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July 30th, 2013 | Canada

New Brunswick – Canada.

The most direct route from Appleton in Maine, to Saint John in New Brunswick, would have taken us along Route 9, and a little over 4 hours of riding.

 I started the day with a huge helping of Lasagna, which would hold off hunger all the way to Saint John in Canada...

I started the day with a huge helping of Lasagna, which would hold off hunger all the way to Saint John in Canada…

I chose instead to follow the coastal route in northern Maine and visit Acadia National Park in the process. I had heard that the scenery along this section of the coast was well worth seeing, and it would keep us out of boredom’s way to boot…

Riding along the major highways and Interstates in the USA often becomes so boring, that by the end of the day I feel as if I have been riding down a well-lit, tree-lined tunnel, and can hardly recall any interesting things I might have seen along the way…

The first section of my ride from Appleton to Belfast was through beautiful countryside, the road twisting and looping through equal parts of dense forest and wide open fields of Blueberries and manicured farmlands. I looped around the town of Belfast, and then took the road out to Searsport and Stockton Springs, skirting the cold, grey waters of Penobscot Bay, in the process.

We followed the shores of the bay to where the Penobscot River entered it and then turned north, taking the winding road that runs alongside the river, all the way to the massive and impressive Penobscot Narrows Bridge.

I stopped at the viewing area and met two bikers who were parked there. Chris “CJ” Mutch, and his friend Brian, were on a tour of the northern parts of Maine, and on their way back to Oka, east of Montreal, where Chris lived. We stood chatting in the bright sunlight, describing our routes for the day ahead to each other, and trying to figure out if we might meet along the way. They had planned to visit Madawaska on the way home, while I was heading for Canada, so no chance of riding together it seemed…

The Penobscot Narrow Bridge with the tallest bridge observatory in the world...

The Penobscot Narrow Bridge with the tallest bridge observatory in the world…

Chris "CJ" Mutch at the Penobscot Bridge.

Chris “CJ” Mutch at the Penobscot Bridge.

CJ's riding buddy, Brian, who was also aboard a BMW.

CJ’s riding buddy, Brian, who was also aboard a BMW. His was a spanking new 1200 Tourer as I recall…

I rode on to the town of Elsworth, tucked up behind Chris and Brian for much of the way, who had overtaken me with a wave, while I was stopped on the side of the road to take a photo of the Motel below…

Choose your colour.... A small roadside motel

Choose your colour…. A small roadside motel just outside Bucksport, on the road to Elsworth. There were about ten of these chalets in all, each painted a different colour…

. I had heard a lot about the beauty of Arcadia National Park, and added the loop to my route...

I had heard a lot about the beauty of Arcadia National Park, and added the loop to my route…

While my newfound buddies headed east out of Elsworth, I turned south and rode into Acadia National Park, taking the western loop towards Seal Harbour and from there to Bar Harbour on the eastern side of what is actually a fairly large island, joined to the mainland by a short bridge over the Mount Desert Narrows.

I guess I was expecting a little more from Acadia, because I found the 100 km loop I made to be very similar to the scenery I had been riding through for the past few hours. I cruised through Seal Harbour and then headed north towards Bar Harbour, from where I planned to head into the National Park, and ride to the top of Cadillac Mountain.

This place is special because it is the first spot in the USA to be touched by the rising sun each day. It was close to midday when I arrived at the entrance to the park, and saw to my disappointment, that a long line of cars were already waiting patiently to make the drive to the top…

 Lobsters a'grilling !!

Lobsters a’grilling !! There are many of these small diners scattered along the coast of Maine. I am still trying to find one which serves lobster flesh only, without the huge hassle of having to mess around, digging a handful of meat out of three pounds of shell and legs !!

 Boats on the bay... This is the yacht basin at Seal Harbour.

Boats on the bay… This is the yacht basin at Seal Harbour.

And in places, breathtakingly beautiful too...

And in places, breathtakingly beautiful too…

Considering how much further I still had to ride to get to Saint John, I reluctantly gave up on the idea of riding up to the peak, and headed back across the bridge onto the mainland, turned east and cut loose…

There was very little traffic in the area and I took full advantage of this to try and make up time… Although the sun was only due to go down at about 8.00 pm, it was beginning to look like I would arrive in Saint John after dark, which was not something I enjoyed doing, especially when I did not know exactly where I would be spending the night…

I rode back to Elsworth and then refueled, before heading out to Hancock Town and Milbridge, still hugging the coast. Somewhere along this road, I passed Chris and Brian standing outside a diner where they had obviously been having a late lunch…

We waved to each other as I passed and for a second I was tempted to stop and have a beer with them, but the lasagna was still weighing heavily upon me, and all I wanted to do was get as far down the road as was possible, before stopping for a snack…

The clouds had been slowly rolling in from the north-west as I rode, and spots of occasional rain had begun gathering on the windshield. The temperature had dropped accordingly, but it never got cold enough or wet enough to stop for rain gear…

 Open roads in rural Maine.

Open roads in rural Maine.

I was now close to the mouth of the Bay Of Fundy, passing Campobello Island, where the Roosevelt family had spent their summers since 1883. Franklin D. would later become the President of these United States… I passed through the small town of Perry and stopped to check that my passport was where I had last seen it, (Jacket pocket, top right) and that my bike registration papers were handy. I was barely 20 minutes from the border, and usually stopped a short distance from each border I crossed, to ensure that I wasted no time standing about looking for documents when I arrived there…

The scery along the coastal road of northern Maine confirmed that I had chosen the best route to ride into Canada on...

The scenery along the coastal road of northern Maine confirmed that I had chosen the best route to ride into Canada on..

As I headed towards the town of St. Stephen, riding along the St. Croix River which marks the boundary between the USA and Canada, I thought about the things I had learnt about Canada and Canadians in general, since my last visit there…
I knew the country to be one of the cleanest I had ever visited, and the people to be amongst the friendliest and helpful. I also recalled that Canada had some of the strictest tobacco laws in the world, and were more rabidly anti-smoking than most countries I had visited !! In some towns you cannot light up a smoke on the street or within 100 yards of a school or public park !!
Ha-ha...!! Very funny !! I have often considered setting myself on fire to have a smoke, just to see what the good folk around me would do... One day I shall work up the courage to do so, and THEN we'll see who's laughing...!!

Ha-ha…!! Very funny !! I have often considered setting myself on fire to have a smoke, just to see what the good folk around me would do… One day I shall work up the courage to do so, and THEN we’ll see who’s laughing…!!

And they have many other ways to discourage smoking, such as making the enjoyment of the aromatic weed a rather expensive exercise… I remember paying almost R180.00 ($18.00 !!) for a packet of 20’s in the Yukon Territory last year, and never less than R100.00 a packet in most other states in Canada !!

And the stomach-churning photos they put on the outside of the packets, often make me ask the shopkeepers to hand me a few packets so that I can choose the one that least affects my gag reflexes !!

When will they start putting photos of diseased livers on bottles of wine, I wonder ?? Or a message on a bottle of Vodka that says, “The contents of this bottle could kill you !!” ??
To my mind, it’s all a heap of bulls**t !! My health is my own concern, and as long as I am not blowing smoke directly into a non-smokers face, then leave me the hell alone to enjoy my cigarettes… I am keeping hundreds of poor Zimbabweans and Malawians employed, and thereby doing my bit for Africa…
And one more thing, while I am on the subject… I can smoke a packet of cigarettes a day and still be the same person who lit up the first one… I have seen people drink six beers  in a few hours, and then who can’t remember who they are or where they live !! And they talk and walk funny too…!!
And that’s all I have to say about that… Now where was I…?? Ah, yes… The Canadian border…!!
 When parking becomes an issue...

When parking becomes an issue…

The towns of Calais and St. Stephen, straddle the border post on the St. Croix River, and but for the large Immigration building on the Canadian side of the border, you would hardly know that you are crossing an international boundary… Cars were riding straight past the little American customs and immigration building in Calais, and onto the bridge over the river. They hardly slowed down as they passed the lone official standing outside his little cubicle, chatting on a cell phone..,

I on the other hand have crossed enough international borders to feel a little ill at ease without an official stamp that indicates I have left one country and entered another… I parked the bike on the USA side and walked over to the immigration official on duty.
“Where do I get my passport stamped ?” I enquired politely.
“We don’t stamp passports exiting to Canada…,” he replied, “Just ride on through.”
“I need to see an immigration official, sir, as I have a question about my visa. It expires next April, but I am only allowed 90 days at a time in the USA. I would like a stamp in my passport to indicate that I have left the country, so that when I re-enter in about three to four weeks time, I can get another 90 day stay stamped in my passport…” I explained…
He then explained that when I re-entered the country, all I had to do was tell the official that I wanted another 90 days and they would make a notation to that effect on the entry stamp… I asked him twice more if he was certain of his facts and he continued to assure me that this was how it worked… If I could get my hands around his neck today, I would give the man a far from gentle squeeze.
 Bridge over the River Croix... Canada Ahoy !!

Bridge over the River Croix… Canada Ahoy !!

Satisfied that all was well, I rode across the St Croix river and entered Canada. I was greeted with a smile by the friendly border official, who asked a boatload of questions about all the stickers on the bike, while traffic backed up behind me… I asked if I could take a photo of the “Welcome to New Brunswick” sign.

He took the camera from me, and suggested I ride closer to the sign and he would take a photo of me and the bike with the sign in the background… I was both grateful and bemused by this, as a very long line of frustrated looking drivers were now waiting for me to get the hell out of the way so that they could enter the country… The official took his time taking the photos and then waved me on with best wishes for my rides through Canada… Like I said, Canadians are a friendly lot !!
Entering Canada. Photo courtesy of a friendly Immigration officer...

Entering Canada. Photo courtesy of a friendly Immigration officer…

I stopped at the tourist office in St. Stephen to pick up their weighty brochure detailing places to see and stay at throughout New Brunswick, and took some time to mark the half dozen cheap motels in the Saint Johns area, then rode onto the Highway 1, and headed east.
No shortage of saintly destinations in Canada...

No shortage of saintly destinations in Canada…

My destination lay about 120km away, and I managed to get there in just under an hour, letting the Big Fella have his wicked way with the speed limit, overtaking hundreds of law-abiding Canadians, many of whom seemed quite annoyed by the fact that I was passing them.

The cheaper motels all lay along Fairville Boulevard, which was a few miles west of the city, but close enough to a number a fast food outlets which served stuff that replaced the huge slice of lasagna I had enjoyed 10 hours earlier. I chose the Island View Motel, mostly because the Indian manager took such a keen interest in the bike and where we had been.
The Island View Motel, just short of Saint John, was where I finally brought the day to an end after a long ride into Canada.

The Island View Motel, just short of Saint John, was where I finally brought the day to an end after a long ride into Canada.

He shared a little information about Saint John that had us having a lengthy discussion about oil and petroleum. Turns out that the city was the site of the second largest oil refinery in Canada, and a massive pipeline which would double the refinery’s output was being constructed from way up in the Artic Circle, and would be completed sometime next year…

“You should buy a house here, because the value will climb steeply in a few years…!!” he suggested…
“Does it snow here in winter ?” I asked…
“Indeed sir, we get a lot of snow here in winter…” he replied with a grin.
“Then I won’t be buying a house anywhere near here then. I am from Africa,” I explained, “We don’t do very well in snow…”
Even though coffee was only served between 7.00 am and 9.00 am, he offered to put the kettle on and called me from my room a few minutes later to share a cup with him…
I explained that I intended to ride around the outer edge of Nova Scotia and he assumed that I would be taking the ferry across to Digby to save time. When I explained that I preferred to ride around, he raised his eyebrows and told me I was crazy !!
“It’s only 80 km by boat, and over 700 km by road…” his voice trailed off, while he searched for clues in my face to see if I was joking…
“I guess it shows in my eyes, huh ??” I said.
He leaned closer to me, peering into face and then said, “Yes, it does…!! You DO have crazy eyes !!”
He rocked back in his chair and laughed out loud, albeit a little nervously…
Camden and Appleton, Maine, to Saint John in New Brunswick, Canada.

Camden and Appleton, in Maine, to Saint John in New Brunswick, Canada.

I downloaded my intended route for the following day into Gi-Gi’s brainbox, and then switched off the lights and fell into bed, going over the route in my mind and preparing myself mentally for the next four days of solid riding, in which we would need to cover over 2 400 km…
I was looking forward to seeing more of the Bay of Fundy, where some of the world’s most variable tides were found. There was also a place close to Hopewell Rocks that I had been advised to stop at and try out their Seafood Chowder… Not that food in any shape or form has ever really interested me, it just happened to be near a place that I was going to anyway, so don’t for a minute believe I would ride out of my way for a special plate of food !!
I am not as crazy as I look !!

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