It's motorcycle riding time!

Trip Start May 30, 2011
1
Trip End Jun 08, 2011


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Amtrak Auto Train
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Flag of Canada  , Nova Scotia,
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On February 4, 2011, Rusty and I confirmed our next motorcycle adventure. It won't be as long as our USA Four Corners Tour 3 years ago (http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/a3dennert/3/tpod.html), but we are going to enjoy this ride just as much. This is THERAPY.

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Day 1 - Monday, May 30, 2011

We departed Miami at 8am. We had a good ride to Sanford  arriving at 12pm. 2pm is the deadline for acceptance of vehicles at the Amtrak Auto Train ((http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am%2FLayout&p=1246042852883&cid=1246042852883). We were directed to the motorcycle area where ground staff instructed us to ride up a ramp onto the loading device where we position our front wheel into a lock. The front tire is then strapped down followed by the handlebars.

As boarding time was not until 2:30pm we took a complimentary shuttle offered by Amtrak to downtown Sanford where we had lunch with our cousin Maureen and her husband AJ.

After a nice lunch at Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe (http://www.willowtreecafe.com/) we headed back to the train. When we boarded we were surprised at how small our cabin was, but overall it was acceptable for the 18 hour trek to Lorton, VA. Bathrooms are about the same size of those on board an airplane; or even a bit smaller. The train has very tight quarters so it was best to leave our luggage bags on the bike and only take absolute necessities onboard with us.

The Amtrak Auto Train runs from Sanford, FL, to Lorton, VA, and back. Lorton is just south of Washington, D.C. These trains (there are two of them) are apparently the longest passenger trains in the world, over three quarters of a mile in length, with 18 passenger cars, 33 auto carriers and two engines. It can carry up to 650 passengers and 330 automobiles on a full train. This journey of 866 miles takes approximately 18 hours.

We departed at 4pm and within 30 minutes of departure the train came to a stop and eventually the engineer came on over the PA and announced that one of the two engines was damaged. We got going again after about an hour delay.

We had a nice dinner on board. Overnight the train made a stop in Savannah, GA, where we hooked up a new engine to our train and from there on it was an uneventful trip.

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Day 2 - Tuesday, May 31, 2011

After a continental breakfast on board we arrived in Lorton, VA. It took about 30 minutes for our motorcycles to be off loaded. When this was done we were off to Washington D.C., which was a short 30 minute ride.

In D.C. we posed the best we could, with our motorcycles, at some of the better known national monuments. Because vehicles can not pull up in front of the monuments we had to be creative where we could stop to take our pictures. Most were taken on the street. We were dogging cars and cops who would shoo us away if we were there too long. Well, it was the fastest tour of D.C. I have ever taken, but fun nonetheless.

From there we rode up through Baltimore, MD, Newark, NJ, and "Da" Bronx in NY. We stopped for dinner in Stamford, CT, and then ended our day in Bridgeport, CT, at a Hampton Inn.

We only rode about 310 miles this day, but in 100 degree weather and some minor (30 minute) traffic jams. Rusty's thermostat read 104 degrees while we were on the NJ turnpike. It was scorching hot!!!

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Day 3 - Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We were up at 5am and on the road by 6am. Leaving CT we were fine but half way through MA it rained on us. We experienced green lightning (a first for me). This lasted till we were half way through NH.

We took State Road 11 off of I-95 to Madawaska, which was a good choice as these were hilly and curvy roads; much better than taking US1. We made it to Madawaska around 5pm. We found our pavers and hosed down our bikes at the Four Corners Motorcycle Park (http://www.madawaskafourcorners.org/) and then crossed the border into New Brunswick, Canada and rode till Grand Falls where we spend the night at a Best Western.

While watching TV at the hotel we learned about the tornado that stuck Springfield, MA (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/06/01/national/main20068099.shtml). We rode through there only hours earlier. I was glad to learn that my friend Karen and her family were not harmed by this freak tornado.

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Day 4 - Thursday, June 2, 2011

We departed at 9am. We took the Trans Canada 2 highway for the better part of the day. This is a fantastic road, but it struck me odd how few vehicles were on the road. There were times that we rode in excess of 30 minutes without seeing another vehicle; amazing.

We stopped off in Hartland where we visited the world longest covered bridge (http://www.town.hartland.nb.ca/html/bridge.htm). Unfortunately we could not cross it as it was being serviced, but we did take a few pictures.

We made it to Prince Edward Island ((http://www.tourismpei.com/index.php3) at around 4pm. Crossing the Confederation bridge (http://www.confederationbridge.com/en/) was nothing special; just another bridge. They say that wind gusts can exceed 100mph on the bridge so I sure am happy we had an uneventful crossing. By the way there is a toll you must pay to cross the bridge, but only when departing the island; not entering.

We stopped off in downtown Charlottetown (the capital of PEI) and had a cold brewsky - Moosehead (http://www.moosehead.ca/) of course  :o)

On our drive through PEI we saw mainly lots of potato fields. This time of year is planting season.

We ended up in Wood Islands at the southwestern end of PEI where we boarded the last NFL ferry boat (http://www.peiferry.com/) of the day to Caribou, Nova Scotia, where on arrival (around 9:30pm) we checked in at the Pictou Lodge (http://www.pictoulodge.com/).

The Pictou Lodge was a very welcome surprise. A very picturesque hotel / lodge that is right on the water. To bad we could only overnight as this looks like a great place to kick back relax and take in nature.

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Day 5 - Friday, June 3, 2011

We hit the road at 9am. We caught highway 4 to highway 2 to county road 14, which eventually got us to highway 3 on the Southern Coast. Taking county road 14 allowed us to bypass the Halifax area, which we think was a good thing.

We got off of highway 3 and took the "Lighthouse Route" (http://www.lighthouseroute.com/), which took us through Mahone Bay, followed by Lunenburg where we had lunch at the Old Fish Factory.

We ended the day around 9pm in Digby at the Admiral Digby Inn (http://www.digbyns.com/), which was just down the street from the ferry station (http://www.nfl-bay.com/) that we would take tomorrow morning.

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Day 6 - Saturday, June 4, 2011

The ferry departed Digby at 8am and it was 3 hour voyage to St John, NB. The ferry boat was very comfortable. I watched "The Tourist" on the crossing.

From St John's we crossed the border back into the U.S. at St Stephens and then high tailed it till Seabrook N.H. where we spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express.

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Day 7 - Sunday, June 5, 2011

We departed Seabrook, NH, at 9am and arrived at my friend Karen's place in Southwick, MA, at 11:30am. At long last I finally got to meet her kids Sabrina and Manny; great kids.

She prepared a nice lunch for us, and after catching up on our past 3 years (since we last saw each other) we said our "farewells". THANK YOU KAREN for a wonderful lunch. I loved meeting your kids and getting to see you again. We continued riding till Pine Grove, PA, where we settled in for the night at a Hampton Inn. Tomorrow we shall commence our trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway - woohoo.

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Day 8 - Monday, June 6, 2011

We rode the Skyline drive, which was nice (my first time), but it does not compare to the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP)(http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/). At mile marker 89 I witnessed a motorcycle crash. Two Canadian guys must have been doing +/- 70mph on a posted 35 mph curve when one rider could not make the curve. He came within inches of striking my motorcycle, but fortunately (for me) his rear tire fish tailed and off the road he went into a bunch of trees. I saw the hole thing - it was horrible. I was shuck up by this for several hours afterwards. Fortunately for the guy he survived the impact with the trees, but suffered internal injuries, shatterd leg, broken ribs, head injuries. His year old BMW K1300GT was destroyed. We settled in for the night at a Holiday Inn Express in Troutville, VA. The day started off great, but ended horrible.

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Day 9 - Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We departed at 8:30am and headed back up to the BRP. Two separate pick up trucks in oncoming traffic almost slammed into me early on in our ride - WHAT THE F#@K? We were detoured off the BPR and rode through Sparta due to raod works.

We ended this day in Cherokee, N.C., completing the BRP, at around 8pm where we settled in at a Hampton Inn.

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Day 10 - Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This by far was the best day so far (for me). We got an early start and made our way to Deals Gap (http://www.tailofthedragon.com/) where we rode the Tail of the Dragon (US129) and the Cherohala Skyway (http://www.cherohala.com/). These are magnificent motorcycling roads.

Riding these roads on my Kawasaki Concourse 1400 was a completely different experience compared to the first time I did so on my then Honda VFR / Interceptor 800. Although my Connie is a much heavier motorcycle I still found the courage to push her hard in the curves and am satisfied with my performance. I have yet again managed to escape the grasp of the Tree of Shame at Deals Gap (http://www.dealsgap.com/tree.htm).

We stopped off for lunch in Telico Plains, TN, and then rode as far as my butt would allow me, which ended up being in Sparks, GA, (off of I-75 about one hour from the FL state border).

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Day 11 - Thursday, June 9, 2011

We departed very early from Sparks and made it back home to Miami around 2pm. This allowed me enough time to take a looooong shower and then go pick up my Rebecca and Christopher with whom I had a great weekend already planned. It's nice to be home again; my butt needs a rest.

To my brother RUSTY .... THANK YOU for being you and I look forward to our next adventure.

A great ending to another memorable trip.
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Jean-Marc on

Excellent trip report, I always enjoy them!

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