Monday, May 30, 2016

In between trips

We got in yesterday and don't leave again until June 16th when we head out to Taos, New Mexico.

The phone needs to go to PC Mobile to have the Canadian APN settings sorted out.

The motorcycle goes in this week for a recall to replace the secondary master cylinder.

The Equinox goes in for a regular service prior to the Taos trip, even though we won't be hauling the trailer.

The Kia, with very few kilometers on the clock, still needs to be serviced as well.

Grass is long and needs mowing and the sprinkler system needs to be opened for the summer. The first weed treatment hasn't been done and I need to look into that as well.

I want to get some golf played. More than some, actually.

Sandy's Mom's house needs some repairs on the outer window sills.

The Freedom Riders June Meeting and Club Bash will be taking place next weekend.

My To Do list also runneth over, so it will be a busy time from now until our next departure.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Woodstock Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

The Holiday Inn Express had a full breakfast buffet in a large, well-appointed room. They started at 7:00 AM on weekends, and we were down there shortly after it opened.

I maneuvered us out of the tight parking space (some backing up was involved) and we were on our way by 8:15 under blue 81F skies. The hitch was quieter today because I had unhooked last night and applied Teflon grease to the ball.

After a fuel stop at the Ayr Flying J, we noted the light traffic and followed the 401 right through Toronto to 400 North. The first set of 401 collector lanes turned out to be an obstacle course of road work, so we stuck to the express lanes after that.

Someone has a gift for business names

Wonderland's new ride

We stopped at the On Route at King to get coffee and cookies. Some ad on XM radio was saying "don't let the credit card companies fool you into thinking you have to pay them off", causing me to reflect on some of the things wrong with society today.

Construction at Highways 400 and 11 will never end

Traffic was very light the rest of the way home. We made a gas/lunch stop in Parry Sound. I am getting pretty good with the McDonald's kiosk but the food still doesn't come any faster. On an unrelated note, it is funny how my fuel mileage deteriorates once we get into Northern Ontario .

There was almost no line at the one lane French River Bridge but some bozo in a southbound Dodge Ram with a trailer obviously didn't stop for the red light on his end. I know this because he was only part way over the bridge when our side got the green light. I had to flash my headlights at him several times to be sure he was looking when I gave him the finger.

French River Bridge hog

Interesting geology

New highway, old vista

We got home at 2:20 and were unloaded, unhooked and unpacked by 3:00 PM. Another good trip in the record book.

This was the first trip with the Equinox towing the loaded motorcycle trailer. It yielded about 30% better mileage than the Avalanche and handled the road and hills much better with the six speed transmission. I even enjoyed driving it better.

Today's Route (316 Equinox miles):

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Waynesburg Pennsylvania to Woodstock Ontario

Don and Biker (Gary) were heading all the way back to Sudbury today while we were just going to Woodstock to see family. We went down to share breakfast with them at 6:00 AM and see them on their way. There was an idea kicked around that the North Carolina Week become an annual Freedom Riders activity. Since we go every year anyway, I wouldn't mind doing the organizing.

The terrible two got underway about 6:30. We waved goodbye and then returned to the room to clear up some things. I got the blog caught up and took care of a few other details before we pulled out about 9:00.

The final breakfast for the team

Parting is such sweet sorrow.......

And they're off......

I wasn't really surprised to see that the stretch of I-70/I-79 through Washington, Pennsylvania was still under heavy construction. This is only a few miles long but it has been the subject of roadwork for years. Around Pittsburgh, I noticed that if I was doing 60 MPH in a 55 zone, I didn't pass anyone but if I was doing 65 in a 70, there were all kinds of slower traffic to get by. There is some odd quirk of human nature at work here but I can't fathom what it is.

I-70/I-79 in Washington Pa still under construction

The Ohio River again

The trip up I-79 and across I-90 to Buffalo was uneventful. We made one stop at a Rest Area to use the facilities. The new three-axle EZ Pass transponder for the NY Thruway was appreciated as the Memorial Day lines at the toll booths were longer than usual. There was one final stop at a packed Angola Service Center for cheaper US gas before approaching the border.

Wide loads parked in rest area

Nice Chevy

and Mustang

Nice having a transponder

Text Stop - nice idea

Buffalo skyline

The Peace Bridge was packed with American long weekend traffic heading for Canada, where their US dollars would buy them so much more than at home. Two lanes were open our way while almost no one was going the other direction. As we got to the plaza across the bridge, I held up our NEXUS cards and was directed to a short, fast moving line. I declared a little over $700 US in goods and we were welcomed home. The EZ Pass got used one more time at the only booth they have on Canadian soil and then we were rolling down the Queen Elizabeth Way towards Hamilton.

Peace Bridge - Memorial Day Weekend

Nexus lane is out there

Nexus lane

The other lanes

Welcome home

I stopped and changed SIM cards in my phone, immediately gaining access to my Canadian phone and texting service. Nothing works perfectly, though, so I now didn't have Canadian data access. It looked like I need to understand a few extra nuances, probably related to the Access Point Name (APN).

The temperature had been rising all day. We left Waynesburg at 81F and it was pushing 96F by the time we reached Hamilton. I kept an eye on the engine coolant temperature gauge but it never flickered. We caught Highway 403 and pulled into Woodstock at 4:30. The Best Western Plus had been full so we were at the Holiday Inn Express with it's small and convoluted parking lot.

After I got the rig parked, Tom and Jasper picked us up and took us to the house to see Fiona, now two weeks old. I may be biased but she was perfect, just like our other grandkids. We decided to go to Kelsey's near our hotel for supper and were joined by Kim, Mike and Jolene. Robyn was away overnight at camp.

Kelsey's - Woodstock Ontario

Cousins Jolene and Jasper

Fiona slept the whole time

A name from my past

After supper, we went back to Heather and Tom's where we unloaded a lot of girl baby things Kim and Mike had saved. Then Mike and Kim dropped us back at the hotel on their way back to Cambridge. I was going to post today's events to the blog but the HI internet was pathetically slow. I called their tech support number for help but they were more aimed at assisting guests in getting connected, which I already was. The support person noted my 1.2 Mbps test results and said he would see what he could do. Nothing, as far as I could tell. At this price, we should not have to deal with these issues.

I did note that PC Wireless has come out with new packages and rates for the US. Maybe I won't need the Tracfone account any more, anyway. We finally turned in fairly early.

Today's Route (375 Equinox miles):

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bryson City North Carolina to Waynesburg Pennsylvania

We were moving a bit earlier than planned, hitting the road at 6:20 AM. We had reservations tonight at the Hampton Inn in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania (about 500 miles away). Traffic was picking up as we got to Asheville, where we made the turns to put us on I-26 West (north, really).

Ready to roll bright and early

Some clouds to start

But they soon broke

Pretty scenery

Crossing into Tennessee

Rolling downgrade on I-26

I took the lead coming into Johnson City and guided our two-vehicle caravan onto my favourite route to bypass Bristol. We connected with I-81 North in Abingdon, Virginia.

Bristol Motor Speedway

Their runway isn't level

The Equinox was ready for fuel when we got to the I-77 interchange in Wytheville, Virginia, so I stopped at the Travel Centers of America and filled the tank for $2.09 per gallon. We had time so we sat down in the restaurant and gave in to the temptation of the breakfast buffet. Some Virginia state troopers took a break from their speed enforcement (we saw them all over I-81) and came in for the buffet as well.

Troopers at Travel Centers of America

Blue skies and climbing temperatures

I noticed that my GPS still worked in the tunnels but my XM radio did not. Go figure!

Big Walker Mountain

East River Mountain - Gateway to W(BG)V

The drive through West (By God) Virginia was uneventful. Summersville police were out in force as usual, catching cars coming over the first hill in the 50 MPH (strictly enforced) zone. There was heavy traffic on US 19 but it was 1:30 PM on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, so this wasn't surprising.

This race hauler blew by us

NASCAR truck racer Ben Rhodes

Happy Travelers

It was 89F as we pulled into the Hampton Inn. Don and Biker were here a bit before us because they hiked up to the 70 MPH speed limit while I held to my usual 65 after the last Rest Area stop. We had the same suite as last time while theirs was directly above us.

Hampton Inn Suite - Waynesburg Pa

We walked to the Golden Wok Chinese Buffet for supper. I hope this is the last buffet for a while or I might explode. After supper, I settled into the room to call Tracfone and sort out my data issue. It took 1 1/2 ours and an escalation to a supervisor, but I got my data and it looked like I kept my minutes. I say looked like because I still can't check that, but I can see my days go until April 2017. He also helped me set up my on line account on the laptop. Qualified success, but I'll take it however I can get it.

Sandy and I turned in fairly early. Tomorrow, Biker and Don head for Sudbury while we are off to Woodstock for a day to see family.

Today's Route (477 Equinox miles):

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bryson City North Carolina - Last Day

This was our last day in North Carolina. Time sure flies when you're having fun. We left at 9:00 AM for Maggie Valley, riding US 19 up over Soco Gap.

Granny's was quiet this morning

And Joey's will be closed too



Country Vittles - Maggie Valley NC

Don, Biker and I had the famous All You Can Eat Family Style Breakfast at Country Vittles in Maggie Valley. Sandy had a pancake. It was all good. Thank you, Biker, for breakfast.

I had planned a route through the Nantahala Gorge, down Wayah Road to Franklin and back up 28 to Two Rivers, which would have gotten us back in the early afternoon. After looking at the sky and feeling the air, I decided that we would just ride back to Two Rivers because I was certain rain was coming and we didn't want to end the week on a wet note.

We loaded the Harley into the truck using Blain's driveway as a ramp. It went very easily. Then we loaded the Vulcan onto the trailer. The ramp is short so the angle at the top is too severe for the frame to clear. We tried using a slope but it still scraped. Still, they were loaded. And then the rain came.

The tricky loading went pretty easy

The easy loading was pretty tricky

And the rain arrived as predicted

Don was looking for a very specific mesh riding jacket, so we piled into the Equinox and drove to MR Motorcycles in Asheville. MR is the huge shop that put on the BBQ for VROC last May. Don didn't find what he wanted but Sandy and I got new Olympia Horizon rain suits.

Odd cloud north of Waynesville

Self contained pole replacement team

I-26 ramp backup off I-40

Mixed skies over Asheville

Julia at MR Cycles selling rain suits

We ate supper at the Iron Skillet in Bryson City. Food was good again. Thanks for supper, Don.

Packed Ural in Bryson City

Rope and firewood

Iron Skillet - Bryson City NC

Back at Two Rivers, I hooked up the trailer and loaded the GoldWing. We stowed our suitcases and most of the gear, ready for an early departure. Blain and Kathy hung out with us for the evening, even bringing the Grape Ape out later on. Don really appreciated the finer details, which went right over my head.

Passing time with Blain at Two Rivers Lodge

The Grape Ape

As it got later, we said our goodbyes and shared hugs because we expected to leave before anyone else got up. It has been a great time down here, over all too soon. But there will always be next time.

Today's Route (43 motorcycle miles):

Today's other route (123 Equinox miles):