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Planning 7

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Planning 1



13 June

Bike is dropped at Gatwick. The letter I had said 'take V5 & proof of insurance'. Neither was asked for - but they did expect me to have some other form that I obviously didn't have. After a while in the back office she came out with a pad & created a new 'vehicle shipping' document. She had a large pad of blank 'vehicle shipping' documents so I guess it's not an uncommon cargo.
I disconnected the battery and wheeled it into the customs shed. The guy there talked about getting it 'hazmat checked'. That's the first time I've heard the word 'hazmat' outside Deus Ex.

Nick picked me up & I crashed at his. When we got there I discovered what I had forgotten. I always forget something on a trip I just always hope it's not something important. (I've only forgotten my passport once).
I forgot my jeans.
I can't believe that I forgot my jeans. I mean - have a look at 'planning 5' on the left. What's the first thing on my bloody packing list. "Jeans".
What a plonker.

14 June

In Montreal.
The flight was uneventful. Security didn't even blink at either the tank bag or helmet as hand luggage.
When the Givi bags appeared on the carousel one of them had a missing lock. Whether it was from the baggage handlers gentle ministrations or whether customs / security decided to search it, who knows but it's a bit of a pain.
It's not as if I could have left them unlocked !
They're either locked or open.
(Oops - low battery)
(That's better - and the laptop is happy with the 110 volts they have here :)
Anyway - There was nothing missing from the case and judicious use of tape should keep it closed for the run to Dougs. I'll try to source a replacement lock in Ottawa.

Before landing you have to fill in a customs form which contains the question 'Are you shipping anything that you are not accompanying'. I could have ticked 'No' but if the customs man had noticed that I was wearing a bike jacket, carrying a helmet and bike luggage he might have asked about the bike, so rather than get into trouble that way I ticked the 'Yes' box.
I have visited four different sections of customs in Montreal. Each one looked at the form, asked a few questions and said "Take your stuff and go through that door" You know - the one that says 'Guilty Smugglers' rather than the one that says 'Exit' (Or in the case of Montreal 'Sortie').
The final woman I saw, after I again said "I'm shipping my bike" said "That's bike luggage, tank bag & helmet isn't it - go on, get out of here"

From the airport I really didn't want to carry the boxes further than I had to so I cabbed to Peters.

Peter is a coffee freak snob connoisseur.
He roasts his own beans and grinds for every cup.
This is heavenly.
When I get home this is going on my list of things to do (Maybe that's another web page to write - but then again not all of the entries will be public domain).

15 June

Montreal in the rain. - It's pissing down.
Bit jet-lagged so I'm up at 5am wide awake and knackered by 3pm.
Went jeans shopping. (Montreal doesn't open till 10).
I'm not a great fan of cities - I'm sure Montreal is a nice place but ...
The museum of modern art is OK.

A Givi supplier has been found in Ottawa (Thanks Nicole). It's looking good for the replacement lock.

16 June

Montreal and Toronto. What's the difference?
One's in Quebec and the other's in Ontario.
They speak French in one and English in the other.
My bike is in one of them and I'm in the other.

I know I arranged to have it sent to Montreal and I have the address to collect it from. Thankfully the helpful cargo folks here have arranged for it to be flown back from Toronto this evening. It should land at 20:15 rather than the planned 16:05.
I was hopping to be at Doug's before dark but with perhaps 2 hours to clear customs it's unlikely that I'll even be on the road before dark.
I should be sanguine about this - this is the kind of thing that I'll look back at later and laugh, but at the moment it's a pain.

Oh yea – there’s going to be handling charges that I have to pay in cash before I get the bike.
Let’s hope I have enough cash on me.

The damn bike’s seen more of Canada than I have.

So where to tonight?
Peter said ‘If it’s late, rather than hit a hotel & pay good money, come back here’.
That makes sense but I feel a need to get on the road. Actually accomplish some of the miles that I've planned.
I also realise that that doesn't make terribly much sense but what the hell. I guess I'll learn to relax as time goes on, but this is only day 3 over here and a little early to break the habit of a lifetime. Plus it's not raining and it's looking like tomorrow will be thunderstorms.

--- Later ---
So the bike flew in 10 minutes early. I even saw the plane land (4 hours at an airport and I become a plane spotter)
So what does getting a bike through customs entail ?
I'd never done this before so I was a little pensive but pretty sure I had all the appropriate paperwork.
One of the guys came through from the back & said 'Your bike's here' and handed the boss some paperwork.
The boss asks my name & the make of the bike and checks against the paperwork.
The first guy takes me air-side (through the back) to ensure I'm happy with the way the bike was packed before he unpacks it.
He takes a fork lift and we manhandle the big aluminium cargo case onto the forks then into the warehouse.
He opens it up and as he's not happy with the fact there's a strap over the saddle he goes to get a camera (as do I)
I go back to the front desk and pay the handling charge (51.31 CAD £23.16).
I'm asked to go back air-side to help remove it from the crate - to ensure no damage comes to it.
It's wheeled to just inside the exit doors and I'm given all the paperwork & told I have to go to customs.

The cargo boss tells me that there have been a number of planes just landed so I might have to wait for customs and they will probably want to come back with me to inspect the bike - so don't expect to leave here soon...

Now I would have expected there to be a customs office in the cargo area of the airport - but no. I have to go to the arrivals terminal (the other side of the airport). Thankfully the boss was just leaving and gave me a lift. (These Canadians are genuinely nice, friendly and helpful people).
So I walk the wrong way through the arrivals door and follow some signs till I get to the customs window.

I hand over the forms I was given in the cargo shed & say "I've just flown my motorbike in from the UK and I have to talk to you guys before the cargo guys will release it." She takes the forms. Stamps them a couple of times. Rips a couple of the copies off and says "Anything to pay?"
"I've paid the cargo handling charge"
"No, is there import duty to pay?"
"It's a temporary importation. I'm on holiday"
And she gives me my copies of the forms back.
" Is that it?"
"Let me check I've stamped 'released' on your copies. Yes that's it"

She didn't check my passport, or vehicle insurance or vehicle registration.

It took longer to queue for a taxi to get back to the cargo building than it took to clear customs.

Just as I got out of the taxi back at the cargo side the rain started.
It was just light so what the hell - I went for it anyway.
Well - I straightened the mirrors, reconnected the battery, fitted the luggage (which took 5 minutes) and went for it.
Straight out of the building into a thunderstorm.

My first mile in Canada was round a badly lit, badly surfaced cargo area in the wet with trucks reversing all over the place.

My next three miles was on a dual-carrageway in the dark and wet.
The wrong direction on a dual-carrageway in the dark and wet.
Then I had to figure out how to get to the other side of the dual-carrageway to start heading west.

Ten miles of wet dark roads later I spotted a motel and that's where I am now.

Damp, tired, hungry but I don't care.
I'm here and I've got the bike.
That was the aim for today and it's done.
All the nervousness about flying the bike and clearing customs is in the past.
I'll sleep well tonight.

17 June

Someone said to me today in the Beer Store "The weather broke last week"
Well I hope they fix it soon.
It pissed down all the way to Dougs.

I did enjoy all the stops along the way.
A lot of people thought it wasn't good weather to be on a motorbike - and surprisingly I had to agree.
We didn't exclusively talk about the weather. The guy in the petrol station was asking what I thought about the war.

Re the comment about the Beer Store above, you can only buy beer in a 'Beer Store' here.

I'm at Dougs and am going to chill here for the weekend.

18 June

With Doug, Lee-Ann and a hangover.
(Come on - you didn't expect that much detail every day)

19 June

Breakfast with Lee-Ann's folks for Fathers day.
Lee-Ann is a McIntosh so it made it odd to be in a family members house for breakfast.

We then wandered round the area checking out museums, waterfalls, ghost towns, restaurants and ice-cream shops.

Meeting Nicole tomorrow at 9am for a mystery tour.
I'm looking forward to doing some dry miles.

Must post this soon. I've been off line for a few days so I'll have a stupid number of e-mails to pick up at some point.

20 June

Met Nicole at the local Tim Hortons. After introductions we headed out round the 'Calabogie Loop'. We then headed south to lake Ontario and took the Glenora ferry into Prince Edward County. Swimming in the lake cooled us down.
I have collected a magnificent selection of mosquito bites. They seem to love me.
The UK plate is garnering a lot of interest, including a cute 19 year old girl with a YZ350 (I think).

21 June

Ferried to Wolfe Island then ferried to the US.
A tiny customs post with two guys who seemed quite taken aback when I said "It's a UK licence plate".
Once we got through customs we rode to Mexico (but stopped for lunch).
We continued south through the finger lake region, through Watkins Glen.
Upstate New York is lovely.

The bar that evening in Montour Falls there was a sign "Prove your 21 or get out"

22 June

Breakfast in Horse Heads then south to PA following Brad's directions.
Some wonderful roads that we've been directed to.

A late lunch with Brad and Jackie then we raced a thunderstorm back to B & Js in Lamont (Just outside State College PA).
Brad has 8 bikes - a veritable garage full.

I'm still amazed that all these folks that I don't know will take me in, feed & water me.
It's wonderful (It's also a bike thing)

23 June

Brad took Nicole & me out round some of his favourite roads.
If anyone ever says there are no corners in the US then they haven't been on the roads I have today :)

Heading for a cafe with free wifi access this evening - that's why the recent entries are short.
That and the fact that I'm having too much fun to sit at a keyboard.

Diary 2