Saturday, December 08, 2007

First Toronto Bike Show

The show went according to plan. We got there before opening and scored parking in the Convention Centre underground lot.

The show is pretty flashy. Our main gaol was to check out potential bikes for Heather and Tom. The criteria were about 750 cc, liquid cooled and shaft driven. After checking what was available and comparing prices, they settled on the 800cc Suzuki boulevard SE, complete with windshield, floorboards, saddlebag and backrest. I expect they will do well with these.

After the show we headed up to Radioworld on Steeles to return the faulty Zumo motorcycle mount. They took a mount out of a new box and gave it to me, a move I greatly appreciated. Interestingly, RW had a booth at the show where they were selling Zumo's for $699 on a show special. I paid $879 in June. Such is the world of technology.

From there, we started back to Cambridge, stopping for supper along the way. All in all, it was a nice day.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bike Show This Weekend

The first of the two Toronto motorcycle shows will be taking place at the Convention Centre this weekend.

We're planning to meet Steve "Jester" Wilner of Detroit, newly retired, and Bruce McGivern from the south side of Georgian Bay in Barrie about 4:00 tomorrow.  They're attending the show Friday while we're going Saturday.  Steve won't be at the January show so we're looking for a chance to get in supper and a visit.  Steve was the one we hooked up with for our first VROC rally in Suches, Georgia back in 1999, known as the Good Old Days.

After supper, we'll head on to Kim and Mike's in Cambridge.  Saturday morning, we'll pick up Heather and Tom and head for the show.  Since both of them are now licenced, they'll be looking at the bikes very closely.

I hope to get a change to drop the Zumo motorcycle mount off at Radioworld, north of the city, for a warranty replacement.  The rubber contact guard didn't fare too well in the UV rays and broke off.

Stay tuned to this channel for show coverage.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dragon Video

I was looking at a few Youtube videos of The Dragon, the 11 mile stretch of US 129 that winds 318 turns through Deals Gap between North Carolina and Tennessee.  There are many of them, but I found this one to be quite laid back and enjoyable.  Make sure your volume is on.

A Day in the Life of the Dragon at Deals Gap

Everyone here seems to be on their best behaviour.  Then there are guys like these:

Dragon Wars: Got Freedom at Deals Gap?

This is one of my favourite riding areas.  I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Still Riding

It's almost half way through November and I still have the bike out.  Leo and I have been getting out on the sunny days for a few miles.  This is the latest I have ever ridden for fun, although I had the green Nomad out once on December 7th for a few miles.

It looks like this may be the end, though, because it is forecast to get much colder and snowy in the next week.  Today, I'll be rearranging the garage, swapping the mower for the snow blower and the sled for the bike.  That pretty much marks the season changeover for me.

BTW, I didn't post about it but Sandy came through her surgery on October 15th with flying colours and her recovery has been nothing short of spectacular.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jan Is Home

Jan came home from the hopsital today after her triple bypass surgery a week ago. She is doing remarkably well. Just thought you'd like to know.

Happy Birthday, Ace Eakely

Sherm tells me it's your birthday today, Ace.  He says you read the Blog so I decided this would be a good place to wish you a Very Happy Birthday.

I enjoyed my morning there in the pool with all of you.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Muskoka And Back

A colourful day........

Last evening at the monthly Freedom Riders supper, Leo (remember him from the May Georgia trip?) and I talked about taking a ride today.  We thought maybe south.  Leo called Dave Butler, a rider we have known since the old Nickel Rider days, to see if he wanted to go.  He said yes.

Leo showed up at 8:50 this morning, ready to go.  Surprised me because I thought he said 10:00, but he said we were supposed to be across town in ten minutes.  I dressed quickly.  We headed out through the same damn construction I came in through last week.  Still no change.  We got to Timmy's in the south end a tad late, and Dave was already there with his 1986 K model BMW.  It looks like Dave has the go ahead to upgrade and has his eye on a 1998 RT.

We set out south on Hwy 69 towards Parry Sound.  It was 16C when we pulled out but rapidly dropped to 12C and then 10 before we got forty miles out of town.  We were in a mild overcast with some light fog before breaking out of it south of the French River.  We arrived in Parry Sound without incident.

The trees are changing more north of the French, although all along there are long stretches of green punctuated by sections with brilliant yellows, oranges, reds and burgundies.  The leaves haven't started falling yet, so this is the best time of fall.

We had coffee in Parry Sound and then headed south on Old Hwy 69 to Hwy 141.  It was a spirited ride through the sweepers from Humphrey to Rosseau.

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Here we are at a small park in Rosseau.  Leo is on the left and Dave is in the red.  Lake Rosseau, behind me when I took this, has some cottages of the rich and famous on it.  Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, Steve Martin and others have found this to be an excellent getaway.

I mounted the solid state video camera I've been testing and followed Dave and Leo on the next (and best) part of 141.  Unfortunately, we ended up behind three slug vehicles that slowed for every corner.  By the time we passed them, we had missed some of the best curves but we made the best of the ones remaining until we got to Bracebridge.

I stopped the camera when we got into town.  After lunch at Harvey's (another Canuckian phenomena) and 95.5 cent gas at Crappy Tire (still one more), I let Stella take us back to Rosseau via Hwy 118.  The plan was to go to Port Carling and then cut up the west side of the lake to Rosseau.  Stella had other ideas.  When we turned off 118, I started the camera again, thinking this was the road I wanted.  Instead, it took us to Windermere Road and up into Ullswater.  This meant we had to ride 141 back to Rosseau from Ullswater, but this wasn't a problem since this is the absolute best part of the road.

In Rosseau, I stopped and took the camera off.  Then Leo and I traded bikes for the rest of Highway 141.  Not counting my mechanics and Sherm, Leo is the first person other than me to ride this bike.  After a few miles on his R1150RS, I am amazed that he went all the way to Georgia with me on it.  It certainly isn't my style.

Trading back, we road Rankin Lake Road back to Old 69 and on into Parry Sound where we swung onto New 69/400.  As we turned on the ramp, there was an OPP cruiser with a constable standing on the roadside.  Seatbelt check, I guess.

We made one more stop at Timmy's in Nobel, where a fellow from Kincardine pulled in on a 1976 Honda 750.  It looked pretty good.  Dave also talked to some Bultaco fans, since he deals in them.  Then we headed for home, stopping to take a couple of inadequate tree shots.

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20070927 Bracebridge 003

There were so many more that were better than this, but I was past them before I could stop and we were running too short of time to turn around.  Maybe I'll take another run down in the next few days and get some better ones.

We also got to see one of the new black and white OPP cruisers with the red and BLUE lights pull someone over.  I know blue lights are old hat in most states, but up until now the only things in Ontario that had them were snow plows. 

We got in before 5:00 after covering over 300 miles.  It was a good day.  The only bad part was that when I went to upload the video footage, I somehow either erased or overwrote the first segment.  The second, with me leading, is pretty good right up until the camera shut itself off (for some unknown reason) part way through the Bent River Chicane.  If I ever get a camera, it's going to have easier buttons to use.

Here's to some more great fall riding days before winter storage time arrives.

Monday, September 24, 2007

An Update on Jan

Sandy's Mom had the triple by-pass on Friday as planned. Sandy and Harry saw here before they took her to the O.R. first thing in the morning and then came home for a bit. They returned to the hospital before noon, since the operation was supposed to take four hours. In fact, it took 6 1/2. The surgeon had trouble getting the heart lung machine connected due to calcification of the aorta and found one artery 100% blocked and a second one 95% blocked. Fortunately, he persevered and got the job done.

Jan wasn't too with it the next couple of days. Slowly, they started disconnecting her from things and on Monday they moved her out of ICU to the regular floor. She's been getting around well, says she doesn't have much pain and should be home by next weekend.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Alma Michigan to Sudbury Ontario

The last trip of the season......

I woke up this morning to the realization that this would be the last day of the last trip of the season. Oh sure, there will be day rides as long as the weather holds but the traveling days were done for another year. This is the fourth year Sandy and I have been on the road steady in the summer and this day is always a sad one.

At least today's weather was staying on our side. It was 52F (compared to the high 30's last week when we dragged Sherm up this same road) and the radar was clear although there was a little bit of fog rising.

Today I'm trying the shock pre-load up on 12 and it did just fine on the smooth Michigan interstate. I don't know why I am playing with this, though, since the 10 setting did fine all summer until the seal blew. I think I'm probably overanalyzing this.

We headed north on I-75 and I watched the temperature gauge fluctuate between 14C and 15C (57 to 59F). There were a few more trees changing than a week ago, but many were still green. North of the Big Mac (where the crossing was even easier than last week's record easy passage), I pulled a Sherm and started taking some photos from the bike. This was a hit or miss proposition since the infernal CCD display wasn't working. I really do need a new camera.

20070920 Bethel ES 004

There was a long stretch between St. Ignace and the Soo where traffic was down to one lane. I don't know why since there was no work being done in the other lane. Maybe they are trying to save wear and tear on the pavement.

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Here is the famous Stella who has been our guide the last few months. You can see, with all the orange barrels out front, that I am doing 59 MPH, just below the reduced speed limit. The guy in my mirror wasn't at all pleased about this.

I do want to get back to the Upper Peninsula for a few days next year. Mackinac Island, Tahquamenon Falls, the Shipwreck Museum, the Mystery Spot and more deserve exploring but have been ignored by us for years because they are so close.

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Here are some of the orange trees over an orange barrel.

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More trees starting to change.

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And the view from my 'office'. You can see that we are out of the construction zone, the speed has picked up and the cruise is set. The cruise has to be set because my throttle hand is holding the camera with no safety strap. Look closely and you can see that the odometer says 128,415 km's or just a fraction under 80K miles. At this point, we are purring along without a care in the world.

The International Bridge crossing back into Canada was easy. We had a line-up of about four cars ahead of us but, as usual, the US bound traffic was lined up over half the bridge. A few quick questions and we were back in the True North Strong and Free.

The three hours from the Soo back to Sudbury were uneventful. Little traffic, few police. I did catch up to two Nomads near Spanish. When they stopped at Vance's, I pulled in for a couple of minutes to chat. They were from Blind River and were just out for a short ride.

As we approached Sudbury, I had to decide whether to fight rush hour traffic or, hoping that they had made progress in the last four weeks, take the by-pass and go through the RR 55 construction zone. I figured that, in a month and with fall underway, they would have had to pave the loose gravel, so we took the by-pass. As usual, I overestimated their capabilities. The loose gravel and state of work done had not changed since August. Go figure, my tax dollars at work.

We got home and unpacked quickly. Stella gave me a few quick stats since we headed out for Cyclefest. The key ones were 9,448.3 km's (5,871 miles) at an average moving speed of 89.1 KPH (55.4 MPH). Not bad for a whole trip when you factor in the sightseeing and wandering we did.

Jan will be having her triple by-pass surgery tomorrow morning, first thing, so Sandy and Harry went up to see her tonight.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fayetteville Tennessee to Alma Michigan

Plans Change

We got a call from Harry after we had gone to bed. He confirmed that Jan would be undergoing a triple by-pass operation on Friday. The doctor said he wasn't too concerned because she was in excellent shape for her age. Regardless, we decided to cut the trip short and head home. We'd be there Thursday afternoon. This will be the first Eureka Springs reunion we miss since it was started in 2001, but some things are more important.

We packed, had the complimentary breakfast (which included biscuits, gravy and sausage) and said our goodbyes to Jerry and Toby. The cell phone was now working, having kicked on at 3:30 AM to tell me I had three messages. I called Sherm, got his voicemail, and asked him to let Phil and Janie at the Iron Horse know that we would be cancelling. We also called the kids to let them know what was happening.

We headed west on the David Crockett Parkway at 8:00 AM. Took I-24 to Nashville, where we found the HOV lane was an excellent cure for rush hours. We blistered right through, passing stopped traffic. It amazed me how few vehicles had more than one person in them. Then there were a few singles sneaking into the HOV, but they ducked out when they saw police cars in the left hand breakdown lane. Weasels.

From Nashville, we headed north to Louisville and Indianapolis on I-65. When we caught I-69 in Indy, it was 90 degrees. Fort Wayne almost got me. Stretching gas, I planned to fuel at exit 116. Exit 116 was closed and the next exit was way up at 126, but it didn't have gas. At 129 in Auburn, we found our usual BP station had changed ownership, but I didn't care. I put 6.2 gallons in a 6.5 gallon tank. I estimate that, if the 6.5 was accurate,I could have made it 12 more miles.

One thing I have been noticing. The further north I go, the more I pay for gas and the less miles I get to the gallon. Double rip. I wonder why the gas up here is less efficient. It's too early for the winter blend.

We came through Lansing just after 6:00 PM and it was still 80F. This was certainly a difference from last week when we were freezing coming back from Terre Haute. You never can tell. We stopped at a Days Inn in Alma, Michigan about 7:00 PM after having covered 677 miles in 11 hours. We ate at the Big Boy next door.

Checking the VROC newsgroup, we found many messages of support in response to the post I made this morning about why we were going home. This is our family and we really appreciate them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cartersville, Georgia to Fayetteville Tennessee

The Bounce Is Gone

Traxxion opened at 9:00 AM and, even tough I wanted to be there early, it was only 30 minutes away so we got a leisurely start to the day. The continental breakfast counter was out of milk and there was no desk clerk around. As we were leaving, Sandy saw him dozing in a back room.

Rather than go cross country to Woodstock, we followed Stella's advice and went 19 miles south on I-75. I was surprised by how well the traffic was flowing considering that this is a major route into Atlanta and it was just after 8:00 AM. That came to an end at exit 273 when everything ground to a halt. Luckily, we were getting off at 271 to cross over and catch the northbound I-575 to Woodstock, so we were only mildly inconvenienced.

We rolled into the Traxxion parking lot at 8:30. Karen, the administrator type, arrived a few minutes later and opened the place up. She showed Sandy how the coffee maker worked, where the cold drinks were and generally made us feel right at home. Here she is at her usual location in the office.

The break room/lounge had been changed around, with a couch replacing the long table. WiFi, a TV and a selection of DVD's were provided to keep the customers amused. Sandy is settled in for the wait in the photo.

Mike showed up before 9:00 and the bike was taken directly in. I did some blogging, checked the newsgroup and caught up on mail. The bike was finished just before noon and Mike said it would be no charge. The seal had failed and, after rebuilding it, the put a 'shock sock' on it to protect the shaft from a build-up of damaging crud. Thanks to Mike and Karen for making our visit a pleasant one.

I did have a talk with Mike about shock dynamics. Damping is easy to understand, but the pre-load adjustment still baffles me, even after the talk. In my mind, the spring shouldn't get stiffer because it should remain the same length, but I know from experience that is wrong. I guess I need to get a shock and play with it. Anyway, we ran at a 10 setting before and I was up to 21 without the damper. The spring moved through its full range without bottoming at this setting, given our loaded weight. I left Traxxion with the suspension set on 15. This absorbed the big bumps but we felt every road ripple and the bike was very touchy to steer. Oh well, experimentation is the only way we really learn.

Slammer called as we were getting ready to leave to tell us he and Toby were in Cleveland Tennessee and were aiming for Winchester or slightly west today. I told him we'd head for Winchester and I'd call him from there. We headed north on I-575. At one point, we were in a single lane construction area with the right lane blocked with cones. I heard a bang behind me and saw a green car swerve into my lane inches off my back fender. I don't know what the driver was thinking, but it looks like he had mowed down some cones before realizing that the lane was closed. Perhaps Happy Hour starts early here. Anyway, the car slowed right down until the end of the single lane, so I didn't have to worry about getting hit after that.

As I-575 ended, we headed west on Ga 53, a fine road that twisted and wound through the rolling countryside. WE were stopped at one point by a flagman and, playing sitting duck, I started to take evasive action because I didn't think a Buick coming up behind me was going to stop. He did, but barely. Maybe he was related to the driver of the green car.

We stopped for lunch in Calhoun, Georgia on I-75. Sandy's brother, Malcolm, called to tell us about his talks with her parents, not knowing she had talked to them last night. Jan had an angiogram Monday, but there was still some discrepancy about the next course of action.

We followed I-75 north to Chattanooga and caught I-24 west, dipping back into Georgia briefly and then ascending to the town of Monteagle. I have heard EZ and Scooter talk about Monteagle Mountain, now I know where it is. In Monteagle, we got off I-24 and took US 41 (Alt), aka the David Crockett Parkway, back down the mountain. This was a great road, twisting, winding and doing all the things we liked. Eventually, it flattened out and then we came to Winchester.

I called Jerry and caught him as he was fueling up. He was just getting ready to call me and tell me they were in Fayetteville, about 40 miles west, and staying in a Best Western. I found it on the GPS and told it to take me there. Unfortunately, rather than go to the by-pass, it took me through town. Downtown Winchester has the most convoluted street and traffic pattern I have ever seen. Finally, we escaped and headed west on the new four-lane road. This was so new that Stella didn't know about it and (shades of Iowa) thought I was going cross country. She gets really agitated when this happens.

We found the Best Western without further incident and got a room almost right next to Slammer and Toby, who we found sitting outside relaxing with refreshments. My cell phone wouldn't work,telling me the system was busy, so we couldn't call home. I emailed Harry the hotel phone number. The hotel restaurant had a nice buffet for $5.99, so we ate well and then planned tomorrow's ride. Lynchburg, home of Jack Daniels, was only about 12 miles away and we'd be going through Memphis so Graceland was a possibility. After exploring the possibilities, we turned in early (as usual).

Monday, September 17, 2007

Winchester Virginia to Cartersville Georgia

Things heat up...............

It was a balmy 41F and clear, but very damp, when we got on the road at 7:00 AM. We continued south on I-81 in moderate traffic. After we saw our fifth deer munching away on the side of the highway, I remembered why I don't ride at night in Virginia. The temperature got up to 46 by the time we got to Roanoke.

One thing that stood out on this leg was a pretty blond girl in a white car. She planted herself in the fast lane at varying speeds, forcing faster traffic to pass her on the right. After getting by her, I cruised along in the right lane not too far ahead of her. Every time she got close to me, I pulled left and blocked her the way she did to everyone else. Instead of moving to the right to pass, she would drop back. When she finally got off at Roanoke, I am sure she still had no idea why I wasn't pleased with her or why I was picking on her. I told Sandy I would really like to know what was going on in the girls' head. Sandy said that "nothing".

I was debating whether to go south on I-77 and catch I-85 in Charlotte or go to I-26 and catch I-85 further west. In an accidental recalculation, Stella showed it would be both shorter and faster to go all the way to Knoxville, and then down to Atlanta through Chattanooga, given the part of Atlanta we were headed for.

West of Wytheville, the temperature started climbing. We had lunch just past Bristol, Tennessee and it was 78F. Off came the sweaters. One hour later,we stopped and the thermals and jacket panels came off. After getting through the I-40 construction east of Knoxville and turning south on I-75, it was 85F. There was one more left lane hog, a young Asian kid with a cell phone planted in his ear. The difference here was this was I-75 and was busy. The trucks were actually contemplating running him off the road.

We stopped at the rest area near Calhoun, Georgia and got a motel coupon book. Good offerings in Cartersville, so we headed on. Just past the Calhoun exit, northbound was stopped due to an SUV rollover. It looks like it rolled several times. Traffic would be backed way up as a result of this. Glad we were going the other way.

We pulled into the Days Inn in Cartersville. Almost didn't stay because Karen, the desk clerk, said the WiFi was down. When I said I'd move on, she rebooted it and it came back. After getting settled, we walked across the road to Cracker Barrel. Nelly, our server was nice but very slow, not too attentive and forgot my coleslaw. Twice. That cost her a tip.

It was still light at 8:00 PM. I computed the days mileages and was surprised. The bike was getting high 30's (per USG) for quite a wile. Lately, it's picked and, despite running 75 MPH most of the day, the last two tanks were in the 43 range. I wonder if the heavy dose of Seafoam on the way to Terre Haute made a difference? Oh well, I just hope it keeps up.

We're about 1/2 hour from Traxxion. I'll be very happy to get my good old crisp handling Wing back, but I'm scaring myself because I am getting used to the bouncy wobble:-)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bethel Maine to Winchester Virginia

Putting on some miles...........

It's Sunday morning and we have to be in Woodstock, Georgia on Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM. The original route said 1,240 miles but that would take us through NY City, Washington DC and Baltimore, not places I want to travel in a hurry with an ill-handling bike. I rerouted across to I-81 and the distance increased to 1,384 miles, so we have a long way to go and a short time to get there.

We were up at 5:30 and loaded by 6:15. The rain had moved on and it was 37F under a clear sky. I had planned to have breakfast when the dining room opened at 7:00 so we could say our goodbyes, but we could make an extra hour if we left right away. A couple of people were up and Sandy gave my last cigarettes away to someone. We were rolling west on US 2 by 6:30.

We had a Mickey D breakfast in Goreham, talked to an ST1100 rider heading for an air show in Maine and fueled up. There were some foggy patches and the temperature went up to 43 before sliding back down to 37 as we crossed the river into Vermont. I got a jolt when a dog charged out of a driveway from concealment. I just caught him, possibly a golden retriever, out of the corner of my eye as he was right beside the front wheel. I accelerated in case I hit him, hoping that I would go right over him, but he stopped just short. As I was getting my heart back out of my mouth, I passed two wild turkeys on the left shoulder. That put me on my toes for the rest of the day.

We caught I-93 N and then I-91 S on the outskirts of St. Johnsbury. We were in heavy fog at the time. Once again, I am amazed at the people who drive in the fog with no lights on.

I-91 S through Vermont, Massachusetts and into Connecticut. Traffic volumes picked up as we swung west on I-84 through New York and into Pennsylvania. We caught I-81 near Scranton and headed south into Maryland and Virginia. There aren't a lot of details because we were in mind-numbing long haul mode, where the miles disappear under your tires and the gas stops all roll together. When we stopped in Winchester, Virginia, we had covered 745 miles and ten states in 12.5 hours.

Our overnight abode was a Super 8 and we ate at Hoss's Family Restaurant, and almost fast food place across the street. We had sandwiches because I wasn't very hungry despite 24 hours with no nicotine. Early to bed, but only 640 miles tomorrow.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bethel Maine

The Rain in Maine falls mainly on the...................

It was raining this morning. The weather from the west had finally arrived and the weather radar showed most of New England under a mass of green.

We were some of the early ones in the small dining room and joined Brad and Judy, who were already there. The full breakfast was excellent. I had a carnivore omelet (three kinds of meat) and Sandy had blueberry pancakes.

The ride, organized by Keith Koehler, was supposed to leave at 9:30 and, according to reports from those who were there, it did. Only two bikes from the Suds, Keith's and Brad's, went. The other few came from the other hotel people were staying at. Joe said this was the first time he could remember the ride being rained out. Didn't matter to me since, with the suspension problems, I wasn't going anyway.

With most of the people not riding, there were a lot of people to hang out with. At one point,Ol' Phart and Lost Bob were working on their trip planning and we ended up having an ad hoc GPS seminar in the lobby of the Suds. Here, Ol' Phart and I make use of high technology while Snappa tries to explain to Lost Bob how not to get lost using the GPM. U-Turn and Steve Cifra both had new Zumos so we did some note comparing.

The annual Chowder Festival was going on up at the park. Normally we don't make this because we are out riding, but this year we were a captive audience. We walked trough the rain up to the park and tried a few things and talked to some crafts people exhibiting their wares. The line to try the chowder was too long, so we had whoopie pies instead. Here, Bobcat Pease, his wife Jewel with the umbrella, and Sherm in his spiffy orange Frogg Togg jacket, walk down Main Street in Bethel.

After we worked our way back to the Suds, we found that our Inn had won the chowder competition. They took both the Judges' Choice and the Peoples' Choice. No surprise to anyone who has ever eaten here. Sandy and Sherm were napping, and soon I was overcome with the urge to get horizontal for a while.

We were in the first group seated for dinner. Many had the duck, but I opted for veal Oscar since I have a real liking for Bearnaise sauce. In fact, I ended up with it all over my shirt. Again, check Sherm's Blog for a complete culinary photo spread. The cheesecake I had for dessert was one of the best I ever had.

After supper, I sat out on the porch and had my last cigarette. That's right, my LAST CIGARETTE. I've been taking Champix for ten days and this was the day I had picked to end my habit. I didn't even smoke the last ones in the pack, opting to go to bed early since we had a long way to go in the morning.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Burlington Vermont to Bethel Maine

Riding the Green and White Mountains

It was a clear morning in Burlington, but the radar showed a system approaching from the west. Lucky we were heading east. We had another long day planned, about 150 miles or so. Departure was leisurely, but we did pick it up as the lead clouds from the incoming system started to roll in. We did take time before leaving to talk to an Ottawa couple on a pair of HD's headed for Maine and Nova Scotia to put a fine end to their season.

We started out at Wal-Mart, where Sherm bought a new GPM (General Purpose Map). The Wally World editions of the Road Atlas have been a great value, but they seem to have increased to price by a dollar with the new edition. Now they are almost a whole six dollars, so Sherm may have to spring the $650 for a GPS instead:-)

I led east on 89, bouncing my way along following Stella's directions. Our first destination was the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory just off 89 on Route 100. There were large parking lots with stairs and a ramp leading up to the visitor area. There was a formal tour that cost $3.00. We didn't want to take the time, so we each had one scoop of ice cream for $3.00, which my partners in crime can be seen eating in the photo. I had banana rum, Sandy had butter pecan and Sherm had a concoction called Phish Food. Later, we found that the $3.00 dollar tour included a free scoop of ice cream........

From the ice cream mecca, we continued east on 89 to Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. The gold domed capitol building was gorgeous, nestled in among the old buildings and the lush green hills, but the highway through town was atrocious. Especially if one was missing the damping portion of their suspension.

One thing that Sherm wanted a picture of was a Vermont maple syrup farm. I had passed one, and we were getting closer to New Hampshire without seeing another, so I asked Stella. She came up with a Maple Syrup Museum, so I told her to take us there. She eventually told us to turn off Highway 2 onto a little, roughly paved road through a valley past quaint dwellings. I bounced some more. After about five miles, as she said we were nearing the museum, we returned to Highway 2. The damn thing was on the main road and I have no reason for the detour. It was pretty, though.

On the east side of St. Johnsbury, we found the museum located at the Maple Grove Farms syrup and maple sugar candy factory. Their tour was only a buck and Sherm paid for everyone. In return, they issued hair nets and, where required, beard nets. Sherm looks like he is ready for surgery. John, our guide, had the three of us (it was a very private tour) watch a video on the harvesting of the sap and the making of syrup and candy. Maple Grove is the largets syrup producer in the USA and the largest candy producer in the world.

In the plant, we got to see the old syrup bottling line. Newer and faster lines were in the large building out back. Then we got to see the candy drying. John is pointing out the racks upon racks of treats. I love maple sugar candy, but am trying to keep the blood sugar in line. I had a sample in the gift shop, but a couple of people I know took more than one.

After the tour, I spent some time in the museum talking to a younger man playing a fiddle for atmosphere. It seems he and his significant other own a sugar bush. To demonstrate my total fixation with my trade, all I could think about after watching the process was how much of a parallel, from a product accounting and costing standpoint, there was to ore processing. I would have liked to to spend a day or two with their accountants. I think I am a sick puppy.......

Before leaving Vermont, we stopped in Lunenburg for a brief moment. I'm sure my southern brothers and sisters will get a kick out of the dedication on this Civil War monument in the park. The Rebellion. First time I have seen it referred to that way. I guess it didn't have quite the same impact in Northern Vermont as it did, say, in Atlanta.

The trip across Vermont was very pretty, as usual. Not many trees changing, but very green and 2 is a cruiser's road. It sweeps back and forth, up and down, with each bend bringing new scenery to admire. Crossing the bridge into New Hampshire, the texture changes just like a switch was thrown. Instead of quaint, it becomes rough hewn. Instead of all green, brown finds its way into the mix. Instead of tree covered, the White Mountains are rugged and stark. But it is breathtaking all the same.

The temperature had risen to 74F, the warmest we had seen since Terre Haute. Since NH is narrower at the top than Vermont, it didn't take long to cover the ground to the Maine border, where the scenery changed again. Sand and pine trees, much like Northern Ontario up around Timmins. Not far across the line, we came to Bethel and the Sudbury Inn. As you can see from the sign out front, they were expecting us.

Ol' Phart Joe, Lost Bob and Steve Cifra were there to greet us. We parked out front after Sherm unhooked his trailer out back, did introductions and visited while others arrived throughout the rest of the afternoon. We had supper in the Suds Pub. After dark, Ron, Laurie and Brad (remember the June W(BG)V trip?) rolled in along with Brad's lovely wife Judy. Ron and Laurie were on their new GoldWing. Sandy and Sherm went to bed relatively early, but Ron and I were talking about many things until we noticed everyone else was gone and it was 1:00 AM. Then we called it a night.

Ron is planning a two week trip to Nova Scotia next summer. If it fits between the major commitments, I'd really enjoy traveling with them again.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cornwall Ontario to Burlington Vermont

Merrily we bounce along............

It was a slow starting morning since we only had a short way to go to Burlington Vermont. At 8:00 AM sharp, I called Traxxion. They open at 9:00. OK, we had breakfast, packed and went to Wal-Mart to buy Sandy a hair dryer (she left hers at home) and some Robaxacet for her back (since I don't think it's available in the US). Her back is most comfortable when riding, but sometime she needs help getting out of a restaurant booth.

I called Traxxion at 9:00 AM sharp. Got connected to Mike Hardy. Explained the shock situation to him. He said it sounded like a blown seal (insert penguin joke here). They have a new service shop in Lake George, New York. He'd call and check their capability of dealing with this. Called back at 9:30. Lake George can't rebuild and doesn't have a new Traxxion shock in stock. They could put and OEM shock in but that would necessitate two removal/install procedures, not an easy job on this bike. I said that it was only 1,284 miles from Bethel to Atlanta and that if we left Sunday we could be there Tuesday by 9:00 AM. He said they would look after us. We don't have to be in Eureka Springs until Thursday, so this should work out fine.

At the border, we faced a stern lady who had also cleared us the last time we came through. Once again, there was licence plate confusion as Sherm pulled in after we did. Then we hit the traffic circle, rode through gravel to catch our highway, and headed east through the Mohawk reserve. The back of the bike was bouncing along as I looked for something interesting for Sherm.

On 122, I stopped at the town circle in Constable and Sherm met Eugene Talon in the general store built during the Civil War and bought by Mr. Talon's father about 1900. Eugene had been to Coos Bay in 1942, so they became fast friends.

From Constable, we found US 11 and headed through Champlain and Rouse's Point, crossing the bridge into Vermont. On the New York side, we saw Fort Montgomery (picture), built after 1844 to protect against invasion from Canada. They haven't needed it. Yet. The original fort, known as Fort Blunder, was started before they realized it was on the wrong side of the border so they gave it to the British.

On the Vermont side, we followed US 2 down North and South Hero Islands. Like Rouse's Point, these are so pristine they could be in a story book. Once on the mainland, we continued on 2 the short way through Winooski and into Burlington. This is a very picturesque city with a heavy university influence. Mindful of the Ottawa fiasco, we let Stella find a few hotels and phoned them from a gas station. The man at the one listed as Super 8, now a Rodeway, was willing to deal so we went on down and got a room. It wasn't even 2:00 PM.

All of us walked across the road to K-Mart, where Sherm scored a deal on another pair of shower shorts and a high-lighter so we could mark our travels in his atlas. Then we had supper at the Olive Garden, although we got the lunch menus and S&S had the all you can eat bread sticks, salad a soup deal for $5.99. I had seafood fettuccine Alfredo. Back at the hotel, Sherm went out to wash the bike and I typed the last four days of blog.

Sherm has decided that, when we leave for Atlanta on Sunday, he will head straight to Eureka Springs to get his new rear tire (being shipped there) installed. I feel bad about dragging him all the way up here and abandoning him, but you can never plan for contingencies. By Thursday, we should both be in ES with ready to roll bikes.

We spent some time planning routes and then went to bed fairly early. Tomorrow, we have to ride hard to make the 150 miles to Bethel:-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sudbury Ontario to Cornwall Ontario

Eastbound and down.............

Today, Phase II of the fall tour began. Bethel Maine next weekend and Eureka Springs Arkansas the next. It was 8C this morning (about 47F), but it wasn't raining and both the sky and the weather channel indicated it wouldn't. Normie suggested he might go with us, but had to cancel due to problems at work. We were loaded and rolling by 8:00 AM.

Rather than take the direct route down Highway 17, I opted for the scenic ride. We went south on Hwy 69 with a stop at the French River Visitor Centre. That was closed until 9:30 AM, if you can believe it. Then it was on to Parry Sound. At Mill Lake, on the south side of the Parry Sound construction zone, traffic came to a halt just before the four-lane started. When we finally got down there, we saw that some tourist must have stopped to look at the moose standing in the water by the lake shore.

At the Parry Sound Mickey D's, we got in just as a Christian Tours bus was disgorging its passengers. Fortunately, they were older and headed for the bathroom first, so we got served in short order. Then we headed south and caught Hwy 141 east, one of my favourite roads. Unfortunately, just as we got to the best curves from Bent River to Ullswater, we came up on a slow car we couldn't pass. He pulled off just as the best curves ended.

When 141 got to Hwy 11, we went north to Huntsville and then east on 60 towards Algonquin Park. Sherm posed in front of the sign at the West Gate. There were more colours here in the leaves than anywhere else we had been, but they were still only a promise of the splendour that would be visible in a couple of more weeks. The park was quiet and we crossed without incident. No moose, either, but we did see the one at Parry Sound. The paving east of Barry's Bay is largely complete and they did a fine job.

We stopped at the Wilno Tavern in the first Polish community in Canada. They specialize in Polish dishes and was the reason Normie wanted to come with us. For all the times I have been by here, I have never stopped in so this was a first for me. We had varying combinations of pierogi, cabbage rolls and Polish sausage. Sherm enjoyed his but said that next time he would skip the cabbage rolls and have more pierogi.

Well fed, we continued on 60 to Renfrew. As we came into town, we passed the Rocky Mountain House Motel, a nice looking place, but I didn't see it in time. There were no more places as we went through town and out to Hwy 17, so I opted to continue to Arnprior. One place I missed, the next was seedy, the next didn't exist any more and the Quality Inn wanted $140 for two double beds. OK, on to Ottawa. Everything in Kanata was full up and the Days Inn down the road wanted $140+. It was not quite 6:00 PM so, with heavy hearts, we continued on the 60 miles to Cornwall where we got a room at our usual Days Inn for a mere $90.

I wonder when the hotel operators will realize that the dollar is now $0.95, not $0.65, and that tourists won't choose to travel up here when things are so much more reasonable in the USA?

The bad part of the day came when we stopped. I had been fiddling with the rear shock (the Traxxion shock made by Penske and installed at great expense in May) settings for the last two hundred miles. It didn't feel right. Then, as I was coming through Ottawa, I could feel the springs bouncing as we hit dips. It felt to me like there was no damping. Sure enough, when I got down to check it, the bottom of the shock was wet with oil and it was dripping off the lower mount. We had obviously lost a seal and the shock wasn't damping anything. I'd have to call Traxxion in the morning and see what my options were, but with the bike still rideable (albeit bouncy), we would go on.

We had supper at the pseudo New Orleans restaurant next door and then turned in after Sherm blogged for quite a bit and I sat around in a shock induced funk. Tomorrow will be another day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Day In Sudbury

It was cold and wet this morning. A fine day to not have to ride. We went over to Gonga's Grill for breakfast and then dropped Sandy at home. Her back has been bothering her for the last couple of days and we figured she could get some rest while I took Sherm on a tour of the Sudbury Basin in the van.

In order, I took him to the Sudbury Trail Plan offices and shops where Abby Normal Normie gave him a tour. Then we went to the A.Y. Jackson Lookout overlooking Onaping Falls up on Highway 144. Then we stopped at the Big Nickel and, with the plants as a backdrop, I explained the milling, smelting and refining processes CVRD Inco (formerly Inco) used to turn ore into finished metal. Then it was over to Little Italy in Copper Cliff to check out the Superstack close up. Then we toured the Laurentian University campus and South Bay Road before finishing at Bell Park.

Normie explains how to operate a Bombardier BR-180, one of STP's nine snowmobile trail groomer tractors.

Sherm at the A.Y. Jackson Lookout with Onaping Falls in the background.

Sherm at the Big Nickel.

Sherm dwarfed by the 1,247 foot Superstack.

For more on the tour, and the trip in general, you need to check out Sherm's blog. Bookmark it for further reference, since his photos are "Wonderful".

I was surprised and pleased to see that the new Inco owners, CVRD, were in the process of grading, covering and hydro-seeding the old slag dump visible from the road. I went back and Googled it, finding that they were spending $4 million on the project. That's a good sign of their commitment to the community.

We had forgotten that one of the objectives of the day was to set the trailers up to dry. It was now sunny when Sandy called to remind us as we were visiting Bell Park, so we headed home. While we set up, Gary 'Biker' Lamarche dropped by to visit. I also took the time to mow the lawn, which had grown long in the ten days we were away. This was a surprise because it hardly grew in July and August. The new sod was doing quite well.

Sherm took us out to supper at Montana's, where we took advantage of my OPPVA discount for the first time. We all had some ribs of varying sorts and I got to wear some moose antlers (check Sherm's blog again).

Sandy's mother Jan had been hospitalized last night for breathing problems, and so we dropped her off at Memorial Hospital for a visit. Then we returned home and, one more time, hit the hay early. Tomorrow was forecast to be cool and dry, and we would be riding east.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Grayling Michigan to Sudbury Ontario

The End Of Part One........

It was dry here this morning for a change, but the weather radar showed that some precipitation was inbound from the west. Our job today was to get north to the Soo before it got here. Sherm isn't praying to the Wing God here, he's using my small Airman compressor to adjust his tire inflation.

After continental breakfast, we headed north on I-75 under cloudy skies and, occasionally, through mist. A few leaves were changing colour, but not many. It was cool enough that Sherm and Sandy suited up right to the Gerbing electric jackets when we stopped in Indian River. The only problem was that Sherm left the cord with the thermostat controller in Oregon. He plugged directly into the harness with no control.

Crossing the Mackinac Bridge, there were no winds and we stayed in the paved lane the entire way. This was, without a doubt, the best crossing of the Big Mac I have ever had. Sherm wondered why we have complained about it all these years.

At the Soo, we crossed the International Bridge and found the booth open. No lines! The pretty young lady asked the usual questions, including my plate number (VROC), and then waved us through. Then Sherm pulled into the booth and told her the same plate. This confused her for a moment and then she asked if his was Michigan. Oregon, he told her. She still seemed doubtful. Too bad Brillo, Tomcat or one of the other VROC plates couldn't have been next.

We dropped in to visit Mom for a while. I know she wasn't feeling her best but she didn't show it, as you can see in this picture with Sherm. She was just knocked out of first place in the VROC NASCAR Fantasy League, but we expect she will fight back and be on top again after the next race.

On the way to Sudbury, it rained lightly a few miles from Thessalon to Iron Bridge. We hit town at rush hour and fought traffic all the way across town. Since today was my birthday, my in-laws Harry and Jan took the three of us out to supper. I am now 55, an official senior citizen as far as the City of Greater Sudbury is concerned.

We turned in fairly early knowing we wouldn't have to ride tomorrow.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Terre Haute Indiana to Grayling Michigan

Terre Haute in our rear view mirror..............

The rain had stopped by the time we woke up. We peeked out and saw that the lakes had receded although the ground was still very wet. No rain was forecast here today. The only thing worse than tearing down in the wet is tearing down in the rain, so we looked on the bright side as we dismantled the camp. Then we stopped for coffee in the office and said our goodbyes. We'll be seeing a good number of these people in two weeks in Arkansas.

We headed east on I-70 under overcast skies. Before Indianapolis, it spit lightly on us but we ignored it and forged ahead. In Indianapolis, as we took the ramp to I-465 S, there were police cars and traffic cones on the left. We squeezed down to one lane to avoid a semi that had taken the corner too fast and was rolled over on its side, half on the grass median and half on the road.

Around the circle, we caught I-69 N and actually had some small patches of sunlight appear. We stopped for lunch just before the Michigan line, where I took this picture of the convoy at rest. When we started again, the clouds dissipated and we found ourselves under a blue, sunny sky. The temperature got up to 79F. The miles were passing by as Sherm and I talked back and forth on the CB's.

At the next gas stop, Mount Pleasant Michigan, Sherm remembered that he had been here consulting with people who wanted to make a motorcycle camper trailer. They should have listened to him. Near the 127/I-75 split, there was my nemesis, a wild turkey, starting to walk out on the road ahead of me. For those who don't know, Sandy and I were hit by a flying wild turkey about five years ago. I swerved and hit the horn and the bird went back to the shoulder. Then I could see him cross in my rear view mirror.

My memory is going. I thought the motel we stayed at in Grayling was an Econolodge, so I told Stella to take us there. We found an abandoned facility, not familiar at all. Then we went back to the Days Inn that Sherm and Sandy saw. This was the place we had stayed. We walked down the road to a Big Boy restaurant for supper where Sherm and Sandy made good use of the soup and salad bar. Then we shopped at the Dollar General and the Big K before coming back to the room, blogging and turning in early.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Terre Haute - Day 3

Somebody build us an ark.................

It was overcast and damp when we woke up. The jeans hadn't dried out, and probably never would without the help of a dryer.

Sherm found a Golden Corral yesterday in Terre Haute and a few of us were up for their Saturday breakfast buffet. Unfortunately, Sandy and Carlene weren't, so we reverted to Plan B. I asked Stella to find restaurants and then blindly picked one in north Terre Haute called the Coffee Cup Family Restaurant. This was taking a big chance because one has no idea what quality the establishment might be or even whether it is still in operation.

I knew the risks, but the other ten people on our breakfast runs trusted me, so I led the group up 46, west on US 40 and then down some streets in Terre Haute. We could see we weren't in the most affluent part of town and Sherm, Willie and I had a discussion on the CB's about what we might find. The apprehension was unwarranted when we got there. The place was packed and two of TH's finest were eating there too, always a good sign. There was a table for eight and four people at an adjacent table offered to move so we could put their table with ours and accommodate everyone. The staff were friendly and very competent, the food was good and very reasonably priced and, as you can see from the photo, they have pie. Score one for Stella. If you are reading this, Chunk, you missed this one:-)

We headed back to the KOA via US 41 and I-70. Along 41, they have a spectacular courthouse and war memorial but you can't just pull over and take pictures when you are leading a group. Back at the KOA, one of the staff told us that the ANG F-16's were relocating to Fort Wayne and today was their last flight day. They had invited dignitaries and retirees to visit the field and four jets took off and did some demo flying for them. We watched and sat around and swapped stories, little knowing that our day was about to change drastically.

The first indication of trouble came after many of the group went out for lunch. Sandy and I stayed and she asked me to go out to Arby's and get her some food. As I left, it started spitting rain, although it didn't get too bad before I got back. Soon after, it started raining with a vengeance and the wind came up as well. Several people sat around the picnic table under our awning as the storm raged, lightning flashed and thunder crashed. The low lying areas quickly flooded. When it finally stopped, we got a picture of Phin standing where our fire circle was.

We had to be very careful walking around so our feet wouldn't get soaked. We decided to move to the shelter behind the office and Sandy and some of the others made use of the time to do laundry. Before long, it was pouring again. In the picture, Batman (already soaked to the skin) enjoyed the liquid sunshine. It let up before dark and we all kicked in and ordered Papa John's pizza (delivered) for supper.

We found that we could get the NASCAR race in the breakfast lounge, so the fans settled in front of the TV about 7:30. Others started a poker game in the shelter, although they played for imaginary money. When office closing time rolled around about 10:00, everyone walked gingerly back to their tents and camper (and cars if their gear was soaked). No fire tonight.

About 11:30, hard rain started again. I checked the weather radar and this one was huge. It covered Illinois and Indiana, with no sign of abating soon. With nothing to do about it but watch the water ride higher, I went to bed thanking my lucky starts that our trailer has an above ground hard floor.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Terre Haute - Day 2

Visiting Snake and Getting Wet

About 4:00 AM, we awoke to the pounding of a hard rain, but the screens were all buttoned up so we went back to sleep. By 8:00, the rain was long over, the puddles had (mostly) soaked in and we headed to the KOA building for coffee and muffins.

Those of you who have read the blog for a while will remember that we lost a good friend, Tim 'Snake' Acree, last March. Today, our goal was to travel east through Bloomington and Nashville to his resting place to pay our respects. It is located near a small town called Gnawbone up some back roads a tourist could never find.

Fly, on his trusty Concours, led a group of bikes and one truck east on US 46. In the little town of Spenser, we passed a biker bar called Skid Row. I made a note to stop on the way back and get a picture. East of Bloomington, 46 gets to be real fun with curves and elevation changes abounding. Unfortunately, as we started this stretch, it started spitting and the pavement got wet so we had to take it easy. We passed through Nashville, turned on a side road, then turned on an even sider road and followed Fly to the cemetery. You can see in the first photo that the gave overlooks a beautiful valley. The second one shows the stone, a real work of art that captures Tim's spirit.

After paying our respects, we followed Fly further on to the site where Tim and KT's house stood. The site, surrounded by trees and a pond, has been cleared and is ready for KT's new home to be erected. On the way in, Fly suggested that anyone not comfortable with loose gravel on hills should leave their bikes at the road. Fly was the only one to ride up the drive and you can see how that worked out, as Sandy and Deb admire the unique parking method. Because of the angles, it took quite a few of us to get the Connie upright and turned around.

Moving on, Fly and his trusty GPS led us on a convoluted road around a pretty lake. At one point, on the side away from the lake, we passed a long property fenced with wrought iron. At the end of the property, chain link fence secured the property line. I wondered who would spend that much on fencing. Later, KT told me that was NASCAR driver Tony Stewart's home. At another point, the road split and Fly, not sure which way to go, took an off road excursion before getting back on the pavement. Eventually, I found we were heading east on a straight road paralleling 46. I could see on Stella that several cross roads would have taken us there but Fly led us all the way to Columbus. There, I found out that his GPS didn't show roads. It was a fishing unit. You may have guessed by now that Fly is quite a character.

In Columbus, we had lunch at a Buffalo Wild Wings and then stopped by to pick up KT at the apartment she is temporarily living in. She came back with us in Piper's truck driven by his wife, Mary. I led us back through Bloomington Friday rush hour. They need more than two lanes. Then, west of Bloomington, we approached a large black cloud to the south of us. I hoped we would squeak by, but the road turned south and it started raining. I pulled over and everyone went to rain suits. Sherm and us just put on the jackets because, before everyone suited up, the skies opened. Back on the road, it rained hard for a bit and then eased somewhat. In Spenser, the streets were running deep with water and getting the Skid Row picture was out of the question.

It stopped raining and the sun came out before we got back to the KOA, but we were soaked anyway. It looked like it hadn't rained there. I installed the video camera Normie loaned me and took it for several test runs. I look forward to getting some real riding footage. Most went out for Chinese food, but Sandy and I stayed and had a Cup 'o Soup instead. I showed Jim Ayers how to remove his new Wing seat so he could install a beaded cover, his preference for combating monkey butt.

The group got back and got the campfire going, and Willie Wonka and the lovely Carlene (our roommates from Colorado) rolled in about 9:00 PM. We didn't know they were coming and they didn't know the venue had changed so they came via Bloomington. They set up their massive Aspen trailer and then we sat around the fire talking. Too tall passed a mason jar with a drink made of moonshine, apples and a cinnamon stick. Very tasty. I finally crawled off to bed about 1:15 AM.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Terre Haute - Day 1

The drought ends in Terre Haute............

We woke at 6:30 to the sound of hard rain hitting the roof. We closed the windows, trimmed the awning and went back to bed. It ended by 7:30. This was the first rain we experienced since leaving home and, a camper tells us, the first rain they have had in this area in two months. The forecast says we can expect a lot more over the weekend.

We had muffins and coffee in the KOA main building. I started my Champix quit smoking meds this morning. Sherm had left his boots and chair outside when he went for a shower and they were there when the rain hit, so he had some drying out to do. A check of the weather radar showed systems moving towards us and I spent much of the morning updating the last four days of the blog. We were entertained by Indiana Air National Guard F-16's doing afterburner take-offs and high angle of attack touch and go landings most of the morning.

As lunch time approached, we planned to ride out to eat but the weather radar showed we were about to get wet. As we uncovered the bikes, it started. Note the umbrellas in the picture. Bassman came to the rescue by piling all of us in his truck and taking us a few miles to a place Stella picked out. Formerly Larry's Pizza, it was now called the Riley Snack Shop and we had pizza and sandwiches. By the time we were done, the rain had again let up.

Back at the campground, Brillo and Deb had arrived from Bellevue Iowa and were setting up. Brillo came on his Wing and Deb brought the car since she has to be home Saturday for a wedding. About 4:00, Jax and Phin rolled in from Tennessee very wet. At 6:00, Evil arrived in his truck from Bloomington with a cooler full of beer and firewood.

We left for supper at Kleptz about6:30, wanting to get there before 7:00 so we could order off the early bird menu. Evil and Fly waited for Too Tall, from South Carolina, to show up and they all got to the restaurant not long after us. After supper, we returned to the campground where Brillo had started a fire and Piper and Mary's 5th wheel, from Kansas, had been parked.

About 9:00, Jim Ayers arrived from West Virginia by way of Wichita. He took a Greyhound bus there to pick up his new (to him) low mileage silver 2005 GoldWing. It looks somewhat familiar. The VROC Tupperware Brigade motto is now "another one bites the dust" as our ranks swell.

Last to arrive, about midnight, were Batman and Patricia. They rode in from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Shortly after they got here, I turned in although I could hear voices for quite some time afterwards.

Cambridge Ohio to Terre Haute Indiana

On To Terre Haute

It was another clear, warm morning. There was rain forecast for Terre Haute later, but we'll burn that bridge when we come to it. The GPS said it was 332 miles to Terre Haute by I-70 and, wanting to get in at a reasonable hour, we decided to superslab it.

I-70 through Zanesville and Columbus had a noxious yellow haze hanging in the air. By 9:40, we were already baking. The car speed limit was 65 MPH while trucks were 55 MPH and the trucks weren't doing over 60. We set the cruise at 65 and flowed with the cars. This was all well and good east of Dayton. West of Dayton, the rules changed and the trucks picked up the pace to around 70 MPH.

At the Indiana border, I pulled off for gas.l I was starting to doubt my fuel gauge since it wasn't going down as fast as I expected. I usually run mid-grade when towing the trailer in warm weather to prevent pinging. This time, I ran 93 and added a have can of Seafoam gas additive to clean out the system. I pumped the expected amount of gas for the gauge reading and figure that one of these actors yielded me some really good mileage. Now which one was it?

I really have to study up on the Amish. A couple in Amish dress pulled up in a Taurus and went in to McDonalds after stopping to take a long look at our bike. Why do they get a Taurus and others get buggies? What is the difference between Amish and Mennonite? Mark this for some winter study.

On the outskirts of Terre Haute, Stella took us right to the campground. The staff were very friendly and checked us in right away. Sherm from Oregon and Fly from Cedar Rapids Iowa were already here. We spent some time catching up on who's been where and what's happening next. It looks like Sherm will be going to Maine with us. Hooray. In the picture, Fly and Sandy are watching Sherm clean The Phoenix. This bike has risen from the ashes in several ways and sports some spectacular graphics.

Just as we were getting ready to head out for supper, Bassman and Deb pulled in from Oklahoma towing his Classic behind a pickup truck. They unloaded and we all headed over to a restaurant Fly had scoped out on US 40. The place was called Kleptz and the hostess recognized Fly when he walked in. Most of us ordered off the early bird menu and had some good food at reasonable prices. This photo shows, Sherm, Deb, Bassman, Sandy and Fly at the table. Our server ducked out of the picture before I could snap it.

Back at the campground, as the sun went down, we got on line with the WiFi. Here Sherm uses his patented light holding technique to see the keyboard as he types. Sandy turned in early with a headache, but Fly, Sherm and I sat around in the dark talking about life, the universe and everything before turning in about 11:00 PM.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fort Erie Ontario to Cambridge Ohio

At breakfast this morning, we met three young ladies who go to teacher's college in Buffalo. They approached the border about 9:00 PM last night and were told that it was closed. First time I have encountered this since 9/11. I found out later that a power outage had shut the bridge down.

We left near 9:00 AM and found no border lineup at all. The Border Guard was an older gentleman who was very brusque but efficient. He wanted to know how we had friends in the USA so I told him we belonged to the same Internet motorcycle club. That seemed to make him happy and he sent us on our way.

As we headed down I-190, I noticed a billboard change. Years ago, Cellino and Barnes, a local law firm, had advertised. More recently, it was The Barnes Group and I always wondered what had happened to Cellino. I see that he is back and the billboard now says Cellino and Barnes again. I'm sure there's a good story in this somewhere.

We decided to skip the Thru-way and got off at the US 219 exit. Then we cut over to Hamburg and caught US 62 southwest to Jamestown NY and Warren Pa. In Gowanda, we had to detour due to a bridge out and went past a prison and the home of the Gowanda and Buffalo Model Railroad Club. It was apparently started as therapy for psychiatric hospital patients 40 years ago and is now in the basement of a day care centre serving employees of the adjacent prison. This will be something to visit on another trip.

South of Warren, 62 runs along the Allegheny River to Oil City, a route we enjoyed last year and did again this trip. There was little traffic and it was a relaxing ride. After lunch in Oil City, we saw a train come right through the town on Oil Creek and Titusville RR trackage. They have a pretty little station right on the main street.

On 62 in Franklin Pa, I was trying ti figure out where the road went and accidentally blew right through a red light. This is the first time I can remember doing this in decades. Luckily, there was no cop and, luckier still, there was no one going through the other way. Shortly out of town, I lost 62 (Stella had no route) and ended up heading SW on SR 8. Then we caught 108 over to Newcastle, a blend of old steel plants and some new architecture. It doesn't look like a place I'd like to live.

We stopped at a gas station to remove jacket panels due to the heat. I had picked the town of Coshocton Ohio as a destination to get us to US 36 and I told Stella to take us there. After about 20 miles of lanes and small back roads, I checked the settings and found I had told her to take us there by the shortest route. We were going cross country and making no time at all. I changed that and she then took us to roads that looked like people actually traveled on them.

Somewhere in here, I encountered a stretch of one mile or so where something jammed the GPS. She kept flashing maps and recalculating while telling us to return to the route. We were on a straight stretch of road at the time. I was just about to pull over and shut her down for a reboot when all returned to normal and we continued on our way.

When we encountered I-77, I changed plans and we headed south. A coupon book in a rest area said there was a Days Inn in Cambridge Ohio, at the junction of I-77 and I-70, where the rooms were $39.95 and they had WiFi. We went there directly and found it to be just as adverised.

After checking in, we went next door to Bob Evans where I had a chef salad (huge) and Sandy had a pork dish from the senior's menu. Back at the motel, Sandy laid down while I went outside and met two riders, on from Georgia on a 1500 Wing and the other from Pennsylvania on a Harley. They're on a great expedition to the west coast and both were Zumo equipped.

I did notice that Cambridge is on US-40. This is the road where we got hailed on out in Colorado in July.

Monday, September 03, 2007

West Montrose Ontario to Fort Erie Ontario

Labour Day

It was overcast this morning and the dew had fallen after we went to bed. I had taken the awning down yesterday to keep it dry. We tore down the trailer and all the family tents in short order. Then, after saying goodbye to as many people as we could find, we headed out.

BTW, Ed and Eileen, if you're reading this, it was great to meet you and compare roads. Hope to see you again before too long.

Kim & Mike went straight home while Sandy and I led Heather, on the Rebel, and Tom, in his car, to the Waterloo condo. Then we went on to Kim& Mike's in Cambridge where I picked up my Email and we helped Mike hang all the tents to dry in his basement. They made us a quick lunch and then we headed out.

My Email told me the gathering of friends in Bloomington Indiana had hit a snag, but they had secured a friendly KOA in Terre Haute at a discounted rate. Not much of a change in itinerary. Since we had a few days, I planned to cross at Buffalo and come across the south side of Lake Erie. Rather than try the border on Labour Day, I reserved a room at the Comfort Inn in Fort Erie.

The overcast had cleared and the temperature went up to 30C as we took Highway 8 to Hamilton and then let Stella lead us on back roads all the way to Fort Erie. After checking in,we went over to Subway and got some sandwiches for supper. Then it was early to sleep since we were both pretty tired.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Cyclefest Bike Games Day

It was another clear, sunny morning. I could get used to this. The campground got buzzed early by a two person ultralite aircraft. What it lacked in speed it made up for in noise.

We headed over to the big tent for breakfast where we found there had been nefarious doings overnight. Someone, certainly not one of us, had stolen Kevin's Primus gas stove and propane bottle and Fred's archaic Coleman gas lantern while we slept. This is unusual at one of our gatherings.

Patsy Appleby and Diane Marier decided to take up a collection to see if we could replace the stolen items. After a pass through the rallyists, they came up with $206.00. They made a trip into town with Sandy, Tom and Heather and came back with new gear. The bill had come to $205.16, which I found pretty spooky. We found later that some type of electric bike had been taken from the regular campers as well and that the campground owners had an idea who the thief might have been.

The day got hotter as they readied the field for the bike games. These are fun competitions where riders and passengers try to score in various events. In the Ring Toss, the bike rides a path while the passenger tries to throw hula-hoops over stakes at varying distances. The Water Wok has the passenger holding a wok with one liter of water over the rider's head as they traverse a bumpy course. The one with the most water left at the end wins. The slow race involves head to head competitions, with the last rider completing the section without putting there feet down the winner. This consumed most of the afternoon. Terry and his daughter Amber won the Water Wok by not spilling a drop and Jules Delorme, from the French Connection, won the slow race as usual.

Supper in the big tent was handled by Grand Valley Caterers again. They had turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing and a rolled rib dish along with salads. They served us so much the first time that few went back for seconds. The dessert was either Black Forest or carrot cake.

After supper, the awards and door prizes were handed out. I won a fleece jacket that Sandy appropriated, while Heather won a nice GoldWing jacket and Kim won leather gloves. In the awards, Heather won youngest female rider and got honourable mention for low poker run score. Someone else beat her 4 with a 2. Kim received her 25 year attendance pin (Heather missed a year in the Azores) and Mike got a 5 year award. The crew from Waterloo Wings did an outstanding job with the weekend and we thank them for all their efforts.

Our time at the fire was short tonight. We looked at some pictures Ian was projecting in the big tent and then turned in. The evening was warmer and dryer than the last few.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Cyclefest Poker Run Day

It was sunny again this morning. What a great trend to get into.

Today we had toast and coffee under the big rally tent. It was poker/observation run day, a staple of this rally. Heather and I used to compete in the observation run, a ride that has questions you need to answer based on things you see along the road. We have done quite well at it on occasion. This year, since she was riding her own bike, we only entered the poker run part. This involved games of skill and chance (often both) at checkpoints along the route. Tom rode behind me and navigated.

We pulled a letter for a score at the start, and then began by following Fred's group. After a problem with the directions in Elora that turned us around (curse you, Ian), I figured the group was stressing Heather and we went our own way. Tom was good at calling the turns and we found the first checkpoint with no problem. This test involved throwing stars at various sized hoops. I did OK, Tom did well and Heather missed. Since she only drew a 4 at the start, she figured she might be in the running for low score.

On the way to the next checkpoint, we stopped in Heidelberg for lunch. A number of other riders were at the same place and we sat next to Jeannie, Rich and Kenny from New York. I took the Ontario atlas and figured that the next checkpoint was in the same community centre parking lot in New Dundee where Heather did her practicing last fall. Rather than follow the route, I asked Stella to take us right there and she did via some little used back roads. The next test involved shooting foam darts from a pistol at various sized hoops. Again, Tom did well while Heather and I both tanked.

Since the last two checkpoints were at the finish, I asked Stella to take us straight back. What followed was a back street run through Kitchener the likes of which I have never seen before. But we got there without any problems. The last tests involved a bow and arrow and soccer balls. I did OK, Tom did OK and Heather kept her 4 intact.

I need to comment on Heather's riding. She hasn't done many miles because she only rides when I am around, but she did very well on the ride. I was impressed and some others commented favourably to me as well.

The family plus Maggie and Joe went to Crossroads for the supper buffet. After a 45 minute wait, we were seated and again ate more than we should have. But it was good. Then we headed back to the campground. Some went to the fire while others played 'dirty bingo'. Howard and his banjo, Eileen and her accordion and Lois and her guitar played requests, often by ear, and people sand along. I even did a solo of Me and Bobby McGee at one point while stone cold sober. Occasionally I scare myself. Most songs were trouble because everyone remembers the lyrics for the first stanza and then runs out of steam. We need song books for next year.

Tonight was earlier to bed. I headed in at 1:00 AM this time.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Cyclefest Friday

Sandy and I woke early to the clip-clop of horses hooves on asphalt as a Mennonite buggy went up the road on the other side of the Grand River. There was a large amount of dew, so we wiped the bikes down well and I checked Heather's front tire. It was way down when we picked the bike up yesterday and, although topped up, it looks like the slow leak had dropped it another two pounds overnight. After adjustung it, we then headed into Elmira for fuel and breakfast at the Sip 'n Bite. Two eggs, ham, toast and hashbrowns for $3.25.

After breakfast, took a little ride up back roads to Elora and Fergus, where we stopped at Canadian Tire so Heather could get a few bike items. Then we headed back to the campground and went through the ordeal of setting up our big screen tent (hard) and Maggie McLeod's tent (even harder).

That done, we sat back and watched people arrive. They came in all afternoon and we ended up with quite the community out behind us. Here, first timer Lloyd and veterans Bob & Martha, Fred and Gabby and Mabel are set up and kicking back under the sunny skies.

The forecast for the weekend is sunny and dry. Maybe for once, the weather man will get it right despite his spectacular failures so far this year.

As the sun got towards the horizon, Tom and then Kim and Mike finally showed up. The family headed out to Elora to the Gorge Family Restaurant. Lots of food at reasonable prices. As usual, most of us ate too much. From the left, we have son-in-law Mike, Kathy Dickinson from Ottawa, Maggie McLeod from near Cambridge, Tom, Heather, Kim and Sandy.

After supper, we headed back in the dark. It was another chilly, damp evening, so we hung out at the camp fire visiting with everyone. At the end, Mike, Amber Appleby and I called it quits at about 2:30 AM.