Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cambridge Ontario - Wasaga, Sudbury and Back

I had a 1:00 PM appointment at J&R Cycle on Highway 26 between Stayner and Wasaga Beach to get a new Metzeler ME880 tire installed and, if necessary, replace the front brake pads.

I left Sandy and Heather cleaning guinea pig habitat at about 10:00 and rode up Highway 24. Remembering the construction on Highway 7 in Guelph, I took a detour around the north side of town on Highway 6. I found that Highway 6 and Speedvale Drive were also under heavy construction. So much for that bright idea. Leaving Guelph, I continued on 24 to Erin.

I had left myself extra time to ride some of the fun roads so, in Erin, I left 24 and headed for the Forks of the Credit Road. Passing through Belfountaine, the entrance to one of the better riding roads in this area, Meat Loaf came on the radio singing Paradise by the Dashboard Light and I prepared to have some fun. Then, around the next corner, there it was. Road Closed to Through Traffic. Bummer. I sadly turned around, got out my map atlas and found a side road to take me back to Highway 24.

So that all would not be lost, I took 24 to Caledon and then went north of Orangeville on Highway 10 where I followed the Hockley Road through the valley to Airport Road. The run through the Hockley Valley is pleasant and has some winds to it. From there, it was a straight shot up Airport Road to J&R.

John and Rhonda Broderick (above) own J&R Cycle, a small shop selling Honda, Triumph and Victory. They both greeted me as I arrived and John took Quicksilver back to the shop to get to work. Before long, I joined him and helped as we changed the oil, pulled the wheel and installed the new tire. The brake pads had about 25% left, but we changed them anyway and I wrapped the old pads up to carry as spares. Then John took it out for a test ride. I warned him to look out for the wobble but, when he came back, he said the wobble wasn't there. After settling up, I headed out and found he was right. Thinking back, the wobble started when we put the Dunlop Elite 3 tires on in the spring. Now, the old bike was back and I was happy.

I continued on to Sudbury, breaking my 20 Km over the limit rule most of the way. You might wonder why I was headed north again. I've heard on the radio that less than 4% of the eligible Canadian population donates blood. I am one of the 4% and my next donation day was Thursday. I skipped donating many years and then, after I got back to it, I was deferred for a number of years due to blood pressure issues. Now that my BP meds aren't a problem, I give every 56 days or as soon after as I am in town. This year I have a chance to get in seven donations (topping my previous best of six) and I intend to succeed. I could get more in as a plasma pherisis donor, but they won't let me since my O-Negative blood is universal and is more valuable as whole blood. For anyone who hasn't gotten around to giving and is eligible to, I urge you to give it some serious thought. Blood is the gift of life.

Anyway, I got to Sudbury with a smile and without incident, stopped at Harvey's for a burger to go and went home for a quiet evening. One very good thing was that the upper headset cord I had ordered from Calgary was in so Sandy and I would both have unbroken music for the rest of the trip.

Thursday morning, I headed down to the blood clinic for 10:00. Donna, the lady who does the bookings, signed me in and we talked about the trip she and her husband had taken on their bike to the NASCAR race in New Hampshire. The lady who tested my blood iron levels had done the trip as well. Ray, the lady volunteer who greets donors and sees they get to the right places, gave me a hug and a nurse put me through the involved screening process. In the chair, Nathalie stuck me expertly and soon it was all over except for the juice and the donuts. I was surprised to see that a letter I had sent to the Editor of the Sudbury Star on how I thought they could better fix our atrocious roads made the Letter of the Day, especially since I only E-mailed it in on Monday.

From the clinic, I headed directly south. Stopping at a convenience store on the way out of town, I saw Sid Segsworth, the retired manager of Inco's Copper Cliff Smelter. He is looking really well and says he has been golfing a lot. Sid is a very good golfer and was also a pretty damn good manager.

Again I exceeded my self imposed speed limits. I've been careful because, after the one speeding ticket last year, I don't want a second one to screw up my good insurance rates. But the day was nice, the traffic was light and I didn't really care. Today, I was having fun.

At former (damn Mike Harris) Highway 89, I stopped for a McDonald's sandwich. On the way out, I ran into Claudio Bertolli, a retired Italian teacher from the Soo. I spoke with him last month at the Bawating Reunion. Fancy running into him twice after not seeing him for 36 years.

I went through Cookstown to a sideroad around Nottawasaga, down Tottenham Road and then across County 1 to Loretto and back through the Hockley Valley. At Orangeville, since I wasn't going through Guelph construction again, I continued around town on Dufferin 16 and then took Dufferin 3 south through Marsville to Fergus. I even went down through Elora, not taking the short cut, and came into Cambridge the back way. It was another good ride.

We had a quiet evening after packing Heather's car with the gear we would be taking to the rally site tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cambridge Ontario - Cavy Capers

A cavy is another name for a guinea pig. Last spring, Heather got one and we built a 4 x 2 square cube and coroplast enclosure for her. Here, Penny is looking out from the safety of her little log house.

While she has been doing fine and growing by leaps and bounds, Heather figured that Penny could use some companionship. The one stipulation was that both be of the same gender to prevent unwanted expansion. While we were 99% sure Penny is a female, it seemed like a good idea to get a professional opinion.

We booked an appointement at the Preston Animal Clinic to get Penny and the new addition's gender confirmed and get a general checkup. Then we headed over to Pet Save, who have a good selection of supposedly all female GP's. After confirming that we could return it if it didn't prove to be female, she selected a small brown animal. The idea with a younger female is that it should be more submissive to a larger animal and simplify the establishment of just who the boss is. We took the new critter in its box and Penny in her travel carrier over to the clinic.

Jennifer Messer is the vet we got to see. Her manner with both pets and owners is excellent and she owns a variety of pets, including guinea pigs, herself. She confirmed that both patients were female and gave the new one a clean bill of health. The one wrinkle in the plan was that she suspected Penny might have fur mites. This is not serious and is treated with two injections of ivermectin ten days apart. The day after each shot, the cage and everything she might have contacted are cleaned with a mixtue of bleach and water. The down side was that the new pig, now named Coco, will have to remain isolated in the smaller pet store cage until the treatment completed.

After getting the pigs settled back in, we picked up Subway sandwiches and a couple of DVD's and then settled in for an evening at Heather's apartment.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sudbury Ontario to Cambridge Ontario

It's been a couple of quiet weeks. Two trips to the Soo. Mom came through the surgery well and is looking fairly good according to her several doctors. Her GP, Dr. Phil Catania, looks like the best general practitioner I have ever seen. I wish he'd move to Sudbury.

The trailer wiring is fixed. I received the relay box soon after the last trip and pulled a bunch of plastic off the bike to install it. Since the last two units failed, I'm very happy to note that this one looks completely different. I also put a .035 shim in the anti-dive unit on the front fork following directions on the GL-1800 site, and it has smoothed the front end ride out quite a bit. As I put the trailer up on the jacks to set it up for loading, I noted that the wheel bearing we replaced before the Interlochen trip was quite loose, so I popped the cap and tightened it.

Packing was pretty straightforward. If we haven't figured this out by now, there's no hope for us. We headed out down the Highway 69 corridor. Once more, we survived the Highway of Death. Gas and lunch at Parry Sound and then the usual route to Cambridge. Hwy 400, Hwy 9, Airport Rd, former Hwy 24.

We're down early because Heather has taken the week off. After we arrived and parked, we took Heather and her friend Jessica out to Crabby Joe's for supper. They dropped me at Kim and Mike's and went to see Little Miss Sunshine at the show while I helped Mike configure a Wireless Access Point/Router for their new laptop. It was a D-Link and I am used to Link-Sys but it was a piece of cake. After visiting for a while, Mike drove me back to Heather's building.

Heather and Sandy came in quite late and we went to bed shortly after.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Interlochen Michigan to Sudbury Ontario

We got up early, broke camp, said goodbyes and skipped the Grandma's breakfast. I led north on US 31 and we grabbed a quick bite at McDonalds in Charlevoix. On through Petoskey, we continued north and crossed the Big Mac. Again we were on steel grating. The border crossing was uneventful. We stopped briefly to say Hi to Mom and then made an uneventful run back to Sudbury.

This will be about it until the end of August. I'll be making a few runs to the Soo and back as Mom has her surgery. After that, we don't head out until August 28th for the big September trip. Waterloo Ontario, Bloomington Indiana, Bethel Maine and Eureka Springs Arkansas. Stay tuned for further travels.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Interlochen Michigan - The Peninsulas and Traverse Bay

We arose late again. The usual breakfast was had at Grandma's and, when we got back to the campground, we found that Snake and KT had arrived from central Indiana on their Mean Streak. Rather than camp, they had found a motel room over in Honor.

About 11:00, Jack led us out on the day's tour. Ray took another small contingent on an adventure ride, but most came with us bound for the Old Mission Peninsula. This spit of land separates East and West Traverse Bays. We did well staying together as we circumnavigated downtown Traverse Bay. Going out the peninsula, Jack opted to take us off the main road and along the east shoreline. This is a very pretty ride.

Out near the end, we stopped at Haserot Beach to get our bearings and take a few pictures. Then we completed the trip out, stopping at the Old Mission Lighthouse, which sits right on the 45th Parallel. This puts it exactly 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. From here we started back down the peninsula, stopping for gas part way. The gas stop was the beginning of the end of our cohesive group.

Jack started the group out from the gas station after receiving a hand signal from the last rider that he interpreted to mean that all were there. It actually meant that they weren't all ready yet. Passing the gas station on the highway, we immediately saw the error of our ways. Unfortunately, the side road to the west coastline was right there, a hidden right down a hill. At the bottom, I made a U-turn and highballed it back up to the station. Two of the four riders were still there, but Leo and Flattop had already pulled out. I guess they were hauling down M37 trying to catch us but we weren't on M37. I took the other two down to the group and we enjoyed a winding, scenic ride back to the mainland. At the end, we rejoined 37, the only way off the peninsula and, as we turned right towards the city and the Leelanau Peninsula, there were Leo and Flattop.

When we turned right on M22, the road that goes around the Leelanau, a number of the group decided they were done riding and turned south towards Interlochen. As we headed north, we lost a few more on the way as they peeled off to find food. By Northport, Jack, Margaret, Snake, KT, Scotty, Marlene and Leo were about all we had left. We had lunch at a place that was going out of business soon and then started out of town continuing along M22. On the outskirts of town, Jack missed a turn and I became leader by default.

I had studied the map and navigated us down to Leland and then east on 204 and south on 643 to Cedar where we then followed 651 south to M72. This was a very pleasant ride and I didn't make a mis-step. Unfortunately, this was as far as I had explored on the map. But, when you are leader, you can never admit you don't know where to go so I faked it. At this point we were only about six miles from Interlochen but, with my attempt at dead reckoning, it took us almost 40 miles to get there. We zigged, we zagged, we went east, we went west. At long last, we came out on US31 way over by Honor and rode back to camp on familiar road.

The bonfire this last night was enhanced by the Perseid Meteor Shower. Snake and I, with Sandy, KT and a few others, watched the fiery trails across the sky and contemplated the nature of the universe. Snake told stories of Lakota Sun Dances. Oh yes, and we saw a UFO. At least WE couldn't identify it.

It started to get cool so Sandy fired up the ceramic heater in the trailer and we went to bed fairly early.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Interlochen Michigan - Cruising by Lake Michigan

We awoke a little later than usual and a bunch of us headed over to Grandma's Kitchen for breakfast. When we returned, we were greeted with this sight. No, Flip had not crashed. This is the way he chooses to work on the underside of his bike when there isn't a lift handy. Flip works on his bike a lot. In this case, he was working on the oil sump screen while trying not to lose any oil.

A group of us set out for a ride led by Scotty, who took us around Crystal Lake and then south along the shore of Lake Michigan. Part way down, we stopped at the lookout at Arcadia Bluff. The view of the lake and sandy beach is spectacular even if we did get a good cardio workout getting up to the platform.

From here, we continued south to Manistee where we cruised through the scenic and historic downtown. On the other side, we came across a museum and the mouth of the harbour. We took time to wander around and admire the sights.

Leaving Manistee, Scotty took us on a tour around the town water tower. This wasn't the plan, but we were a little bit lost. On the main road, we rode up to Onalaska where we stopped for ice cream. From here, Jack took the point, Scotty was second and I was third. We were rocking and rolling through the limited speed curves at a good clip and I don't think any of the three bikes varied their position by more than a couple of inches. This was all fun until I looked back and saw the rest of the group was missing. Quick U-turns and a run back met them riding to catch up. It seems Marlene had gotten stung by a bee, but she was now back on track. Jack slowed down until we got to our gas stop in Frankfort. As we were maneuvering our way to the BP station, Jack managed to run over his own foot with his floorboard causing quite a bit of pain.

I now inherited the lead. We went back around Crystal Lake and continued on to Deadstream Road, where we cruised under a canopy of deciduous trees past camps until we got to Honor. From here, it was a straight shot east back to the campground.

A few of us who had missed the Hofbrau the previous day decided to give it a try. Despite the name, it isn't really a German restaurant any more.

Furhead, an Interlochen regular from Wisconsin, found a friend at the Hofbrau

Leo is being his usual, jovial self

Scotty and Marlene waiting for food

Marlene tackles the infamous Six Layer Cappucino Cake

After the Hofbrau, we got back to the campground and settled in for the bonfire. Tonight, we went to bed fairly early.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sudbury Ontario To Interlochen Michigan

For several years, the Michigan VROC crew, led by Brandon "Flip" Caldwell, has hosted a gathering at the Cycle-Moore Campground just west of Interlochen (near Traverse City). This is traditionally a small and informal gathering drawing riders from Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and a few farther afield. The time to head back to Interlochen was upon us once again. This year Leo Laframboise, a long time riding partner, would be accompanying us to his first VROC gathering on his Nomad.

The trailer isolated wiring wasn't fixed because Bushtec inadvertently sent me a wiring sub-harness instead of a relay box, so I will be using hand signals for right turns for this trip too. I called and the correct part should be in soon after we get back.

It was raining lightly as Leo came by. Rain gear went on. Leaving town, we stopped for a few moments at the Chateau Guay Motel to say Hi to Ernie Duncan. Ernie is a VROCer who was on his way back to his home in New Hampshire. This was the first time we have met him, but it looks like we'll be seeing him again in the future.

We set out shortly after 8:00 down the familiar Highway 17 corridor to the Soo. The rain held off and the only thing of note was a transport in a pull-out on the outskirts of Massey surrounded by yellow crime scene tape and guarded by several OPP officers. (We later found out that the driver had pulled over and died of natural causes.) There was one coffee stop in Blind River and we arrived in the Soo about noon.

We stopped at Mom's house in the Soo for a short visit with her and my brother Dave, aka Rabbi. He's visiting from Edmonton for the month. Mom's going to have some surgery done next week and I decided to cancel the second part of this trip (Pennsylvania) so I'd be able to spend a few days down here.

Leaving Mom's, we started across the International Bridge to Michigan. They were doing some construction and traffic backed up so we spent about 45 minutes waiting in line to clear US customs. When we finally got to the booth there was, as usual, no problem. We hauled straight down I-75 to the Mackinac Bridge. As usual, the right hand lane was closed over the main span forcing us to cross on the dreaded steel grate lane. This time, though, instead of being consumed with fear and trepidation I sailed right over even releasing the bars to wave at riders going the other way. Not many waved back. We continued on I-75 to Grayling.

From Grayling, we wandered across M-72 to Traverse City. Unfortunately, the short cut I planned to take around the city was closed due to construction so we were forced to ride downtown with all the traffic. Out the other side, Interlochen and Cycle-Moore were just a short hop.

When we arrived at the camground, most were out to supper. Scotty and Marlene were still there and watched with amusement as we dickered over location before setting up the camper Then we pitched our tent which Leo was borrowing. We zipped down to Grandma's Place for supper and returned to find most of the people had come back from the Hofbrau. Flip and Renata, Jack and Margaret, Furhead, Flattop, Rainman Ray and Fireball Lisa and Bugsplat Ron. There were also newcomers Kevin and Sue.

The evening consisted of sitting around the bonfire sharing stories and then Shelby got out his guitar. He is really good and entertained us as the time slipped by. Bugsplat and Kevin really got into it. At one point, Rainman Ray reminded us that it was here a year ago when we got the call that Wolfman had left us in a tragic accident in Virginia. Shelby played Clap for the Wolfman and there were many tears. Then we tried to remember the verses of Amazing Grace and got stuck after the first. We turned in shortly after, but the songs and partying went on until the wee hours.

Shelby plays Clap for the Wolfman

Lisa, Ray and Leo watch the festivities