September 28, 2015

Homeward bound

24.9. All good things must come to an end, and so is this epic (for me) journey. It's 3°C outside and I move the Shadow into the sun to warm her up. I go to the main house, bringing my gluten free bread and cereal along and am being served tea, juice and fruit, peanut butter and jelly. Everything one needs for a good breakfast.

For the last time I do my pre-ride check, a ritual that I have gotten used to in the last three weeks: spokes, the usual suspects of nuts & bolts, luggage mounting, tire pressure, chain tightening and oil-level. I fill in the last quarter of the oil I carry along with the help of a Timmy's cup which I have kept for this purpose. She has consumed one litre on this journey, that's not bad for a lady her age and build, I guess.

For the last time I pack up, saddle up, and get going. It feels bitter-sweet today, I want to keep on riding but at the same time I hear home calling me.

Still, I want to get in some sightseeing today, and head for the hills towards Shawinigan. Riding by I spot a wooden covered bridge at Grandchamp, and turn around. Then I follow the signs to the regional park of Chutes-Monte-á-Peine-et-Des-Dalles, another mouthful, why can't you Quebecers keep it short and simple? Maybe I get to see some decent falls at this place?

Of course the little toll booth is still manned, although season's ending is near, and so, I have to pay my dues. The curious lady in the booth is quite impressed with my journey, and tells me that she does not get a lot of German visitors.

It is all gravel again until I get to the empty parking lot. Easy does it, I do not want to screw up on this last leg of my journey. Leaving my jacket and helmet behind, I walk down the trail spotting the falls in the far distance.

It will be quite the exercise, but after all these long riding days, that's a good thing. An hour later I am back in the lot, quite out of breath I have to admit, but very satisfied with the little hike and the views.

After a lunch break I continue my trip, now following the GPS which is set for "Home". Shortly before entering the city limits of Montreal I refill the bike for the last time with 91 octane (she earned it). It was fairly easy to get along without GPS during the rural areas, and find orientation by map and road signs, but negotiating Montreal rush hour is something different, and I was glad to have it.

I ride gently and defensive, no reason to be upset with others cutting in. It's similar to congestion on a German Autobahn, just with way more people possessing poor driving skills. Again, easy does it, however, I am relieved when my exit is finally coming up, and I enter the somewhat familiar home stretch. The Thunderbird is home again.

I let myself into the garage, park the bike, unpack it for the very last time and leave the rest up to David... he didn't want to disclose where the appropriate cleaning supplies are, so I have to leave her as is for him to do the chores... Sorry mate, but you asked for it, and it will be a heck of a task  ;-)

After attending to my gear, and sorting my stuff I take a long hot shower, gather the rest of my provisions and make myself dinner. I am not very hungry though, and the ride through Montreal rush hour has worn me out like no other day did. After getting comfy in the guest room I listen to some music while updating the blog until I almost fall asleep.

What an epic journey! Thanks David! I couldn't have done it without you. And thanks to hubby who suffered through my absence (or maybe not), and supported my trip all along. He got to work, while I got out to play...


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September 27, 2015

Familiar Grounds

23.9. I am going to give the Grand Falls a second chance, but... there is even less water than yesterday. Alright, that's it, I am moving on westwards on Trans Canada Highway for the next two hundred clicks or so.

Meanwhile I have crossed the provincial border to Quebec again. Signs are French only, not bilingual like in all the other provinces. Speed limit is 100 km/h (not 110 km/h) now, and the local highway patrol is eager to catch speeders not noticing the change.

At Rivière du Loup I leave the highway for a more relaxed riding. The name sounds familiar. This is where I had crossed the big river almost two weeks ago. And the big water over there is not the ocean, it's Saint Lawrence River.

Route 132 is a lovely road upstream, going through tiny villages, pasture land, accompanied by spectacular water and mountain (the Laurentides in the west) views.

Farmer's markets sell local produce, and while stocking up on provisions I get to talk to a nice couple out on a day trip on their Burgy 400.

Having reached Lévis I make a beeline for the highway again. I don't want to get stuck in city traffic, and I like to get on the other side of the river. Now on the other side, I follow it upstream until I get to a cute village called Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade. What a mouthful. However, I spot an auberge close to river Sainte Anne, and call it a day.

An auberge usually is a bit of a simpler accommodation with a light breakfast, and sometimes with shared bathrooms but this one is very much a B&B, and I get a room with an ensuite bathroom.

With the local grocery store being five minutes away I procure contents for my last dinner "in freedom" and (more important) one 1/2 l bottle of red wine to celebrate the last day on the road.

This was the last long leg of the journey, and tomorrow will be my last day on the road. The homing beacon is set.


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September 26, 2015

Walking on the Ocean Floor, and riding the Scenic River Valley Route

22.9. The season is really changing now, with single digit (Celsius) temperatures and high humidity in the morning the Shadow has a bit of a hard time waking up. But after a short while she's idling nicely. You just have to give the old lady some time...

Once again I head out for the Flower Pots, now officially visiting and paying the entrance fee of 9$. At 9 a.m. I am one of the first to enter, and while others wait for the shuttle transport down to the beach, I walk briskly down the trail and beat the crowds just in time to get some pictures without tourists walking around and posing in front of the rock formations.

The sun is painting the already reddish sandstone orange. I walk on the ocean floor, between the flower pots, around seaweed and through the mud.

I wonder what number the red clay will do on these people running around in sandals, pumps and sneakers. My boots don't mind the dirt, and the visitor center provides an area where you can hose down yourself, which I do with my boots as well as with my riding pants. 

After climbing up back I have earned my breakfast at the restaurant adjacent to the visitor center, and bonus they offer gluten free products, and fairly good coffee. Now I am set to continue my travels.

I take the route towards Alma, where I cross part of the Fundy National Park, after this it's the road to Sussex, and a few miles of Trans-Canada-Highway. And now I say: Goodbye ocean... hello Saint John River.

Past Fredericton I enter the Scenic River Valley Route which meanders along the Saint John River. It's a quiet rural and forested setting with wide turns and gentle rolling hills following the path of the water.

There are a quite a few more wooden covered bridges to collect along the way.

One of them is the Hartland bridge, with a span of 400m the longest covered bridge of its kind in the world. 

Another less spectacular one is located in Fries capital Florenceville. It smells of fried potatoes in the valley, where McCain is headquartered.

For today's overnighter I have Grand Falls in mind. Sounds interesting, I like falls. But they have built a hydroelectric power station on top, which controls the water flow. A drop of 23m, and almost no water.

I am disappointed, however the Hill Top Motel, just across the power station does not disappoint. Very clean and in good shape, and the restaurant comes with vegetarian options. Quite the contrast to the Hopewell Rocks Motel. It was a long riding day for the Shadow and myself, but stress free and calm.


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