Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sudbury Ontario to Cambridge Ontario

I got up after my second alarm went off at 7:00 AM. I guess I must have hit the kill button when the first alarm went off an hour earlier, no surprise since I think I finally got to sleep about 4:30. This wasn't the way to start off a day of driving, and I would have grabbed another hour except that I had a breakfast meeting with some MS Society people at 8:00.

Sandy and I would be heading south today to participate in the first birthday celebration for grandson Jasper tomorrow in Cambridge. Normally we would have gone down yesterday but a Symposium that our MS Society chapter was hosting today had some out of town folks attending. Although we would miss the presentations, the early meeting had been scheduled to discuss some inter-chapter business.

Despite never having any spectacularly cold days, the fact that we didn't have any warm ones either has made this the coldest February on record. Ever. Since they began keeping records. Let's hear it for Global Warming. It was -23C as we headed over to the Tim Horton's where we planned to meet the folks from North Bay and our Regional Director from Thunder Bay.

By the time the meeting was over and we had stopped by the Rona Ramsey MS Centre of Hope to look after a little paperwork, it was 9:50. The temperature was rising fast, all the way up to -12 as we turned our way south in the trusty Avalanche.

The trip was uneventful. Sandy didn't even take any pictures. We stopped in Parry Sound and grabbed a quick McDonald's lunch to go. It was probably the lack of sleep that threw me off south of there. I suddenly got choppy in the curves, something that happens more on the bike than when I'm piloting four wheels. As before, I noted that I was fixating on the centre line way to close ahead of us, so I  forced myself to unlock my eyeballs. Things got better after that. Driving is so natural to me that when I slip out of the zone, it scares me.

I mentioned how the trusty Garmin Zumo 550 GPS had been giving me some problems, not the least of which was a missing button. I recently found out that Garmin was no longer selling refurbished 550 units to people with problems. It was time for an upgrade and I had been doing some research. I played a bit with Stewey's Zumo 665 in Arkansas last year. It looked like it would do everything I had learned how to do with the 550, albeit sometimes a little differently, and more. Except for the XM radio, which I never used on the 550 and could not make a good enough case for now. So the Zumo 660 was my choice. Allowing for exchange rates (which will hurt us this summer), the price at Radioworld in Toronto was about the best around. Be advised that specialized motorcycle GPS units are not cheap.

We were north of Barrie when I called Radioworld. They had 660's in stock but they closed at 2:00 PM. It was 1:00 when I made the call and we still had about 55 miles of highway and Toronto traffic to deal with, so I poured on the coals a little bit more and we arrived in the parking lot with ten minutes to spare. I bought a new 660 and, as I was sitting in the truck figuring out how to install the battery in my new precision instrument (or toy, take your pick), the Closed sign lit up in the store window.

I called The Mighty Stonewall in Woodbridge to see if he was available for coffee. I thought we might meet him Monday, but our big city chore was now out of the way and I wasn't coming back to Hogtown during the Monday morning rush. Unfortunately, Gord was getting ready for his brother's wedding so we had to put off getting together until next time.

Comparisons are fun. I mounted the new unit next to the trusty old one and we set out for Cambridge on the 401. I know that texting and driving isn't safe. It probably isn't safe to be experimenting with a new GPS either while barreling down the busiest highway in North America, but we arrived in one piece. I'm going to like this new device. It did everything I wanted plus had lane assist and let me decide what readouts to keep on the screen. Things I had to flip to other screens for on the 550, like altitude, average speed and a host of other measurements. Any four, take your pick. Plus, any time we approached a major exit, it would flash up a picture of the route sign for a few seconds to augment the lane assist. The only down side will be that, while all the wires and plugs are the same, the configuration is a bit different. I have some cabling work to do to get this functioning on the bike.

We pulled into the lot at the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre at about 3:00 PM (which was, coincidentally, check in time). I wasn't that impressed with the Super 8 next door the last time we came down, so I figured we'd give this place a shot. Good choice. The room was nice and they gave us the WiFi password. It was right about then that I realized my computer was all packed up and sitting next to our coffee table back in Sudbury. I'm lucky that my head is screwed on!

We called Kim and Mike and dropped over to visit them. As usual, the granddaughters were either happy to see it or are on the road to becoming great actresses. We had a supper of chicken and salad, played with the girls and watched some TV before heading back to the hotel a little after 10:00.

We stopped at a convenience store along the way and a lady in a car approached us and said she was lost. This was at the corner of Myer and Water St and she was looking for the 401. I told her that we were heading to our hotel which was right beside the 401 on ramp, so she followed us up Hespeler Road to the interchange. She pulled up beside me at the last traffic light and told me she had a camp near Shawanaga. Almost Northern Ontario. And she knew someone that played hockey for the Sudbury Wolves. Too bad I don't follow hockey.

In the room with no computer, I read a bit on my Kindle. "Nature's God - the heretical origins of the American Republic". Nice light reading before going to sleep. At least it is for a Deist who studies the American Constitution:-) Soon it was time to roll over and go to sleep.

Today's Route (281 Avalanche miles):