On The Road Again With Ed 'Shevy' Shevlin
Last year Shevlin rode his Harley cross-country from Rockaway Beach, New York to Rockaway Beach, Oregon. He kept his own personal travel diary documenting his adventure and planned to do the same this year.
This year's journey, to Newfoundland by bike and ferry, began on July 23. Below is Shevlin's 2nd week of entries from the road. July 26, 2008, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Sunshine, glorious sunshine! Yesterday's weather report was favorable, even fantastic as it predicted the weather for today. The thing is that I dare not believe it for if I did I would surely be disappointed. So it was with guarded optimism that I went to bed on Friday night. I was feeling rather spry as I jumped on my bike and headed over to the Highland Games at old Government House. It's funny that a guy can cause quite a stir by riding his Harley in a kilt and knee socks. As I pulled into the parking lot at the games, people were clapping and whistling and pointing their fingers in my direction. What was I missing? Was there some hottie doing a striptease behind me? When I stopped to take a look I realized that I was the cause of all of their excitement. Things were getting funny already and it was only 8 a.m.
The heavy events at the Highland Games were begun in Scotland in the 11th century under the reign of King Malcolm. In those days the games served as a sort of recruiting tool for the king. Runners who won the foot races were recruited as the king's messengers and strong men who excelled in the heavy events gained employment as the king's bodyguards. The trials that make up the heavy events today are exactly the same as they were in King Malcolm's time and have been a part of the games ever since. These athletic events appear strange to modern sports fans, and the fact is that they are strange. One wonders why the Scots continue to throw big, stupid unaerodynamic things such as logs, rocks and cannonball- like clumps of lead. The answer is simple — tradition! They have been doing it since the 11th century and are getting better at it as the years go by.
Twenty minutes after arriving I found myself in the Heavy Events workshop that was being taught by none other than, Dirk Bishop. Dirk is a 4-time Canadian caber champion and was there to teach us neophytes the fine points of tossing the caber, throwing the Braemar stone, throwing the 42-pound weight for height, throwing the ancient hammer and throwing the 28-pound weight for distance.
The most intriguing event of them all is the Caber toss. As beginners, we trained and competed with a 90- pound, 18-foot-long caber (log). The idea is to pick it up, get your interlaced fingers underneath it and begin a fast walk. When you feel your momentum is right, you bring the end into your gut and as it begins to tip forward you burst into an upward position drawing the base up to your chin and flipping the log over. A judge that is walking behind you determines the angle at which it lands and calls it according to the clock system. The perfect turn would land at 12 o'clock. Yours truly turned his best caber at 10 o'clock, which was good enough when combined with my other scores to net me 6th place in a field of 11.
The rest of the day was fantastic, with pipe band competitions, highland dance contests and a good old- fashioned ceili that night. I have had enough now so I think that I'll make my way to Prince Edward Island in the morning (that kind of has a nice ring to it, don't ya think?) I just hope that I'm not too sore to ride. July 27, 2008, Fredericton, New Brunswick-Prince Edward Island
Fredericton is a fantastic friendly town, but I am on a motorcycle tour and it's time to say so long. I've enjoyed getting back to my Scottish heritage. It has been a long time coming. I must admit I was a little out of my element, but just as soon as I got back on my Harley I was back in control.
I had a nice ride ahead of me. The day was a bit overcast, but the road was dry and the sun was trying it's hardest to burn through the clouds. There was a couple of hundred miles between me and my destination, PEI and as I set out on my journey I recalled the great weekend that I had spent in Fredericton. With a smile in my heart I hit the starter and headed off down the road. The New Brunswick countryside reminded me simultaneously of Vermont and Ireland with the rolling hills and dairy farms imparting a feeling of calm upon me. There was no traffic this early Sunday morning and I took the opportunity to put an old Hot Tuna album on my bike's CD player. Listened to Jorma Kaukonen singing "North Wind Rise" and motored over hill and dale. The summer sun finally made itself known, warming my face and gleaming off of the chrome on my bike. The city of Moncton was approaching and I could see the spires of the town's churches as I reached the crest of the next hill. Stopping for gas I heard the peel of a church bell as I filled my tank. Perhaps the people in that church will say a prayer for the travelers as they pass through their town, I have a feeling that they did.
There is something about the sea that is obvious to those of us who live by its shores. We can tell when it is nearby, perhaps it is the smell or the lay of the land, or even the demeanor of the people as they share the road with us, but I for one am able to tell when Mother Ocean is near. There were no more hills in the distance. The land became flatter as it splayed itself down to the strand. The signs on the road began to direct me to Prince Edward Island as I drew closer to my day's destination. Turning through a broad sweeping curve I straightened out and saw the Confederation Bridge before me. The huge, arching span is 17 kilometers long and affords the traveler a fantastic view of the surrounding sea and strand.
The signs on the bridge offer the choice of towns, Summerside, Charlottetown and points beyond. My destination was the capital, Charlottetown, so I maneuvered myself over to the appropriate lane and settled into a leisurely gait through the PEI countryside. Another day in the saddle and a few hundred miles on the clock is my idea of success. Given those requisites, I'd say this day passed muster.
Happy Trails, Shevy!