Had my first accident - Friday the 13th
We were at the top end of Newfoundland and were heading out to L'Anse aux Meadows to see the first Viking settlement, riding through the little town there and following a taxi driver. On NL, the drivers are VERY courteous on the 2-lane roads, and when they get sick of you following them, they will pull over to the right side of the road when it looks ok to pass, and slow down to let you by. So, we came up a little hill and the taxi driver slowed down to a stop and pulled over onto the right-hand side of the road, which led me to believe he was letting us pass him. I moved to the left and started to go around him, still going about 10 mph, when I saw his bumper starting to come at me! I hit the throttle and swung into the other lane (luckily it was empty), but not fast enough to avoid him altogether. His bumper hooked on my engine guard, bent it and my right foot peg and brake pedal backward, then scraped off the entire outside pocket of my FPOS bag. I am not sure how it happened, but the bumper somehow didn't even touch my right leg (I think I may have raised it up high enough to get out of the way) and I kept the bike up -- didn't go down!!!! Of course, he swears that he signaled for a left turn, but neither Peter nor another guy who were behind me saw nor I saw any kind of signal, so that was bogus.
So, we exchanged the usual insurance information and about 4 people stopped to make sure we were alright and ask if we needed any help. The most helpful guy was a local artist, Bill, who also doubles as a re-enacter at the Nordsted tourist site there, and who rode up on his bicycle, heading to check in on his 91-year-old mother. Bill regaled us with stories about the history and people of the place, including Norm, the taxi driver's, entire life history, the economy, the state of the environment there, and so on for at least an hour. His main message, however, was that he wanted to make sure we weren't freaked out, would have all the help we would need, a place to stay, and would get home one way or another. Bless him -- by the time he stopped talking, I had stopped shaking and he had us laughing. Sent us to the Hillier's Auto Repair shop up the road (the bike was drivable, brake still worked), where we met the gang there, and most special, Gary, a fellow HOG member and owner of a 1976 Electra Glide.
Gary spent most of the day fixing the damage. He straightened out the engine guard and put it back on. Pulled out the brake pedal/footpeg and got them back into position. Then welded shut the hole in the frame the footpeg had made when it bent in. Only that one side piece of the frame took any damage, and he welded it up so well that I wasn't even worried about riding it the 2000 miles to get home, even over the unbelievably bumpy roads. Had no problems with it getting home, even at high speeds, bless the man!!!
We had planned to get together with him at the local pub that night, but as we were coming back into town for dinner, we saw him and his son getting his bike out, so we stopped for a ride, they came and had dessert with us while we ate, then took us on a short hike up to the top of a hill near the local high school that gave us a 360-degree view of the whole top of the world. We scared an 18-point moose off the path on the way up -- they are definitely big fellars up close. And from the top of the hill, we could see 5 different icebergs from up there, and just as the sun was going down (turning them all pink), a little squall came by and made us a rainbow from one iceberg to another! (Pic to follow.)
His wife found us up there, so we got to meet her, too, but decided to pass on the pub and/or the pig roast that was happening that night, as we were getting worried about the moose and had to get up fairly early the next day to get to the ferry to Labrador. And, we DID see 5 moose on the way back to the campground, which was only about 8 miles or less from town. None in the road, tho, and they didn't seem to like our pipes, so ran away from us, rather than towards us like the stupid deer do down here.
Both Gary and Bill were talking alot about the death of the fishing industry up there and what it's doing to them. All the young people are moving away, including 2 of Gary's daughters he had just put on the plane to Alberta the day before, to go get jobs out there related to the oil fields. Bill was telling us about one town of 600 that lost 50 young people in one summer, in a caravan heading for Alberta. The population of the town (St. Luniare-Griquet) we were in has dropped from 1500 to about 800 now. A big, empty place getting emptier, and hard, hard lonely for the people who are left. It's a long way to Alberta from NL and there's not alot of money to go visit your kids who have moved away. Gary's wife was really feeling the loss of her 2 daughters, naturally.
We talked to alot of different folks while we were standing around, waiting for Gary to get the bike rideable. One guy was actually flabbergasted when Peter told him we had never seen icebergs before. I guess he hasn't been off the island much...
So, when it was over, my small crash ended up being the highlight of the trip -- would never have met these people otherwise and sure did enjoy them.