Days 6 and 7: Back to the States

day 6

I woke up early – not due to sunlight, because I was in the middle of the woods, but because as I’d feared my air mattress almost completely deflated, and the gravel under my tent is hard. Clearly I was going to have to fix this. I even found a patch kit in the bag the air mattress and pump go into. But this was my last night of camping on this trip, so that could wait until I got home. Another part of the camping scam here is that you only have until 11am to leave the campground, and noon to be out of the park unless you pay for another day. So one positive thing about being awake so early was there was no chance I’d run out of time in the park.

On my way out, I stopped to take a walk down to the beach where I’d gone exploring in the cove the previous night at low tide. As bad luck would have it, the tide was once again low. I saw this only partway down the hill, turned around, and left. As I said, it would be much better to visit the Bay of Fundy when you have time to watch both low and high tides at the same place.

IMGP0567When I’d told the guy working admission at Hopewell Rocks that I was camping at Point Wolfe, he told me that I HAD to go to Kelly’s Bake Shop and try their sticky buns. I figured park rangers know their stuff, so I followed his suggestion (plus a coffee, of course), and was glad I did. It’s a tiny little place, but the sticky bun – more like a piece of cake soaked in some sugary something that’ll probably kill me – was soooooo yummy. I sat outside at a picnic table and enjoyed my morning treat.

Then I hit the road, back into Fundy National Park and continuing through it and beyond on 114. I stopped at a scenic area not too far past Point Wolfe, where the Canadian and United Nations flags flew proudly. Where do you ever see a United Nations flag in the US except… well, the United Nations? Unfortunately, it was so hazy and humid that the bay was almost invisible through it, so I rode on. The road was in good shape and rather fun through the park, lined by miles and miles… I mean, kilometers and kilometers of pine trees on either side.

IMGP0576As soon as I emerged on the other side of the park, I was back on typical New Brunswick pavement – meaning, awful. I made my way to Trans Canada Highway 1, and picked up the superslab for a little while. However, while waiting for my food at Saprano’s the previous night, I’d studied a map of the area that was on the wall, and made mental notes of some of the scenic routes I might enjoy some detours on. That’s exactly what I did. I took the exit for Route 111, which took me on a nice loop back to the coast down to St. Martins, then hooked back into 1 soon before Saint John. It was time for a gas stop, so I took an exit in Saint John that had a gas sign on it. Once off the exit, there was no further guidance on where gas might be found. My GPS also played tricks on me, sending me on a wild goose chase throughout the center of town, until I gave up and hopped back on the highway.  A couple of exits later, still in Saint John, I spotted, with my own eyes, an Irving station just off an exit, despite there not being signs for gas at that exit.  I managed a last minute departure from the highway, refueled, and carried on. Sadly, I did not spot a church steeple to photograph there and, in a cheesy Doctor Who reference, title “The Bells of Saint John.”

IMGP0581Not far after Saint John there were signs for another Fundy scenic route. There was no route number, but I took it, confident that my GPS could get me back to the highway if it wasn’t well marked. But it was well marked, and aside from the pavement conditions (even fresh pavement there isn’t that great) it was a fun, pretty, scenic ride through Chance Harbour and Dipper Harbour. Back on 1, I saw signs for Route 175, another non-highway route I’d seen on the map, but at that point I felt more like making time and getting across the border in time for lunch, since I was getting hungry and it was about that time. So I stayed on 1, all the way to the US border. Once again, I had about a 10 minute wait.  And, once again, it was a very easy border crossing. I was asked if I was bringing anything back, and when I started listing off my purchases he interrupted me – “So, just little stuff. OK. You’re all set.”  I suppose it’s not like I could smuggle very much on a motorcycle.

I stopped at the Irving in Baileyville again, refueling myself and the bike as I did on my way to Canada. Then I rode west on Route 9 through the towns with no name again. As I approached Bangor, I asked my GPS to throw me a non-highway route to Augusta, and it gave me one that took barely any more time than 95. I simply took the exit for US 202 off of 395, and followed it all the way to Augusta. After all, I’d just gained back the hour I lost by crossing back into the Eastern time zone, so I had plenty of time to take the back roads. It wasn’t an exciting ride in itself, especially compared to the places I’d been over the past few days, but it was nice, and a good reminder for me that there’s some good riding to be had in Maine. I think I still need to plan two or three days of riding up there sometime this summer. I hopped back on 95 ever so briefly to skip Augusta traffic and arrived at my friend’s house in time for dinner. My new tent worked great this trip, and aside from the deflating air mattress I had no problems with camping, but I definitely appreciated sleeping in a real bed that night.

day 1+7Finally, I had the last leg home to Massachusetts. We waited out rain all morning, partly so that I could leave, and partly because my friend wanted a ride on my bike. I would’ve been happy to provide one, but the weather thwarted that idea. Like the trip up, due to uncertain weather, I stuck to superslab all the way home, just to get it done before the sky opened up. I wore my rain pants and put on my rain jacket at one point, but it only actually rained for a couple of minutes all the way home. And then, I was home.

The trip seemed like a dream at this point. It was an exciting adventure, and I loved nearly every minute of it. But now I was home. Talk about anticlimax. But, as I unloaded the bike and unpacked, I found the assorted memorabilia from the trip – not just the little things I bought along the way, but the maps and pamphlets for the places I’d been. I will definitely have to hang onto those to plan a future trip back to Cape Breton Island. And the Bay of Fundy is probably worth an extended trip in itself someday.

Most importantly, though, this was the biggest, longest motorcycle road trip I’ve taken to date. And, with far fewer exceptions than I expected, everything went as planned, and the weather, for the most part, was wonderful. Even more amazing is how well everything worked out considering that I planned the entire trip in just under a day, the day before I left! I don’t recommend this. I’m sure I had a bit of luck going for me as well. Part of it was the circumstances that fell into place that enabled me to take this trip now. This will likely be my “big hurrah” for the summer. Now, it’s back to job hunting and real life. Not to say that I won’t take some shorter trips. Sure I will. But I need to fix my air mattress first.

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