Scoot Commute

Canada Day Fourteen: Caribou, NS to East Musquash Lake, Maine (354 miles)

Posted in 2010 Canada, BMW F650GS Dakar (Maxx), Suzuki DR-Z400SM (Elsa) by sbahn on 2011/03/16
Camping at Caribou Munroes, Nova Scotia

Camping at Caribou Munroes, Nova Scotia

This morning we awoke to the sad reality that we were leaving Nova Scotia, but nevermind, it’s Canada Day! July 1st, a national holiday. Convenient how the Canadians have their “celebrate how great we are” day so close to the US version of the holiday. Coincidence? Hmmm.

We had had a big fight the night before; you know, one of those, ‘why am I so angry but I can’t stop’ kind of arguments. But today was a new day and the weather was fine.

We cooked up some breakfast, packed up our site, and headed out toward New Brunswick. Instead of getting on the big highway, I cooked up a scheme to take backroads to get from NS to NB. What I really wanted to do was stop at the Lavender Farm. I know, how girly! Who doesn’t love lavender and I wanted to pick up a gift for the person taking care of my cats. I had seen a sign for the lavender farm that said to look for a windmill.

Mr Happy and the lavender

Mr Happy and the lavender

We hugged the coastline on Route 6 and shortly after we left the campground, we came upon the farm. Most of it was not yet open as it was so early in the season, but we could still wander the rows and pretend we were in Provence. I picked up some bars of soap. Happy.

Look at the those New Brunswick clouds!

Look at the those New Brunswick clouds!

At some point we found ourselves in New Brunswick. Neither of us knows how or when we crossed over, but the telltale sign, a red octagon emblazoned with Arrêt, let us know we missed our opportunity to say goodbye to New Scotland.

Arrêt!

Arrêt!

At some point it occurs to us that we’re not making very good time and we’re going to have to suck it up and get on the Trans-Canada 2. Nearing Moncton (!) we stop for gas. I figure, hey, I’ll use the bathroom while we’re stopped. Well, damn, my friend has paid an early visit. (Sorry guys!) I walk around the little shop to grab some tampons and lo and behold, nothing. I can see where they’re supposed to be on the shelf, but the whole section is empty.

I walk out of the shop and tell the boyfriend that we’re going to have to head straight into Moncton (come on, sing it) so I can stop at the store. “Sure, we can go back to the area we stopped at on the way out as there are a ton of places.”

Aha, but today is Canada Day! And unlike us industrious Americans who never rest, even on a national holiday, nothing is freaking open. We pulled up to the Sobey’s. Closed. The Wal-Mart. Closed. Another grocery store. Closed. Aaaaaargh! On the one hand it’s great that everything is closed. On the other, it’s sucks pretty majorly bigtime.

We find ourselves back in the same little weird strip mall section that we rode through on the way out. “There…a drugstore. Stop!” I’m getting a bit frantic now as we’ve been riding around for 45 minutes. I’m hating my body. Happily the place was open so I run in. I grab what I need and get in line. There are two people in front of me and it takes about 20 minutes for them to check out as everyone seems to know everyone so there’s lots of chatting. “Come on, come on,” I’m murmuring. I pay and run back to the ladies’ room. Ok, I feel better. For now.

Walking out to the parking lot, the boyfriend is talking to a guy and a woman who are standing next to a pick-up truck with a trailer holding two quads. He was asking about riding our bikes on the snowmobile/ATV trails. Apparently we can because we can play the ignorant Americans. I’ll take it!

We say goodbye to Moncton and ride, ride, ride the Trans-Canada 2. Unfortunately, I’m having to stop every 30 minutes (damn buzzy Dizz) which is really slowing our progress. Oh, but to where you ask? Well, nowhere in particular. We had no destination. Because tonight was the night we were going to splurge on a hotel.

We’re fighting wind, wikkid, gusty, man-eating wind. And tractor trailers. And rain. And more wind, grabbing my bike and flinging me like a ragdoll across the roadway. And the rain. Not pleasant, summer rain. Stinging rain that you can see up ahead so it has the extra pleasure of taunting you…you’re riding into me, haha! At least we got a rainbow out of it. But no picture because we were riding, riding, riding.

Around 7.30pm we’re very near to Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick. “Let’s stop for dinner. A treat.” But which exit? Well, Fredericton has to be a big city; it’s the capital. I don’t know why I thought there’d be a big sign screaming “this is the exit for the bustling downtown”. There wasn’t. I don’t even know where we got off but we wound up at some place that had a really good burger and a fantastic view of the river and a criss-cross bridge. It was also a hotel.

The waitress said that when it gets dark, there will be fireworks to celebrate Canada Day. Now, what would you do? Book a room and hang out in the warm and dry restaurant, sitting at a plate glass window overlooking the river and a cool bridge as the sun was setting, eating cow meat slathered in cheese and downing a refreshing beer, or suit up, go back out into the cold and rain, and continue riding to an as-yet-to-be-determined location.

Guess which option we took. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The Gun Dealer, McAdam, New Brunswick

The Gun Dealer, McAdam, New Brunswick

We wound up on Route 3 and then Route 4, heading toward the border. We grabbed some gas at the best gas station of the entire trip; the Gun Dealer. There were no people; or at least I thought there weren’t any. We pull up and the boyfriend uses his card to pay. I said something about that fact that I didn’t think you could have guns in Canada, I mean, really, why would you need a gun? There’s nothing here to drive you bonkers. Well, apparently there were people inside the shop and they heard me over the little intercom thing. They all came to door, pulling aside the metal gate thing, to peek out at the idiot who doesn’t realize that Canadians just may want to hunt. You can just make out one of the folks in a red shirt in the background. I’m an idiot.

Shortly after filling up, we head down some unsigned road into the darkness. We decided to give up on crossing at St. Croix because it was getting really late and we didn’t think the border would still be open. We were heading toward St. Stephen.

The road to nowhere

The road to nowhere

The boyfriend was way ahead of me and as I’m looking around, I’m thinking, man we are in the middle of nowhere. I would have easily pulled over and camped right here but not when I’m on the rag. And trust me, this was not planned. So I radio ahead and say, “Hey, turn around. We’re closer to St. Croix so let’s just try it.”

We passed through the town of McAdam that has some really cool restored train station that I will have return to see one day. We pull up to the border and yah!, it’s open. Not only is it open; it’s dead. It’s a 24-hour crossing. I was to learn why a bit later in the evening.

Two guys come out and it literally takes 30 seconds to be processed. We chat a bit, find out we gain an hour (as if that matters as it’s pitch black out). We ask about hotels and they say there’s one about 60 miles in Lincoln, Maine. Oh, and watch out for moose.

So there you have it. It’s 8.40pm (but really 9.40pm in our heads), it’s completely dark, there’s nothing on the road, I’m on the rag, and there’s moose. Bring it.

We pass a little gas station and convenience store at which we should have stopped but didn’t. We get behing a big logging truck and head toward Lincoln on Route 6. We’re riding in the very center of the road and going about 25 mph. Oh, did I mention it was raining? We saw a campground on the map and thought we’d try to make that.

Ride, ride, ride. Slow, slow, slow. Logging truck passes us the opposite direction. Ride, ride, ride.

Brake for Moose

Brake for Moose

And then, well, I’ll let the boyfriend tell it. I’m riding behind him quite a distance so I can have some braking distance. Then I see it, a youngish moose darts up onto the roadway from the drainage area on the left. He runs straight for the tiny BMW in front of me. Somehow the boyfriend goes around the moose and pulls the bike to a stop in the opposite lane. I stop and just watch the moose do this crazy splay across the road to the other side. It was the craziest gallop sprint thing I’ve ever seen. Moose are really not very graceful.

Both bikes are upright, no oncoming traffic, we’re both ok. Now what? Well, I turned on the intercom and said, “That’s it. We’re pulling over at the next decent-looking opportunity.”

And then, up ahead a few short hundreds of feet, I see a rest area sign. Are you kidding me? Oh, Maine, I love you! We pull into the rest area at East Musquash Lake on Route 6. And there’s a privy! Yah, I love you even more, my darling Maine. I can squat!

The boyfriend is worried that we’ll “get in trouble” for camping here. I told him this is Maine; no one will bother us. And if they do, I’ll relate the moose story and they’ll leave us alone. Of course no one bothered us. Mainers have a confrontation? Really?

We find a secluded spot right along the lake to set up the tent. I position my bike in a way to be able to shine the light so we can set the tent up with some light. And then it happens. That’s right, the bike goes tumbling. My only drop of the whole trip. And true to form, it was from a standstill when trying to park. I’m so tired I can barely get the bike up.

Crawling into the tent about 10.30pm, I thought I would have the soundest sleep of my life. Oh but no. Good ol’ Route 6 is a logging road. That’s why the border is open 24 hours. Every 20 minutes…logging truck. Logging truck, logging truck. I got no sleep. But I did get to watch the sun rise over the lake the next morning.

The best camping spot of the entire trip, and it was free...thanks Maine

The best camping spot of the entire trip, and it was free...thanks Maine

Oh, and just a note. That’s 354 miles on a DRZ400, in the rain, in the wind, in the cold, in the dark, on the rag.

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One Response

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  1. Pepper said, on 2011/03/17 at 8:28 am

    Wow….that was some day but most definitely an adventure.


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