More Than Just A Rally
I have been taking part in the Fundy Adventure Rally since 2015 and I am sure that I will be attending for years to come. It is so much more than just a rally.
Days 2 through 5 of my East Coast Adventure were all centred on the rally and since I have already written about it in a previous post I will not rehash it here. But I will say this: if you have ever wondered what it might be like to volunteer at an event like this – or any event, really – I highly recommend that you just go ahead and do it. Not only is it very rewarding to be a part of the ‘team’ behind the scenes, but it also allows you to truly appreciate all that has to happen in order to make sure that a good time is had by all.
“The level of challenge and difficulty was right up there with the toughest I have done.
As one rider from the ‘Muddy Shenanigans’ said to me, holding his hand high above his head: “The level of challenge and difficulty was right up there with the toughest I have done. But the fun factor was up to here! And the scenery, wow!”
By Sunday morning at 11:00 am all was said and done. The small tent-city that had popped up over the last few days was gone, virtually as though it had never been there. Bikes were packed up or loaded onto trailers and hearty ‘see you next year’s were shared in the parking lot as weary riders made their way back home to the east coast, Quebec, Maine, New Hampshire, Ontario, Massachusetts and beyond.
I had been offered a bed in one of the cabins on Saturday afternoon after discovering that my tent had been flooded out (my tarp had collapsed, sending several litres of water into my tent) and it was so comfortable that I opted to stay at Adair’s for one more night, a sort of decompression-day after the hubbub and rigmarole of the rally set up, the safety monitoring of the event itself and the teardown at the end.
All of which meant that I had a ‘day-off’. So of course that meant that I was going for a motorcycle ride.
Visiting Hopewell Rocks
Kassie, the travelling minstrel and her dad both wanted to take a leisurely ride through the area and asked if I’d like to join them. A short time later we were on our way through Fundy National Park to Hopewell Rocks and then in search of ice cream before making our way back to Adair’s. We stopped for dinner in Sussex and I had my first-ever lobster roll. I assure you it wasn’t my last, hahaha.
I had a great day with Kassie and Paul. They are two of the most unpretentious and affable people you could ever hope to meet and I look forward to spending more time with both of them.
Monday morning I packed up Big Ethel, had breakfast with Eric and Terri, the organizers of the Fundy Adventure Rally, as well as Larry and Ida, owners of Adair’s Wilderness Lodge where the rally is held every year and then said my farewells and prepared to hit the road.
Canadian East Coast: Next Destination Unknown
I had up to 5 more weeks ahead of me. And no concrete plan or route. All that I knew was that this year I was going to spend some time really exploring the Canadian east coast as a part of my Fundy Adventure Rally trip. I had been given myriad suggestions on where to go, what to see and where to sleep. My job was to try and route my way through the splendor of the east coast hitting as many of those points as was possible without making it too arduous a task.
I had help with this too. My friend Zak actually sent me a couple of routes for Nova Scotia that he highly recommended, and since I had already bookmarked a couple of his Canada Moto Guide articles as a loose route plan, well, that had Nova Scotia covered. So I just needed to decide on my first destination. Would it be somewhere still in New Brunswick? Over to Prince Edward Island? Into Nova Scotia?
Hole in the Wall Park and Campground
It was actually Ida Adair who settled that conundrum for me.
“You absolutely have to go to Grand Manan while you are out here, and when you do you must stay at ‘Hole In The Wall’
A recommendation for a place called ‘Hole in the Wall’ was enough to pique my interest, so that was settled. My destination for Monday was Grand Manan Island. Wow – even the name sounded exotic!
I left Sussex and headed for Saint John, taking some time to ride through the city and especially the old waterfront. I parked my bike on Water street to get a couple of photos and barely had my gloves off before a gentleman stepped off the sidewalk, hand outstretched in greeting to say ‘welcome to Saint John’
Oh my goodness I love that east coast kindness!
We chatted for about ten minutes, he happily sharing with me some of the history of old Saint John.
‘My name is Joe’ my greeter grinned with a parting handshake, smiling ear to ear. ‘I see yours is too” he said, nodding to the ADVJOE.CA sticker on Big Ethel’s fuel tank. And then he was on his way, strolling down the sidewalk with coffee in hand.
The whole experience was almost surreal.
After taking a few photos and getting some fuel I left Saint John, headed for Black’s Harbour to board the ferry to Grand Manan, following the scenic Lighthouse route. That is what lead to a theme of this adventure – lighthouse photos! It also forced me into a slow and easy-going pace. Which leads me to another recommendation for you: whenever you have an opportunity, follow the signs to the ‘scenic’ route. It is always worth the extra time that it takes and can often become a ‘highlight’ of an adventure.
East Coast Hospitality: We Could All Learn A Thing Or Two
The ride to Black’s Harbour was beautiful, with way too many photo opportunities along the way. As I pulled up to the gate at the ferry terminal the woman inside the booth smiled and asked ‘have you got a reservation?’
‘I don’t’ I said, smiling. ‘As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know I was coming here until this morning. I’m just hoping to get on the next boat.’
“Well then you’d better get moving” she replied. “The boat is leaving now. Go on with ya.”
I smiled my thanks and rode up to the boarding ramp just as the steward was closing the gates on the transom of the ferry. Looking up he smiled and reversed his motions, opening the gates and fervently waving me aboard.
It is experiences like this that always fill me with gratitude. Maybe it’s just me, but these things just don’t seem to happen very often back home in Ontario. I mean, let me ask you this: have you ever tried running to catch a bus in Ottawa or Toronto only to have the driver close the doors and pull away just as you get close enough to make eye contact? Or attempted to flag an empty cab only to have the driver meet you with an empty stare as he glides past? People generally won’t even hold a door for you back in Ottawa it seems. I don’t know if it is the daily rat race that robs people of their humanity, or if there is just a general dissatisfaction that sours the demeanor of most city dwellers, but whatever it is, it has definitely NOT affected the people of the Canadian east coast.
I honestly think that it should be mandatory for every citizen of metropolitan Ontario to spend at least 3 weeks out east in order to learn how to treat each other.
Have I mentioned that I love the east coast?
The voyage on the ferry lasted about 90 minutes and the weather was so nice that I spent most of it on deck in the sunshine. There is nothing more soul-satisfying to me than salt-spray laden wind combined with warm sunshine.
Grand Manan Island: A Natural Wonder
I disembarked upon arrival at Grand Manan and immediately rode to the Hole in the Wall campground. Ida had suggested that I try to get a cliff-side tent site and I was doubly rewarded when the attendant asked me if I had a reservation. ‘I don’t have one’ I said. “But I am hoping for a cliff-side tent space.”
“Well then you’re in luck,” she said. “We only have one tent spot left, and it’s cliff-side.”
This campground is famous amongst tent campers specifically for the tent sites that are situated right at the edge of a sheer rocky cliff that drops dozens of metres to the ocean below. As I was sailing on the ferry I snapped a few pictures of tents perched way up on the cliffs, not even realizing at the time that this was what I was in for!
As it turns out, the rising costs of insurance and the manpower and maintenance needed for upkeep of the cliff-side tent sites have proven too much for the family that owns this lovely campground and the cliff-side tent sites will close for good on September 15 of this year.
I consider myself very fortunate indeed to have been able to enjoy this incredible experience at least once and find myself hoping that somehow, something changes. And the Hole in the Wall cliff-side tent sites continue to bring smiles to adventurous campers for years to come.
I had my campsite all set up quite early in the afternoon and decided to tour the island on Big Ethel and see the sights.
Of course, that led me to a lighthouse and some beautiful cliffs.
On the way back to my campsite I stopped at Arthur’s Bench to watch the sunset, thinking I would be alone with my thoughts. I was very pleasantly surprised to actually enjoy a majestic natural display with about 25 other people, only to find out that I was the only tourist. The rest were all locals who make a point of watching the sunset every evening, weather permitting. I even got to witness a seal at play in the calm evening waters.
Talk about having your priorities straight. I love watching the sunset, yet I only seem to do it when I am on vacation, or on an adventure. Why do I not take the time to do that regularly when I am at home? There is no shortage of wonderful vantage points within 20 minutes of my home from which to watch the sunset, yet I do not take the time.
That is something that I vow to change.
After such a glorious evening it was time to call it a night. If I have one regret, it is that I did not have an appropriate camera and lens for the display that was to unfold across the night sky as I lay in my tent high above the waves crashing on the rocks below.
The Milky Way was the most incredible night-light. I can still see it now, in my mind’s eye.
There is so much beauty all around us. I am grateful to be fortunate enough to see a small slice of it from time to time.
Well, that brings this post to an end. I hope that you enjoyed riding along with me and watch for my next East Coast Adventure post coming next week.
A Long Hard Road
I would like to remind you that subscribers are in for a special treat starting next week when I will be posting the opening few pages of a book that I am writing. Each month I will add a little more, my goal being to try to add 5 to 10 pages each month.
Here is a little bit of a teaser:
She smelled. A strong, pungent sweaty smell.
It offended her own nose.
Such a long, long sleep in the warm, warm dark.
She had pains in her joints.
Signs of aging, though she was not aware of that.
Anymore than she was aware that the pain was in her joints.
She just felt pain.
It made her angry.
Not that she had any true concept of anger. Or of happiness or despair.
She knew hunger. And not hunger.
She knew rage. And not rage.
But she didn’t know that she knew these things.
They just were.
The big grizzly clamped her powerful jaws around the soft, warm flesh and slowly dragged the unconscious woman into the brush.
She knew hunger. And not hunger.
Be sure to subscribe if you want to read more.