["Once on St. Lawrence's south shore, I steamed along steadily"]
From Trois Rivieres to Riviere du Loup, Quebec
Between these cities lie many lovely motorcycling routes along the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. I chose one, 360 kilometres long, that took me on almost equal shares of two parallel byways, i.e., the quieter two-lane Highway 132 and busier, faster Trans-Canada Highway 20.
["Purple martin houses from modified gourds. Excellent work"]
The hostel in Riviere du Loup has expanded. I stayed in the main house on the way to PEI and Halifax, and in the backyard barn on the return trip. Both sleeps were good sleeps and the free breakfast is a great treat. Waffles w syrup and jam, who will complain? Not me.
Photos from along the way:
["I added more than one scenic detour to my route to Du Loup"]
["A favourite farmhouse brasserie - in Kamouraska region - is 'ferme'! Ouch"]
["I feel at home in this home away from home in the centre of town"]
["I shared the backyard barn w other biker dudes, i.e., on Harleys and bicycles"]
Special note - the hostel is half block from decent grocery store that sells lovely Quebec bieres at a good price. Supper time, on back patio, is usually scrumptious. So, don't cry for me, Concertina.
["Pennant Point, thirty kilometres from Halifax, Nova Scotia"]
I don't often leave home for seventeen days on the back of a motorcycle and ride almost 5,000 kilometres for a set purpose. But this year I did, to PEI and then Halifax and back home to London. And when I turn 65 in September my bones may still be tired from the labours involved in such a trip.
That being said, I fulfilled many purposes. I visited a sister, her partner and home on Prince Edward Island. I added to my research materials related to my Dad's Navy days, visited historic locations where he trained for WW2 duties and later set sail for Europe. I revisited the rocky shore where I tossed his ashes into the Atlantic Ocean in June 2010, read a few meaningful words that would have, had he been present, stirred his heart, and then made another promise to him... to return one day with more of his kin.
As well, I later returned home with many rewards. Thirteen hundred photos on three cameras, instructive - and sometimes down-right excited - notes about the bike and varied experiences, and a mind awhirl with mixed, deep emotions and vivid, colourful scenes worthy of a National Film Board documentary, some of which will be presented here.
I travelled 460 kilometres between these two cities, within 5 km. of what I'd estimated before setting out at about 8 a.m. Mostly I was under sunny or partly cloudy skies and riding through scenic, relatively flat farmland on my way to the bridge over the Ottawa River at Hawkesbury, Ontario. Very good riding, all in all.
Once In Quebec I took Highway 158, far away from, and to the north of, the intense traffic in and around Montreal. I landed safely in Berthierville early-afternoon, and enjoyed cherry-flavoured iced yogurt before turning my nose toward Louisville and other small villages on my way to Trois Rivieres' much-appreciated hostel on Rue Radisson.
["Louisville, on lovely H. 138, always seems ready for a festive occasion"]
["My hostel home away from home in Trois Rivieres"]
["I took this shot as I walked to the hostel with supper from the IGA"]
["Suppertime w maps, notebooks and iPad - on a quiet back patio"]
Above is the last photo from my workshop. Nice wee swap box. A photo like it appeared recently in the local news while I was snooping around Halifax. Why, I was world famous for at least five minutes.
Since my return from a 4,800 km. motorcycle trip I haven't had the desire to cut lumber - even look at it - sand or paint or assemble projects that wait patiently on shelves just inside the workshop door. That being said, today I will at the very least stick my nose inside the door to survey the dusty scene.
["At least play some tunes, sweep the floor, check the to-do list"]
Before I biked to the East Coast, starting June 9, I took the above photo of a lovely limb I meant to decorate with a birdhouse once I had time. However, in my absence something happened to the limb.
It became home to vigorous hop vines that are now holding it firmly in place, and that give no sign of letting go until harvest time, some time in September. And as seen above, my next door neighbour will soon have a healthy hop crop of his own.
So, I'm looking out my back window and I see something familiar in my neighours' yard, two doors down. That birdhouse with a red roof looks familiar I say to myself. One of mine.
So, I go outside and stand on my deck table to get a better look and see a second birdhouse on a fancy schmancy limb that came from my workshop too. Oh sure, the neighbours paid for them fair and square, but I notice there's room for three or four more in their yard.
A Brewer's blackbird spotted me - perhaps while he guarded a nearby nest - shortly after I filled the bird feeder today. Or, he heard the fresh supply of mixed seed hit the feeder tray while he wondered what was for breakfast.
Whatever the case, he gave me quite the look once I was indoors. You've been gone a long time, he seemed to be saying. I had to make do with other handouts for almost three weeks. Shape up, Gordie Boy.
["At 7:15 a.m. I finished loading the bike. I felt ready"]
From London to Kingston, Ontario
I'm a trigger-happy kind of guy when travelling - thus the many photos from an exciting, eventful trip - especially when motorcycling.
Scenes seem larger than life, more vivid. Smells from land and sea fill the air, sounds from the engine and tires on the road surround the rider and make the journey a living thing.
["A pause at the roadside at 2 p.m., south of Peterborough"]
There are many lures and labours associated with motorcycle travel - 4,800 kilometres this time 'round - respectively indescribable at times and always necessary. One's mind fills with the rare experience while the muscles tire. Sleep at bedtime always comes easy. Wake up time always early.
["Ferry ride from Prince Edward County, on the way to Kingston"]
["Can't get lost in Kingston. Spot boot scraper, turn right to downtown"]
I arrived all safe and sound in London yesterday at 4:30 p.m., brushed road dust off my pants, unloaded a thing or two in a bit of a daze - "That was a long trip. Am I really home again? Where's my big welcome?" : ) - received a great big hug from my wife, and celebrated Happy Hour at five.
["Oscar says I should turn left at the corner, and head toward home"]
What a trip. I feel like I saw the world and am overwhelmed by some events that occurred unplanned. Admittedly, I needed directions on occasion, but here I am home again, and happy 99% of the miles went well.
Last night I heard music in the air near the Jail Hostel so went searching for the source. I found it in a park beside the lovely John By Channel. From the high vantage point of a bridge I snapped a few pictures.
I have full days ahead in Ottawa. The War Museum and National Library and Archives were on my itinerary for today.
The War Museum, about one kilometre west of the Parliament Buildings, is a surprising, interesting and peaceful place. It is home to very good exhibitions of war stories, materials and art, and when one feels the desire to sit down and think of men and women who serve or served in Canada's armed forces, there is a quiet Memorial Hall.
Today at the museum I made some interesting contacts in the research department, purchased an important book about the invasion of North Africa in 1942 (my father's barge landed with American Rangers at Arzeu and he wrote about hiding behind a bulldozer blade when sniped at, and how the Yanks cleared up the problem; I found a book about those days within three minutes and browsed for an hour more, always a good time for me), and connected with an employee who invited me back on Wednesday to meet a 92-year old WW2 veteran who was in RCNVR and Combined Operations at the same time as my father. I am hoping for a spirited, informative conversation.
I had a fruitful time at the Library and Archives as well and return there tomorrow to start the process of requesting my father's Navy records. I am hoping to receive, one day, a mitt full!
For the two previous days I fought some rain, a lot of wind and many less than stellar roads. On the bright side, I escaped unscathed - other than tiring myself out completely, down to the last drop - and experienced enough dramatic moments to fill a book. The Lure and Labour of Motorcycling will be be a great read when I am done.
Today had a bright side as well. Great motorcycling weather, good roads and an early arrival time to one of my favourites cities in the free world. Ottawa, our nation's capital. Spiffy, significant and sturdy, and the last place I expected to get thrown in jail.
What do I do? I arrived in town and registered for three nights at the Jail Hostel on Nicholas St., just south of Rideau, minutes away from major attractions, e.g., the Parliament buildings, National Library and Archives, The National Art Gallery to name but a few, and important amenities, e.g., a fine grocery store and used book store with many rare WW 2 titles I have not seen in the past. My next three days are booked solid. Very little time to play.
But I didn't say 'no time to play'.
Photos taken shortly after my booking:
1. I made my escape from Jail Hostel through a side window. I dropped twelve feet onto the roof of a Mercedes. Was sitting at Chez Lucien for supper within ten minutes.
2. My cell, 416 in Block B, is opposite the guard's red chair. Guess where I put a 'whoopee cushion'? We all had a good laugh at the big guy's expense before falling off to sleep last night.
3. 416, Cell Block B. Hard time is hard time.
4. We have to grow our own lettuce and mix up our own noodles for soup. Fortunately, my dear wife Pat sent me a parcel with one of my favourite cold beverages. All is swell.
Where am I right now? What am I doing now? Who am I with? What will I do later this evening?
Well, if you really must know.
After negotiating 405 kilometres of main and secondary highways between Fredericton, New Brunswick and Rivière du Loup, Quebec, I settled in at the HI hostel in the friendly city 'du Loup'. I just finished a nutritious supper - Mr. Noodle Oriental-style soup (school children of all ages eat it as snack food at recess times but I like it as half a main course, with salad - so I am at the computer, catching up on mail and other heavy responsibilities. I am currently alone but have plans to meet up later with three other bikers I met in a segregated portion of the hostel called The Biker's Barn. Bust up the town 'cause that's what heavily-bearded bikers do on a Friday night in du Loup. I have already seen, from my perch on the hostel's front porch, several women drag their kids off the street. I'm rolling up the sleeves on my paisley dress shirt as we speak.
Of course, after fighting the wind for four hundred kilometres today, I may just hit the sack.
Photos from along the way:
"Dark, cloudy skies over a very long wooden bridge"
"I parked, sipped coffee at Tim's for a spell"
"The hostel's front door is a classic"
"No kids can be seen from the front porch"
"A '60s Volkswagen sits, dejectedly, in the hostel's yard"