|Beyond those islands, is Portugal|
Yeah yeah... I know it's not Asia, but it's about as far east in Canada and in fact North America as one can go without flippers!
Standing on the dock in Canso reminded me of a similar experience almost 10 years ago...
Having ridden well over two dozen countries in Europe on the trusty Diversion 600, I had my hand and feet in the Atlantic ocean, looking out over a vast sea of dark green. I thought that day that waaaay out there was my home of Canada. I was in Portugal at the time and then too... I couldn't get any farther without, yup... flippers!
|Old post office in Sherbrooke|
I've had some difficult times in my life, we were refuges from Hungary where before my 2nd birthday, old rifles crackled, Molotov cocktails took on T 54's and highly sprung spirits were rebelling against the Communist rule Hungary found itself in, in the aftermath of WW II.
From there to Canada, my adopted home, school where I learned to talk English, being picked on for being different, that is until the grade 5 and 6 kids found out that this puny small little D.P. boy could outrun the wind.
|Coastal highway passes through many lovely villages and hamlets.|
I was a sprinter right through my school years. I went from being the kid nobody wanted on their team, to money changing hands (joking) because of my speed. I was so fast eventually holding several city provincial records at the track meet. 40/60 yards/ 100... 220 and eventually anchoring the 4 x 110 relay. My fastest time in the hundred was 10.98 seconds set in grade 11.
|Small town yet elaborate church|
I may have had a career in track and field. Who knows?
Then we moved to a little burg up north in the bush named Fort Mac Murray, where the only athletics were hockey in the wintertime on an outdoor rink, or swimming in the summertime when the ice melted. (I'm joking, we did have an indoor pool across the street of Peter Pond school. Having terrible vision, I could do neither, and my T&F dreams vanished into the night like a thief!
|This building served Canso well over the decades|
Everyone has stress and strife in their lives, I have been no different, but as I get older I'm increasingly more grateful with mine. First of all, the folks had no problem with my having a motorbike at 13.
There was not a single other bike at Wellington Jr High. In fact Mr. (J.D.) Marles made it clear to me in the 8th grade that I was to "take that thing home and never bring it back to school again." The reason given to me was, and I kid you not... he didn't want "that kind of influence at his school."
Enough of that, getting back to the present. After a breakfast of coffee and sweet things from our store visit the day before and loading up the V Strom once again for the road, trying to load Canso into the Tom Tom... which of course I have found pretty much useless riding the east coast, there are gazillions of roads that in general will get you there where'as the GPS unit, and my sweetheart girl Brandi, is always telling me to "turn around when possible" !
Our route was going to hug the wee little coastline highway 316, through whichever little hamlet came next. There was some obvious poverty and certainly little in the way of funds at many of these communities but people were downright friendly and far from being hostile to, and genuinely intrigued as to us helmet clad rider and passenger traveling by this big orange bike. Long gone were the days when I arrived in Penticton in the summer of 1974 with my Bavarian Motor Works model 600/5 and being refused accommodation or meals because I was riding on two wheels. Sure there were plenty of bike gangs/clubs back then, choppers based on Harley's were almost as loud as the the fights that often accompanied them to whatever town or city was invaded for the weekend.
|Gravel carrier docked across the Canso strait in Port Hawkesbury|
A far cry from the warmth of people and their acceptance of us and our mode of travel.
I know at some point in my life, I would eventually have to give up my riding, but just as I am aware of that, I am also going to sit in the saddle, twisting the throttle for as long as I can.
The first day was on roads in poor conditions but this day proved the opposite. Upon reaching major route 16 (A long way from that other oft traveled highway 16, the Yellowhead) I took a right and headed to the lovely and famous little town of Canso. Brenda and I parked the bike and went 'walk-about' for a couple of hours taking in a guided tour and a spot of lunch, a nice break from the 30 plus C heat of the afternoon. Retracing our 15 km to the junction we headed north looking once again for the tiny lines on the map, in this case highway number 344. This would take us leisurely to Auld's Cove with a view of Port Hawkesbury on the Island of Cape Breton just across the strait from us. I absolutely LOVE these tiny roads where only locals tread or the odd motorcyclists.
|Seemingly abandoned home|
Why is it that of the hundreds of ADV or otherwise large displacement motorcycles, so many stick so much to the major routes?
I don't understand this??
You ain't gonna' find no history or color or experiences riding the Trans Canada highway for hundreds of miles bypassing the color of the land and communities you only see from an exit ramp to get fuel!
|That's Cape Breton Island a short swim away|
Using my usual stop at the local Petro Can with the causeway in sight, I fueled up the big tank while Brenda sat in the Tim Hortons and ordered us the usual. Here again other riders are asking me for details of the highway and upon suggesting that they may wish to stay the F away from them and explore the slower pace of the back woods, they may actually like what they see or learn. The opaque in their eyes and horror when I mention the G** word is obvious to me.
|The refurbed Holidy Island at Pictou heading to PEI|
The V will easily do 500 km on a fill. My days of traveling 600 miles in a day through rain or hail or wind, were thankfully long gone. As it was, this was what I call, a "long ass day" !
We bypassed lovely Antigonish, New Glasgow and headed to Pictou to ride the NFL ferry back to our Island. By the end of the day/trip, we had traveled 906.6 km plus the strait crossing and arrived home in the gathering dusk with raindrops as big as bumble bee's flattening themselves against the small DL windscreen.
It was a fabulous trip. I didn't fall over but became convinced to look further into a way to lower the bile (more on that later) The sights, places and people we met were a joy, the history an added bonus.
|The Confederation doing her thing|
The little discomfort I feel now while riding, especially longer distances, pale when compared to the life experience it provides. As far as we know, we still only live once.
Get out there and make some memories of your own and don't be afraid of the G* word, it's all part of the game. Embrace it and what it offers if you are willing to take a chance and get off the merry go round of work, work and work and slow down to smell the roses, or in our case this trip, the salt ocean!
We are so fortunate to have the Maritime's as both our front and back yards, I can't tell you how lucky you and I are.
* Three of us, two on new 1984 Venture Royale models and a third on an new Aspencade stopped in New England at a little cafe/diner. I was by far the youngest of the group the other two were both life insurance salesmen and older than I. We waited and waited and eventually sat down having gotten tired of waiting. Catching the waitress who was obviously ignoring us, she said, and I quote;
"We don't serve those in black leather."
Say what?! It was 1984 for heavens sake. We had a little confab, went out and peeled off our leather gear and reentered. She sat us immediately and asked what we would like to order. We three stood up as one and as loudly as possible we said as a unit;
"WE Don't eat at places that don't accept leather as our choice of protective clothing."