I strapped my little camera onto the side of my saddlebag facing out, and headed up. I really wish I'd been able to hand-hold footage, but this was NOT a road to ride on one-handed. The ride up takes around 15 minutes, but a lot of that was just the camera recording forest and the scrub-brush and rocks wizzing by, so I edited it down to just the more scenic bits.
The weather at the top wasn't nearly as bad as I'd been promised. Although the wind had been sustaining 60mph earlier in the day, about two hours before I drove up it had calmed down, and was now barely a breeze, 10mph, if that. Almost still, but encased in fog.
The tracks to the old cog train that used to make runs up here back before the auto road was in as good of condition as it is now. Judging from the rust on the rails, I don't think it's used anymore.
I realize only as I go through the pictures that I didn't take many of the actual buildings themselves. There's not much that's that notable, though. Mostly grey concrete bunker-style buildings that are designed to withstand the absurd weather that they frequently experience. Inside, though, there was a little mueseum with specimans of the various plants and animals that are native to the area, as well as an extensive meteorology section that explained exactly why Mt Washington gets the weather that it does (Including a video of someone trying to eat breakfast outside in 100mph winds).
And, of course, the gift shop. I'll never stop being 10 years old, and every time I see these neat little sciency-type robotics and electronic kits for kids, most of me is still thinking "Hey! That looks awesome!". Maybe it's a good thing that I can't fit much on my bike.
I wandered back outside, and was greated with the unmistakable sound of a steam whistle. Looks like that railroad is actually still in use.
I took the obligitory photo next to the summit, which just about everyone was doing. I almost had to stand in line, and then I ended up facing almost directly into the sun. Hence the squinting butt-face that I'm making.
The fog around the summit had mostly lifted, and gave way to some pretty amazing views of the surrounding areas. Almost looked like little rocky islands floating in a sea of white.
Taking the video riding up had actually almost filled my point-and-shoot's memory card, so I reverted back to my nerd self, and pulled out the laptop. After I took this, a small group of guys on Dyna-Glides rolled up and we chatted for a bit, they were amused by how (seemingly) hard-core I was, while still insisting that I never be away from my technology.
After having my fill of photos, I headed back down the mountain and pushed into Maine. I was hoping to be camping for at least the next few weeks, and to cut down on my spending on food. Oddly, one of the big things that has prevented me from cooking as much as I should have been, is that I didn't have any easy way to clean the pot and cup. A stop by a supermarket yeilded me some very handy little 3oz bottles, which I filled with dish soap. I just left the half-empty bottle of dish soap on the trash can outside the store. Hopefully someone will take it and use it, it was more soap then I could carry with me, or would even need on this whole trip.
And, from the "Stupid stuff you've seen people put on their cars" department;
Seriously? A gaudy ram's head on a freakin' neon? Who the hell actually thought that looked good?
And, from the "Awesome stuff you've seen people do to their cars" department:
This was in a auto scrapyard that I passed through. That's just hardcore awesome right there.
Seemed to be a popular hangout for the local birds, by the activity, it seemed that at least a few had made their homes in it.
Pushing into Maine, the roads were mostly okay, but not that interesting. At some parts I did pass through some construction zones, which was all sorts of slippery fun, but other then that, there wasn't much interesting to report.
I had camped for the night off the main road on what looked to have been at some point a driveway, a long time ago. And this was my first real enocounter with the natives of New England; vicous misqutios. They were so bad that I actually set the tent up and unpacked all my gear with my full riding gear, including helmet on, just to avoid having to expose any skin. Brilliant me being brilliant, I hadn't remember to pick up any repellant.
I awoke the next morning to find everything wet, including myself. This was my first sign that my Jack Wolfskin tent might not have been as waterproof as they'd claimed. It had rained off and on most of the night, and the interior of the tent was covered in water. Most of my gear that I'd left in the vestibule was covered in slugs.
After shaking them all off, I packed up all my wet gear and headed back to the main road.
Good boys go to heaven, and bad boys go to hell. But boys on bikes go anywhere they want.
Now that I was free from the mosquito-den that I'd spent the night, I pulled off at a roadside picnic area to make breakfast of oatmeal and cereal bars. Quite a view to have while cooking.
I kept pushing northwest, doing my best to avoid civilization while still staying on interesting roads. I didn't do too well at either, mostly stuck to Rt 11, and the roads were pretty straight, although at least there were some elevation changes.
And it was pretty. You'd think I'd be sick of green hills by now, but . . . nope. They still make me happy.
I crossed into Canada at the crossing at Houlton, which was mostly uneventful. There was hardly anyone there, I think it was a slow day/time for them and they were doing background checks on almost everyone who passed through. Something told me that taking pictures of everything probably wasn't a great idea.
After getting out of the crossing, I rode north along the river and found a spot to camp for the night. I was starving, and hadn't eaten all day, so I indulged myself, making a pot of instant pasta mix thing. The instructions said to mix in one packed with two cups of water, and that didn't seem like a lot to me. So I figured I'd use another packet, and double the recipe!
That didn't go so well, it ended up being way more food then I thought it would be. Although I was able to finish it all off, it was BARELY contained in the pot and I made a bit of a mess of myself. One of these days, I'll learn how to feed myself.
After nomming all of that down, I watched some Mythbusters (Oh holy crap, Kerri Byron is totally preggers! Wonder who the lucky guy was that got to impregnate that?), and went to sleep.
I woke up the next morning at around 5:30, and decided that I was well hidden enough that I could sleep for another couple of hours. At around 7am, it started to rain lightly, a bit of a drizzle similar to what I'd been riding through off and on for the last couple days. "Blah," I thought, "I don't want to pack up in this. I'll wait for it to stop".
It didn't stop. It only got worse. At this point the tent was leaking like a siive, and I eventually had no choice but to pack everything up wet. It was raining impressively hard, and even doing my best to be quick and stay out of it, I was pretty damp even under the suit by the time I got on the bike and road out.
Getting on the highway and heading north just made it worse. The rain continued, and at 50mph, it just sucked. My "waterproof" gloves were not, and even with the rubber gloves over them, water somehow managed to find it's way in and dampen my hands. It was cold, it was raining, I was wet, it sucked. It sucked so bad that I didn't even bother taking pictures of any of it.
I stopped by a Wal-Mark (I know, shutup) mid-day, partly to get out of the cold and rain, but also because I knew I was going to be heading into the more remote areas of Canada soon, and was going to need extra fuel. I grabbed a couple of 1-gallon gas cans and some small bungee cords and tried to figure out a way to attach them to the bike.
That's probably not a good long-term solution, huh. Ah well, they were empty, and I was tired of just standing around fiddling with string and bungee cords in the rain in a Wal-Mark parking lot.
I kept pushing north (shivering) through New Brunswick, getting into Edmundston roughly mid-day. At this point, the weather did start to change for the better. The rain system was moving West to East, so I was essensially riding west out from under it. The rain mostly stopped by the time I got out of Edmundston, and within 20 minutes I was starting to see dry pavement. I actually cheered with joy when I saw blue sky in the distance, and the temperature started to rise. By the time I made it to Riviere de Loup, I was feeling better mentally, if not still a bit cold.
I got there in plenty of time to make the last ferry crossing of the day to St Simeon, so I headed to a McDonalds (I know, I know!), and quickly realized something.
Shit, this is the French part of Canada. I don't speak French.
Basically the only part that I remembered from a semester of high school French was "Bonjour, parle vous anglais?" (Hello, do you speak English?). Fortunetly, most everyone did speak at least some english (or at least at the McDonalds, the cutest girl there did. Yay!), so I muddled my way through things, and boarded the ferry at around 4:30.
I got in line like I thought I was supposed to, but when when the ferry docked and they got ready to load, the attendant waved me to the front of the line and had me board before everyone else. Yay for motorcycles! First on, first off. The ferry ended up costing about $35, but it was better then having to ride all the way around the Fleuve Saint-Laurent.
The ferry ride took a little over an hour, and I took advantage of the time to take off the riding gear and change into dry cloths. I still looked a wreck, but I was starting to feel a hell of a lot better.
I disembarked on the other side to be greated by SUNLIGHT! Glorious, warm, dry sunlight.
Oh, it felt so good, so very good. I took off the suit liner, opened the vents, and started to dry out in the dry, warm air. And enjoy the scenery.
This . . . this was finally starting to feel like the Canada I'd been hoping for. Narrow little roads, endless green rolling hills, and miles of wilderness.
Of course, I wasn't that far from civilization yet. I headed up 170 to run along the Riviere Saguenay, which is populated by a lot of smaller farming communities, and a good number of semi-touristy towns.
At one point, I saw a sign that I interpreted to mean "Senic view this way!" This being Quebec, all the signs are french-only (and a lot of the people I encounted didn't speak English, only French.) But, that sounded like a good idea, so I followed it.
To find this.
(oh, dammit, I thought this was going to be a great shot, but now it turns out that I didn't center the camera where I wanted to. Stupid.)
Apparently, this might be the southern-most fijord in the world. And it is just beautiful.
And this guy was running around being an obnoxious, hyperactive, disobediant puppy. Which ment that I got to give him lots of petting! Yay! Because he paid no attention to his owner screaming at him to not pester the guy with the expensive-looking camera. And in my head I'm all "No! Don't call your dog away! I want to play with them and give them pettings!" Fortunetly, dog paid no attention to the owner, and was happy to play with me before he got all ADD and jumped in the water.
I headed further west, to just outside Chitoutimi, and found a feild to camp.
As I was setting up that night, though, I kept hearing . . . strange noises. Noises like a jet aircraft, but there was something different about them. I spent a couple years living near O'Hare Airport in Chicago, so I'm quite familier with the sound of airliners taking off, and these sounds were . . . different. And then, way off on the horizon, I thought I spotted . . . was that? No, it couldn't be . . . were those World-War 2 era fighter planes? Nah, couldn't be, what would they be doing in the middle of Canada? Ah well, maybe it was just some rich playboy who had a private collection of old warbirds or something.
That was my best guess, but I didn't think too much about it, and went to bed early.
As I was heading out of town the next day, there was something weird going on. People were milling about everywhere, and there were police blockades all over the place.
I tried asking around, but with the lanugage barrier and traffic noise, I couldn't make out much. Eventually, I stopped in at a tourist info place, and found out what was going on.
As the tourist info lady translated for me; "An airshow of historic and military aircraft"
No no no no NO NO NO! DON'T THESE PEOPLE KNOW THAT I WAS TRYING TO BE IN THE YUKON IN A COUPLE WEEKS!?!?!?
This has been a long update and it's getting late, so . . . consider that a teaser.