Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wrap up / no more (ACCIDENT Final)

It's been over 700 days since the accident, and although I lost count (I used to keep track  until day 605 when I got my license back), this is likely the final update since a relative requested it.

Although the first 50 days could be discluded since I was in "someplace" that I knew nothing about with no memory at all.  So the first part is what I was told mostly by my wife. Time has REALLY changed since I "woke up" in a hospital on day 50.

The 5 W's came into play, but over time, I learned the answer to MOST of them.

Who?  Me, and me alone were in the accident (although there were enough cars on the road ahead/behind me at the time - including police).

What?  My motorcycle - which became history. I called about it, but it was totalled, so I said they could do whatever they wanted with the mangled leftover parts.

Where? Highway 8 in Upper Blackville, NB.

When? Nov. 7, 2011 about 10am.

Why? Don't know anything from the day before, until 6 weeks after - it's a total blank.  But, I was not charged with anything and there was a police car in the traffic, and another responded (along with 2 local girls).

It was a major change in my life - I no longer had a job (since my doctor. put me off long-term), had reduced pay, reduced friends, and the one thing that haunts me -  NO LICENSE (like most things you can't have)...but I had my life, although it took 6 weeks to realize this.

Although there were enough positive things that I became aware of after I woke up on Dec. 19, 2011 - like my family and their welcoming visits and calls! I don't think I would make it this far without their help.... specifically my son and wife.  My son was the first (likely I was not the best thing to see), and last family member to see me in the hospital and visited regularly. My wife helped me beyond any description I can think of, and I would have to rely on her a great deal more - till day 605 (which I was not used to).

One other important thing I had to relearn, was that my mother died between my latest 2 accidents.  I was there, I lived it, but my memory could not be relied on for a long time, and this important thing had to be relearned unfortunately.

As I explained in last blog, after about 80 days, I returned home.

Here I had to first sleep on a craftmatic bed (that we bought after the accident 6 months before). It was setup in the living room for about 2 weeks with my wife beside me. I eventually advanced to go downstairs after my son had to leave to go back to his place. It was an adjustment to see him finally leave, but I used the same bed to sleep in my son's room.  My wife slept in the other bed beside me, where we both slept for a couple more weeks. I then swapped beds with her for a period of time, then it was time for the biggest change. Things became much more normal when I was able to graduate to OUR bed in OUR room!!

Only 13 days after getting home, I had an appointment to see an occupational therapist at the local hospital in early February 2012.  Many professionals would play an important role in my life, and I looked forward to their appointments through the week.  I saw the O.T. for much longer than I thought was possible, and she helped me adjust to the real world a great deal, and would be helpful in many ways beyond my imagination.

In early March 2012, I began seeing a speech therapist at the local hospital.  Although I knew how to speak, I learned that these appointments would be about understanding and interpreting speech.  The bleed on my brain gave me more problems than I thought, and speech and memory were affected.  It wasn't easy, but after being a patient in the hospital and not knowing the difference between a rooster and fork at one time (after being aware), I had no trouble accepting this speech therapy.  This therapy started pretty basic, but it soon increased to make a lot of sense.  I had numerous appointments over the months until there came a time that the therapist had to leave work due to pregnancy (early October 2012).

Later in March 2012, I had to go to Moncton to start seeing the 2 surgeons who operated on me.  I learned that my license would be miles away, and I had the "1 to 2 year range after a head injury" to consider.  When I first saw the surgeons, I wasn't totally there, and from what I remember, the early appointments had most of the conversation directed to my wife. It would be this way until I recuperated more.  A short time later, I met with the other surgeon. There were a few appointments with these men, until there came a time in October 2012 that it ceased with questions by me which I considered high priority.

During these months, I also saw my local General Practitioner more than I thought a person in my position would. But like all these types of appointments, I wasn't going to refuse any. One thing that seemed major to me during the summer, was I learned to sneeze! I had major trouble THINKING about sneezing before this date, but finally I was able to without blowing my head off my neck!

In September 2012, I began going to physio therapy at a local company twice per week. Yes, I did physio in the hospital, and this was quite a delay since January, but I wasn't going to complain over help.  I saw the physio girl at first, and she worked on my shoulder and arm and did magnificent work on each.  I was also shown how to use stretchable bands that needed different strengths to pull each.(many different colours over time). I mostly did these at home along with a large stick for initial stretching, and worked mostly on my right arm/shoulder. It took awhile before advancing to the next harder colour/strength.

The last accident came in handy (usually you don't mix those 2 thoughts together) since I already had some of these bands from then.

The physio continued, until I advanced to the gym section in October 2012.  This was very very welcome, and I couldn't withstand my love of the change. I continued to use the stretchy material there and at home. Other than the stretches with a rigid pole, the elastics continued for 11 exercises, but having BOTH arms worked through weights was a pleasure. The 3 free weights, and 7 stationary weights has increased over much time as the months went by. The stretchy bands continued at home 3 times per day.

In early October 2012, my speech therapist left due to pregnancy. She wouldn't be replaced till mid April 2013 (6+ months) by another girl for 8 new appointments. She then invited my wife in for a short wrap-up meeting, but let me know she wanted to see me for 8 MORE appointments. But they got interesting with more and varied brain exercises.

In December 2012, it was time for me to stop taking warfarin to thin my blood due to a blood clot that a doctor found while I was in the hospital. During this time, I could not drink alcohol, but this day it changed. I didn't turn into a drunk, it just meant I could drink it occasionally like before the accident. But like anything when someone tells you that you CAN'T do something, and then it's cancelled all of a sudden, makes you more of an appreciative drinker haha. So gone, was me telling people that I COULDN'T drink. Also gone were the stresses on my wife who tried her best to stick to a strict diet that kept my blood levels in a certain range, and no need for adjustments afterwards after weekly blood tests (and accusations) and changes in warfarin due to strange readings during those tests.

In April 2013, I began seeing another speech therapist to fill in for the pregnant one. This was different than the last, and I went till late September. It was late, but appreciative.

In late spring/early summer 2013, things began to change......
  • Speech therapy continued, but would soon wrap up.
  • Physio continued until the Spring of 2013 when I decreased to 2 times per week. It continued till late July, when it decreased to once per week and after about a month it ceased.
  • Occupational Therapy had begun decreasing, and I would only go there periodically.
It's much easier if you have a license to go to multi-appointments, so asking someone to drive you constantly gets challenging for both parties (although my wife thankfully never minded).  It would be easier if there was public transportation (municipal or provincial), which would lighten the load of constant drives to many appointments.

A big change happened after an appointment was cancelled "sometime in July" with my doctor in Fredericton at Stan Cassidy, I was able to see my local family doctor as an outpatient. An appointment was to fall at the end of July, but thankfully I'm married to a gal who won't take no for an answer. She again made phone calls to arrange that I see my local Dr. as an outpatient.  The day was going to be July 4, 2013.  I went to my scheduled appointment, and after going through some basic tests, she stamped my license paper. I left the hospital and then realized that I needed to return after not seeing her signature. So back in the hospital and waiting a long time, the form was returned to me completed.

The next stop was at the motor vehicle location and taking the form by the doctor.  I was the only person there, but after a conversation with the attendant, I was told that I`d have to wait till the form was sent to Fredericton and they met to analyze it weeks later.... I was DEVASTATED!  

I left with my driver wife, who saw my disappointment, so after arriving home, she made some phone calls (again). She talked to the Motor Vehicle head-office in Fredericton. She reported that it was for a Class 5 license, and she was told that the flag on my license was now removed, and says I should return to Motor Vehicle.

So we drove back to the license office, I went inside and the previous girl was leaving.  I was told to wait while a different girl looked into it. After enough waiting, I was told to come to the desk. To my surprise, she reported there was a change in my license status, and she had my license printed, and HANDED TO ME!!!  The only reaction I had was to let out a big HOOP and had a disbelief in actually having it in my hands! It had been 605 DAYS!

After leaving, I saw my wife with the camera ready to take my picture with my license in hand!  It was time for ME TO DRIVE! So I hopped in the driver's seat, and drove to the Eel River Bar to soak up some sun, then upriver to Canadian Tire to splurge on excessive wants, then across the river to Caisse-Croute/Mamic a place for lunch.
The days continued with ME driving to occupational/physio/speech therapies and other appointments. Independence Day (July 4th) brought freedom, and less appointments. 

Minor appointments would continue to the end of November 2013, with one to the occupational therapist and finally an MRI Scan. The occupational therapist was harder to finish since I had seen her soon after I was released from the hospital and continued to a week before the MRI. It all was a little odd to go from multiple appointments taking up lots of time (thankfully), to stopping them all after 750 days.

I feel very fortunate to have received many appointments from professionals (5 doctors, 2 speech therapists, 2 physio therapists, neuro-psychologist, and occupational therapist). I feel extremely fortunate about my family who cared and put up with me through many days. I know there's many people who are worse off than myself, but this is what consumed me for 750 days.

One trip I made (by car) later through the same route, I stopped into the place where I had the accident. I talked to the owner of the house to discuss it, and I took some photos in the ditch where my helmet came in contact with a ridge of many rocks embedded into the grass. This was my final place after the collision and flying high through the air.

I'm not the same person I was before the accident, but super lucky that I woke when I did.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trip - 4E (224 kms/2+ hrs) ACCIDENT

Although written in 2012, this event was November 2011 with a recollection 
(forgotten, vague, remembered) of time which I've been told until Day 42.

Day 0 (Nov. 7, 2011) - Recollection is hard when you rely on others to fill in blanks.

What was told to me.....
With shutdown cancelled at work, and after talking to a coworker in Fredericton, I take the opportunity to ride there (about 4 hrs) to attend a meeting I know very little about.  I leave work, and am going down Hwy.11 a little before 08:00 to Bathurst.  Here I take the right fork onto Hwy.8 south.  I continue to Miramichi, where you'd think that the highway number would continue straight, but here you have to exit the road to continue on the SAME Highway 8. The traffic usually slows to a crawl here by the Douglastown Mall, and it's usually start/stop traffic through the many lights of the city.

What was told to me.....
After crossing Miramichi River, traffic speeds up and I'm headed to the next community Blackville.  Almost to a minor airstrip at Dunphy, is where all shit hits the fan at the following location!

For some reason, I was passing cars (standard when I'm in a passing area, and a slower car is ahead).  I've been told there was one cop car in the traffic.  I was going down a fair sized hill and easing to the left, before the road straightened out. Then, something happened - I left the highway near a barn/trailer on the right. This time though, I ended up in a major accident.  NO ONE was harmed except ME.  No other vehicles were involved in the accident, but luckily, two girls were nearby to help in whatever way they could (thank you, thank you, thank you). The police car that was in the traffic responded, along with another one later.

Police called an ambulance (thanks for making a quick request).  My full-faced helmet was still on, so someone removed that to allow better breathing, and eventually I was transported by ambulance north to the Miramichi hospital.

What was told to me.....
I stayed at the Miramichi hospital till I was stabilized enough for transportation south to Moncton (even though my wife was told here OR Saint John at this point).

After arriving in Moncton, and when doctors were ready, I went through surgeies after major problems positioning me - mainly due to front and rear torso problems....
My fractured back was repaired with 8 pins inserted to upper/lower points, which then allowed access to my front torso.
I needed 4 tubes inserted at the side of my chest to extract buildups of liquid in my lungs.
Then it was time to correct multiple cracked/broken ribs, sternum and problem with my heart - which happened naturally by themselves.
Although the doctors had problems, I eventually came out of surgery 6 hours later in an induced coma,

During initial recovery, it was discovered that I had right-side paralysis due to a clot in my lower right leg. Warfarin was prescribed - which I would be on for 13 months.

After surgery, I spent time in ICU in 2 places - beside the nurses station in the "serious bed", and later in general ICU.  Sometime later, I recovered enough to be moved to the recovery area and begin treatment.

Physio therapy involved strapping me to a hanging device to turn my body into different positions to get my body as much "back to normal" as possible. Over many weeks, I slowly progressed into more involvement and able to do more.

Day 42 (Dec.19, 2011).... I was awake and could remember! (mostly)
This was a HUGE day when I woke, and I looked around and knew my head was screwed on the right way! I could think and remember and knew I was in a hospital (which one, I wasn't sure).  I looked around, and saw someone else in the room.

I had 2 different supports on my legs, (although my legs could move slightly), but I learned later that I was confined to the bed for now. After closer inspection, I saw 4 holes in both sides of my upper outer chest, and learned later they were for drainage of my chest.  I learned when I looked in a mirror, there was obvious marks in the front of my throat for when a tracheotomy was used for me to breath. Forty-two days is a long time to wait to be aware, but I was glad to be here and thinking and remembering!

I asked to use a phone, and when one was brought to me and getting the basics of where I was, I called my mother in-law. She told me that my wife was not there, and I should call her cell phone and not telling me much.
I called, and she answered!!!
I gave her the rundown where I was, but she already knew, since she was coming to see me regularly every day. To my surprise, she told me she would see me in about 5 minutes!!!  WOW ..... she was on a bus on her way to the hospital.....AGAIN!  She had been doing that for the last 41 days (little did I know).
Knowing and remembering much at this point was new to me, so seeing my wife (first time since the accident), was very overwhelming!!

After this, I got used to my wife and son visiting me regularly (since he lived in Moncton) over the many weeks ahead.  I learned answers to many questions I naturally had at this point, and I looked forward to their visits.

I learned that I had to go through many further weeks of enough rehab with different people in 3 different sections with 5 people.
I had been going through physio rehab since my body was able.
I started speech rehab with a gal in her office - who would help me with speaking and understanding.
I would continue with personal rehab with 2 girls who helped me take care of myself (making meals, bathing and learning to become independent).

It took a few weeks to progress carefully from wheelchair, to crutches, and finally to my own feet.
Then to the adjoining gym section with a female who helped me do multiple exercises (on a bench, walking up/down small stairs, and stationary bike). Then a male who also helped me within the gym section near the end, and would take me out of rehab periodically and play hockey with me by passing the puck up/down the hallways (which was great).

Day 69 - After being used to my daily visits by my wife, eventually she had to leave. That was today since much had to be done to get our house back together (after I learned that it was in the same location as I remembered - although I thought different before).  It was a long time for her parents to look after our 3 dogs (and I'm very thankful), but it was a sign I was getting better. Thankfully my son continued to visit me!

The rehab continued daily, but there came a time that I would be released after many days of improving.

Day 79 (Jan.25) - The time was here....I was being checked out today after the hospital staff met and discussed my case.  So after getting the news, I was able to pack my things and went to the front desk to have my wrist bands removed (that warned the front desk if I was trying to escape).
I waited in the TV room with my son for two guys from my normal worksite to arrive (thanks Roger & Armel). They arrived around 1 pm,  I was anxiously waiting, and soon it was time to leave.

Since my strap was removed, I was amazed that I could open the door without hearing a warning buzz for the staff!!  I left the rehab center, walked to the elevators, and went down to the main lobby!  Here, I was more amazed when I walked through the main door to freedom!!!  It felt GREAT to be out after such a long time.  After walking to the car away from the hospital, we hopped in, and driven home! It was GREAT to see/experience the outdoors and the trip  I appreciated the outdoors more than I thought - even though it was the middle of winter.  Once in Miramichi though, I needed to sleep in the rear seat for about an hour till after Bathurst. Every minute of the day I really, really appreciated, and was very thankful to Roger and Armel for coming to pick me up.

Finally, we arrived at home, and the guys helped me to bring my things inside, and again it was great to see my wife!  We said goodbye to the guys who were so nice to pick us up in Moncton and drive us home.  And great that I could now be home with my son and wife!

I soon got used to my dogs (no, I didn't live by the water in an older/smaller house somewhere upriver), and thankfully family and friends were around to make the transition back to "normal" as I could expect.  "Normal" gets closer after 486 days that I write this, and there won't be any motorcycling for me (since it was totaled and later, I phoned and gave the parts away to Blue Rock Towing in Blackville).  I have many many many appointments with Therapists and Physio nearby, and Doctors near and far, that continues to this day.  But, there's one last thing I would like to have, and that is my license to drive by myself!! I just need to jump a bunch more hoops through many more appointments, then one day I could show up at your place!

There's one thing that's stood by me all this time, and that is my family - and more importantly the ones closest to me (my wife & son).

(Read final followup here)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Trip - 4D (600kms/6hrs.)

Sep. 28, 2011 
Leg 1 : Home to Moncton (300kms)

Another work meeting to attend, so I leave early and start at the warmest part of the day. It's a cool 51°F/11°C afternoon, and I haven't found my riding gloves since the accident. After a half hour ride down Hwy.11, my hands are feeling cold.  I planned on dropping into Toys for Big Boys when I got to Moncton, but by the time I get to Bathurst, I decide to leave the highway and go into the small city to buy any gloves I can find.  Going at the slower speeds and needing to clutch, I realize my hands are really stiff from the windchill.  Not much of a selection at Walmart, but I end up getting insulated work gloves.  They're a little bulky while clutching and breaking, but they immediately warm my hands as I get back out onto the highway.

After crossing the beautiful Nepisiguit River, I swing onto Hwy.8 south.  There's lots of colourful leaves starting to change that occupy me on this section of road down past Allardville, La Bonne Route, and into Miramichi where it's warmed to 58°F/14°C.   After crossing the Centennial Bridge, I take the first exit. 

Soon I'm turning south and stop for gas at Papa Joe's Irving where it's "only" $1.23/litre.  Although this place is cheaper than most, we've settled into gas being well over a dollar per litre now, that this seems cheap.  The usual routine of washing bugs from the helmet visor, windshield and lights is done, so after paying for the fillup, I continue on Hwy.126 through the twisties, then down to Rogersville where traffic drastically slows.  

The trip seems uneventful and routine down to this point as I'm now following 3 cars back at sub-highway speed.  As one car pulls out to pass the others, I follow.  Then, the routine part is over.  This VW turbo ahead of me decides to lead the way quickly.  Then "quick" turns into him trying to outrun me!  I can't let that happen, so after noticing that I'm still there behind him, he slows to less than warp speed, then he's off again.  I continually see his exhaust puffing as he is going through the gears hard.  I tag along as he continues to cycle between low and high warp speeds.  It's a quick ride down to Moncton, and before I know it, the final twisties appear, and I then am headed down Mountain Rd. and make my way to the Future Inns hotel.  A new swanky spot - aside from the noisy elevators which will haunt me all night long even though I'm far from them.

I unpack, then head out to meet up with Jeff for a Swiss Chalet supper (chicken & haddock yumm), check out the movie Office Space, then back to the motel room to relax.

Sep. 29, 2011 
Leg 2 - Return home from Moncton

After finishing up the meeting earlier than expected, I'm packed up under sunny skies and ready to roll with a comfortable temp. of 64°F/18°C.  Since it's still early, I head to the southwest corner of the city to check out the motorcycle gloves at Toys For Big Boys.  The road there is under construction, so a slow, soft sand route eats up more time than expected.  Finally at the store, I look around and see very little selection late in the riding season.  Without buying anything, I head back through the city (on a different route), then north onto Hwy.126.

Since it's a beautiful biking day, I just soak up the sun as I leisurely wind through the lower end of this highway, then lay out on the tank bag for the straight stretch up through Harcourt, Coal Branch, and Rogersville.  Suddenly, it occurs to me that this morning I left a care package of frozen spaghetti sauce with the motel restaurant, but forgot to pick it up after the meeting!!!  Damn, Jeff will be pissed at missing out on a great batch! 

The north end of Hwy.126 is never boring as the twisties eventually lead me into Nelson with that familiar spruce tree scent, then into Miramichi and across the Centennial Bridge.  I normally stop for gas and rest at this point, but I decide to motor on and grab something to eat later since it's only mid-afternoon.  Traffic is light and quick up Hwy.8, and within an hour, I'm taking the exit to Tim Hortons in Bathurst for a chicken wrap, donut and tea mmmm.

I leave Bathurst with a warm belly and continue up Hwy.11, and since it's a great day, I decide to leave the boring highway to take the Jacquet River exit.  Here, I follow the Chaleur Bay coastline through the small communities with dazzling views that I never tire of.  Within half an hour, it's time to fill up the tank before completing this trip after the final 10 minute drive home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Trip - 4C (1100kms/12hrs)

Leg 1 - Home to Fredericton (Sept. 14th, 342kms)

Another business meeting to attend, so after checking the weather, I'm away.  It's only 11°C/51°F this afternoon, but the sun is out.  There's no traffic to speak of, and the first hour slips by as things slow at Bathurst.  After taking the right fork onto Hwy.8, things speed up again.  I'm feeling pretty comfy on the bike for it being the first lengthy trip this season, so hopefully it will continue. Before taking the McKinnon Rd. exit, I notice that I've seen a half a dozen ambulances in the first hour and half, so don't know if there's lots of transports, or accidents, or ......?

At the end of my last trip, I was physically wasted - maybe since I wasn't used to riding much, so I'm surprised how good I feel (so far) on this trip. It's time to gas up and clean the visor as I pull into a different than usual gas station in Miramichi. I grab an iced tea, drink half of it, and throw the rest in the backpack on the passenger seat.  After crawling through Newcastle, I climb up past the high school area, then back out onto the highway.  After making my way down near Blackville, the skies have gotten dark - enough to make me pull over and put the rain jacket on.  Surprisingly by the time I get to Doaktown, only a few drops have hit me, and the skies begin to break.  Approaching Taymouth, I'm stuck behind a slow driver with nowhere to pass, so I take the alternate route on the east side of the Nashwaak River, then pop out ahead of the show traffic as I get back on the west.

Ignoring the turnoff at Killarney Rd., I continue along the river.  It's a great motorcycle route with the newer pave and twisties.  The trees have grown enough over the summer, that some of the turns give me the sensation of having some of the branches coming close to hitting near my helmet - cool.

Before long, I take the Marysville Bypass, and roll into the motel parking lot.  It's time to check in, shower, then meet up with Tam for broccolli salad on pita bread supper, but first, I stop at the dazzling view on the bridge crossing the Nashwaak River where it enters into the Saint John River. It's too much ignore, so I park the bike on the edge of the bridge, haul out the camera and take a snapshot.....beautiful, and surprising to see the leaves starting to turn already.

After Tam's place, we're off to the Fredericton Harvest, Jazz, Blues Festival where we will see Andy Brown, Tom Swift & El Camino, Nathalie the busker, a cool blues band busking in front of Cedar Tree Cafe, then up to The Capital to see 2 Reggae bands: Dub Antenna, and Weak Size Fish.

Leg 2 -  Fredericton to Argyle Shore     (Sept. 15th, 311kms)
After a longer meeting than expected, I exit the motel expecting to see rain since it's been in the forecast all day, but surprisingly it's not....yet.  I even parked the bike under the front door overhang, and I see dozen young guys looking at it - 2 of them up close.  Walking up to the bike, I hold out the key to jokingly entice them to take it for a ride.....luckily, they decline. We talk for a bit, as I get my rain jacket on for the trip east - although the forecast is supposed to be better in that direction.  

I see that the gas price has risen instead of the predicted drop, but the 2nd station by the motel has not changed, so I fill up at $1.24/litre.  It's a very comfy 69°F/20°C, as I take the old T.C.Highway (now #105) along the north side of the Saint John River.  It's a great route with good pavement and

curves, and I can't help but be nostalgic thinking back many years on this common route we took as kids....going by the Burton Bridge, vegetable stands (including the huge potato man by the side of the road), and islands with cattle.

Downriver at Jemseg, the divided Trans-Canada Highway #2 has crossed the river to my side, so it's time to merge onto it.  The skies are improving, but the wind has picked up - especially in the openness of the big highway.  The traffic is fast on this route, but some cars have passed me, and I soon a cop car hiding behind some construction vehicles.  Ten seconds later, the chase cop car lights come on and they are pulling over the Civic ahead of me, and traffic slows.

It's naturally windier approaching Moncton, but the temp. has risen to 75°F/24°C.  I've been going without gloves since my accident the end of March and consider going into the city to look for a pair, but I don't have a lot of time, so I motor on and take the Hwy.15 exit to Shediac.  Once there, I get off the main highway to take the coastal route.  It's slower of course on these roads, but worth the views of tracking along the Northumberland Strait.  Communities of Barachois, and especially Cap Pele ooze how rich these fishermen are (no, I haven't converted to fishers yet).

Taking the last "off the beaten path" route on #955 does not give me a good view, but instead is more through the woods, and suddenly I feel a pain where my helmet wraps behind my left ear.... a sting!  I try my best to rid whatever from that spot as I keep steering, but I can't stand it and pull the bike over and take my helmet off.  No insect is found, but the pain tells me one was there.  It's a strange place for a sting, so I inspect the helmet foam to make sure nothing burrowed it's way in the crevice.   I may as well relieve my bladder, then I'm on my way again - still in pain.

The view gets better at the end of #955 through Murray Corner, and I soon see the billion dollar Confederation Bridge.  I hit the tee and swing left onto Hwy.16 with the bridge in view.  I pull over to look for a way to mount my camera on the bike, but no luck, so before taking off, I double check Pete's house number.  Now it's time to climb onto the massive, impressive bridge.  

It's usually windy here, but calmer in these evening hours. I've been across the bridge before by car, but on the bike, I can see up over the side barriers, and it's a great view!  It seems like a slow crossing at 80kms, but after 10mins., I'm now on the island, so I check out the tourist village for a few pics.

Back out on the Trans-Canada Hwy.1, it's not long before I see the rolling potato fields of PEI.  

A short drive east, and I soon take the exit for the picturesque Argyle Shore, and with Pete & Sarah's house number burned into my brain, I easily find it. I unpack, and am quickly enjoying the great view from their deck. 

Leg 3 - Argyle Shore to Home (Sept. 17th,  445kms)
After a 2 day visit of great views, a windy beach dotted with sandpipers, a tourist tour of the Charlottetown waterfront (including cruise ship building access), and "hanging" with Pete & Sarah, it was time to go.  

Since the Confederation Bridge was closed to motorcycles yesterday, I'm watching the bridge report and weather closely today - which is again windy.  Looking out Pete's large kitchen window, it's not hard to tell how bad the wind is with the white-caps amid the coffee water of the Northumberland Strait.  The wind was supposed to pick up on the island in the afternoon, so after a Kraft Dinner and wiener lunch (haven't had that in years...yum),  I load up the bike, finally find the ignition key, then take Hwy.19 up to the Trans-Canada Hwy.1 

I soon pass Victoria by the Sea, which we visited earlier in the day - a nice little community with a pub/restaurant right on the wharf, and this day it hosted a triathlon....some crazy canucks starting off with a swim!

It's not long before I'm handing the $17.25 fee to the toll booth lady.  As I approach the bridge, there's enough cross-wind, but once I'm between the concrete barriers, it's a little calmer, but a buffeting action happening.  Some areas are bad, but it's rare enough that I enjoy another crossing with a great view. After coming off the bridge, I take the opportunity to take a quick pic of the New Brunswick sign.

It's time to head up Hwy.16 to Shediac, then take Hwy.15 into Moncton.  Coming off the exit, there's construction going on as there has been for quite a while here.  Soon I'm climbing Rockland Ave., and pop in to visit Jeff for about an hour.

After leaving Jeff's, I decide to go up Hwy.126 through the woods and be protected from the wind, and usually there's much less traffic.  After getting cutting through the early curves, it's straight on through for miles past Hartcourt, Noinville, and Rogersville where the curves finish up this route going into Miramichi.

It's suppertime, so I decide to take the new bridge across the river, and leisurely crawl through Newcastle, and stop at Burger King in Douglastown.  I've gone too long between chain lubes, so I take care of that after getting the bike up on the center stand.  The chicken burger, onion rings and strawberry shake are tasty, and I use the napkins to wipe the overspray from the chain lube when I get back to the bike.

I leave Miramichi, and head north on Hwy.8 through the "portage" at a quick pace, and as I round the exit onto Hwy.11 at Bathurst, it's time to stretch out on the tank bag.  I've packed it just right this time, and the height it perfect to rest my chin on it for the final hour's ride.  It's not long before I sit up as I'm trailing a transport with heavy buffeting in his draft.  I start smelling burnt rubber, and I wonder if it's the bike.  Within seconds, I know where the smell is coming from - one of the tires on the transport ahead of me explodes into pieces, so I duck behind the windshield as I veer out of the path of flying rubber.  The trucker pulls over quickly, and I leave him and that mess behind.

After settling into a laying position on the bike seat/gastank for a while, I'm past Jacquet River, then see an ambulance followed by 2 cops with lights blaring.  What is it with ambulances on this trip? They're everywhere, and very unusual seeing one with cops!

Finally around 7pm, I'm taking the Hwy.134 exit and see the familiar Restigouche River ahead, and within minutes, I'm home again.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trip - 4B (750kms/8hrs)

Leg 1 - Home to Fredericton (August 18th, 346kms)

Another business trip, so good excuse to use the bike - especially with the forecast of full sun for 2 days that I'll be gone.

As usual for these trips, I'm out of work after lunch, but this day I'm held up an extra 30 mins. going home first, but soon am suited up and out on Hwy.11 east. It's a beautiful day with perfect riding conditions at 20°C/68°F. This will be my first real trip since last season, so that mixed with post-accident recovery will be interesting to see how my body holds up.

After taking the ramp onto Hwy.11 east, I cross the bridge at Eel River, and things have changed here. Dismantling of the dam downriver began last year, so instead of a wide section at this bridge, the levels have gone down, and now it's only a split creek. The center section where water once flowed, first turned into a mud flat, and surprisingly now sprouts many grasses. What started out as an eyesore is now starting to look good.

The first 50 mins. flies by as I take the St. Anne exit into Bathurst, and head in to the Blue Cross office for returns on medical expenses. The wait inside is longer than expected, but finally exit and look for a gas station. After heading over to the east side across the harbour, I see a gas station, but I'm in the outside lane, and no room or time to get over. So, I continue on through construction and detours and hope there's another station before hitting the highway overpass...... there's none. I have no choice but to go down the highway and take the last Bathurst exit. Finally, I find a gas station. After filling up, a car pulls up, and a couple jump out asking me if I know how to fill up, and do they have to pay first. I can tell by the last question, and accent that they are from southern U.S. When 5 people search for their gas cap release, a button is found on the driver's door. I begin talking to the woman who explains that she is here visiting Caraquet, has Acadian roots, and lives in Louisianna. Later in the conversation, I let her know that I grew up in Nova Scotia, and she asks if I was "expulled" - referring to the Acadian expulsion of 1755. "No" is my obvious answer.

Finally, much later than expected, I'm out of Bathurst, over and around and under the quirky east end roads and now heading south on the smooth newer pavement of Hwy.8 where the sun continues to shine. Traffic is low - except for the turnoff at La Bonne Route where I could've done an easy fillup if I had another pint in the tank.

Miramichi is next, and the temperature has warmed to 23°C/73°F. Normally I gas up here as a mid-point break, but since the tank is near full, I carry on across the bridge at Derby Junction and continue south on Hwy.8 where the concrete road joints have me popping in the seat.

Another hour breezes by, and I'm feeling the effects of the ride. I do my typical "lay down on the seat, chin on the tank bag" routine, and even resort to occasional "standing on the pegs" to stretch out even more. I'm obviously not used to road trips of any length yet.

Traffic is slow around Taymouth, so I take the alternate route on the east side of Nashwaak River down to Durham Bridge, where I beat the previous traffic and get back onto Hwy.8

It's suppertime as I head down Kilarney Rd. into Fredericton, and the traffic is heavy with everyone leaving. I decide to take Brookside Dr. to bypass the traffic, but since this is new to me, I end up going out of my way, take a detour, and finally recognize the area and get straightened around to get across the St. John River to the south side where the traffic is crazy! Finally after climbing Hanwell Rd., I roll into Tam's driveway and wow, I need to walk and stretch the bugs out of me!

Leg-2 : Fredericton/Oromocto/Fredericton (60kms)

After a quick visit with Tam, we decide to go to the Ramada restaurant for supper - Tam is liking the salmon special big time - tasty enough for a takeout box. It's a great evening, the sun is getting low, so we decide to cruise down the old Hwy.2 (now Hwy.105). This is a beautiful ride along the St. John River with slow curves, and certainly more tolerable than the old high traffic days of years ago. We pass by the vegetable stands through Maugerville, and as the sun is setting, we cross the Burton Bridge - slowly, to soak up the dazzling sky over the river.

It's quite the ride through Oromocto with 2 roundabouts within 500m, but eventually we're back out onto Hwy.2 heading back to Fredericton. The air is naturally cooler with the sundown - especially at highway speed....Tam is probably wishing she had a visor at this point. We leave the highway, and exit onto Hanwell Rd, drop her off, gas up before the price rise tomorrow, then back to the motel for the night. My body feels the miles, so I crash pretty easy.

Leg-3 : Fredericton to Home (Aug. 19th, 341kms) The meeting is over, it's another beautiful sunny day and 23°C/73°F, so I load up the bike, and head up the Marysville Bypass which ends abruptly since the road has yet to be completed after many years of government promises. So traffic is forced back to slow residential roads. Many miles ahead, signs of the bypass construction can be seen, so it will be interesting to see when it's completed.

I eventually arrive in Miramichi, and make the usual stop for gas and rest after 2 hours. "No hoodies allowed" greets my entry to the station, and I grab some juice for a refreshment. I use the squeegee to wash the bugs off the visor, windshield and lights, then get back onto Hwy.8 north through the great "portage" route.

Bathurst is where Hwy.11 returns for the final leg home. It's been a good trip with great weather.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Trip - 4A (180kms/2hrs)

Not much of a trip, but greatly appreciated due to my long layoff.

I ordered a new front tire at Bathurst Honda, it's in, so time to go for the appointment. Luckily it's a beautiful day, and a good chance to try my new Scorpion biking pants. I guess I'm bigger around the waist than I thought since it's a bit of a struggle getting them on over my shorts (they are bulky shorts though haha).

I'm away at a little early to get gas, but happily notice I've got lots, so I get away at a decent time so I take the old Hwy.#134 along the Bay of Chaleur. Speeds are much lower and many communities to get through, but it's such a great scenic route, plus the sun and 20°C/68°F temp. makes it awesome.

After making my way along the nice rolling turns through lower Charlo, New Mills, Nash Creek and Jacquet River, I've nestled in behind another biker. We wind out around the huge Belledune Generating Station which when constructed, forced the main road out around it, so it's a few miles before the return of the beautiful bay water and Gaspe coast. This is a slow leisurely drive, and I'm not in any hurry as I continue behind the Harley ahead of me and just soak up the sun at this perfect temperature.

It's not long before Petit Rocher, and Nigadoo zip by, but at this slower speed, I'm beginning to wonder if I'll make my 1pm appointment in time - especially after burning more minutes stopping for a couple of community sign photos. I hit Beresford with about 5 mins. left, and finally roll into the Honda parking lot right on time.

After getting the bike to the garage, I get the bike pants off and into my shorts, then off to the waiting room which is one of the better ones I've been in - lots of mags, newspaper, tv and comfy chairs. After a bit, the service guy comes out and tells me my tire is NOT in! What?!?! You called me and said it WAS, and that's why I made the appointment!!! He of course apologizes, but it was "someone" else's fault for making the phone call. At least the mechanic can check out a ticking noise I've had lately that is more prominent. He takes it for a drive and says the timing chain adjuster is making the noise. So, another tire and adjuster parts are ordered, and it's time to leave.

I decide to take the main Hwy.11 back home, so after leaning into the tight on-ramp, I crack the throttle, and in seconds I'm at cruising speed. The drive home is much quicker on this highway, but it's good just to be out on a "trip" again after the long layoff, and not being able to make the trip to Fredericton last week due to weather. The 2 hour drive is a good start for things to come hopefully.

A couple weeks later I make the same trip since the tire ACTUALLY did come in. A few drops on the way down, but of course, nice to be out again. The the timing chain adjusters were also changed, and I immediately could tell the difference in the lack of "ticking" sound from the motor. It was suppertime by the time I got out, so a quick visit to McDonald's satisfied my hunger. I hit rain a couple times on the way home and consider hiding under an overpass, but I see the clouds breaking ahead, so motor on.....a good test for a true trip to Fredericton next week I hope.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


It's been a long 13 week recovery of my injuries  - more so when my mother died during this time.
I'm recovered enough to try to restart the season, and after changing the oil, filter, and cleaning up the fairing pieces. The fairing needed some added attention to the area where it hit the ground during the last blog. It sure feels good to suit up and sit on the bike. After testing my foot pressure on the ground, I'm good to go.

I'm anxious, and careful after firing the starter up and backing out of the garage. A shot of gas and easing of the clutch, I head up the west driveway. I go through the gears as I head upriver on Hwy. 134. Wow! This is GREAT! This is an awesome road to reintroduce myself to riding for sure! I soak up the scenery, weather, and feel of the road all the way up to Campbellton - which comes quick enough, even after getting hung up during the local festival's parade. I wind my way through the small city, then out onto Hwy. 11 for the return ride home. It's not much of a trip, but worth mentioning after the long 13 weeks. To cap it off, I realize this ride has happened on my father's birthday! Had he survived, this would've been his 80th.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Accident - New Season delayed

Mar. 31, 2011....
The unthinkable has happened .... the start of another season will be delayed - many weeks due to a fall I took on the ice in my driveway, even though the roads have been bare for many weeks.  After trying 4 times to get up the driveway, the ice had the final say - causing me to slip and fall to the right side 1/2 way up.  I laid there till I knew what happened (good thing the bike stalled).  I then saw I was trapped under the right side of the motorcycle.  I couldn't put weight on my right arm properly - something was wrong with it, and my leg & foot were caught under the bike.  It took MANY tries to lift the bike enough till I could finally pull my leg/foot out from under it!
I had trouble standing upright with my right arm and foot injured,. It took awhile, but I finally made it upright. Afterwards, I couldn't put any weight on my right leg.... I had to hop down the driveway on my good leg, then up the stairs, and into the house.  My wife thought I left normally, and didn't know what happened.

After giving details, we were quick to get in the car and drive to the local hospital. Unfortunately we were turned away due to it closing very soon, and they suggested I go in the opposite direction to Campbellton (25 minutes away).
After driving and parking, my wife found a wheelchair at the new hospital to take me inside.
After checking in, there was more time to wait. Time seems to crawl in these situations, but finally, I was seen by a doctor. I then received a partial cast on my right foot, and sling installed for my right shoulder, then sent home.  I had to wait like this, till a call came from another hospital in Miramichi, which finally came THREE DAYS LATER!

During the wait time, a wheelchair was rented. After the call came, we drove down using it to get to the car and in.  After arriving in Miramichi hospital, and wheeled in, I soon was assigned to a private room. After settling in, I talked my wife into driving back home. Unfortunately, I never rented a TV or had a laptop, so  no one to talk to, no TV, and no computer, so time was very long.  Good thing I had a phone to use periodically.
The next morning was surgery, and on my way, I had to explain that my shoulder was only part of the problem. After complaining about my foot, they took an xray and saw that there was a problem and would make the surgery longer.

Sometime after surgery, I finally woke and learned a plate was put in my right shoulder, and another in my right ankle.
A broken ankle and separated shoulder will delay total recovery as long as the doctor guides me.

After surgery recovery, I was able to go home by ambulance (thanks to my wife for arguing for it). I was not able to use crutches with both injuries on the same side of my body, so a wheelchair was needed until I could walk on my own which was many weeks later.

Eventually, I was good enough to return to work.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New season

Not really a trip, but a new season!
It's March 15th....I leave work an hour early since it's sunny, -1°C, and the roads are relatively dry.
After getting home and suiting up, I add some fresh gas to the tank, turn the key, hit the button, and it's not surprising, I hear the regular vroom on the first try!

Now to get out of the driveway.... it's full of ice/snow, so I do my best impression of Bambi inching along until I get to the hill where I previously widened the snowbanks with the blower a week earlier. There's enough grass showing through so I can get traction while rubbing up against the 3 foot snowbank. After careful maneuvering, I'm at the top and out on the dry road!

It feels great to be out again, and after filling up with gas in Dalhousie, I take a run up to Campbellton on Hwy. 134 where there's the odd icy patch in the shadows, but mostly dry - until I weave through the city and water is everywhere on these roads. After getting to Canadian Tire, it's time to pick up a new bulb for the right high/low beam. I'm colder than I remember at this temperature - probably cause I haven't ridden since November, so take my time in the store to warm up.

Out of the store, and time to get out onto the main Hwy.11 which is nice and dry, so the ride back with the river still frozen in full view, is enjoyable and fast (not in the sense of speed, but time flies when you have fun).

It's great to begin another season - even if it was only an hour today. Hopefully the snow will stay away so I can carry on till the fall.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Xmas/New Year's

It's Christmas, and we have no snow to speak of. ....I want to get the bike out for a ride, but the battery won't let me. After charging it, it's too late, cause the snow has overtaken my riding.

One week later, and the snow is gone, it's New Year's, and I COULD take the bike out, but work at home and laziness consumes me........ guess I'll have to wait till late April.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trip 3D ~ 200 kms

Home to search for a Restigouche River lookout/return (Oct. 2, 2010 ~200kms).

It's fall, the leaf colours are at peak, so what better way to enjoy it than a ride up the Restigouche River with the magnificent views?

Two years ago I found an awesome lookout at L'Ascension-de-Patapedia, and was blown away by the beauty. At that time, I noticed another sign for a lookout further upriver, but didn't have the time to visit. So, this was the day that I would check it out.

Heading out from home at 2:30pm, it was very cloudy, and a little cool at 48°F/9°C - a good transition into the final 8 wks of the riding season. Just before hitting the highway, I stop at the overpass to take a couple shots of the leaves.

Going up Hwy.11 towards Campbellton, I immediatley had plenty to appreciate with many colours adding to the great view of the river and mountains. Within 1/2 hour, I leave the highway and cut through the hills to Flatlands where it's time to take another pic and get an up close view of the river, as the smooth road winds it way along the banks....biker's heaven.

Before long, I'm crossing the bridge to Quebec after stopping 1/2 way to take a couple photos. Once I enter Matapedia, I decide to go through the town and cross the Maptapedia river at the first bridge. The next section of road is new pave again, but this time through the mountains, which means more twisties along with rising/falling elevations. It's beautiful through this road with the large round hay bales standing out in the vast green fields contrasting with the wild colours.

After passing through the largest small community of Saint-Francois-d'Assise, I find my way to the lookout area I visited in 2008. Although I have the GPS with me, it's not mounted conveniently, so I have it in the map pocket of the tank bag only for odd reference. I'm relying on the local lookout signs, so I follow the 2nd lookout sign turning right along Pin Rouge Rd.

After an hour of riding, I'm at an intersection which has a lookout sign pointing straight with 14kms marked. As soon as I cross the intersection, the road bends to the left, and is now dirt. After 2 kms, the dirt road has gotten worse, then I find myself ready to enter a farmer's field. This is obviously the wrong way, so I go back to the intersection with the sign, and notice 2 trucks coming out of a road that I never saw, since it dipped down out of sight.

After turning around and looking at the sign again, I go straight where the trucks exited. Another dirt road, and worse than the first. Before long, it's even worse - ruts, lots of jagged rock, and water. I should have a dirt bike on this road, but I press on with the VFR, and get some strange looks from the truckers.

This does not look like a road to a tourist lookout, but I continue - even though the road continues to get worse, narrower, and winding it's way up and
down mountains and along gorges with steep drops to creeks below. There's many forks in the road, and I wonder if I'm on the right one, but I continue to follow the main one marked with "1 Sud" signs. I considered turning around a couple times, but finally, after about 10kms, there at another fork in the road is a lookout sign that points straight. I should have another 4kms to go on this terrible horse-and-buggy route, but after passing 14, 15, 16, then 17kms, I'm in the middle of nowhere, and I give up. This is definitely not a road to a tourist spot! The road is so narrow, that it takes me a few back and ahead movements to get turned around.

After making my way back to the 10km sign, I decide to try the left fork in the road on the chance that the sign is just pointing wrong. After 2.5kms Camp Rambo sits at the end of the road with nowhere to go, so I give up again and turn around.

Once I'm back to the 10km sign, I look at it again in disbelief. No bloody way is there a lookout straight ahead! In frustration, I give up and slowly make my way back along the terrible roads to the intersection where I started, and have to triple check the sign.

Back on paved roads, I return to L'Ascension-de-Patapedia, and decide to revisit the lookout there. The last time I was here, I didn't check out the 2 obvious nearby lookouts due to other visitors, so that's what I do this visit. They are magnificent and tranquil on a normal day, but today with the fall colours, you have to visit yourself to understand the beauty!

Back on the bike, I return to Matapedia on the more northerly route, and the final leg out of the mountains is a 14% grade drop over 3kms. The temperature is down to 44°F/6°C, but as I get a view of Campbellton ahead, I see the sun is shining bright. After picking up some milk, I boogie back down Hwy.11 to home with the sun on my back, and an urge already to return to the mountains to find that damn lookout.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Trip 3C - 1005kms

Leg 1 - Home to Fredericton (Aug. 18th - 341kms)

It's been 2.5 months since the last trip, and I haven't ridden too much lately, so after wrapping things up at work, it feels good to get back out on the open road again. It's a beautiful sunny/cloudy day at 24°C/75°F, and after crossing the bridge at Eel River, the water is noticeably missing after the dam downstream was dismantled. Only about 20% of the width is water now as it tries to find it's long-term path through the mud.

Time and miles fly by as I take the right fork at Bathurst onto Hwy.8 south. This road is still in really good shape after all the work last summer. Surprisingly I haven't met any construction on these main roads up north, and that's fine with me. Traffic is sparse today, so the trip down to Miramichi goes quick. It's warmed up a bit, so it's time to lose the jacket liner and gloves, as I stop to fill up with gas ($1.019/l) , stretch, and get a bottle of water. After also washing the bugs off the visor, windshield and lights, I leave the gas stop and head up Newcastle Blvd., which turns out to be closed to traffic. Trying an alternate route has me losing my way a bit (why didn't I bring the GPS?). Finally I find my way out and back onto Hwy.8 across the Miramichi River.

As I roll into Blackville, there seems to be truck after truck after NB Power truck with their buckets hoisted up to the distribution lines. Just as many are driving on the road in this small community. Obviously some major project is underway.

As I enter the last hour of the trip, clouds have overtaken the sun, and things cool down. The closer I get to Fredericton, the darker the clouds become, but luckily no rain as I check into the motel for the night. Ahhh....I'm wiped for some reason.

Leg-2 : Fredericton to Springhill (Aug. 19th - 267 kms)

The meeting is done earlier than expected, so give Tam a call to let her know I'll be by soon to pick her up. She is going to the Hill with me, and it's another great day that's mostly sunny, but a little warm at 26°C/78°F, so no jacket liner or gloves on this leg. We get our hand signals straight, then we head out onto the Trans-Canada Highway east.

The Sheffield and Jemseg bridges over the Saint John River are not too bad today - even get to sit up high to catch the great view over the concrete. Coming off the second bridge and seeing the old road winding through the trees is always inviting, so one day I'll take that alternate route.

The 75 mins. slips by, and it's time for a break. Pulling off the exit to the gas station at Salisbury, a couple young guys are begging for food/money. Their sign says their hungry, but a Tim's coffee cup is at the ready. I question why a coffee if you're hungry? Wouldn't food be better? We get talking to them and find out one is from Charllottetown, the other from California. Worlds apart, but not today, so I hand them $5. At the Irving, we grab a drink and relax in the shade while Tam puffs away.

Continuing east into Moncton, the wind picks up and the temperature drops to a comfy 23°C/73°F. Traffic has increased since the merge from Saint John, and continues until the T.C.H. swings south. Another 1/2 hour, and we descend into Sackville where the effects of the Bay of Fundy are obvious. Time for gas, and supper at Wendy's. After the meal, we relax in the shade as I give mum/mom a call to let her know we're near.

Back on the bike, and the wind is more of a force crossing the Tantramar Marsh and Aulac stretch as expected, but nothing severe. The temperature has now dipped to 20°C/68°F, but after getting into Nova Scotia, and onto Hwy.2 south, the temperature climbs a little as the trees protect us from the winds. Another 20mins., and we're rolling into the driveway for a couple days visit.

Leg-3 : Springhill to Home (Aug. 21st - 397 kms)
After the ritual dissection of the weather forecasts, and seeing only isolated showers on the horizon today, we're packed and ready to go at 3:15pm as Tam tries her best at "mounting the horse". It's a comfy 22°C/72°F, but a little windier after the rain, and after making our way back up Hwy.2 north, the wind is more obvious out on the open T.C.H. , and as usual, crossing the border into New Brunswick.

The ride to Moncton goes fast as Tam whines "we're here already?!" I'm dropping her off at the bus stop for her return trip to Fredericton. We're a little early, so lots of time to get her ticket, etc. We say goodbye, and I weave my way back to the Champlain Mall where I'm meeting up with Jeff on his supper break. I'm a little early, but he's able to break away, and we have a nice relaxing meal and chat over A&W food. It's great to see him again, and the 1/2 hour flies by super fast. He returns to work, and after gassing up and cleaning the visor, I decide to go up Hwy.126 since the isolated rain forecast was for the eastern sections, and some raindrops have already started here.

So much for "isolated", since the hour ride up to Rogersville is mostly rain. After a break in the rain midway, I pull over and put the jacket liner in and the gloves on to protect me more, then continue on tucked behind the fairing. It's isolated showers up to Miramichi, then after crossing the bridge and onto Hwy.8, the skies look much better. I'm dry by now, so just enjoy this speedier section through the woods. La Bonne Route, then Allardville exit fly by, and before I know it, I take the bend onto Hwy.11 at Bathurst.

The weather and road are good, so as the sun is getting low, I get into my laying position with feet on the passenger pegs, and chin on the tank bag. Time for a sleep ;) After passing Nash Creek, I meet a cop with lights blazing and breaking the speed limit! Further on, another cop.... this seems par for the course in this area each time.

Around 8pm, I roll down the driveway, and home once again.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Trip 3B - (772kms/8 hrs)

Leg 1 - Home to Springhill (June 5th, 374kms)This trip comes quicker than expected after finding out that my brother from BC plans to come east for the first time in 7 years. I'm supposed to pick him up at the airport with my SUV, but after following the weather reports for a week, I decide to chance taking my bike before the forecasted rain hits in the afternoon.

I'm packed and creep out of the driveway at 10am, but need to fill up immediately rather than hit the highway. After making my way to Dalhousie Esso, I weave my way out onto Hwy.11 towards Bathurst. It's cloudy/sunny and 55°F/13°C and within 15 minutes, the skies have become overcast. 15 more minutes, and the fog rolls in around Lorne/Nash Creek overpass. I'm getting the feeling that this trip may not be as dry as I hoped. Luckily as I reach Belledune, the weather improves, but the police have pulled out onto the highway ahead of me. Traffic naturally slows down, and it's this way right down to Bathurst until they pull over to the shoulder to wait for offenders.

After getting onto Hwy.8 south, there's a construction zone with pavement tore up for 11kms, and many motorcycle warning signs to remind me. I can't chance the grooved pavement, and soon many vehicles pass me....until Allardville when normal pavement reappears.

As I pass La Bonne Route gas stop, the skies are darker, and by the time I approach Miramichi, the rain begins forcefully. It's time to get into a tuck behind the fairing, and I'm just thinking about making it to the Irving in Chatham since they have an overhang to protect me from the rain (even though I don't need the gas yet). By the time I cross the Centennial bridge, the rain has tapered off, and decide to continue on past the gas station. I originally was going to head down Hwy.126 to enter Moncton on the west end, but after seeing the rain this early, I continue on down Hwy.11 along the coast to drive straight to mum's.

Although I'm wet from the rain, the clearer skies and wind allow me to dry out over the next 1/2 hour. It's been a while since I've been down this road, and as I pass Richibucto and Rexton, I can't help but think of my coworker friend Jim who was from this area, but passed away on his 58th birthday.

Miles slip by, and most of the traffic leaves this road to go to Moncton. It's shorter/quicker for me to go through Scoudouc to beat the rain as Hwy.11 turns into Hwy.134. I stop for gas for the first time after approx. 3 hrs, and as I come out of the gas station, the rain drops begin again. It's only light rain, but the road is wet and rough, and more driving care is needed along this stretch.

Finally, I come to the overpass which then leads me out onto the Trans-Canada Hwy., and I find myself following 2 other bikes as the rain continues. The VFR is stable at highway speeds in the rain (thanks to the Battlax tires), and going across the stretch at Aulac is not as crazy as expected. I decide to creep up onto the 2 bikes ahead of me and see they are both Ninjas. I wave/nod, then continue on ahead of them by the border.

The rain continues as I pull off the T.C.H., and take Hwy.2 south. Traffic is slow here, but it's safer, especially when I hit Springhill Jct. where the rain really starts to come down. As I weave my way to/through the town, I finally head up the hill to mum's place. Surprisingly, the 100 year old barn has been tore down - lots of memories there.

I'm wet, and immediately pull off the jacket and shirt, have a quick lunch, then head out to the airport to pick up the BC brother in mum's car.

Leg 2 - Springhill to Home (June 8th, 397 kms)
After a great visit with ALL the family (first time in many years), it's time to leave. I've been watching the weather closely for 5 different areas to see if I can actually leave on this day, or need to wait. Mid-afternoon seems the best time according to the predictive radar map on theweathernetwork with a few isolated showers here and there. As I turn onto Junction Rd., a few of the drops begin....nothing to worry about, and they've stopped as quick as they started. The mix of dark and light clouds remain, and my eyes often scan the skyline to see what's ahead. Once I've snaked my way up Hwy. 2, full rain hits at Upper Nappan. It lasts for about 15 mins. as I cross another surprisingly windless stretch at the border back into New Brunswick. The lack of wind here is always welcome after experiencing many crossings where the complete opposite was true.

I settle in behind some vroom vroom cars as we make our way to Moncton. Rain is threatening most of the way, but doesn't develop. Jeff is off today, so I make my way to his basement apartment where I meet his new roomy and friend. I hang out for a while, check the weather again, and see that I better get going to beat the rain that soon to hit. I see that I'll stand a better chance taking the coastal route up Hwy.11, but since I'm already 1/2 way through the city, I decide to go up Hwy.126. Well, it doesn't take long for the rain to start again, but it's sparse.

The entire ride up through Rogersville and then onto Miramichi has me watching the clouds, and this has got to be the most unpredictable trip for weather. It can't decide whether to rain or remain sunny, bright clouds or dark. For the most part, the rain only happens randomly, so life is not too bad. Entering Nelson, it's time to fill up with gas.

I get through Miramichi, then straight onto Hwy. 8 north, but soon hit a construction zone where they're ripping up asphalt, and I wait for eternity for my turn to proceed. Finally I'm waved on, and we need to follow a construction pickup to ensure we're not racing through the zone, and stay well over to the right. This section didn't exist a few days before, and I know on the Bathurst end, there'll be another 11kms of asphalt ripped up, so I make good use of the throttle in the middle section.

The temperature has been climbing since I hit Allardville, and around Bathurst, it's up to about 24°C/74°F, and just a perfect evening to be cruising home. After rounding the bend in Belledune, I see the first cop on this trip. Before long, another, and finally as I approach Charlo, a third. Good thing I'm a careful, conscientious, slow rider, otherwise one of these fine gentlemen would have to ticket me.

Well it's only 20mins. past the start of the meeting, so after topping up with gas, I drop by, then head home.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Trip - 3A (1185kms/11hrs.)

Leg 1 - Home to Fredericton (May 19th, 341kms)
It's the first trip of the season, and it feels great to get out on the road again. The weather forecast for Fredericton later in the day is rain, so I hit the road just after a great lunch (Mandarin chicken salad - thanks again to Donna). The trip starts off with perfect sunshine and temperature of 18°C/
64°F. My first stop is Blue Cross in Bathurst so I can cash in some medical receipts - which should pay for the trip. By the time I leave this small city, the temperature has already climbed to 22°C/74°F, and I should remove my jacket liner, but there's no room left in my tank bag to store it.

I leave Hwy.11 and swing onto Hwy.8 southward, and traffic is moving along nicely here. The new wildlife fences line this road most of the next 45 minute drive. The Allardville exit, then La Bonne Route are soon behind me, and as I roll down into Miramichi, the sky has become hazy and the temperature has dropped. I'm hoping the rain forecasted for later in the day doesn't surprise me sooner. After the usual slow ride through Miramichi, speed changes after the bridge at Derby Junction. The poor condition concrete highway would make an observer think I have a bad case of the hiccups, but finally after 5 minutes, it's back to normal asphalt.

Renous prison and Blackville skip by, then I loose some traffic as the Tim Horton cult get their fix in Doaktown. As I roll into Boisetown, the temperature has dropped to 15°C/62°F, and the clouds are dark. Hopefully the rain will hold off another 45 minutes.
After rounding the hairpin turn in Taymouth, the bends continue down along the Nashwaak River. As most traffic exits at Kilarney Rd., I continue lean after lean down into Marysville. As a change, I decide to continue straight down to the St. John River. It begins to rain lightly now, and by the time I make it to the motel, I realize how good the timing was, and park under the overhang to escape the wet night.

Leg-2 : Fredericton to Springhill (May 20th - 267 kms)
Expecting rain this morning on my 10 minute ride to the meeting at the Ramada, I'm surprised to see that it has stopped.

Once the meeting finishes at 3pm, the weather is beautiful at 21°C/70°F as I make my way up to my sister's place. She's been wanting to take a cruise for a long time, so surprised that she has changed her mind. I'm convincing enough to make her think straight, and finally, she awkwardly climbs up on the rear seat with her borrowed snowmobile helmet bobbing along. After we get our hand signals straight, it's out onto the Trans-Canada Highway.

This is only my second passenger on this bike, and have never had one longer than 20 minutes, so this 2-1/2 hr. trip should be interesting. It's not long before I realize it's no big deal having a 100 pound passenger, as I hardly notice her - other than the occasional banging of helmet on my back, and tug on my jacket loops.

After 45 mins., it's time for a smoke break (not mine) as I notice the temperature has peaked at 23°C/73°F.

My main concern with a passenger is crosswinds in known bad areas, so now is the time to explain the upcoming high bridges over the St. John River at Sheffield and Jemseg. Once we get going again, and reach those 2 bridges, it is surprisingly a piece of noticeable wind at all! It's one of the best riding days I can recall.

We motor on through the fast section to Moncton, where things naturally get a little congested. It doesn't help when people think they want to pass, and hang out there in the passing lane, creeping by the slower vehicle with no concern about the traffic behind them ready to climb up and over them.

Memramcook, then some a couple miles of single lane construction go by (no one in site), then we pull into Sackville for gas and a break. Sis is strung out a little, but excited at the same time. The snowmobile helmet and small sunglasses are no match for the road. She lets me know that the rear seat is comfy though.

After spending some time cleaning the bugs off the lights and helmet visor, it's time to give mum a call to let her know I'm near. I let sis know that we are about to cross the Tantramar Marsh/Aulac/N.S. border section, and to expect high winds - even if the day has been tame so far. To my surprise, the crossing is mild, and definitely the calmest in all my times through here on a bike. One thing that has stayed the same, and that's the drastic dip in temperature - now down to 13°C/50°F!

It's photo-op time as we cross into Nova Scotia and visit the Welcome Center. There's a smaller sign as we enter, but it is on a lawn. Oh well, a bike can scoot across the lawn easy enough, and as we take each others' picture, can't help but notice the warm weather has brought the black flies out, so it's time to get going.

Getting back out onto the Trans-Canada Highway from here is a little confusing, so we drive through Amherst as sis now has a handle on using the camera on the back of the bike. After winding our way through the town, it's onto the last leg of Hwy.2 down to Springhill. This is a much more enjoyable road for a bike with the rises, dips, and turns. After 3 hrs., we roll into mum's driveway, where the temperature has risen back to 18C/66F.

Leg-3 : Springhill to Truro/return (May 21st - 191 kms)
After learning that mum won a new digital camera, but needed to get it in Truro, I offered, since I also wanted to offload some pics from my camera, and the weather was great. Since it was getting late, and Carsand-Mosher was closing in 1.5 hours, I went down the fast/boring Trans-Canada Hwy. to Truro. After finding the location on Esplanade St., I picked up the prize, added some memory, then headed back. I wasn't in a hurry, and wanted a more scenic route, so decided to take Hwy.4 through Folly Lake. This is the old T.C.H., but is obviously wore down, and no traffic at all.

Folly Lake comes into view, and this is the most scenic part of the route. This area is notorioius for it's fog, but none to be seen this clear day. I stop to look at the abandoned ski hill for a minute, then I'm back out on the road and soon come to the merge onto the T.C.H. just before Oxford, then soon roll into mum's driveway.

Leg-4 : Springhill to Home (May 22nd - 385 kms)
It's a beautiful 20°C/68°F afternoon, but windy day on the Hill, and that means trouble crossing the border. Not much choice though, so I leave around 3pm. Like usual, Hwy.2 to Amherst is a pleasure to ride.... sheltered from most of the wind, but as soon as I get out onto the Trans-Canada Hwy., it's a different story - the wind smacks me around like a leaf. From this point to Sackville the cross winds are unpredictable, but expecting them from the Bay of Fundy side is the norm. I make sure I'm on the west side of my lane so I've got room to maneuver when a gust blows me east. I've dropped my speed to 90kph to stay in control, and finally get to pull off the highway for gas in Sackville.

The ride up to Moncton is still quite windy, but now it's time to leave this wide open main road and visit Jeff for his supper break. It's good to see Jeff again, and conversation comes between A&W grilled chicken burger, onion rings and root beer....mmmm. Half an hour goes by quick, and it's time to say goodbye.

I make my way out of the city and head for the woods onto Hwy.126 where I'll be protected from the winds. There's not too much traffic on this road, and I soon find myself alongside of the Via passenger train. We are travelling at the same 95-100kph, and it's a full 15-20 minute drive beside the train as I finally pull ahead when it comes to a stop in Rogersville.

Another 1/2 hour up the highway, I hit Miramichi and backtrack a bit down Hwy.11 to get gas at the Irving and wash the bugs off the visor. The temperature has risen up north, so I grab a popsicle and remove my jacket liner. Although I didn't have room to remove it earlier in the trip, I now have the tie-down netting attached to the rear seat, so the jacket liner fits nicely underneath. I'm cooled down now, and I cross the Centennial Bridge and head north on the fast Hwy.8 through more woods. The winds are calmer up north, and by the time I'm pulling into Bathurst, the temp. has climbed to 25°C/77°F.

Further up the road around Nash Creek, some fancy Mustang starts speeding up as I'm going by him in a passing lane. Mr. Mustang wants to play....little does he know what I'm sitting on..... goodbye Mr. Mustang.

There's lots of bugs out on this warm evening, and good thing I've got a visor since I see/hear the smack of one after the other against it. By the time I get home and pull off the helmet, I see just how many bugs there were since washing my visor an hour and half ago.