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Saturday, 8 June 2013

Mount Carleton and Northern New Brunswick Ride Day 1

The rain is beating against the window, buckets of it are falling out of the sky as the first  "named" tropical storm of the year, the bitch Andrea, is upon us. Yes I said window, because I am home and not somewhere up north enjoying another night in a tent, where my phone cannot find a cell tower, and no one can reach me. Pete and I decided to cut our trip short by a day because of Andrea's wrath (hell hath no fury like a woman scorned). I don't mind riding in the rain, but not heavy rain and strong winds, with an inexperienced rider to boot. So we are back.

We had an awesome trip, one of the best ones I have done so far, and I have returned with an all new appreciation for the Province of New Brunswick. It is an adventure/dual sport rider's dream place. I read so many ride reports on Advrider.com of folks from the US or other parts of Canada that seem to blow through this province to get to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland missing some amazing places to ride. The central and northern parts of the province seemed to get overlooked in any tourist promotion. As most of you know I was born and raised in Newfoundland, so I have had my fair share of coastal living, and picturesque views. So I guess that's why Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia was a let down to me. The Bay of Fundy.........except for the big tides is some of the dirtiest, muddiest looking water I've ever seen. The beaches in Shediac are nice, but nothing special. That's my opinion anyway, and don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't come and visit these places, but make sure you take in the central and northern parts too.

Anyway back to our regularly scheduled program.

After a late breakfast and getting the kiddies off to school (trying to help out the wives before heading off), Pete and I finally hit the road. Battling the morning traffic and head for the Hemming House Pictures office in uptown (which to me is downtown) Saint John to get a couple of extra cameras for the trip. I was expecting some cool HD, professional movie making cameras........No way, its a Kodak (are they even still in business) Sport HD camera, and a Fuji film XP. I'm thinking, we are nowhere near worthy enough to be trusted with the big fancy expensive cameras. Plus we wouldn't know how to use the damn things anyway.
Home of Hemmings House Pictures, conveniently located above the Java Moose Coffee Shop

Thanks for the cameras dude.

Ok, let's get moving

Cameras all loaded up, we finally get moving and weave our way through the morning traffic and make it to Route 1 eastbound for Hampton, the only four lane highway of the trip. We would then leave the slab behind us, and it was back roads for the rest of the trip. The biggest speed limit was 80kph from here on in.

Eastbound outta Dodge

Route 100 before Hampton
The weather this morning was beautiful, bright sunny skies and just enough of a nip in the air to keep the jacket liners in our Olympia X-Moto(shameless plug) gear on. The light wind was at our backs and life is good.

Just before Norton, we take route 855 and connect to the 695 to Cambridge Narrows. The great thing about these back roads on a Thursday morning..........little to no traffic, and it was to remain this way for the next two days.

Cambridge Narrows

 We continued on the 695 until Jemseg and then northwest bound on the 105 for Fredericton. This is a fantastic road that runs right along the Saint John river. I remember driving this back before they opened the new 4 lane highway and had always wanted to ride it on a bike.

The only traffic we hit was riding along the 105 through the north side of Fredericton. The fruit smoothie I had earlier this morning was wearing off fast, and I was getting a bit of hunger on, it was close to 2pm now. Once we popped out of the Freddie traffic and got back up to speed we continued along the 105 to the 104 junction. As luck would have it, we stumbled upon the Barnhouse Pub. It was a sight for sore eyes, or rumbling stomachs. 

The Barnhouse Pub is a nice little place, food was good, I had the tuna melt, which was a little pricey, but hey, Pete picked up the bill. So we enjoyed a nice lunch under the soothing melodies of country music and the French open tennis on the TV. Weird combination I know. I figured they would have Nascar or monster truck racing on. Maybe the waitress though we were the tennis playing, wine sipping type. 

Full stomachs and all happy again we jumped on the 104 and headed north to my little corner of the world. They just spelled it wrong.........Burtt's Corner. I have to go back and change all the signs. What really pisses me off, is I never even got a picture of my land.

Our next stop was Crabbe Mountain ski hill. I never even realized we were going to go by it until I saw the signs. My wife Kim learned to ski here and I've heard a lot about it, so why not stop in and have a look. Unlike most ski hills, where you park at the base of the hill, at this one you park at the top, which is weird. 

Looking down from the top, wonder where that dirt road goes?

looking back up the hill

Pete marking his territory

I'm guessing the area we walk into was the old part of the hill, because it looked like some old Soviet era, abandoned ski hill. 

We continued north on the 104, and at Cloverdale we turned left onto the 575 for Hartland, home of the world's largest covered bridge, and my wife's BFF Shelley Searles. The covered bridge thing is popular in New Brunswick, never heard of the damn things until I moved here. I needed gas too so it was good place to stop.

New bridge, which apparently is under constant construction. Maybe they should have stuck with just the old one. Sometimes the old stuff is better than new.

Old Covered bridge

Leaving Hartland we were back on the 105 again, and rode alongside the Saint John River. The new four lane highway is on the other side of the river, so traffic is very light, and it was a really relaxing scenic cruise. I love these new four lane highways built everywhere, because it leaves all these nice secondary roads free from traffic.

Next stop was Florenceville, the home of McCain's. The french fry and frozen food empire. I flew Wallace McCain around once, he was a very nice man, who unfortunately passed away a number of years ago. It's a small town, but very well kept and beautiful. Looks like a nice place to live. I know the guys at the McCain's flight department, but we never had time to stop for a visit. 
Another covered bridge, or at least partially covered.

Pete tried to get some video of me riding through the bridge, but as luck would have it I got stuck behind a big SUV and the shot didn't turn out that well.

A little further north on the 105 we stopped at the Beechwood dam, and hydro electrical plant. 

Pete shooting some video

Reaching Perth Andover we turned right onto the 109 towards Plaster Rock where we stopped into Ark's Convenience for some food before heading to Mt. Carleton. Supper was to consist of Mr. Noodle, Vienna Sausages (no self respecting Newfie, or Newfoundlander goes camping without a tin of Vienna sausages), bottle of rum, a couple tins of Coke, and a bottle of instant coffee for the morning. It was gonna be ugly without coffee in the am.

It's about 80kms along route 385 to Mt. Carleton. The first half of the road is littered with camps and cottages, the last half is nothing, nadda, zip, nar' ting, except logging roads. You truly get the feeling of being nowhere. It was awesome. I think we passed one car in 45mins.

The lonely road

We never made reservations at the camp site, figured who'd be camping up here on a Thursday in early June. The nice french lady at the park office of course asks us if we had a reservation. "No, did we need one? Is the campsite full?" Her reply "I'll have to check the computer, everything is done on the computer now" So this goes back and forth a few times, "Can we get two sites together, maybe something by the water, etc, etc" Meanwhile she's typing away on the computer. Finally........no problem, you two are the only ones here. What! you needed a computer to tell you that? So we managed to get two primitive campsites (no running water, or toilets) and we were on our way. 

Big Nictau Lake

Rummers, fire, all is good.

Stay tuned for the return home.

End of a great day of riding, 430kms in total.

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