Monday, June 29, 2009

Wrong Turn's Visit - Day 3

We awoke to what looked like a decent day for Jim to depart. My plan was to take him down Highway 69 and across 141 to Huntsville and set him on a path across Algonquin Park. He could then cut south and cross into the US at Thousand Islands on his way to Maine. The weather radar suggested otherwise. A large system was coming in off Georgian Bay, right across the proposed track, while a larger one had all of Canada east of Ottawa under rain.

OK, we would let the weather dictate the route. There was a window along the Highway 17 corridor through the Ottawa Vally so we'd ride that way and he could hook down from Arnprior to the crossing at Prescott/Ogdensburg.

Leaving about 7:45, the dark clouds blanketing the southern horizon told us we'd made the right choice. After a few spits getting out of town, we caught the blue skies again. There was a stop in Sturgeon Falls for gas and a Mickey D's breakfast and then we rode on to Mattawa, about 120 miles east of Sudbury where we said our goodbyes and I headed back. It was great having Jim visit. He is one laid back gentleman we are always happy to see.

Wrong Turn in Mattawa

I expected to get hosed on the return leg but got into North Bay dry. I checked the radar on the phone browser and it looked good so I continued. In Verner at R&L, I stopped and bought some rain totes and checked the radar again on their bigger computer screen. There was lots of localized activity but, with luck, it would be a clear shot home. I left there running between two ugly cells and, although I got spit on a few times, the ride home was dry.

In Hagar, a fellow on a Harley Davidson CVO Springer pulled out in front of me and I followed him all the way to Sudbury. He had no luggage or windshield, just a Canadian military pack strapped to his back, and was moving along at a good clip.

Approaching town, there was one more big black cloud and I just made it home before the rain started in earnest.

Today's Route

I rode from A to B and Jim hopefully continued on to C.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wrong Turn's Visit - Day 2

The weather wasn't the best this morning. Sandy caught the sky while out on her morning walk.

The rainbow looks like it is coming down into our house (pot of gold?) and the rain hasn't even started yet.

The rain started soon after and we knew that it wouldn't be a bike day. We took the van to Gonga's Grill for breakfast and then came home where we passed the time for a bit. After talking country/mountain music, we watched the movie Songcatcher. Then we took a drive in the van to see Onaping Falls from the A.Y. Jackson Lookout. This was the place Biker, Sandy and I spread Kilo's ashes last fall. We also walked around the little park checking out the mineral and equipment exhibits.

Jim & Sandy brave the drizzle at Onaping Falls

From Onaping Falls, we toured Levack before heading back to town. Jim was curious about WalMart so we took him into ours where he learned that Canadian and US WalMarts are not equal. We have a long way to go up here. Then it was over to Canadian Tire to show him a Canuck tradition and, finally, into our Real Canadian Super Store, the local grocery place we use.

Jim checks out lawn recliners at Canadian Tire

We picked up supper to go at the Silver Bullet, an airstream trailer/food stand in the Flour Mill area. We ordered three small poutines, burgers for Jim and I and a couple of chicken fingers for Sandy. They screwed up and we ended up with one small poutine plus two LARGE ones. At home, we tucked in the best we could, but there was just too much. It was Jim's first encounter with poutine and it nearly did him in. I love the burgers but will probably pass on the poutine next time unless someone will share a small one with me.

After supper I skipped through the NASCAR race coverage from (of all places) New Hampshire. I did OK but it could have been better. The end of the race was rained out but, after our experience there last weekend, I was not surprised at all.

Then we watched an hour of Gene Simmons Family Jewels before Sandy turned in. Jim and I talked a bunch more before hitting our respective bunks.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wrong Turn's Visit - Day 1

Wrong Turn (Jim) is a VROC friend who lives in Fayetteville, West (By God) Virginia. He's been getting around to far flung VROC events for a few years and now has several bikes including a Nomad and a 2005 GoldWing in silver, just like ours.

Jim told me in Kentucky that he was considering a ride around the north side of Lake Superior after visiting a friend in Wisconsin. I told him that if it looked like he was coming through Sudbury to let us know and that he has a place to stay here. Thursday night, he called from Thunder Bay where he was staying with Borys after a ride up from Duluth. Friday, he would be heading across the top of Gitche Gumee and we'd see him on Saturday.

We didn't hear from Jim last night but I figured it was just some glitch. This morning, the Freedom Riders were heading south on a ride to Parry Sound and across 124 to visit the Screaming Heads in Burks Falls. We rode down to see them off at the Tim's in the south end and decided to ride along a ways.

About 20 miles south of town, the cell phone rang and the Caller ID said it was Jim. I answered but the call cut off. I looked to see what I could have done wrong. Nothing seemed apparent so I left the group in Estaire and tried Jim a few times before getting through. His cell phone battery died the day before and he had little signal now but we learned he was in Pancake Bay (north of Sault Ste. Marie). I told him we would meet him at the Tim's in Blind River, about half way between Sudbury and the Soo.

We got to Tim's first. Not too long thereafter, in rolled Jim on his Wing towing his Kwik-Kamp trailer. I told him he was in the place Neil Young sang about in Long May You Run ("well it was back in Blind River, in 1962, when I last saw you alive"). We had a coffee and then headed east on Highway 17.

Jim Sandy and two silver Wings in Blind River

We stopped at the Serpent River picnic area to look at the white water and again in Spanish for gas. Coming into Sudbury, I took him up to the Big Nickel/Dynamic Earth site where much of Sudbury as well as the mining/milling/smelting and refining operations at Vale INCO are visible. It gives a good look at the unique Sudbury landscapes.

The Big Nickel

From there, we rode to the house and got Jim settled in his room. Then we took the van and took a local tour starting with Bell Park, the Boardwalk, Ramsey Lake and the Miners' Memorial. This is one of the prettier places in the City.

Jim & Sandy at Bell Park with Ramsey Lake in the background

From the park, we took a drive out by Laurentian University and the upscale houses out on the point and South Bay. Then it was on through New Sudbury before arriving at Montana's Restaurant at 6:00 PM to meet Biker, Cheryl and Normie for supper. The special was a beef/pork rib combo that some had. I had a steak and Sandy had a rack of back ribs. Norm was the only one with room for dessert. He couldn't finish it.

Normie making a valiant attempt at dessert

After supper, we returned home and visited until bedtime.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bike Service

I took Pogo to R&L Equipment 45 miles east of here in Verner on Wednesday. It was time for the major service which is done every 50K kms. The bike had 181,113 kms (112,544 miles) on it and this is the 4th major service.

Today I picked it up. As I was going over the invoice with Serge, he asked if I would like the bike washed. Washed? He said it would take about 15 minutes. Sure, I said. While I installed a new J&M headset I had ordered to replace my broken one, someone in the back was cleaning the bike. When they brought it out, it wasn't detailed but it was the cleanest I have seen it in some time.

When I got home, I took some chemicals and did a rough cleaning of the front rim, which a quick wash wasn't going to help. They must be good chemicals because the rim now looks like chrome. I need to go after some deeper spots, probably with Autosol, but it looks good.

Now, as soon as I change the oil, we're ready for another 50K kms. The bike feels just as good as it did when it was new.

For the record, here is the work that was done.

The valves were checked but no adjustment was necessary, although one exhaust valve is getting close. These valves have not required adjustment since new.

They cleaned the air filter. This is not a small job on a GoldWing.

The steering head bearings were re-torqued to 25 ft/lbs.

Coolant and hydraulic fluids were changed.

Spark plugs were replaced.

Injector cover was replaced due to a broken tab.

New battery installed.

New Bridgestone G709 tire and valve stem installed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

S.T.O.P. Swearing In

The Snowmobile Trail Officer Patrol (S.T.O.P.) Program was developed in Sudbury in 1992 in response to frequent serious and fatal sled accidents coupled with limited police resources for snowmobile patrols. S.T.O.P. Officers are volunteer Ontario Special Constables empowered to enforce the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act of Ontario (MSVA) as well as assisting police officers with alcohol and other criminal enforcement.

I was involved in the program from the inception in 1992 until 2003, when I lost interest in snowmobiling in general. The last few years, I started to ride again and applied for reinstatement as a S.T.O.P. Officer. Today, after testing, training and riding along, I was sworn in along with nine new volunteers from the Sudbury and Parry Sound Areas. In actual fact, they were sworn in while I affirmed the oath of office, leading to many questions.

It has been good to get back involved with the program. The fact that I was a co-founder and retired Provincial Coordinator and am now the newest rookie in the Sudbury unit in no way takes away from that. We have a good group of volunteers and the police officers we work with are excellent.

The ceremony went well. Norm set things up and gave everyone their marching orders. The nice lady Justice of the Peace got us all through the oaths while Biker took pictures and there was food afterward. Now the ten of us won't have to ask a sworn officer to sign our tickets any more:-))

Here are a few photos of the big night:

Yours truly ready to leave

Deputy Chief Lekun (GSPS), Chief Supt. Tod (OPP NE Region Commander) and Normie (Sudbury Area OFSC STOP Coordinator and Acting Provincial Coordinator)

Normie giving the candidates their directions at rehearsal
(dig those suspenders)

The candidates preparing to be piped into the hall

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pembroke Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

We didn't rush getting started this morning. Sandy and I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant using the two $5.00 off certificates we got when we checked it. Then we loaded up in what was going to be a very warm and sunny day and the three of us headed for home.

Highway 17 to Mattawa was in pretty rough shape. There were also stretches where we were down to a single lane due to roadwork. Much of the construction seemed to be related to widening the right-of-way and I have to wonder why this higher cost and slower work is being done instead of simple resurfacing. Personally, I would favour the faster and lower cost solution.

Between Mattawa and North Bay, there were six different OPP cruisers. It looks like some kind of blitz was on but they didn't seem to have a problem with our 100 KPH pace even though it was 20 KPH over the limit. We noticed gas at Bonfield and again in Wahnapitae was $1.02/liter compared to $0.95 in Pembroke. Once again Northern Ontario appears to be getting hosed.

We arrived home at 1:00 PM to a nicely mowed lawn thanks to our friend Leo. Many thanks, Leo. Now we have a couple of weeks before our ride to North Carolina with Ron, Laurie, Brad and Judy.

Today's Route

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Northwood New Hampshire to Pembroke Ontario

At 5:30, the weather radar showed the big system we had been expecting had shrunk and hooked south. We suited up anyway and by the time we left at 7:00, misting that wasn't evident on radar had begun.

We headed west and caught I-93 North, not the usual route but necessary because the bridge over the St. Laurence River at Cornwall was still closed due to a dispute with the local Mohawks. As we moved north over patches of new pavement (with related signs indicating this was done with stimulus money), the rain picked up and we saw groups of bikes pulled over and suiting up. This continued up to Franconia Notch State Park, after which it eased up.

Near Vermont, with the roads starting to dry, a wild turkey wandered across the road in front of us causing me to brake hard. Gary wasn't as concerned but then he has never been hit by a wild turkey while riding.

In East Lyndon, just north of St. Johnsbury Vermont, we stopped for gas and breakfast. The Wing took 3.2 gallons compared to 3.9 for Gary's Rogue. He suggested that while the 2000 Vulcan was less fuel efficient, Rogue riders look better. McDonalds was the breakfast of choice.

At the border crossing near Stanstead Quebec, US Border Patrol officers were pulling over and searching bikes leaving the country. They had several stopped and ordered a truck pulling a bike trailer into a holding spot. An agent said he would need to see our ID but, as soon as they saw the Ontario plates, we were released without any further ado. They must have had a tip about some Quebec riders. The Canadian border check was anti-climactic and we were soon headed north on the Joseph Armand Bombardier Autoroute. Parts of it were OK but a lot of the asphalt looked like it had leprosy. We saw one deer almost hidden in tall grass on the side of the road but it turned and ran away as we went by.

Soon we turned onto Autoroute 10 headed towards Montreal and the traffic picked up. My Zumo had this as AuT 10 O (for Ouest). It kept calling it Ow Tee 10 O. Kim called and wished me a Happy Father's Day. I had forgotten all about it, but was glad to have the phone on the bike.

As we approached the Champlain Bridge, we encountered stop and go traffic.

Do Rogue Riders really look better?

Montreal skyline seen from the Champlain Bridge

The backed up traffic seemed to be due to rubbernecking at an accident on the far side of the bridge and the other side of the road. Once by this spot, we were back up to speed again.

Gary needed gas so I followed the GPS directions and took a tour of downtown Ste. Anne de Bellevue to two non-existent gas stations. This looks like a really quaint community but I would rather have had the fuel where it was supposed to be and I found Sandy doesn't like me swearing at the GPS. On the way out, we found a station that wasn't in the Garmin database. After fueling, the battery had a drop-out (again) as I started the bike and reset all the electronics. Battery or charging system? This would bear checking tonight.

Back on the highway, we soon crossed into Ontario and the road changed to 417. The right lane was so rippled that I stayed in the left as much as I could. In Casselman, we stopped for food at one of the slower Tim Horton's I have seen. Then it was on towards Ottawa with the weather getting darker as we went along. We slipped between several nasty looking cells as we went through Ottawa and continued on arriving at a Travelodge in Pembroke at 5:00 PM in stifling heat, reminding us that it was the first day of summer.

One of the cells around Ottawa

We went across the road for supper at Finnegan's. The food was OK but the server, while pretty and engaging, wasn't as quick or competent as I might have liked. Then it was back to the hotel where we blogged and watched TV until bedtime. We couldn't get the NASCAR race in Sonoma California because it had been relegated to TSN 2 and, despite all the channels available in the hotel, this wasn't one of them.

On a positive note, my multi-meter showed the electrical system at 14.4 volts at idle making it virtually certain that my electrical problems were due to a battery that was on its fifth year.

Sign next to Finnegan's - The Royal Canadian Regiment is based just outside Pembroke

Today's Route

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

NEVROC Laconia Day 3

We were blinded this morning by a large yellow thing hanging in the blue eastern sky. After the last three days, what could we have done to deserve this?

We were late getting to the Circle. Everyone else was later. The ride today was supposed to be to Dover for seafood and then to the Nubble Lighthouse in Maine. I needed to visit Venco Wings with the gift certificate and a toll booth to check the EZ Pass. We would head out and Brother Bear would update us on the group by phone.

Venco Wings is a nice little shop on SR 129. In addition to having a GL1800 guru, the shop also has a guy who specializes in older Wings.They had many cosmetic things but I don't put them on. We settled on a nice shirt and jacket for Sandy and I splurged and bought a Hopnel storage pocket for the fairing, a Canuck flag and a rubber jacket for my trunk remote.

DE GL1800 at Venco

From Venco, we headed for Pittsfield to find a bank. It was right where the GPS said it was.

A dam in Pittsfield

Brother Bear had called to say the group was on the move but they wouldn't be going to Dover. With a black cloud on the horizon, we returned to the motel where Gary and Sandy remained while I rode to Dover to find a toll booth on SR 16. It cost me $.75 to confirm the transponder was dead. Then I went back to Northwood.

After riding a series of two lane roads here, I have come to the conclusion that most New Hampshire people are in no hurry. Back home, these people would be run over.

We spent the rest of the afternoon practicing packing the additional gear and napping. I finally caught up all my blogging. Then we went out for supper at the Northwood Diner. It was closed and Johnson's was so busy cars were parking in the adjacent field. We headed for the Circle but Sandy changed her mind and here's where we ended up.

We deserved a break today.

From there, we made a short visit to the campground to say goodbyes. We'll see some in Maine in September and some other places down the road. We will see Brother Bear and Brad in a couple of weeks in Wellsboro Pennsylvania for a two week wander together. Then it was back to the motel and early to bed. I see Sherm and Mike from Calgary made it home. We may be the last WWW3 riders to get home when we arrive tomorrow.

The radar shows a large system moving in overnight. We have the rain suits ready.

Friday, June 19, 2009

NEVROC Laconia Day 2

The radar indicated that the rain was moving out but that we would be the last place to see clearing. It's getting hard not to take this personally. We rode over to the Circle where we saw U-Turn's Nomad sporting its new root beer colour next to Joe's Wing.

Look at the wet ground

Sandy and Gary discussing the breakfast options

After breakfast, we wandered back to the campground and mingled. Today was poker run day and we had planned a nice ride through the countryside to Hookset Kawasaki. The ride was to be abbreviated due to the weather but then we took a vote and decided to ride straight there.

Ralph and Dawn draw cards from Joe

U-Turn, thinking he found a bowling ball, looks for finger holes

The new route to Hookset was straight down SR 28. This was an excellent choice bacause, while no rain showed on Brother Bear's Canadian made) Blackberry radar, we were enveloped in a fine mist. On the way, we only saw one other bike. At Hookset kaw, we found they had no rain totes (overboots) for Sandy. We looked at bikes and accessories and some took advantage of the 20% discount offered to our group.

Joe oversees the drawring (NH pronunciation) of the final cards

From Hookset, Sandy, Gary and I headed out through the ongoing mist for Northwood. We stopped at Johnson's Steak, Seafood and Dairy Bar for lunch. We all had different soups and dessert.

Chunk wasn't here first

Gary ordered this monstrosity (but couldn't finish it)

Sandy had a kids portion of ice cream

From there, we took a break at the motel before returning to the campground for the raffle and BBQ. There was over $6,000 in prizes on the table. Everyone was limited to three regular prizes and then all the tickets were put back in for the seven grand prizes. There was even a special GoldWing draw that three of us tried for.

Joe MC's the raffle

Brad, Sandy Brother Bear & Paul

I had three tickets and won three prizes. The Wing prize was a $100 gift certificate from Venco Wings, a local shop. I also won a a Stop and Go tire plug kit and a certificate for Nomad lowers. Gary picked up a helmet and a discount on a Mustang seat. He traded the seat coupon to me for the plug kit and I'll give the Nomad prize to someone still riding one. We came up empty on the grand prizes.

After the raffle, the food came out. there were BBQ hamburgers, hot dogs and kielbasa along with beans, salads and desserts. As the meal was going on, blue sky appeared above us.

Joe testing the food

After supper, we returned to the motel where Snappa and Tom & Chris (also on GoldWings) were also staying tonight. Of four VROC bikes here, Gary has the only Vulcan.

Tomorrow's weather looks good and we are hopeful.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

NEVROC Laconia Day 1

The warm, sunny mornings are over. It was overcast and in the mid 50's as we rode over to The Circle to meet the breakfast crowd. The radar looked bad with a large green blob slowly gobbling up New Hampshire. The rest of the gang rolled in shortly after we did.

Gary holds a nail I found at the entrance to the parking lot

Dawn looks way to cheerful for morning

Gary, again too cheerful

The plan today was to rake a ride up the Kancamagus Highway but rain rolling in cut that short. Instead, a group of us decided to ride up to Weirs Beach on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. This is Biker Central during Laconia Bike Week and is usually jam packed with riders. We thought, with the weather, it might be a little less crowded. Right.

Some people had to make stops on the way so we agreed to meet at a Mobil station on SR 28.

Is Brad praying to the BMY or checking his headlight bulb?

As we all got ready to head north, the raain started to fall. We followed Brother Bear in a tight formation all the way into tow where we lucked into a group of parking spaces on the strip. It was 11:00 AM when we got there so we agreed to meet at 12ish or 12:30, depending on who you talked to. The rain stopped and the humidity went up quite a bit. We walked around looking at vendors and Gary bought T-shirts.

Gary & Brother Bear securing their gear

We Haul Our Rides Everywhere

Sandy, Gary and Steve among the vendors

Now that is a name for a railroad

The 12ish thing didn't work very well. About 12:30, still waiting for a few, Gary, Sandy and I headed out to find a tail light bulb for his Vulcan 2000. We were aimed at a WalMart near Concord but got sidetracked by a herd of CanAm Spyders coming back from a test ride. Wonering if our friend Marc, marketing director for the Spyders, was with them, we followed them into the Funspot. Marc wasn't there but we met a fellow named Ken, originally from the Sudbury area.

Ken from BRP/CanAm

We were wet again on the ride down to WalMart, psat the NASCAR track (no picture because the cameras were under the rain gear) and across to the motel. We had gotten 1157 bulbs, assuming this standard is what would be called for. In the motel lot, a lady in a cars said she knew it was bike week because it was raining.

Gary celebrating the liquid sunshine

Gary trying to get the furshlugginer bulb out

Imagine our consternation when we found the bulb wasn't a 1157 but something with a push-in base. With only 21/5 watts to go by, I spent 20 minutes on Google figuring out it was a 7443. I made a call to Joe who tried to track it down.

Because the rain picked up, Joe came and got us in his car and took us to the campground. On the way, he threw Gary two bulbs because he had realized that they were the same bulbs he used in the new GL1800.

We fund some new arrivals at the Kaw Pasture. Notably, Cheyenne Dave and Sue had come in from Wyoming in their Dutch Star RV towing a trailer with his Drifter and a 1975 MGB. Dave makes the trek to Laconia every year.

Cheyenne Dave with Ralph in the background

Brother Bear makes some very strong coffee

We left mostlyin cars to make out traditional 7:00 PM reservation at the Longhorn Restaurant. We had about 28 people there and the food was excellent. I had a 16 ounce prime rib, Sandy had a half rack of ribs and I think Gary had a 22 ounce Porterhouse.

A horny chicken at the Longhorn

After dinner, we got Joe to drop us at the motel where we kicked back and ignored the falling raindrops until it was time for bed.

Today's Route to Weirs and WalMart

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NEVROC Laconia Day 0

After we got the gear moved in, the three of us went over to the Epsom traffic circle and had lunch at the Circle Restaurant. Then we rode up to the Lazy River campground to see who was there. A few were in including Sylvie and Homer from Quebec inn their new RV.

On the way back, we rode to the Hess in Chichester and picked up some snacks, beer and hard lemonade. This was taken back to the room where we kicked back for a while before turning in.

Sandy and Brad check out something Karen is holding

Ol' Phart Joe, perpetual NEVROC organizer

Brother Bear (Ron) and his 800 project bike

All VROC plates (check the bars on the NH plates)

So the bike is a BMW:-)

Northwood Motel (A) to Kaw Pasture at Lazy River Campground (B)

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