Aug 14, 2008

Back on the Road Again

Robbye took a shuttle from the hotel to the airport at 7AM and I loitered around Halifax for a few hours. I found a camping equipment store and bought a collection of Nikwax products. I thought about going back to the street party, but it looked like rain and I had an itch to be on the road again. I took the easy way out of town, 104 which is a fat, four-lane freeway northeast toward Cape Breton. I stayed on the big road because it was raining hard by the time I left the remnants of Halifax. It rained all the way to Sydney. Just like Friday, my boots still leaked, but my ‘stitch didn’t.

I started looking for a campground a dozen miles out of Sydney but I couldn’t find a site with a pair of trees. Finally, I decided on an unlike place called “The Arm of Gold.” I struck gold.

Don, the caretaker, took pity on me and aimed me toward the well heated laundry room. I stripped off my wet gear and tossed the Aerostitch stuff in a washing machine with my Nikwax chemicals. The rest of the stuff went into the dryer. While I was taking care of my gear, Don talked to the camp’s owner and decided to put me up in the “barn” (pronounced bay-er-in, but say it with a single syllable).

Four old guys sitting around a dry room talking about how much they dislike the motorcycle crowds that rattle their windows. They weren’t big fans of pickups, either. “Rich brats get a new truck from mommy and the first thing they do is put new pipes on it and raise hell in the neighborhood.” Then they told me about two guys on Kawasaki’s who rode in so quietly that nobody notice they were there until they started rattling their money.

Nova Scotia motorcycle joke: “What does a Harley and a Labrador dog have in common? They both like to ride and drool in the back of a ¾ ton truck.”

“I never rode anywhere I regretted riding, even that road that took from me the best thing I ever owned.” The guy was talking about crashing his bike and killing his wife on the Alcan last summer. As you’d probably assume, he was riding a big Harley. He was at “cruising speed” when he topped a hill and discovered the next few hundred meters were paved with gravel. Create your own scenario from here, but the gist was that the bike went down, his wife’s helmet came off, and she was killed. He wasn’t hurt too badly and the bike was totaled.

He was driving a truck, pulling a big camper when we met at the campsite. I was in the laundry, “refreshing” the waterproofing of my Aerostitch and drying my boots and clothes. He brought in a load of laundry and was a little irritated that I hadn’t pulled my gear from the table quickly enough to suit him. He looked at the ‘stitch’s armor lying on the table and said, “Your stuff?”

Yes it is. All of it.

“Pretty silly looking helmet.”

He’s talking about my bright yellow full face HJC. I have a yellow reflective strip on the back that adds something to the silly look, I guess.

“Lotta gear to be wearing on a bike.”

I guess it is. It didn’t seem like much in the rain, though. My wife sort of agrees with him. I brought armored perforated pants and a rain cover for her, but she didn’t want to wear them because they “look hot.” Life is hard when your internal temperature regulation fails and you are claustrophobic.

It didn’t seem like a lot when I dropped the bike on the Dempster last year, either. Even with my Darien and every piece of clothing I owned, I still managed to bust a rib or two, separate my left shoulder, and crack a bone in my right hand. I didn’t, however, lose a drop of blood or suffer any damage below the waist. My helmet was wreaked, but my head was no worse than usual.
In the Louisbourg cafĂ©, one lady was saying she was done with Nova Scotia weather and was retiring to one of the islands. “What island?” She hadn’t decided, but it sounded like the Bahamas.

The waitress said, “I’m retired here, so it sucks to be me.” This part of Nova Scotia hasn’t seen summer since July 22. Every day from that point, it rained at least a little.

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