We finally did it: Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding!!!
I've been a member of HU for years now, reading and dreaming, being inspired by all of you who take the plunge and go all in on that RTW trip, leaving behind everything you've built up to chase the four winds.
So here's our story, at last:
Neda and I got our motorcycle licenses together in spring of 2004, as an engagement present to ourselves. We thought it would be a neat thing to do.
We took day trips, hung out at motorcycle meets, rode on group rides, did track days, took longer motorcycle trips, rode dirt bikes, became motorcycle instructors, took even longer trips, and then dealt with the aftermath, the ensuing ennui of "real life" - the anchor of a home, the jobs and the bills; the maintenance of everything we've accumulated in our collective seven decades on earth.
So the solution seemed logical to us: quit the jobs, sell our home and everything in it, and set out on THE motorcycle journey with no route planned, no end in sight and no return date in mind.
Here are some pics from our blog: Jun 14 2012: Escape Velocity
It all starts with a bike... Actually, this was one of the last things we did to prepare for our trip!
This is what's left of our earthly possessions after a few rounds of Keep, Sell, Throw Away, Give Away. Now to get it all on our bikes...!
The preparations were long and tedious, possibly the content of another blog entry, and we did manage to finally leave Toronto two days later than we had planned - See! We're already sticking to our "No Plan" resolution.
Our early Sunday morning ride out of Ontario was a breath of fresh air, after the stifling, hectic bustle of the previous few weeks. No responsibility but to ride and ride and ride. A few things still lingered on my mind, one motorcycle, one SUV still left to sell, and the turnover of keys for the condo when we returned in 2 1/2 weeks. And the weather was beautiful! So unlike all of our other motorcycle trips.
I've left just enough space for myself between the tank bag and the stuff piled on the rear seat. Hopefully I don't gain any weight on this trip...
'm taking my trusty R1200GS. It does handle like a pig now with all the weight in the back, the front end feels so light and I have to push the bars a lot harder so I don't run wide in turns. Ack!
First day's ride
Picked up some yummy strawberries at Flynn's Corners before hitting the 507
We rode all our favorite back roads out of Ontario and knocked on the door of our very good friends in Ottawa, Kevin and Manon, who generously fed us with ice cream in the garage and let us set up our tent in their back yard. Just in case you are thinking they aren't very good friends at all, I am deathly allergic to their two cats who glared at me with knowing malintent through the screen door of the back porch.
Coming off the R1200ST's shaft drive, Neda has to get used to lubing her chain drive every evening now. Haha!
Cooling off with a little ice cream in the garage
Easing me into camping, backyard-style. Just like a kid.
I'm not a camping-kinda guy. My idea of roughing it means no fluffy white robe hanging on the back of the bathroom door and no mints on the pillow. Neda, on the other hand, is NatureGirl, so she was really looking forward to getting a lot of outdoor-time.
Neda and Manon prepare breakfast, while I watch from the back porch.
Leaving Kevin and Manon's place, I accidentally left my GPS case lying on the top of one of my saddlebags. The rear is so crowded with all the dry bags, extra fuel tank, toolkit and backpack that it's easy to misplace something back there. By the time I had realized it was missing, it had already been sacrificed to the highway gods. :(
Kevin: "The only thing this driveway needs is more GSes...!"
GS convention in Kevin and Manon's driveway
No RSS feed on the site?? Would help a lot to follow...
Nice pictures on your website. I hope to see a lot more of them ;-)
Great Blog indeed....I'm thoroughly enjoying reading about your adventures, and congratulations on the great pictures and writing. It's really keeping me busy on a hot lazy day. Thanks!
Repost from Jun 16 2012: Off to Quebec City!
Not too much to say about the ride to Quebec, we've done these roads tons of times, and we've decided to superslab it to see some new sights. We stopped off in Montreal to get a new rear tire fitted on my GS, something I could have done at home, but just didn't have enough time with all the preparations, had a quick grocery store lunch and then off to Quebec City, our first campsite (KOA!)
Streets were deserted during the morning ride through old Quebec City
More old city scenes from the back of a motorcycle.
I've always wanted to ride through the narrow streets of the old city, soaking up the European atmosphere. We passed through the city walls, remnants of the military presence in the 1600s and found the streets were soaked from the rains the night before. After a quick spin, the bikes were parked and we toured the rest of the town on foot, taking lots of pictures.
Owl watches over the Saint Lawrence River at Quebec City
This fiddler was very photogenic! Playing old Quebecois tunes.
Getting busier in the old city.
These cut-outs were hung above the old city streets.
Taking a break from walking around.
The Tour de Beauce runs in Quebec City today. We waited about 20 minutes for the bicycles to come running by in the old city. They were preceded by a police escort on motorcycles.
These guys were dragging their floorboards around the corners!
Waiting for the bicycles to run by
There they go! there must have been over 100 bicycles,
this was their first lap so they were bunched up coming up the hill
They would go on to do thirteen laps around the old city
We did a bit of vagabonding today by hiding out in the lobby of a swanky Quebec hotel, stealing their wi-fi, electric outlets and air-conditioning! We had to share it with a bachelorette party though, and at the end, we got to sign the bride's T-shirt. Sorry, no pix! :)
Posefest in Quebec City
Congratulations and well done on seeing the light and having the balls to go out in search of your dreams!!
Look forward to reading lots more and seeing your photos.
Repost from: Jun 17 2012: Gaspe Peninsula
The Gaspe peninsula lies on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River. It's kind of a pain to get to for most Torontonians because of the sheer distance to get to the start of the peninsula - about 1,000 kms by slab - definitely more than a long weekend trip. But since we didn't have anything to do for the next two and half weeks...
Riding around the Gaspe Peninsula
There are a lot of Can-Am Spyders riding around the area. I counted, and every third motorcycle we passed was a Spyder. Maybe Bombardier was having a sale for the locals? It got so ridiculous, that when Neda passed a Spyder, instead of waving, she would do the Incey Wincey Spider motion with her hand. Got some puzzled looks from that one! :)
Souvenir shop on the shores of Gaspe
We stopped in Rimouski to eat our lunch in a parking lot of a grocery store and we saw what looked to be a motorcycle school. We thought it was just a basic licensing course until they started doing stunts!
I like their stunting gear...
Highway 132 winds its way on the south shore, passing through many picturesque seaside towns. The weather here is cool, low 20s, and my Weather app on my iPhone is still defaulting to Toronto's heat wave. I've got a sliding window of three cities on my app now - where we are, where we're going to be tomorrow, and some mid-way destination. Nomad 21st-century style... :)
Someone painted the rock in the waters outside Saint-Flavie like an Egyptian Pharoah
Aptly named, "Pharoah Rock"
As we reached closer to the tip of the peninsula, the roads got tighter and tighter and we had a bit of fun twisting the throttle as we rolled into Forillon National Park. We arrived too late to go hiking and had to pitch our tent in the dark. Thank god it wasn't raining, as it usually does on our trips!
Big rock at Perce. We would ride around the coast and walk around the strait in about 20 minutes.
The next morning we set off south towards New Brunswick, still hugging the coastline past Perce to Chaleur Bay where we caught the highway south. We did stop to visit the big rock at Perce, as it's one of the famous landmarks in the Gaspe region.
Cormorants dive-bombing the water for fish
It was close to low tide, as the waters were low enough for you to walk to the rock.
If you waited there till high tide, you'd be stranded!
Walking around Perce
Neda and Kim Jong-Il posing in front of the big rock at Perce
Coastline at the Gaspe peninsula.
Big stretch break for the GS and Neda
Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/4.html
Neda's take on a PB&J sandwich in Forrilon National Park, in Gaspe
Found a great campsite in St-Louis-de-Kent, NB!
These two pictures above typify our experience so far - camping and eating groceries. We're trying to stretch our travel dollar, since technically we're both unemployed and homeless! :)
We dawdled quite a bit on the Gaspe peninsula, so trying to budget time as well, we decided to boot it across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia - all the while feeling continually rushed to see as much of the Maritimes as possible before we had to make it back to Toronto by the end of the month to close our condo and sell the remaining vehicles before our next leg. Having to shop for groceries everyday and find a campsite before nightfall didn't help matters any!
So.. not a lot of pictures from this segment...
Our first taste of seafood in the Maritimes!
As we passed Antigonish, NS, we saw a sign for McLobster. It was more like McRobster - didn't taste very good and robbed us of $6.89! We met Sean at the McDonald's, who happened to be the city planner for Antigonish, and he urged us to ride around town, so we did. Nice town, shame about their McDonald's...
We did keep in contact with Sean a few times over e-mail as he had invited us to his cottage in Halifax, but the timing was off and we never did meet up.
Neda catches up on some light reading while waiting for the ferry
The ferry to Newfoundland departs from North Sydney, which is on the eastern coast of Nova Scotia. We arrived early and took our place in line with a lot of other Newfoundlanders waiting to go home. I had a long discussion with Robert, a francophone from St-Pierre-et-Miqeulon, a little island off the south coast of Newfoundland that is actually a part of France! He had a Goldwing and we were both talking in broken Franglais about motorcycles and riding. How I wished I learned more French in high school, he was a really great guy!
Waiting to board the ferry for Newfoundland
Our bikes get to travel across the Gulf of St Lawrence in the underbelly of the ferry, comforted by the weight of dozens of 18-wheelers above our heads.
While we were waiting in line, some locals told us that the winds on the coast of Newfoundland got so high, they blew 18-wheelers off the road. We tied our bikes down real good after hearing that, but it was pretty smooth sailing all the way to The Rock.
In the hold of the ferry
It's a 6.5 hour overnight trip from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to the west coast of Newfoundland at Port-Aux-Basques. There were a lot of people on the ferry on their way to St John's on the east coast, but because it's so costly to ferry all the way there, most people choose just to drive across the island instead.
Trying to get comfortable on the ferry
Being unemployed and homeless, we opted for the cheap seats on the ferry instead of a cabin. We weren't allowed to lie down on the floor or across several seats and if the crew found you, they would kick at you until you woke up... :(
Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/5.html
Pulling into Port-Aux-Basques
The ferry pulled into Port-Aux-Basques, on the west coast of Newfoundland at 6 in the morning. We stopped into the visitor centre outside of town and waited a little while so we wouldn't have to share road with the hundred other vehicles also exiting the ferry. Also had to change the time on the clocks on the bike. Did you know NL has its own time zone and just to be different, it's a half hour ahead of Atlantic Time! Despite our little stopover and losing 30 minutes, the seaside community was still fast asleep as we left in the rain and fog, to ride north up the main highway.
Riding the west coast of Newfoundland
They call these the Table Top Mountains, a leveling off of the terrain that gives rise to a natural wind-tunnel effect, the same winds that blow 18-wheelers and trains off their tracks.
Bearded dragon stops to say hi to us in Corner Brook
Corner Brook is the first large town about 2.5 hours north of Port-Aux-Basque, and are they ever friendly! Seems like our stop for lunch brought half the population of the town out. As we hung out in the Timmies parking lot eating our sandwiches, we had a parade of people asking where we were from and giving us advice on where to go on the island and everyone warned us to be careful of the killer moose on the roads - they like to jump out in front of vehicles. Normally our conversations went like this, "How's it going der, eh? Watch out for dem der moose!". Lots of stories of moose strikes on The Rock, especially during the early morning and evening hours.
Gros Morne Park - wiped from the ferry ride
We got to Gros Morne Park in the early afternoon and set up camp. Because I opted to take pictures on the ferry ride instead of sleep, I passed out immediately while Neda took the opportunity to hike around see the park. Later on, we met up with Ben at the visitor centre, who happened to be a fellow ADV rider on an XT600 from New York who told us that a GS rider had died on the Trans-Labrador trail that he rode on the week before. Sad news.
Neda's hike through Gros Morne Park
Gros Morne Park
The next morning, we made a decision to hot-foot it across the island. We're remorseful because we would have liked to spend more time here but we had to meet friends in Halifax in a few days time, and it turns out the ferry from NL's east coast only runs three times a week! Neda really likes it here and it is high on her list of places to move to whenever we decide to settle down again. We both really wanted to ride to St Anthony's to see the icebergs glide down between Labrador and Newfoundland, but Ben assured us that there weren't a lot of them. Next time!
The scenery off the main highway was pretty uniform as it cut its way through the boreal forest of the island. I had the depressing feeling that we were missing so much of Newfoundland and I vowed that after we wrapped things up at home, I mean Toronto... :), we would go about the rest of our journey very differently. After trekking 700 kms eastwards and a whole day later, we pulled into St John's, the capital city of NL.
Neda hams it up at Cape Speer. Took forever to dry her off...
Looking pensive at Cape Speer
The fog was pretty thick in the early evening as we rode the steep and windy road out to Cape Speer, the eastern-most point in Canada. It's just outside St John's, and Neda remarks how understated our tourist attractions are compared to the US. No wall-to-wall T-shirt/hot-dog stand/souvenir stalls here, just the beauty of the eastern Newfoundland coast. We stared out at the Atlantic ocean together and wondered what we'd see and where we'd end up next.
This is where our journey really starts...
Following the yellow brick road to the lighthouse at Cape Speer
Starving, we rode back down to St John's for dinner. We were parked somewhere in downtown St John's looking for a place to eat, with no success when we walked back to our bikes and there was a guy on a huge red Kawi waiting for us! Roy is a paramedic in St John's, and he was just riding around when he saw two unfamiliar bikes (everyone knows everyone in St John's) and he wanted to give us a tour of his city. So we hopped on and followed him around town as he showed us the sights. He was a great ambassador for the town and we felt like we had the red carpet treatment!
Roy, our tour guide around St John's
Our final stop on Roy's tour was the restaurant we were looking for, the Bacalao, billed as "nouveau Newfoundland cuisine". After a long day of touring, the food was excellent: Labrador caribou and traditional salted cod. Amazing food, all washed down by some dark ale from a local brewery called Quidi Vidi.
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Fantastic pictures, hope you have a wonderful and safe adventure and one day I can make the break just like you have done:thumbup1:
Updated from Jun 23 2012: Around St John's
Start the day right!
The next morning, we rode around St John's to get some supplies and walked the downtown area. Ended up at Ches's fish and chips, which was a Newfoundland institution, and came highly recommended by Roy the night before. One of our resolutions on this trip is to try everything the locals recommend. I suspect the food tasted extra good because of all the hills we had to walk up and down to get to Ches's. Did I mention the roads in St John's are crazy steep?!
Lake Quidi Vidi
After lunch, we hopped on our bikes and rode out to a very pretty area just outside St John's, recommended by the waitress at Bacalao last night. It's called Quidi Vidi, and it's where the beer we drank is made. The brewery is housed in an old fish processing plant on the lake, the white houses above are fishing stages.
GS at Lake Quidi Vidi.
Hanging out at the Quidi Vidi brewery
We took a tour of the brewery and received some beers to take home with us. These are not the beers, we only got one each. Unfortunately, mine leaked in my top case on the way back. It's very hard to wash out the smell of beer. So right now I'm carrying a little bit of Quidi Vidi 1892 dark ale with me everywhere I go.
99 bottles of beer on the wall...
The fishery was bought by the brewery after it was shut down when Newfoundlanders faced tough restrictions on fishing in the 90s.
Signpost at Signal Hill. Foreshadowing, maybe?
Around the same area is Signal Hill, which was the site of the first transatlantic wireless signal by Marconi. Later used by the military as a communications centre, it provided us with great views of St. John's from above as well as the waters of the Atlantic ocean.
Cabot Tower at the top of Signal Hill
Neda gets shot out of a canon at the top of Signal Hill
The view of St. John's from the top of Signal Hill.
Whale-watching from Signal Hill
These tourists must have gotten their money's worth. There were a lot of whales jumping in and out of the waters below Signal Hill, and all you had to do was look for the whale-watching boats as they followed whales swimming in the bay.
Colored row houses are a famous sight in St John's
The legend is that the fog was so thick in St John's that when the fisherman came home, they couldn't distinguish which house was theirs, so they painted them all different colours so they wouldn't walk into the wrong home. Dunno if it's true, but it's pretty.
Still empty on George St, the hub of nightlife in St. John's
In the evening, we took a bus into St. John's looking to taste a bit of nightlife. However, we were reminded how old we were when at 10PM on a Saturday night, we were ready for bed and the party hadn't yet started yet...
Not "screeched in" officially...
Newfoundland screech is a foul-tasting paint-thinner that the locals used to brew cheaply. There is a whole tradition of being "screeched-in" involving drinking this slop, kissing a cod and reciting a dirty limerick about jibs and penises... The only place that we could get screeched in was Trapper John's, which was dead, so we instead went to a crowded bar and ordered some screech there instead. Turned out we walked into a cougar bar...
Next day was a travel day - ride down to Argentia, at the southern tip of Newfoundland to catch the ferry back to Sydney. We were recommended to ride some of the more interested roads around the coastline instead of taking the main highway straight there. So we did! Scenic routes like the Irish Loop which winds its way around the Avalon peninsula and ends up near the ferry dock. Apparently, the Irish Loop gets its name from the fact that most of the initial settlers of the coastal towns hail directly from Ireland.
A wedding and a funeral on the road
The pictures above depict a wedding roadside toll: two women raising money for a stag and doe for a local couple getting married that weekend. Neda donated $5 to pass. :) The bottom picture was actually a funeral procession, which we initially thought was traffic due to construction! We saw cars lined up behind heavy machinery, but then the construction vehicles did a 180 and all the cars followed as well! Turns out everyone in that town, including the construction workers rode in and out of town to pay their respects to the dearly departed. We joined the procession at the end of the line and followed them back into town and passed them as they turned into the cemetery. A wedding and a funeral on the same road within the same hour! Bizarre!
The ferry ride back to Nova Scotia from Newfoundland
Since we were leaving from the east coast of NL, instead of the west, where we arrived, the ferry ride back was 15-hours long. So, to avoid getting kicked in our sleep by the ferry crew, we dished out a small fortune for a cabin during the overnight ride back to Nova Scotia. This was our first time during this trip that we're sleeping in a bed and the cramped accommodations felt so luxurious!
LOL! I love the automatic beer replacement icon!
Taken from Jun 24 2012: Hangin' in Halifax
We rode out from the ferry into early morning rain coming down on Sydney, Nova Scotia. We've had such perfect weather for our ride so far, very un-RideDOT.com-like, so we were due for some precipitation! Not a lot of pictures from our ride, since we had to meet friends in Halifax, about 400 kms away.
Neda tries to make the guard smile at the Citadel. Unsuccessfully...
The weather clears up as we enter Halifax and we ride up Citadel Hill to check out Fort George, the latest and largest of many fortifications built to repel attacks from the Indians first and then the Americans later on during their Civil war and the War of 1812.
Tall Ship Silva is a permanent fixture touring around Halifax Harbour, a popular spot for weddings and events
We met our friends Khanh, Ed and Dirk in Halifax harbour, they had just completed a harrowing Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000 from Toronto through torrential rain and pea-soup fog in New Brunswick! It was nice hanging out with folks from home and we took the Alexander Keith brewery tour for some free beers at the end. Oh, and the show was nice as well, if not a bit cheesy...
Alexander Keith brewery. Our second beer tour this week!
The rest of the Toronto riding gang, Will, Mel and Irene pulled in later and we had a great dinner in the harbour, and then checked into a motel (BEDS! LUXURY!) for the evening. While it's great to be on the road and seeing new places and meeting new people all the time, it's nice to hang out with familiar faces again.
Fog creeps over the harbour at Peggy's Cove
The next morning, we all rode out to Peggy's Cove, a very picturesque community on the south shore of Nova Scotia, less than an hour outside of Halifax. It was very foggy, which added to the Maritimes atmosphere, but thankfully the thick blanket burned off while we were walking around the lighthouse and granite rocks at Peggy's Cove.
Arguably the most photographed lighthouse in the world
I'm trying to bump up the stats for "Most photographed lighthouse..."
Irene and Khanh taking in the atmosphere at Peggy's cove
Hangin' out with the hooligans - Dirk and Ed at Peggy's cove
Will looks out into the bay at Peggy's Cove.
We doubled back towards the northern tip of Nova Scotia in the afternoon. This would be our third time doing this route on the trip and co-incidentally we stopped in Antigonish for a third time to gas up. No McLobster this time though. Speaking of, we've been eating a lot of seafood this trip, I'm not normally a big lobster fan, but it tastes so fresh out here!
Sun sets on our bikes at our campsite outside Port Hawkesbury
We rode out to a campsite for the evening just outside Port Hawkesbury, yakking and laughing over dinner, while poking good-natured fun at each other until the sun set on our tents. We're rolling with our own motorcycle gang now!
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