Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Maine and Nova Scotia

I left the comfort of my friend's house in Vermont, and headed northwest and over the border into New Hampshire, and then Maine.  It was hot, pushing 90f, and I was REALLY regretting turning in my vented mesh gear for this yellow onesie.  But the sky was clear and the views beautiful.

Man, other kids always have cooler toys than I do.
I was getting close to the coast and planned to head up Rt 1 the next day, but stealth camping this night didn't go well.  I'd been dodging storms for most of the day, occasionally looking at the radar and making detours as needed, and come 7pm was looking nervously at the black clouds approaching. 

I couldn't for the life of me find a good place to camp; everyplace I tried had signs to this effect; I'm not against ignoring an occasional "Authorized personel only" sign, but these were a bit more than I wanted to gamble with.

I finally settled on making an attempt down a power line service road that I could barely make out cut into the grass; I'd have to go quite a distance before I could hide behind a hill, and maybe a third of the way there:

I got the bike high-centered on a rut, and bogged down in mud.  I shoved the bike over onto it's side so I could pack some more grass under the rear wheel and managed to get it out, turned around to head back and:

Got it stuck again.  Yay!  :(

I decided this one wasn't going to work, and I had to keep looking.  But before I could find someplace suitable, the sky opened.

This sucked.  I hurridley tossed the rain cover onto the luggage and put on my over-gloves, and relied on just the outer suit to keep me dry while I kept looking.

Eventually, with it getting quite dark and still raining, I found a barely-noticeable trail leading off the road.

Taken the next morning, it was far too dark when I came in

It was a power line service path, and while I was closer to the road than I would have liked, I was wet and desperate.  Setting up the tent tonight was one of the most miserable experiences so far on this trip; it was pouring rain, very dark, and the bugs were epic.  I couldn't even wear my bug-hat because then I couldn't see what I was doing, and my little flashlight decided it didn't like having batteries anymore.

By the time I got set up and in the tent, I was soaking wet and had 6 mosquito bites on my face/neck, and three on my hands.  And not a drop of after-bite in site.

Again, the next morning
 Packing up was okay; it had mostly stopped raining overnight and gave things a chance to dry a little, although the slugs were everywhere.

Getting back out didn't go too well; my front wheel hit a slimy tree root at a 45 degree angle, and the bike decided it didn't want to be upright anymore.

I headed west on Rt 1 for most of the day, dealing with the occasional shower but mostly just a lot of fog and clouds.  It wasn't too bad, and it cooled off enough that I was actually thankful for this yellow suit.

Very . . . unique choice of color.  And by unique, I mean FAAAAA-BULOUS.
Fallout shelter?  Huh.

I kept riding most of the day, stopping to do the occasional errand, and then by complete accident stumbled across something WONDERFUL.  It seems that an old rail line was torn up and decomissioned, and in it's place they turned it into an all-useage trail.  Frequently enough these are limited to being used for bike or horse paths, but not in Maine!

YAY motorcycles were allowed!  A sign a few stops down gave all the details.

 Screw you, pavement!

As it was a former rail line, it wasn't particularly twisty or technical, but it was much nicer than the pavement.  Honestly, after so many days of slab, I'd been getting quite bored with all the tarmac; there's nothing to do while riding.  This gave me something to pay attention to, and felt like I was actually doing something rather than just sitting there.

Most of the trail was good solid gravel or hard-packed double track; most of it gave me no issues.

It seems they didn't remove the rails, and just dumped a load of gravel on top of them.

Some of it DID get quite messy and technical; this required much closer attention and I almost lost it a couple of times.  Something this freshly torn up couldn't have been more than a day old; the rain hadn't even had a chance to compact it down again.  A few hundred yards up the trail, and my suspicions were proved correct.

Many of the bridges they hadn't done much to besides pulling up the rails and putting on some fencing; be careful where you put your kickstand down on these.

As the trail pushed farther east, it did get a bit rougher; nothing that made me reconsider, but enough to slow me down a good deal.  The rains had really softened everything up.

Before too long it was over, and it spit me out just a few miles from the crossing at Saint Stephen.

It was getting late by the time I crossed the border, and I kept going east with an eye for someplace to camp for the night.

I came across what looked to be a dis-used open pit mine of some kind, but recent tracks showed that it's primary useage these days was for dirt bikes and ATVs to practice their hill-climbing skills.  As much as it sounded tempting, I didn't feel like finding out how far a 500lb+ bike can tumble end over end.  I set up for the night in the middle of the clearing, where there would hopefully be enough breeze to keep the bugs at bay.

The next day saw me continuing East, with a stop in St John to mend an odd electrical issue on the bike. 

I think I've spent more time working on this thing in parking lots than I have in garages.
Most of the electronic accessories on the bike (heated grips, various power outlets, etc) are controlled via a relay that I wired into the tail light circuit before I left, so that they shut off when I turn off the bike.  But now that it had gotten cooler, I found that some of them weren't working; specifically, my heated grips were decidedly not heated.  I traced the problem to having tapped into the brake light, instead of the tail light; the heated grips would only work when I was on the brakes.  A quick re-wire later, and I was back on the road.

One of the oddest things about Canada that I noticed almost instantly is the prevalence of ATV and 4x4 trails that run along the highway.  It seems they're almost constant, and there's little unofficial pull-offs into it every so often.  It was PERFECT for alleviating any boredom I had from spending too much time on the slab.


These would change quite suddenly from good wide graded gravel, to narrow two-track almost without warning.

Usefully, you can also jump on them just long enough to dodge the occasional $4 toll.  :D

Yes, I'm a bad person.

The golden rule when dealing with any sort of off-pavement riding is that the throttle is your friend; in almost every sketchy situation, you gas it to solve whatever problem you're in.  Because the second you get scared and back off the throttle . . .

You go derp.

Eventually the weather turned nasty, so I got back on the pavement.  I'm not quite hardcore enough to ride in the mud when it's actively raining.

I got rained on for a couple hours solid, riding out from the storm just a few minutes before I crossed out of New Brunswick, and into Nova Scotia.

Brilliant me stopped at their visitor center to use their wi-fi, and in that time the storm followed me.  Riding for another half hour got me out from under it again, and I took and as I saw some signs that indicated there was going t

I got to the town of Truro, and headed south along the Bay of Fundy.

The Bay of Fundy is famous for it's insane tides; in some places the differences between the highest and lowest tides can be 30 feet.  I was looking forward to seeing this, but it was late and I took some gravel roads inland and found someplace pretty to camp for the night.  I figured I'd find someplace nice to take pictures of it the next day.

But mother nature had other plans.  The storm that I'd delt with the day before moved in around 4am, but instead of blowing through it parked on top of me and kept raining.  There's very little I hate more than packing up in the rain, but I had a laptop full of movies and an iPhone full of podcasts; I spend the whole day in the tent, thinking I could wait out the rain.  I didn't even have to leave to get water; some strategicly placed pots and cups collected the run-off from the tent very efficiently.

I'm nowhere near done catching up; in fact, I've still got another week's worth of photos to sort.  But it's getting late here and I want to try and make another 100 miles tonight; I've got to get back on the road.  I'll try and post more soon; writing these updates takes a LOT more time than you'd think.

No comments:

Post a Comment