to what amounts to little more then a shack.

Dude. I want to freakin' live there.

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How is that not just the coolest place ever? I don't even want to think about how much some of those places cost, though.

I'd been texting my dad regularly since I lost my tent poles, figuring that we'd meet up somewhere along the way. Unbeknown to me, his phone didn't work in Canada (Stupid Nextel), and he was sending me e-mail updates. . . but I didn't have any internet access.

Moving southwest in the direction of Toronto, I stopped at this little place for some food. i know I'm trying to stick to a budget, but when I see a place that has this kind of personality, I can't help but stop and give them some business. It's better then going to McD's (And actually, all this food cost me about $7, so hey, that's not too bad).

They even had Mt Dew, yay! Until I noticed something very disturbing printed on the can.

WAIT, WHAT?! SRSLY?! What the heck is the point of Mt Dew without the caffeine?! I'VE BEEN CHEATED!!!

Ah well, at least the burger was pretty good.

I kept pushing south to Toronto, where the plan was to stay with a friend that night. Right as I started to get to the city limits, though, my GPS started crapping out. First telling me that I was 250 yards south of where I actually was, and then it finally stopped getting a signal at all. The maps function still worked, so I was able to find my way alright, but still. That was damn annoying. This was also about the same time that my speedometer quit working, which I posted a video of a few posts ago. I did make it to my friend's place alright, and spent the night there.


I headed north out of Toronto, hoping to make it to Sudbury be that evening. Halfway there, though, I heard something really weird, and felt beind me to find . . . OH SHIT.

My spare gas tanks, which were both full, had come loose. One of them fallen off completely, and the other had dragged behind the bike for a few hundred yards while I stopped. The one that had gotten dragged now had a hole in it and was squirting fuel out, and I could see the other can about an eighth of a mile back up the road. I quickly found exactly where the puncture in the leaky tank was and put it in a position so that it would stop spraying gas all over the place, and ran up the road to retrieve the second tank.

Oddly, the one that fell off completely was still intact. Some scrapes and road rash, but it was still holding fuel. A quick investigation turned up what had gone wrong.

Stupid cheap-ass tiny bungee cords.

At this point, I was in a bit of a conundrum. I'd gassed up pretty recently, and even after draining as much gas as I could out of the leaky spare tank into the bike's main tank, and into the other spare tank, I still had about a third of a gallon in the leaky one. Due to the position of the leak, there was no way that I could attack the leaky tank to the bike in a way that it wouldn't just end up spraying fuel all over the road. I did what I figured was the best thing to do; I placed the tank in a position where it wouldn't leak, and left it on the side of the road clearly visible. Hopefully the highway crews or something would see it? Maybe a passer-by? I dunno :(

I tied the remaining tank to the bike as securely as I could, and pushed on north to Sudbury.

Once I got to Sudbury, I found a cafe that had internet, and finally checked my e-mail to find that my dad and I had over-shot each other by about 400 miles, due to our lack of communication. I said hell with it, and got a hotel for the night.


The next day, while waiting for my dad to drive over from Ottawa, I tracked down a bike shop and looked into getting a new speedometer cable. They didn't have the specific one for my bike, but they did have a generic, that you were to cut to the proper length and then crimp the required end onto. It cost me about $6.50, so I set to work in the parking lot of the hotel, making sure that it even fit and would drive the speedometer properly. Which it did!

(The smart people reading this will wonder who actually took that picture, and the answer is that my dad showed up at around 4pm. That's the wheel of his van just to the right of the frame)

Unfortunately, the other end, the wheel-driven end, wouldn't work. The kit came with the proper end (square drive), but due to the part that you had to crimp on, it wouldn't fit far enough into the wheel drive to engage. I went to a welding shop to ask the guy if he could heat up the cable end with a torch and squish it into a square shape, but he said that he couldn't, there was no way to control the heat evenly enough to prevent melting the wires. Ah well.

I called up a Yamaha shop in Thunder bay (two days ahead of us, roughly), and found to my surprise that they actually did have the factory speedo cable and housing for my bike in stock. I asked them to hold it for me, and my dad and I headed north, up Rt 144.

Ah, two stripes of electrical tape have never been put to better use.

Okay, I'm getting close to check-out time. I'm calling it quits for this update, and I'm not sure when I'll have internet access, or be able to do a big update again. Till then, I'll keep updating the blog from my phone when I can.

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