Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
- Helen Keller

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep.
- Robert Frost


Thursday, August 20, 2015


I had planned all along to wrap up the last leg of the trip by riding a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way home.
With a 45mph speed limit, it's a nice way to wind down after hammering Interstate pavement for a day or two.
Where else can you find 469 miles of smooth road with sweeping turns, scenic views, and not a single stop sign, red light, or commercial vehicle?
Now I was wavering... Should I just stay on the 4-lane and get home early, or get on the BRP for 60 miles and then take the 4-lane?

But when I approached the northern end of the BRP, I saw that the weather had made my decision for me. The clouds were hanging low, and some of the mountaintops weren't even visible from below.

There wasn't any use taking the Parkway; there wouldn't be anything to see.
I was OK with that.
Then I got to the intersection of the straight shot home, and the BRP.

It wasn't my fault - the bike just turned onto the BRP!
And sure enough, there wasn't anything to see. I didn't take any pictures, and these two below show what I probably didn't enjoy seeing.

This is my favorite sign on the BRP:

Without words, I can only guess that it is a message to motorcyclists, saying that the turn ahead is so tight, the only way to negotiate it is to throw your hands in the air and stand on the seat.

I'm back home as I write this.
It's been a great trip, and I'll be spending a couple of months trying to put together another DVD from the helmet-cam while I can still remember some of the details.

Trip total:  7738 miles.

3-trip total track is here:  (Alaska, Southwest, Newfoundland)

Total Track for all 3 trips

(You can pull down the title menu from the top of that page, adjust the fill to 30% and click on UPDATE MAP. The green flags show the campgrounds/motels where I spent the nights.)

Thanks to all of you who followed along. I enjoyed seeing comments from people who were checking in on me and providing encouragement.

Now.... where did I put the phone number for the chiropractor?


I forgot to mention - the rate for the night at Hotel Horrid in Ottawa was $89 cdn plus tax.


It doesn't look like the kind of restroom you would find at a campground, but it is:

I left camp this morning for a place to eat breakfast and decided that with the trip winding down, McDonald's just wasn't going to do the job.
I needed to have a grand finale meal to celebrate and reflect on the miles and sights I've experienced. 
Someplace "upscale"; an establishment worthy of an epic adventure. 
Waffle House. 

But I didn't overdo it. 
I only had a couple cups of coffee and 2 slices of toast. 
And 2 eggs and hashbrowns. 
With 2 sausages. 
But only 1 waffle to wrap it up!
I skipped the orange juice; It's just too filling. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I'm in a KOA in Williamsport, MD.
After bragging up the KOA yesterday, they disappointed me a bit tonight.
Last night, I had a beautiful spot under the tall trees, and it cost $31.

This one is a great campground for families, with all the amenities and attractions, but I ended up with basically a gravel parking/tent spot with a picnic table.
For $51.

I need to do some better scheduling.
Today I did it again:
Arrive in camp after dark, set up camp by 9:30, get a shower and cook dinner by 10:00, copy SD cards and update the blog until midnight.

Today I went through Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, where I stayed on my 2008 trip.
I even managed to take a photo of the bike at the same location where I took a photo of my first bike.



In the area around Lake Placid is a ski resort called Whiteface Mountain.
I only got to see it from a distance, but it looked like a lot of double-black-diamonds to me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Lake Placid

The bike has new front wheel bearings, and I'm back on the road.
I also got the speedometer cable replaced, but the gearbox at the front axle is shot, and it won't engage the cable enough to work. They said it's only a $10 part to replace, but they didn't have one.

While I was waiting around the showroom, I talked with an interesting guy who rode up on a Russian Ural bike with a sidecar:

On the sidecar he carries his wheelchair.

I’m in a KOA campground near Lake Placid, NY.
It’s a beautiful place, but then I’ve always had good luck with KOA.
There is a log building complex at the center with the convenience store, swimming pool, playground, arcade, snack bar, restaurant, etc.
Great for families.

They have great showers - ceramic tile with a ceiling-mounted rainfall type shower head in each shower bay/changing room.

It felt good to get rid of the grime and smell.

Not from riding - I'm talking about the nastiness from this morning's shower at the Motel from Hell.

Those of you who have followed my blogs on previous trips know that I am a bit of a connoisseur of cheap motels. I have stayed at bare bones establishments that my wife would never enter, and I've even gone back to them on occasion just for the nostalgia.

If I weren't at this campground tonight, I would definitely check in at the Faust motel down the road at Tupper Lake. I stayed there in 2008, and it's like stepping back into the 1950's. Very clean, but nothing has been upgraded, down to the squeaky wood floors. It still has the old neon VACANCY/NO VACANCY sign out front.

But I don't think I've properly presented the epic fail of the dump that I stayed at last night.
It definitely tops (bottoms?) the list of dives that I've been the unfortunate victim of.
Keep in mind that I was somewhat stranded, and dropped off by the truck driver at this location.

If you ever were to entertain the notion of creating 'Hotel Horrible' that would haunt the memories of your guests forever, you would do well to take a few lessons from the owner of the Highway Inn Motel in Ottawa. He has mastered the art, and here is a sample of what would be required for you to succeed as he has:

Have custom-made draperies designed to NOT match the windows, so that they will not close, allowing the streetlight outside to shine straight into the guest's eyes while they lie in the bed.
For maximum ambiance, use flexible PVC plumbing pipes as curtain rods to save money. Where the gap is too large to provide adequate privacy, simply fasten curtains together with a large safety pin.

Mount a cheap non-commercial window-unit air conditioner in such a way that it leaks condensation onto the floor and keeps the drapes constantly wet, creating a wonderful musty fragrance. Seal with random bits of cardboard and various colors of duct tape if necessary to complete the effect.

Ensure that there is a supply of creepy-crawlies and large webs with old, dead bugs that have been hanging there since Opie was a little kid with a fishing pole. This conveys the proper message to guests that no cleaning has been done since... EVER.

Contain any leaks at the back window by wadding up an old towel and jamming it into the opening. Use the window where the TV Cable comes in and crosses the room.

Ensure that your guests do not waste our precious resources by using too much paper. Never leave a spare roll in the room. Save the planet, for crying out loud!

Remember that the size of the mattress has absolutely nothing to do with the size of the sheets.
If at any time they happen to be the same length, it is pure coincidence. 
Simply start at the head of the bed, tuck in the sheet as far as it goes, and then stop when you run out.
The bedspread will conceal it, so who cares?
This also allows your guests to experience a brief, pleasant surprise when they put their feet under the sheets and wonder “AARGHH!! WHAT IS THAT I FEEL??!!”. 

Always provide linens that were used by the previous guest to change the oil in his diesel pickup truck. 
You may wash them first, but it is not required. Avoid using soap. Remember that 'planet' thing...

Since there are two shower curtains, there is no need for both of them to be intact. Avoid replacing either of them as long as half of it is still attached to the PVC rod.

Show your guests how much you care by providing hand-engraved faucet labels. Use a Sharpie whenever possible. Rust stains also add a nice touch.

Whenever there is a gaping hole in the wall bigger than, say, a pie plate, cover it with a style of duct tape that can be painted to match the wall. This type of fix becomes almost invisible to the casual observer, unless they happen to lean on it and fall though.

Create another surprise for your guests: Have the bathroom ceiling quietly leak all night onto the floor next to the bedroom. Just wait until they walk to the bathroom in their bare feet!  This also allows the guest to be dripped upon every time they enter or leave the bathroom. Excess water flowing into the bedroom will be absorbed by the bedspread where it touches the floor. (Sorry - no photo here.)

In the bathroom, remember to remove the faucet aerator. These encourage guests to waste water by unnecessarily washing their hands and brushing their teeth. As long as the faucet performs like a fire hose and splashes out of the sink, guests will avoid using it.

Avoid cleaning the fake ceiling grid in the bathroom. 
Remember - dust not only creates tons of feng shui, but it is also a great insulator and absorbs moisture.

The most difficult step: Install an automatic thermo-variator device in the shower that constantly cycles the water temperature from cold to hot to cold every 10 seconds. I have no idea where to find such a thing, but those in the garbage motel industry must have their sources.

I would like to remind the reader that none of the above conditions were made up or staged.

I still remember leaving the room this morning and thinking, 
"Wow - look how clean this sidewalk is!"

The cost?  $89 CDN plus tax.     :-(

Sorry for all the non-riding stuff. Nothing big happened today, except I resisted buying a brand new Can-Am Spyder RT Limited at the bike dealership for only $35,000. 
I was going to go for it, but then I saw that the speedometer was in kilometers instead of miles.

On the road again

The bike is fixed and I'm leaving Ottawa 

In the shop

The folks here at GoodTimes Ottawa moved me to the front of the line and they have the bike in the shop now. Great people here who want to help me get back on the road.

And plenty to drool over while I wait...

Au revoir, Quebec!

Aug 17 - PM:

Having made it off the James Bay Road yesterday in Matagami, I headed south this morning in beautiful weather.
And the roads…… were spectacular, incredible, fantastic!
Smooth pavement!
So smooth, I couldn’t hear my neck crack by bottoming-out the shocks on those humps any more.
So smooth, I adjusted my mirrors and they STAYED IN PLACE.
So smooth, I could sit on the seat and ride like normal people do.
So smooth, my helmet didn’t feel like it weighed 50 pounds during those dips.
(“Helmet, I shrunk the kidneys!”)…  Sorry about that one.

I dodged a bunch of mean-looking storms on the way south, and ended up getting all the way to Ottawa, Ontario without putting on the rain gear.

For dinner, I stopped at a restaurant in Kazabazua. I didn’t make that up.
Since it was my last meal in French Canada, I ordered poutine. 
Very heavy and filling, and a small order is pretty big. But it was good!

“Poutine is a Canadian dish, originating in the province of Quebec, made with french fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce. Wikipedia

Today didn’t end well.
I didn’t post anything about this issue before, because I didn’t want to cause ‘certain people’ who read this blog regularly to worry about it.
But when I left Chisasibi, and that washboard-surface mud road, I knew something was wrong. There was a shimmy in the front end that wasn’t there 2 hours before.
I checked it out the best I could alongside the road in the rain, but couldn’t find the problem.
My guess was either front tire, front rotors, or wheel bearings. I thought it might have been caused by mud caked on the front rim causing a severe out-of-balance situation, and stopped to clean off the dirt. That didn’t help.

I put the bike up on the centerstand and shook the front tire to see if there was any play in the bearings, but it seemed solid.
I knew there was nothing in Chisasibi or Radisson that would be of help, so I headed south, hoping I could make it to a city before anything failed.
After about an hour, it cleared up and the wobbling went away, although at very slow speeds I could hear a ‘clunk’ now and then.

After getting to Ottawa, it started failing for good, and I knew I was finally in a place where I could get it fixed. When the front tire started pointing directions that the handlebars weren’t, I pulled over and took another look. That’s when I saw that the bearings had disintegrated.

I called the Roadside Assistance people at Progressive, and they found me a hauler and located the Kawasaki dealership for me. We loaded it up on the truck and took it to the Dealership and dropped it off. I’ll go back in the morning and see what they can do.

The truck driver offered to take me to a motel nearby, and I said I’d take anything cheap.
He said there was a Ramada and a REALLY cheap one next to it. I told him Really Cheap sounded good.

I shouldn’t have said that. 

Oh well. By morning, I’ll probably be used to the smell.

Here's your sanitized drinking glass, sir:

Monday, August 17, 2015

P. S.

It's clear skies and 80 degrees at 9:30pm, so it could have been a lot worse.   ;-)


I'm in downtown Ottawa with a front wheel bearing that is completely gone. I have been nursing it along since Chisasibi, but it just gave up the ghost and now there is no way to steer the bike.
I was hoping to make it back to civilization before needing repair, and I did. Waiting for the towing service now. Supposed to be here in an hour. He is going to haul us to the Kawasaki dealer. 


Aug 16 - AM:

Yesterday wildlife stats:
1 weasel
1 wolf

I’m in the Radisson campground.
After passing Amos, the traffic lightens, and at Matagami, it nearly ceases altogether.

Just north of Matagami, I arrived at the gate to the remote James Bay Road.
Inside the building, I registered my name and home location for safety and security reasons.
On the way back, I let them know I’m leaving, so there won’t be any search and rescue operations.
They gave me a complete listing of everything on the road and each mile marker to emergency phones, camping areas, etc.

After passing that point, the road went from wide, smooth and marked to narrow and unmarked with rough, broken pavement.
And the speed limit went from 90 to… 100!   (??)

It’s 381 km to the only gas station, and 620km to Radisson.

Although the James Bay Road is paved, it’s a long way from being a typical paved road. It is littered with what Alaskans call “Frost Heaves” - random dips and humps that you can hit unexpectedly and can launch you into the air. Also, the pavement joints had separated long ago, and provide quite a jolt when you hit them. 
The only way to protect your neck and back from the slamming is to ride “on the pegs” - standing up, letting your legs become shock absorbers to soften the blows.

On a longer ride, say 620 KM OR SO, this can cause severe leg fatigue, also known as “quadriceptus flabbyosis”, which causes you to walk like a drunk when you get off the bike. 

No problem getting to sleep last night!

The campground here is the best I’ve stayed at so far.
The showers/rest rooms are actually a converted mobile home.
Two bath/shower rooms, a laundry room, and a big kitchen/dining area with a large table.

With another load of laundry done, I think I can make it all the way home from here.

I met a guy in the next campsite named “Jon Luca”(sp) Ferrari, from Genoa, Italy.

He is here riding his bicycle on every gravel road he can find.
He spends his time at home on Google Earth, searching for the most remote gravel roads on the planet. I asked him about the Dalton Highway and he said “Three times!”

Patagonia, New Zealand, Finland…

We (he mostly) talked until after midnight about places we have been, and found that we had stayed at the same campgrounds in Alaska, Yukon, Labrador…

When I got the bike all packed up to leave camp, I could hear him still snoring in his tent.

He described his schedule to me:
8:00 wake up
9:00 start moving
10:00 get up
11:00 get things ready
12:00 noon:  eat breakfast

I’m off this morning to visit Chisasibi, the largest Cree town.
I discovered that it’s pronounced “she-SASS-a-bee”.

The trip up here was mostly sunshine and 80 degrees, but turned cloudy near the end. 
On the way here, I passed Rupert Cascade:

I got the tent up before it sprinkled a bit, but no serious rain yet.
The forecast is rain all day.

I just finished breakfast in a fancy French Restaurant:

Aug 16 - PM:

The Nunavut Quest is over.

I rode the 100 km from Radisson in the rain, knowing that the last 12 km after Chisasibi was dirt. Except for that “rain” part.
It was mud, but not the kind I found in eastern Quebec. This wasn’t very slippery or deep, and the sparse gravel wasn’t deep enough to cause problems.
The issue was the bone-jarring “washboard” surface. It always makes the bike sound like it’s going to fly apart.

After the 12 km, I arrived at the rocky beach area.
Before I took the bike down the bank and onto the rocks, I took a hike and scoped out the conditions. I was alone out here, and I didn’t want to get into trouble.

When I found a spot I felt I could ride to, I rode out onto the rocks. I may have been a bit optimistic, but I was able to get the bike to the point I had picked out.

My GPS doesn’t tell me provincial boundaries, so I wasn’t sure if I had actually crossed into Nunavut.
I saw a peninsula jutting out into the James Bay that I could easily walk to, but the bike didn't have a chance. I walked out on the last rocks at the very tip, and pushed the button on the SPOT Messenger to cause a yellow flag to be placed on the SPOT page (link on the right).

At that point, I had done all I could, but still had no way of knowing where the boundary actually was.

When i got back to a motel in Matagami tonight, I went to the blog and found that I didn’t quite make it.

Too bad. Maybe I’ll bring my wife up here for a vacation, and we can both SWIM the last 50 yards to Nunavut!

The ride back down the James Bay Road was uneventful, except that the surface conditions didn’t improve any from the day before.  "Hang in there, legs!"

It rained all morning, and finally quit about 2:00. Then it was cloudy until 4:00 when it came down in torrents for 15 minutes. After that, it cleared up completely and ended in a colorful sunset.

Tomorrow, I'll be heading for the Ottawa area after sorting out an intermittent headlight issue.

I managed to get some good close-up nature photos with the GoPro today:

Aug 17 - AM:

When I woke up and looked at the time this morning, it was 8:30 - that's 2 hours later than any other day on this trip.
I must have been tired for some reason...

Canadian currency has see-through windows:

Trivia question:
What is pictured on the back of the Canadian 1-dollar bill?

Saturday, August 15, 2015


I forgot to mention -  the goal for today is the campground in Radisson. 


Aug 14 - PM

I’m camping in Val-d’Or (‘val-DOOR’) tonight at “Camping Le Nid D’Aigle”.
Under no circumstances should you try to pronounce that unless you have extensive experience in Hi-Speed French.
Let's just say that if you heard it and then read it, you wouldn’t find any similarity whatsoever.

I managed to do some grocery shopping today in Mont Tremblant, so I probably won’t starve.
That was interesting.
I’m pretty much completely lost in a grocery store when I’m in my home town and everything is printed in English and I have a list and my wife is texting me.
I just kept wandering up and down the aisles until I found “Le Soupe”.

Tonight’s menu was tough for me to choose - I have so many options!

I rode through Val-d’Or once today and went another 20 miles to Malartic because there was a nice campground there. But there’s a Western Festival going on in Malartic, and the place was full. The nice lady there told me about this campground, which wasn't on my campsite app.

There are so many lakes up here, I think they are running out of names for them.

Today I saw signs for:
Lake Embarrass
Lake Camatose
Lake Whiskey

All the riding I did today to get from Montreal to Val-d’Or was on the Trans-Canadian Highway that goes from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The traffic was pretty busy, but not crowded.
Only as I head North now will I start to get off the beaten path and find limited facilities.
I will probably also begin to see more Cree and fewer tourists.


Aug 15 - AM

I found a McDonald’s on the way out of Val-d’Or, and I couldn’t pass up another chance at reliable WiFi.  (Val-d'Or even has a Wal-Mart!)

I found out that “cinnamon” = “cannelle”.
And “Sausage McMuffin” seems to work in either language.
With those two, I can eat breakfast anywhere in North America!

Stick with me through this, and I’ll have you speaking perfect French by the time I get home.

BTW, if you want to order something in a large size, do not say “gronday”.
It doesn’t work for some reason.

Friday, August 14, 2015


So I'm on my way to Chisasibi.
I stopped in this Tourist Info Center to check on the facilities along the way (it's very remote).

I'm in Labelle, Quebec.
When I asked about Chisasibi, nobody in the room knew where it was.

When I said "On the James Bay", their jaws dropped.
"What is up there to see?"

I don't think my rationale for this little excursion makes sense to a lot of people.
I wonder why that is....?

Bottom line is, I will probably be without cell service and wifi for a couple of days.
The rain has stopped at this time.


Aug 13 - late at night:

I was a little late leaving Baie-Comeau this morning.
The motel offered a free breakfast, but it was served at another motel a block away.

I did find a spray-it-yourself carwash before leaving town and pulled right into the bay.
It was a bit awkward for a motorcycle, because the bays aren’t drive-through.
You drive in, wash your vehicle, and then back out.

I walked up to the control box, and wouldn't you know it… the controls were labeled in French:

I got out my phone, ran Google translate, and bingo - mystery solved.
It’s the coolest app in the galaxy.
Just point your camera at some text, and it automatically changes to another language.
In the same font, same color, etc. - it’s borderline magic.

(Photo below doesn't show "CIRE = WAX" like it did when I used it.)

As it turns out (I say that a lot. It sounds better than “I should have known this”), I wasn’t finished riding ferries.  There is a ferry at Tadoussac that crosses the Saguenay River.
Imagine my surprise!

One minute, I’m riding down the highway along the Quebec coast, when I start seeing strange markings on 2 of the lanes that look like ships. Why on earth would they paint ships on the road?

Then instead of riding, I find myself stopped in a long line waiting to board a vessel.

Have I taken a wrong turn that took me to a cruise line??
Are we all going to Zanzibar??
How much is this going to cost??
Will I ever see my family again?

The ferry was free, and it only took 10 minutes to cross the river.

I did ride through Quebec City a bit, but didn’t stop and look around. It was starting to get dark, and I had a long ways to go before camping.

I finally reached a campground called Lake La Fontaine, way out in the country. I didn’t get here until 10pm, and had to set up camp in the dark. (I have to remember to go grocery shopping - I've already eaten all the food I brought.)

I’m on the bank of a little private lake with RV’s all around it, packed in like sardines. The sites here look permanent; they have little fences, decks, porches, solar lights around their RV’s.

But the strange thing about this campground is… there are no black flies, and almost no mosquitos!  I sat out on the picnic table for 15 minutes typing this and didn’t see a single mosquito.

= = = = = =

Aug 14 - morning:

Last night I paid $41 for a tent site, and another $5 for the WiFi password. I logged on late, and kept trying to post the text above, but the connection just kept hanging and asking me to log in again. I fought with it until 12:30 and gave up. I packed up in the morning and rode to McDonald's for WiFi.

The forecast last night was for cloudy skies to day with sunshine breaking through. Of course, I woke up to rain falling on the tent. The weather forecasting here is pretty accurate, but only for about an hour. Now it's saying showers and scattered thunderstorms.

I knew that Quebec was a French-speaking province, so I wasn't completely oblivious on this trip.
What is surprising to me is that although I can hear a lot of people speaking French, very few of them can understand it. It's funny when I try to say something simple like "un" (1) in French and they just stare at me. Then I say "one", and they understand.  :-)

Maybe I shouldn't precede the "un" with "numero".

I'm in McDonald's now in Saint-Jerome, and ordered an egg McMuffin. That disappeared pretty quickly, so I decided to get a sausage McMuffin. She asked me a few questions in French, and I explained what I wanted.
I ended up with a sausage McMuffin and 2 breakfast burritos. 

A man I met on the tour boat ride on Western Brook pond was from Quebec, and told me that he had been to Chisasibi in his RV.  He said the people there speak English more than French! Great news.

After doing some Googling, I've found that it's a Cree village, and the first language is Cree.
Second is English, and then French.
Too bad I left my "Learn Cree in 30 Days" book at home...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Toward Quebec City and Montreal and...

I'm leaving Baie-Comeau this morning, heading toward Quebec City and Montreal.
Hopefully, this town has a do-it-yourself car wash so I can spray off the bike before I leave.
It's overcast, with clouds just above the treetops, but no serious rain in the forecast.

= = =

The Nunavut issue.

As of now, I have ridden to all 49 states, and all of the provinces and territories in Canada.
Except one.  Nunavut.  (NOON-uh-voot)

Nunavut is the largest territory in Canada - roughly 2/3 the size of the entire lower 48 states.
It’s also the least populated territory - only 36,600 people live there, mostly Inuit.

I joked about Labrador having only one road, but Nunavut has NONE.
At least none that reach outside its borders.
The bottom line is that it's a vast wilderness, and you can’t ride there.
Or can you?

I found from someone on a forum that there is a way. The southeastern border of Nunavut encompasses the entire Hudson Bay, and the boundary actually includes some land on the Quebec side of the Bay.

Which means that if a… 'person' were to leave Montreal and ride up the remote James Bay Road 908 miles north to where it ends at a little village on the Hudson Bay called Chisasibi, that 'person' could actually go onto the beach and enter the territory of Nunavut.
(And then ride back south on the same road, as in "Dalton Highway").

Of course, it would be ridiculous to make an 1800-mile round trip to an outpost just to say you’ve been there.
No sane person would do that.

People say that the road is entirely paved.  :-)