The Boat Across the Atlantic
A short ride from Den Haag in the Netherlands to Zeebrugge in Belgium, to put my bike on MV Grand Mercury to be delivered to Halifax Nova Scotia estimated time of arrival 4th June 2012.
Nice trip down to Zeebrugge
WW Office Zeebrugge
No problem in getting my bike delivered at Wallenius Wilhelmsen Office I even managed to leave my helmet , boots and leathers with the bike which was good as this mean less for me to carry on the plane as I was seriously struggling for space there as well.
Starting Mileage in KM
Mandatory picture of odometer starting mileage or is that kmleage
A very long day I got up at 4.30am and I got a taxi to Den Haag Central Station to catch the train to the Schiphol. On the train I had a panic attack as I was not sure if I had swiped my OV card so I jumped of the train at Leiden before the inspectors came through and I walked down to the entrance hall to swipe my OV card only to realise I had already done this in the Hague so the panic attack was for nothing so I slepped back to the platform to the train I just got of as it was still there and I got back on it. I received some weird looks from folks on the train at my antics as I was lugging two huge bags and a rucksack weighing in total about 25 KG.
I got the plane to Toronto no problem only a bit of a challenge on the amount of luggage I had with me but as I had sorted this already on the phone so I knew it should and was not an issue.
9 hour flight to Toronto with AirTransit a charter company so a no frills and no leg room airline but being a dwarf no real problem for me and it was cheap as chips and they let me buy a one way ticket which normally costs a small fortune on the major airlines.
I arrived at 11.30am Canadian time in Toronto and my next plane was not till 17.30pm so after clearing customs which was easy as it was a fellow biker customs officer the first job was to see if I could get an earlier flight which was also easy and after convincing them that my extra bag was hunting equipment they waived the extra luggage allowance charge on that which was great 🙂
I got to Halifax airport at about 7pm in the evening and I found it was miles away from town and that the taxis were very expensive but I managed to found a local bus that would take me to Dartmouth and I got another bus from there to the motel were I was staying out saving me a small fortune. I am going to use the buses tomorrow as well when I go and pick my bike up.
Checked in to Lake City Motel and went to grab something to eat before crashing as I had been up 24 hrs. And I was starting to feel a little bit tired!
Amusing T Shirt
Just in case you were worried about me getting kidnapped well check out the photo above I have made it more difficult for potential kidnappers !
Today was glorified treasure hunt with the end result being my motorcycle and me reunited. I got a bus into Halifax trying to find a Post Office to get a money order as that is the only form of payment that Wallenius Wilhelmsen would accept. The nice lady behind the counter and me had some fun trying to get this accomplished what with all of the weird spellings and not enough space on the forms. Job 1 done. Next of to find the Wallenius Wilhelmsen office via Tim Horton’s (More on Tim Horton’s later) for breakfast. I find the building and its huge next to find the correct office suite which took a while as the building was actually 3 separate buildings and finding the right elevator shaft for the office I wanted was proving difficult (Jet lag)
I finally found the right lift but then had to swap to another as it did not go to the floor I wanted. I handed the nice lady the money order and the notice of arrival (technical term me now an expert on the import and export of goods) and she gave me the instructions on how to get to the customs office which was another 15 min walk away.
Job 3 customs no problem there as I had no drugs and firearms on the bike according to me so they stamped the papers so job 4 was to get Auto port which was a 25 minute taxi ride away. Not for me as I had got a map of the public transport system of Halifax so instead I got a ferry from Halifax to Dartmouth and then on number 60 bus which stopped just outside where I wanted to be and only cost a couple bucks to get there rather than an expensive taxi ride.
Me on a ferry
It took about 15 minutes while they went to pick up my bike and after checking it was all there and nothing was broken or missing I had won the treasure hunt and I had successfully brought my motorcycle from the Netherlands to Canada and was on my way 🙂
Picking up the bike
I spent the rest of the day doodling around Halifax getting used to driving in Canada and I also visited a graveyard where they had buried some of the bodies that they could find from the Titanic disaster this was a very interesting place.
Funny looking Birds here
First night under canvas
First day on the bike I am taking the Lighthouse route from Halifax to Yarmouth only to find out that it is no longer called the Lighthouse Route but South Shore Route. I spent hours on Garmin Base Camp trying to get the route onto my GPS but I failed miserably so I did it manually on the GPS itself but this slow going so I will need to brush up on my GPS skills or I am going to miss out on a lot or get seriously lost.
A most pleasant day in the saddle, zooming along the coast of Nova Scotia. First mechanical calamity I noticed that the GPS was a bit wobbly looks like it had lost a screw. It was late in the day so a mad rush trying to find a hardware store which sounds simple but not when you are in the middle of nowhere and its about an hour or so ride between each village if you can even call them that. I eventually find a hardware shop in Shelbourne, which was just closing who were able to help me in getting the right screw I also brought some Loctite to ensure that I did not end up loosing another screw. It is a crap design of the holder it has the full weight of the GPS hanging on it and it bounces all over the place it is no wonder the screw had worked loose. So I finger tightened the two screws and I headed for the nearest campsite which turned out to be closed and did not open till next week! So I spent about 30 minutes repairing the GPS properly at the side of the road and then headed to another campsite that someone had mentioned that was about 40 km away.
I finally found it Clyde River Farm and I met John the owner who had to laugh when I asked if there was anywhere local to get something to eat Yes was the response back to where I just come from! He was kind enough to invite me to dinner at his home a Burger and blueberry muffins mmmm lekker I must have looked bedraggled as he also set up a camp fire for me by my campsite and I spent a pleasant evening with John and his wife Maureen and 3 other friends of theirs who had pop by for coffee and did I mention we had Muffins as well at the house.
First night camping got off to great start with the help of John Ta Mate. Early night looks like this going to be the norm for a while.
Huge wooden Church
Uneventful day and a good night sleep under canvas even though it was only 3 degrees centigrade according to John my 30 year old duck down sleeping bag is still going strong unfortunately the zip has gone at the feet area so some maintenance is required to avoid cold feet syndrome. Weather is weird here it started out glorious sun shine so pulled the lining out of my jacket and pulled me summer gloves out but within an hour the sun had gone and it was down to 10 degrees centigrade so cold weather kit back on only for it to change to 21 degrees centigrade a couple of hours later making my wardrobe planning a complete night mare!
Driving along when all of sudden I saw a large church not to impressive as they are all over the place here but what made this special was that it was huge totally dominating the horizon so what it just another church but the amazing thing for me was that it was made of wood which blew my socks of as I have never seen such a tall wooden construction (sad git needs to get out more :-))
Big wooden church!
Did my first off road excursion today as the GPS was set to include dirt roads as these are very rare in Europe but they are all over the place here. I am going have to rethink the off road strategy because basically I am a crap off road rider and just do not have the confidence or the skills to handle anything to serious yet just not relaxed enough as soon as I hit the dirt I automatically stiffen up and I am totally nervous till I hit the tarmac again so maybe my original plan of going over via the trans Labrador highway is not going to happen as this is about 500km off road which could ruin my underwear planning (another wardrobe issue)
It is 21.30pm and its just getting dark and I am sitting outside my tent typing this probably going to be another early night as not much going on here and it is getting cold fast.
Campsite before it started to rain
Wet, wet, wet and wet grrrr wet. I woke up and it was raining so rolled over and went back to sleep as I was snug as a bug in my sleeping bag. It kept on raining or so I thought as I was camping under some trees so the rain dripping on my tent made it sound like it was pissing down when in fact when I did get out it was only spiting so I had to break down a wet tent and gear in in the damp which was not to enjoyable a very slow morning especially with the multiple trip that I did to the shower complex first time I found out that you need change for hot shower so went back to the tent to pick up some change but then I forgot my shower bag so I had to go back and get that all this is in the wet so folks where starting to stare.
I hit the road and basically it rained all day so just put my head down and headed for Cape Breton in the hope that the sun would come out. It did not so spent all day on the bike getting soaked so by 6pm in the evening I was a damp squid and I had no desire to camp as it was still raining so I went to the tourist info who directed me to a great cheap little BB in Creignish more on this later. I took no photos today so one from the day before my campsite before it started raining.
Creignish Bed & Breakfast is run by Sandra, which is an old school house converted into a BB from the outside looks overgrown but inside a very cosy fascinating place with an interesting owner. In the sitting room it overlooks a feeding table where there are squirrels, chipmunks, humming birds and all sorts of other colourful birds so after a long wet day on the bike a dry little haven its so nice that I have decided to stay 2 nights and use this as base to do the Cabot Trail (I have I already gone of camping I am not sure I can afford to do that!)
Comments on my kit on how it stood up to the wet
Rukka Gloves are actually waterproof I do not recall ever having a pair of gloves that kept my hands so dry for so long how long will these last before they start to leak (Cynic)
Rev-it Boots also kept me feet dry
Damen Waterproof trousers also worked so on the whole very happy with me new Kit lets hope they stay waterproof for a while longer as I am guessing I will be needing them
And my faithful 7-year-old Rukka jacket still keeping me warm and dry and seems to take whatever the weather wants to throw at me had some wet arms today but that was my own fault for not tucking the gloves in correctly.
Cabot Trail Coastline
Good to be back in a proper bed not I am not sure I am cut out for this camping malarky anymore but I am going to have to persist or this is going to be a very short trip. Huge breakfast like I said I like this little BB. Not sure what the weather is going to do but I decide to do the Cabot Trail which is just a short circuit of Cape Breton of about +-400kms 🙂
Cabot Trail Cold
Cabot Trail Warmer
It started of cold and wet so I was not having much fun however at around 3pm the sun had decided to come out which made the rest of the trip very enjoyable. So it went from 10 degrees C riding through the mist and clouds not been able to see much to glorious sunshine and 20 degrees C so again serious wardrobe issues on with the waterproofs of with the waterproofs, on with the winter gloves, off with the winter gloves, on with the in between gloves off with the in between glove on with the summer gloves etc.choices choices choices!
Bike trying to escape
At the end of the day I found a nice little pub which had live Gaelic music so had a big bowl of chilly to warm me insides and spent a nice meal tapping me foot to the music.
Cabot Trail Musicians
Back to the BB where I did some quick repairs to the bike. Mechanical issue 2 the tube that runs from my chain oiler to the chain had rubbed a hole into itself after the last bodge job I had done to fix this so as per all my fixes out comes the duct tape and the zip ties and hey presto the job is done chain lube now functional (How long who knows) I also adjusted the chain while I was busy at the back end. And then I watch the sun go down and spent the rest of the evening chatting to Sandra the elderly lady who runs this joint an American schoolteacher who came out here during the Vietnam war and never went back. All in all a nice day just updating this blog which is turning out to be quite a chore so this could get less and less or shorter and shorter who knows. I am Of to Louisbourg tomorrow for some Canadian history or maybe I will go somewhere else who knows? 🙂
Early morning visitor eeeek
I was woken up early by Sandra knocking on my door as there was a bear in the garden eeeeeeek! I had a grandstand view to this amazing but scary creature. A nice way to start the day. I had a leisurely breakfast and loaded the bike ready to hit the road again and I highly recommend the eclectic http://www.bbcanada.com/159.html I had a very nice couple of evenings there.
Morning Visitor eek
No you cannot come in !
Short day in the saddle today only 250kms to Louisbourg to see http://www.pc.gc.ca/lhn-nhs/ns/louisbourg/index.aspx as I had brought a discovery Canada card so I have to see all the national parks and 150 museums in Canada to ensure I get me money out of it. Unfortunately it was not fully open like a lot of things in this part of Canada the season does not begin till middle of June. I spent a couple of hours wandering around and the weather has changed for the better and the sun was actually shining all day.
I was planning on spending a longer time at the fortress but as it was not fully open I got out at about 3pm so I decided to see if I could find a guest house similar to the last couple of nights but I think I hit there jackpot there as its a lot more expensive here so looks like its back under canvas for me so I am in a totally empty campsite next to the harbour right in the centre of Louisbourg which has a recreation room where I am sitting updating this blog and it getting awfully cold.
After I set up camp I went for long walk along the coastline instead of bear warnings it was Coyote warnings so wonder if the bear bell I got from Liesbeth is going to help me here walking on my own and there was a bucket full of wooden sticks at the beginning of the trail which you can pick up and borrow to fight them off with ! About an hour in I met a couple of young Canadian guys who had just seen fox running across a field with a leg in its mouth! Yes a leg I had to check if I understood them correctly as well so I decided to turn back and kept them well within earshot
Bear bell no good here!
Started to get into my photo groove and I do not want to publish them all here as I I am not sure how big this blog can get before stops working so for those of you who are interested let me know and I will share a link to Drop Box where you can see all of me photos. I am getting quite trigger happy now but its a toss up between stopping every five minutes to take a piccie or just keep on rolling and enjoying the scenery I need to find a happy medium
Mines bigger than yours!
Got up and the sun was shining no bears this morning so a relaxed break down of my campsite soaking up the sun not getting any quicker at this but when the sun is shining who cares. Leaving Nova Scotia and heading for Prince Edward Island and as usual Philly calculation on distances are totally wrong so I arrived in Charlottetown at 9.30pm that evening, in my defence there was an hour and half wait for the ferry and the ferry also took an hour and half so I would have been there in time for tea so my calculations are reasonable 🙂 I was cream crackered and I did not fancy another night under canvas even though the sun had been shining all day and it was a lovely evening I think my love affair with me tent is over especially when you can get a bed plus breakfast in a hostel for roughly the same price. So many thanks to lovely people of the VIC (Visitor Information Centre absolutely brilliant folks have been nothing but helpful and there’s is also free internet), I had spotted there was a hostel on PEI Island so plugged the address into my GPS and as I said arrived at 9.30pm at night. I went for a walk as my head was a bit woolly as it had been a long day on the bike and I thought maybe I will stay 2 nights here as the place had a nice vibe about it but I changed my mind when I was on the internet later that evening and I typed in Charlottetown PEI to Fairbanks Alaska into Google maps and I got the following response
7,663 km and 93 hours eeeeeeek
That’s bleeding miles as I said before these distances are blowing my poor little brain when I was looking at the map of the world I have on my wall at home it does not look that far but in reality I may have bitten of more than I can chew so as per Oliver Twist “I am reviewing the situation!”