Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Camp Quality Ride

Camp Quality is located just off Highway 64 near Monetville, Ontario. It is a place where children fighting cancer can go and get away from their worries for a little while. The campers are paired one to one with older guides who are trained to look after each child's special needs.

Every year, the Sudbury Wings motorcycle club organizes a group ride to Camp Quality where the riders take the children old enough to go along on a short motorcycle ride.  This year, we gathered at the Canadian Tire store on the south side of town. Almost every club was represented and we had a full escort of Greater Sudbury Police bikes with one car for follow-up. Freedom Riders were represented by Lea, Nicky, Sandy and I.

The group headed south out of town on Highway 60 to Highway 64 where we turned east. There was a short stop in Noelville before continuing on to Camp Quality.

The group ahead of us led by two police motors

And those behind us

The kids were waiting at the camp and we kept loading up, going for a ride to Monetville and back, exchanging kids and going again. I took three before it appeared that we had run out of young people.

One of the kids getting ready to go

The camp had put on quite a feast but the sun was low and I wasn't game to wait for dark in an area known for deer. Nicky and Lea opted to leave with us and we rode on up 64 to Highway 17, where we turned west and got home just as dark was falling. It was a good day for a good cause and we were happy to be part of it.

Sunset on Highway 17

Today's Route (130 motorcycle miles):

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Woodstock Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

The drive home was uneventful. We took the 401 to Cambridge and then followed back roads around Guelph to 24 and followed the usual route up to Highway 9 and over to the 400 North. I was surprised to see just how much road work was going on on the secondary routes. The service centre in Barrie was still closed. The sign said "rebuilding to serve you better" but, since they closed it in the spring, all that has been done is demolition. No sign of any rebuilding all summer.

We got into some steady warm front rain from Parry Sound that ended just as we got to Sudbury. All I can say is that it is much more enjoyable with a roof over one's head.

Today's Route (319 van miles):

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Woodstock Ontario to Cambridge Ontario and back again

For the third straight morning, we left Woodstock for Cambridge. I really appreciate the new Tim Horton's ham breakfast sandwich. It's a healthier choice than the sausage or the bacon. I prefer mine on the English muffin rather than the country biscuit.

At the house, we got out the inflatable pool that Tom and Heather had gotten for the girls. I broke out the 12 volt air compressor I carry in the van to save our lungs.

Inflating the pool

This pool is interesting. The umbrella top has a water line leading up to it which provides a shower for anyone in the pool. We got it aired up and moved it to the side yard where we put some water in it and connected the water line to the top. Jolene liked it and eventually we had Robyn and Mom in there as well.

I'm not sure about this

OK, it's not so bad

Look Grandma, the beach toys you brought me from California

It's getting a little crowded in here

After pool time was over, Mike fired up the grill (I used to call it a BBQ until I found out what real BBQ is) and cooked up some hot dogs and little brisket burger sliders.  It was a fine lunch.  Then we headed back to Woodstock to see Heather and Tom for a bit.

We arrived at 2:30, just after Heather and Tom got in.  They said Boomer's weekend was a great success.  After hanging out for the afternoon, we went to Crabby Joe's in old downtown Woodstock. We followed supper up with a stop at an ice cream shop on the way back to the house.  When we got in, Sandy and Heather watched TV while I read a little more before going to bed.

Today's Route (65 van miles):

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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Woodstock Ontario to African Lion Safari and Back

We were up early this morning and on the road again to Cambridge.

Arriving at Kim and Mike's we found Michael looking into new vehicles. His company was going to provide him with a car allowance but specified it could be no more than four model years old and the Caravan wasn't up to the task. Kim liked their new Mazda too much to give it up to him so he was test driving a few options. His choices were limited to Chrysler products because of their aggressive financing options. His first test was a sensible Journey, which he brought home for everyone to look at. Then he went to the place he really wanted to be. A Dodge Ram 1500 with the Hemi gas engine. Once a truck man, always a truck man:-))

The test Journey was color matched to Jolene's outfit

While Mike continued his vehicle search, the rest of us loaded the kids into the Mazda for an expedition to the African Lion Safari which was only a few miles down the road. I drove the enjoyable little car over there where we found it was a very busy day. After getting through the gate, we found ourselves directed to the grass parking lot behind the overflow lot. Rather than drive Kim's car through the property and chance some serious baboon damage, we opted to pay a little more and take the bus. With all the crowds, we wondered how long we would have to wait but, surprise, we were put on the next one long and had most of the back seats to ourselves.

The long walk from the parking lot

Waiting for the bus

We had the back of the bus to ourselves

I haven't been to the Lion Safari in many years. This attraction allows vehicles to drive through compounds populated with wild animals. The big cat section had a pride of lions and some cheetahs. The baboon area is always fun as the large primates climb on the cars and try to figure out which parts, like mirrors and wipers, are removable. The section with the herbivores had rhinos, giraffes, zebras and all manner of antelope type creatures along with North American elk and bison. It was all quite educational but only held Jolene's attention for about half the way. Still, both she and Robyn were very well behaved.  My apologies for not taking any animal photos but I was having too much fun with the kids.

After the bus tour, we had lunch at the Mombasa Market. It seems Jolene has quite the appreciation for onion rings. Good to know.

Resting footsies before heading back to the car

Instead of going straight home, Kim asked me to drive around a little bit so I looked for some back roads. Jolene went right to sleep but Robyn cried until Kim gave her a bottle. Then she settled down. Back at the house, Kim and Robyn went in while Sandy and I took Jolene for another drive. As we were motoring along, I told her that she would be able to drive herself in another fourteen years. "When I'm sixteen", she said. Wow, where did that come from? It seems Kim and Mike had told her that a while ago and it stuck in her mind.

Back at the house, I took Jolene to the park where we played on the swings for a while. No shrinking violet, all I kept hearing was "Higher, higher".

Higher, higher

We had stir fry for supper before heading back to Woodstock once again, hot and tired from a very exhausting day.

Looking at Grandma

Drinking is serious business

P.S. We heard a few days later that Jolene told Mike, as she was getting ready for bed "Me and Grandma and Grandpa and Mommy went to Where The Wild Things Are. But Max wasn't there." Amazing how those little minds work.

Today's Route (97 van/Mazda miles):

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Woodstock Ontario to Cambridge Ontario and back

Heather and Tom worked a half day while Sandy and I went to the Pancake House for breakfast. After noon, we left them packing their bikes for the ride to see Boomer and company in Ohio. I'm proud of the way that these two have taken to motorcycle touring and camping. They have their routine and everything they need has a place. We'll see them on Sunday when they get back.

When we arrived at Kim's, Robyn was napping and Jolene was still at day care. We had a chance to catch up with Mom before kids started appearing. When Mike brought Jolene in, she gave a shriek and ran for hugs making Grandpa Jim feel pretty good. Robyn, on the other hand, wanted no part of me. In fact, for the first while, she cried every time she looked at me. Slowly, she settled down.

Robyn having a snack

Mother and child reunion

Jolene amusing herself

Robyn might be part monkey

Then again, maybe this one will ride roller coasters some day

Take my picture, Grandma

A serious moment

Playing together, sort of

We had homemade pizza for supper. They use some special kind of Fleishmann's yeast that makes the crust come out sort of like a croissant. It was different and really good. Jolene really tucked into it, too.

Homemade pizza is great

After the little ones went to bed, Sandy and I drove back to Woodstock. The new key worked in the door and I managed to shut off the burglar alarm without setting it off. I read a bit before we settled in for the night.

Today's Route (65 van miles):

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Sudbury Ontario to Woodstock Ontario

We had originally planned to attend Boomer's camp out for VROC friends near Toledo this weekend but decided instead to spend it with kids and grandkids. It had been too long since we saw them. Heather and Tom will represent the family in Ohio. Although they would be away for much of the weekend, we opted to stay at their place in Woodstock because things are kind of crowded at Kim and Mike's with the two kids.  The commute from Woodstock to Cambridge wasn't very far.

We headed south in the van just after 10:00 AM this morning. On the way down I discovered two things. One, I really don't like the low, clear LED roof racks on the police vehicles. It makes them very difficult to spot. No problem this time since they don't mind my 15 KPH over the limit cruising speed, but I like to know where they are. Second, the McDonald's in Parry Sound had signs indicating Mickey D was adding free WiFi at their establishments across Canada. About time, since this service has been available free in the USA for over a year.

I decided to take the 400/401 route since it was before Toronto rush hour. I never counted on heavy construction at the ramp from 400 to westbound 401 and again on the 401 past the 403 exit. The traffic was jammed, which cost us some time. Once clear of the roadwork, however, we had a clear shot to Woodstock.  It did surprise me as we traversed the construction zones just how many people are still talking on handheld cell phones.  The province has tried education so now it is time for a little more enforcement.

Heather and Tom were still at work when we arrived at their house and the key they provided me didn't work in the lock, so we killed a half hour or so until Tom arrived.  He swapped by bad key for another which did work.  We took a short trip  to WalMart where Tom picked up an inflatable pool as a gift for Jolene and Robin.  Then it was back to the house where Heather arrived and we spent the evening visiting.

Today's Route (315 van miles):

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A Blast From The Past

Sandy's brother Malcolm has been scanning old photos and slides.  Occasionally, he will forward a couple he thinks we might appreciate.  These were taken at Horseshoe Bay during our July 1986 trip to Vancouver.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Thoughts on the June Trip

First, the rallies.

Jamey T. and Trouble did a great job organizing WWR5 in Deadwood.  I always like the Black Hills and I like them better when friends are there.  Despite the WiFi issue, the hotel was just fine and ideally situated while the cafe was great. If they should decide to turn this into an annual regional rally, it will be very high on our priority list.

The Aebleskiver rally in Solvang was everything we could have hoped for and more.  Jim and Cat found an ideal location and, although the turnout wasn't huge, we all had a blast.  I understand it will go ahead next year in July (thank you) and, despite the great distance, we'll make every effort to be there.

Despite all the fine eating, I didn't gain a single pound while we were away.  And traveling with Sherm was just like always.  He is the ideal travel partner, undemanding and yet full of ideas about what we can do next. We look forward to many trips in the future.

Now for the thoughts on the motorhome after our third trek of the season.  For a while, I was thinking about moving up sometime to a Class A unit for more space.  Then I started considering downsizing to a comprehensive Class B like a RoadTrek which would get better mileage and be easier to maneuver.  My current thought is that I am getting pretty good at wheeling the Majestic around and, despite the miles we are putting on, replacing an engine or transmission isn't too big a deal if we should wear them out.  As a result, I think we will stick with what we have for the foreseeable future since it has been working for us.

This trip was a little fast paced.  We could easily have taken two months or more, stopping to see things along the way.  I'm not sure why we pushed so hard but think that we will plan to take an easier pace in the future.  It is, after all, just a state of mind that needs to be adjusted.

The rest of the season  will be pretty slack.  After missing Boomer's, the next event on the schedule is the Freedom Rally in Sudbury at the end of July and then Interlochen, Michigan a couple of weeks later.  Then we have the Waterloo Wings gathering in Wiarton, Ontario on Labour Day weekend, the NEVROC Maine Ride in Bethel the weekend after and maybe Eureka Springs, Arkansas the weekend after that.  The Maine and Arkansas rides won't involve the motorhome and may not even include the bike.  Time will tell.

Now I need to get the RV  washed, some service work done and the tires looked after.  We'll be off to see the kids next weekend in the van and I might even get some golf in.  I do need to find a place to store the rig since it takes up my whole driveway.

Being a WHORE (We Haul Our Rides Everywhere) is a whole different experience.  In a  way, I miss the sense of accomplishment pulling into places all across the continent knowing we have done it on two wheels.  But we've already done that so many times and this new way of getting around has definite advantages.  We need to do some fine-tuning but I think it is working out for us.

Lastly, I was doing partial blog updates with photos and maps as we went along, getting to the narrative later. I did this for the rallies because of the demand for current pictures.  I think I will keep that up for the gatherings but will hold the regular posts back until they are complete.  The new format of text, then pictures, allows for a lot more photos and is easier to write to so I I will keep that.  And the new Rogers Rocket Stick wireless device has allowed us contact from almost anywhere so we can be in touch more often.

So, dear readers, enjoy your summer and stay tuned.  We'll keep you posted on our activities as time goes on.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Trip Summary

Days on the road - 30


Distance traveled - 9,308 Kms (5,784 miles)
Fuel fill ups - 17
US Gallons consumed - 687.2
MP(US)G - 8.42
Mileage at end of trip - 125,468 Kms (77,966 miles)


Distance traveled - 1,203 Kms (748 miles)
Fuel fill ups - 4
US Gallons consumed - 20.92
MP(US)G - 35.76
Mileage at end of trip - 232,357 Kms (144,387 miles)

Beaver Dam Wisconsin to Sudbury Ontario

Happy Canada Day!!

We awoke to the sound of thunder. The radar showed a smattering of local storms throughout the area, the first rain we have seen since leaving Deadwood. I decided to adjust the trailer tire pressures and add a bit to the tire we had fixed yesterday. Now that the ambient air temperature was cooler, it was reading a couple of pounds low. A nearby gas station had free air so I topped up the trailer tires but, when I tried to add to the motorhome tire, a poor air fitting on the hose only succeeded in bleeding the pressure even lower. I moved next door to a Home Depot and unlimbered my 12 volt compressor to get the job done.

We connected with US 41 and drove through Oshkosh, Appleton and Green Bay to the Michigan border without incident. It was interesting that gas stations in Marinette, Wisconsin on the border have their gas priced closed to Michigan prices instead of twenty cents cheaper like further south in the state. It looks to me that while Michigan prices are high due to taxes, Marinette prices are high due to gouging.

Following Michigan 35 into Escanaba, we found significant road work in progress. Despite the disrupted traffic patterns, we managed to get into the lot of Advance Auto Parts where we found two bottles of White Diamond metal polish on the shelf. We bought both of them. Then it was back on the road again. Passing through Gladstone, I though about our friend Slots. He will know why.

Rather than cut north on Michigan 117 to Newberry, I stayed on US 2 and took the Worth Road/M123 cutover we found on the way out. I did stop at a rest area on 2 along Lake Michigan and was surprised to see the padlock on the trailer hitch was missing. The only thing I can figure is that it never got put on way back in Kingman and I have been at risk of having the latch pop open all that way. I secured the latch with a cable tie and we continued on. In the small town of Moran, I mailed my postage paid envelope to Riders of Kawasaki for the complimentary membership I won in Solvang.

We arrived in the Soo and fueled at the Citgo. The price here was $3.849/gallon, way above what it was further south but still much cheaper than Ontario prices. We set out across the Intenational Bridge and saw the US bound traffic was lined up almost all the way back to the far shore. It looked mostly like Canadians trying to escape for the long weekend. The wait in our direction was only 15 minutes and then we were back in Canada with 8 hours left on our health insurance. One bozo with US plates on a Ducati did weave through the car lines and then ignored the boulevard stop sign at the booth, pulling right in behind the car being inspected. This should have caused him to be sent to secondary but the border agent let him get away with it.

Leaving the Soo, the wind was out of the east. I guess there was no reason to break a losing streak this late in the game. Along the power line near Echo Bay, we saw five osprey nests on top of poles and, just before the St. Joe's Island turn, we saw a new herd of buffalo. There was not much else to note as we wound down the trip on this familiar stretch of highway. We arrived home just about sundown and had the bike unloaded, trailer unhooked and everthing properly parked in no time.

Today's Photos

Rain in Beaver Dam - the first we've seen since Deadwood

Wisconsin - Land O' Lakes

I'd hate to try to tie up this many bicycles

Lake Michigan

The Soo Locks

Canadians trying to escape to the U SA on Canada Day

Lined up almost the full length of the International Bridge

The motorcycle weaved through traffic to the booth

Waiting for the truck lane

One of five osprey nests visible on the pole line

The sun sets on this trip

Today's Route (593 motorhome miles):

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