The Split Up.

whaleNational Geographic it is not but at least we caught a glimpse of a whale

We were lucky to spot the whale from the shore.The ferry one has to take at Les Escoumins to get to the south shore runs from an Inuit reservation.  At $ 50.- per bike the price seemed a little steep but the ferry was sparsely filled. For a semi private crossing the price is understandable.

whalespecies

Where else can you see such an amazing assortment of whales?

ferry2

The Saint Lawrence River flows in a roughly north-easterly direction, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean and forming the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin. It traverses the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and is part of the international boundary between Ontario, Canada, and New York State in the United States. The river also provides the basis of the commercial St. Lawrence Seaway. Our journey took an hour and a half and is by far the widest river I ever crossed. Once on the other side Eric stopped at a restaurant for a coffee but we ended up having a complete meal. Chicken & lobster are the same price with salad, soup and dessert. There must be a chronic shortage of chicken in these parts. Signs offering lobster are everywhere and our timing is good because the lobster season is just starting. By this time it was already 1 p.m., which meant we better get some miles behind us. seascape

lowtide

The route along the south shore was spectacular but became colder & colder the further we headed north. Throughout the day a nagging toothache started to rear its ugly head. A capped molar in my right bottom jaw was definitely infected. We stopped for some hot chocolate in Matane and checked some temperatures and rainfall in the surrounding area. Going further north would mean more rain and frigid temperatures but heading towards New Brunswick made sense as 66 km inland it was 26oC, although rain was also forecasted. We mutually agreed on heading indirectly towards Charlottetown. The change in temperature turned out not to be gradual but was like riding through a wall. For a fraction of a second, while the front wheel was basking in summer heat, the rear was still in winter. About 100 km inland the thunderclouds caught up with us and we called it a day at a typical North American 1950 style, roadside Motel.

motelbike

It there was snow this could have been a scene out of “FARGO”

In the meantime the toothache had become much more than an annoyance. It had become really painful and I started to develop a fever. It is hard to be cheery with a tooth abscess. My meal across the street had to be consumed carefully, chewing on one side only. Eric was fortunately still in good spirits. I could only listen to his usually entertaining stories with one ear and headed for my room right after dinner. Took 2 sleeping pills but woke up at 12:15 from the ever increasing pain. It was clear by now that I had to find a dentist and fast. Here luck was on my side. After checking the Internet, lo and behold, there was a dental clinic 100 meters up the road. My appointment was for 1 o’clock.

Because we did not know the result, it made more sense for Eric to go ahead and visit some friends, instead of hanging around with me. I waved him “bon voyage” and waited for my appointment.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 2.31.08 PM

X-Rays revealed the problem(s) and I was given enough penicillin for the next 10 days. I need 2 root canals and crowns done when I get back to Thailand. It is always nice to have something to look forward to. Tomorrows weather looks good and all that remains to be done now is wait for Erics destination update.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 5.39.32 PM

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crossing the St Lawrence……Almost

anchorhouse

LOWTIDE

field

LOWTIDE2PANORAMA

L’Ile D’Orleans

The last couple of days seem to have been reserved for a “Camera & Electronics” breakdown. The battery on the MacBook Air has been holding its charge shorter and shorter. While in Quebec City it was a good time to visit the Apple Store and replace the battery. As soon as you walk in, an army of service personnel greets you: “Do you have an appointment?” No, I did not and slotted in behind some other people waiting for the Apple Personal Service Experience. After a quick check it was confirmed my battery was indeed due for replacement and was asked if I could come back in 6 hours. After explaining we were on our way to the East Coast he agreed to an hour and a half. We just hung around and unpacked the new Go Pro camera. When it was time I heard the unpleasant news that 3 items had to be replaced totaling $ 1,248.00 and it was cheaper to buy a new one. No thanks, for the time being the thing is still working and I won’t buy another Apple.

chateaux frontenac

Chateau Frontenac

me&statue

The rest of the day we toured around the old city before returning to the campground.

rain

A rainy get-away

breakfast

Breakfast at  Ile d’Orleans

Steady overnight rain was forecasted and they were right on the money. Packing a wet tent in the rain is no fun but it had to be done and off we went dressed in our raingear. Every half hour we seemed to ride through another season with up to 20oC difference in temperature. As soon as we discarded the raingear because of the sun and promising blue skies, it would start raining again, immediately followed by varying degrees of fog, then some blue sky and rain again. A silly notion but by continuing northward we are chasing the winter. I forgot how beautiful Canada is, especially this area and when there is no fog, you can actually see it.

whalesign

We wanted to cross the St Lawrence at Les Escoumins but found out at 3 p.m. that the next ferry was not until 6:30 p.m. The 1 ½ hour crossing would only get us on shore at 8 and after some debating we decided to stay overnight at Les Escoumins and dry our wet things. We both got a room at Motel Le Marinier. Thankfully there are a few restaurants in town but unthankfully they are closed until the end of May. We bought a few things in the store and consumed some modest calories in our respective rooms. The morning ferry leaves at a leisurely 10:30 a.m.

map

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

departure

Departure from Eric’s house

After leaving Ottawa behind, the bliss you get from riding through the countryside returned, after almost 2 years out of the saddle. Lots of French towns with small churches in the centre reminding me of the South American trip as Quebec is also predominantly Catholic. We encountered many more motorbikes than in Ontario, Perhaps the insurance rates are more reasonable. Strangely 40-50% of the bikes are Can-Am 3-wheelers. Odd contraptions but they are selling well. I guess people feel safer on 3 wheels vs 2.

canam1canam2

We rode through St Tite (population 10,000), which is the Western Mecca of the world. According to Bernard 700,000 people descent on this village for 10 days in the summer for rodeo events.  200,000 kilo’s of meat is consumed during that time.

st tite

St Tite

We followed the river for a while and then cut north where we met up with Bernard &  Lynn in St Thecle. The last time I saw them was 10 years ago. I hope we don’t let that much time pass until the next time

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 5.43.43 PM

The Good

The cottage is magical and a work of art as far as log building goes. It reminds me so much of the house in Bracebridge where I stayed just a couple of weeks ago. It is however much bigger and brighter.

house frontcottageoutside

Their dog “Coach”is very well trained and “the greatest dog in the western world” according to Eric.

coach

lynnOur hostess of the mostess

We ate Texas sizes T-Bone, drank enough wine and talked till 1 p.m. It had been a long and satisfying day.

The Bad

My GPS lost its North American map somehow and I was forced use my phone on the go trying to find Eric’s house in Ottawa. I could not hold the phone and ride at the same time which meant frequent stops. At one point I pulled over and stuffed the phone in the see-through plastic cover on the tank bag. With the acceleration the phone slipped out and tumbled on the road just out of reach of the traffic. All I remember in my minds eye is a freeze-frame of the phone in mid air. Retrieval revealed a scuffed up but still functional S4. I’ll see if I can replace the glass when I’m back in Thailand.

phone

The UGLY

On E-Bay I had ordered some mounts for the Go-Pro camera. They came from China and when I mounted them on the bike I noticed that they did not have the clip to secure it, however the camera slipped in and seemed initially to be mounted solidly enough.

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 5.40.07 PM

BIG mistake….. After having it mounted on the top box I stopped along the side of the road to shut it down and looked behind me. No camera!! We did find the shriveled remains back down the road as shown…… You can let something like this ruin your day or move on as fait accompli.

broken go pro

The shore of the St Lawrence is magnificent. I did not expect Ile d’Orleans to be as quaint as it turned out to be. It reminded me of Martha’s Vineyard near Boston.

20150524_162158

20150524_162705

20150524_162910

Immaculately maintained gleaming houses seeming like they were all painted yesterday with pristine gardens. At around 3 p.m. we set up camp on the shore of the river at a well equipped campground including WIFI in the tent. Tomorrow we plan on touring Quebec city and move further north along the St Lawrence on Tuesday…….

camp

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 6.49.39 AM

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Leaving on a – well you get the picture . . .

All packed now and planning a (good) night’s sleep before setting off in the morning for the wilds of mid northern Quebec. A night there and then on to Quebec City to see the sight.

Stay tuned.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Through Algonquin Park to Ottawa

Instead of getting a license plate in Toronto where the waiting period tends to be long, I decided to ride back to Bracebridge and get sorted out there. I must but I cannot get over the increase in prices over the last 2 years. My most expensive hamburger ever came later in Ottawa, which rang in at $ 21.- plus 15% tax + 15% tip. 1st Thing I had to do however was to get the bike certified and that could only be done at a motorcycle shop. “Turn on the lights” the mechanic said. “OK, now the tail light and the brake light. Fine, here is your certification and that will be $ 98.44 inclusive of tax.” The whole thing took less than a minute but let’s call it a minute; that is $ 5,906.40 per hour.

 Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 12.10.34 PM

                                                                                                 Algonquin Indian (ca 1890)

It took 2 days but I was finally on my way to Ottawa to meet up with Eric. The route took me through Algonquin Provincial Park.

algonquin Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 12.41.07 PM

Over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 kilometers of streams and rivers are located within the park. These were formed by the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age and the park covers about ¼ the size of Belgium. The weather was cool but an 1/8th of the weight of my jacket when I got to Ottawa, consisted of flattened mosquitos and black flies. As soon as you stop, hordes of them want to get a piece of you, so it’s better to keep moving.

.barn

Eric’s house doubles as a bed and breakfast and is quite stunning. We are using today to pack the bags and get an early start into Quebec and Bernard’s cottage near Lac-Au-Sables.

house packing

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mistakes are lessons by another name.

From the old car capital Flint (Michigan) to the border is another tedious but short ride. Harry had given me a Bill of Sale and under invoiced the Yamaha by $ 2,000.- , which translated in a $ 300.- saving on my import. Everything went smoothly with the paperwork, paid my dues and returned to the bike with an “all clear” yellow slip in hand to give to the officers outside, admiring the engine. “All done?” one of them asked. “Yes sir” was my reply. “Where did you buy this bike?” ”On EBay” I said. “ Can you empty your pockets and put the contents on the table”. I produced my wallet and my phone. “Go and sit in the building and wait!” 3 hours later they had gone through everything in my phone and had come up with the ad for the bike, showing clearly the $ 2,000.- increase over what I had claimed. “Your bike has been seized for making a false statement. If you would like it back it will cost you $ 1288.42”. I swallowed and clearly had no choice other than to pay and sheepishly produced a credit card. I could have kicked myself for this stupidity. Lesson learned I continued onto Jack & Roberta’s without incident.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 9.26.52 PM

                                                                                                         Jack & Roberta

                                                                            Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 9.33.22 PM

                                                                                                              Gaii & Joe

A month ago, an arrangement had been made to meet up on the 15th for the now yearly ‘eat-drink and be merry’ get-together with our mutual friends, Jos & Gail. The evening was, as usual, a great time consisting of lots of laughs, good-natured arguments, BBQ shish kebabs, excellent wine and some fun music.

DCIM101GOPRO

Ferry to Georgina Island

GOPR0595

                                                                                                  Cottage arrival

P1050732

Paul, Leila & Matt

The weekend was topped off at Paul & Jan’s cottage on Georgina Island (Lake Simcoe). Paul had been my best (and only) man when I got married in Manila in 1990. How this came to pass is a story in & by itself. Jan has had a 2-year long battle with a rare type of bone cancer and has endured bone marrow replacement and chemotherapy. She is a fighter and is now in remission, shows a renewed energy and great outlook on life. I am really happy for them that the treatment seems to have worked so well. The last few times I could only visit for 10 minutes due to her condition and it was a treat to be able to spend a whole long weekend together on the island. Tomorrow I will leave my home away from home at Jack and Roberta’s and start the east coast trip in earnest.

P1050735

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hit The Road

Just completed 7 hours, with sunny but frigid weather, in the saddle and landed about 20 km from the Port Huron/Sarnia border. The bike is a dream but riding that long on a super-slab of 4 to 6 lane highways is no fun on any bike. Congratulations though to Yamaha for being able to make such an incredibly balanced motorcycle. Vibration is pretty well nil and it handles (once you get going) like a sports bike. A big thank you goes out to Harry, without him this would not have been possible. We had planned to go to a jam on Wednesday but because of obligations in Toronto, I wanted to be at the border crossing early on Thursday. The importation of the bike may be time consuming. It’s really too bad because I love to watch and listen to him tear it up. Perhaps in Thailand Harry?

Here’s a little clip:

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 11.12.55 PM

https://www.facebook.com/willem.damen.5/videos/479466592076913/?l=8016040781738122734

Upon arrival in my room, my face had contorted so much I thought I was looking at someone else when I got to the bathroom. Much like a pair of shoes have to be worn in, a helmet has to mold to your head and the proper fit has to be tight to be effective in a crash. My hair was stuck flat to my head. With a robe I could have been mistaken for Friar Tuck. The motel is right next door to a Texas steakhouse. For a reasonable price you really get a beef quality you don’t get anywhere else unless you pay through the nose.   Even then the North American beef flavor is missing. For 10 years I lived part time in Florida and I have not been in the U.S. for 2 years but every time I come the States, I go through a culture shock experience. With culture I mean consumerism. Bars and churches used to be the center of attraction; today it is the shopping mall. Every town and city looks the same with the same brands represented no matter where you go. For every hour of TV, you will watch 28 minutes of commercials. Cereal, law-office (have you been hurt in an accident? etc.), political, and the big money maker medicine commercials, all try to get a piece of your wallet. The best ones are the medicinal ads that have to mention the side effects to the industry’s wonder drugs. The side effect blurb takes up half the commercial time. “May cause; diarrhea, itching, headache, irregularity, nausea, vomiting, swelling, insomnia, heart palpitations, liver problems or erectile dysfunction.” There is a definite and noticeable upswing in the economy. We know that jobs are being created and people are spending again. The U.S. is, thanks to China’s relentless buying of government bonds, living the American dream again on borrowed money. Turn on the printing presses! May the devil take tomorrow! It’s all an illusion and it will come to a grinding halt in the not too distant future. In this global economy Americans on the whole are still looking inwards but if you listen closely you can hear the whooshing sound from the spiraling drain. The problem is that the final flush will have a huge impact on the rest of the world. This is however a trip report and I am getting off the topic. Hopefully I can cross into Canada tomorrow with the bike without too much aggravation.

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Chicago

In one week the weather in the Toronto area had turned around completely. Insta- summer with 24 o C. Robert & Alexia had invited me for dinner after my stay at the cottage and it was really enjoyable to spend some time with them again. Flew into Chicago’s O’Hare airport on the 7th where Harry picked me up. After a display of his culinary skills, we chatted till 3 a.m. over a 12 year old Scotch. To my relief the bike was none the worse for wear and it survived the haul from Tennessee in good shape. In order to save money I had the bike registered in Illinois under both our names but found out too late that it is illegal for a Canadian to drive a motor vehicle with U.S. plates. The registration was therefore money down the drain and I am forced to import the bike into Canada. Every time I do this it gets more complicated. More and more forms have to be filled out online and of course with each form the government has its huge hand in your pocket.  Insurance in Canada is exactly 10 times the price I was quoted in the U.S. for identical coverage. Little choice but to put up with this gauging. Take note Canadians: The insurance companies are all in cahoots and you are being robbed! 20150509_111640 Tires tend to get hard and consequently to loose grip after 2 years so I bought replacements although there was lots of tread left on the them. They are also the half price I would eventually have to pay in Canada. It’s a little early to comment but in the short distance covered, the bike felt great with a much lower centre of gravity than the V Strom. It is a heavy piece of machinery but the weight disappears as soon as you start moving and even feels nimble. In the meantime temperatures have dropped 25o again. It’s raining off & on, damp and chilly. My favorite thing to do in Chicago is to hang out at one of the down-and-dirty blues clubs the city is famous for. Last night Harry chauffered me to the Harlem Avenue Lounge. A thin crowd but it did not dampen the spirits of the band with Pistol Pete oozing energy. Here’s a phone video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S-f5zAOs5Q  

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Canadian Soil

TULIPS

                                                                The Dutch tulip fields are in full bloom leaving Amsterdam

Spring may have sprung in Holland but Toronto had exactly -1o C in store on arrival with a wind stiff enough to be jealous of. As soon as you step into the train running to and from terminal 1, 2 and 3, you are reminded you are in the land of regulation and over the top safety measures. “We are about to leave the station; hold on to the hand rail”. “The train is now leaving the station. Stand away from the doors and hold on to the handrail”. It’s like entering kindergarten and the same story in reverse upon arriving at the next terminal, 200-meters further up the track. We’re not talking Formula-1 acceleration here! Within an hour I was on my way in a brand new rented Civic to Jack & Roberta’s house. The great thing about old friends is that even if you don’t see or speak to each other for a long time, it is as if no time has passed. Their basement is a complete apartment that used to be rented making it ideal for guests. First order of business on Friday: a doctor and accountant visit.

 geese

                                                                                       Canada Geese Heading North

cottage

My friend Dave Wren is indisputably one of the finest luthiers in Canada. He was kind enough to lend me one of his own beautifully hand-made guitars. It makes a Martin sound like a tin can. Now, if only I could play well enough to do it some justice. Early Saturday morning I headed up to the house in the woods near Bracebridge, where I lived for 7 years.

falls

river3   mus-river

Through our love of motorcycles the family that bought the house and I have become friends. My admiration goes out to Robert who has an advanced and painful form of MS. He can only walk with difficulty and with a brace. Even that does not hold him back from getting on the dirt bikes. A truly amazing person! They have been kind enough every time I am in Canada to let me stay in the log house for a week. The place has a special magic, situated on a peninsula along the Muskoka River with a river view from every window. Besides running into the occasional moose or bear, complete tranquility is the order of the day. To top off the hospitality, I have been given the option to use any of the 4 KTM motorcycles ranging from a 250 to 950 c.c. Just wish it wasn’t so damn cold

.waterfall2

The South African police needs a “Statement of Embezzlement” signed by the Canadian police to file a claim against the guy who sold my truck and ran away with the money. On Saturday I visited the O.P.P. (Ontario Provincial Police) in Bracebridge only to find that they’re CLOSED! If somebody told me I would not believe it. A crumpled notice on the door informs the public that they are open (m)Onday to Friday from 8:00 to 4:30. Closed on holidays! Completely bizarre; if you need them urgently, there is a phone you can use after you have been murdered.

police

When I revisited on Monday, heeding the office hours, I was told they couldn’t accommodate me. I had to visit a notary or lawyer. The police motto “To Serve And Protect” has a hollow and out of tune ring to it.

Of course I must say hello to the people I left behind. Here’s a video link of Jamie playing “Don’t Think Twice “on his nylon string guitar.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Figueres; Dali Museum

dali stone

DCIM101GOPRO

WDali Museum

DCIM101GOPRO

What can you say about the Dali museum?  This is the 3rd time I have been there and it continues to amaze me. The man was an obvious genius with a wild imagination . He was also a shrewd promoter with a flair for show business and subcontracted out many works. If they were up to snuff he simply signed his name at the bottom. Just this signature was worth a fortune.

20150412_160230

The town of Figueres is understandably totally in the grip of Dali, similar to Liverpool still capitalizing on The Beatles.

Everyone is trying to piggy back. I’ll let the photos do the talking. Here are a bunch at random;

More can be found here: http://postimg.org/gallery/3d9jfxh44/

:

A close up shows a naked woman along with other details. From a distance you see; ABRAHAM LINCOLN

lincoln

DCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPROGOPR0538

Dinner at  the exclusive Hotel/Restaurant EL-FAR  in LlaFranc on top of the mountain overlooking the Med, Palafrugell and Calella capped off my visit with Rudi. Back to Holland for a few days.

20150413_174239 20150413_174705 20150413_175651  DCIM101GOPRO

Looking forward to meet up with friends in Canada

“THERE IS LESS MADNESS TO MY METHOD THAN THERE IS METHOD TO MY MADNESS”

SALVADORE DALI

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.