Friday, August 31, 2007

Cyclefest Friday

Sandy and I woke early to the clip-clop of horses hooves on asphalt as a Mennonite buggy went up the road on the other side of the Grand River. There was a large amount of dew, so we wiped the bikes down well and I checked Heather's front tire. It was way down when we picked the bike up yesterday and, although topped up, it looks like the slow leak had dropped it another two pounds overnight. After adjustung it, we then headed into Elmira for fuel and breakfast at the Sip 'n Bite. Two eggs, ham, toast and hashbrowns for $3.25.

After breakfast, took a little ride up back roads to Elora and Fergus, where we stopped at Canadian Tire so Heather could get a few bike items. Then we headed back to the campground and went through the ordeal of setting up our big screen tent (hard) and Maggie McLeod's tent (even harder).

That done, we sat back and watched people arrive. They came in all afternoon and we ended up with quite the community out behind us. Here, first timer Lloyd and veterans Bob & Martha, Fred and Gabby and Mabel are set up and kicking back under the sunny skies.

The forecast for the weekend is sunny and dry. Maybe for once, the weather man will get it right despite his spectacular failures so far this year.

As the sun got towards the horizon, Tom and then Kim and Mike finally showed up. The family headed out to Elora to the Gorge Family Restaurant. Lots of food at reasonable prices. As usual, most of us ate too much. From the left, we have son-in-law Mike, Kathy Dickinson from Ottawa, Maggie McLeod from near Cambridge, Tom, Heather, Kim and Sandy.

After supper, we headed back in the dark. It was another chilly, damp evening, so we hung out at the camp fire visiting with everyone. At the end, Mike, Amber Appleby and I called it quits at about 2:30 AM.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sudbury Ontario to West Montrose Ontario

Going to Cyclefest

This will be the 28th Annual Cyclefest. They were started by the Waterloo County Touring Club at Chicopee Ski Lodge in Kitchener Ontario in 1980 and, for the last ten years, have been organized by the Waterloo Wings in West Montrose, near Elmira Ontario. Sandy and I have only missed one since they began, so you might say we've been in a rut on Labour Day Weekend. But it's a pretty good rut.

I finished some chores this morning. I got the August Freedom Riders books done and distributed to the Executive. Then, under clear and sunny skies, Sandy and I washed the bike and trailer. They were pretty dirty from the Interlochen run. Finally, we packed and loaded up and hit the road just before noon.

Traffic was light southbound and I kept it at a true 103 KPH through crosswinds from the east. We had some french fries at the stand next to the Shell station in Pointe Au Baril. They were spectacular, golden and crispy. We'll make this a regular stop from now on.

We usually cut east on either 89 or 9 and are cursed with slow drivers. This time, armed with Stella, I turned at 88, went west to Bond Head and cut a mile north to CR-1 towards Beeton. This went through Loretto and straight into the Hockley Road with virtually no traffic at all. Then, going through Fergus on my usual shortcut, Stella showed me an even better way. I am really getting to like this GPS.

Some people, including the ever present Fred Poyser, were at the campground a day early. We dropped the trailer and headed to Cambridge to meet Heather. When we all got to her apartment, we got her Rebel out of the garage, checked it and then rode back to Tom's place in Waterloo. With Tom and a carload of tents in tow, we headed back to the campground, getting there as the sun went down. Then we set up our trailer, Kim and Mike's EZ Tent and Heather and Tom's dome. We left the big screen dining tent for tomorrow. I made a run to Tim Horton's in Elmira and got sandwiches and pop for the gang.

After some time fending off the cold and damp sitting around a small fire tended by Buck and Tom of the French Connection (Tom is really from Pennsylvania), we hit the sack about 11:00 PM.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Trip To Cambridge

Just got back from a quick trip to Cambridge. We took the van and enclosed trailer down Thursday and stayed at Kim and Mike's. Heather is in the process of moving in with Tom in Waterloo and this trip was to allow us to bring back some of the furnishings she didn't need but we could use.

Friday, while Heather and Tom were at work, Sandy did a little cleaning at the old apartment. That evening, we loaded a dresser, two night tables and a bed into the trailer. Kim and Mike had gone to Aylmer to see his folks, but Tom & Heather brought pizza and DVD's over.

Saturday, we were back at the apartment for a while and then went back to the house while H&T went to a BBQ.

Sunday, we stopped by Tom's for breakfast before heading back home.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Interlochen - Day 4

Interlochen Michigan to Sudbury Ontario

Today, August 19th, is the second anniversary of the bike accident that took Rick 'Wolfman' Jakubas from us. We miss you, Rick.

It rained overnight but had stopped by the time we got up. It started spitting again as we packed up to go and the sky looked grey, so we donned rain gear before pulling out. The round of goodbyes took a while. We do plan to see a number of the same people in Arkansas next month.

We skipped breakfast and headed back up US 31 encountering very little traffic. The skies cleared just north of Traverse City, a major break for us since later reports from those southbound indicated that they encountered ugly weather. We stopped briefly in Charlevoix for a Mickey D breakfast (very slow girl on the cash) and gas and then hauled on up through Petoskey and on to the Mackinac Bridge. For the first time in quite a while, there were no high wind warnings and, again, we were allowed to stay in the paved lane all the way over. No toll lines on our side, but we were surprised to see the southbound line at the booths lined up all the way back to the US 2 interchange. That can't be fun.

We stopped again for the last cheap gas in Soo Ontario. Then we crossed the border in the middle of the International Bridge. US bound traffic was lined up 3/4s of the way back on the bridge, while we only had a three car line-up to get into the Canadian booth. I am starting to have serious reservations about this two-lane bridge and the long waits that are happening with greater frequency.

We stopped at Mom's for a while and she made us sandwiches. I went to tighten a loose pinch bolt on my trailer hitch, one that keeps the drawbar from rattling in the receiver, but found it had fallen out. Something else to fix. The ride in from the Soo was fairly quick and uneventful. We got home to find that the contractors has finished 90% of the job. All that remained was some fine tuning.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Interlochen - Day 3

It was a cool morning. Boomer and his new dog, Scotty, Sandy, Slammer and Gearman huddle around the camp stove as the coffee is brewing and Slammer's digital thermometer says 36F. Luckily, despite the cold overnight, the ceramic heater and down comforter kept us toasty warm.

What's an Interlochen morning without breakfast at Grandma's? As soon as we warmed up a little, small groups started trickling down to the corner where we ate with gusto.

Our group decided to head north today, up to the Tunnel of Trees. Tomcat led, with us, Stonewall on his new (to him) Wing, Furhead and Gearman in tow. We rode up US 31 to Charlevoix, where traffic backed up as it merged from four lanes to two for the narrow downtown area. I blocked the right lane to prevent cars from slipping past us and cutting in but gave a Chrysler 300 from Pennsylvania a break because I though he might be heading for a side street. Nope, this guy figured he had special privileges that allowed him to by-pass all of us who were waiting in line. I moved back out and nobody else got by.

On the north side of Petoskey, we stopped in a pretty little municipal park. Signs, visible only to those using the restrooms, warned that smoking was prohibited in the entire park area. I chose to pretend that I hadn't been to the restroom. Smoking prohibitions are getting tighter and tighter.

Going north, we took a detour through Harbor Springs, a very upscale community right on the shore of Lake Michigan. Large houses, many of them quite old, lined the streets and impressive boats were docked at the marinas. I can only imagine what real estate goes for here.

The Tunnel of Trees is a narrow winding road that parallels the lake shore. The trees from both sides grow together blocking out the sky, hence the name. We were lucky because the only slow moving vehicles we came up behind pulled over and let us by. We saw southbound bikes trapped behind slow movers, a frustrating experience.

At Cross Village, we stopped at Legs Inn amid many motorcycles. Legs is named for a row of table legs mounted on the roof and features Polish cuisine served by summer students direct from, you guessed it, Poland. Sandy and I split a Taste of Poland specialty that included cabbage rolls on sauerkraut, perogies, kielbasa and dumplings. We talked to a contingent of Women on Wheels at the next table about upcoming rides in the area. Outside, afterwards, the Pennsylvania Chrysler 300 that annoyed me in Charlevoix was parked right in front of the restaurant. The middle aged driver was helping and elderly lady into the front seat so I opted to not tell him what I thought of his driving manners.

We got onto the big road and highballed it south. Stonewall broke off to go into Traverse City while Jack led the rest of us around town, getting us back to the campground about 6:00 PM. I pulled the awning down on the trailer so that we wouldn't be packing it wet with dew the next morning. There were a few new faces dropping by to see what VROC was all about, so we spent time talking to them and amongst ourselves. The fire got started again, but Sandy and I turned in even earlier than last night.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Interlochen - Day 2

We woke late and the group wandered down to Grandma's again for breakfast. Then, back at the campground, we broke into smaller groups to head out for some rides.

Tomcat led our crew south on US 31 to Manistee, where we stopped by the harbour.

Here, the bikes are lined up in the parking area as the brave souls wander down to the windswept water.

From Manistee, I took the lead with Stella guiding. We explored a new road, Mi 110, that headed north along the lake. It was limited to 35 MPH, but that was enough given the twists and turns it took among the cottages and summer homes. We will need a new sign to indicate sand dunes across the road, though. That was a surprise as I was leaning through a corner.

At the end of 110, we came to Mi 22, the usual route we take north. It consists of many sweepers with some tighter corners where it climbs and descends the massive sand dunes that make up the terrain in this area. We stopped at the usual scenic overlook and some of the more industrious members climbed the long stairs to the upper platform. I've been there before, so I sat down on a bench and waited.

From there, we continued north to Frankfort where we had a case of deja vu all over again. Last year, Tomcat was leading when he made a wrong turn. In the course of going through a parking lot and reversing direction, he got his foot caught under his floorboard and, essentially, ran over his own foot. Tomcat took the lead in Frankfort again to guide us to a restaurant and missed the same turn. As we pulled into the same parking lot, we all had the same feeling as the potted petunia in the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, "Oh no, not again". This time, Jack kept his feet up and we averted tragedy.

We ate at the Villa Marine Bar and Grill, the same place where The Mighty Stonewall got his Wing stuck the night before. Since Gord wasn't with us this time, we couldn't ask for an instant replay. Thanks for lunch, Jack. It was kind of you.

After lunch, I resumed the lead and we wound on up Mi 22 through Sleeping Bear Dunes. Then we cut south on some back roads, returning to Interlochen. With Stella's help, I'm pleased to say that this is the first run through this area that I can remember us not getting lost.

Back at the campground, Flip's plan of a potluck supper was coming together. They had collected money and set off with Slammer's truck to pick up food.

Here, Flip, Shelby and Lugnut discuss important things while Slammer, Flattop and Bugsplat cook away in the background. Food consisted of wings, corn on the cob, burgers, beans, several salads and other goodies. It was a fine repast and we give thanks to all those who made it happen.

This was the largest gathering we have had in Interlochen. Slammer even drove his truck all the way from North Carolina. Many were old familiar faces, but there were quite a few new ones as well. This blend of old and new friends is what keeps us coming back time after time. Special Kudos to Marlene, who made her first solo trip from Adrian Michigan. Scotty had come up earlier and Mar made better time than he did.

As usual, the fire started as the sun went down, although I found that an earlier bed time was a better choice and turned in about midnight.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Interlochen - Day 1

Sudbury Ontario to Interlochen Michigan

The contractors were hard at work this morning as we loaded the bike and trailer for the annual pilgrimage to the Michigan VROC gathering at Interlochen. I hate leaving while the work is still going on, but the gathering of the clan is a call we can't ignore.

We got on the road about 9:30, running into a stiff headwind from the west. The only thing of note between Sudbury and the Soo (188 miles) was one idiot in a Honda CRV with Connecticut plates who, when trailing a line of slow traffic led by a tandem dump truck, pulled out in a passing lane and failed to accelerate. Driving etiquette says this shouldn't happen. I was obnoxious enough in his mirror that he pulled back over and, accelerating to WARP 9, I managed to get by the truck before the passing lane ran out.

The bridge traffic over to Soo Michogan was backed way up onto the bridge again, an increasingly common occurrence. When we finally got into a line for a booth, it was very slow. It seems the Border Guard was a young lady with an eastern European accent who was very friendly but also very chatty. When I declared my one package of cigarettes, she even wanted to know when I was planning to quit:-)

Finally through Customs, we road the 50 miles south to the Mackinac Bridge, where we were surprised by another long line of vehicles waiting to pay the bridge toll. This was a new one on us. The bridge was under high wind warnings, but they were only medium high based on our past experience and we were not shuffled into the steel grate lane so it was a good crossing.

As we were on the last part of the bridge, I was passing a truck when I saw a bike with a black batwing fairing moving up on me. Once past the truck, I cleared the lane. As he pulled up even with us, I was surprised to see the infamous Wisconsin VROCer, Furhead, also Interlochen bound. We pulled off at the first exit to say hello. My plan had been to head down I-75 to Gaylord and then cut over, but Furhead was planning on US 31 through Petoskey so we decided to take his route with him. It was a good choice because the traffic was lighter than usual and it was an enjoyable ride.

Two things we noticed on the ride. First, the water in the big lakes were a strange shade of blue-green. Aqua or teal or something an interior decorator could identify. Second, some of the maples and poplars were already starting to change colour. Tomcat said he thought that was because they were drought stressed, but I'm thinking an early fall might be on the way.

We got to Cycle-Moore Campground in Interlochen about 6:00 PM. There were already a number of familiar faces in residence and a few new ones, too. We wandered down to Grandma's Restaurant at the corner for supper. Afterwards, everyone gathered at the campground and, as the sun went down, we lit the bonfire and sat around visiting. Sandy called it quits before I did, and I finally turned in about 2:00 AM.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's been quite a week.......

Got down to see Mom last Friday, the same day the contractor started excavating our old driveway. They pulled up the asphalt, which had been laid right on the clay, and dug down three feet while widening at the same time. Then they filled it with slag, finer material and stone. It has been edged with 6x6 timber and drainage pipes and will be finished with crusher dust. They excavated the front and back, added to the tar line and are grading the yards away from the house. Tree stumps were removed , yards will be sodded and window wells added. Quite the project, but the guys working at Micugh Construction seem very conscientious and are paying a lot of attention to detail.

Tomorrow, we will leave them to their work and head to the annual Michigan VROC gathering in Interlochen. Look for some posts on this small but friendly weekend.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Passing of a Fine Gentleman

Those of you who have followed our blog for a while may remember last July when we shared the great hospitality of Don "Very Short Person" Inamasu in Stockton, California. We shared several meals with his parents Leona and Frank.

It is with regret that I must inform you that Don's father Frank passed away Monday, August 6th at the age of 94. He led a long and productive life and it was an honour to have met him.

Here is a post Don made to the VROC newsgroup.

"Not many of you knew my dad. He worked until he was 79 years old. He basically died of old age at 94.

The Obit is incorrect in that ONLY Dad and my Uncle Mas were sent to Japan from 1916 to 1929 to live with their father's parents. When Dad graduated from high school in Japan is when he and my Uncle returned to Stockton to join the rest of his family who had remained in Stockton."