Thursday, June 21, 2007

Running for home

Beckley West Virginia to Sudbury Ontario

It was time to head for home. Sandy and I woke up and began our routine for an early start. I went down, uncovered the bike and arranged the trailer locks while she packed the bags. Then we took the rest of the gear down with us to have the continental breakfast. Ron showed up to say goodbye just as we were ready to roll. We hit the road at 6:20 AM.

The first thing we discovered was that my microphone wasn't working. I tried unplugging and replugging but had no success. I have spare cords and figured I could debug it during our first stop.

It was foggy through Oak Hill, some of it pretty solid, and there were pretty tendrils rising up and swirling over the New River Bridge. We stopped at Summersville (the Chevron this time as is usual when northbound) for fuel and to get rid of the morning coffee. When I plugged in to move so I could check the cords, the mike was working. We headed north again with more fog on Powell Mountain and it cut out. I hate intermittent problems. Stopping at the scenic lookout, it started without any help from me. I figure the contacts need a shot of cleaner so I'll do that when we get home.

Still on US 19, I passed a truck from Muskoka. Hailing him on the CB, I found he hauls lawnmowers from the Myrtle Beach area to Toronto every week. Once we got on I-79, we found they were repaving parts of it. Other than going down to a single lane, it didn't hold us up but I wondered why they were doing it since much of what they were resurfacing was in very good shape.

There was a quick stop at the rest area north of Clarksburg and a fuel stop at Racetrack Road, just north of Washington, Pa. Around the Ohio River bridge, the lanes separate due to construction. There are radio announcements and signs, but two semis still made last minute panic lane changes in front of me. Other than that, traffic flowed well past Pittsburgh.

Around Mercer, Pa, clouds started building and we had about 1/2 mile of rain. Then we ran between cells to Erie and saw a very big line of bad looking clouds running east/west over Lake Erie. The wind picked up from the west with strong gusts. We stopped for fuel and a Mickey D lunch at State Line, Pa. Then we ran hard over the NY Thruway, hoping that wherever we had to cross the squall line would be kind to us. We crossed the Peace Bridge back into Canada at 2:15. There was no line up at customs and the pretty blond officer welcomed us back with a couple of questions, not even checking our ID. The toll booth girl was also a pretty blond. When we cut under the darkest part of the angry cloud on the QEW without getting wet, I knew that it was my lucky day.

After a quick gas stop at Prudomme's Landing, the tailwinds we enjoyed on the Thruway became headwinds. We crossed the Burlington Skyway under Extreme Wind warnings, which were now coming from the side, but there was no difficulty. The we had some tailwind taking the 407 towards Toronto.

In Toronto, I had to stop at Radio World to pick up a Zumo 550. Yes, I am finally getting in gear and doing something about it. I had phoned from Racetrack Road and found they had them in stock. Anyway, all I knew was they were at Steeles and the 400. Since it was now rush hour, I decided that going past the 400 and cutting south on Jane to Steeles would give me all right hand turns. For once, the plan came together. Then two kind cars let me turn left off Steeles into the parking lot. A salesman named Peter served us. He has a '91 GL1500 outfitted for EMS work. I could have paid less from the US, but I think that buying in Canada will simplify any warranty issues. We stowed the unit in the trailer.

Peter gave us an escape through traffic to the 400, sending us south to Finch and straight onto the northbound ramp. Getting to the 400 at rush hour is only the beginning of one's problems. I made it to the fast lane, but it was stop and go despite the six or so northbound lanes. I don't understand what can bring the left lane to a stop, but stop it did. Frequently. We crawled north until we crossed Major Mackenzie Drive, at which point things started to move along as if a traffic enema had been administered.

There were more cumulus clouds building east and west of us, but we were threading the eye of the needle. In Waubaushene, we made the final gas stop and added some layers because it was cooling down. North of there, they were paving and we ran a ways on the waffle grooves. They were no problem and we were able to cruise highway speeds. The temperature rose a bit and the skies stayed clear until we approached Sudbury, where it cooled quickly and we were surrounded by visible showers (although we stayed dry). Coming into town, they also waffle grooved the road but the misbegotten son of an unwed dog who was operating this machine must have either been new at it or didn't care. Cross cut grooves and uneven surfaces made this the worst job I have ever seen and I almost lost the bike in one place at only 30 MPH.

We pulled into our driveway at 9:00 PM sharp. It took just over 14 1/2 hours to cover 805 miles, pretty good considering the big trailer. I went out to Harvey's in the van to get some burgers and that's where a fairly intense shower hit me.

It was a great trip. Other than a long weekend at the French Connection Rally in the Ottawa Valley on Canada Day long weekend, we won't be doing any major travelling until we head for Colorado sometime in mid-July. That will give me time to get the new tires on the bike and to install and figure out how to use the Zumo.

No comments: