Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Washington Pennsylvania to Wytheville Virginia

We never did get the High Speed Internet working last night so yesterday's post was done through dial-up. I hate dial-up.

A check of the bike this morning revealed that the coolant reservoir (under the engine and checked with a dipstick) was bone dry. This would have been a major factor with the overheating problems yesterday. I went next door to a gas bar and bought a jug of coolant. We then took some old water bottles and mixed up 50/50 coolant/water solutions. The reservoir was topped up and the rest were stored in the cooler. I need to remember that they are not green kool-aid.

For the first time I can remember, I got on I-70 going the wrong way. A mile from the W(BG)V border, we got off and looked at Plan B . Rather than backtrack through Washington, we went back to Claysville and took 231 south. This was an excellent little road winding through the hills. There was a part that was a tar and chip combination but it didn't last very long. We connected with 18 to Waynesburg where we did the Mickey D's breakfast.

We waved at I-79 and then started south on US-19. Again, we were winding our way up, down and around. The road was good, traffic was light and scenery was great. I'd recommend any of these for a fun ride.

Morgantown WV is a place I have only seen from the Interstate prior to today. This time we went right through town. It is a very nice place with aUniversity but the thing that caught our eye was a Walt Disney World style people mover car that came shooting past us. Here's a page I found on it: . I was impressed.

We continued on 19 towards Fairmont. At one point, we had to stop because a steel door, carried on top of an SUV, had come detached and smashed itself all over the road. It once had a lot of glass in it. By the time we reached Fairmont, it was noon, the temps were close to the 90's and we decided to jump on the big road to make it to Wytheville in a reasonable time. Getting on the big road was easier said than done, but we made it. The rest of the day was dodging roaring trucks and stopping often for water. Our best stop was a the DQ in Flatwoods.

We're at the KOA in Wytheville. The WiFi won't reach my site so I'm sitting on a swing in front of the office typing this. They delivered a fine pizza to our site earlier. It is a beautiful evening and there are NO BUGS.

Tomorrow we will probably cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cambridge Ontario to Washington Pennsylvania

It was the best of days. It was the worst of days.

We left Cambridge by a totally different route. After taking Highway 24 south to Brantford, we connected with Highway 54 AKA The Grand River Scenic Parkway. This wound along the river all the way to Cayuga and then we continued along the river on a county road to Dunnville. This was a pretty route with sweeping corners, excellent scenery and a minimum of traffic. The highway went through Caledonia, scene of the recent native unrest, but there was a detour around town so we didn’t see anything.

In Dunnville, we stopped for our usual McGriddle breakfast and then jumped on Highway 3 to Fort Erie and the border. As usual, the crossing was easy. The border guard did get a little confused when he asked where we were going and I laid out the itinerary, but he finally smiled and kicked us loose.

The plan from Buffalo was to take US 62 South because is followed the Allegheny River down in Pennsylvania and looked interesting. The secret is to not take it directly from Buffalo. First off, signage is pathetic in town. It took two wrong turns and directions form a guy in a gas station to get us on track. Then it is a seemingly unending series of traffic lights and built up areas. Note in this picture the building belongs to the Friends Meeting House and Burial Ground. I thought it was funny at the time, but I was sitting stopped on hot new asphalt at 95F waiting for a flagman to let us go so I might not have been in my right mindJ

Let me speak for a moment here about tar snakes. These are the tar strips used to fill the longitudinal cracks in the road. We are usually careful on them in the rain since some tires have been known to slip. Today, with the extreme heat, these strips were slicker than grease. It also seemed that the sharper the curve, the more snakes in the road. It made things interesting dodging them.

After Gowanda, where we tried a Mickey D’s iced coffee (probably for the first and last time), it opens up. The speed limit picks up to 55 and there are a lot of corners marked for reduced speed. After Warren Pa, it runs along the Allegheny River skirting the Allegheny National Recreation Area. This was a pleasant ride and I’d recommend it to anyone. I got a picture of the bike in a pullout along the river maintained by the state for fishermen.

The interesting road ended on Oil City, which then becomes Franklin. Since our day was slipping away from us, we took Highway 8 to I-80 to I-79 south aiming for the KOA in Washington, Pa. We were making good time as we passed the west side of Pittsburgh. All was moving well until just before Exit 60 where the day went downhill fast. Traffic was dead stopped and the temperature was still in the 90’s. I knew about the construction that has been going on south of here for over a year and expected some slowdown, but this was unusual. After firing up the CB, I found that right in the construction zone at least three big rigs had rear-ended one another. They were still only getting the first truck out of the way. About that time, shooting the drivers seemed appropriate to me.

We finally worked our way, by hook and by crook, to Exit 60 and immediately joined another parking lot on US 60 South. About this time, one of the GoldWing characteristics I have heard about manifested itself for the first time. The temperature gauge told me I was on the verge of overheating. Given the hot, humid weather and the stop and go traffic for such a long period and I wasn’t surprised. I managed to get into a Sunoco parking lot before it hit the red.. I seemed to me that the fan wasn’t running so I opened the fuse box. Fuse looked OK but I changed it anyway. After sucking back some water, I scoped out some roads to get us south.

I don’t know if this was typical Pittsburgh rush hour traffic or something special, but I now have a place I hate worse than Chicago. We’d get going and then a new development or traffic flow would merge and we’d be stopped again. One lady in a pickup truck liked where I was and decided that maybe we could occupy the same space simultaneously. Luckily, the Wing has a good horn. Another fine young American princess in an SUV wouldn’t let me take my turn in a merge and then, after I was behind her, rolled down the window and dropped a Kleenex on the ground. A perfect example of what is wrong with some of the younger generation.

Eventually we got to Washington and worked our way out to the KOA. Sandy saw a deer. I saw a herd. They were all looking at us as we rode slowly into the campground. Which was closed for the night. If we late registered, we would have had to wait until 8:00 AM tomorrow to settle up. That didn’t suit us so we rode back out to Washington, waving at our deer friends as we went by.

Washington is a funny place. We looked all over for reasonable motels and eventually found some to our liking on I-70 at Exit 15. While making a U-turn in a parking lot, I bobbled. My right hip (not the down side, strangely) is hurting some. I hope it will be better tomorrow.

We finally got an Econolodge with high speed hard wired Internet at about 8:30 PM. Went across the road and ate at Bob Evans. When I came back and hooked up the computer, no connection. Tried another cable, no change. Called the desk and the very nice elderly lady had no idea what to check. Either they will get this working and I will post in the AM or I will try the dial-up and do it the old, slow way.

Our first real day of back-roading was interesting. It seems like we saw a lot more and covered a lot less ground. There was a lot more to report on here. Maybe tomorrow we will actually try to stop and see something. As for the trouble, it really started only after we got back on the superslab.

Tomorrow, we will tackle some back roads in West (By God) Virginia.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Sudbury Ontario to Cambridge Ontario

Up early. Packed the last of the items and ran the banking errands. The packing went much easier than last time because everything now has a place. Then the temperature started to rise. They had called for 30C today and it was headed there with the utmost humidity.

We stripped the Alter Ego jackets to mesh and hit the road about 10:15. Traffic was light and we tooled down Highway 69 on autopilot. The south Parry Sound Tim Hortons provided chicken wraps for lunch and then we continued on.

At the service centre at 400 and 89 we found a shady picnic table for a water break. Thirty degrees C my ass. I took this picture of the Wing temperature readout while we were sipping the water. It hit 35 before we got to Cambridge. This is a far cry from the 4C last Monday. Maybe Global Warming is happening since this is July weather in May. I was almost hoping for rain.

At Highway 9, we headed west and the down Airport Road and over to Guelph on 24. After Guelph, the traffic got very stupid. It's a good thing they don't arm drivers here. Especially me.

In Cambridge, we stopped to see Kevin and Maysey Dyne, rider friends we have known for many years. They gave us more water as we caught up. Turns out we might be running into them twice on this trip, Americade and the French Connection Rally.

From there we went to Heather's and helped her get her air conditioner running. Then a quick visit to Kim and Mike to chach their new air to air heat pump. It was cranking out the cold air. Then back to Heather's where I have just finished clipping the toenails on a guinea pig. Tonight I'm going to help here with a critique she needs for work.

Tomorrow should be a back road day after we cross the Peace Bridge. The target is Washington Pennsylvania, which would be a lunch break if we were traveling the superslab.

On another troubling note, I got word when I got to Cambridge that Dave Scott (Scotty) and Marlene, each on their own bikes, had an accident in Front Royal Virginia. Scotty hit a car that pulled out in front of him and Marlene took to the ditch to avoid the wreck. Both are OK, but Dave flew over the car and will be feeling sore for a while. It looks like is bike, a 500 Vulcan, is finished. Luckily, his pride and joy 800 is still at home. They were heading for KSL but now are returning home so we will miss them this time.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Last Day At Home For A While

I didn't post yesterday. I didn't do much yesterday to post about. We had coffee with Norm and Gary to compare plans on how we were getting to Custer. Then we picked up our various prescriptions at the pharmacy and got a few groceries. Then we looked at the list of things that had to be done and decided to watch TV instead. This meant that today a lot of things had to be done, so we got on it early.

The first thing today was good news on the VROC NG. Sherm has been removed from Intensive Care. This picture is Sherm riding The Dragon back on the 16th on Kokopelli. I know it says "proof" but the photo is in the process of being purchased so I feel justified in using it.

Later today, his daughter Angie said he was intensely trying to find a way to get access to one of the WiFi access points in the hospital. I expect to see him on line soon since he can be pretty persuasive.

Also, here is a picture of us in the same corner. There are several commercial outfits who take pictures of bikes riding The Dragon, post them on their websites and then sell them to riders who want a record of their ride. This is just one of 318 turns in the eleven mile stretch.

Anyway, the day dawned early. We started by having coffee in Val Caron with Gord and Shirley Bailey to discuss some Freedom Riders business, make our plans to rendezvous in Lake George NY in nine days and admire Gord's new Harley.

Returning home, I started posting ten days of bills to Quickbooks. It may seem an odd pastime, but I figure when a carpenter retires he sets up a little wood shop in the basement. As a retired accountant, I need a set of books to keep me amused. I then did all the May statements and a rally budget for the Freedom Riders and sent it out. Sandy and I drained the hot tub, since the Ph had gotten totally out of whack, and refilled it. We packed our clothes and gear and loaded the trailer so it is ready for hook up in the morning. Made some phone calls and did some arranging. This was all done to the backdrop of the Indy 500 and Coke 600.

I need to do some banking tomorrow morning and drop the books off with Terry Appleby, the Freedom Riders president. Some things still need to be stowed on the bike itself and it needs its pre-flight inspection, but I expect we will be on the road by 10:00. The destination for the day is Cambridge where we'll spend the evening visiting the kids.

Less than a week at home and I can't wait to get rolling again.

Oh yes, to any of Mom's friends from the reunion who look in on this, welcome. We'll have her at the 60th in Hamilton whatever it takes. A special hello to Elizabeth. Hope you are well.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sudbury Ontario to Stayner Ontario And Back

With thoughts of Sherm heavy on my mind, I stopped by the doctor's office to get my BP meds renewed and then headed south for Wasaga Beach to get the trailer and the bike. Uneventful drive except for the dead cow moose lying on the side of the highway near the Killarney turn-off. At 20 kph over the limit, I wasn't passed by a single vehicle. People must be slowing down.

The four new anchor points Scott put into the trailer are perfect They will allow me to tie the bike down more easily and more solidly. The Wing was ready. I took a few moments to talk to Ed The English Mechanic about the work he did. I really like Ed's work. He checked the valves and all were in spec, did the nasty job of cleaning and re-oiling the K&N air filter, changed the oil and filter and did a full 50,000 km check. He also changed all the hydraulic fluids since they looked dirty. I was planning to do this next spring but now I shouldn't have to. Other than oil changes and tires, I should be good to go for another 50,000.

I loaded the bike into the trailer and proceeded north at a steady 100 kph. Now everybody was passing me, but pulling that barn door of a flat nosed trailer with the V-6 Caravan eats too much fuel if I speed up much more than that. I have learned to be patient.

After getting home without incident, I unloaded the bike, unhooked the trailer, checked the Newsgroup and then didn't do another single productive thing all evening.

Sherm Down

This is a sad day.

Everybody in VROC knows who Sherm Acord is. He is the VROC good will ambassador, the picture blogger, everybody's favourite. He has appeared in my Blog many times since I started it last season. Despite the fact that he resides in Coos Bay Oregon, we ride with him several times each year all across the country.

You will recall we spent a couple of days together last week at KSL, riding the roads, eating the food and swapping tales. Sherm always has great tales and takes excellent pictures which he shares with all of us through his Blogs. Here he is at KSL uploading pictures to his laptop so he can post them to his SEVROC Blog via Fred's Visa phone line. The smile you see is typical Sherm.

Sherm has been riding for many years and handled Kokopelli, his 2002 GoldWing, with a master's deft touch. I've followed him many times and admire his smoothness and the effortless way he floats through the corners.

Here are Sandy and Sherm next to the two VROC Wings in Robbinsville NC. You will note that we even have the same licence plates.

Unfortunately, even the best of us aren't immune to trouble. Word was posted on the VROC newsgroup this morning that Sherm, on his way home from North Carolina, had crashed in Oregon about an hour short of his destination. Details started out sketchy but new information has been coming in throughout the day. The cause of the accident is, as yet, unknown. Sherm is in ICU in a hospital out there and his wife Pat is with him. It looks like he has a lacerated spleen, broken ribs, a broken scapula, and injured hand and much road rash. He is in a lot of pain but is stable. Reports are that Kokopelli is a write-off.

Those of us who ride a lot are always aware that this can happen, but it really hits home when one of the masters, one who we just assume is invincible, is down. The Power of VROC is already massing as it does in troubled times, but I ask any of you other readers who can find it in yourself to offer a prayer or a thought for our good friend in his time of trouble.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Laid Back Day

We woke up late today. My head was much clearer but my lungs were tight and the coughing was dry.

I got a call from Rhonda at J&R in Wasaga first thing saying the bike was ready. Then I got a call from Scott Tapley saying he was just starting on the trailer so pick up would have to wait until tomorrow as originally planned.

The dentist was going to repair the broken tooth but I told him that if I started coughing in the middle of the procedure with all the implements in my mouth we'd all be in a lot of trouble. Besides, I told him that I was going along with his recommendation to have the tooth capped as soon as I was home long enough to get it done. That will probably be October. He ground down the sharp edges that have been cutting my tongue and I was good to go.

I got home and Sandy and I kicked back, caught up on some TV backlog and napped.

Let me just say a word about Little Caesar's pizza. A while back they came up with this idea of the Hot 'n Ready pizza. They have medium pepperoni pizza's ready to go in a heated rack. You can have one immediately $5.00. It looks like it caught on because they were selling like hotcakes when I went to pick one up. Now I see they have a Hot 'n Ready Canadian (pepperoni, mushrooms, bacon) for $7.00 and now wings for $5.00. The place was packed. Build a better mousetrap.........

It was a quiet evening and we went to bed early.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sudbury Ontario to Bancroft Ontario to Cambridge Ontario And Home

First, I just want to make a brief comment on the weather. The last two days (since we got back from eleven days of record cold) have been sunny, warm and beautiful. These, of course, would be the two days I have been running around the province in a vehicle with doors and a (now unneeded) heater.

I woke up very groggy from the cold, which had now plugged my sinuses.

Steve at the GM dealer in Bancroft told me he'd call me about 9:00 AM to let me know if the fuel pump for Heather's car came in and that, if it did, the car should be ready by mid-afternoon. That would allow me time, after I got the call, to get down there by that time. He threw me for a loop when he called at 9:00 and told me the car was ready to go. Had I even considered this possibility, I would have left very early to make use of the daylight hours.

We did get to travel some very nice Ontario roads on the way to Bancroft. Sudbury to North Bay and down 11 to Huntsville were pretty boring, but 60 over to Dwight, down 35 and across 118 through Haliburton were fine, and are some of the nicer motorcycle roads in Ontario. As noted before, however, we didn't have the motorcycle.

Once in Bancroft, I took a wild guess and headed north on Highway 62 through the sleepy downtown. Ford dealership, Chrysler dealership, then out of downtown and a Tim Horton's. We grabbed a coffee and I asked an OPP constable where the GM dealership was. He said I was going the right way, but that it was about 2 1/2 miles north of town. On again past a new Crappy Tire and some other stores and finally, there it was. The fuel pump was covered under the GM Optimum warranty, so all that was required was $71 for the new fuel filter.

I took the Grand Am and Sandy took over the van. We have FRS radios which we use to stay in touch at times like this. I fueled the little car and we started down Highway 28 towards Peterborough at about 2:45. The Grand Am drives very nicely but it only has a four cylinder motor so you need to plan ahead for acceleration. I was working routes in my map atlas since it looked like we would hit Toronto about rush hour.

By-passing Peterborough on 7, we headed towards Toronto but cut off on 7A across southern Ontario farmland to Port Perry. Rejoining 7, we opted to jump on the 407 Express Toll Route and pay the big toll in the interest of making time. This was quick and the wisdom was shown when we got off on the 401 West, which was slow moving. Shortly thereafter, it broke up a little bit and we got into Cambridge at about 7:00. Heather met us in the parking lot, we transferred my gear back to the van and got back on the road for the trip home.

Again in the interest of speed, we took the 401 to the 407 to the 400 North. Not having to worry about anyone following me, I flowed with the faster traffic at about 140 KPH. That's about 88 MPH for those of you who are metrically challenged. It was easy to see summer was upon us because the sky was still light at 9:30 and we have another month yet to go before the solstice.

As it got darker, I backed the speed down a little and started watching for animal eyes. Deer, moose, bear. Lots of choices. We grabbed a coffee in Parry Sound and, as the road went to two lanes, I slowed more until I found a truck that was doing a decent pace and tucked in behind him. This got us all the way to Sudbury with very little effort. We arrived back home about 11:45 PM after having covered 750 miles and ending up right back where we started:-)

I had worried about being tired but that wasn't a problem. We watched the taped American Idol finale and saw Taylor Hicks win. Since the two finalists were my favourites all the way through, I couldn't be disappointed. Then I sat up until 3:30 catching up on the VROC news.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Under The Weather

This morning, I woke up with a burning chest cold. Loose cough, head clear. As the day progressed, this moved into my head and my sinuses plugged up.

I looked up The New Bancroft Motors and called their service department to see if they had gotten the car. Sure enough, all was in order and they said they would call me when they had diagnosed the problem.

The dentist office has an opening for me Thursday morning. Since the broken one was a tooth the dentist wanted to cap, they started talking about doing some of the cap prep work on the root. I tried to explain that I don't want to mess with anything serious until the season is over. Maybe, with the cold, I'll just get them to file off the one sharp corner that keeps cutting my tongue.

Steve at Bancroft Motors called back to say the fuel pump needed to be replaced, but he had to order one. If it is in tomorrow morning, the car will be ready mid-afternoon. We started planning on a Sudbury/Bancroft/Cambridge/Sudbury loop. It needs to be done in one day so that I can be back for the Thursday dentist appointment.

I hooked up the big enclosed trailer. The Ergo cruising pegs on the bike came off here, since this would save shop time. I'm not sure if I'll put them back on or not, since I hardly use them. The bike went into the trailer and I started south at a slow but steady pace, trying to conserve fuel. Traffic was light and the trip down was uneventful.

The bike got dropped off at J&R Cycle. The work order called for the first valve adjustment, cleaning the air filter, oil & filter and a general service. I then took the trailer over to Scott Tapley's RV place to get some new tie-down locations installed. Much lighter, I headed back home. Just south of Parry Sound, the southbound traffic was stopped because someone had managed to get their car on its side blocking both lanes of traffic. Luckily, I was going the other way.

By the time I got home, the head part of the cold was fully involved. I took some Neocitran and a couple of nightime sinutabs. We watched American Idol and then caught up on a couple fo recorded shows but I had to fight to stay awake.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. I hope I'm up for it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Combermere Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

Despite forecasts to the contrary, the morning was again cold and blustery with occasional light rain. We packed up, loaded the trailer and hooked up. Sherry went down to Cabin 26 to pick up the young people. I was impressed how lightly they had packed, leaving most of their gear in Heather's car.

With all our gear ready, Sandy and I headed down to Cabin 26 and called GM for the tow. They said he would be there withing the hour. While we were waiting, Sherry showed up with the clan to say goodbye as they were heading south. With ten minutes to spare, Ralph the tow truck guy, a pleasant lad who owned the gas station in Combermere, showed up. He told us he had a car to go to Oshawa and asked if he could take the Grand Am to his shop and double it to Bancroft. I couldn't see the problem with that so we followed him to his place where I fueled, signed some papers and wrote a note to the GM dealership. I gave him the keys and took his promise that the car would get there.

Sandy and I headed north to Barry's Bay and turned east towards Algonquin Park on 60. The temperature display on the Wing was saying 5C and it kept spitting. Sandy was dressed in layers but all I had on my legs was jeans so, after 30 miles, we stopped in Whitney to add clothes. I put on my Gore-Tex pants, jacket rain liner and snowmobile gloves. Sandy elected to try out her heated gloves for the first time. As we were getting dressed, snowflakes started falling.

With all the clothing, the ride through the park was pleasant. Traffic was fairly light but the OPP were out so I set a leisurely pace. On the west side of the park, near Dwight, we had a few miles of heavy rain but that let up quickly.

We stopped at Tim Horton's in Huntsville for soup (Sandy) and chili (me). I heve never seen a Timmie's jammed up like that one was, but we weren't in a real hurry so I stood in line and eventually got our food. I added my rubber rain boots to the apparel to warm my feet up on the next leg of the journey. One gentleman on a Nomad pulled in. He was heading from Petawawa to Wasaga Beach, his home, where John at J&R looked after his bike. We talked Vulcans for a bit and then he headed out.

Food done, we took the fast road and headed up Highway 11 to North Bay where we fueled and turned west again. As we got closer to Sudbury, the overcast changed to cloudy with sunny patches and the temperature rose to 12C. We pulled into the driveway and unloaded quickly. A quick call to the kids let us know they were safely home, and we spent the evening catching up on the final Survivor:Panama and Grey's Anatomy episodes saved on the PVR.

Tomorrow I head for Wasaga Beach (trailering the bike for its 50K servicing) after checking on the car and seeing if I can get a dentist appointment. It should be an interesting few days.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Combermere Ontario - Murphy Came Calling Today

McTavish says Murphy is an optimist.

The weather this morning was worse than yesterday. Some got a slow start because they didn't turn in until dawn but they didn't miss much. At noon, a decision was made to cancel the traditional Sunday baseball game and spend time indoors visiting.

I was reading my book (Rutherfurd's 'Princes of Ireland') and chewing on a Mentos candy when something crunched. That was strange because there is nothing crunchy in a Mentos. A quick inventory found that the piece of tooth rebuilt last fall had broken off. It left a sharp corner that, based on experience, I know will cut up the edge of my tongue. Now I'll have to see if I can get in to see the dentist in the short time at home before the next trip. At the very least, I'll get them to smooth off the sharp edge.

We went down and visited our kids at the other end of the property for a while. Their friends Jay and Kim had gone back to Cambridge that morning. I put the finishing touches on the puzzles and trivia questions in the Movie Challenge. We got back to the Lodge just in time to make ice cream sundaes and watch the younger kids present the results of their scavenger hunts. Everbody got a prize. I turned the Challenge in to Marc Souliere for marking. After the kids were done, Marc announced that we had won by a commanding margin and awarded the cabin a large bottle of liquer. Actually, it was two bottles attached together. One part was coffee and the other cream. When you pour them, they separate with the cream floating on top. Very tasty.

Murphy's second hit was soon to come. I called Mike and the girls to tell them to bring their food down to our cabin for supper. Everyone had their own steaks and chops, to be grilled by master chef Eric, and we had all contributed sides. I got a call back saying that Heather's car, a 2002 Grand Am, wouldn't start. The symptoms were the same as last year when they had to replace the ignition switch. Turn over strongly but no fire. Since most of the engine is encased, diagnostics were limited. Eventually, it stopped turning over so strongly. Now comes the time where you cope the best you can.

The car is still under extended warranty, so I called the GM Roadside Assistance and determined there was a towing outfit right there in Combermere and a GM dealer about 30 miles away in Bancroft. I told them that I'd call in the morning for a tow. Since the kids had to be back at work Tuesday, Sherry and Diane came to the rescue. Diane took some of Sherry's gear to make room in her car for all three. She would drop them in Scarborough and Jay would come over from Cambridge and pick them up.

That arranged, we settled in for supper. It was late because the Texas Hold'em game in Cabin 15 went long. I had lost my first buy-in some time earlier and adjourned myself to Cabin 17 for appetizers. It was a good meal with good friends.

When supper was done, it was getting dark. We headed down to the beach where they had the younger gentlemen digging trenches for the fireworks. As the various people started prepping the beach, I went out on the far dock to check how the mortars and fixed base items were. Dave and I have been launching these for years. It took a while to get the fuses untaped and get them lined up. There were some new cubes that fired multiple rounds. First time I've seen these.

It was cold and there was a crosswind blowing almost in our faces when it was time for the show to start. We set out our first and fired up the first road flare I'd use as an igniter. Thw show went on for about twenty minutes with shots from the beach interspersed non-stop. The wind was whipping the flame on the flare and sparks from our shots while some of the things fired from the beach were coming our way as well. There was a programmed lull part way through that allowed the full impact of the Big Boom Surprise (dynamite floating in the river) to be fully appreciated. Then I had a first. One of the mortar rounds exploded on the end of the dock and we had to dodge skittering red and green flaming balls. By the time we wound up, we were pretty well drained.

There was a quick stop in the Round House but we headed back to the cabin early and, after some conversations about how to make Canada work better, everyone turned in.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Combermere Ontario - Cabin Bound

The weather was cold and wet this morning. After having breakfast, the powers that be decided that, for the first time in 18 years, the Saturday ride through the Ottawa Valley would be cancelled. Nobody protested the decision.

We moved from cabin to cabin throughout the day, visiting and catching up. Naps were frequent and it was a lazy day all around. Those of us in Cabin 17 joined the 15 crowd for a supper of fine venison burgers brought from Ohio by Rob and Jan. After the repast, everyone eventually gathered in the Round House. This structure has a fireplace in the centre and benches around the outside. The guitar players and sing along fans took charge and entertained while the rest of us listened and chatted. Some actually imbibed.

The party was in full swing at midnight when Sandy and I headed back to the cabin. In the old days, I would have felt an obligation to keep up my reputation and stayed up until dawn but I no longer feel the need. My bottle of Southern Comfort, kept in the cabin so I could break the seal in case of emergency, stayed right where it was.

Tomorrow, we’ll have to put the finishing touches on the Academy Awards puzzle challenge. It looks like we are doing well with it and I expect that Cabin 17 will place well in the competition.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Watertown New York to Combermere Ontario

The overnight rain eased by morning and we loaded the bike up for the long trek to the Canadian border. Thirty miles up the road, we arrived. I was amused to see the toll on the Thousand Islands bridge was $2.00 US or $3.00 Canadian. They are a little behind the times and it made me wonder how many people actually pay in Canadian dollars. It is a beautiful crossing as both bridges are short but high and let you see the very nice homes (I can't call them cottages) along the water. The border crossing went well and, once again, we weren't even asked to show ID.

We headed west on the 401 and stopped for gas at a service centre. I took a picture to show the bluest sky we have seen in a week. In Napanee, home of Avril Lavigne, we left the big road and headed north on the two lane Highway 41. It starts with flat farmland and quickly changes to a unique combination of swamps, ponds, rock outcrops and trees. Across Highway 7, the road becomes a series of sweepers. We got off 41 in Denbigh and took back roads to Combermere.

A mile from our destination, I was still moving along at 120 KPH when a large deer made a break for the road. For all of you who have been asking about the Honda ABS brakes, I remain a major fan. I braked hard and was still able to steer to where the deer wasn't. This system works better than advertised, in my opinion.

Our arrival at Stevenson's Lodge about noon signaled the end of travel for the weekend. The Fry brothers were already here and people started rolling in as the afternoon progressed. Kim and Heather made it about 4:00 PM.

With Heather's car here, it was time to head the ten miles into Barry's Bay to get provisions. Sandy drove Heather's car and I went ahead on the bike. After the first two twists, I slowed down to wait for Sandy. I could see her in my mirror with a few cars behind her. The a BMW GS passed her and came tearing up behind me so I leaned on it and the two of us clipped through the next few turns and over a hill. As my head cleared the hill at about 120 in an 80, I saw the cruiser on the shoulder facing the same way we were going. By the time the whole bike cleared to crest, I was full on the brakes and the Beemer (ridden by my friend Marc as I found out later) fell in behind at a sedate pace. I watched the mirror and saw the cruiser pull out behind the line of cars following Sandy. I waited for the inevitable as he passed on car, then another. Then, for some unknown reason, the lights came on and he pulled the truck behind Sandy over. Sandy was sweating too since she had left her licence back at the lodge.

Arriving back at the cabin with the food, we stowed it and headed to the main lodge for chili, hot dogs and visiting. There is a contingent here insistent on shaving people's heads. I have no idea where this came from, but I am keeping my hat on for the weekend so I don't get waylaid. Mike and his friends Jay and Kim got in about 10:00 PM. A few partied hearty but Sandy and I adjourned to bed about midnight under raining skies.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Staunton Virginia to Watertown New York

We awoke this morning to a visit by several of the campground's rabbits. I thought for a moment that I would have to call for Brother Maynard and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, but the visitors proved to be peaceful.

The Shenandoah Valley has so many things of interest that we will have to come and spend some time here. As a start, I think we'll spend two nights here on our way from KSL to Americade in a few weeks. Monticello, Richmond, the Skyline Drive , the Luray Caverns and all those Civil War battlefields. We'll see what we can do in a day of sightseeing.

The weather was not bad when we set out. It got better as we moved north but a strange thing happened when we stopped for breakfast in Hagerstown, Maryland. There was a lot of blue sky when we went in but, after no more than 25 minutes, the sky was totally overcast and spitting rain when we came back out. We rode back to clear skies but eveyr time we stopped it caught us.

As we descended into Scranton PA, out of 250 songs on the MP3 player, Chapin started singing 30,000 Pounds of Bananas. That was spooky. In Scranton, I-81 turned directly toward a black rain cloud so we stopped and I suited up. (Sandy had been suited up since we left Staunton.) By the time we got moving again, the clouds had shifted and we went back to our usual practice of running ahead of the weather.

The pattern shifted as we got north of Syracuse NY. We started hitting wet pavement and realized a large storm was moving ahead of us. Near Watertown (2nd Chapin reference), we stopped and had a bite while letting the weather get further ahead. Not far enough, I guess, so we stopped in Watertown and got a room. Shortly after checking in, it started raining. I looked at the Doppler on and saw that I-81 from Pennsylvania to here was under one long thin rainstorm. All things being equal, we were very lucky.

It was only a 550 mile day but it felt like 200. I guess we are getting back in the swing of things although I had to stop twice to clear my head because I was getting drowsy. Need to revise the diet or something for more energy. It will be a short hop tomorrow to Combermere.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

North Carolina to the Staunton Virginia

We were a little later than usual getting away from KSL because we waited for almost everyone to get up, but it was worth it. It was cool and foggy riding the Great Smokey Mountain Parkway over to Waynesville.

We stopped in Maggie Valley on the way out and found Cat Benson from California and Yummy from Pennsylvania awaiting the arrival of the crowd. Our visit was only ten minutes long but I’m glad we took the time to stop by and see them. We grabbed a quick bite in Waynesville and talked to some GoldWing Riders returning to Sedalia Missouri after a trip to Key West.

The ride across I-40 to Asheville and up I-26 to Johnson City Tennessee was uneventful. We took the back road from Bristol Motor Speedway to Abingdon Virginia where we stopped for gas and hot chocolate. Then we jumped on I-81 where the traffic was heavy and got heavier. Despite a heavy police presence when we crossed the Virginia line, the trucks on this road really haul. We were under mixed skies and got some spits of rain. There was one heavy patch near Roanoke but it only lasted a few miles.

We are now in the Shenandoah Valley KOA near Staunton Virginia and I am sitting at our picnic table using the free WiFi. There are rabbits all over the place here. We went into town and had supper at a place called Kathy’s Kitchen. Sandy wasn’t impressed that chicken parmesan has a different definition in Virginia, or at least in Kathy’s, but we are fed. A gentleman from Louisiana stopped to talk and it turned out that he was from near Coushatta Louisiana and knows our friend Thomas Gates. It is a small world.

There is another couple here who have a Lees-Ure Lite camper trailer. We have to pay them a visit when I finish this.

The map tells me it is 569 miles to Ganononque so we’ll be up early in the morning. We’ll try and make that but, if we don’t, no big loss. We’re in good shape for a Friday arrival in Combermere.

Ready To Go

We're packed and loaded. Ready to head out for Combermere Ontario so we can be there Friday. It will be a straight shot up I-81 from Bristol Tennessee to the Canadian border. Not too interesting but fast.

Leaving KSL isn't too bad because we'll be back here in just over two weeks.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Last Supper

Fred and Mo did it again. This is our last night here and they served up ribs, a veggie and cheese mix, coleslaw and a choice of lemon or key lime pie. I had both.

Lisa (Rubbergator) arrived in time to eat so we had a good crowd although there were a few no shows from Maggie Valley.

After supper Charlie helped me take down and store the trailer awning so we won’t be doing it wet in the morning. Now the ladies are starting a fire while Sherm and I compute.

For those of you who don’t know, Sherm runs a photo blog at with a lot more photos of what we have been up to.

The Dragon

We arose to a cool overcast morning. It seems we are setting record low temperatures here. It hasn’t been this cold on this date since 1973. That notwithstanding, the breakfast of eggs, pancakes and sausage patties was excellent. Sherm and I checked tire pressures and oil and adjusted as necessary.

With Kelly joining us, we headed back west on Highway 28 to Deal’s Gap. We stopped at the Resort and found a huge KSL T-shirt that we all signed to say we’d been there. I talked to a Nomad rider about VROC and we got our pictures taken (again) in front of the Dragon sign.

After a bit, it was time to hit the Dragon. For those who don’t know what this is, it’s the eleven-mile stretch of Highway 129 from Deal’s Gap down into Tennessee that boasts 318 turns in 11 miles. The variety of licence plates at the resort confirms that people come from far and wide to test their skills. It is everything they say it is. We ran through it at a moderate pace. Part way up, we saw what was probably the photographer from, the site where they post pictures of almost every bike to come through the Dragon. Kelly managed to wave at the photographer while simultaneously dragging a floorboard. By the end of the run up and back, the little metal balls under the end of my floorboards were half ground away from dragging through the corners. Despite that, it was a relaxed run and I enjoyed it a great deal.

By the time we got back to Deal’s Gap, it was spitting rain so we decided to skip our run over the Cherohala Skyway and proceed directly to Robbinsville. We stopped at the Tallulah Antique store and talked to the proprietor. Sherm was interested in some drawings done of the Lonesome Dove characters since he is a Larry McMurtry fan but he figured $110.00 was a little much to pay. The girl recommended Lynn’s Diner for lunch so we went up there and enjoyed salads and soup.

When we came out of Lynn’s, Sherm noticed his cell phone, usually clipped to the handlebars since he can talk while riding, was missing. He figured someone had stolen it. After checking the trunk and his pockets, he went back inside to see if it was there while Kelly called 411 to get the Sprint number so we could report it stolen. The phone wasn’t in the restaurant but the manager suggested she call the police and have them come and take a report. As we were standing out by the bikes waiting, a little light bulb came on over Sherm’s head and he opened the fairing pocket. Right there, where he put it when the rain started, was the phone. Here’s a picture of Sherm and his phone. After a quick trip inside to cancel the police, we headed back to KSL.

On the way, we stopped and filled up. Sherm took three gallons and we took 3.5. I can’t figure out why, but I’m not amused.

So here we are now at KSL waiting to see who might drop by. As soon as we pulled in, the sky lightened but nobody feels like going out again right now.

Supper will be ribs and there will be some guests from the Maggie Valley crowd. Then we’ll pack some of the stuff in anticipation of an early departure northbound tomorrow.
Late breaking news: Charlie and Annette arrived a short while ago as did Strider. The family is growing.

Monday, May 15, 2006

But I bought you seven acres in Paradise………

We started the day with blue sky for a change.

First stop was to check out Dolores the duck in the pond on the grounds. She had just hatched her eggs and twelve ducklings were showing their beaks from under her feathers. It didn’t take long for them to find the pond.

One warning. Never park under any tree in NC. You never know when sap is going to start dripping.

Fred made coffee. One batch was Folger’s and the other was Tim’s (received from Stonewall). I blew my reputation as a Canuck by not being able to identify the Canadian brand. Fred then cooked breakfast for everyone. Link sausages, a sausage and potato hash, eggs and toast. Mo gave us each an apple. A great way to start the day. Sherm and I figured out how to dial in using Fred’s Visa phone line and we got some posting done.

When it came time to ride, we pointed the two GoldWings west on Highway 28. We stopped at the Fontana Dam, run by the Tennessee Valley Authority. A retired TVA man in the visitors centre told us that this is the highest dam west of the Rockies. It was build during WW II. The spillway was interesting because excess water flows through two tunnels and then shoots 150 feet in the air before crashing into the river below.

Leaving the dam, we continued west on the very winding road. I actually dragged the foot pegs for the first time and, although we were riding reasonably quickly, a few crotch rockets moving at Warp 9 passed us. It was great to find tat the confidence I regained last year in cornering was still there. We arrived at the resort at Deals Gap amid a crowd of bikes form all over and went inside in search of Kochmann boots. Brad, the owner, is originally from Toronto and gave me some grief, claiming Sudbury wasn’t really in Northern Ontario. His wife Beth told us they had no boots in the style we were looking for but that there was supposed to be a container in transit from Germany. We said we’d check back in three weeks on the next time through.

We decided to save riding the famous Dragon, 318 turns in eleven miles, until Kelly was here tomorrow. Instead, we headed south on 129 to Robbinsville and lunch at the Brushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery. The food was inexpensive and Sandy and I each had a pulled pork sandwich and shared a plate of homemade potato chips. Sherm had a pulled pork sandwich.

Leaving Robbinsville, at 52 degrees F, we continued south to Highway 74 where we turned left and road through the Nantahala Gorge. This is a National Forest and rafts were everywhere in the river. We stopped at a spot that had takeout points for the rafts, several restaurants and a footbridge over the river. Someone in a kayak was playing in the light whitewater and we met an older couple from Houston. He had hurt his foot and was immersing it in the cold water. It was as good as icing it down, given the temperature.

From there, we continued to Sylva looking for WiFi and a Wal-Mart. Finding WiFi here is about as likely as finding a liquor store in Riyadh. We resigned ourselves to using Fred’s dial-up and visited the Wal-Mart Super Center for some essentials.

We had a little trouble getting out of Sylva since the only ramp out of Sylva onto 74 sent us east. After two tries and a U-turn, we got going the right way. Sherm commented on the CB (which we had been chatting on all day) that we were lucky that we hadn’t gotten any rain. It immediately started sprinkling and I said bad words. The sprinkling sopped soon and we made it back to KSL in good time to find that Kelly Cobb had arrived from Florida. We had, in fact, met here on the road to Sylva but I didn’t recognize her because she has a new bike.

There were also two new non-VROC riders, Steve and Ty, from Maryland and Delaware. Supper was steak with Bearnaise sauce, shrimp, corn on the cob, home made bread, salad and cookies. My plans to lose weight on this trip are slowly going by the wayside, but what Fred and Mo do for their guests is outstanding. Then Sandy and I took some bread and fed the ducks.

As the sun went down, we started a fire in the pit and everybody sat around telling tales. The wood was a little green so wood smoke was rampant but Lynn from Florida (with Murray the transplanted Canuck) blew on it for a while. Which brings us to the subject line. Mo had just finished telling several stories about how Fred had, from time to time, been inattentive when he replied with “But I bought you seven acres in Paradise”. Mo said people need to look at the “before” pictures of KSL to get a true appreciation of this.

It was a cold night, so we fired the electric heater up in the trailer when we climbed into bed. If we’re lucky, tomorrow will bring more of the same as today.

Yesterday's Pictures

I finally got Blogger to upload the pictures from yesterday.

Here's the setup at KSL. This is an excellent place to stay.

This is everybody getting ready for supper. Fred and Mo, the KSL hosts, are on the left and three of the Florida crew are on the right.

This is Hairy the attack cat.

We had a great day today and I'll post just as soon as I get it written up.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Fayetteville West Virginia to Kickstand Lodge

After we avoided the deluge by hiding out in the Mickey D’s in Virginia, the day went well. The weather was alternately threatening and very nice with some gusting winds. We took the little back road from Abingdon, Virginia that I found while going to races at Bristol Motor Speedway down to the track. Does it ever look different without 170,000 race fans jammed in there? From there, we headed down to Johnson City to catch I-26 to Asheville. The ride up over the ridge to North Carolina was pleasant and I was very happy to feel comfortable on the sweeping curves that used to give me the willies not so long ago. We stopped at the beautiful news NC Visitors’ Centre on the down slope and then passed the spot where the trailer accidentally deployed last year.

From Asheville, it was a short hop west on I-40 and then a ways down the Smokey Mountain Highway to Kickstand Lodge. As we came down the hill to the lodge entrance, I could see Kokopelli, Sherm’s blue GoldWing, next to the bunkhouse. He arrived a day early after making a hard run from Coos Bay, Oregon. Fred and Sherm were waiting by the office as we pulled in and it was greetings all around.

We found a site on the beautiful KSL grounds and set up. There was a group of riders here from Florida who will be heading home in the morning. It included Murray, a transplanted Canadian who has taken refuge in warmer climes for many years.

Fred and Mo continue to do wonders for the lodge. There are small cabins and a bunkhouse for those without camping gear and great grass areas for camping. Electric and water sites are spread throughout and Hairy the guard cat keeps an eye on all that goes on. At suppertime, a fine meal of pork tenderloin, a special concoction based on mashed potatoes, Caesar salad and French apple pie appeared to feed the masses. This is not an official service but rather a BBQ among friends. There is a donation bowl to allow those of us who enjoyed supper to cover the costs. It was the best meal we had since leaving home. KSL is more than just a camping spot. It is an experience.

As the sun went down, we adjourned to the fire pit where Fred has built benches since last year. We swapped tales and slowly people wandered off to their beds until just Mo and I were left. I hit the sack about 11:00 in a warm (thanks to the electric heater) trailer.

Tomorrow Sherm, Sandy and I are going to check out some of the great riding roads in the area.

It looks like the picture uploading part of Blogger isn't working right now so I'll try to get a few photos up later. Stay tuned.

Waiting Out The Storm

Sitting in a WiFi McDonald's on I-81 waiting out a heavy rainstorm. Lots of people came over and talked to us.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Niagara Falls to Fayettville West Virginia

So much for the leisurely backroad wandering. It was partly overcast this morning when we tore down and headed for the border crossing at Fort Erie. No problems getting across, as usual, and we jumped on the NY Thruway westbound.

We stopped at the service centre at Angola for breakfast. Talked to some Harley riders headed for Myrtle Beach Bike Week. This would become a common theme for the day, since most southbound bikes were headed there. I called Scruffy in Erie to see if he was up for coffee.

There was a little bit of light rain near the Pennsylvania line but nothing bad. We met Scruffy (aka Tom McCalmont) and Linda at the Truckstop of America and got a look at their new 2006 Wing. Another VROCer gone over to the Tupperware side. You can see the colour is quite striking. Thanks for the coffee, Scruffy.

The run down I-79 to Pittsburgh was uneventful. No flying turkeys. We fueled at Washington, Pa, and phoned CYborg to tell him we'd have to catch him on the next trip. Then called Jim Ayers in Fayetteville WV. He said he was around so we headed on down to the New River Gorge parking lot and called him again. By the time we got out of the rainsuits, he was there on his new (to him) Nomad. You can see that it is now silver and black, as opposed to the yellow with purple flames it was when EZ owned it. Jim retires in a few weeks and is planning to hit the road.

We got a campsite at The Rivers, the same place we were last year the first day we camped (the day before the drag chute episode). Then we went for supper the the Western Pancake House with Jim. Back at the campground, two couples from Flint Michigan with a fifth wheel shared their bonfire and company with us. They were coming back from golfing in Myrtle Beach and are going to raft the New River Gorge in the morning. A bit of light rain fell, and we got to bed fairly early.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Sudbury to Niagara Falls

The rain, which had been hitting us for the last 36 hours, let uo just as we were leaving. Got away about noon and the bike purred.

There was a quick coffee stop in Parry Sound where we found the Gremlin Bell was working overtime. I looked down at the left saddlebag and saw a tiny object lying in the gtroove between the bag and the door. It was one of the two screws that holds Sandy's microphone to her helmet. What were the odds that it would land there and that I would see it? The alen key was on the trunk so all was well.

The next stretch took us to the service centre on the 400 just north of Toronto. We met a fellow there with a green '99 Nomad. I asked him how long he had it and he told me about one hour. I told him of JOG's and extenders and gave him the link to the VROC site. This is Neil, the owner, on the right and Gary (or Rob) on the left.

It was Friday rush hour in Hogtown so we jumped up on the expensive 407. There were a couple of slow spots but most of the way to Burlington we were running 120 KPH. We followed the QEW on into Niagara Falls and found the KOA. Guess what? Thanks to the Gremlin Bell, it was free night at the KOA. For a small donation to a local charity, the camping fees were waved. Set up went easy considering it was the first of the year.

We took a tour down by the Falls. Thet have really changed the parking setup since I was last here so we drove by and didn't stop. Then we ran the winding road up to the Spanish Aerocar and back before returning to Lundy's Lane via Clifton Hill. I do think the the Hill is the nost garish block in North America, bar none.

A quick bite at Denny's and we returned to the campground where I am typing this in the dark.

Tomorrow's route will take us through NY and Pa and into West (By God) Virginia. We'll get off the slab south of Pittsburgh and probably take 19 and 119. Or not. Who knows. More tomorrow.

And Here We Go

It's been a little hectic this week. I brought Sandy home Tuesday after she and Heather spent ten days in Vancouver visiting her brother Malcolm and his girlfriend Jan. We then started to dig out our gear and try to figure what went where.

The plan was to leave yesterday so Wednesday we got the trailer out and set it up to air. I adjusted all the tire pressures. Unfortunately, after a long dry spell, a large low pressure system over Michigan started sending steady rain and high winds our way. Since we had planned to take four leisurely days to get to North Carolina, and since leisurely days and rain don't go well together, we put off leaving until today. It's still raining but it looks like we should run out of it. The target tonight is Niagara Falls. We'll still be at KSL on Sunday to see the SEVROC earlybirds.

It's time to pack the computer so I'll sign off now. The next post will be from the road.