Sunday, April 22, 2007

First Ride

Yesterday, before we left for Pembroke, I sent an Email to all the Freedom Riders. The forecast for today was good so I said I was going for a ride and asked if any one wanted to join me. I said we would be at a particular Tim Horton's at 10:00 AM.

I rose early this morning so that I could get all the gear that had been stored in a box over the winter back in the bike. I repositioned the cruising pegs for more cornering clearance and, while I didn't wash the bike, I cleaned the lower front cowl which had bugs and road tar all over it. About 9:30, we climbed on and found our first major GoldWing failure. The sound system locked up. On a Wing, this is a big deal.

With no time to find the problem, we set out sans stereo and intercom. We stopped at Leo's and, after admiring bubbling water from a broken water main in front of his place, we headed for Timmy's. We were joined there by Tony Cundari and new members Gill and Darlene Courville.

It was warm and sunny as we headed out, first across to Lively and then up to Chelmsford and out 144 to Cartier. I set a reasonable group pace, although I was tempted just south of Levack when a Harley blew by me in a passing lane. I picked up the pace (he was moving), but noticed I was losing my group so I backed off and resumed my original pace.

In Cartier, we stopped for coffee/pop at the restaurant and chatted for a while. Then we headed back south. Tony kept heading towards town In Chelmsford while we headed east to Val Caron and up to Hanmer. It had gotten quite windy by then. In Hanmer, Gill and Darlene turned for home while we and Leo stopped to see friends. Then we headed home via Radar Road. On the way, the sound system mysteriously started working again. Sandy and I stopped at the STP yard to say hi to Norm, who was wiring the rear fender of his Drifter for more lights. Then we hit the grocery store and returned home.

It was a good day for a first ride. I'm going to ask the GL1800 board about the sound system, but I suspect one of the radio connectors that was disconnected to get at the air filter may not be seated properly. It's a minor bear to get at, but if that's it I'll take a shot at it this week. After all, we do need tunes.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Moving Bikes Around

Monday was a bit damp, but I took some time to do the spring garage rearrangement. It's a very small garage, so I need to take everything out to get things moved from winter to summer mode. First I started the snowmobile, which wasn't that easy because I think it was ticked that it hadn't been ridden all winter. Luckily, it only took about 18 pulls on the cord. I moved it out into the driveway. Next was the bike. It started right up as if it had only been parked overnight. I disconnected the battery tender and rode it out. Then the camper trailer got pulled out, as did the snowblower and the lawnmower. Then they all got put back, snowmobile and snowblower first, then the camper trailer and the lawnmower. Last of all, the bike. Now we are ready for summer. The final task of the day was to go over to the Sudbury Trail Plan yard and get my enclosed 5X10 trailer.

Tuesday, Leo and I loaded the Wing into the trailer using a new tie-down method I saw on the Web. Then we hauled it down to Stayner, about 200 miles south. At J&R Cycle, Ed the English Mechanic was to give it the spring service and a new rear tire. Work would include replacing the hydraulic fluids, coolant, spark plugs, cleaning the air filter and checking the valves. I also had a new set of rear brake pads and needed the cruise control lag adjusted. Other than crankcase, final drive oil and tire changes, the bike hasn't been touched in 40,000 Km's. We arrived, unloaded, had a chat with Ed and parked the trailer out back. I took the bike for a brief ride and then we headed home.

I talked to Rhonda Thursday and the bike was ready. She said Ed told her the valves were spot on and the rear brake pads were only 50% used. Not bad for 90,000 Km's.

Friday morning, Leo, Sandy and I headed back down. When we arrived, I took the bike for another little ride. It was running perfectly. Then we loaded it and brought it back to Sudbury. After unloading, I took the trailer over to Leo's since he had traded his '03 Nomad on an '02 BMW R1150 RS. The bike was in Pembroke, 200 miles east and we needed to get there early so the paperwork with MTO could be completed before the office closed at noon Saturday. We loaded the Nomad and I brought it home.

Leo was on time, knocking on my door at 6:00 AM today. It was a peaceful drive to Pete's in Pembroke. We arrived shortly after 10:00 AM. The blue BMW was simple but elegant. The Nomad was more than acceptable to them, so Leo and the salesman did the paperwork and then the dealership sent someone to the MTO office. The BMW was a challenge to tie down since the Telelever front end isn't like anything I've worked with before, but I found a way. On the way back, Leo spent much of the time reading the various manuals and other documents. We arrived about 5:00, unloaded the bike at Leo's and took the trailer back to the STP yard. There was just enough time to get cleaned up and head over to the STP volunteer appreciation dance.

Tomorrow, we ride.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Blogs Expand

I got another letter to the editor published on Thursday. Pretty good since I only wrote it Wednesday morning. I am writing more and more of these, so I thought it might be nice to keep them somewhere. What better place than a Blog? These letters will be mostly of interest to Sudburians so, since Blogs are free, I added one more for my random thoughts. Politica, religious and other.

While all my letters have been cut and pasted into that one, I need to think a bit about what random thoughts I will have today. Sound silly? So am I, most of the time:-) Maybe by the time you read this, I'll have something thought out, written down and posted. You will note the links to My Letters and My Random Thoughts in the Links section to the right, but here they are anyway.

If you are interested in this kind of nonsense, you are welcome to read and comment. If not, we'll still be posting of our travels right here and you can ignore the rest.

Monday, April 09, 2007


It was time to visit the kids, so we packed up some marshmallow peeps and headed south on Thursday. The weather had dropped below freezing and snow was falling. So much for spring.

We arrived at Kim and Mike's just as Kim was getting home from work. After unpacking our gear, it was time to head to Heather's to meet her new boyfriend, Tom. He showed up shortly after we did and, after introductions and a short chat, we headed out to the Mongolian Grill for supper. The Grill was fairly quiet so we took our time and made several passes through the food line. One fellow working the grill was doing a passable Canned Heat as he sang Going Up The Country while he worked. We got to know Tom a little (he seems like a fine young man) and hope he wasn't too scared by us..... After supper, we stopped at Heather's apartment for a bit and then went back to Kim & Mike's for the night.

Friday, we were up and didn't do too much. Kim was trying to study for an insurance exam and Mike went into work for the morning. Lunch was from Subway after Mike got home and, that evening, we went to Samura, a local Japanese restaurant. The food was tasty and they had chopstick helpers, but I opted to work on the techniques Don Inamasu showed me last summer and struggled through my beef teriyaki and fried noodles on my own. Sandy learned that when someone says green tea ice cream tastes good, it may be an acquired taste. Back at the house, Heather and Tom joined us to watch Blood Diamond off DVD.

Saturday, Kim, Mike, Sandy and I headed for Zehr's to get some groceries. It was packed as one would expect on Easter Saturday. Then I took Heather up to Staples so she could buy a case for the new (reconditioned) laptop she had bought. Back at her place, I struggled to get her two computers talking to each other, learning more things about Windows Networking and ZoneAlarm in the process. We made it back to the Koolen household in time for a fine dinner of pork roast, dressing and potato vegetables with gravy. Dessert was a lemon meringue pie. After watching the Fantastic Four on TV, Mike took Heather home and Sandy turned in for the night. Kim, Mike and I watched some home renovation shows before finally giving up and going to bed.
Sunday, it had snowed some more. I'm Dreaming of a White Easter. Kim and Mike headed to Aylmer for the Koolen Family Easter Brunch and we moved over to Heather's after a stop at Timmie's for breakfast sandwiches and muffins. We lazed around much of the day, watching TV and reading.

The drive back Monday was, again, uneventful. We saw one of the new black and white OPP cruisers on the 400. They look very good. From Barrie to Sudbury, we were in and out of snow squalls. As someone who wanted winter snow, I view this as an insult by the weather gods. Arrived home about 1:30.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Paying Our Respects To Tim

Tim's funeral was scheduled for Saturday at 10:30 AM in the small town of Hope Indiana, about 45 miles southeast of Indianapolis. The viewing was Friday from 3:00 until 8:00 PM. There was no question about whether we were going to be there. I booked a room at the Ramada Inn in Columbus Indiana for Friday night.

We left home in the van at 4:30 AM Friday for the 780 mile drive to Columbus. The pre-dawn morning delivered ice pellets and then rain as we headed west to the Soo. Traffic was extremely light at the border, considering that it was around morning rush hour. The US guard was a trainee and delivered his questions in a hesitant manner, which spooked me a little. The rest of the drive was uneventful except for the 1/2 hour we lost on US 127 north of Lansing due to a burning truck. The local fire department soon had this under control and we continued on. The weather had improved after we crossed the border and eventually I had to put the A/C on.

Hope Indiana is a tiny place. We arrived at the funeral home on Main Street about 6:30 PM and found a few other VROCers and a large number of locals lined up to get in. They told us it had been like that since the place opened at 3:00. It was obvious that Tim was as well liked everywhere else as he was in VROC. It was hard to see Katie, her daughter Rachel and her sons Mike and Daniel, but they were holding up on the surface. We paid our respects and then adjourned to the street.

Buck Prior led three other bikes (Stewey, Snubs and CC Rider) and us down the back roads to Columbus and our various hotels. We met up with some others and split for supper. Our group went to the prime rib buffet at the Holiday Inn while others went down the road to a sports bar. After supper, we all gathered in the Ramada parking lot. Later, as it began to rain, we stood under the awning in front of their atrium, drinking beer and Jack and reminiscing about Tim. The last to arrive, about 10:00 PM, were EZ, Scooter, Phin, Jax and Cargo. The first four, on bikes, were pretty wet. We were joined by Daniel, an Airborne soldier who happened to be staying at the Ramada as well. Most of the gang had retired by midnight.

Saturday dawned greyly. Those of us at the Ramada met in the breakfast area. Sandy and I checked out and loaded the gear in the van. Although the funeral was at 10:30, Evil had asked that the bikes arrive at 9:30 so we set a meeting time at the hotel of 8:30. Others had arrived after we went to bed including Willie Wonka and the lovely Carlene, in their truck. Shortly before we left, it started to rain. Doppler showed it to be a narrow but active front, and the riders got severely drenched on the ride to Hope. At the funeral home, the bikes were martialed behind the motorcycle hearse and the cars were lined up in the parking lot.

We eventually seated ourselves in the funeral home, but it became obvious that the place would be packed so the VROC contingent, without a word, gave up our seats to the local people and stood at the back of the hall. The service was conducted by our own Tommy "Rabbi" Wilcockson. Despite the name, he is an ordained Baptist minister and probably the finest man of the cloth that I know. He read some passages and a very touching letter Rachel had written her father. After some personal reminiscences, he called on anyone present to share any Snake stories. Black Chrome shared some touching words, and quite a few others spoke as well.

After the service, we moved outside and watched as they brought Tim's casket out and loaded it in the hearse. The rain had passed and the day was actually quite pleasant. As the procession got underway, the hearse was followed by the assembled bikes (the variety of state and province licence plates was impressive) and then a line of cars that extended for well over a mile. Katie road on a bike behind her son. The Sheriff's Department handled traffic at the intersections and almost every car we met pulled over and stopped until the last car went by. At one intersection, a uniformed deputy stood at attention and saluted while another in plain clothes stood with his hand over his heart.

The ride to the cemetery on a back road near Gnawbone was a long one. When we arrived, the cars and bikes wrangled to find parking spots and everyone proceeded up the hill to the grave site, which looked out over a pretty valley. The casket was carried to the grave and everyone assembled to hear Tommy speak the words. It was about as sad as a thing can get, but it was also inspiring to know that our VROC family will be there for each and every one of us when we need it. After the committal, people adjourned to the adjacent church for food, but we needed to haul so we said our goodbyes and (after getting several sets of conflicting directions) set out for home.

We were rolling north about 2:30. A gas and food stop in Fort Wayne told us the temperature was dropping. We drove straight through without event and arrived home at 4:00 AM Sunday morning.

Here are several sites with photos of the funeral: