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You've got a good account going of a trip I'd love to do one day- can't wait for the next installment.
 

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Just wondering if/when there will be another installment of the travelogue. It would help in keeping the winter blues at bay...
 

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I just found this thread and thought it would be a good "read"on a cold winter night. What happened? Did he get lost and never make it back? I need to know!!!!
 

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oomis?

More please!!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Sorry - back on track!

Sorry for leaving everyone hanging! I've totally got PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) right now, and so I'll get the rest of the installments up, I promise!

Here we go!

One of the things that I forgot to mention about my stay in Schreiber/Terrace Bay is that I got stopped by a R.I.D.E spotcheck (which is like a spotcheck to catch drunk drivers). At 6 pm on a Sunday.

I really found this odd, because I'm used to seeing these spotchecks in places and times where they're likely to catch drunk drivers to get them off the street, and to serve as a deterrent when people are more likely to drink and drive, like New Years', or at special events...but 6pm in broad daylight on a Sunday? What gives?

The next day, the Monday (day 3), I had breakfast at a truck stop about 50 kms east of Thunder Bay. The air was hazy with smoke, which really threw me for a loop, because in Toronto it's illegal to smoke in any enclosed public space, unless it's a designated smoking room that's totally sealed off with a separate ventilation system. It didn't bother me any, I don't smoke, and if it had bothered me, I could have gone somewhere else. *shrug*

I was counting on the truck stop coffee, and it didn't let me down. Truckers don't *&^% around with coffee, and this place was no exception.

So I have to tell this story, and it's a bit longwinded, but it's essentially my first adventure of the trip....

I made a big deal about packing for this trip. I was positively anal about what to bring, to the point where I was really over-prepared. But in my defence, this was my first trip of this calibre, I was going to be almost totally solo for 12000 kms in some pretty lonely territory. One of the things that I went to great lengths to find and buy in time for the trip was a portable air compressor that hooks right up to the battery. Obviously, I was hoping that I'd never have to use it, but I felt more confident knowing that it was with me, you know?

Somewhere Kakebeka Falls (http://maps.google.com/maps?q=kakabeka+falls,+ON&spn=0.705017,2.609253&hl=en) and Shabaque, I passed a graffittied van on the side of the road. His back window is plastered with a map, and on the map in duct tape is written a plea for help: "2 FLATS HELP". In the back of my mind is the fact that I have this air compressor, and lord knows if I was stuck on the side of the road out here, I'd sure appreciate someone stopping. Plus, on a 3 week trip like this, I'm going to need all the road karma I can get, so this is a chance to build some up.

I turned around and rode up to help.

I'll spare his name, I'll just call him G, but G is a character. I do not want this thread to get jacked into something political, so spare me any comments on whether or not you agree with me, with him or with anybody else...this is a roadtrip story, 'mkay?

The van is spraypainted, and it reminds me more of the Mystery Machine (Scooby Doo, anyone?) than anything else. G emerges from behind the van, and he's ... uh, well, he's unkept. Reminds me immediately of a neo-hippy.

G tells me that he has two flats. He got one of them while he was driving, and he pulled over on the side of the road to fix it last night, and just decided to sleep in his van at the side of the road. When he woke up this morning, he had two flat tires - the spare had leaked out, and another one also leaked out - , which is precisely two more than he can fix at this point.

Now, the area we're in, really there's nothing. It's more than a half hour at 120 kms/hr back to the nearest gas station, and I have no idea what's ahead of us. G has no idea - NO IDEA - how isolated he really is. G is an American on his way to Banff, Alberta, to a family reunion. G's family has money - serious money - and they have a family reunion every year. The deal is that if you can make it to the reunion on your own, all your expenses while you're there are paid for by Daddy.

G doesn't like Daddy very much. G is a Democrat, and Daddy's a Republican. G's a politically active neo-hippy, who lives (with his cat) in his Mystery Machine, and who does web design from his van between political protests against people like Daddy. G looks EXACTLY like he's been living out of his van for a year and a half.

The tires on the Mystery Machine are bald as a 10 year old's @ss, and so I'm talking to G about the fact that there's no way he's going to make it to Banff on these tires. None. G's not really listening, and so in the back of my mind I'm wondering if he really understands how big and empty most of Canada is...

Anyway, as I finish with his tires, he offered me money for the help, which I didn't accept. Frankly, I thought he was better off spending the money on new tires...when I told him that I was going to BC, he insisted on telling me all about this nude beach that I had to go visit, which isn't my thing. The kinds of people that are at nude beaches are always precisely the kind of people that should keep their clothes on. Like me. Besides, I prefer my women with their clothes on and a glint in their eyes....knowwhatImean?

I ended up in Kenora, ON, which is on the Lake of the Woods. Big with the fishing and hunting types. Kenora has 13500 people, which is a lot, considering the tiny little hamlets I've been passing through. It's the height of cottage season, though, and Kenora is packed with touristy cottagers. The kind of people that I'd prefer to avoid...

The land I've passed through today is starting to get a little less severe. It's getting flatter, and the forests are getting scrubbier. The ride up to this point has been really intimidating, to be honest. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but Lake Superior is far different from Lake Ontario, where I live. They're both Great Lakes, but Ontario has been totally domesticated. It's civilized from shore to shore. Lake Superior is wild. It's untamed, and you get the feeling that the lake is just permitting you to pass through, as long as you don't make too much of a fuss...

I paid $62 for a crappy hotel room. *&^%ing tourists.... :)

THe Nomad's running like a top. I'm settling into a nice groove, as long as I find an excuse to stop every hour and a half or so, my back is doing alright as well. I'm riding from about 6:30 am to about 4 or so in the evening, with a break for breakfast and for lunch. I'm constantly worried about mileage between gas stops, so pretty much every opportunity I have, which actually isn't that often, I'm stopping for gas. I'm not letting myself get below a half a tank, if I can help it. My mileage isn't impressive right now, I'm only getting about 200 kms before the warning light comes on, and I can maybe stretch it to another 50 kms after that. Which I hope I'll never have to do.

For the past couple of days, I've been playing leapfrog with a couple of riders on Road Kings, and I think they were on the ferry from Tobermory with me.

I'm starting to get a little lonely. I'm connecting with the family a couple of times a day, but I'm quickly finding the limits to my introversion. I like riding solo, but it's going to be a long trip. What's nice, though, is being able to stop at the end of the day and be in the presence of people, just watching them anonymously. I feed on this at the end of the day, just soaking in other people like a sponge.

I went to explore the town, and had a drink in a bar on the main strip, which I ended up regretting. It was full of irritating tourists, and I felt like I had nothing in common with anyone there. It just wasn't my kind of joint, you know? I started sinking a little bit, wondering exactly what I was doing on this trip. The honeymoon was over, and the reality of how alone I was, and would continue to be, was setting in. The good news is that this melancholy was good fodder for the journal.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Tuesday, Day 4

Tuesday, Day 4.

The place that I stayed in last night was nasty, yellowed and stained. In my journal I wrote “in this room, the colour white is an impossibility”. I was up at 5:45 am on my own, and couldn’t wait to get out of there. The good news is that I discovered two new bands while watching MuchMusic (our version of MTV). Rilo Kiley and The Dead 60’s. I love discovering music, especially while I’m traveling, because that music always becomes linked to the trip.

I found myself in Winnipeg on the Tuesday, finally having made it out of Ontario. 4 days to cross one province…wow. It really gives a new sense of how big Canada is. Not only how big it is, but how much space there is between things. Imagine a country larger than the US with a population less than California, 80% of which is a couple of hundred kilometers from the US border…

You want solitude? Come get some.

Northern Ontario really is some intimidating country. The Trans-Canada follows the shore of Lake Superior, and the vistas are beautiful. There are some pics in my gallery. I live on the shores of Lake Ontario, so big water isn’t a strange thing for me, but there’s a different feeling in the air around Superior. After some deep contemplation (isn’t the bike just the best for that?) I finally peg it. Lake Ontario is entirely tamed. There’s civilization on all of it’s shores – it’s surrounded by humanity. Lake Superior on the other hand, is still wild. There are outposts of people here and there, but by and large it’s the way it’s been for … well, forever.

My ride’s been really cold so far. I have my heavy gloves on, but they’re not keeping off the chill, particularly when it has been raining. Note to self – I can have all the raingear I want, but when the hands get cold, start cramping up and shivering, the ride is over. I make a mental note to see if there’s a dealership in Winnipeg (the gateway to the Prairies!) where I can source some better gloves.

In Winnipeg, I found a Harley dealership, and popped in. Now – I’m admittedly a little skittish around Harley dealerships, because as fine a motorcycle as they make, I can’t for the life of me understand the people that buy into the lifestyle hook line and sinker. I mean – you can buy a HD dogcollar and dish for your poodle. It’s insane. I’d ride a Harley, if they cost half what they charge.

Anyway, I found a pair of gloves that would be just the ticket except for (surprise) the price. I couldn’t bring myself to pay that much for gloves, so I toddled on out of there.

Winnipeg is a small city compared to Toronto, and I’m used to riding in some of the worst traffic in North America, but it really surprised me how I had to get used to riding in traffic again. It required a total reset, and it took a little bit before I was comfortable with it.

I’m happy with they way I’ve packed things. I ended up not bringing the spare can for gas, but everything I need to bring inside a motel (or a tent) is inside my T-Bag, and so I can just lift it off the back seat and bring the whole thing inside. The saddlebags are full of stuff that stays on the bike, so my clothes and personal items are ready to bring in. It’s a small thing, but it’s nice to be able to unpack the bike quickly. Considering the number of times I’m going to be doing it on this trip, I’m happy with my system.
 

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Hey Oomis- great to read your latest installments! As a fellow Torontonian suffering from acute "PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome)", they help whittle the blues away. Keep 'em comin'!
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Red said:
Hey Oomis- great to read your latest installments! As a fellow Torontonian suffering from acute "PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome)", they help whittle the blues away. Keep 'em comin'!
I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one suffering!!!
 

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Oomis, any way you can post a map of your epic journey? Keep it up in any case it's a great story.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
bastardhound said:
Planning the reverse of your trip this summer-from Edmonton to Sault ste Marie---no issues on fuel? Northern Ontario has me a little concerned...
Be concerned, but careful, and I think you'll be fine. Two issues: weather and rain.

Weather: I was warned that Northern Ontario has really unpredictable weather, and that's what I experienced. I rode through everything from hot to cold and dry to really, really wet. Be prepared.

I did the trip on my Nomad, which had a range of about 200 kms before the low fuel light came on, and maybe 250 kms total, and I think the Vol is comparable, if you ride her carefully. The thing with fuel in Northern Ontario is that you should fill up every chance you get, even if you don't think you need to. Seriously, I was stopping to fill up even if I was only down about a quarter tank. Sometimes the gas station you were counting on isn't open...a lot of them are mom and pop shops, which are finding it tough to compete, aparently. That's what the locals told me, anyway, and I found a couple of gas stations that were closed that would have left me in a tough situation if I hadn't been so conservative.

Don't be a hero, don't ride early in the morning/at dusk/in the evening because of the moose - and I'm really not joking - and you'll be all good. Keep the revs down and enjoy the scenery. It's beautiful.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Bootlegger said:
Oomis, any way you can post a map of your epic journey? Keep it up in any case it's a great story.
Thanks!!

I'd love to - I'll look into some route/mapping software that I can do it on...anyone have any suggestions?
 

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oomis..I have loved this thread, makes for great reading.
I am planning my own big trip this summer ( see my thread Island nation tour) and your write ups have inspired me even more.
Also I am visiting Toronto this August..is there anywhere you can hire a bike ? If so I would love to link up with some of you fellow bikers on that side of the pond and see some of your sights and sounds ( and I don`t mean the Horseshoe !! :wink: as much as I love that pub) the real way.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
urbmark said:
oomis..I have loved this thread, makes for great reading.
I am planning my own big trip this summer ( see my thread Island nation tour) and your write ups have inspired me even more.
Also I am visiting Toronto this August..is there anywhere you can hire a bike ? If so I would love to link up with some of you fellow bikers on that side of the pond and see some of your sights and sounds ( and I don`t mean the Horseshoe !! :wink: as much as I love that pub) the real way.
I saw your thread...and I'm jealous...but then again I'm jealous of anyone that's riding when I'm not, and anyone that's anywhere that I want to be. :) I'm glad it's inspiring...I know that when I was planning this trip I was scouring the net for stories that would help me plan.

In terms of coming to Toronto and renting a bike, I think you have two options. One is GTA Exotic rentals at http://www.gtaexotics.ca/ and the other is the Harley dealership at http://www.harleytoronto.com/hdtcms/Rentals/.

Looking at their web page, GTA exotics seems really pricy, and the HD is ridiculously pricy. And I'm not sure if there would be any restrictions because your driver's licence isn't Canadian (I'm assuming). I'd send them an email to see...

What's the occasion that you're traipsing all the way over here for, and how much free time are you going to have? Where are you staying? I'd love to meet up with you, and I'm sure we can get some of the other GTA guys to come out of the woodwork....eh boys? Maybe we can make a weekend trip out of it or something...
 

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Depending when in August, I'd been up for a ride also. I'm away from the 6th to the 13th, but at that time I'll be teaching at a summer camp just north of Peterborogh, and there are some great roads up there, so maybe a rendezvous could be in order?
 
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