Monday, September 19, 2016

Auburn Indiana to Sudbury Ontario

We started north on I-69 at 6:45 AM after a hot Hampton Inn breakfast. After crossing into Michigan, the roads got rougher, as usual. In Lansing, we took US 127 north but it took me two tries. I have gone through this interchange many times and yet I somehow got turned around and found us heading for Port Huron on the first attempt.

Usually, the trees here are well into their colour change this time of year, but all Sandy got to photograph was a few tinges. Maybe fall will be late this year. Maybe we can golf on Christmas Day again??

A bit of colour

A bit more

Trees are taking their time

I was really starting to feel really tired so Sandy took over the driving from Gaylord to Mackinaw City.

Team driver

Clouds behind clouds

Big Mac comes into view

Rested, I took the wheel back  before we crossed the Mackinac Bridge. The High Wind signs were up but they didn't affect the Equinox.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Lanes closed as usual

Hydro-Jet Ferry

Gateway to a different world

The Upper Peninsula was quiet. We stopped for fuel before crossing the border. There was almost no traffic US bound and we drove down to find an empty lane just waiting for us. The border agent asked what we were bringing back with us. I told him we had various items amounting to $250 US and he waived us right through. Total time on the bridge was about four minutes. Best crossing ever.

Lake boat leaving locks for Lake Superior

No one ahead of us

The trip back was uneventful until we got to the Spanish River Bridge. It was still one lane but we got across quickly. Then we got stuck in a much longer line because they were paving at Old Nairn Road. Then there was another and finally a 4th flagger by Fairbanks Road. That was a miserable final 35 miles after a 2,500 mile trip. Good old MTO.

Two seasons in Northern Ontario - winter and construction

Even the cops don't get a break

Will they get it finished by winter?

We finally pulled into our driveway a little before 5:30. It is always sad to get home after the last run of the year. Hopefully, it will be a short winter and then we can do it all over again.

Today's Route (600 Equinox miles):

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Eureka Springs Arkansas to Auburn Indiana

Thanks to everyone (especially Laura) for another great VROC gathering. The Stonegate Inn worked out well for us. The WiFi could have used more bandwidth, since it stalled when we all got on line, but it was better than most places VROC ends up. In-room coffee would have been nice as well. Maybe we will go Biker's route and start bringing a Keurig. All in all, we had a great time.

Oh yes, Happy 61st Birthday to my brother Dave (Rabbi).

We were up at 4:15 AM. Sherm was out the door at 4:25 while we hit the road at 4:40. It was a pleasant 66 degrees although there was a lot of condensation on the windows that the climate control system in the Equinox did not seem to be able to handle for a while.

It was just after 5:00 when we went through the McDonald's parking lot in Berryville but none of the outside lights were on. We opted to keep going up through Blue Eye into Missouri and over to US 65 North.

Sunrise over US 65

Going by Branson


We stopped at the McDonald's we sometimes visit in Ozark. They had kiosks like we have at home, but they were not operational. The young lady said they were an experiment, as was the Build Your Own Burger, so I guess Canada is ahead as far as Mickey D's technology goes. Except for all day breakfast. We don't have that.

Heading northeast on I-44, the sun was in our eyes except when we encountered occasional patches of fog. Rather than go through St. Louis like usual, I decided to take I-255 and cross the Mississippi River south of the city. We got fuel in Sullivan and lunch at the McDonald's in Effingham.

Fog on I-44 in Missouri

Bridges over the Mississippi River on I-255

Old Man River

From Show Me to Land Of Lincoln

Nice vehicle for a Sunday drive

Someone zigged when they should have zagged

Effingham Illinois

We continued on through Illinois on into Indiana where we went south around Indianapolis on I-465. We came out on I-69 up through Fort Wayne, rolling into Auburn at 5:00 PM Eastern. Losing the hour moving east did not set us back much. We took a tour through town before returning to the Hampton Inn. With 692 miles down today, we would have a little less than 600 to cover tomorrow.

A house in Auburn Illinois

After we settled into our room, we went to the nearby Cracker Barrel for supper. We called Sherm and found he was almost to Grants, New Mexico and still rolling. Supper was OK but my chopped steak was a little too well done.

The Old Country Store

They are all the same

Back in the room, we went to bed early. Hampton Inn's have the best mattresses and pillows. We can't afford them all the time (or maybe we can?) but we don't avoid them when one is in the right spot. I read for a bit and then fell fast asleep.

Today's Route (692 Equinox miles):

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Eureka Springs - Crescent Hotel, War Eagle Mill and more ice cream

From today, it will be exactly six month until St. Patrick's Day.

A number of people pulled out this morning. Malachi & Corvette headed for Colorado while Debbie, Vickie and Kay went towards Texas. Plaything told Scooter that fourteen hours on the road was not her idea of a one day ride, so they were Chattanooga bound a day ahead of plan. This was her first long haul on the Spyder and she was doing great.

As we were bidding Au Revoir to everyone (that is so much less final than goodbye), Magellan and  family headed off to have a quiet ceremony to remember his son-in-law J-POB, who passed away back in January at the young age of 38. Brian was a smiling face on the VROC circuit for years and we are really going to miss him.

Saying goodbyes

The Texas ladies are leaving

Hot Sauce, Mal, Hang, Zeke and Corvette


J-POB's ride to the bridge

Mal and Corvette heading home

There they go

Once everyone was gone, Zeke and Hang joined Sandy, Sherm and I as we headed over to try the breakfast buffet at the Crescent Hotel. This was the dining room that we jammed 416 VROCers into (capacity was 350 according to the fire department) back in 2001 for a banquet sponsored by Kawasaki as well as the place where, back in 2003, photos showed more orbs than a Lawrence Welk bubble machine.

At 9:00 AM, there was all kinds of space and nary an orb to be seen in the dining room. The food was well prepared, although we had a little misunderstanding regarding the charges. Unlike any other buffet I have ever attended, there was a separate charge for using the omelette preparation table. Our server was very good looking but could have been a better communicator. We chose not to make a fuss and went on with our day.

Crystal Room at the Crescent Hotel

Breakfast buffet

No orbs

We got back to the hotel about 11:00 AM and found no one else there. After doing a bit of planning for the trip home, we decided to go for a drive.

The five of us piled back into the Equinox. First stop was War Eagle Mill, which had been partway underwater during the flooding last fall. The water level was part way up the first floor but it was now fixed up as good as new. This is pretty routine since the mill flooded twice in 2009, once in 2011 and again in 2015.

I did a bad thing and bought some of the unusual candies. Sherm chose peanut brittle made with Tennessee moonshine while I got Jack Daniels pecan pralines and something called Wicked Mix.

War Eagle Mill

The drive line

Unusual goodies

I should not have bought these

Or these

The bridge at War Eagle Mill

The dam

The rare undershot water wheel

Some history

From War Eagle, we continued on around Beaver Lake to Rogers. It was too early to stop at G@d's BBQ for lunch so we kept going down the new highway to the east. OK, it's an old highway with a new surface and another lane each way. Before too long, we found ourselves back at the Shortstop in Garfield where we introduced Zeke and Hang to the outrageous ice cream cones.

Meanwhile, back at the Shortstop....

Then we looped around to pay a visit to the world's largest beaver dam before returning to our motel.

Another dam view

The Beaver Dam holding back Beaver Lake

A thoughtful moment

Back at the Stonegate, we started to pack and load up for an early morning departure. Some character showed up with a karaoke machine. Apparently he is a regular and has a deal with motel management but he didn't fit in with our vibe and, after a conversation with a few members, he opted to go elsewhere for the evening.

Supper was the leftovers from Hot Sauce's stupendous feed last night. He made up what he considered to be a mild chili. Us poor Canuckians still found it warm, but the brisket was to die for. No one ever goes hungry when Scott and Margot are around. Thank both of you (and all that helped out) for all you do year after year.

Southern Draw recharging his batteries



So much food, so little time


Gambler digs into the chili

As the sun set on our last gathering of the year, there were goodbyes all around. Many of us would be leaving before first light tomorrow so this was the final adieu. The last run of the season is always bittersweet but we know that, when winter is done, we'll do it all again.

With two long days to get home (Sherm's route was 1,296 miles while we had 1,280 miles), the three of us hit the sack early.

Today's Route (79 Equinox miles):