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not all those who wander are lost | two earthlings ride around the world

Rocky

TRIBE Member
The Accident

January 7 - January 14, 2012

When we left the beach, our first mission was to ride through San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. It is known as one of the most dangerous cities in the world but it didn't feel scarier than any other city I have been to. We continued riding and planned on crossing the border into Honduras. It was really hot out and the stop and go traffic wasn't helping. It seemed that El Salvador had two types of drivers, very fast and aggressive, also, very slow and timid. I was told that obtaining a drivers license simply consisted of paying for it.


It was barely 4pm and we had already ridden through more than half the country. El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America but it is the most densely populated. We were riding through a city named Santa Rosa de Lima, and we were approximately 15 minutes from reaching the Honduras border. Rocky was annoyed. He had fought with the traffic all day long and I could tell he was frustrated. We were riding on a two lane highway and everyone was weaving in and out of oncoming traffic to avoid slower vehicles. Reluctant to pass into oncoming traffic, Rocky attempted to pass using the shoulder. It was a mistake he would quickly regret. A truck in front of us failed to look onto the shoulder as it pulled over, and he rammed into the side of us as we were passing.

The bike wobbled when we were hit and Rocky struggled to keep control from falling into a long, 3-foot deep, manmade ditch that ran along the side of the highway. His efforts were in vain. We landed in the ditch, but it was a good thing we did because we avoided hitting a steel pole. Unable to stop in time, we smashed into the 3-foot rock and concrete wall at the end of the ditch. The bike hit head-on and we were thrown off onto the driveway in front of us. It all happened so quickly. We jumped to our feet to assess the damage. Luckily, we were ok. Thanks to Rev-it for creating fantastic riding protection. There wasn't even a scratch or mark on our gear. The truck that hit us was quick to leave the scene and the police that rode past felt they had no business stopping. A small crowd of people circled around us as we began removing our belongings from the motorcycle and from the stream of raw sewage.

The ditch was created to collect rain and sewage. It was filled with leaves and litter, and possibly urine and feces, causing a foul odour and making it really difficult for us to gather our things. I will never forget that smell. We had fire ants all over us and they were eating small chunks of our skin. I have never seen so many ants in my life. We were still in shock as we sadly stared at our broken motorcycle. A man, who I assume was my age but smaller than I, spoke out and asked the crowd to lift the bike from the ditch. It was beautiful to watch as everyone helping us. The man asked us to wait as he went up the road to get his pickup truck. With everyone's effort, we were able to get the motorcycle onto the truck and we rode down the street to a home. We were introduced to Evers, his wife Dilma and son David. Their other son, Enrique, lived next door with beautiful wife Yolii and their son Samuel. We were told that we could keep the bike parked at Evers' house and keep all of our gear at Yolii's house, and we were invited to stay at Yolii's mother’s house.


Isabel is Yolii's mom and she lives a few blocks away with her son Didier and his wife Ximena who had just moved back home from living and working in the USA. We were glad they spoke English. It made things much easier. We arrived at their home and they did their best to accommodate us. We were offered everything from food, a hot shower and their own bed for us to sleep on. It was really kind how well we were treated and taken care of. We were completely exhausted but sleeping was almost impossible. My neck and back were sore and Rocky experienced an allergic reaction to all of the fire ant bites. He was ready to scratch his skin off. But complaints were far from our thoughts. We were happy to be alive and cared for.

Once morning came, our minds were racing. We were afraid to impose on our hosts, we were unsure of how to continue our trip and we wondered if we should ship the bike home or try to find a way to fix it, locally. Luckily, we weren't allowed to think too much about it because we were told that it was Sunday morning, and, when you live in El Salvador, Sunday is spent at the beach with family and friends. The invite placed a huge smile on my face. The beach was a perfect idea for the frame of mind I was in.


We packed up some things and had a family day at Playa Negra. Didier, his wife, Ximena, his mom Isabel and his sister, Yolii, with her son Samuel and Yolii's brother in-law, David, and his girlfriend, Milena, treated us to a day out. The sun was shining we were with good people. The ocean was warm and soothing on my muscles. We ate fresh ceviche, drank a few beers, swam in the ocean, relaxed on hammocks and played in the pool. On our drive home, we stopped in a city called La Union. The city center was packed with people. We all sat at a table and ate a variety of Pupusas. Pupusas are a thick, handmade corn or rice flour tortillas stuffed with cheese, refried bean and chicharron (cooked pork). There were also vegetarian options and some stuffed with shrimp or just cheese and salsa. They were very tasty. The only thing that could have made the day better would have been if Rocky wasn't so sad. He was devastated and there was nothing that could have helped his broken heart.

The following day, Evers invited us out for lunch. We joined him and his son at a restaurant named La Mariscada de Pema, where we were able to taste an award-winning soup called Sopa de Pema. It was a seafood chowder that tasted absolutely amazing. Evers told us stories of life in El Salvador. He said that we were very fortunate to have had been helped by the right people. Most neighborhoods in the area are run by gangs and had we crashed in sight of them, we may have been robbed or taken advantage of. He said that gang activity ran rampant and he expressed a lot of concern about extortion. If gang members believe that you have money, they would do anything to take it. Evers said that he would love if his sons could live in a place as safe as Canada and he respectfully mentioned that he would not be opposed to his son marrying a Canadian just for the purpose of citizenship. Sensing that it was a hint, Rocky was quick to say that gay marriage was legal in Canada and he wouldn't be opposed to helping out. That put an quick end to that conversation.


After a lot of thought, we decided it was best if we shipped the bike home by sea and take a flight home. It took days to make all of the arrangements. We had called many shipping companies and encountered many problems. Something as simple as receiving a call back was extremely difficult. But, what really made me frustrated was trying to obtain a police report. We went to the police station but we were told to return at different hours or different days, numerous times. Finally, I just about snapped and began taking names and recording all of the officers badge numbers. I told them I had all of their information and that since they were unwilling to help, I was given no choice but to visit the embassy. That worked quite well. We left that day with a police report and we were told that we would have to bring it to a police station in the city La Union to have the papers certified.

The following day, Rocky and I took a bus to La Union. This bus ride was the most unique experience of our entire trip. I wish we had brought the camera. La union was at least an hour away and the drama on this bus was fascinating. Hah! I don't even know where to start. Vendors kept walking in and out of the bus at each stop. There was a man dressed as a clown trying to collect tips for being dressed as a clown. There were adorable children with straps and belts that held goodie-bags and they were selling the candy. There were women wearing cute lace aprons with hot trays of food and they sang songs of what they were selling. A man, wearing a suit and tie, stood at the front of the bus talking about medical conditions for a very long time. He eventually walked up and down the aisle selling individual pills, that could have been anything, and people were actually buying them. We were so confused watching the craziness everyone else found normal.

Once we finally reached La Union, the police station was easy to find and the officers were helpful. One problem was solved and there were more to be addressed.


We finally came in contact with a company willing to ship the motorcycle. Still, it took a few days to get quotes and answers. It was a very stressful time but, during those days, Isabel, Ximena and a neighbour helped by hand washing all of our belongings so that we could travel home clean. Everything we owned looked better than new. They also helped us with phone calls and translations to make all the arrangements possible. The company that would be shipping our motorcycle was located in the city of San Salvador, and Didier found somebody who would rent us a pickup truck and take the motorcycle, Rocky and I into the city. I'm not sure what we would've done without this amazing family.

It was 4am and we were ready to head out into San Salvador. It took a few hours to finally reach Comca Shipping Company, but that was just the beginning of our day. We said goodbye to Didier, Isabel and Ximena and thanked them for everything. We will forever remember and be grateful of their friendship.

At Comca Shipping Company, Rocky and I spent most of the day taking the bike apart and making it as compact as possible for the crate that was going to be made for the shipment home. The employee we had dealt with told us not to bother removing the fluids from the bike. They offered to drain the bike at no cost if it was necessary. We provided photocopies of all the documents, the police report, permits, and the motorcycle ownership and we were given a receipt with a summary of expenses and told everything was ready and the motorcycle would be shipped within two weeks. Rocky and I had booked a room at the Sheraton and we were given a ride the employee of the shipping company whom we had dealt with. It was a bit past 5pm when we got to our room and as we sat to relax for a moment. I noticed the concern on Rocky's face as he stared at the receipt we had been given. The paper had no real information on it. The price had the word estimation printed beside it and a few things had been scratched off and penciled in. It wasn't very professional and Rocky thought it seemed questionable. We also had no proof of having left the motorcycle in the possession of the shipping company. We called a taxi and rushed back to Comca to get proper documentation. As we ran to the door, the building was closing for the night and we approached an employee on their way out. Luckily, he was the owner. He invited us in and was also surprised of the paper we were given. He expressed that it was odd and he would make sure to give us proper documents and a guaranteed price. This gave us comfort and we were able to leave with some peace of mind.


Our hotel room was beautiful and our bed was especially comfortable. It was a great place to stay but very boring in comparison to the places we had slept, in the past months.

Our flight was booked and we took a taxi to the airport early the next morning. Times were a bit tough at the airport. Our luggage wasn't practical for flying and we were asked to throw out all of our spare bottles of oil, lube, cleaners, and coolant. We gave it away to somebody dropping off their family. They were happy. We were also told to throw out our fuel tanks and camp-stove fuel container because they smelled of gas. I refused. They cost too much money to discard and they were empty anyway. I suggested cleaning them out in the washroom with soapy water instead. The lady told me I could try that, but I would have to run to avoid missing my flight. Rocky waited at the counter as I grabbed the fuel tanks and fuel canister. I ran through the airport ignoring everything but my current mission. As I opened the doors into the secured section before reaching the bathroom, six officers stood in front of me and stopped me from entering. It wasn't until I saw their expressions that I realized how crazy I must have appeared to everyone as I ran through the San Salvador airport hugging a bunch of gas tanks. I just stood there for a moment and I laughed. It was funny and a little awkward because I wasn't even sure of how to explain myself in Spanish. I began to speak but it was my smile, along with a good old fashioned wink that did the trick.

At last, we had everything ready, cleaned, packed, stowed and we were boarded. I was horribly sad how our trip came to an end but I was looking forward to everyone and everything I had missed while we were gone.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member


Anxious to get to the border before the dark of night, we were run off the road into a sewage ditch after attempting to go around a slow-moving vehicle. Attempting to pass on the shoulder of the road was my first mistake, and my second was assuming that the driver would check his mirrors before pulling off the road. The driver, once he realized that Paula and I were both OK, was quick to drive away and have nothing more to do with the situation.



Seeing the bike in the ditch, the police drove right by with little concern. Several of the townspeople helped us pull the motorcycle out of the ditch. One came with his pickup truck and took us to his friend's place, where we were given a place to stay. Never underestimate the goodwill of strangers.



The next day, we went back to the scene of the accident.



The family who gave us a place to stay took us to the beach the following day. It was Sunday, and Sundays in El Salvador were for lounging at the beach and swimming in the ocean.



Ximena, Didier and Paula enjoyed the coolness of the ocean water. Depressed over the previous day's events and the state of the motorcycle, I remained pensive, relaxed in the hammock and took photos.



Yolli & her son, Samuel, bathed in ocean.



Ximena was originally from Colombia. She had met and married Didier while they were both working in New Jersey.

 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
Isabel was Didier's mother. She offered us her home in our time of need.



Isabel's husband had gone to New Jersey to work. She had not seen him in person for years. Unable to travel to The United States, she would talk to him on the internet every night.



Our extended family in Santa Rosa de Lima



In The Family Room



After peeking between its legs, Paula informed the family that their cat was actually a male, and not a female as they had thought.



After about a week of making arrangements, we found a shipping company that were willing to ship the motorcycle back to Canada. We rented a pick-up truck to take us to the shipping company in San Salvador, where were began disassembling the bike.



Paula, seen here, is pretending to work on the motorcycle.



Since the total shipping cost was based on both weight and volume, we disassembled the motorcycle in order to minimize the cost of shipping it home.



The bike was going to be shipped to New York by sea, and then trucked to Toronto.



The cost for the shipment, from San Salvador to Toronto, was roughly US$1,200.

 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
Back In Canada

January 14, 2012 - Fall of 2013

It was mid January when we had reached Toronto, Canada. We were immediately reminded of the freezing cold winter. We had contacted Rocky's brother Jason and his wife Andrea to pick us up from the airport and we were extremely excited to see them and their sweet daughter, Madelyn. We had asked them to tell nobody of our arrival, I didn't want my mom to worry and I thought it would be a great surprise for everyone.

First, we stopped at Tim Horton’s for a coffee. Not because it has the best coffee, but because it runs through every Hamiltonian's veins. When we finally arrived at Rocky's moms house, she was definitely surprised. We visited with her for a while and I could see in Rocky's eyes how much he had missed her. I was eager to show up at my moms. When we knocked on my mother’s door, her confusion and shock was obvious. My brother wasn't home, but when he arrived, Rocky and I hid and jumped out as he walked past. At first, he was frightened and then he was shocked to see it was us. I had fun surprising everyone!

Maybe it is a little crazy but what I missed most, was my cats. Mama is 17 years old. Belle is 13. I missed them so much that while we were on the road, I actually cried - few times. It broke my heart to abandon them, especially in case their age was to get the best of them. I realize that I risk sounding like a crazy cat lady but I don't care, they really are my best friends. Rocky and I joked a lot about buying them a sidecar, little helmets and leathers to take them with us. I had left them for a few weeks in the past but never for a few months and in a strange house. I was really happy to see them and I am sure that they were happy to see us as well. While we were away, we tried to Skype with them a few times but my mom put an end to that. She said that they **** all over the place immediately after they were online with us. Now that's love.

The comfort of being home with family, friends and pets, felt amazing but I was struggling to adapt. We had experienced a very strange distortion of time. I assume it was from having had lived a lifetime of memories in such a short period of time, while it was as though, time in Hamilton, had stood still to us. It was also difficult living in the 'meantime'. The bike hadn't arrived yet and all we could do was wait. So, we stayed at my moms, and waited.

After a few weeks went by, waiting for a response from Comca Shipping Company became frustrating. After a few phone calls, we eventually received an email requesting we sign over power of attorney so that they could sign for us as the motorcycle crossed the border. They hadn't even shipped the bike yet!? They said that they couldn't ship the bike until we signed a legal contract stating we were liable for any additional charges that may incur. Once they had our signed permission, they would have a KTM mechanic drain all the fluids and the motorcycle would be shipped. But, why should we have to pay that when we were willing to do it ourselves but were told not to because they would take care of it at no charge if it were necessary? I explained to the guy that signing the contract wasn't possible. Not only would we not pay to have any fluids drained but also because we only had a 3-month visa to keep the motorcycle in Central America. If the motorcycle wasn't shipped out of the country in time, we would be responsible for paying a fine of approximately $100 per day. They already had the motorcycle in their possession for almost one month, we did not trust they would send it out on time since they had promised us it would only take two weeks but lied.

I felt as though we were being bullied. We gathered all the documents necessary and took a 45-minute drive into Toronto to visit the Salvadorian Embassy. I explain everything to the Consulate Officer and Rocky insisted on a Contract Clause stating we are not responsible for draining fluids or Expired visa fees. The Consulate Officer completely agreed. I then called Comca and placed them on speakerphone. I explained that the contract would be signed and sent but a Clause had been added. He responded by telling me that the contract would not be accepted. It was at that moment that the Consulate Officer introduced himself to the conversation, and the contract was quickly accepted.

In the meantime, Rocky was working at his previous job. I on the other hand, quit my last job because my boss was a douche-bag. I absolutely loved working there but I had no intentions of returning. Instead, I accepted a job offer at a b**k. And then I realize that I would rather have worked for the douche-bag. But, to avoid being jailed for bad mouthing a large corrupt corporation, I won't get into it. At least it gave me some money to move out of my mom’s house. Rocky and I rented out the basement of a nearby house. It was huge, beautiful and affordable but living in the basement sucked because I felt claustrophobic. Regardless, I enjoyed the privacy and we were renting from an amazing family. I was glad to have met them.

Being in Hamilton was bitter sweet. I wasn't ready to be home, but, being in Hamilton meant that we were able to share or be a part of some important moments. We attended many birthday parties I was glad that I didn't miss. My mother turned 60, my half brother became a teenager at 13 and my half sisters had her sweet 16th birthday. I am also happy to have been home for a few births. And, unfortunately, death exists alongside life, but I was glad that I was able to attend my friends funeral and properly mourn her passing. We were able to spend some time getting to know my little nieces and nephew. My sister, Maryline, and her husband, Denis, have raised the sweetest little human beings.

Within the first two months I must've gained 10 lbs. We craved everything we had missed and we ate everything we had craved. The simple convenience of having a pantry, a fridge and a stove was incredible. Rocky learned how to make the best pie I have ever eaten. That definitely helped shape my figure. There were so many different meals and restaurants we had missed. The only place I avoided eating at, was Subway.

We also attended a few concerts. Twice, we were able to watch Romi Mayes and Jason Nowicki, who we originally met in Medicine Hat Alberta during our first couch-surfing experience. Speaking of couch-surfing, Alex, the Canadian we had met in Mexico and beyond, had surfed our couch on his way home back to Montreal. It was really cool seeing him.

It is easy to get comfortable in any lifestyle that holds such strong relationships. But, it wasn't enough to keep me in my bubble. I fantasized over all of the memories and anticipated being back on the road. Almost every day I would catch myself wishing the day was over. That never happened while we were on the road. Life is meant to be lived. It doesn't feel natural to ignore the beauty of this planet by sitting behind a desk day in and day out while wishing for the weekend to arrive. I need to get back on the road to continue building this newfound relationship I'm having with Earth.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member


We arrived back in Canada at the Toronto Pearson International Airport on January 14th, 2011. We had only told my brother and sister-in-law what had happened and that we were returning so that we could surprise the rest of our families. They were pretty shocked to see us.



We were greeted with a warm welcome from our families and friends, and the bitter cold of winter. Just a few days before we arrived back in Canada, we read Facebook updates from our friends about how they were experiencing spring weather in January.



Paula's friend, Giovanni, threw a big house party. We spent the following day relaxing and walking in the snow in his back field. Giovanni is a man's man - a sort of suburban cowboy - the Marlboro Man if he smoked marijuana and e-cigarettes. And a super nice guy.



With the realization that we wouldn't be continuing our trip until the following year, Paula, Mama, Belle and I got an apartment together. Belle and Paula are seen here relaxing in our comfortable, new pad.



Mama is the elder of the two cats. She was a farm cat that Paula got from an ad in the paper when she was 17. They have been together for the past 16 years, and are almost inseparable. Leaving Mama and Belle behind to go on this trip was very difficult for Paula. It was amazing to see both Mama and Belle again after returning home. Mama has a very unique personality and temperament. There are very few people that Mama tolerates and she doesn't take any **** from anybody. Paula told me a story about how Mama once had a stare-down with a dog and won. But, if Mama does allow you into her little world, it is a very privileged and special experience.



After a night out at Hess Village, a local group of patio bars, Paula ended up sleeping next to the toilet. She ignores my advice to stay hydrated when she drinks alcohol, and she inevitably ends up paying the price and praying to the porcelain.



In August, we went camping in Six Mile Lake Provincial Park with my brother, Jason, his wife, Andrea, and is daughter, Maddy. Jason is a master carpenter, taking after my father. Also like my father, Jason enjoys a cold beer or twelve, and that's just before breakfast.



Paula - while camping in Six Mile Lake National Park



My sister-in-law, Andrea, helps my niece, Maddy (not "Mady") wash the camp dishes. Andrea works for the City of Burlington. She is a great mother and wife, who somehow is able to put up with my brother.

 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
We first met Alex in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico. He was back-packing from Canada to South America and ended up staying with us and several other travellers. Coincidentally, we later just missed Alex in Chetumal, Mexico. He had just stayed with our host, Maria, days before we had arrived. While in Guatemala, we received a message from Alex saying that, if we saw him at the side of the road, to stop and say hi. The next day, we were leaving Peten, Guatemala and we saw two pack-packers walking along the road. Amazingly, it was Alex and a friend. After we returned to Canada, Alex came to stay with us at our apartment as he was passing through Canada on his way home to Montreal.



Mama loves any human food she can sink her teeth into, but she especially loves chocolate, despite it being toxic to cats. She loves butter, hot Italian sausage and even pickled jalapeño peppers. Mama must have been down-wind of the chocolate & almond treat we were eating.



Since we were renting a basement apartment, we sometimes took Mama and Belle to the park to get out of the house for some fresh air. They would have a long winter cooped up in the basement. Belle is a very polite and well-bahaved cat. She's also very nervous but is forced by her love for a good tummy rub to make friends with people.



Paula and I went to Niagara Falls to meet Paula's friends, who drove from Rochester, New York, to celebrate Paula's 33rd birthday.



Paula showing off the tattoo that she had modified and retouched a few months earlier.



Paula with her "bestie", Tonia, and her boyfriend (you can barely see the top of his head) Mike, owner of the famous Perri's Pizza franchise.



The Hangover Part II



At the end of August, Paula and I went on a trip to Pennsylvania with Paula's father and his family.



Paula In Pennsylvania



Paula & her half-sister, Bianca

 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
Paula's father, Nelson, & his wife, Carmen



Paula's half-brother, Bruno, reminds me of a younger version of Jim Carry.



Bianca, Paula's half-sister, balances her brother's zaniness with her much more calm, cool and reserved personality.



The Three Stooges - Bianca, Paula and Bruno



We randomly bumped into Paula's friends and former employer, Dan, who lives and works in Pennsylvania.



After returning home, Paula and I both had a new appreciation for our city of Hamilton.



Sun Setting On The City



Paula, Brandon and Giovanni (in the background).



Before we knew it, the summer was over and autumn had rolled around.

 

dstarr

TRIBE Member
I was in Scranton and Stroudsbourg for a weekend towards the end of may... it's such an interesting place in the sense that the cities are all in these valleys so you're driving down the highway and all of a sudden you come upon the city but can't really see anything until you get around the hills.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
Trip Expenses & Statistics

August 20, 2011 - January 7, 2012



Budgeting
In order to travel the distance and for the amount of time we had planned, it was important to maintain a strict budget. Food, lodging, parts and repair expenses, along with fuel costs and efficiency were monitored and recorded. The expense data on this page represents all expenses up to the point where we got into the accident. After the accident, an additional CA$1,250 was spent on a flight home, CA$1,310 was the cost to ship the motorcycle from San Salvador by sea, and CA$150 was spent on a hotel on our last night in El Salvador. These expenses were not added to the total cost shown below since these costs do not represent normal travel expenses.



Lodging

Of all our expenses, the least was spent on lodging. Paula and I did as much stealth camping as we could. Neither of us could justify spending $30 at a campsite to sleep outside. Near the end of the day just before dusk, we would begin to look for a suitable and discrete place to set up camp. This turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. We found some strange, interesting and often breathtaking places to pitch the tent. We camped next to lakes and rivers, at the side of the highway, in public parks, in parking lots.

After several days without a shower, and when we needed some time to rest and recover, Paula and I contacted couch-surfers. Couchsurfing.org is a social network for travellers and like-minded people who are willing to open up their homes for people who are on the road. A host offers a spare bed, a couch or even a floor to sleep on. The website and hosting is completely free of any charge and is based on reciprocity, and the goal of making travel more easy, affordable, and accessible, while encouraging lasting personal connections with people from all walks of life all over the world. Though the benefit of free accommodation is appealing, neither Paula nor I could imagine the trip without the couch-surfing experience that resulted in the life-long friends that we made through it.

When we weren't couch-surfing or camping, there were a few times that Paula and I were taken in by complete strangers. Stranded by the rain in Durango, Colorado all day, we were offered a place to stay by the manager of a Subway sandwich shop. While in Page, Arizona, a stranger at a McDonald's, who was waiting for his girlfriend to get off work, offered us a place to set up our tent where they were staying.

Food

We kept food costs low by often (too often, according to Paula) eating at Subway sandwich shops. We usually opted for a $5 foot-long, which we both split, and glasses of water. At two dollars and fifty cents per person, it was an extremely inexpensive and relatively healthful meal. We often frequented Subway for their $3 breakfasts as well. As much as we ate at Subway, Paula can no longer stomach even the smell of passing by a store.

Groceries stores were a good option as well. Limited in space and not having any sort of cooler, we weren't able to carry a lot of food. We did often stock up on nuts, dried fruit, trail mixes and beef jerky. Apples and bananas were also an inexpensive and nutritious snack. We also carried an MSR stove and camp fuel with us, but only used it once to heat up some pork and beans and a can of Spaghetti-Os.

When staying with family, friends and couch-surfing hosts, meals were usually provided. If we stayed more than a few days with anyone, Paula and I would like to buy a load of groceries and cook for everyone.


Fuel Prices & Efficiency


When it came to fuel prices, for the most part, we were pretty much at the mercy of the greedy and corrupt oil companies. There is the idea that the earth's natural resources should benefit all people, instead of mainly benefiting a relatively small number of large, multi-national corporations who, in the quest to maximize profits, destroy the environment, engage in price-fixing, lobby against renewable sources of energy, and influence governments who create wars, under the veil of spreading freedom and democracy, in order to secure access to oil resources.

Despite being relatively oil-rich, we, in Canada, pay much higher fuel prices than in The United States. Canadians always find it funny when we hear Americans complaining about the price of gas. I'm sure Europeans feel the same way about all North Americans.


During the entire trip, we filled the motorcycle with a minimum of 91 octane. The highest price for fuel was CA$1.77 per liter (US$6.82 per gallon) between Banff and Jasper, Alberta, Canada. I expected higher than average fuel prices in this area due to its relatively remote location. At CA$0.78 per liter (US$2.82 per gallon), the cheapest fuel prices were in Chiapas, Mexico. Over the course of the entire trip through Canada, The United States, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador, the average price of fuel was CA$1.10 per liter (US$4.14 per gallon).

Fuel efficiency was monitored by noting the distance travelled between fill-ups, when the fuel light came on, and how much fuel was added since the last fill-up. This would result in a number for fuel efficiency that could be extrapolated using the tank capacity in order to determine the tank range. These numbers varied significantly depending on what type of riding was being done (highway, city, off-road, etc.).

An excerpt from the spreadsheet created to record, calculate and monitor fuel efficiency and costs:



Expense Distribution

 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
Coming Back To Life

Completion in November of 2012



Shipping The Bike Back To Canada

Before leaving the shipping agency in El Salvador, we were told that the motorcycle would ship within a week and that, after it had, it would take around thirty days to reach port in Canada. Almost two weeks after arriving back in Canada, I had heard nothing from the shipping agency. I emailed several times and got little response other than they were working on things. Becoming increasingly frustrated and concerned about the return of my motorcycle, Paula and I decided to contact the Salvadorian Embassy in Toronto. We visited the embassy in Toronto and placed a call to the owner of the shipping company. Unbeknownst to him, someone from the embassy was in the room and listening to the entire conversation over speaker. The owner of the shipping company seemed quite surprised when the embassy employee introduced himself. This conversation seemed to help clear things up and get the process moving. The shipment of the motorcycle took far longer than we were told it would, and we were charged by the shipping company for things that we shouldn't have been charged for. Nevertheless, I was glad to see the return of my motorcycle when it did finally arrive back in Canada.

The details of the shipment are as follows:

Motorcycle left at shipping company: January 13, 2011
Shipping time, according to agency: 1 week to ship, 30 days in transit (37 days)
Quoted price: approx. US$975, based on weight, dimensions, and other standard fees

Date motorcycle arrived in Canada: April 27, 2011
Actual shipping time: 3 months and 14 days (104 days)
Actual cost: US$1,288.10
Method of transportation: El Salvador to New York via cargo ship, New York to Toronto via transport truck


The following needed to be paid prior to pick up of the motorcycle in Toronto:

Terminal fee: $65.00
Dock Fee: $40.00


Ordering Parts

It took close to four months for the motorcycle to arrive back in Canada. After finally receiving the bike, I was able to start ordering replacement parts. The main item required for the rebuild was the frame. The original had been completely torn apart at the steering column from the impact during the accident. A possible option would have been to have the frame welded together, but I decided that I would prefer a brand new frame due to the level of damage to the original one.

The front wheel was also badly damaged, and, though not visibly obvious, I was told that there would be damage to the front forks. I ordered a new wheel, front body kit, steering column rod and bearings, and was able to get some used fork from a guy in Austria (thanks Lukas!) who does front-end conversions.

I was offered some shop space by Les, the owner of my local dual sport motorcycle shop, Dual Sport Plus, so that I could work on the motorcycle and have access to their mechanics if I had any questions. After picking the motorcycle up at a shipping warehouse in Toronto, we dropped it off at the shop and I began to disassemble the motorcycle the following week.

Having had a really difficult time seeing the motorcycle returned, I was now dealing with difficulty ordering the new frame. I placed an order with an online dealer who had the frame on sale for US$750. I thought immediately that the price was too good to be true, but the order was proceeding. I was contacted by this vendor and was told that I would need to cut the VIN from my existing frame and send it in before a new frame could be ordered. This was a requirement from KTM, who would ship a new frame out with the existing VIN only when the old VIN had been received. I agreed and was given shipping details for where to send the piece of the frame with the VIN, and was told that they would proceed with the ordering of the new frame. A day later I was contacted again by the dealer. This time the call was to tell me that the part number for the frame I had ordered had been superseded by a different part number, and that he was only able to get that part for US$1,500 - double the price of the one I had originally ordered! I was asked if I wanted to go ahead with the order or cancel. I opted to cancel and look for a better price.

After a bit of searching online, I found the frame, with the original part number, from another online dealer for roughly US$975. I placed the order for the frame and the order began to be processed. Having previously been told that KTM required the VIN, cut from the original frame, before they could proceed with shipment of a new one, I specifically asked about this when purchasing from this dealer in order to confirm this detail. I was told that this was absolutely NOT a requirement. The following email transcript illustrates the headaches that were experienced in ensuring the shipment of the new frame:


On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 11:39 AM, Rocky Vachon wrote:

I was able to successfully complete the ordering process.

Can you please provide an update for this order: Google Order #224055459555985

Thank you.



On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 3:08 PM, Customer Service wrote:

Yes, it looks like your order has been processed yesterday, and should ship out next week. We will send you a tracking number as soon as your order ships.

Thanks,
Adam



On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 12:11 PM, Rocky Vachon wrote:

Before shipment, can I confirm that this is a new OEM frame? I assumed that it was since the description didn't specify.



On Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 3:19 PM, Customer Service wrote:

This is 100% brand new directly from KTM.

Thanks,
Adam



On Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 10:08 AM, Rocky Vachon wrote:

Can your provide a mailing address just in case the VIN from my original frame needs to be shipped before a new frame can be issued? I would like to have this ready since almost every other vendor has told me that it is a KTM requirement to receive the VIN cut from the original frame before a new frame can be issued.

Here is my original VIN in just in case it is required to keep the process moving: (VIN)

Thanks.



On Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 2:03 PM, Customer Service wrote:

Our mailing address is: (mailing address)

Also shown here: (website help page link)

I am really not sure who has been telling you to cut out a VIN number - that just cannot be true. Please don't listen to them. You cannot be expected to cut out a VIN from the old frame as that would not even be legal. We deal directly with KTM, and there is no such requirement. Usually with frames the manufacturer may want the paperwork (pink slip, registration, etc) and they wouldn't let us even order without that. In this case they did not want anything except make and model. Again, I have never heard of any manufacturer asking to cut up your old frame.

Thanks,
Adam



On Thu, Jun 7, 2012 at 7:51 AM, Rocky Vachon wrote:

Thanks for all your help Adam.

A few more requests/questions:
• Can you provide me with the new VIN of the new frame that will be shipping once that becomes available?
• Can you add a shipping note to "Hold for pick-up."
• Is there any new information as to when this will ship?

Thanks again for all your help.



On Thu, Jun 7, 2012 at 10:08 PM, Customer Service:

Rocky, we are still waiting to receive this frame from KTM. We will have any information from the frame once its in our warehouse. I can contact you once the frame is here and get you all the info. I will get an update on when it should arrive tomorrow (it should be in the next few days - unfortunately KTM is one of the slower manufacturers we deal with)

Thanks,
Adam



On Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 3:47 PM, Customer Service wrote:

Rocky, per KTM your frame should be getting to our warehouse early next week - most likely Tuesday.

Thanks,
Adam



On Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 12:04 PM, Rocky Vachon wrote:

Any word on the frame yet, Adam?



On Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 2:51 PM, Customer Service wrote:

Rocky, we were trying to find out what the hold up with KTM is, and it turns out you were absolutely correct. They now want the get the vin number physically cut out from the frame. I have asked KTM several times when the frame was ordered and was assured this is NOT the case, but when it came time to deliver, they changed the story. Honestly I have never heard of any manufacturer asking a customer to chop up their frame. Most manufacturers simply want the old VIN number and sometimes copy of the registration and driver license / ID.

So once again, I do apologize, but we would need the VIN number physically cut out from the old frame in order to ship this frame. If you cannot do that, let me know and I can cancel this order.

Thanks,
Adam



On Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 9:46 AM, Rocky Vachon wrote:

Adam,

I cut the VIN from the frame last week. I still do not have a shipping address in order to ship it directly to KTM. Please provide me with the shipping address so that I can ship the VIN directly to KTM USA.

I know that it can be difficult dealing with KTM. If you provide me with contact information (name and telephone number) for your KTM sales rep., I can see if I can get this process moving. I have already lost 4 weeks of build time. I disassembled my motorcycle in shop space that is only being rented until the end of this month. I am now left to deal with transferring a completely disassembled motorcycle to a new location to finish the rebuild.



On Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 1:36 PM, Customer Service wrote:

Rocky, I was sure someone has gotten back to you on this, I apologize.

You cannot send this VIN KTM directly. It has to be sent to us and we have to forward it to KTM Austria. We have tried to get KTM to accept the VIN directly from you (the customer) but they will not do that. We need to get it to us first and then it will go to KTM. We are the sales rep and are affiliated with a local KTM dealership, so the same day we receive your VIN, will be the same day it will go out to KTM Austria.

Our address is: (address)

Please write your order number "44192" on the package.

I know these are some crazy rules KTM has, but there is no way around it. We sell frames for Honda, Polaris, Kawasaki and other brands of bikes and ATVs and never have we ran into a situation like this. Lets hope we can resolve this quickly and get the frame out to you ASAP.

Thanks,
Adam



On Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 9:37 AM, Rocky Vachon wrote:

I sent you the VIN last week. It should be arriving any day now if it hasn't already. I wrote the order number on the package and made the it out to your attention.

Please let me know when you receive the package. I will send the tracking number later today if you need it.




On Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 1:14 PM, Rocky Vachon wrote:

Tracking number is: CX 468 493 962 CA

According to Canada post, my VIN has been successfully delivered as of July 02.

Please confirm that you have received the VIN and have sent it to KTM.

Thanks.



On Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 4:16 PM, Customer Service wrote:

Yes, it shows as delivered. This week we have a holiday, so we should be able to take care of it today.

Thanks,
Adam



On Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 11:54 AM, Rocky Vachon wrote:

Are there any updates or tracking information for the frame yet?



On Mon, Jul 19, 2012 at 4:25 PM, Customer Service wrote:

Rocky, the VIN / neck has been sent to KTM, and as of yesterday, we were told by KTM, that worst case ETA would be 2 weeks most likely sooner (it sounds like the frame is coming from Austria).

I really feel bad that this is taking so long, but unfortunately this is KTM and this is how it works with them. KTM is probably the manufacturer that gives us the most headache with many of our orders with them.


Thanks,
Adam



On Thu, Aug 1, 2012 at 11:59 AM, Rocky Vachon wrote:

It's been almost two weeks. Do you have any more updates on where the frame is? Is there any sort of tracking or concrete way of knowing its location?



On Mon, Aug 1, 2012 at 4:01 PM, Customer Service wrote:

Hi, the frame should be here (our warehouse) today. We will need to arrange for freight shipping to you so it will probably be going out via Fedex Freight or UPS Freight tomorrow. I will send you a tracking number as soon as it ships.

Thanks,
Adam



On Mon, Aug 2, 2012 at 11:33 PM, Customer Service wrote:

Hello Justin Vachon,

Great news! (Dealer) has shipped part of your order. It should arrive soon.

Track FedEx package #726810215013242

Order date: May 30, 2012 1:30 PM EDT
Google order number: 224055459555985
KTM OEM Part - FRAME "FD07" 990 ADVENTURE 07 (6010300110033): $976.79
FedEx: #726810215013242
Additional Shipping of oversized item: $78.05
Shipping & Handling (Ground Shipping): $20.90
Tax (NY): $0.00
Total: $1,075.74


The frame was finally delivered on August 9th, two months and 10 days (71 days) after placing the order. Paula and I knew that there was no time to complete the rebuild and prepare to head out again on the trip that summer. We set a goal to work through the winter and prepare to leave the following spring.


The Rebuild

Three years earlier when I first bought my motorcycle, I was extremely intimidated by it, having never done any real mechanical work before. I remember taking the front fairings off for some reason and being really nervous and uncertain about whether or not the bike would start up again after reinstalling them. Over the next few years, I did more work and continued to familiarize myself with my motorcycle. I was given a lesson on how to perform an oil change, which involves the removal of the left side fuel tank. Using step-by-step tutorials form the internet, I performed a valve clearance check and rebuilt my water pump. During the trip, I met my motorcycle guru, John, who showed me how to change a tire. I performed another valve clearance check in Arizona, and changed a few tires along the way. While in Mexico, I changed out my sprockets and chain for new ones.

This rebuild was going to be a lot more involved than anything I had done before. It required the complete disassembly of the motorcycle in order to move all of its parts from the old, damaged frame to the new one. I approached the rebuild with the idea that, if someone else could do it, there is no reason why I couldn't. I try to approach most things with this mindset. Understanding that it wouldn't be easy, I knew that what would be required was the right level of effort, thoroughness and focus.

I began by slowly disassembling the motorcycle, piece by piece, while taking photos of everything and carefully placing every nut and bolt in a labelled baggie. I drew diagrams showing the general routing of cables, wires and hoses and their locations relative to other parts on the motorcycle. Being very thorough, it took several days to disassemble the motorcycle to the point where the only thing left on the old frame was the engine and swing-arm.

Les was only temporarily renting the space he had offered, and, since the new frame was taking longer than expected to arrive, I decided to take the pieces of the motorcycle and store them in my mother's garage until I was able to start the rebuild.

After many headaches and a lot of waiting, the new frame finally arrived in August. It had been almost seven months since returning to Canada. It was far too late to complete the rebuild and prepare to head out on the trip by the end of summer, so Paula and I decided that we'd have to get our own apartment and wait until the following year to begin our trip again.

We moved into our apartment at the end of June, and it wasn't until the end of October that I got up the motivation to tackle the rebuild. I transferred all of the parts of the motorcycle from my mother's garage to the garage where we were living. My landlord, Peter, helped me remove the engine from the old frame and place it in the new one. I began assembling the rest of the motorcycle using an ordered list that I had made during disassembly as a guide, starting at the bottom and working toward the top. Slowly, piece by piece, the bike began to take shape. I removed the SAS (secondary air system) equipment and placed engine block-off plates over the openings in the cylinders left bare from the removal. When I finally had all of the pieces mounted and all of the nuts and bolts accounted for, I placed a charger on the battery, filled the bike with its necessary fluids, and prepared to start it up. The removal of the SAS equipment causes an error that prevents that starting of the motorcycle, so I purchased a communication cable and connected my laptop to the bike's ECU (computer) and disabled the SAS equipment check, effectively disabling the error that prevented starting. It was ready to be started up. I was a bit nervous. After several laboured attempts to start, the bike fired up. She sounded beautiful.

The rebuild, other than a few snags, went smoothly and took place over the course of three or four weekends. Going through the process of rebuilding the motorcycle allowed me to become intimately familiar with the bike, and it made the work I had previously done on the bike seem much easier. It also gave me the knowledge and confidence to be able to tackle almost any repair necessary in the future. When the day comes that I do a compete engine rebuild, I'll almost be able to call myself a real mechanic.


The Accident


All of the nuts and bolts from the bike were meticulously labeled and placed into sealable baggies. Many photos were taken in various states of disassembly, and diagrams noting relative locations of parts and the routing of hoses, wires and cables.


With some help from my landlord, Peter, the engine was lifted from the original frame.


The old frame and the new one


The engine, swing-arm and rear mono-shock were the first parts placed onto the new frame.


Other than the pesky foot-peg springs, the wire and cable routing was the most challenging part of the rebuilt, as was expected.


Piece by piece, the skeleton of a bike started to look like a real, live motorcycle.


Back from the pits of despair, Almeida came back to life. Here she stands (leans) in all her glory.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
Good job! When are you planning on leaving for the nest leg of the journey?
We've already left. Paula and I have been back on the road for almost 60 days now. We just arrived in Iceland two days ago. We're camped out in a park in a small town (Keflavík) just a few kilometers from the airport. Iceland Cargo only ships out on Saturdays, so we're hoping that the motorcycle arrives next Sunday with the next cargo shipment, which isn't guaranteed since cargo shipments have been pretty full lately. Crossing our fingers. In the meantime, we're trying to get caught up on the blog.
 

Spinsah

TRIBE Member
Heading to Iceland next month with plans to tour around the whole country.

Post your favourite spots!
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
I will! Depending on when the motorcycle finally arrives, we might even be here next month.
 

derek

TRIBE Member
^^

ha! just ran into a guy at mec last week stocking up for an ultramarathon in Iceland.

great adventure rocky. nice to hear you're back at it.

i love the distribution costing and i'm quite impressed at $0.33 per km! (Logistics nerd in me)
 

sk8

TRIBE Member
How did you deal with getting cash while you were on the road? I assume you didn't carry a ton of cash at once and would need local money for each country. Did you just do withdrawals down there by some sort of card or cheque?
 

Lurker

TRIBE Member
Great write-up & story!

Glad you're back on the road. Looking forward to more pictures and stories of adventure!
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
^^
i love the distribution costing and i'm quite impressed at $0.33 per km! (Logistics nerd in me)
I'm a bit of a nerd and I like to keep track of what we're spending. Our spending patterns were pretty spot-on with what I estimated prior to the trip. Keeping track also allowed me to extrapolate the data to determine how long we would be able to travel given the daily averages. This all went to shit when we got into the accident.

How did you deal with getting cash while you were on the road? I assume you didn't carry a ton of cash at once and would need local money for each country. Did you just do withdrawals down there by some sort of card or cheque?
We used credit cards and cash. Using credit cards, we were charged the foreign currency exchange fee. I don't know the exact amount, but I've read that between the issuing bank and the credit card company, this is roughly 3%. I have a TD Select Service account, which allows me to withdraw cash worldwide at any ATM with PLUS (and CIRRUS, I think) networks without TD charging me a fee. We are charged a small withdrawal fee by the local bank where we withdrew funds, though, so we usually took out a good amount to justify the fee.

So far, in Iceland, we've just used credit cards. From what I understand, Iceland is a relatively cashless society. Also from what I have read, it's a good idea to notify your credit card company if you intend on traveling to avoid having your card declined since (I have heard) many of the gas stations are not manned and require a credit or debit card for purchase. If you're filling up and your card gets declined due to the fraud prevention flags, you could be stuck without gas.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
Preparing To Leave

Autumn of 2012 - June 9, 2013

It took over four months for the motorcycle to arrive. That ruined any plans to leave that summer. Rocky was eager to start the repairs and fortunately we were offered a place to fix the bike at Dual Sport Plus. It's a local motorcycle shop owned by Les. Him and his staff were extremely helpful. Rocky assessed the damage and began ordering parts. I am amazed that he was able to completely take the bike apart and put her back together. He even got her running better than before. As soon as the bike was completed, we were able to place much more focus on preparing to leave. My first step was to get back on the motorcycle. I hadn't been on the bike since the accident and I felt nervous. It wasn't so bad. I was surprisingly comfortable and I was able to thoroughly enjoy the ride.

After a lot of organizing we were finally able to start packing. One would think it would be easier the second time around. But, now that I know what to expect, I caught myself over packing. It is difficult to travel with the bare minimum. Traveling through different climates definitely doesn't help. If I had forgotten anything, I could always pick it up along the way. I'll just have a heck of a time finding room for it though. Maybe I could find room for just one pair of my favorite high heels!

I definitely went through some mixed emotions. I felt excited, nervous, sad, happy. A shrink would have fun diagnosing my current state. My poor mom was in denial. She refused to acknowledge we were leaving. My brother was having dreams that I had changed my mind. I just wish that my cats could've spoke just once to tell me that they forgive me and they'll be waiting for our safe return. I have been so fortunate to have so many amazing people in my life but it makes it so much tougher to leave their side.

We will miss everyone. I am sure that I will cry and so will Rocky. Only he will pretend that a bug got in his eye.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member


Shortly after moving into our apartment, our landlords, Peter & Haarika, had a baby boy named Kushal.


Nikita, Haarika's daughter, & her baby brother, Kushal


Paula and I drove to Toronto to see Romi Mayes (pictured here) and Jay Nowicki. We first met both of them while couch-surfing in Medicine, Hat Alberta. Romi was awarded Song Writer of the Year and Album of the Year at the 2007 Western Canadian Music Awards. "Mayes' style has been described as edgy, bourbon-infused country blues and bluegrass, characterized by sympathy and honesty." -- Wikipedia


Romi & Jay rocking out the Dakota Tavern, in Toronto, Ontario.


Paula, Giovanni & Grace dressed up for Hallowe'en


Paula dressed up for Hallowe'en as a belly dancer, only to be told several times that she was actually Jasmine from the Disney animated movie, Aladdin.


Princess Jasmine


Paula & her friend, Grace - Grace is a paralegal and one of the most well-read and knowledgable people I know. She also like to talk a LOT.


Paula and I spent New Years eve at Hess Village, in downtown Hamilton.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
New Year's Eve


Happy New Year!


Paula on New Year's Eve


Paula & I on New Year's Eve


Belle


My grandmother lived to the ripe, old age of 94. She was only a few months away from her 95th birthday when she passed away in 2009. I use to visit her on weekends and she always baked me delicious pies - apple, peach, berry, custard... After the new year, I decided to take up baking. This triple-berry pie was my second attempt. It was delicious (if I do say so myself).


On March 15th, my niece, Maddy, turned four years old.


During the almost year and a half back home, I was able to see my favourite band, Sigur Rós, twice. - photo by Balzz


Paula's niece, Josephine, turned five years old in April. Paula's sister and brother-in-law, Maryline and Dennis, have four children in total.


Paula's niece, Madison, is one of twins.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
Sophia is the other half of the set of twins.


In April, Paula's friend, Catherine, had a baby girl named Avielle.


Paula's mother, Lucilia, hibernates in winter, but, at the first sign of spring, she is out all day working in her garden. She has one of the best gardens I have ever seen, full of plants, flowers, herbs and vegetables. She also makes amazing chicken wings.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
On The Road Again

June 9, 2013 - June 16, 2013

We left a week and a day late but it was nice to have a little extra time with everyone. We had everything packed at Rocky's moms house but we spent the night at my moms. I tried to cuddle my cats as much as possible before leaving the next morning. Saying goodbye was obviously tough, I cried. My mom wasn't about to make it easier on us. She tried a few guilt trips, hoping I would change my mind, but her and I giggled at the attempt. My brother, Mike, drove us around the corner to Rocky's mothers house. Rocky's brother Jay was there with his wife Andrea and their daughter Mady. My best friend Greg showed up with his girlfriend Eden, and our friend Peter, who lives next door to Diana (Rocky's mom) was also there with his two children. I cried, again. We left there and headed towards my sister, Maryline's house. Her husband Dennis and their four children, Lucas, Josephine, Madison and Sofia were all there. I was glad that my tear ducts were completely drained, otherwise I would have bawled. I'm going to miss everybody.


Our next destination was Tobermory, Ontario, a really cute town with an unspoiled countryside. It is known for its relaxed pace of life and fresh water scuba diving. There are numerous shipwrecks that lie in the surrounding waters, but we stayed on land. After splitting an order of delicious, fresh White fish and chips and clam chowder soup, Rocky and I rode around in search of a place to camp. We found the perfect spot by the water, next to a historic lighthouse. Just before we began unloading the bike, we met a guy named Ivan. He mentioned that he was also from Hamilton, Ontario. He lives in Tobermory with his girlfriend and pet dog and works as an engineer on the Chi-Cheemaun ferry.


We woke up early the next morning but it was a bit chilly and I didn't want to get out of the sleeping bag. Rocky warned me to get up because it would rain, I should've listened. We got a bit wet packing up the gear and loading up the bike. We were going to take the Chi-Cheemaun ferry. It traverses Lake Huron from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island. $51.50 was a bit expensive but it was an hour and a half journey and I'm not a good swimmer. While waiting to dock, we met a young man named Marty, who was from Austrailia and also touring on a motorcycle. He flew to British Columbia and took a train to Toronto, where he bought a Kawasaki. He is also heading to Eastern Canada and I wonder if we'll bump into him again along the way. Ivan, the engineer on the ferry, found us and offered us a tour. I don't know much about boats but I found it really interesting to look at. He took us through the engine room, all the control rooms, along with the bridge, where the captain was. I felt like I was on a really awesome school trip.


As soon as we reached Manitoulin Island, it was raining pretty hard. We rode at least 5km up the rode and stopped at a Home Hardware store for refuge. We were soaked. The rain didn't seem like it was about to stop, so we decided to ride a couple of kilometers up to a restaurant. We found a great little place called Musky Widows where we met Matthew, the owner. After a hot meal and a few cups of coffee, it was still pouring rain outside. Matthew mentioned an abandoned barn a few minutes away and said he would take us there if we were interested. We were excited to sleep under a shelter.


We peeked into the barn where we were prepared to stay until Matthew mentioned the Hanger a few meters away. We chose the Hanger instead. It was easier to unpack all of our things and bring the motorcycle inside. We kept the large doors open to watch the storm. Our belongings didn't dry well because of the moisture in the air but at least they didn't get any worse. It ended up raining all night. Although I enjoyed sleeping there, I have to admit I was a bit scared. Raindrops and every other small sound echoed loudly. It got a little bit scary in the complete darkness.

We took our time getting out if bed in the morning. Once we packed, we took a ride back to Musky Widows for breakfast. We left the small town of Manitowaning and headed towards Sudbury, Ontario. It was getting late and we almost settled for a place to camp. I'm glad we kept searching because we found the most perfect location. Ramsey Lake is extremely pretty and surprisingly quiet. We walked across large rocks were we found a patch of grass just big enough to fit our tent. It was simply a perfect place to be.


Our plan was to go visit Rocky's dad. He recently moved to Cobalt, Ontario. The ride was only a couple of hours from Sudbury, Ontario, and it rained on us the last hour. At least this times we were prepared. We pulled over to put on our rain liners just before the rain came down. Cobalt is a small town with a population of 1500. Known as Silver City, it is the Silver Capital of Canada. The only other thing that could be said for Cobalt, Ontario is, it had delicious tap water. Conrad, Rocky's dad, is in his 70's and looking for love, ladies. He is a really nice guy with a funny vocabulary. He uses words like gee willikers, gosh golly and darn tootin. When he addresses me, he either calls me Sis or Salami. He is hilarious. Even when he is sleeping, he is funny. We've caught him talking in his sleep. He has full conversations.

We were there a few nights and decided not to leave until Fathers Day. It was tough saying goodbye but we got everything prepared for Conrad to get his passport. Since he is a French Canadian we assume France would be an easy sell. We would love for him to visit us in France.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member


After a year and a half of being back home, working, saving and rebuilding the motorcycle, we set back out on the road. We left Hamilton on June 9th and headed north.


Our second day on the road, we crossed over to Manitoulin Island on the ferry from Tobermory. The crossing took about two hours and cost $50 for the motorcycle and two riders.


While waiting for the ferry, we met Marty. Marty is from Australia and purchased a motorcycle in Toronto to ride across Canada.


The night before taking the ferry, we met Ivan. Ivan mentioned that he was the lead engineer on the ferry to Manitoulin Island, called the MS Chi-Cheemaun. He told us to find him onboard and he'd take us on a tour around the vessel.


Shortly after arriving on Manitoulin Island, a torrential downpour also arrived. Paula and I found a restaurant in a nearby town to hang out and dry out our soaked gear. Matthew, the owner of the restaurant, called Musky Widows, offered to take us to an abandoned farm where we could spend the night out of the rain.


The farm had an old barn and a hanger, where we decided to set up our tent.


The rain poured down throughout the entire night, pinging the metal of the hanger roof until morning.


Morning came and the sun finally broke through the clouds as the sky cleared up.


We spent the next night in Sudbury, Ontario. One of the best parts of traveling the way we do is trying to find a spot to camp for the night. With the sun going down, we found this perfect little spot on the edge of Ramsey Lake.
 

Rocky

TRIBE Member
Ramsey Lake


Our next stop was Colbalt, Ontario, where my father had recently moved after separating from his wife.


The last time I had seen my father was almost two years prior, during the first part of our trip. He had aged noticeably since, but hadn't lost is lively spirit, despite battling bouts of depression over the break-up of his marriage.


We met "King Ross" at a Tim Horton coffee shop in the nearby town of New Liskeard. I don't know whether he was the craziest or one of the most intelligent people I have met, but he certainly was entertaining and interesting to talk to.


My father's diet consisted of beer and cigarettes (though he didn't inhale). He woke up one morning and got a beer from the fridge at seven in the morning. I mentioned that there was already a freshly-opened beer on the table. He thought it was mine, as though everyone had a beer first thing in the morning.


After a four-day visit with my father, we left Colbalt and headed towards Montreal. While with my dad, we applied for a passport for him and made tentative plans to meet him somewhere in the world, maybe Paris, France.
 
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