Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sudbury Ontario to Woodstock Ontario

Today was the last day of August. Where has the summer gone? Again I was running on five hours of sleep as we headed south to visit the kids before the start of our September travels. It was a cool 14 C (57 F) after the cold front passed through yesterday. After packing, loading, fueling and an incredibly slow stop at Tim Horton's, we were rolling south at 8:00 AM on what started out as a traffic free road.

Leaving Sudbury with no traffic

Northbound traffic picked up as we approached Parry Sound, totally expected on Labour Day Weekend as the city folk try to escape their urban environment. We made a pit stop at Waubaushene but the lineup for the Ladies Room was longer than a US border crossing so we continued on to the Service Centre in Vaughn, where things were decidedly less crowded. We saw an O.P.P. speed trap just north of Barrie running LIDAR and were surprised to find the new Barrie northbound Service Centre was open. We'll have to stop here on the way back. Traffic was equally busy both ways on the 400 proving that some are trying to get into the very place that many others are leaving.

Boats on the Severn River

Speed trap north of Barrie

The merge lane off the ramp from Highway 400 to 401 westbound in Toronto has been widened and lengthened, eliminating the need for the dangerous forced merge that we have faced for many years. We hadn't come this way for a couple of years and were pleased with the new layout. That didn't help when we hit the express lanes and found them bogged down. The strange thing was that the collector lanes were flying by on our right. In fact, there were five spots on the way to Cambridge where we were forced to slow to a crawl or stop outright. We were now rats in the race. These spots corresponded to construction signs even though there was no work going on or lane merges. But traffic our direction was still way lighter on this stretch than the other direction.

Toronto bound traffic on Highway 401

Near Milton, we again saw as sign for the Legendary Motorcar Display. Now that I have looked it up, we will have to put this place on a list of things we need to visit.

The two new Service Centres near Cambridge were also open so we stopped for lunch and got Tim Horton's in the Drive-Thru. Sandy had a toasted tomato asiago bagel and a fruit smoothie with yogurt. I had a couple of chicken ranch wraps that they didn't wrap the bottom of securely and they somehow missed the milk in my order.

I noted the gas at the Flying J in Ayr was $1.296 compared to $1.386 when I fueled in Sudbury this morning. I keep being bothered by how the fuel companies can keep gouging the north but have given up hoping it will get better.

The GPS SD card slipped again, rendering the mapping useless since it holds the map files, but I was able to reseat it as we were driving. We pulled into Heather and Tom's in Woodstock about 1:30 PM after having lost a half hour to the stop and go traffic. They left for a wedding at 2:30 so I called Kim to see how they were doing on the trip back from their week long trip to Pennsylvania. She said they were on the Peace Bridge so Mike and I both figured their ETA would be after 4:00 PM.

Tom's Netflix through his PlayStation 3 had The Walking Dead episodes available. I have a lot of the episodes recorded at home but missed the first few and have been looking for them before I tackle the rest. I watched the first episode before it was time to leave for Cambridge. I have the hardware so I really do need to get Netflix up and running at home.

We left for Cambridge at 4:00 PM and were on the road when Kim called at 4:20 to say they were home. We pulled into their driveway at 4:40.

Classic Mustang in Woodstock

Kim and Mike took the girls on a week long road trip to southeastern Pennsylvania. They visited Hershey Park and Dutch Wonderland amusement parks and Jolene got to ride her first big rollercoaster, the Sooperdooperlooper at Hershey. This was quite the accomplishment for a four year old and she did it twice. In addition to the rides, they got to meet and/or visit with a number of cousins Sandy and I haven't seen in way too long. These are my mother's brother Warren's children, their spouses and offspring and that we haven't visited since about 1999. Sandy and I will also have to fix that soon. Cousin Nancy had a family BBQ and cousin Jamie, who couldn't make it, went to dinner with them in Bird In Hand. All in all, it sounded like a great trip. Mike uploaded the pictures and videos from the week and played them on the TV for all of us to enjoy.

Robyn and Jolene

Robyn is a fierce one

Mom and Grandma Sandy

We went out to play with the Jolene and Robyn in the back yard.  The play was interrupted by a small bunny who was over in the corner of the yard nibbling on grass. It was fairly tolerant until the girls tried to get too close to it and then it set out for parts unknown.

What's that in the back yard?

It's a bunny

Robyn takes time from mowing to spread dandelion seeds

Mike ordered Domino's thin crust pizza and bread sticks for supper. I broke my rule about not having bread but I limited my intake. I hope this doesn't lead me to backslide on the diet that has me losing weight and improving my glucose readings. A couple of bread sticks won't hurt as long as I keep it at that. The piece of shoofly pie they brought back from Amish country probably wasn't a good idea, though. After the children went to bed, the four adults watched some cooking shows and talked about the trip.

We left at 10:00 PM for the return trip to Woodstock. I settled in to watch another episode of Walking Dead. Heather and Tom got in about 11:20 and went straight to bed. I remember being in the middle of Episode 2 of Dead and then it was suddenly Episode 7. Rather than go up and bother Sandy by trying to get into bed in the dark, I just rolled over and spent the rest of the night on the couch.

Today's Route (382 Avalanche miles):

Friday, August 30, 2013

Downtown Sudbury Ribfest

Downtown Sudbury Ribfest has become a tradition for the city on Labour Day Weekend. And, traditionally, we have always been out of town on this same weekend every year. In fact, we're leaving again tomorrow to visit the kids down south. But this afternoon we were still here and I did a little volunteer work for the festival.

Pat Kemp is a key person managing Ribfest. I met Pat when we worked together on charity Bingo's for Action Sudbury last winter and we talked about our various activities. She asked a while back if I could sell tickets in the beer tent this afternoon and I said sure.

Sandy dropped me off downtown at 11:30 AM. A section of Elgin Street was closed of for the various rib vendors and the parking lot at Elgin and Larch was the beer venue. Pat got me set up, gave me a nice red shirt and introduced me to my selling partner, Rita. Rita is a retired school teacher who winters in Mesa, Arizona and travels the world. We have been many of the same places around North America and, between selling tickets, compared a lot of notes. In fact, her daughter Angie was one of the key people on the Mayors' and Citizens' Task Force On Snowmobiling that I co-chaired twenty years ago. Angie is now married to a retired US serviceman and lives in Surprise, Arizona.

Pat tells me it has never rained on Ribfest before. Well it sure rained today. The low spots in the parking lot started to fill with water and the shore of the new lake started nibbling at my toes before they found a pump to move it to the storm sewers out on the street. Normie, Biker and Johnny O wandered in and ribbed me for a bit. To top it all off, the live music was amazing.

When my shift was over, I took the meal coupons Pat gave me and lined up to get some chow. The coupons were for Ribs Royale so my choice was limited to one. I got 1/3rd of a rack of ribs and a pulled pork sandwich. Then I called Sandy to come and pick me up. She was a bit late because of an accident on the Kingsway, but eventually collected me in front of the YMCA on Durham Street. I killed time while waiting watching people try to parallel park. It looked like an audition for Canada's Worst Drivers, a popular TV show.

At home, we split the ribs and pulled pork. And the beans and coleslaw. The side ribs had a nice flavour but were chewy, much like the ones in Mission Hills, California a few months ago. But the pulled pork, again a bit chewy, had awesome flavour. Sweet, not like the vinegary Carolina pork. The serving was so large Sandy froze what I couldn't eat. I tried to control myself because I was under 211 pounds on the scale this morning, down 13 pounds from the spring, and I don't want a relapse.

So the recap of the day was good. Nice people, great music, free food only offset a bit by rain (rain is easier to take with an awning over your head). If I'm available next year, I think I'll help out again if Pat needs me.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A&W Cruisin' for a Cause

Today was a good day for the MS Society of Canada as well as its Sudbury Chapter. A&W Cruisin' for a Cause is a major event benefiting the campaign to find a cure for this insidious disease. Sandy was diagnosed with MS back in 1984 and, even though she has a relatively benign form of relapsing/remitting MS, it has had an impact on our lives and we know many more who are much worse off. We volunteer with the Sudbury Chapter of the MS Society where I have been the Treasurer since last December.

Although the campaign by A&W is nationwide ($1.3 million raised last year) and there are five locations in Sudbury, logistics and room available limit us to having a presence at just two of them, both relatively new. In fact, the one at Silver Hills celebrated its grand opening on Cruisin' Day in 2012. In addition to staff soliciting donations for the cause, $1.00 of every Teenburger bought is donated to fund the fight against MS.

Sandy and I were assigned to work in our booth at Silver Hills. We showed up before 11:00 AM with the EZ-up awning and tables and met Cyndi, Sue and Randy, the first shift workers. After we got set up and filled balloons, Sandy and I weren't supposed to take over until 2:00 PM. Since we had nowhere special to go, we stuck around.

The A&W staff set up another awning next to ours where Lucy ran some kids games with prizes. Sue had personally gotten quite a few gifts for the kids as well. Where we were set up, we also had a chance to talk about the cause with the drivers in the Drive-Thru lane. A very attractive young lady from our local Hot 93.5 radio station broke the ice with a lot of guys. The support by the local stations was amazing.

The day flew by as people came and went. We were even privileged to have the Root Bear visit, delivered in a beautiful classic Ford Torino. Of course we had Teenburgers for lunch. At 5:00, a local band named Jeans and Leather Forever started to entertain the assembled multitude. Word from the other location in the south end was that they were doing at least as well as we were.

Mid-afternoon, I went and got the bike and, at 5:30, after Bridget and Mo showed up to work in the booth, Sandy and I rode down the road a bit to meet members of the Freedom Riders. At 6:00 PM, we rode back to A&W in a group for a (you guessed it) Teenburger supper. After 7:00, Sue, Randy, Sandy and I tore down the location and took all the gear back to the Rona Ramsey Centre of Hope, our local headquarters.

It looks like this year's campaign in Sudbury was wildly successful. My personal thanks to A&W for all they are doing to support this worthy cause and thanks to the volunteers we worked with. It was a good day. Here are a few photos I took as things went on.

Randy filling helium balloons in the Sudbury Chapter booth

Silver Hills A&W - Sudbury Ontario

OK, we have enough balloons

And now some are escaping

Names of donors earlier in the week

Eric and Lucy from A&W

Marika from Hot 93.5 radio

The Root Bear arrives in style

But getting out can be a trick

A&W owner Suzanne makes an adjustment

Restaurant manager Tammy

Sue blowing bubbles as Sandy looks on

Marika and Lucy

The entertainment setting up

And, with the leather vest on, they are ready to go

Cruisin' needed a few of these

The Freedom Riders have arrived

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Interlochen Michigan to Sudbury Ontario

We were up at 5:30 AM and, after we had coffee, we started to pack the trailer. It took a while because Sandy had a lot of gear and containers and, this being only the second time we have stayed in this unit, we didn't have a system. Oh well, no need for a system after this. Finally, everything was organized so I hooked the truck up and loaded the bike. Then it was time to circulate through the campsite and say goodbye to everyone until next time. We were rolling by 8:00.

The exit through Traverse City involved US 31, Airport Road and Three Mile Road back onto 31. It was very quiet as one might expect on a Sunday morning. We stopped at a McDonald's near M 72 where I learned that if you ordered a steak, egg and cheese bagel with no onions, they had to cook a new one with no onions which took a long while. Next time, I will just ask them to scrape the onions off one they have already cooked.

Buffalo herd south of Traverse City

I noticed that gas in Mancelona was $3.65 per gallon, a large jump from the $3.40 in Traverse City despite being only a short distance away. We cut over to Gaylord again and took I-75 north. Some tinting to the leaves let us know fall was not far away. Again, there was no wind on the Mackinac Bridge although we did have lane closures on our side this time.

Quote for the day: "I'm a fanatic without a cause and I'm committed to it." Brother Dave Gardner RIP

Some leaves changing colour already

The usual closed lane on the Big Mac

Crossing the Big Mac and looking out at Mackinac Island, I noted that it has been many years since we crossed over on the ferry for a visit. I decided that we should plan a stop here before too much time goes by. We reached to Soo and stopped at the Krist station for cheaper US fuel. Gas here was all the way up to $3.72. Hard to believe this is in the same state as Traverse City but still way cheaper than Canada.

US bound traffic was, as usual, lined up over half way across the International Bridge. On the Canada bound side, there was no one. I really mean no one. We drove right off the bridge and into an empty Customs booth. After a couple of basic questions we were free to go. The total time elapsed for the crossing was less than one minute, including non-existent waiting time. I wish it was always like that. On home soil, we drove down Bay Street and swung up to Highway 17 past the Beech 18 on skis in front of the Bushplane Heritage Museum.

US bound traffic lined up on the International Bridge

An empty Customs booth beckons

It looks like it is landing on Bay Street

We made a quick stop for lunch to go at McDonald's on the way out of the Soo. The last 180 miles was uneventful although a westbound motorcycle reminded me why I don't like modulated headlights. Sure they flash and get the attention of car drivers, but they are annoying and may even defeat their own purpose if the oncoming driver fixates on them. We did see three westbound members of the Red and White being escorted by an unmarked OPP cruiser and I listened to NASCAR on XM as most of my Fantasy League drivers got taken out. Nothing unusual there.

We pulled into (or rather, backed into) the driveway at 4:30 PM. There was a rain cell just north of town that dumped on us just after we finished unloading everything and getting it stowed away. That was prefect timing.

Today's Route (395 Avalanche/trailer miles):

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Interlochen Michigan - The Cherry Hut

The breaker on the pole didn't trip overnight so Wilson moving to the other power source did the trick. Rather than have a big breakfast, Sandy and I went over to Subway and split one of their flatbread breakfast sandwiches. She decided she doesn't like mayo on a breakfast sandwich.

A good sized group set out for the Tunnel of Trees but it is north of Petoskey, a pretty good hike, and we have been there numerous times before. Slammer set out to visit some relatives south of here and the rest of us just lazed about. The campground got its traditional soft ice cream machine working, so most of us had at least one cone.

Around 1:00 PM, we mounted an expedition to the Cherry Hut in Beulah, a few miles past Honor. Roseman led the charge as we thundered (or whooshed in the case of the GoldWing) along US 31. Arriving at the Cherry Hut, we found Bob and Linda waiting for a table for two. They had gone to Leland for breakfast and then on to Fishtown. We upped the request to a table for eleven, which the restaurant quickly put together. Although I was in the mood for a cherry burger, I deferred to the group wishes and had cherry pie a la mode and coffee. Bob and I were the only coffee drinkers and agreed that the coffee had a tea taste to it. Sandy and Linda tried it and didn't agree but did say it tasted unusual. But the pie and ice cream were excellent.

The Cherry Hut

Lon, Gail, Linda, Bob and Big Grouch

Sandy, Marlene, Scotty, Fireman Mike and Roseman

After pie, Scotty, Marlene, Sandy and I decided to ride around Crystal Lake. We went through Beulah and took a road by the shore past some very nice homes and cottages. The plan was to ride over to M 115 when this road ran out but I overshot. The road turned to gravel and then made a left and went up a hill. The GPS said it went to 115 but there was a crossroads a short way up and the gravel road ahead was very steep and narrow. Not trusting the GPS at this point, because the road ahead looked like a snowmobile trail, I turned around. Unfortunately, as Marlene reached the intersection, she applied a little too much front brake and over she went. It was a good thing I had her cherry pies in our trunk. We got her upright and then Sandy and I went back down the hill and waited. And waited. Eventually, I walked back up the hill and found Scotty, his turnaround interfered with by a car going  through, had also fallen over. The scuff on his helmet was evidence that it was good he was wearing it. After more comments about how I was trying to kill him, we decided to head straight back to the campground.

Crystal Lake

Scotty and Marlene after turning around on the hill

We'll have to browse here some day

US 31 overpass in Beulah

Back at the campground, Lon's Nomad/sidecar outfit was making strange engine noises. The consensus was that it was a lifter which had bled down. He had towed the camper trailer up behind the outfit while Gail had driven the truck. Their plan was to tow the trailer home behind the truck and get the bike later, but they had a rack attached to the hitch receiver and needed to get it off before they could install the drawbar. It had been there for quite some time and wasn't budging.

The VROC brain trust went to work with penetrating oil and hammers. Once it seemed to start to move a bit, they chained the rack to a tree and drove the truck away. Lucky for everyone, the tree was stronger than the corrosion holding the rack in place and it slid out.

Examining the problem

Chaining the rack to the tree


For supper, Furhead said he was going with Rainman and Fireball to Rico's Pizza a few miles east on US 31. Bob, Linda, Sandy and I decided to tag along in the truck. The place was busy but there was a table big enough to seat all of us in the middle of the room. It had a reserved sign on it but the lady said to ignore it. Sandy and I shared a small Hawaiian pizza and I have to say that the crispy golden crust was one of the best I have ever had. I was tempted to order a crust to go.

On the way back, we took a cruise through Interlochen Village and looked at the Interlochen Motel as a possible place to stay next year. Then I fueled the truck so I wouldn't have to worry about this tomorrow. After we got back to the campground, Linda took Sandy to Honor to check out their cabin as another possible alternative. We will need somewhere because the new trailer will be too small to sleep in and Sandy refuses, with good reason, to downgrade to a tent.

Around the fires, there was a universal decision to avoid bottles passing around again. It seems we finished off a lot of alcohol last night and, with packing and traveling tomorrow, there was a desire for a quiet evening. One of the big topics was that we have had three days with no rain. This was very unusual but also very much appreciated. We ended up turning in just after 10:00 PM.

Slammer never did get back, leaving Scotty with his wife.s favourite pot which they had used to boil water for coffee in the morning. Word later was that he stayed until he believed it was too dark to navigate the Lower Peninsula back roads safely, so he stayed over. Scotty will get the pot to him, probably with a little surprise inside.

Today's Route (36 motorcycle miles):

Friday, August 09, 2013

Interlochen Michigan - The Leelanau Peninsula

The morning dawned chilly and the early risers gathered around the smoldering remains of the campfire sipping coffee and trying to warm up. The breaker on the campground electric pole tripped a few times during the night because everyone was running portable heaters and it couldn't handle the load. Wilson had another pole closer to him but it only had 30 amp plugs, so he said he would get an adapter today.

Wilson, Sandy and Scotty trying to warm up

The overloaded electric hookup pole

Linda and Bob rode over from Honor and we kicked around ideas for breakfast. Finally, Scotty, Marlene, Bob, Linda, Sandy and I jumped in the truck for the short drive over to Dilbert's Restaurant. It was a really short drive since Dilbert's is almost next door. There was an empty table for six just sitting there so we took it. I ordered Dilbert's stuffed hash browns. This was a concoction of sausage, mushrooms, onions and other things sandwiched between two layers of hash browned potatoes. Covered in cheese. Plus eggs and toast. It was good but I learned two things. First, I'll never lose weight eating this way. Second, I should have split this with at least two other people. On the way back, Marlene chose to walk. And she beat us.

Dilbert's stuffed hash brown potatoes

Back at the campground, we kicked around ideas for the day's ride. Since Bob and Linda had never been here before, we decided to tour the Leelanau Peninsula. For a change, we also decided to do it clockwise because, in eleven previous years, we have never done it that way.

I think we had eleven bikes and I ended up leading. We rode west on 31 to Honor and then cut up to M 22 via Deadstream Road. This is a nice little road with a low speed limit because it passes between many summer homes and cottages as it goes between Platte and Little Platte Lakes. On M 22, we rode north to Empire and the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitor Center. There were some nice winding stretches as we approached Empire but they would have been so much better if we hadn't caught up to that pesky car that was just noodling along.

Deadstream Road

More Deadstream Road

A pastoral scene along Michigan 22

The Visitor Centre in Empire

The Visitor Center was busy when we got there but we managed to find enough parking spaces for all the bikes. Inside was jammed but we wandered around and looked at some exhibits. Since our next stop was the Pierce Stocking Drive, a fee area, some people paid here. Others had season or senior passes and the rest of us decided to pay at the gate. I tried to orient Linda and Bob as to where we were and where we were going on the large relief map. When we came out, most of the cars had left.

Wildlife exhibit - Badger don't care......

Leaving Empire, we continued north on M 22 and bore left on M 109 to the Pierce Stocking access road. After paying the fee or showing our receipts and passes, we headed up the winding one way road through the trees. It was good even after catching up to the first car because it was doing a reasonable pace. Then it caught up to a minivan that was just crawling.

The first pullout was full, probably with all the cars that had left the Visitor Center ahead of us, so I stopped at the second where there was lots of room. This was a picnic area but the dunes overlook was just over a hill. Scotty said we were trying to kill him with the uphill walking and rode around to the overlook.

Scotty parked at the dunes overlook

Linda recording the scenery while Bob waits

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Chris2Tall and his Linda

Linda and Bob

Scotty and Marlene went on ahead to the next viewing area, the most popular because it overlooks the 400 foot hill down to the Lake Michigan shore. They found and saved us a few parking spots which was good because they were at a premium. We followed on but, as we headed up the hill (winding again) on the second lobe of the Drive, we got stuck behind another car that couldn't seem to find the accelerator. At the lot, we filled the spaces the advance guard had secured.

It was a short walk uphill to the crest of the dunes and only a bit further to the platform overlooking the long drop to the lake. People are welcome to walk down but those who can't make it back up are charged for the rescue. There were lots of people making the descent, which seemed to go a lot faster than the following ascent.

I do have to say that the percentage of pretty girls at this location was far above the typical average. Not that I noticed, mind you, because I am happily married. Scotty pointed it out to me.....

Rainman Ray is King of the Hill (until Fireball Lisa gets up there)

The long slope down to the lake (the specks are people)

Getting ready to leave the overlook parking lot

We finished the Drive and continued north on M 109 until I got to a spot that taught me intersections look very different when you are going an unfamiliar direction. Missing a right turn, I struck a dead end at Glen Haven, which is basically a building and a parking lot. We turned around in the lot which had a lot of loose sand that just about claimed Furhead. I didn't realize that Glen Haven is the gateway to the Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station and Maritime Museum. We've never been there so it is on the list for next time.

A short way back, I made the correct turn to get us back to M 109 which connected back with M 22 in Glen Arbor. The crowds there were heavy, especially considering it was only Friday. I'd hate to see it tomorrow.

Baby biker in Glen Arbor

From Glen Arbor, we followed M 22 through Leland, which was also overflowing with tourists. Continuing on, the road got a bit twistier as we approached Northport. Expecting more heavy tourist traffic, I led the group to the waterfront park where there was a lot of parking. We walked up the hill a couple of blocks and found the main street empty. We could have easily parked up there and Scotty again said I was trying to kill him. On the walk up, Chris pointed out a car making a U-turn and identified it as a Tesla. This was the first time either one of us had seen on of these electric cars and it looked good. Very good.

We selected a restaurant called The Garage for lunch. It had large overhead garage doors along one side which were open to give access to the outside tables. We sat inside. After the big breakfast, Sandy and I split a pulled pork sandwich and coleslaw. Very tasty.

Bob, Furhead, Linda and Sandy

Chris2Tall, Linda, Fireball, Rainman and Scotty

Scotty and Big Grouch

After lunch, we walked back to the park and retrieved our bikes. Since Linda and Bob liked lighthouses, I led the group north to the tip of the peninsula and the Leelanau State Park. The road up is a pleasant ride with some interesting curves. The park was free to Michigan residents but the rest of us paid $8.40 per vehicle. We parked and walked in to the lighthouse. A sign advertised a Lobster-fest next week for which they were taking reservations.

One of Sherm's crafts

Sandy and Big Grouch

Wait a minute.....

We left the park and rode back down to Northport where we connected with M 22 and headed south, down the west shore of Traverse Bay to Traverse City. Traffic was still light until we hit the city. In retrospect, I should have taken M 72 west on the outskirts because it was now Friday rush hour. Still, we managed to stay together through the traffic as we navigated to US 31 and then headed back out of town on Silver Lake Road.

The Leelanau shore line

Traverse Bay

From Silver Lake Road, we took Secor Road to Long Lake Road, one of my favourite little stretches that winds through the trees along the lake and comes out back at the crossroads in Interlochen. We fueled up and headed back to the campground ending a  pleasant day of riding.

At Cycle-Moore, we found that Slammer had arrived in his Honda CRV from North Carolina. One of our favourite people, he had made the trek up just to see all of us. He, Rainman and Fireball were going to Frankfort for a fish fry but Scotty had a different  idea.

Slammer, Marlene and Scotty

Fireball Lisa and Rainman Ray

The Interlochen Golf Club was just down the road and advertised fish or steak dinners on Fridays. Today was Friday so the same crew that had breakfast together wandered on over. They put us in the Hagen Room. Walter Hagen, a dashing rake of a character, was one of the major figures in the development of professional golf and retired in this area. Scotty had fish and said it was OK but not spectacular. Sandy and I started with the thickest clam chowder I've ever had and then split the surf and turn option. She took the breaded shrimp and baked potato while I had most of the steak and veggies. The steak, a 12 oz sirloin with an excellent rub, was tender and it was spectacular.

After supper, someone got not one but two fires going. Everyone sat around and swapped tales as various bottles were passed around the circle. There were several kinds of shine including a new apple pie recipe and a lot of commercially made drinks including a particularly nice liqueur called Buttershots that Slammer brought. There were even Jello shots being liberally handed out.

It was a great evening, just the kind of time that makes VROC gatherings special. Mindful of getting enough rest, Sandy headed for the trailer about 10:00 PM while I lasted until 11:30. We are not the party people we used to be.

Today's Route (127 motorcycle miles):