Monday, August 31, 2009

Bridal Shower Weekend

Heather's bridal shower was set for Sunday at Zofia's and Kim was scheduled to have her gall bladder removed Monday morning, so we headed south for the weekend. Sandy would stay down to help Kim after the surgery while I would come back up on Monday. I'd then return Thursday with the bike and trailer for Cyclefest. To carry all the things we needed for the shower and Sandy's stay, we took the van.

Friday, August 28th

We left Sudbury around 9:00 AM headed south through heavy traffic, unusual since it was early and not a long weekend. Lots of large, slow trucks. We stopped at Tim Horton's south of Parry Sound and endured a very slow young lady at the drive-thru window. It was like she was in slow motion. This place has never had a very good reputation for speedy service.

We took a side trip across Highway 169 to Torrance and caught Muskoka CR 13, aka Southwood Road, down to Severn Bridge on Highway 11. This is bar far the nastiest little riding road I have found in Ontario, steady twists, turns and hills. Lots of bicycles. I had heard of this but never been on it and, after this four wheeled check ride, I need to come back with the bike.

We drove down Highway 11 and took the 400 to 401 in Toronto, hoping to beat the rush without paying the ETR toll. As we approached the 401 West split, traffic came to a stop. They now have two full lanes from the end of the 400 going to the 401 West but both lanes end almost immediately leaving no space for a large quantity of traffic to merge. I'd like to meet the engineer who thought this was a good idea. Before too long, we did get inserted and traffic flowed well the rest of the way.

I had a minor encounter with a red Pontiac that hogged the left lane on the six-lane 401. I could have low-balled her but I was in a mood so I got behind her and hit my high beams. After a bit, she made a rude gesture but I stuck there until, around Milton, she finally moved over. I wonder what goes through some people's minds.

Highway 8 was closed before Champlain, so we had to take a detour into Kim & Mike's neighborhood. We arrived about 2:45 and spent much of the rest of the day playing with Jolene.

Jolene likes to stand up these days

Saturday August 29th

Mike went to work and Sandy, Kim and Jolene went shopping. I took tables and chairs over to Zofia's for the shower and then headed to Toronto the visit The Mighty Stonewall in Woodbridge. We had a nice visit out by his pretty pool and I gave him a book on the Civil War from the 1800's that I had found cleaning out an old building. On the way back, Mike called to say Highway 7 was closed near Guelph but I had already decided to run the 407 back. Heather and Tom came over and shared Mike's spaghetti supper. We were going to watch a movie but never got around to it.

Sunday, August 30th

Shower day. Mike was getting Jolene's stuff ready to go to Aylmer so Grandma Gail could watch her the first few days after Kim's surgery. He warned everyone that he had left a cup of java on the coffee table. Jolene was nowhere near it so we didn't worry. A very few moments later, there she was, standing up at the table and knocking the cup over onto a pile of books and papers. The new tactics will come.

Jolene ready to go to Aylmer

Kim and Sandy made meatballs, macaroni and potato salad for the shower. Then I drove them over to Zofia's by way of Jessica's to give her a ride. After dropping them off, Tom and I headed to Inverhaugh to visit our old friend Eric. He and Sherry are in the process of selling their home and moving to a place near Highway 9 and Tottenham Road. We talked houses, bikes, golf and travel and then decided to go out for some food.

The Breadlbin Pub - Fergus, Ontario

The Scotsman Outside (for Roxy)

The Breadalbin Pub is a Scottish place with a pricey menu, but the pulled pork sandwich I had was, perhaps, the best I ever encountered. It didn't have the Carolina style vinegar sauce. I can't put my finger on what it did have, but it was very good. After we ate, we stood on the street and watched a long procession of classic and vintage cars roll by from the car show in Elora.

Dropping Eric off, we returned to Zofia's about 5:00. Some shower guests were still there and the food still on the table was incredible.

The room

Some of the food

Agnes, Heather, Kim and Tina at the gift opening

Mike met us at the house on his way back from Aylmer. After eating some of the leftover food (and there was lots and it was good), we loaded up gear and headed back to Kim and Mike's for the night.

Monday August 31st

Kim was scheduled for the gall bladder surgery at 11:30 but they called to say they were running early so they headed off for the hospital. I waited at the house with Sandy until Mike called to say it was over and all went well. Kim would be coming home this evening. Things being under control here, I headed out about 3:00 PM and got back to Sudbury without incident around 9:00 PM.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Merry Christmas (in Yellowstone)

August the 25th, 1988, I was with a group in Cody, Wyoming at the Rider Rally while Yellowstone burned. Some of the guys went to ride Beartooth Pass while Brian and Wayne went to see Old Faithful. The got trapped there for the night when a backfire got out of control and closed the road. They slept on the hotel lobby floor and ate outrageously priced sandwichs while staff told them of the Christmas in Yellowstone tradition.

So Merry Christmas, Yellowstone Park people.

BTW, I had my quarterly doctor's appointment today. Based on all the factors, he tells my I have an 81% chance of NOT having a heart attack in the next ten years. I hope he is more accurate than the weatherman:-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sudbury Ontario to Sault Ste. Marie Ontario and Return

It's Mom's birthday today. I won't mention when she was born, but she has been 39 for more than a little while. I'm not a big one for cards and gifts so I decided to ride down to the Soo and see her today. Soo = Sault Ste. Marie, twin cities in Ontario and Michigan for those who aren't familiar with our geography. (I add this because someone from the south did ask the question not long ago.)

It was cool and damp when I got away at 7:57. There was heavy fog on MR 55 and the Highway 17 By-pass, beading on the windshield and dripping in my face. At the same time, it was beautiful in a ghostly way as the outline of tree, rocks and the ubiquitous blueberry vendors were barely visible along the side of the road.

The fog started to clear at the Spanish River, hanging 50 feet above the newly clear road. I stopped for gas and coffee at McKerrow and, when I came out, the fog was gone. Past Webbwood, a bike going the other way warned of police ahead but all I found was an OPP SUV talking to a CP Hi-Rail driver. The curves along the Mississagi River, the most fun along this stretch, are now marked with a 70 KPH limit, reducing most of the enjoyment we used to get in the old days. No matter because, as usual, I got behind another slow driver. When I finally moved to pass him, after the curves, he sped up by 20 KPH and stuck with me for a mile before backing down. I have no doubt that this reflex to speed up when being passed is unconscious in most drivers.

The rest of the ride was very nice. Sunshine but not too hot, little traffic and the Dixie Chicks playing. I was in The Zone, that place where conscious thought, often a vastly over-rated state, slips away and you ride in a state of total harmony with yourself and the road. You don't worry about where you are going or where you've been, just enjoy being in the moment. This is the moment when it is really about the ride and not the destination. It is a desired state but it sneaks up on you when the conditions are right. The more you pursue it, the less likely you are to find it.

The ride brought to mind the following quote:

"My father says almost the whole world's asleep. Everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to. He says only a few people are awake. And they live in a state of constant total amazement."
       --  Patricia (Meg Ryan) - Joe versus the Volcano

Of course, I did have to pause and consider where August had gone. We didn't travel much and my goal was to get out and play some golf. I played one round last year and none the year before. And now the month is drawing to a close and I still haven't swung a club. I have to conclude that, no matter how much I think I want to play, I guess I don't or I would have made the time.

I met a line of vehicles as I was leaving Desbarats, indicating there was probably a flagman ahead. Sure enough, just before the four-lane, I came to a spot where the highway was down to one lane due to work on the shoulder. They appeared to be applying sand. Atypically, the flag switched to Slow just as I got there so I didn't even have to put my feet down.

It took almost four hours to get to the Soo running a steady 18 KPH over the limit. This makes me wonder about the old days when three hours was a typical transit time and 2.5 was once achieved. Just how fast was I going? Of course, that was before K band radar, laser and big insurance surcharges.

I arrived just before noon and got to spend a few hours with Mom and my brother Dave (Rabbi). We talked about the family, past and present, and had pleasant visit. It isn't often the three of us can talk family affairs together without other people hanging around.

Leaving before 3:00 PM, I fueled and noticed that gas in the Soo was $0.999 compared to $1.035 in Sudbury. Once again, I wonder about the way they set the prices. Again, I had the sun at my back as I headed east, slipping back into The Zone easily. It's amazing how I can come right back from this state as soon as something out of order flags my consciousness. I got one of these on the straight approaching Massey as I followed two cars which had passed me. Suddenly, they took the shoulder as they met an oncoming car passing a transport with no regard for vehicles moving our way. The ones ahead of me, through fast action, averted a head-on collision and I checked up and moved right as the car reached me and cleared the semi at about the same instant. The driver was a young man focussed on the road and oblivious to traffic. But the, all's well that ends well.

I arrived back home at 6:15, just in time to mow the front lawns.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Interlochen Michigan to Sudbury Ontario

The teardown went quickly this morning because the awning and poles were stored last night. One of the last things I did was to check the tire pressures. The front needed a couple of pounds so I dug out the trusty compressor and plugged it into my 12V outlet. No go. The pump was dead. Was it a fuse or something worse? (I found out at home that the mechanic forgot to plug the connector in and that removing the panel to fix it was easier than I thought). Zever loaned me a plug-in and I got the tire right up to where it belonged.

Kudzu left before we even got up and Stewey pulled out just before we did. Zever, on a quest to circumnavigate Lake Huron, rode with us as we headed up US 31 to Charlevoix. After the traditional Mickey D's breakfast, we continued on to the Soo. Pellston, ice box of the nation? OK, it got cold there once. And the Big Mac had most of both lanes open for a change.

Cash For Clunkers in Petoskey

After topping up fuel in Soo Michigan, we started across the International Bridge. As usual, US bound traffic was backed way up while we drove right into an almost empty customs plaza and were welcomed home with no problem after declaring one bottle of cherry wine. Thanks, KT.

US Bound Traffic on the International Bridge

From the bridge, Zever continued east on Highway 17 while we headed north to see Mom and Rabbi for a bit. We had a nice visit before getting back on the road about 1:45.

I see the new four lane Highway 17 by-passing Echo Bay has started to develop truck ruts in the right lane. This is less than two years old and it disappoints me that it would start to deteriorate so fast. They will blame it on the weather but I am sure that the base preparation isn't being done up to northern standards. Oh well, it's just tax money. Ours!

It was 30C as we crossed the Bar River Flats. We stopped at Tim Horton's in Blind River which was, for once, not excessively busy. Sandy had a new Blueberry Bloom donut and we talked to a couple from Muskoka on a Valkyrie who were returning from a wedding in Wawa. The rest of the way, we met more than the usual number of non-waving bikes. Not sure what was up with this.

It was ambitious to try to make it from Soo Michigan all the way home while towing the trailer into a headwind. As we were approaching town the fuel warning had been going for a while so I stopped in Lively to top up. I put 23.3 liters into a 26 liter tank. Just a guess but I guess I may have had twenty miles left. Or not.

We looked for Sandy's Butler Mug lid along the by-pass. Remember she lost it on the way out? One time, back in 1978, we found a headlight retaining ring from a Windjammer fairing that Ed Denis had lost two days earlier when the light was hit by a thrown beer bottle in the dark near Renfrew. No such luck this time.

We pulled into the driveway at 5:35 completing another successful Interlochen rally.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Interlochen - Sleeping Bear Dunes

We started the day as usual with breakfast at Dilbert's. After that, groups went several different directions. One set out for Old Mission Peninsula and another lighthouse, but we discovered Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive was free today and a few of us decided to head that way. Our group consisted of us, Scotty, Marlene, Zever, Tvlle and Dan & Ann from Ann Arbor.

On the way up, we stopped in Honor to check out the scenic overlook of Lake Michigan that we failed to find last year. Scotty had scouted the correct site and led us there. Amazingly, we found it on Scenic Drive.

The view from Scenic Drive in Honor, Michigan

I led the way up Deadstream Road (no cop today) and then north on M-22 through Empire and M-119 to the entrance to Pierce Stocking. It was, as advertised, free today. The only negative at the gate was the driver of the car ahead of us, who seemed to be telling her life story to the ranger complete with great hand gestures. After five minutes, she finally either ran out of things to say or got cramps in her arms and moved on. We took our information brochures and commenced scenic driving.

I led to the first pull-out which looked out over Glen Lake. We could see why M-22 was closed south of Glen Arbor which forced our detour on 119 yesterday. There were cranes and equipment and the causeway had been completely excavated.

Glen Lake seen from Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

At the second lot, most of the group wandered over the hill to look at the dunes while a few of us, veterans of the dunes, watched people come and go at the picnic area. The third stop, the big one, was packed and we had to park by the roadside near the exit. I stayed to watch the bikes while the rest went to look at the major dunescape. I talked to a few other people and discovered an extensive plantation of poison ivy right beside the road. Anyone stepping out of the curb side of a parked car would be at risk, it was that close.

Lake Michigan shore zooming 450 feet down from the top of the dune

While I was waiting for everybody, I chased down a plastic-on-plastic rattle I had heard in the campground. It seems that a press-fit rubber collar around the fuel filler neck that is supposed to keep the overflow tray secure hadn't been pressed, allowing the tray to rattle. This would have happened when they moved the tank to get at the thermostat. Easy fix but it should have been done at the shop. I imagine they don't pull many fuel tanks.

From the lookout, we rode down to the gate with almost no traffic ahead of us. One car actually pulled over and let us by. The tight narrow one-lane road is fun when you can actually speed up a bit. We left the Drive and headed back south to Empire where we stopped at an ice cream shop. While we were enjoying our treats, someone said a car had hit one of our bikes. Turns out a rental car with a Japanese driver who claimed not to know much English backed into Dan's tire. No visible damage, but I was annoyed by the way the driver tried to avoid us.

Dan and Ann left us in Empire, heading north in search of the Maritime Museum. After one wrong turn, I found Platte Road which took us to US 31 and back to Cycle-Moore. It was 29C when we rolled back into camp.

For the rest of theafternoon, I worked on blog notes. Chunk was working with KT, critiquing her photos and offering suggestions and encouragement. Chunks depth and breadth of knowledge on a wide variety of subjects never ceases to amaze me.

Chunk coaching KT while Sandy and Marlene look on

Here are a few other scenes from around the campground during the afternoon.


Skyking, Big Grouch and Tomcat

Don and Cheap B


Western Kentucky got a few comments

Near the end of the afternoon, we took down the awning and stowed it so it would be dry. Then Tomcat led a large group of us into Traverse City to the Outback Steakhouse for supper. It took the restaurant a while to accomodate our group but the manager and staff made sure we were comfortable on the porch.

Tomcat trying a different point of view

Patiently waiting for a table (except TC)

Supper was excellent and the company was, as usual, beyond compare. After supper, we rode back to the campground and Flattop and BJ started dueling bonfires. Wrong Turn got me to show him a few of my Zumo navigation techniques and the old-time brigade under the pavillion talked GPS's, speeding tickets, rallies and our plans for next season. We were in bed by 11:00 but the music played on, reminding me why we normally don't camp too close to the fire.

Today's Route

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Interlochen - The Leelanau Peninsula

Talk at the coffee table this morning was typical biker stuff; computers, digital cameras and some trailer tips. Then we rode over to Dilbert's for another hearty breakfast.

Riding out the dirt drive, I realized that I have developed a sloppy habit over the years. On the road, I ride with my first two fingers draped over the brake lever. This allows for a faster reaction if I need to slow suddenly. However, in the dirt or maneuvering at low speeds, you don't want to touch the front brake but I still have those fingers hanging there, which can cause me to use that lever if taken by surprise. It hasn't put me down but it has resulted in some pretty awkward moments. Best in those circumstances to keep all fingers on the hand grip. Now if only I could figure out why the rear brake only technique works so well on a bike with the linked front and rear brakes on the Wing.........

Sandy's back was hurting today so we stopped at the new Tom's grocery for pain meds since the pharmacy behind where Grandma's Kitchen used to be has also disappeared. The staff at Tom's were very friendly and helpful but the US doesn't seem to have methocarbamol concoctions like Robaxacet. We settled for the best they had but I'll be riding solo on today's tour through the Leelanau Peninsula.

The group assembled at the Mobil station in Interlochen. It included Stewey, Wrong Turn, Cheap B, Kudzu and Chunk (with KT on the back of his 800). I was given the task of leading and selected a point on Michigan 72 to get us through the many variations of Long Lake Road. Once on 72, we headed towards Traverse City and caught M 22 north along the eastern shore of the Peninsula. It was a pleasant ride except for the cars doing 40 in a 55.

We rode through Northport and on up to Leelanau State Park. It cost $8.00 per bike to get in, although anyone with Michigan plates would have been free. We had none of those. Ontario, Wisconson, West (BG) Virginia, Alabama and Illinois with a passenger from Indiana. That's us, a hodge-podge of happy wanderers. I sat back while the gang checked out the lighthouse, grounds and beach. Chunk was coaching KT on camera work as she composed shots with an old SLR actually using film.

Leaving the park, the next destination was a winery Chunk wanted to visit. He tooke the lead as we returned to Northport and then picked up the continuation of M 22 towards the west. On the way to Leland, there are many good curves but we were cheated out of a lot of them by more traffic doing less than the speed limit. Just past Leland, we pulled in at the Good Harbor Vinyards. The winery wasn't in operation but the vessels were visible from the tasting room. Chunk's objective was a bottle of their cherry wine. This area does, after all, bill itself as the 'Cherry Capital of the World'. After tasting, KT bought a whole case and Wrong Turn offered to cargo net it to his Wing.

KT's wine on Wrong Turn's back seat

The group at Good Harbor

From the winery, I led again as we continued our wander to the west. Stewey had gone ahead to set up and get some photos. After we went by, I slowed to allow him to catch up and then stayed slow as we followed a line behind a white pickup truck doing what had now become the typical 40 in a 55. More good curves wasted. In Glen Arbor, we lost the truck but M-22 south was closed and we had to detour on M-109. Not far from town, a car slowed to turn right and the car behind him stopped. The following SUV didn't expect him to stay stopped and almost hit him triggering a round of horn blasts, gestures and shouting. We were behind the SUV just taking it all in but choosing not to participate.

We skipped the Pierce Stocking Scenic Loop, a National Park facility with an entry fee, and continued down to Empire where some stopped for fuel. Coming off 109 onto 22, a slower pickup truck actually pulled over to let us by. Amazing and much appreciated.

From Empire, Chunk was taking the group to see another lighthouse but I decided to break off and get back to the campground to see how Sandy was doing. Stewey opted to go with me. The two of us howled down M-22 until I missed the turn into Deadstream Road and we needed to make a U-turn and go back. Deadstream is 35 MPH for the first part and I was trucking along at somewhat better than this. I did wave to a Harley Rider just getting mounted at a small restaurant. Stewey told me later that this was a Motor Officer and he slowed down for a bit just in case we had caught the officer's eye. I guess not, because we didn't see him again. We caught US 31 in Honor and were back at the campground by 2:40. Sandy was some better and I caught a nap before everyone else got back.

The group split for supper. Some went to Frankfort for perch, others to Rico's for pizza. Sandy and I went back to Giovanni's where I used their WiFi to check my mail while waiting for my meatball sandwich, Sandy's wings (a bit hotter than she expected) and our shared Turtle brownie dessert.

The bonfire was roaring after the sun went down but a few of us who travel the most gathered at Wrong Turn's trailer for a bit to talk travel plans and swap some tales. It seems a bit anti-social but we usually end up congregating like this from time to time to catch up on who is going where. While there, we called Sherm and passed the phone around.

Stewey said the phone radar showed the black clouds buuilding would probably miss us to the north. True to form, the lightning and rain started about 10:00 PM and everone moved into the covered pavilion. I went to bed about 11:00 and the rain continued most of the night.

Today's Route

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Interlochen Michigan to St. Ignace Michigan and Back

I slept in a little this morning, not getting up until 7:30. I found when I stick my head out that Sandy had given my morning coffee to KT. This actually worked to my advantage because Stewey offered me a cup of the Kona coffee he had picked up on his recent trip to Hawaii. That was some good coffee, worth every bit of the $28 per pound. Thanks, Dave.

Morning Coffee Drinkers At The Pavilion

We headed over to Dilbert's Cafe, right next door, for breakfast. I had the special, Southern stuffed hashbrowns. It was an excellent medlley of breakfast items mixed together annd covered with sausage gravy. The only downside was that there was so much that I couldn't finish it all. After, we stopped at the Cycle-Moore office to pay and checked out the finger-eating parrot they have there.

He's Not Really Dangerous

Cheap B and KT had never been over the Mackinac Bridge so we decided to make the run today before the weekend traffic got nuts. Rainman led the group with Zever, Wrong Turn, Cheap B, Paul, Fireball Lisa and KT on the back of Chunk's 800. Stewey tagged along up US 31 to Petoskey where he broke off to go and visit a friend.

In Charlevoix, the traffic was backed up from the bridge. Our right lane merged and the traffic was bumper to bumper. I was near the front and, wanting us to remain together, I squeezed into the left lane and then stopped while our whole group moved in ahead of me.

Charlevoix Traffic

Bay View Homes in Petoskey

North of Petoskey, we turned on M 119 and took the scenic ride following the Lake Michigan shoreline. After a while, the road narrowed, the cntre line disappeared and we entered the Tunnel of Trees. Traffic was light and two cars we came up on pulled over and let us by.

The Tunnel of Trees

We stopped at Cross Village but didn't go into Legs, the famous Polish Restaurant. Scotty, Marlene and Butch were coming out and he pointed out that, once again, the 'slow' riders had gotten here first. Running joke based on an episode years ago at this rally.

We continued up the scenic route to Mackinaw City but I (based on a faulty GPS reading) gave the leader a bad direction at a T-intersection resulting in us taking a less scenic shortcut. There were no signs out here and I eventually had to take the lead to navigate us back to US 31, north and over the bridge. As with yesterday, we were on the steel grating once again. Paul and Zever broke off before we crossed over.

Big Mac Approach

On The Steel Grating

One Of The Towers

The Straits of Mackinac Way Below Us

Across the bridge, we stopped for a moment to regroup and then Wrong Turn led us to a souvenir shop where Cheap B bought gifts for his grandkids and a few others got some UP (Upper Peninsula, home of the Yoopers) mementoes. The roof of the shop had a viewing platform where we could look at the bridge. Then we went down the road for some pasties, a local treat imported by miners from Cornwall. Sandy and I split one filled with turkey, potato and vegetables. One half was plenty to fill me up.

The Souvenir Shop

A Lake Boat Passes Under The Big Mac

Suzy's Pasties on US 2 - St. Ignace

With time passing, we fueled and headed back the fast way, down I-75 to Gaylord. It was 30 C, a real summer day. After a break in Gaylord, we cut across to US 131 and, other than a big one-lane construction scene, rode down 131 without incident to a rest area near Fife Lake. We went this far south to completely bypass Traverse City.

At the rest area, a Harley pulled in with a pet carrier strapped to the top of the rear trunk. In the carrier was Odie, an old dachshund who loves to travel by bike. When it was time to go, Lisa's Nomad refused to start, exhibiting an intermittent wiring problem they haven't been able to diagnose yet. Eventually, after fiddling with the harnesses, it roared back to like. The HD guy seemed amused by the work on the Vulcan but was too polite to say anything.


Obstinate Nomad

Coming into Interlochen through the village from the south, we discovered it must be family day at the Center for the Arts. The lots were full and people were directing traffic. I couldn't help but laugh as, in one field adjacent to the road, there was a marching band in casual clothes practicing. What caught my eye was a tall, pretty redheaded girl with a flute. "One time, at band camp...."

We were back at camp by 7:00. Slammer and the CRV had arrived from North Carolina in our absence. We adjourned to Giovanni's again for supper and then went back to the campground for a bonfire with some wood Evan rustled up. I remembered at bed time why it wasn't a good idea to be too near the fire as a stereo played nearby into the wee hours.

People On The Ride

Wrong Turn


People Around The Fire

Slammer, Stewey and Wrong Turn

Cheap B and Skyking


Fireball & Rainman


Today's Route

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sudbury Ontario to Interlochen Michigan

We look forward to the VROC Interlochen Rally every year. It's a smaller camping rally held in Interlochen, Michigan near Traverse City and we enjoy the cameraderie.

This would be the first road trip with the camper trailer so I had the wheel bearings serviced last week. The faint rumble I heard on one side was right on the money and the bearing had to be replaced.

We had packed the trailer last night and were rolling by 9:30. It was hot and sunny and the Sudbury weather showed no rain forecast for the next six days but I had my doubts. Traffic was good until Nairn where we got behind what I thought was a slow semi. In fact, it turned out to be a slow pickup truck ahead of him, holding us back because the oncoming traffic was steady.

We fueled in Iron Bridge and I talked to a lady from Nanaimo BC who was headed for the east coast. I gave her some route suggestions to see some of the scenery on the way. In the next stretch, the bike turned over 190K kms (118.066K miles).

In the Soo I called Mom but she was under the weather. We decided to visit on the way back on Sunday instead and stopped for a (not so) quick lunch at McD's. We discovered that Sandy had somehow lost the lid for her Butler mug. I have a spare lid but it's at home. In the meantime, a water bottle fit nicely in the open mug. I also talked to a Wing rider fromMichigan who had been headed for the east coast but, after getting rained on at Watkins Glen and seeing the forecast, decided to ride around Lake Superior.

Wellington Street was closed so we detoured around to the International Bridge. On the bridge, we sat for 55 minutes waiting to get to Customs. You can see that, at the bottom of the bridge on the US side, two lanes peel right. The right one says Trucks Only while the left says Trucks and Cars. Then we have three car lanes to the left. Unfortunately, cars were jamming both truck lanes, leaving trucks blocking the bridge exit. Someone needs to take a critical look at this situation because US bound traffic is always backed way up. The NEXUS lane was closed and the lady agent and I had another good talk about the Terror Watch List. They can block passports so that a legitimate person with the same name as someone on the list won't set off the bells and whistles. She checked and found they can't do the same thing with a NEXUS.

View from the International Bridge as we wait

Once through Customs, we paid the toll. For three axles, it was $3.75 US or $4.35 Canadian. That's some penalty for using Loonies. We finally paid after some lunkhead in the only cash lane open took two minutes to pay. I can tell he was never a Boy Scout.

On the Mackinac Bridge, it was steel grating both ways since all the paved outer lanes were closed for maintenance. As usual. The winds were light, I did the weave and it was a good crossing. US 31 down to Pellston is still pretty choppy, but it smooths out from there to Petoskey. In Charlevoix, one lane was closed as students were working on the flower beds lining the main drag.

Charlevoix Flower Beds

The ride along the lake was comfortable with a cooling breeze off the water. The GPS turned us on Three Mile Road to by-pass downtown Traverse City. I missed the Airport Road turn and we went completely around the city. Along US 31 into Interlochen, there were a lot of old double decker railway commuter cars parked on a siding. I wonder where they are destined for?

We arrived at Cycle-Moore motorcycle campground at 6:30 PM. Although we were a day earlier than usual, many were here already including Scotty, Marlene, her brother Butch, Ray, Lisa, Zever, Evan, Dee and Paul. Before we could get set up, Stewey (Illinois), Wrong Turn (West (BG) Virginia) and Cheap B (Alabama) pulled in. Our usual site was taken by a large 5th wheel and trailer so we set up in the middle under a tree.

For supper, we tried Giovannis' Roadhouse near the corner of 31 and Long Lake Road. It said burgers and fries out front but they had a full menu and pretty good food. Stewey, CB and Wrong Turn had eaten so they just had dessert. Just.

Stewey's Turtle Something Cake

After supper, there was a shortage of firewood so we hung out at Evan's fire. Chunk arrived and so did KT in her jeep from Indiana. After everyone was set up, a few of us moved away from the fire to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. The best part of the show would be early tomorrow morning, before sunrise, but we did see some spectacular grazers and a huge amount of satellites. It was here a few years ago that Snake (RIP) and I sat out watching the same thing and talking about life, the universe and everything. It was the last time we spent together.

It was nice to be here a day early. Anticipating a great weekend, we turned in about 11:30.

People Around the Fire

Wrong Turn, Stewey, KT and Sandy

Zever, Scotty, Marlene and Evan

Dee and Cheap B

Paul and Chunk

Today's Route

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