BMW tour wrap-up

It’s hard not to make the last day of an epic trip seem anti-climactic.  We wrestle with that every time we come back to home base with the Airstream.  The last day is usually over roads you already know well, and there’s always that sense of being so close to home that you may as well just blast through.  Sometimes in the Airstream we combat this by taking a completely unneeded detour, or spending another night less than 100 miles from home.  This also has the benefit of making our arrival time early in the day so unpacking isn’t done at the end of a long drive.

On the BMWs it was the same sensation, but rather than spend an extra night in the last 100 miles we just packed up our camp without rushing (the tents and ground cloths were particularly damp because of condensation) and then made lots of stops along Rt 2 through New Hampshire and Vermont, like dropping in on Dunkin’ Donuts in downtown St Johnsbury.  (No more Tim Hortons now that we are out of Canada).

I needed the breaks along the route anyway.  It was a colder day than most, and I had skipped the long underwear layer on the assumption that it would warm up later, but that never happened.  Eric bit the bullet and did a quick change outdoors about an hour into our ride, in a location where he’d be inconspicuous to passing traffic.  I wasn’t freezing so I just threw on another top layer, but it wasn’t really enough until the afternoon.

Also, my shoulder was bothering me.  It has gotten better since that accident back near Murdochville, and now I can sleep on that side again without the pain waking me up, but in riding position with my arms extended and the constant vibration of the thumper, and road bumps, it begins to hurt after a while.  Eventually the pain becomes excruciating and I have to take a 10 minute break, which relieves it entirely.  I’ve had a lot of time to think about a particular blog comment by one of my curmudgeonly blog advisors, suggesting that this particular problem may eventually require surgery. I’m thinking it won’t, because it has gotten steadily better.  At least I hope not.  I don’t want that sort of permanent souvenir of this trip.

And the trip has been amazing, almost worth a permanent twinge in the shoulder.  I look back over the last 13 days of it and it’s like three trips in one, with all the stuff we saw and did along the way.  I’m pretty sure I only covered the highlights here, and there are a thousand fascinating details that I’ve already forgotten.

Finally, in the afternoon of June 20, we rolled back into the Champlain Valley on a gorgeous sunny summer day, to our respective garages.  We had covered 2,600 miles on those little BMW bikes—a trip almost equivalent to riding them back to Tucson!  None of us thought we’d do such mileage.  We really didn’t know much of anything for sure, since every day was spontaneous.

Back at base, after a nice reunion with my family, I slowly unpacked all the gear, laid out the tent and groundcloth to dry in the sun, and made an enormous pile of laundry.  My motorcycle pants and jacket are flecked with asphalt, bugs, and mud.  My boots are unmentionable.  The helmet has a few new dings in the finish, and it’s probably time for me to put on a new, unscratched visor.

The BMW is looking good except for two broken turn signals and a very handsome scuff mark on the front fender.  We’ll fix the turn signals later.  Otherwise the bike has held up very well and I have a new appreciation for why Steve likes them so much.  It’s not nearly as comfortable as traveling by car or by Airstream, but there are definite advantages to the experience.

We had a great “wrap party” with friends on Saturday night, showing a quickly-made video of some of our 500 photos.  If you want to see more, check Flickr.com/airstreamlife for the album.

In a few days I’ll be flying to Los Angeles for another adventure, which will also be posted on this blog and pre-dated.  I’m picking up a new 2015 Airstream Interstate and taking it out for a 9 day adventure up the California coast.  This is a trip I’ve been anticipating for literally years, and it is finally coming together, so I’m very excited about it.  Long-time blog readers note: Since I’ll be traveling solo, I’ll also be hoisting the TBM flag for the month of July.

BMW day 12: Moosehead Lake ME to Mt Washington (NH)

Ever since we crossed back into the US we could all sense that our trip was winding down.  Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine are all familiar territory, and I think we had the sense that if we weren’t careful we’d end up re-tracing roads we’d all driven before, and becoming bored with the final days of our trip.

Yet we were still in the midst of some beautiful country.  So despite having Gaspé behind us, we decided to maintain our relatively slow pace and try to find things to do in the upper part of Maine and New Hampshire that we had never done before.

day12 mapWe selected a convoluted path following Route 16 past small towns and summer cabins.  This turned out to be ideal.  While entirely paved, it had the benefit of lots of vistas, sweeping turns, interesting small towns, and not much traffic.  The weather was once again ideal for riding, so we settled in at about 45-50 MPH most of the way and just soaked up the scenery.

Early in the ride we stopped in Abbott, ME for a quick break.  Lately my shoulder has been bothering me more when we ride.  The arm extended position really starts to hurt after a while, so an hour is about all I can go without giving it a rest.

But this was really a great excuse to stop in at the Abbott Village Bakery where, as luck would have it, the donuts are truly awesome.  I got one for the road after eating an enormous I-forgot-what-they-called-it jelly and cream stuffed creation.  I may have forgotten the name but it will take me a long time to forget that donut. I’d go back but it’s almost 300 miles from our base camp in Vermont, and 2,900 miles from our base in Arizona.  Some great things are destined to stay local, and that’s a good reason to keep traveling.

Just down the road we found an ATV shop, too.  Steve had been struggling with chain lube ever since the trip started.  It wasn’t holding up, and he was re-lubricating and adjusting the chains nearly daily on both our bikes.  The solution, he decided, was chain wax, and Victory Motorsports in Maine had one can of the stuff left on their shelves.  We did a quick spray wax on all three bikes and it seemed to last a lot longer.

I was feeling so relaxed that I took very few pictures on this leg of the trip, and I even stopped writing nightly notes on our travels.  Sometimes you just have to experience the travel and not worry about documenting it.  Traveling by motorcycle was becoming as natural as Airstreaming, now that I had the routine down. As we paralleled the Kennebec River in Maine I remembered long-ago whitewater rafting trips done on that same stretch of water. It was all becoming very familiar and easy, even though I hadn’t seen most of the roads before and we didn’t yet have a firm destination for our stop that night.

Our working plan was to ride to Gorham, NH, and check out Mount Washington. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is famous as the location of the “world’s worst weather” and there is a road all the way to the summit which (yet another lucky break) would be open only to motorcycles on this particular day. We figured it was a sign that we were destined to end our day with an epic ride to the 6,000+ ft peak of Mt Washington.

We made it to Mt Washington around 5 p.m., after having spotted a magnificent moose along the road in northern New Hampshire.  (This was our fourth large mammal of the trip, counting the bear cub early on, the seal in Perce, a second black bear (full grown) along the dirt road to Murdochville, and not counting the numerous deer because I’d rather not see deer.  They like to jump in front of moving vehicles and I didn’t want to find out what happens when one jumps in front of a motorcycle I’m driving.)

It was still early enough to drive up the 8-mile road to the top, have a good look, and start heading back by the mandatory 6:45 departure. It was a very nice day by Mt Washington standards: mostly clear skies, temperatures in the 60s, winds running about 55 MPH.

Yes, I said 55 MPH. When we arrived there were dozens of motorcycles coming down the mountain, all much heavier bikes than ours, 1200 cc hogs and 1100 cc street or touring bikes, everyone wearing black leather & bandannas (New Hampshire has no helmet law), and all looking a tad pinched in the face from the wind chill, perhaps even grateful to be back at low altitude. But with hundreds of motorcycles going up that day, we figured “how bad could it be?”

Pretty bad.  Unlike virtually everyone else, we were on tall, light, high-clearance bikes designed to maneuver around rocks and through potholes. Where we had the advantage on tricky dirt trails, these guys had the advantage on pavement and most importantly, in wind.

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I promise not to exaggerate. This was without a doubt the most terrifying experience I have ever had while operating a motorized vehicle. The time that the trailer brakes on the Airstream went out while descending off a bridge to a stoplight in the rain was a relaxing nap compared to our ride up Mt Washington.

After we reached about 5,000 feet of elevation and were above the treeline, the road becomes entirely exposed to the brutal winds that never stop up there.  The gusts that hit us broadside were (we later discovered) reaching 65 MPH, which is still a nice day by Mt Washington standards but nearly impossible conditions for a BMW F650.  It was all we could do just to hang on to the handlebars with a death grip and try to stay upright against the unpredictable gusts.  My bike was being slapped around the road like a hockey puck.  Sometimes I had to lean sharply in the opposite direction of a turn just to counter the huge impact of the wind.  I felt like a Weeble, except that there was the very real possibility that at any point I would fall down or even be blown right off the road and down hundreds of feet down a rocky slope—because of course there are no guardrails on this road.

We got to the top somehow.  The wind was so strong in the parking lot that Steve had to relocate his bike into the lee of a large cliff, otherwise the wind was simply going to blow it over.  We finally had a chance to take off our helmets and talk, and discovered we’d all had the same experience and thoughts on the way up: holy wind gusts, Batman!  A ride like that will teach you to focus very sharply on the task at hand.  And I was already thinking of something horrible:  we had to go back down the road later.  Perhaps there was an Inn we could stay in, for a month or two until there was a small break in the wind?  Maybe we could call a flatbed to haul the bikes back?

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The picture above makes it look so pleasant, but you can’t see any indication of the wind that was howling at every moment.  I recommend Mt Washington in a car, or at least in a much heavier bike on the calmest possible day. Then you can really enjoy the view, the museum, the coffee shop, and the outdoor observation deck without having terror in your heart.

After about half an hour to calm down, we came up with a strategy.  Upward travel would be stopped at 6:00 pm, so we’d wait until about 6:10 to start heading down.  That way we’d likely be the only people on the road and could have the freedom of being blown across two lanes instead of just one.  That sounds ridiculous but it helped quite a lot.  Downhill turned out to be not quite as bad—we got a small break from the wind during the most exposed portion of the road—and when I counted bikes at the bottom there were still three of us.  A bit shaken, perhaps, but intact.

So be careful what you wish for.  We wanted something exciting and new to do on this last leg of the trip, and we got it.

Tonight’s stay is the peaceful Moose Brook State Park in Gorham NH. No bugs here, for some reason, so we got to stay DEET-free.  It’s a short ride to the center of town from the state park, and we found an excellent wood-fired pizza place in town (with a power outlet under the booth for me to charge up my helmet intercom and cell phone).  This night of camping will be our last on this trip.  Tomorrow, we have only a half-day ride back to home.

BMW day 11: Presque Isle to Moosehead Lake ME

It turned out that the weather report was depressingly correct again, and rain was coming soon.  I was feeling some pressure because I needed to locate a Notary Public in town, and I wanted to get that job done before the rain came in.  Around 8:30 I was finally able to find a law office in town where a notary was available, and so I zipped out while the other guys were still packing.  I got my documents signed and notarized, dropped them in a FedEx box, and finally was free of that business obligation.  So, back to motorcycling.

Now here’s the other part about working from the road.  You can’t really enjoy the travel if you mentally carry around your work worries with you.  I’ve had a lot of practice at this, so believe me when I say that one minute after I dropped the package in the FedEx box, I was thinking about nothing but our day of adventure ahead.  Compartmentalizing your work is a skill that full-time travelers must learn, if they are to have any fun at all.

It wasn’t yet raining as I went back to the motel, but the toes of my boots got soaked anyway from the puddles on the ground left by overnight showers.  So another lesson learned:  wear the overboots whenever the road is wet.  Or, as I’ve decided to do, invest in a good pair of motorcycle boots that are waterproof.

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Our route for the day was completely undetermined.  Steve hadn’t done much research on travels in the US.  He kind of regarded the trip as being more or less over with by the time we left Quebec.  But we had at least three days of travel remaining before we landed back in Vermont, and we needed to plan some sort of interesting route, or we’d just end up on the paved highways covering miles for the sake of covering miles.

We did some checking and were disappointed to find that virtually all of northern Maine is closed to motorcycles.  The roads up in the forests are all privately owned, by land conservation groups, paper and timber companies, and various others.  So the roads are all private too, and they are not exactly speedways. This was a major blow:  the most exciting roads were off-limits.

At first our route was just pavement, so it didn’t matter.  And it was raining again, so we weren’t eager to hit slippery dirt yet anyway.

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Even at our lunch stop, the rain continued.  But by the time we got to East Millinocket, things had cleared up and the lure of dirt riding was too much for Steve. If I had remembered my pledge to go wherever he led us, Eric and I might have allegedly possibly could have followed him along a 50 mile ride of hell.

Let’s just say that there are very good reasons why motorcycles are not allowed on certain roads.  There is no street bike or hog that could ride the road we theoretically might have ridden.  Harley riders, don’t take that as a challenge, it’s just a fact that might save your bike. Imagine water crossings with two-foot deep ditches, potholes with potholes in them, and sections so riddled with bone-jarring bumps that it would be more comfortable to just ride a mechanical bull in a 1980s romantic comedy.  Remember my sore shoulder?  If we had ridden that road—and I’m not saying we did—it would have been the least sore part of my entire body.

We ended our day in a nice state park called Lily Bay, near Moosehead Lake, ME.  The sites were wooded and lovely, the rangers were super friendly, and so were the mosquitoes.  You’re not supposed to feed the wildlife, but in this case, it’s hard to avoid without 100% DEET on your body.  I slapped one mosquito flat while we were checking in at the gate and without looking up the ranger said, “Thank you.”  One down, 75 billion to go.

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This was again the sort of place where we immediately slathered ourselves with DEET before we did anything else.  Fortunately, it worked.  We set up camp and set out for the town of Moosehead Lake (maybe 10 miles away) for dinner.  A light rain shower started again on our way to town, so we stopped and threw on the rainsuits again, but after dinner things cleared up to give us a nice evening ride back to the campsite.

Or so I thought.  Along the way back Steve took a detour up yet another dirt road, which turned out to be not much more than a road, but then he zigged again and found something really challenging.  I was in the third position, and feeling pretty tired.  I didn’t want to go down these roads so late in the day, and within just a few hundred feet the road got so technical that I was beginning to worry about crashing again.  But I couldn’t raise the other guys on the intercom because their batteries had run out, and I couldn’t catch up to them.  So after the second or third near-crash in a puddle or while avoiding a massive rock or fallen log, I just stopped.

They spotted me, waved, and I just shrugged.  So they came back, and we got back to the paved road, and headed toward camp again … when Steve spotted a sign indicating the route to a famous B-52 crash site.  We had read about this earlier.  Apparently the B-52 crash site is only 0.3 miles from the road.  Steve asked if I wanted to go see it, and I said, “Sure, we’ve got time before the sun sets.”

Little did any of us know that the crash site was not 0.3 miles from the paved road, but rather 0.3 miles from a dirt ATV trail off the paved road.  That dirt trail wound into the woods for literally miles, forking into separate trails periodically, and seemingly without end.  Once every mile or so we’d see another “B-52″ sign but no other indications of how much further it might be.

This wasn’t what I was expecting and I wanted to turn back, but I was so tired that even catching up to the other guys on this potholed loose gravel road was too much of a challenge for me.  So I followed, hoping eventually we’d find the B-52.

We never did find that crash site, but I made one of my own.  At one of the forks Steve stopped for a conference, and I said, “Forget it, I want to go back.”  The other guys were agreeable to that.  The fork in the trail formed a nice triangle that made for an easy turn-around, but right then my brain just suddenly forgot how to ride a motorcycle and instead of staying on the road I just helplessly watched as the motorcycle, seemingly under its own control, went off the road, across a ditch, and crashed gently into a stand of saplings.  I was on the bike and theoretically the operator, but for those few moments I could not remember even how to apply the brake.

Fortunately, the crash was soft and the bike jammed between a few trees so it was left standing upright.  I was so disgusted and upset that I just got off the bike and stomped off while Steve and Eric retrieved it.  I yelled to Steve, “I’m just too tired to keep riding!” and he said, “I can see that now.  We’re going back.”  It was 7:30 pm.

The crash did no damage other than to break the other front turn signal.  Eric made me feel better when he said, “That’s OK, they are supposed to be replaced in pairs anyway,” which is a mechanic joke.  The nice thing about riding with these guys was that when I did have an incident they just jumped in and helped, and didn’t make me feel worse about it.  But I did feel pretty awful and I was exhausted.  Plus, the score was now embarrassingly lopsided, Rich 4, Steve 2, Eric 0.

The campground bathrooms at Lily Bay are not close to the camp sites.  We had a pit toilet nearby, but for actual running water I had to hop on the bike one last time that evening around 7:45 pm and ride 1.2 miles to the shower house.  You can believe that I was extremely careful for that last ride.  I had pushed beyond my personal limits on this day, with about 200 miles of riding spread over 12 hours, at least 50 of which was tough dirt (theoretically), and the last thing I wanted was to crash again somewhere in the campground in the final mile.  I survived this final ride, said goodnight to the mosquitoes, and retired to my tent.

BMW day 10: Through New Brunswick and into the USA

When we woke in Carleton-sur-Mer it was another gorgeous day, but things were a little different now because we knew we were about to end our trip in Canada. After 9 days of touring Quebec I could easily have stayed another week to continue to explore, perhaps down into the maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

I bet if I had really tried to twist the arms of Steve and Eric I could have convinced them to go further south into the maritimes, but I was the guy who had a deadline. An important business transaction needed to be done, and I had to be in the United States to do it. People were waiting for me to get off my bike and sign papers, and my first chance to do that would be in Maine. So instead of dreaming up grand tours from the map, we headed east back toward home.

But first we took one last quick tour around Carleton-sur-Mer, stopping at a cafe in town for a leisurely breakfast and coffee, and then up into the mountains above town to a church set on the peak 555 meters above our campsite, near yet another wind turbine farm.

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We lingered for a few minutes, taking in the view, and then turned the bikes downhill back to the coastal road and east to New Brunswick.

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The road through New Brunswick is not very exciting. Basically it cuts the corner of the top of the province in the shortest possible way, directly from the last stretch of coastline on Gaspé to Limestone, ME. We had received an offer via an Internet forum from a guy in New Brunswick who would take us on a more “interesting” path through the province, but with my looming deadline to get back into the USA, we had to pass on that. Our only stops in New Brunswick were to get gas (and a bunch of Canadian candy bars as treats for my ladies back home), and lunch.

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Crossing the border in Limestone ME would have been a non-event if I hadn’t gotten selected for a random search. This added a few minutes to the crossing, just filling out an I-9 form and having an agent take a perfunctory peek at the contents of my panniers. Nope, no alcohol, tobacco, firearms, merchandise, or contraband in there—unless you count a stash of 7 Canadian candy bars. Eric had a tough moment when the agent asked him where he was going. He didn’t know, so he just said, “I’m following those guys.”

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Not far down the road we found the former Loring Air Force Base. Like other abandoned bases in the northeast (Plattsburgh, Pease, Brunswick), there’s an attempt to convert it to a “business park,” but in this case not much is happening. Most of the buildings, including this massive hangar (of which only about 1/3 is shown in the picture) are slowly deteriorating. If you need indoor space to store a really huge RV, or perhaps 200 or 300 of them, I can recommend a spot in far northeast Maine.

We rode the motorcycles down the long taxiways to see everything. It’s not every day you can ride your motorcycle down the taxiways of a formerly secure military facility. The runways are so long that even at 60 MPH it takes a couple of minutes to get to the other end.

We ended up, as planned, in Presque Isle, ME. The weather was threatening again, so we holed up in a local motel—not a nice place, but cheap—and I started in on my business tasks. Now here’s an example of “working from the road,” for those of you who want to see the real gore involved. I had researched copy shop, UPS Store, and office supply locations previously while in Canada, so I knew there was a Staples in town. I rode over there, and using the store’s wifi I emailed my documents (seven of them) to the store’s print shop. They printed them out for me (about $2), and then I rode over to the nearest FedEx drop box (also previously researched) to get an overnight envelope. I put all of that in a plastic zip bag because the rain was starting up again, and rode back to the motel.

At the motel I wrestled for about an hour with Bank of America, trying to arrange a wire transfer. They wouldn’t do it over the phone, and there are no branches in Maine. I couldn’t do it on the mobile app, either. So I got onto the website and immediately ran afoul of security protocols, which required me to verify my identity with username, password, my business credit card number, and then a 6-digit security code sent to my phone. Then I had to set up the wire transfer recipient, which required another security code. With various website SNAFUs and re-tries, this took quite a while. Eventually I was able to break through the security cordon and order my wire transfer. I wasn’t done, but it was a good start.  Tomorrow I have to find a Notary Public.

After that ordeal, we decided that a walk to town for dinner would be good idea, and we scored by finding Governor’s restaurant. After many days of mediocre meals, this was a real treat. It turned out that we’d arrived on a special day when they were discounting lobster rolls to $5.55. If you’re not familiar with lobster rolls, suffice to say that they are awesome and normally run about $13-15. So Steve and I, being lobster fans, ordered two each.

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Since it was apparently gluttony night for the motorcycle boys, I also got a real American milkshake to make up for the disappointing one I’d had in Quebec. The waitress comped it because they didn’t have the flavor I wanted. Two thumbs up for Governor’s! We waddled back up the hill to our hotel, stuffed with lobster. Maybe it wasn’t so bad to be back in the USA after all…

BMW day 9: Chic-Chocs, and Murdochville revisited

By this point in the trip it was obvious to me that when you’re on a motorcycle, a change in weather can make an amazing difference.  The weather prediction right on target when we woke up in Carleton-sur-Mer: dry, clear, pleasant temps in the 60s and low 70s, perfect for riding.  So it was a no-brainer to stay here another day and do some inland riding back to the Chic Choc Mountains.

Since we were going to be out all day and probably far out of range of restaurants, we made our first stopped the local Subway, to grab some sandwiches.  The ride first backtracked east along the coast to New Richmond, before heading up Rt 299.

It’s funny how the ride gets better in the sunshine.  The road to New Richmond was the same one we came in on, but now I noticed sparkling blue water to my right, round green hills to my left, quaint farmhouses, and attractive beaches covered with colorful stones.  Where was all this stuff yesterday?

Our route up Rt 299 followed the Cascapedia River as we wound up the road into the interior of the Gaspé Peninsula, eventually rising to about 660 meters elevation.  At that point we reached a sort of “continental divide” and the waters started to run north instead of south.

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You can cross the peninsula on this road in about 2.5 – 3 hours.  We didn’t go quite all the way, but turned around at Gîte Mont-Albert, an inn/resort up in the mountains.  Just a couple of miles back I noticed a sign for “Chutes” (waterfall) and called the guys on the intercom.  A short walk into the forest put at the ideal lunch stop, and amazingly, up here in the mountains in June, there we absolutely no biting insects to be found.  Guess they were on vacation.

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Although Steve caught my in this photo without a smile, trust me, I loved this spot.  We picked out a nice spot on the rocks and soaked up a bit of sun while eating lunch.  I could have chilled out there for hours.  This was one of those peak “vacation moments” when everything was exactly right: perfect air, no bugs, great scenery, the sound of the water falling, nobody else around, and no schedule.

Now here’s where it gets weird.  We had some extra time to kill on the way back, and Steve wanted to take a side trip down a dirt road (of course) which led east and eventually (44 km later) ended up in Murdochville.  Remembering my promise to agree to ride wherever he suggested, I followed along.  But I was thinking that this was a pointless trip, since there wasn’t anything to see in Murdochville.  We were just there three days ago, in pouring rain.

Well, I was sort of right but mostly wrong. The dirt road wasn’t anything exciting, just another dirt road. But at the end, we found several interesting diversions in Murdochville.  First, Steve & Eric had to go explore a giant tailings pile leftover from the copper mining operations.

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Then, we easily found the access road that led up to some of the local wind turbines.  They were spectacular.  Even though you can see that the blades come nowhere near the ground, when you stand beneath them and the huge blade comes swooping down with a giant whoosh, it’s hard not to involuntarily flinch or duck.

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So it was strange to be back here.  One tourist visit would normally be enough to this town, but we went twice.  And I’m glad we did.

All that dirt road (88 km round-trip) meant all the cleaning we got from the rain was undone.  I hung about 1/4 mile back from the other guys because I got tired of breathing dust from their bikes.  But when when a logging truck passed there was no hope at all of avoiding the dust.  At one point two of them passed us and it was a virtual white-out.  We had to just pull over and wait a couple of minutes for visibility to return.

Once we reached Rt 299 again, we were on pavement, and conditions couldn’t be better.  I led the group all the way down, winding through the turns along the river at about 55 MPH, for two hours.  There was little traffic on Rt 299, so most of the time we owned the road.  I know that last stretch of road made me feel like staying in the area for another week.

Tonight we are back to camping.  Carleton has a nice public campground on the bay, located far out on a narrow spit of land.  It’s so low in elevation that a tide of four feet would probably flood the place, but I gather there’s not much tide here.  The campground has nice sites, good wifi, good shower houses, and was $25 for a tent site.  We grabbed two sites, and I had one of them to myself.

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After setting up camp, we rode back to town to grab dinner at a restaurant overlooking the bay.  (Everything overlooks the bay here, so that’s not as unique as it might seem.)  Next door was a dairy bar with an ad for poutine ice cream, but even Steve wouldn’t dare try that.  I had a disappointing “milkshake,” because I forgot that in Quebec milkshakes are mostly milk.  I also got a bad-news phone call from my business partner about contractual dispute with a vendor who was being a major PITA.  But nothing was going to ruin this day … and I slept in my tent that night with the satisfaction of having had a wonderful adventure.