Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Miramichi

AFTER we'd left the Rexton locale, we picked up coastal route 134. We'd followed this road for much of our day, meandering into little settlements like Richibucto, bypassing RV/Camping grounds and little cabin villages.  Oddly enough as we passed over the arms of the nearby Gulf of St Lawrence via old bridges, we could see highway 11 very close by.  In fact we were never more than a handful of miles from the faster more traveled route.  Seemed like only local summertime traffic inhabited the routes we rode.

At St.-Louis de Kent we were forced off 134 to 11 for some unspecified construction detour.  Now keep in mind that we are following seat of the pants GPS supplemented by an old style fold out map! This requires lots of stops and fiddling with the map but at least the day was sunny warm and calm.  Besides, the entire purpose of our ride was exploring right:)

Entering the highway the two big singles (the bikes not the boys) picked up to 100 + kph speeds and while heading roughly NW, by chance I spotted the defunct dam on our left hidden among the trees.  A quick U-turn and we pulled off just before the village of Kouchibouguac (don't ask me how to pronounce that!)  To me it was like something out of a WW II movie, still surroundings, a broken down dam, trout rising... Both Trevor and I love fishing although I haven't done much of that for years, but we talked about a camper with a cooler of food and a week here in this little hollow next to the old dam.  Clear water, deep pools, shallow wading with a Panther Martin tied to the line, Bring the bikes for some local exploring and presto... bliss.

Alas, not to be this trip but one can only plan for the future right!

Back on the highway we only made it about a 1/4 mile before veering off on a tiny little side road.  In fact I was thinking this was likely just a local access road to some cottages.  There weren't even pavements lines painted leading me to think that.  However within a few miles we actually arrived to hook back up with NB highway 117 which would be our route through the National Park.We rode the near deserted blacktop at leisurely speeds once again, enjoying the near perfect Park pavement and twisty roads passing one another, buckets of usable torque from the four stroke singles. Trev pulled in for fuel at Point-Sapin.  At this point we felt some raindrops and by the time we reached our turning point at Escuminac, on Miramichi Bay blue skies were getting fast displaced by dark thunderheads. We pulled off the road to mull things about.  I had not packed rain gear and even though it was still warm, you could just sense a drop in temperatures coming with the rain.

Lightning flashed across 270 degrees of sky, the only blue left was far to our south and even there is was closing fast.  Pulling off again at Hardwicke we took shelter under a tall awning, while Trev looked up a potential over night stop.  Only thing showing was in the Miramichi itself and that was a Rodd hotel.  I'm familiar with the Chain, there being several on PEI itself and it is in my opinion a luxurious hotel chain, seemingly too costly for our budget weekend.  A downpour passed us while we waited under the canopy and we decided that we would ride the 35 km into the town and take our chances with getting soaked and finding affordable accommodations.

The rain only let up slightly on our ride to town and quite by co-incidence we stumbled literally into downtown and before us was the Rodd hotel! Pulling off in the parking lot, the two of us must have looked a sight, wet, dripping and with Trevor's 6' plus height towering over me, we wandered into the lobby.  A young woman asks if we had reservations, we did not... then informed me that the room cost was $150 for the evening whereas normally it would be in the mid $200 range.  Even at such a generous discount it was out of our budget as I explained to her.  She then asked us what we thought we could afford and after some telepathic conversation with the big guy (not GOD, but Trevor) I answered a hundred ten maybe as high as one hundred twenty five.  To our utter amazement she said she could do that!  Now I am never one to look a gift horse in the mouth but believe me when I was over my initial surprise, we gratefully accepted. 

Turned out we got the 2nd last room in the complex and for a guy like me that has slept in Mexican brothels, run down hotels in North Battleford and Rockyford both and some real dives in the USA... an overnight at a Rodd's was beyond our wildest expectations. 

Once settled into our spacious suite overlooking the bikes in the parking lot under a canopy of tall trees, we wandered off looking for a bite to eat.  By this point granola bars weren't going to cut it. 

Just a few blocks into town we found a burger joint and got no further.  The boys gulped them burgers down like it was our last meal!

Trout inc.

Sunday morning, after a good nights sleep at Rodd's

BIG Bridge BIG Creek, the mighty Miramichi
THERE are only about 18,000 residents left in the area, much of the local work disappeared long ago and the population followed. The region now relies heavily on tourism and some federal offices.  Our digs were right on the mighty Miramichi river with a great view of this impressive bridge spanning the kilometer wide creek!  Defunct factories can be seen in the distance and even though it was Saturday night after a long day in the saddle our evening tour was kept short.

At this point I could brag that the two men that we are, we partied with the locals well into the night, stumbling singing from pub to pub, downing buckets of Schooner local beer, but as I am basically an honest guy... there was no such thing.  I bet we were passed out (from the day's effort) by 10 pm!

Next morning we had breakfast at good old Tim's before saddling up and bidding good by to Metro Miramichi.  I mentally logged (yes there is still some room in there but I will soon have to delete files) that I would come back here for a longer visit and reward Rodd's hospitality to us two bikers by staying over a weekend!

Good Ole Tim's

Hmmmmmm......... 'they're closed, no they're open, no closed, no open!!'

Very cute downtowm.

Good use for an old rail station.

Next morning.

The Rodd's on water street Miramichi river.

WE filled at the local Canadian Tire gas bar and went looking for route 126, finding it just where it was supposed to be.  From here on in, we wouldn't see much of the coast until the end of our day...

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