Sunday 12 August 2018

Atlantic Canada Part 6

The one thing that is a bit of an issue when visiting Newfoundland is the ridiculously long time needed to cross a relatively short piece of water, a mere 182 km, from North Sydney to Port Aux Basque will cost you an entire day, and of course another to cross back.
Ferry, from the ferry - North Sydney
You must arrive two hours before departure, so an 11 45 departure means that you book in at 9.45 and then arrive at the other end at 6 p.m. and that’s not the time that you’ll actually disembark. You can also take the ferry to Argentia, relatively close to St John’s, but that’s 18 hours crossing time. The ferry itself is fine, and you could even book a berth, but that would be a bit of a waste for me, especially as I am are doing the daytime crossing. You can cross at night, which would probably involve less waste of time, but a loss of sleep instead, as you arrive in the wee hours of the morning. Maybe time for a nice long bridge? Be that as it is, Newfoundland is definitely worth the ferry rides. I will certainly be back.

Due to some technical issue it is after 7 p.m. before we finally manage to get off the boat. After a brief stop at the tourist information office, I head out on the – yes it is here too – the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH). I am looking for a place to camp as there is zero accommodation available in town, everywhere is fully booked.
Arriving in Port Aux Basque
The map from the tourist office indicates a camping facilities in the Codroy Valley area. I take what I think is the turnoff, but after about 5 km I realize that I must have taken a wrong turn. There has been a guy on a motorcycle riding a few hundred yards behind me, he pulls up next to me and asks what I’m looking for, so I tell him that I’m looking for somewhere to camp for the night, he suggests, with what I think is a leer, that I should just camp next to the river. Now I have seen Deliverance, and at a fairly impressionable age, so I decide to just go back to the TCH and look for the right turnoff. Now I am sure that the guy was just being helpful, I tell you that Newfoundlanders are the nicest and friendliest people you could hope to find, but I did want somewhere with some facilities. A few Kms down the TCH and there, well signposted, is the turn-off to the RV and tent camp site.

I pay $25 for my spot and start to set-up camp. The sun is setting so it is not a moment too soon.  My site includes a picnic table and a place to make a fire, it also includes a small but vicious swarm of mosquitos. I apply the insect repellant, liberally, to every exposed piece of skin, but clearly these guys have not read the label and are not in the slightest repelled. So everything I do is accompanied by lots of slapping.
Two Midget Tent
I end up slapping my ears so hard there is ringing that lasts about ten minutes. I have some tinned tuna that I could have for supper, but there was a sign at the reception for ‘Fish and Brew’ for $6. I’m intrigued, so I buy it. It’s shredded cod and shredded white bread that has been dampened with cod flavoured water. They warm it up in a microwave oven, it sounds a little gross, but actually it is quite good, like a fishy bread pudding. I make some coffee with my primitive stove, which is a wick spirit burner in a tinned vegetable can, cleaned out and with holes cut in, it actually works pretty well. The sun sets and weirdly the mosquitos seem to lose interest in me... maybe it’s the fish.

 As the camp quietens down, and the bad singing from a group of RV’s comes to an end, I get to enjoy the evening and the stars. The stars alone make bearing the mosquitoes worthwhile. I turn on my torch to locate my towel and tooth brush and get to see a little fox trotting along the edge of the campsite.  Finally, I crawl into my two midget tent and into the sleeping bag, a good quality one that I bought for the trip. I am lying on a ‘mattress’ it’s little more than a yoga mat, but way better than nothing. I sleep, but confess that I’m not used to camping, so can’t claim that I have a good night’s rest. I’m awake at 5 a.m. and make coffee, which restores some semblance of coherent thought. The showers and toilets aren’t exactly luxury, but they are clean and adequate. I can see maybe three tents amongst the RV’s. The RV’s with names or perhaps brands, that evoke the wilderness, like Wild Thing, Freedom Traveller, Eagle Wind and so on. The humble caravan has morphed into literally driving around in a house. Some of these things are as big as a Greyhound coach, and they sometimes tow a car behind them (sometimes a boat as well) and when they stop and make camp little rooms pop out, like in a Don Martin comic. They hook up to water and electricity and even sewage, seriously, how to camp and not be camping at the same time.  Maybe I’m jealous that the RV campers are all enjoying a good sleep on Sealy Posturepedics and I’m grumpy from an uncomfortable night on a yoga mat and up at the ass crack of dawn because I can’t bear to lie down any more. Still these monsters are a pain in the ass on the road. Riding behind one on a bike is as bad as riding behind any large truck, they trail a wake of turbulence that blows you all over the road.

I pack the bike and head north. I plan to stay in the Gros Morne area and see some of this famous National Park. After not too long in the saddle, I stop for breakfast at a gas station café, Crabbe’s River Restaurant and without hesitation order the ‘Truckers’ Special’, I’m hungry and the effects of the cup of black instant coffee I had at the campsite has worn off.
The ‘Truckers’ Special’ hits the spot and some. Stuffed with loads of protein, fat and carbs, and no longer crabbe, I get back on the KLR and back on the road. Next stop, Deer Lake, a most unoriginal name, I think there is hardly a county in this country that does not sport at least one Deer Lake. I guess the settlers that named the places didn’t worry too much about originality, there was a lake and there were deer. It’s like in South Africa there are lots of ‘Mooi’ rivers, ‘mooi’ meaning (more or less) ‘nice’. In a dry country every river is a nice river! From Deer Lake I take the Viking Trail towards the coast and Gros Morne National Park.

This part of Newfoundland is mountainous, and let me say achingly lovely. I had expected a bleaker topography from this province, but here at least it is mountains, ocean and forest. The forest is mostly evergreen conifer, but I spot a scattering of deciduous.
The road is just fabulous to ride, it is in great nick and wonderfully curvy. I wrote about the Cabot Trail as one of those special places where mountains meet the ocean, this is another. It has another advantage; it is definitely not overcrowded. One can stop at a lookout point and be alone with the beauty, at least for a short while. It has become a very warm day, but there is a nice breeze that helps to counter the heat. Gros Morne National Park is named after the highest peak in the chain of mountains that runs parallel to the west coat of the island, which are actually part of the Appalachians. Roughly translated from French, Gros Morne means ‘great sombre’, which if you think about it is probably a good name for almost any mountain. This looks like a really great area to do some hiking, which I won’t be doing, aside from not being equipped for hiking, I am not fit enough to tackle a serious climb… or maybe I’m just lazy.

A word about mountains, I think I have mentioned how much I miss real mountains in the flat land of Ontario. There is something about mountains that helps a person to keep perspective in life, especially when you live close to mountains and can look at then everyday. They remind one of how utterly trivial your issues are and when you are dead and totally forgotten by everyone, the mountains will have hardly changed at all, yet they too will finally be ground down to nothing. Indeed, all the striving and struggling of humanity that has taken place, and will ever take place, is within barely a moment on the time scale that mountains measure time by. Of course mountains are just gorgeous to look at.

It’s getting to mid afternoon and the small town of Rocky Harbour is in sight. It’s in an enclave of non-national park land a real tourist spot, with lots of places for tourists to stay. I am tired from my previous night of not sleeping well and have decided that Rocky Harbour is where I will stop. My idea is to have a nap, then do a bit of exploring on the bike, have some supper, the Truckers’ Special has negated any need for lunch, then get an early night. But the no vacancy signs on every establishment is not encouraging. Perhaps it’s another night on the yoga mat in the two midget tent. I know I should man-up do the camping, at least in the interest of economy, but I am a bit of a baby when it comes to creature comfort. I spot a B & B that doesn’t have a no vacancy sign up, and check in. It’s more than I want to pay, but they discount the rate because they are not offering breakfast for tomorrow. So they are actually just a B, suits me, I’m happy with the discounted rate, and the room is really nice.

After the promised nap, I ride up to Lobster Cove Light House, which is an interesting museum, about when this was a working light house and not just a tourist attraction. It’s nice, and there are some lovely walks in the area with stunning views.
After that I ride to Norris Point in search of supper, but the one restaurant that has a patio is overcrowded and I can smell that the oil in the fryer is none too fresh, so decide to head back to Rocky Harbour, somewhat hungry now. I choose a café that has a patio, and appears to be less crowded, I chose poorly and there was a reason for the dearth of customers, slow service coupled with bad food. The ‘Cod Dinner’ at a somewhat expensive $22.50, sounded like a good option, pan fried cod with mashed potatoes and vegetables in season and a side garden salad. Garden salad equals limp mixed greens, which I suspect has graced at least one other plate so far, and a horrible supermarket dressing, vegetables in season turns out to be a spoonful of semi cooked carrots and the two tiny portions of dry, previously frozen for too long, cod are really not appetizing at all. Honestly the cod I can buy at my local Sobeys is way better. They even managed to screw up mashed potatoes, and serve it with little tubs of margarine, I ask for butter which throws the server, apparently she does not know that margarine isn’t butter. When I pay and don’t tip she looks offended. I ride up to the gas station convenience store and buy two chicken mayo sandwiches, one for supplementary supper and one for breakfast.  

It is time for some additional executive decisions. Labrador is not on the cards for this trip. I have realized that the Trans-Labrador Highway is a bit less substantial than the name lets one think. There is a 565 km stretch that is gravel and the condition of the road is unpredictable. There is also nothing along that stretch, so if I do get into trouble I will probably have to abandon the bike. So whereas I’m fine to ride a road like this, but this trip should be considered more like an expedition than a casual ride, it is best to do it in a larger group or supported by someone with a truck. I have been experiencing a few niggling issues with the KLR, it has been cutting out in the wet, which tells me that I’m definitely not prepared for the Trans-Labrador Highway. Call me chicken if you want, but as mentioned elsewhere in these chronicles, discretion is the better part of valour. Tomorrow I will ride up to Daniel’s Harbour, which will be the end point of this trip. Daniel’s Harbour will mark the furthest point away from home, when I turn around there, I will be homeward bound.

Friday 3 August 2018

Atlantic Canada Part 5

I have heard lots said about the Cabot Trail, so it was on the list of rides that need to be done on this trip. It really is something that anyone that can do it, should do. I few years ago I did some work in Cape Breton and heard about the trail from the folks I was working with, unhappily I just did not have the time. Perhaps happily as now I have the chance to do it for the first time, the best way to do it, on a motorcycle. The trail is really just a loop road that goes through national parks and private lands, and provides fantastic views of mountains, forests, lochs (they call lakes lochs here, of course) and ocean. It is all paved, and for the most part the blacktop is pretty decent, some stretches the road are a bit potholed, but for Canada, nothing out of the ordinary. There was a lot of construction which marred the experience slightly, but if roads here are not maintained then they soon become unusable. For my readers that live in warmer climes – it’s the moisture that seeps into any tiny cracks in the tarmac, then when the temperature drops and the water freezes and expands, so a tiny crack becomes a bigger one and it really doesn’t take may years before the road becomes very potholed. So we have two seasons here, winter and road construction.
the Not-so-Easy Rider on the Cabot Trail

From a purely biking point of view the Trail is worth while riding, thanks to great twisties, sweeping curves and tight cornering going up or down mountain passes. Add the fantastic views and lots of places to stop and take it all in... definitely one of the best biking experiences I have had. Of course if I was riding a more pavement capable bike, and had larger cojones carving through the twisties would be even better, but then that would perhaps be defeating the purpose, especially when going through the national park sections. Actually I did not see any bikers riding too fast, it’s one of those places that demand respect.

Just as I entered the first section that goes through a national park I encountered some black bears. The road was blocked by cars stopped to take pictures of what looked like two small cubs and a teenager playing next to the road. It was great to see, but I was nervous, it stuck me that mamma bear must be somewhere close and unlike the people inside cars, I am a little exposed. I have no desire to get acquainted with mamma bear, so I go around the cars, prudence is the better part of valour. I decided to go clockwise around the trail, taking the advice of another biker, so the first section is inland, great ride and the scenery is just awesome. It’s a little cloudy, but not misty like I had experienced from Halifax, when I reach the coastal section heading north and the clouds clear the views take my breath away. Note on clockwise around or anti-clockwise, I think ideally one should do both ways, as the view while riding would be different. There is some controversy over which is better, I wish I had time to do both.   

Of course Cape Breton, actually Novo Scotia as a whole, is steeped in history. I only know a tiny bit, and then only the history of the Europeans.  Sadly, this is the only history that is really visible. This part of the world saw much of the rivalry between the French and the English in the seventeenth and eighteenth century played out. It was not always a pretty thing. I come across a little town called Cheticamp where the Gaelic is replaced by French. This is a small Cajun enclave. The Cajun story is interesting and a shining example of the English sense of fair play and respect for human dignity… only kidding. The original settlers in Nova Scotia were French (ok it wasn’t called Nova Scotia then) and due to the loveliness and bounty of the area they called it Acadia, a land from ancient Greek culture, the home of Pan and a beautiful unspoiled wilderness. Of course then the winter set in and no doubt they were calling a different tune, I have been here in winter and it is god awful, but I guess the name had stuck, so they became the Acadians, which morphed into Cajuns. After the so called French and Indian war of 1756 to 1763 and the French conceded all their North American possessions to the English, the English demanded that the former French subjects, who had been fighting against them, immediately swear allegiance to the English crown.
Church built by the Cajuns
The Cajuns were naturally a little reluctant, and for their troubles were dispossessed of their land and property and deported to other parts of the British empire, mostly to Louisiana, but not exclusively. Many Cajuns died during this process of enforced sudden poverty, communities and even families were split up. When the English practice a bit of social engineering they don’t muck about, a bit of genocide is not something that they were above. If you think this is an isolated incident in history, ask the Irish, Afrikaans and Kikuyu. Cajun cooking actually came out of this diaspora, it was a cuisine of poverty, created by desperate women in an attempt to provide tasty meals for their families (they were French after all) from the cheapest ingredients. Some of the Cajuns managed to find their way back and formed isolated communities, the village of Cheticamp is one.

It’s turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day, blue skies and a pleasant breeze that takes the edge off the heat. There is something about places where mountains meet the sea, they are so beautiful it makes the heart ache to realize that you can’t stay there forever. Parts of Cape Town where I lived for a time has this and I realize with an extra sharp pain how much I miss this living in Ontario, thousands of miles from the sea and where some hills are called ‘the Highlands’. Don’t get me wrong, Ontario has its beauty, and I often have written about it, but the clarity of ocean, meeting sky and mountains is just natural beauty of a different order.
KLR on the Cabot Trail

When mountains meet the sea

All too soon the Cabot trail comes to an end and I turn left onto the (you guessed it), the ubiquitous Trans-Canada highway. My destination is North Sydney, where I’ll be catching the Ferry to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. I manage to get the last room the Mac Neil's Motel. It’s early in the afternoon so I ask the proprietor about laundry facilities, chance to get some freshness in my wardrobe, the shirt I am wearing smelled positively ripe when I put it on this morning. The proprietor gave me the use of his washing machine and dryer and gave me some detergent, no charge. It turns out that the motel is really nice, the room is well equipped, recently renovated and spotless… and as a bonus the air conditioner works correctly and doesn’t make as much noise as a steam engine.

I had intended to ride to St John's, but a bit of belated looking at a map and realize that the distance from Port aux Basques to St. John's is 900 km. That means 1800 km there and back again, for me that’s three days riding and I’m starting to run short on time. I had thought of Newfoundland as a relatively small expanse of land, but it is actually a very sizable island in the same league as Ireland.  I make another executive decision and decide to keep to the western edge of the island, thereby cancel the mission to reach the most easterly point in Canada.

Tuesday 31 July 2018

Atlantic Canada Part 4

Yesterday when I left the ferry I headed south, mostly on motorways as I was heading for Halifax and didn’t want to arrive too late. I had it in my mind that I ought to see Halifax again. My one visit was several years ago when we were holidaying in the Bay of Fundy and we did a day trip to Halifax, it was raining and I have a vague recollection of an interesting bridge that we crossed to get to the downtown area. I’m not entirely sure why I had this desire to see more of the city and in any event getting acquainted with a city takes a bit more time than I have available, so I’m not left with real impression, other than there is still an interesting bridge, and the part of the downtown that I saw is less interesting and a bit grubbier than I like. Perhaps the problem is due to Uber, or the lack thereof. I had found cheap lodgings (as I am want to do) a few kilometres from the city centre, got myself cleaned up and summonsed an Uber to take me downtown. Rather attempted to summons an Uber, guess what, Uber does not operate in Halifax. The motel gave me the number of a cab company, but they were not into answering their phone, so I got kitted up and rode into town – over the interesting bridge – parked the bike and wandered around for half-an-hour, but my desire to ‘hang out’ had left me. I rode back, stopped at a supermarket and got some ham and cheese for supper, which I ate in my room, oh lonesome me.

Part of the reason for the Halifax stop was to ride Highway 7, and that at least justified the decision. As I right this I have a really super day of riding under the belt. It was about 10 a.m. when I pulled away, I had waited for a light rain to stop before packing the bike. It was misty, but pleasantly cool, I have struggled a little with the heat and humidity, so this was a nice break, but I knew that it would rob me of some of the great views I had hoped for. Nonetheless, the mist added some extra magic and riding through the forestry bits and hills was something I won’t easily forget. One thing I can say about Halifax that even only a few kilometers out from the center you are already in the countryside, so I doubt that too many people have a really horrible commute. If I were to work in Halifax, then somewhere around Highway 7 about 10 Km out would be the pace to live. Highway 7 morphs into a motorway, the 107, but offers the option of turning off and carrying on with Highway 7, which I do. The road is wet from the mist and I know from bitter experience that this is when a road is at it’s most slippery, it’s really greasy, so I am riding with care. Mist notwithstanding, and some bad patches of blacktop, this is a great motorcycling road. Lovely sweeping curves and fabulous scenery. The road is following the coast line, which is not long even beaches, but is broken with dozens of narrow inlets, which makes for some spectacular sights that even the mist is unable to hide from me.

I make a stop at Sheet Harbour, by now I’m reasonably hungry and need to make use of the facilities. I spot this ‘Information Centre’ and turn off. What a little treasure, old fashioned, but spotless toilet, a neat picnic area, the information center is manned by two youths (one male and one female, but I will still say ‘manned’), neatly dressed including fancy tartan ties - wish I had taken a picture – and they really know their stuff. There is also a museum of sorts with a higgledy-piggeldy collection which makes for a fascinating fifteen minutes. I eat my packed lunch, left overs from last night’s supper, and carry on. The mist starts to lift and I can pick up the pace a tad, it’s just such an awesome ride, I’d recommend to anyone to try this one. There are a few motorcycles out and quite by chance three of us end up riding as a group. It’s nice, we stick together for almost 30 Km then all stop at Sherbrooke for gas, where we get to meet and chat. Highway 7 leaves the coast at this point and goes inland, but there is an option to carry on with a road that follows the coast. The lassie at the information center told me that the coast road is quite bad, and the clouds seem to be threatening rain that way, so I take the inland route, I should get to the starting point of the Cabot Trail by 4.30 at the latest. As it turns out I decide to stop about 20 km shy of the starting point for the Cabot Trail.
Great little Information Center - Sheet Harbour 

Nova Scotia, New Scotland, sometimes even more Scots than the old one, especially here where I have stopped for the night in Cape Breton. I’m staying in a village with the unpronounceable name, for me anyway, of Whycocomagh, which seems to be part of a larger municipality of Inverness. I don’t think it gets more Scottish than that, I have seen signposts in English and Celtic, and the local supermarket has some signs in English and Celtic. Apparently this branch of Celtic is called Canadian Gaelic, and is spoken as a native tongue by 300 people and total speakers is about 2500, according to Wikipedia anyway, so it’s not about to become the lingua franca, and I don’t have to learn the three key words needed to get by, hullo, please and thank you. Nova Scotians have a distinctive accent, it’s sort of standard North American with added Scots. I have passed a sign that read, ‘If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap’. Not sure what that referred to, but it does illustrate the point. It’s a bit like the English speakers in the Natal Midlands in South Africa that used to refer to England as ‘home’ but some of them had never set foot there.

I can’t say it has been a tough ride today, pleasant and interesting. Looking forward to the Cabot Trail.

Bald Eagle I spotted in the tree, then it flew off

Saturday 28 July 2018

Atlantic Canada Part 3

It’s damn tough to try to keep the blog posts current, so I hope my few readers do appreciate the efforts. Please leave comments, it would be nice to answer any comments or questions that you may have. 

New Brunswick is underrated and utterly beautiful. I hear so little about New Brunswick, (is there an old one, other than the one in Ohio?). Instead of dashing through this province I think I should have decided to spend the entire trip here. There are mountains, forests, lakes and oceans and without a doubt fabulous biking roads, I am putting a trip to thoroughly explore New Brunswick on the bucket list. Unfortunately, today I am just riding through, I suspect that is what most people do, pass through to get to the coast. Which takes me to my first complaint, I’m riding on the Trans Canada Highway, through the most gorgeous countryside, yet this province has provided ZERO, and I mean ZERO places where one can stop and rest and take in the view. No rest stops, no scenic outlook points, nothing. WTF, this is perhaps the loveliest province to drive through and the only places to stop for a rest are god-awful gas stations without a single tree to break the horror of the tarmac. Really, a leaf out of Quebec’s book is called for, actually the cousins down south do this really well. I am sure that I am not asking for billions from the provincial budget, just some creative thinking, a place to stop that has a view, with a picnic table and a chemical toilet would be a great start…and a few employees that travel around and tidy-up after the idiots that are unable to.   

So I ride through New Brunswick and stick to the Trans Canada, it’s not overly busy and the blacktop is in reasonable shape. New Brunswick is a really bilingual province, so everything is signposted in both languages, it’s nice, the rest of Canada should make more effort, guess me included. The other nice thing is a slightly more sensible speed limit, 110 km/h on the motorway, makes me more inclined to obey it. Actually as the day goes on and it gets hotter and hotter I find myself slowing down a bit and riding between 100 and 110, in sympathy with the KLR’s overworked 650 cc motor. It’s not really designed to be hammered at 125 in boiling heat all day long, so far it’s given me everything I have ever asked it for, but perhaps I am asking too much today. I’m also getting into a rhythm of stopping about every 100 km, even if it is only to stretch the legs for a few minutes and have a drink of water or Red Bull, the bony old backside is managing better this way, but as already complained about, all stopping has been at gas stations.

Finally, I reach Moncton and traffic is quite busy, the road to the PEI bridge is very busy and has some pretty rough patches. I am tired and the last stretch has me counting down the kilometers. I resolve to find a place to stay immediately upon crossing the bridge into PEI. For the benefit of my non-Canadian readers that stands for Prince Edward Island. It is a province of Canada, and an island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it has a population less than twice that of the town of Newmarket where I live, so I guess the provincial status is historical rather than practical.
Confederation Bridge
The bridge that connects PEI to New Brunswick called the ‘Confederation Bridge’ it’s about 13 Km long, impressive, but a mere plank across a puddle compared to the Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge in China which is almost 165 Km long. I must admit that one of the reasons for including PEI on the agenda was to ride over this bridge. It was fun, but honestly, not something I’d bother with again. Now that one in China… except it’s a rail bridge only. The ride today has been just north of 700 Km, and frankly I am done for, I find the nearest and dearest motel (it’s not too dear, but a lot for the basics that it provides) and get done for the night.

Morning arrives and I’m faced with some choices, tour around the island or move on. I decide to ride towards Wood Islands, where the ferry to Nova Scotia departs, and make up my mind along the way. I can’t say that I’m disappointed in PEI, because I really had no expectations, if I was to do a tour of Atlantic Canada, then that had to include PEI, right? It’s nice enough, and would be a great place to rent a cottage on the beach and chill out for a couple of weeks with friends or family, but from a motorcycling perspective, it’s ok, just not spectacular. Very rural, bits of forest left here and there, but mostly farming, and then mostly potatoes. Interesting, the spoil is red, just like the farming areas around where I grew up in the (then) Transvaal Highvelt. The rich red soil, lots of iron oxide. I decide to head for the ferry, potato fields are indeed a spectacle, but there are just so many that one needs to see.

I just manage to miss a ferry, so have a couple of hours to kill before the next one. There is a couple, about my age, they are riding on a Harley and we get chatting.
The couple from Saskatchewan 
It’s amazing the ice breaker that motorcycles are. Its also notable that it’s mostly my generation that are touring around on motorcycles, sure I see lots of young people riding, but it’s mostly sports bikes, naked bikes and café racers, short distance bikes that they favour, it takes an old geezer to want to ride 6000 km. The couple are from Saskatchewan, now that is a damn loooong ride. They are heading more or less in the same direction I am, so I may bump into them again, nice people. Another old guy on a big BMW GS, (like the one Ewan MacGregor rode) arrives, I met him earlier at the motel, he’s from North Carolina. He advises me to do the Cabot Trail, that definitely is on the list, weather depending, start Sunday or Monday. He says it’s best to go clockwise, so I’ll give that a try.  

Bikers chatting, waiting to board ferry

Not so Easy Rider with Bike tied don

View from ferry  
Live music.. he was actually quite a decent musician

Arriving in Nova Scotia

The ferry ride is nice. I like ferries as much as I like bridges, maybe more. This one has something I’ve not encountered before, live music. It’s awesome.  

Friday 27 July 2018

Atlantic Canada Part 2

I didn’t want to own up to the diesel episode, but as it might save someone similar or worse, I thought I’d share. Late Wednesday afternoon the rain lets up and I decided to fill up the gas tank in the interest of getting away early in the morning. The gas station is on the quaint old fashioned side, with gas pumps that look a little like refrigerators, and a convenience store called ‘Quickie’. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought of a ‘quickie’ as something entirely different… anyway, they had two pumps, one has ‘regular’ on both ends, and the other has ‘premium’ on one and ‘diesel’ on the other. The KLR operates perfectly fine on regular, I know this, but still I always use premium in the hope that it keeps the engine cleaner and gets me that extra 2% of performance. So I pull up to the second pump... and reach for the yellow hose. Five litres in and it dawns on me that yellow is for diesel and red is for premium gasoline… shit, fuck, bugger. It could be worse, like I fill up and don’t notice, but it is not good. The lady on the cash tells me that she saw me reach for the diesel pump and thought that she had never seen a diesel bike before. Well me neither! Anyway she phones someone that has a workshop and ‘Dave’ agrees to come to my assistance. Dave smelled a buck to be made, but my choices are to dump the fuel out on the road and risk prosecution, call CAA and wait three hours or go with Dave. In the meantime, I get cracking with removing the gas tank, that starts with the silly plastic side panels, then the seat, only then can the tank be unbolted and lifted off, after removing the fuel pipes. The KLR comes with a small tool kit, when I work on the bike I don’t use it as my socket set is better to work with, but the toolkit actually has all the spanners that you need to do just about anything on the bike. When Dave arrives I am about to unbolt the gas tank, so it’s a matter of moments before he disappears with the tank, back to his workshop. One of the yokels, an old guy with a wife beater on and tattoos, keeps me company, he knows a lot about bikes and gives me a rundown on dirt bikes, road bikes and crossovers like mine, it’s nice, I learn a thing or two. Soon Dave returns with the empty tank and I can start to put it all back together. Dave asked for $40 for his trip to the workshop and back, and gets to keep the diesel gasoline mix, no doubt it’s useful as a cleaning agent or possibly he can cut it with more gas and use it, there were at least 15 litres of gas in the tank before the diesel.  As I said, could have been worse.

My plan is to set-out at the crack of dawn and cover 800 km to get inside New Brunswick. Ho, ho, ho, of mice and men. I manage to sleep like a baby, waking up crying every couple of hours. Ok, no crying, just waking up, so I set the alarm an hour later to compensate. For some reason it takes me forever to get myself towards myself and the bike packed and on the go. Today is not about scenic rides and nice twisters, I need to get across Quebec to start the adventures in Atlantic Canada, this means highway riding, tough all day, balls-to-the-wall riding. Just to set the record straight, I normally love riding in Quebec, it has some truly awesome biking roads. I also love travelling in Quebec period, it’s like travelling through a foreign country without the inconvenience of travelling in a foreign country. All this BS about the Quebecois making life tough for Anglophones, never experienced it. I can’t say my French is terrible, it’s completely non-existent, sadly, but I have always found the Quebecois to be friendly and helpful. Perhaps I can’t understand when they call me an ass-hole, but that’s ok, what the mind can’t conceive the heart does not grieve. I am not entirely a monoglot, my second language is Afrikaans, in which I am almost fluent, but it seems that my language learning years are in the past, I have tried to learn French, and failed miserably. The other thing I like about travelling in Quebec is the chance to say the few French words I do know, with my best French accent, bonjour, s'il vous plait and merci. In that order, with some English bits thrown in, for example ‘Bonjour, tin of diet Coke s'il vous plaitmerci. Gets me whatever I need in Quebec.

Getting past Montreal is an ordeal and it seems that the greater Montreal area goes on forever, of course it does, Montreal was the biggest city in Canada until relatively recently when Toronto overtook it. It is a great city to visit, but not the sprawling industrial/warehousing bits I’m riding through. Actually a lot of southern Quebec, the St. Lawrence Valley is like this - populous, fertile farmlands and industrial. I’m on the Trans Canadian Highway again and I can’t say that it is a load of fun, lots of travaux, still I’m racking up the miles and the KLR is not faltering. Quebec City looms. I’m exhausted and my backside is shouting, ‘uncle’. I stop at a roadside stop area just outside Quebec City. I have passed many of these, it’s nice that Quebec provides for the traveler, better than Ontario, I may add. Short note on the backside, usually I am able to change the way I am sitting, moving back and forward on the seat helps, but now with all the luggage I basically have only in one place that I can sit in, right up against the gas tank. The ass numbing effect is extreme, believe me, 200 km is the upper limit before a stop is mandated.

Quebec City has been left behind quite some time ago. The odd glimpse of the St. Lawrence is of a steadily widening expanse of water, it is now more ocean than river.
View across the St.Lawrence  
The highway is mostly cutting through forest and I can see mountains in the distance, the Appalachians start here. At close to 600 km for the day I am running out of steam really fast, and there is rain coming in, the turnoff for St. Jean-Port-Joli appears, so I take it. Excellent choice as it turns out, nice little place. I find a motel, book in and get supper from the local supermarket, cheese, ham and pate, actually enough for breakfast and lunch as well. Across the road from the motel is a park, so I take an after dinner stroll there, which turns out to be a wonderful experience, they have a sculpture exhibit, with some interesting and rather suggestive examples. The view across the St. Lawrence is wonderful and the town has created a lovely little walkway with intelligence rather than heaps of cash, it is just so nice.  

Sculptures in the park  

Nice walkway

Anyway, tomorrow I will be up and away at the fart of sparrow, well so says the plan, I’m aiming to sleep on Prince Edward Island tomorrow night, and that is 700 km plus away.   

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Atlantic Canada - Part 1

So I’m finally setting off on the much planned and thought about road trip. Ok to be honest, more thought about than actually planned, as the plan is relatively simple. Head east through Quebec into New Brunswick, cross over the causeway to PEI, go around PEI, ferry back to mainland, go around Nova Scotia, ferry to Newfoundland from Sydney, tour around NF, ferry to Labrador, loop around into Northern Quebec, past Lac Manicouagan, that funny eyeball/sphincter of a lake, then home. I honestly don’t know if I’m going to manage the entire thing, but as I have nought to prove, I’ll cut out whatever I feel seems necessary. As it is I am two days late with setting off, and I have a suspicion that progress over the next two days will not be spectacular, thanks to the weather, my trip has coincided with hot dry weather turning into hot wet weather, I have no clue how far I will get.

My original intention was to leave on Sunday morning, but Sunday morning arrived with no sun at all, it pissed down solidly from 7 a.m. without let-up for nearly the whole day. Now I have a philosophy about riding in the rain, I’ll do it if I need to, but not really a fan. Setting out on a long ride in the pouring rain is just not on the bucket list, you can call me a whoopsie if you want, but I postponed. Monday was dry, humid and hot, but at least dry, so I gathered all my stuff together and packed the bike, got all kitted up, got on the bike and turned the engine over... nothing beyond a choked eh, eh, eh. Fuck, I couldn’t believe it, my battery was as dead as a doornail. Casting my mind back, I realize that the symptoms of a dying battery had been evident a while ago, but I had ignored or perhaps not recognised the issue. Of course, frustrating though it was, it is way better to have the issue before you go on a trip than to get stuck in the middle of nowhere with the eh, eh, eh. So I unpacked the bike and got out of the gear, by then I was so soaked in sweat that I needed a complete change in clothes, underwear included. Got in the car and drove up to Canadian Tire where I waited the customary half hour at the battery counter for service. They had three options, the piece of shit that would last a few weeks, but very inexpensive, the fully sealed, fully charged ready to go, most expensive and the middle of the road option that required the addition of acid and a charge. In the interests of getting cracking I opted for the top of the range, but the one they thought was in stock wasn’t, and the nearest store that may have one was 40 km away, so I ended up with the middle of the road option, and another day postponement.

Packed and ready to go

So here I am, Tuesday morning, the bike is packed with luggage, toiletries, tent, self inflating mattress, sleeping bag, rain gear, water, stove, pots and pans, engine and chain oil, some emergency food, Red Bull and a few other bits and bobs. I’m wearing a back pack with a computer, chargers, sandals and slippers (yes, I have my moccasins, the most comfortable items of footwear known to man) and warm gloves. After a fond farewell to my wife, the dogs and even my neighbours. I turn the key and the KLR roars into life, maybe a muted roar, but none of the eh, eh, eh stuff and I pull away on my adventure. I feel just fantastic, I expect to run into some rain a bit later, but for now it’s dry, It’s hot, it’s so humid you can almost swim in it, the clouds are low and gun-metal blue, but so far no rain. I head east through the farmlands, the cornfields are head height, sure I know that they are just growing inputs to feedlots and chicken batteries, or worse bio-fuels, which are not in the least bit ‘green’, but it does look nice. This time of year the fecundity of the world is just so fantastic, it makes one forget about all the negatives that are going on in the natural world. Oops, gone off subject. Heading east to Port Perry, Lake Scugog and the Trans-Canadian Highway, this is the area where Neil Young grew up, second ugliest of the old time rockers, just beaten by Keith Richards, just. I’m free and the airflow has finally cooled me down, I find myself singing, badly of course, but who cares, there is only me inside this helmet.

The road is busy, but it isn’t too bad, traffic is moving above the speed limit and the road has enough double overtake sections that you don’t get too frustrated stuck behind trucks. Personally I don’t feel frustrated at all by even several kilometres of slow travel, I’m on holiday, taking in the sights, and Highway 7 has plenty to offer. Farmlands have been left behind, I am in the Canadian Shield, it’s forests, rocky cuttings and lakes, I have written previously about this road, it’s perhaps not the greatest motorcycle road, but if you want to get to the east quickly, without riding a motorway this is about all you have. I have lunch at Havelock, Tim Hortons chicken wrap in the interests of time, I guess there are a few of those in my future, small black coffee keeps the calories down. The clouds are now unmistakeably menacing, and I don the suit, in protest. I guess I could make a whole philosophical point about putting on the rain suit before it rains, but yes, put the fucking thing on before it starts to rain. That is the smart thing to do, and I have learned the hard way, but on a day like this it’s awful. It’s beyond hot, it’s wearing the Michelin man outfit in 30 degrees C, sweat runs down the back, and from the armpits and other unmentionable places, most unpleasant

The thing about riding in rain, is that even a light rain is experienced by a motorcyclist as heavy, because you are riding into it at the speed you are travelling, so relative to the pedestrian the chap on the bike is encountering many more raindrops per second. Now it is possible that this issue influenced Einstein’s thinking (I doubt it), but you had better have your rain gear on even for a relatively light shower. With rain gear I include trousers, jacket and booties. The last of these, unless you have boots that are genuinely waterproof is important, it takes no time at all for your boots to become bags of water. For my part I have not found affordable boots that are comfortable, protective and waterproof. So my compromise is $20 pair of booties that cover the boots and are truly waterproof. Pain in the ass to put them on, nonetheless I leave Havelock with full rain gear on, including booties. It does not take long for the rain to justify my decision, so undaunted I ride on through the downpour to Perth. Nice little town, named after the Scottish town, not the Australian city, I imagine. It endeavours to have a connection to the Scottish town, I notice a few wool shops as I go through, it reminds me of the Scottish town of Moffat, where I bought woolen scarves and toffee a few years ago. Anyway I don’t stop at Perth, but do turn off the Trans-Canadian Highway, to follow highway 43, which follows a more direct route to Montreal. I have doubts that I’ll make it to Montreal today, but let’s see how far I get.

Rideau River

As it turns out, Merrickville on the Rideau River is where I decide to stop. I spot a place to stay, the Balderchin Inn and they have a room available.  The room is fine, bit on the baroque side, and the fake flowers above the bed are a little more than necessary, it’s respite from the rain and the internet connection totally sucks.
I am getting the KLR settled for the night when a few ladies come out of the pub to have a smoke, ‘I wouldn’t park there if I were you,’ one says, ‘transport trucks can’t make the corner, no one from Merrickville ever parks there.’ I move the bike a few spaces along, local knowledge is worth so much, thank you ladies of the cigarette.
Tucked in for the night

They sit in a car to stay dry while having a smoke. I too was once a dedicated smoker so I don’t judge, I’m just glad that one can now enjoy a meal in a public place without someone’s smoke ruining it. I see that Halifax is introducing a smoking ban on all municipal property including parks, roads and sidewalks. A bit harsh perhaps, but I must marvel at how the zeitgeist has changed, at least as far as smoking is concerned. A mere forty years ago people smoked about anywhere, aircraft included, I’m all for Halifax, might get rid of the cigarette butts that end up on the roads and sidewalks. I, who once tossed cigarette butts from the car window (yes I was an extreme asshole), have developed a hatred of cigarette butt litter.

Some pictures of the Merrickville:
The Balderchin Inn

The morning arrives and it’s raining steadily, not very hard, but no let-up, pretty much in line with the forecast, Montreal is expecting to have some heavy downpours and I’m not into encountering torrential rain while trying to make sense of the screwed up routes all signposted only in French, around the city.  I make an executive decision to stay here, Thursday, the weather report claims, will give me a clear run to New Brunswick. So I go back to bed, I must admit it is a pretty comfy one, and have a lie-in, why not, I’m on holiday. When I finally emerge I take my little fold up umbrella (purchased in Quebec City two years ago when I was attempting a similar ride and got rained out) and set-out to discover Merrickville. There are tons of antiques and arts and crafts shops and no shortage of cafes and restaurants, I assume it’s a bit of a tourist village, but with the rain they are staying away today. It’s a relatively old for Canada, established in 1793, a guy called Merrick, loyalist that left the USA during the War of Independence built a grist mill on the river and the village grew up around that. It’s a picturesque place. At the top end of the main business street there’s a small park called ‘Vimy’ park, dedicated to the soldiers that died at Vimy Ridge, a hundred-and-one years ago. The park also contained a WWII twenty-five-pound gun.
25 Pound Gun

I trained on this artillery piece, at the tender age of seventeen, and actually saw action on the (now) Namibian/Zambian border with it. It was an odd moment to see one standing in the park, instantly took me back to the misery of military life for a conscript. Those days I was tougher about doing things in the rain, or rather my sergeant was.  

Saturday 30 June 2018

Canada Day Weekend – Phew What a Scorcher

Here is Southern Ontario we can go from one extreme to the next. Snow in May and brutal heat in the first weekend in July. Which is the Canada Day weekend, 151 years since we became a country, albeit a vassal nation for Britain, at least back then. I think we are a little bit more independent now, even grown up enough to have a spat with our other boss, the cousins down south. Things are a little edgy here right now, being attached at the hip to the crazies is not a comfortable situation to be in. In a way it may not be a bad thing for Canadians to figure out that having all of our eggs in the USA basket is not a clever thing. It’s a rude awakening to discover that the special relationship is not that special and we are not actually a pseudo state of the Union. So my Canada Day message to my adopted country is; seek markets elsewhere, forget Florida (at least for a few winters), buy Canadian where you can and cherish and nurture our liberalism and respect for others. The conservative victory in Ontario was bad enough, the fact that it was lead by a Ford is a worrisome indication that we too are an inch away from Trumpizium. Ok, so I’m blogging about politics, sorry, I’ll get onto motor cycling shortly. The world is going to hell and there is no way we seem are able to stop it. I have an image of mushroom clouds all over the globe and the chief god is watching with the apprentice god standing next to him and the chief god turns to the apprentice god and says, ‘You are so fired, Yahweh. I warned you that leaving the monkeys in charge was a seriously bad idea.’     

Okay so onto motorcycling, lets enjoy things whilst we still can. I have been doing plenty of this activity, albeit not today, even though its Saturday of the Canada day weekend and it’s windless and not raining. This seems to be the ideal day for it, but 45 degrees (with humidex) is why I grounded myself, that and the effects of a shingles vaccine I had yesterday, I actually feel quite off-color. I do however plan to ride tomorrow, I’ll get up early and get in a couple of hundred Km's before it gets too unbearable, tomorrow is forecast to be a repeat of today.

It's 8 pm and it has 'cooled' down to 42 degrees (with humidex)

So if you have been following this blog at all you’ll know that I have mostly been a bit of a lone ranger, and that hasn’t entirely changed, but I have been doing some group rides. My neighbours, Murray and Janice have invited me along on a few rides with them. (Murray – see I was quite apprehensive about doing group rides, pretty much the last group ride I did was on the ride that killed the Boulevard. However, Murray is a seriously good rider, very experienced and a good group leader. He plans the route well, knows when to stop for a break and doesn’t push the pace beyond the capabilities of the weakest rider (sometimes this has been me), yet does push you to up your game. After a few rides group rides with Murray, I do feel slightly more confident.

Michel, Murray and Janice - at the end of the ride - coffee at MacDonald's in Beaverton 

A few weekends ago, we (Murray, Janice, a couple of other riders and me) rode up to Huntsville in Muskoka where we had lunch at a restaurant called ‘3 Guys and a Stove’. Now this sort of name has been done to death (5 Guys Burgers and Fries, 2 Guys and a Truck, 2 Gals and a Chap – actually that last one isn’t a real thing, just that bucket list item), nonetheless the lunch was pretty darn good, and the menu was definitely worth another visit After lunch we went north on Highway 11 to Emsdale where we picked up County Road 518. This was the northern most point of the ride, now it was homeward bound. I’ve ridden this road before, so was attuned to the fun that was coming. This is one of the best motorcycle roads that I have had the pleasure of riding ( Mostly long sweeping curves that you can take at a decent speed, but occasionally they throw in a tight one to keep you on your toes. The whole route is through Muskoka forest, just so gorgeous it takes the breath away. We stop at Orrville for a coffee and cake break at the Orrville Bakery, which is a great little place. I pass on the cake, but go for the coffee, it is that time of the afternoon that one actually needs a nap, but failing that a shot of caffeine helps. They have a proper barista machine so the usual pee bewitched drip coffee is nor served (hooray), triple shot Americano does the trick.

From Orrville we make our way down to Bala, another one of my favourite spots, and gateway to county road 13, better known as Southwood road. There are few roads that challenge quite like this one, very twisty and very technical, tight cornering and lots of gravel. Actually I have already ridden this road this year and the amount of loose gravel is way less than it was a few weeks before. Murray pushed the pace and it really is a challenge to keep up. I have a few sphincter tightening moments when the wheels slip on loose gravel on some of the corners, but this is the type of road that the KLR is designed for... or so I tell myself. We head down Highway 11 for a short distance until Washago where we take County Road 169 and then wind our way home on the eastern side of lake Simcoe. Total distance for the day 560 km, quite a respectable ride for a Saturday.

I have done a few other rides, so far this season I have managed over 5000 km, so it’s been pretty good, however I have been building a pergola over the deck, which has been fun, but has cut a little into the biking time. The project is nearly done so I’ll be getting back to riding, weather permitting. I have put in vacation to do a two and a half week ride – my original intention was to ride to the Grand Canyon, but in line with the thoughts expressed in paragraph one, I have changed my mind. It will be the Canadian Maritimes, PEI, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Pergola Project (not quite the Alan Parsons Project)

Happy Canada Day.


Sunday 15 April 2018

The Spring is Sprung…NOT

After getting in a couple of rides in March, I had been optimistic about Spring. April, I was sure, would be seeing me with my ass on the seat of the KLR plenty of times. Alas, that has not yet come to pass. This weekend we are almost housebound by a ‘historic ice storm’, in the words of the Weather Network. I say almost, because I have ventured out in the Dodge Caravan, fortunately still with winter tires on. The roads were very slippery, ‘it’s greasy out there’ as some people here in Canada would say.
Real greasy out there 

It just looks like snow 
 So far, we have been lucky, we haven’t had any power outages here in Newmarket, but I believe that about 15 000 homes and businesses in the Greater Toronto Area were not quite so fortunate. However, the day is not out, and freezing rain is falling as I type these words. Freezing rain is more interesting than mere ice pellets that came down yesterday, turning the world white and making it look like it has been snowing. For the benefit of readers in warmer climates, freezing rain is when the rain is in a liquid state, but only just, and about to solidify, which it does on impact with the ground. Not only the ground of course, trees, electrical cables, pylons, cars, everything. The aesthetic effect is fantastic, turns the landscape into a smooth white crust, it almost looks like a white plastic sheet. Things like branches of trees get a coating of translucent ice, looks wonderful, but there is a serious downside, branches break off trees, whole trees can come crashing down and damage to the electricity grid is almost inevitable. That’s life in Canada, the weather is more interesting here than anywhere else I’ve lived, I have even seen a tornado from reasonably close-up, well as close to one that I would like to be.

Weather is always the subject of conversation here, more so when it’s unseasonal. Yesterday I overheard a discussion between a customer and the cashier at the supermarket that this is proof that global warming is not happening, just a hoax perpetrated by the liberals. The conversation included statements that, its just ridiculous to have this sort of weather in April, almost as if the ice rain is the fault of the liberals as well.  Oh dear, there is confusion between weather and climate and the concept of global warming/climate change. I am not a meteorologist, but if I interpret what I hear from the actual meteorologist about this particular weather occurrence correctly, the high amount of moisture in the atmosphere that is turning into icy precipitation, may well be related to warmer oceans. And warmer oceans are a direct result of global warming. Global warming does not automatically mean that we’ll be having shorter and less cold winters and warmer summers here in Ontario, it means that weather incidents are going to get more extreme – the climate is in a state of flux.

The consequences of climate change are likely to impact everyone’s lives and some people in a dramatic and horrible way. The Puerto Ricans know what stronger and more frequent hurricanes can do, the Bangladeshis know about rising sea levels, the folks from Cape Town know what it is to face the prospect of the water supply running out and the motor bikers in Southern Ontario know about shorter and washed out riding seasons. Okay, so the last example does not belong with the others in terms of severity, but it does impact me personally. I think that over the next few decades we are going to feel more and more the consequences of what we have unleashed and fewer days to ride my motorcycle will seem like a childish concern amidst the crop failures, hurricanes and drowning coastal cities. Nonetheless, it pisses me off that it cuts down on the truly great days to ride and I really wish I could blame this on the liberals, or anyone. The truth is I am to blame, as much as anyone else. If you are leading the life of a typical ‘western’ middle class person, then your carbon footprint is responsible for the climate damage we have inflicted. I have put ‘western’ in quote marks as this does not only apply to what we think of as ‘western’ people, but to anyone that follows the consumptive life style of the west.

I have managed some travelling since my last post, but sadly none of it on two wheels. Another trip to Savannah, but this time I didn’t have enough time to rent a motorcycle (see The weather was also not conducive to motorcycling, but still had a pretty decent time.
Downtown Savannah- squares and interesting buildings  

I met up with my elder sister, and brother-in-law who was there on business. Savannah is a lovely little city with great restaurants, museums, lovely buildings and the famous Savannah squares, made more famous by Forrest Gump and possibly by Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Apart from River Street, which is substantially devoted to kitsch, the downtown area is rather artsy with the ubiquitous presence on Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
Purveyors of fine (religious) kitsch
I like it, way better than the wasteland of car dealerships, strip malls and McDonalds that surrounds the historic downtown like a rash. This sort of thing appears to be unavoidable in North America, as bad here in Canada as in the USA, probably world wide.

Aside from exploring downtown Savannah, we did a dinner cruise on a fake paddle steamer, which turned out to be a lot of fun, and visited the only tea plantation in the USA, which was also fun and very interesting. I discovered that green tea and black tea come from the same plant, thereby filling an apparent glaring gap in my education. The difference is that black tea has been oxidized and green tea has not.  I also discovered that there is a tea that’s in-between black and green, called oolong, which is partially oxidized. I’m a huge fan of black tea, start off the day with a large mug of the stuff with cream, and keep on drinking it throughout the day, green tea is…well sort of iffy. I haven’t tried oolong yet, but it is now at least on the bucket list, right up there with deep fried scorpions and a threesome.
Fake Paddle Steamer

 My eldest sister is a recent convert to the vegan brigade, so we ended up eating at some interesting restaurants. As an ex-vegetarian (ate eggs and dairy) I know that it’s mostly easy to get a vegetarian meal, but vegan options are not easy to find, damn nearly everything has at least some dairy or egg in the ingredients. There are a few vegan restaurants in Savannah and we had a particularly good lunch at one (Fox and Fig), nonetheless I must declare that vegan cheese is not hugely delicious. I am ambivalent about the whole vegan ideal, yes, I want to put an end to the horrors and cruelty we inflict upon the poor animals that become our food, yes, I fully understand that veganism reduces the negative effect we have on the environment.  I think it is a fact that the lower down on the food chain we eat, the less damage we do to the biosphere and plants are pretty low on that chain. I’m just not convinced that a vegan diet is healthy for humans, mind you it’s probably healthier than the crap the average North American eats, all that freaking corn syrup and shit that is listed as an ingredient on nearly every processed food item.

So here we have a post on the ‘Not-so-Easy Rider’ that hardly mentions a motorcycle and does not describe any biking trips at all. Sad state of affairs, hey. Maybe next time it will be better.