Thursday, May 31, 2012

Got a new vehicle

I mentioned in the posts of the last trip that we had come to the conclusion that the motorhome, while fun, wasn't working out for the distances we still find ourselves traveling.  The new plan we came up with is to sell the RV, buy a tow vehicle and haul the bike in a trailer.  Our single trailer will do for now but we thought that, ideally, one capable of two bikes (including two Wings) would allow others to come along with us from time to time.

Stage one has now been completed.  After a short search looking for crew cab half ton trucks, we found a 2008 Chev Avalanche LS at Auto Depot here in town.  It has a 5.3 L V8 (with Active Fuel Management), a factory tow package and only 53,000 Kms on the clock.  More comfortable than a regular truck, it will still carry a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood when the mid-gate is lowered.  We will take it on its maiden voyage to Laconia, New Hampshire next week towing the bike in the single trailer.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Freedom Riders Memorial Ride

The Freedom Riders decided last year that we would gather on the last Saturday of every May to honour our fallen members.  This is as close to a mandatory run as we have.

Leo came by and we set out together for Fielding Memorial Park in Lively under blue skies.  We were the first ones there because I had thought everything stated at 9:00 AM.  Instead, the correct time was 9:30.

Sandy and Leo waiting for the rest of the club

After a while, the bikes started to roll in and, by 9:30, we had 34 members present and accounted for.  Father Jolicouer, who rides and has been blessing bikes at the Motorcycle Safety Month proclamation at Civic Square for several years, was invited and showed up in his Smart Car.

The club convened at the Alex Ogilvy Memorial Tree to remember.  President Rob began by welcoming everyone, calling for a moment of silence and reading a passage he had found on the Internet.  Then Father Jolicouer spoke about riding and the people we meet doing it.  I read the traditional prose I picked up years ago from VROC that can be found on our memorial page.  We lost Al Barrowcliffe this past winter and special thoughts and prayers were directed to his family, who were in attendance.  VP Dan passed out Memorial Patches to those who were attending for the first time and presented special shirts to those who went down in last year's wreck in Algonquin Park.

Fr. Jolicouer, VP Dan and President Rob planning

President Rob addresses the members

With the ceremony complete, we honoured the fallen by doing what we do best, eating and riding.  The contingent rode to nearby Mr. J's Roadhouse where we shared  breakfast.  Then we headed out for Elliot Lake, breaking into a couple of groups to get there.

Leaving Fielding Memorial Park

Mr J's Roadhouse - Lively Ontario

At the first stop at Tim's in McKerrow, Gary L, Doug & Carol and Sandy & I opted to return home.  Personally, I was beat from the OPPVA AGM.  On the way, we did stop in Nairn Centre so Carol could buy some fish.

Freedom Riders on the road again

Tim Horton's - McKerrow, Ontario

It was a good day and VP Dan covered it (including the part we missed) in the club blog.

Losing friends is hard but it would be  harder not having great people to share our path through this life with.  RIP, fallen Freedom Riders.  Gone but not forgotten.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I am a member of the Ontario Provincial Police Veterans' Association (OPPVA) Chapter 13. In my former capacity as a volunteer special constable with the Snowmobile Trail Officer Patrol (S.T.O.P.) Program, I worked with many officers in the old O.P.P. District 13.  In fact, chapter executive S/Sgt Ron Roy was the O.P.P. Provincial S.T.O.P. Coordinator at the time of his retirement, a position that made him my partner.

The OPPVA holds an Annual General Meeting every May.  Chapter 13 (Sudbury) hosted the AGM in 1992 and 2002 and thought that hosting it again in 2012 would be appropriate.  To this end, we formed a committee and put together a successful bid.  The committee worked on this over the last year and the event took place yesterday and today at the Holiday Inn - Sudbury.

As Treasurer of the AGM, I honored to work with some excellent people on the committee.  We planned the venue, food, entertainment, tours and a banquet in addition to the meeting itself.  The event appears to have been an unqualified success and Chapter Chair John Laforge has signed us all up to do it again in 2022:-)

Some great folks

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Craig Scott

We received word a couple of days ago that Craig Scott, a longstanding VROCer from Edmonton, Alberta, crashed his rented BMW in a canyon while on his way to return it in Salt Lake City prior to returning home.  He was coming from the Utah VROC Rally that took place in Kanab the same weekend as SEVROC.

The wreck was harrowing and the fact Craig was even found in time was due to blind luck or divine intervention.  He has suffered spinal injuries and was in surgery for a long time.  Although he is now out of danger, his prognosis with respect to regaining use of his lower body is in question.

Craig posted on the VROC newsgroup not long after the surgery showing indomitable courage and strength in the face of severe hardship. One thing he said the doctors ordered was to try to wiggle his toes.  If there was a possibility of re-establishing connections through the damaged spinal cord, this would help.  All VROC are now wiggling our toes and sending those thoughts to Craig.  I don't know if it will help but it certainly won't hurt.

Sherm put together a collection of Craig Scott photos.  You can see he is quite the character. Our thoughts are with him.

((ooooO))  ((Ooooo))  Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle

Monday, May 21, 2012

Trip Summary

Days on the road - 14


Distance traveled - 3,457 Kms (2,148 miles)
Fuel fill ups - 6
US Gallons consumed - 234
MP(US)G - 9.17
Mileage at end of trip - 130,018 Kms (80.793 miles)


Distance traveled - 1,311 Kms (814 miles)
Fuel fill ups - 5
US Gallons consumed - 23
MP(US)G - 35.4
Mileage at end of trip - 235,659 Kms (146,439 miles)

Erie Pennsylvania to Sudbury Ontario

Some of you may have seen the website dedicated to People of Walmart.  I think we may have met a couple of them this morning.  Last night, I parked at an angle to allow me to directly leave the parking lot this morning.  A whole empty lot and yet Sandy watched a large lady park her SUV between me and the exit. I could back up and go around her except that someone else was parked one space behind the trailer.  I managed to turn out the other direction after one full circuit of the lot.

Pulling out onto Peach Street, which is also US 19, I noted that this is the same highway that the Applecover Inn is located on in Maggie Valley.  Some day, we will follow it all the way down instead of taking the interstates.

Between the two red vehicles, we were ALMOST blocked in

And this lady couldn't even colour inside the lines

I don't believe it

I was going to stop at the Pilot station on the way out of town but, as I find often, there wasn't a lot of room to get at the gas pumps.  They advertise being RV friendly but that just seems to extend to the diesels.  I stopped at the Shell across the street instead.  This turned out to be the only station I have seen on the USA that did not have a catch on the fuel lever.  As in Canada, I had to stand and hold the hose the whole time I was filling.  Then, with a $75 limit, it only allowed two fills before cutting me off so I had to go inside.  Still, we got it done and headed off into the sunrise.

We followed I-90, the NY Thruway, to Buffalo.  Some construction along there had four lanes squeezed into a space meant for two as they laid fresh concrete on the other side.

Four lanes jammed into two on the NY Thruway

Leave the driving to us

Approaching Buffalo NY

Buffalo City Hall

Looks like fun

Peace Bridge

Welcome to Canadia

Crossing the border was no problem.  The agent wanted the trailer plate number (which I didn't know) and that was about it.  She didn't want to see anything or in anything.  I did clip a post at the toll booth with the right side mirror, but it just folded back with no damage.

The highway wasn't too busy until after St. Catherines.  I do get a kick out of merging traffic.  I often can't move over so I slow to allow them room to get in and flash my lights.  Instead, they panic, jam on the brakes and come to a compete stop.  It is a wonder they survive at all.

It was early on Victoria Day Monday so I followed the QEW/403/401/400 route, noting huge lineups to get into Canada's Wonderland.  We stopped at the King service centre for a Tim Horton's coffee and breakfast. Here two of the tire sensors indicated slow leaks,  which happens when hot tires cool down after we stop.  They stopped after fifteen minutes indicating it wasn't a real leak.  

Continuing north, we saw the slow to stopped southbound traffic indicating that summer had come to The Big Smoke.  The rest of the trip was uneventful although the southbound traffic was heavy almost all the way to Sudbury.

We appreciate it

Canada's Wonderland is open

There are times when it is NOT in effect?

Southbound traffic versus northbound

 For Boomer

We arrived home at 3:50 and, after unhooking, I went and fueled up.  Canadian gas prices suck.  I am, however, learning to drive better. I averaged 9.2 MP(US)G compared to 8.2 last year. But it is time to let someone else who doesn't wander quite as much enjoy this.  Stay tuned for the details.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Maggie Valley North Carolina to Erie Pennsylvania

Back from breakfast and with camping bills paid, I disconnected the water, power and cable TV and stowed the hoses and cables.  Then I walked around the unit twice to be sure I hadn't forgotten anything because this was the first disconnection since last year.  It all looked good.  I managed to get out without clipping either the large tree stump to the right or the Class A to the left and we were rolling before 10:00 AM.

The final decision on route was made as I reached the US 19/US 276 intersection and kept rolling towards I-40 East.  Near Canton, I decided to stop for fuel at a Travel Center Of America where I found the exit despite trees covering the signs.  They really need to do some trimming.  When we got to the station, the BP across the street looked much more convenient so we stopped there instead.

The least favourite part of owning a motorhome

Back on the road, we proceeded to Asheville where we took I-26 North over the mountains to the Tennessee line.  Climbing the North Carolina side, we were moving at  45 MPH and I passed some trucks that were doing about 15.  Down the other side, I had the cruise set at 50 MPH with the engine slowing us and the same trucks almost ran over us.  I am careful on the downgrades and look at the runaway truck ramps a whole other way now:-)

One thing I made a point to mention yesterday and forgot was the Vixen motorhome. I had never heard of one but Tom Miller mentioned it and Willie Wonka said he had seen one.  Imagine an RV that was 6' tall overall but had a roof that lifted so a 6'2" man could stand comfortably.  Imagine it had a turbo diesel and a manual transmission, allowing it to average 30 MPG but also exceed 100 MPH.  Imagine it was designed by  an engineer who had been instrumental in the development of the GTO, Grand Am and Delorean.  Imagine they made 578 pf them between 1986 and 1989, many of which are still in service, and then went out of business.  All I can conclude is that someone really screwed up.

Rolling hills on I-26 in NC

These are more important to me lately

In Johnson City, we stayed on I-26 all the way to I-81.  This was the most convenient route but it sure wasn't the shortest.  Next time, I will travel the hypotenuse.  We were slowed a bit in Marion, Virginia, where an overpass is down to one lane for repairs that will take all summer. When we got to Wytheville, I opted to top up with cheap Virginny gas which had been $3.51 per gallon on the way down.  We were pleasantly surprised to see it was now $3.37.

Leaving Virginia, we decided to head all the way to Erie, which would give us a short 400 mile hop to Sudbury tomorrow and get us home one day early.  This is why the motorhome has to go.  I like to drive a whole lot more than I can afford.  Still, driving it is fun and I am really going to miss it.  The GPS says Erie by 8:35 which, since we are the slowest thing on the Interstate Highway System, probably means 11:00.

I like the price - let's top up

Gateway to West (By God) Virginia

Sunglasses off

Rolls Royce in Oak Hill W(BG)V

Rafting and kayaking are popular on the New River

Hot rod on the winding hills of I-79

Bridge over the Ohio River near Pittsburgh Pa

On autopilot

 Sunset over the Alleghenies

Sandy made supper as we drove and, without incident, we rolled into the familiar Walmart lot in Erie just before 11:00 PM.  We had survived nasty construction south of Washington Pa and still gotten in before my estimated ETA.  We didn't stop for the Sheep and Fiber Festival near Waynesburg even though curiosity almost got the better of me.  Parked in the most level spot we could find, we took a walk around the store and then turned in for the night.

Maggie Valley - SEVROC Sunday Morning

The final morning arrived bright and clear.  We weren't in a rush so, after stowing the inside gear, we wandered around saying goodbyes to those who hadn't already left.

Badger and Mikey




'Jimmy Wrong Turn' and Red Rover



A group of us went down to Country Vittles for a goodbye breakfast.  Sandy made up a meal out of sides that cost less than ordering a regular menu selection.  The mood was cheerful because we know that we will all be doing this again somewhere down the road.  After eating, Sandy and I walked back up to the Applecover.

My Country Vittles breakfast

Sandy ordered sides only

What's up with all the Harley signs

Stewey's SEVROC Photos

It took a while to track Derrick down and settle the bill.  It was an excellent rally.  Many thanks to Jax, Gale and all the volunteers that worked to make it happen.  Special thanks to Derrick and Amy of the Applecover Inn for giving us a home for yet another gathering.  And thanks to all the VROC brothers and sisters for coming.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Maggie Valley - SEVROC Saturday

We slept much later than usual this morning.  I had complained yesterday about not getting to bed until 1:30 AM for two nights in a row and a 3:00 AM bedtime last night didn't help that.  By the time we were up, most had headed out on rides for the day but I was told by the boss that we weren't going anywhere, anyway.  We had breakfast in the RV while I sorted photos from yesterday and the we sat around visiting with the few people who were not out riding.

Campground neighbors Rembert and Joan


Renata and Flip

Around lunch time, Willie Wonka and Carlene joined us for a ride to a restaurant in Waynesville that our campground neighbor Joan told us about.  Bogart's was on Main Street just past the turn onto US 276 that goes up to the Parkway. Lucky Al joined us there after his successful search for a cord to connect his GPS/MP3 player to the GoldWing sound system.

We arrived after the rush hour crowd and were seated upstairs right away. I started with a soup and then had a rib-eye sandwich with the meat hanging off all sides of the large bun.  It was excellent and the price was reasonable.  I'm not sure why the usual food photos got missed.

Bogart's Restaurant in Waynesville NC

Bogart's - let sleeping bears lie

Willie Wonka, TL Carlene, Sandy and Lucky Al at Bogart's

After lunch, we stopped at a Staples store to look for a mass storage device for Al.  Not finding what we wanted, I realized we could make do with what I had back at the RV. When we went outside, we found raindrops on the bikes.  We were lucky to get the shower during the ten minutes we were inside.  We then stopped for ice cream in Maggie Valley where I tried a Turtle sundae.  Again, no pictures.  Sorry about that.

Ice cream stop - but not at this shop

Back at the Applecover, we gathered for the raffle draws.  Many great prizes donated by Kawasaki or the members were given out.  Sandy got a black and white Kawasaki shirt but traded it to Kudzu for a Betty Boop tote bag.  Six Pack won the 50/50 draw which saw over $400 donated to the Haywood County D.A.R.E. program represented, as usual, by Deputy Heidi.  Wompus won the coveted Bedpan Award due to his persevering through medical issues after a driver mistook his car for an unoccupied space.

The raffle was followed by a spaghetti dinner arranged by Derek and the Applecover.  The spread, served by Wonka and Carlene, was very tasty and filling.  I maneuvered to be at the head of the line but ended up taking the meal tickets and ate almost last. No problem because there was more than enough food.

Stewey, Jax, Gale and the Bedpan Award

Wompus - the proud and deserving winner

Says it all:-)

As usual, the mood was subdued on the last night of the gathering.  OK, mostly subdued.  We had a phone call from Sherm who is attending the Utah VROC event in Kanab.  Sandy went to bed fairly early but I stayed up until after midnight with a few hardcore people around the fire.  Kudzu's chair broke and he scuffed his elbow but got even by burning the chair.

Butch and Teresa from Kentucky

Kudzu's chair

Derrick and Kudzu

Daley plays a fine guitar - who knew?

Flip nearing the end of the night

Comparing apps

Finally, I called it quits and wandered off to bed leaving a small contingent still up.