​​​BamaRider




Day 8
September 11th, 2005
Baker Motel
Summerside, Prince Edward Island
Canada


A brief rain came through last night, but the morning was bright and sunny.  I used a towel from inside the room to wipe the RT down before loading.  I don't carry a cover, don't want to give up the room to pack it.  Water is not going to hurt the bike, and I can't see the point in covering a dirty bike.  I'm ready to ride 300 miles in the rain, but worry about dew on the seat? Or droplets from a brief storm?  I do clean and wax my bikes at the end of the day, so a cover might make sense, so won't rule it out.  But it is something you have to pack and roll.

By 7am I'm loaded, and return the key to the drop.  The streets of the city were still damp when I found Route 2 to make the short ride (every ride on PEI is short) to Confederation Bridge.  Temp gauge on the dash was telling me 45 degrees.  Cold.  The wind was still blowing, and leaves swirled on the sidewalks and curbs.

Bright morning sunlight lit up the fields, trees, and barns as I rolled on.  The RT felt tame, and light.  The bike steers much lighter in the bars than the 13.  Trip computers displayed all kinds of fun info, but the one that counted on this day was the temp.  I had checked the jet stream before leaving, and noted it was warm on the other side.  Fortunately the convection currents were far north, and not south.  Judging by the map, I should bust through to warm air soon after crossing into Maine.

On the approach to the bridge, I scanned for the proper signs among the toll booths for debit cards.  I only had a few dollars CDN.  I needed the debit card lane to let VISA sort the exchange, in the past they have proven pretty stingy with MY money on such things.

This early in the morning the booths were barren, and I took my time getting my card out.  "HEY!  HEY! You need to come over HERE!,"  a big female toll clerk shouted out to me.  I complied and went to her booth.  "The machine was going to charge you the full rate of 39 dollars and not 15 for being on a motorcycle.  It doesn't know you're on a bike."  "Thanks for saving me over 20 bucks sweetie.  You have a special love for Long Riders?"   "Especially Americans, I keep waiting for one to ride in here and take from ALL this," she said laughing.  "And take you to the land of milk and honey, like sunny and warm Florida?"  " No, CALIFORNIA."  I was still laughing as I stuffed my receipt in my sleeve pocket.  "Well don't work too hard sweetie."  "Can't you see how thrilled I am to be here?"  "Be good," as I dropped the RT into first and sped off.  
The wind blew me crossing the bridge and I fought to stay warm.  I was chilled.  I couldn't take it anymore, and when I came off the bridge I went to lined gloves and fired off the heated seat and grips.  Nice.  It took 10 miles or so for them to fully heat up, but when they did, it was like sitting on a hot plate.  "Now this is riding."  In a few miles the chill went away, and I was content.  I hate when I shiver.

I passed 4 mini vans and 1 car after crossing the bridge.  The maneuver took 5 miles to complete, but it felt good to get the last one, and in FRONT watching the line grow smaller and smaller in my mirrors. (what little I could see out of them)
A Tim Horton's sign at Shediac encouraged me to leave the highway for a donut instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I parked the bike outside the shop and was reluctant to leave the warm seat and grips.  Inside a young family of 4 was chowing down on a dozen sprinkled donuts.

I ate my donut while catching up on some journaling on the Axim.  I made sure to take a table in the sun.  The warm rays felt good on my back.

Trans Canada 2 skirted me around Moncton and on towards to Fredricton.  I set the cruise, suspension, and windscreen, and settled in for a long ride.  All I had for company was the New Brunswick timberland.  Traffic was non existent on this smooth and fast highway.  I set the cruise on 80, the yellow "SET" light on the dash was glowing steadily at me.

The RT is really 2 bikes in one, and that is what makes it so good.  In the twisties the screen can be trimmed low, and the suspension quickly stiffened up for leaning.  The BMW has a very light feel in the handle bars and loves to be leaned.  When you return to to the cruise mode, you can put the shocks on comfort, set the cruise, and bring the screen up for a quiet and comfortable ride, and lay down miles as good as a Wing.  The cockpit is one of the quietest in the field, and a really nice riding position.  I like the forward lean on the Honda also, and I'm comfortable on either bike without any mods.  I quickly adjust to whatever bike I happen to be on, and I can put down 1000 mile days on any sport touring bike, right out of the crate.  Being small framed and light in the saddle certainly helps, but after so many miles on the Trek seat, ANY motorcycle saddle feels plush.  

This morning I had plenty of time to be alone with my thoughts.  The route and the RT needed only the minimum inputs, my job was just to keep us upright, the road and bike would take care of the rest.  I thought about so much on this beautiful morning riding my way back to Maine and the U.S.  Retirement was finally beginning to take hold.  I miss the fire department, and loved the job, but it was never the focus of my life.  Leaving it has not left some kind of vast expanse or hole in my being.  I'm content I made the right decision.  All things come to an end, the only choice we have is how to end it. You can go out on your own terms, but stay around long enough and the reason could be medical, or some kind of reorganization.  Often in the fire service those with their time in, are "encouraged" to retire.  Being "asked' to retire would have upset me.  Twenty six years was long enough, I had a good career, and left on top.  

I've been so busy riding, training, working on my web site, and caring for my elderly mother, not had much time to be bored.   Debbie and I have our routine, we eat out on Thursdays, go to Wal Mart first of the month when my retirement check posts, to church on Saturday evenings then eat Mexican.  We watch a DVD or our favorite TV shows with popcorn in the evenings.   I was missing her now, and looked forward to her flying into DC in a few days to meet me.

Because of the fire department's work schedule, I was exempted from what I call the dreaded "Sunday night blues."  I use to get them when I worked at the pickle plant.  They are more pronounced if you are in a job you don't really like.  The Sunday blues are the feelings you get when you KNOW on the morrow, you'll be back in for another week.  For many, they spend Sunday afternoons or evenings, thinking about the work week ahead.  I've never forgot that feeling, and glad to be free of it.

I didn't want to, but stopped for gas in Gagetown.  I thought I might have enough to make it back to Maine, but I knew there would be little to choose from from once I cleared Fredricton.  I wanted to wait for cheaper U.S. gas, but what's a few cents compared to pushing a fully loaded touring bike?  If gas stations could be counted to be sprinkled between here and the border, I'd go for it.

I did the prudent thing and took the exit, and found my way to a quiet old service station, converted into a con store with a dirt driveway.  No pay at the pump was offered and I had to go inside to have my card swiped.  I alternate paying for fuel between my American Express and debit card.  that way I assure myself of enough cash to finish a trip, and at the same time I'm relieved of facing a monster American Express bill next month.




























                        I found this train conductor in a McAdam


When I finished the transaction I bought a bottle Coke and sat outside in a now warming sun.  Before moving out I removed one of the layers, and went back to leather gloves.  It was a nice break. 

After making it around Fredericton, I went to PR 4 and then PR 3.  Both roads were quiet escapes to the border.  I passed a few cars, waved at several farm houses, but mostly just counted down the miles to the crossing.  
Slow is the word at the St. Croix checkpoint.  Not much was going on, and when the guard noticed the RT coming in the chute she stepped out to greet me.  

"ID please."  I handed over my passport.

"How long were you in Canada Mr. Boutin?"

"Couple of days."

"Buy anything?"

"Just some oatmeal cookies at a Wal Mart on Prince Edward."

"Welcome home Mr. Boutin, have a safe trip," as she handed my paperwork back.

"Thanks"

Back in the U.S. SR 6 had a few more houses and stores, and several mobile homes that didn't look so mobile.  I rode the RT past the evergreens and glistening lakes that seemed to be everywhere.  The day was now warm, and the riding enjoyable.   I plan my trips with my web site in mind.  Folks like reading about the people and places a Long Rider meets along the way.  They love to see the roads you leaned, and the towns you passed through.  People don't care to read about a trip where a guy rides I-80 to California, thousand miles a day to get there, ride a couple of roads when he arrives, then the same on the return.  The only pictures to see are the places you slept and ate.  No, the stories I've enjoyed are the ones where the journey is THE story, and not the destination. 

I saw a farmhouse with a HUGE satellite tv receiver on the roof.  The thing looked like a radio telescope.  It was straight out of the 80s.  I stopped to look at the place and reasoned the guy inside probably talked on cordless phone the size of a football. 


























Somebody needs to tell these residents to join the 21st
century with a satellite dish the size of the Hubble Telescope
on the roof.


A nice lake looked a like a good photo op so I pulled off for some pictures and a snack.  The lake sat in a nice setting.  Hills, and thick foliage surrounded it, and I could hear the water capping on the surface.  I munched down on some twizzlers and a tootsie roll.  Anxious to talk to Debbie and my son, I whipped out my phone.  Surprisingly I had a good signal and hit the speed dials.  "Yeah, baby back in the U.S. and more than halfway to Augusta."  "OK call me later when ya get there."  I text messaged Chris to call me.  I don't call him during working hours, especially in the mornings when he's meetings.  He called as soon as he got the message.  "What's up?"  "Nuttin, in Maine, having a good ride, while YOU'RE working. 'You always gotta throw that in there huh?"




























                         Beautiful lakes are easy to find in Maine


Lunch was at a diner in Lee.  I had a meatball sandwich.  Two young men from Texas, driving a mini van, were sitting at the bar.  I wanted to find out how 2 guys from Texas found their way to Lee, Maine for lunch, and what their purpose was, but they were too far away, and I didn't feel like yelling.

This area of Maine is little known to the average tourist, and I hope it stays that way.

I picked up a voice mail from Uncle Phil, he advised he would be arriving in Killington today and would see me tomorrow afternoon.  






























             Back in the USA.  Maine Rt 6 a few miles east of the border


Soon I was back on I-95 and riding north.  Ugh.  I wasn't on the interstate long when I grew sleepy and had to exit for a short nap at a Bangor con store.  A quiet grassy spot is in the rear and I propped against a tree for 10 minutes.   It had been a long time since my last roadside nap.  I think my last one was in Montana?
After my nap the miles ticked off more slowly to Augusta.  I thought I'd never get there.  For me, an interstate can make 50 miles feel like 100.

Uncle Phil was right when he said cruise control makes you sleepy.

The reserve light was flashing like crazy 20 miles outside Augusta, but still I pushed on. Miles to empty had evaporated to bars --- is what you get when the counter gets to zero.  I knew from experience I still had a gallon or so remaining.  

Traffic picked up on the north side of the city, it was quitting time for a lot folks and I was in the way.  I took the exit for the Motel 6, and went to a huge con store for gas.  The place had 20 pumps.  The RT took in almost 6 gallons, I STILL had a gallon in reserve after riding 20 miles or so on bars showing.  I noticed the air station had the right kind of nozzle, and put a couple of pounds in each tire.  The RT is not as sensitive as the ST to tire pressure.

I left the con store looking for the Motel 6.  I went by the turn off twice, the unit was hard to see from the main road.  
A blue Gold Wing with Michigan plates was waiting to make a left turn, and I pulled beside him.  We acknowledged each other, and after a long wait he said, " I don't think we tripped the switch."  "Yeah, the heck with this,"  I bolted the light, and he followed.  We both came in the Motel 6.

I finished the day with 360 miles on the meter.  I was checking in when Andy pulled up on his 03 1300.  I didn't know Andy, we arranged this rendezvous on the ST board.  I knew a lot about him, but not met personally.  Andy is firefighter for the city of Toronto, and rides an ST, all I needed to know he was probably a good guy.  

After kicking tires, and polishing our bikes, we went back inside.  I changed into running clothes and knocked down 4 miles before supper.  It was a good run, the air was just right.  Cool and no wind.  I thought back to the hot and humid conditions still prevalent in Alabama this time of year.

When I was showered and looking good, we took a short stroll to a nearby Bonanza Steakhouse where I had the grill chicken.  We spent the time talking about our favorite things; motorcycles, touring, and the fire service.  Andy completed a summer tour to California earlier, and we swapped stories.  

On the way back to the room we stopped at a con store for something to drink.  Our rooms were next door and we spent the last of the evening talking about our ride to Killington the next day, and meeting everyone for the VVV.  I'll be in Vermont the next few days riding the Green Mountains and socializing with new and old friends.  

Next- Riding to Killington for the VVV rally


Many thanks to Jesse of New Brunswick for the train conductor location in the pic above.  I had forgotten it.  I received an email from him March 2006.  He lives in the area.
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