Sunday, July 15, 2018

Freedom Riders Killarney Ride

The Freedom Riders Motorcycle Association holds monthly meetings, usually on the second Sunday of each month. Usually, members go for lunch afterwards. In the summer months, they like to ride. Today, President Rob decided the club would ride to the village of Killarney to eat.

Although the official Town of Killarney has grown geographically to cover an extensive area, most people live in the original village. The community is only accessible by land via a 40 mile road that connects to Highway 69, although it has an airport and marina facilities. Prior to 1962, water and air were the only means to get there and, throughout the 60's, it was operated as a camp by the Fruehauf Trailer Company of Detroit. In the summer, it was part of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The road allowed the rest of us peasants to gain regular access.

Me, Leo and Terry
all three are veterans of
the 1985 Rider Rally in Hot Springs, Arkansas
the 1988 Rider Rally in Cody Wyoming

After a fuel stop, the ravening hordes of Freedom Riders headed south, following Highway 144 to Highway 17, around the Southwest Bypass and then south on Highway 69.

The construction zone on Highway 17

South on Highway 69

Highway 637 (the Killarney Road)

You need to understand that highways in the north take an awful beating due to the freeze/thaw cycle in the winter. The Killarney Road was a perfect example. According to Wikipedia, "it travels eastward through the barren wilderness of the Canadian Shield, passing through lakes, swamps, forests, and rocks" for 42.1 miles. Dips, bumps, frost heaves and broken asphalt provided us with an opportunity to work on avoidance skills. There were some OK spots but there were more that were not OK. If the road was resurfaced, it would be an awesome ride.

The temperature as we rode toward the village was 90 F, but that lowered to the mid-70's as we approached the water.

We arrived in the village and went directly to the Killarney Mountain Lodge. They had room for us on the patio, so we settled in and arranged the large umbrellas to provide shade.

Inukshuk at Killarney Mountain Lodge

Sandy had a Caesar salad for lunch while I had a buffalo burger, bacon, cheese and all the trimmings except the bun and a side Caesar. The food was good (not inexpensive) but our server, a young man probably working for the summer between university terms, got quite confused. If he was pursuing higher education, I could only hope it was not in business or any other field that required attention to detail.

After the meal, New Guy Dave and I decided we didn't want to ride back in the large group. We left while the others were still exploring ice cream options. Instead of the 50 MPH we rode out at, we returned at 65-70. The little bumps were less noticeable at speed, but the big ones were more severe. Luckily we were able to dodge the worst of them.

Once we reached Highway 69, we headed north until we reached the Estaire exit. From there, we rode to town on Old Highway 69. This was the main road until they built the four-lane a decade or so ago. The scenery brought back a lot of memories.

Dave lived near us so we finished by riding the Southeast Bypass. He honked and waved as we turned into our subdivision. It was good to ride with the club but I don't think we will be rushing back to Killarney anytime soon due to the road. With construction to the west and more to start to the east, the Ministry of Transportation is limiting our riding options severely.

Today's Route (179 motorcycle miles):

Monday, July 09, 2018

A Big Storm and Microburst

As we came out of Extendicare York about 4:00 PM, we saw that angry black clouds had developed along the northern horizon. They looked nasty, but we have seen that before and not had a problem.

Lorna was supposed to be dropped at Sandy's cousin Jayne's house on Northway Avenue in New Sudbury. Following Notre Dame Avenue to Lasalle Boulevard would be the fastest route. It was rush hour, so we went through downtown to St. Anne Road to get to Notre Dame.

Black clouds looking north from Winchester Avenue

Dark clouds over Sudbury downtown

If you are not familiar with Sudbury, Ontario, it is a very spread out city. The whole municipality is larger than the state of Rhode Island, although the population is only 160,000. The old city is made up of pockets of residential areas surrounded by large rock hills and wetlands. There are only a few roads that connect these various neighborhoods.

Traffic was stopped on northbound Notre Dame. From the rise, it looked like there had been a traffic incident at the Kathleen Street intersection. We were able to turn on Leslie Street, go over the hill and connect with the eastbound Kingsway. This would be a rather long detour, but options were limited. As it turned out, this was a lucky break.

Looking north from Notre Dame Avenue

The sky looked pretty benign as we started east on The Kingsway. Eastbound was slow bumper to bumper, as one would expect of a four lane arterial road at quitting time. As we progressed, the sky got darker and darker. After less than a half mile, rain started to fall. Within the next mile, we got hit with torrential rain, hail and extremely violent wind from the north. By the time we got to Barrydowne Road, another half miles, it had eased up to just rain and calm air.

Light clouds to the east as we start on The Kingsway

The black clouds slide over us

Heavy rain starts

Hail starts

Visibility is almost zero

We turned north on Barrydowne Road but it looked pretty crowded. I decided to take a common shortcut to Lasalle via Westmount and Attlee Avenues. At the Barrydowne/Westmount intersection, we saw the first heavy water on the road. As we got to Attlee and started up the hill, we saw tree branches on the ground. A the top of the hill, the road was awash in water and we had to negotiate our way around numerous fallen trees all the way to Lasalle.

Barrydowne Road near Westmount Avenue

Lots of water on the road

Westmount Avenue

Attlee Avenue

The traffic lights were out at Attlee Avenue and Lasalle Boulevard. Common sense and courtesy prevailed so we were able to turn westbound onto four lane Lasalle Boulevard. That did not gain us much because we could see something on the rise about a half mile ahead. Police, ambulance and fire vehicles appeared to be congregated and traffic was barely moving. The problem was right around Northway Avenue, where Lorna was heading.

Westbound Lasalle Boulevard traffic jam

Storm debris around a traffic signal pole

More debris

Trees down

Telephone poles snapped in half

Dealing with downed power lines

Seeing that Lasalle was not going to work, I turned right on Lauzon Avenue and tried to get to Grandview Boulevard, which paralleled Lasalle to the north. We got to the start of Grandview and were turned around by a police constable due to downed trees and power lines. It was obvious we were not going to get to Jayne's house so we worked our way back to Woodbine Avenue.

Scenes along Lauzon, Grandview and Woodbine

Woodbine Avenue took us to the north end of Barrydowne Road, which didn't look as bad. Then we went east on Lasalle to Falconbridge Road and home, where Sandy's potted plant was still on its stand as if nothing had happened.

We finally reached Jayne's cell phone. She (and thousands of others) were without power and she said the tree in their yard and others all around their house were destroyed. Later in the evening, she came by to pick up Lorna, who would be going to visit another of Sandy's cousins at their remote home on Onaping Lake tomorrow.

The final analysis was that we were hit by a microburst associated with the thunderstorm. The heavy damage was confined to a corridor that appeared to be about a half mile wide extending from northwest to southeast across New Sudbury. Large trees were splintered in the worst area but it, surprisingly, most roofs appeared intact. I heard no reports of injuries. Had we not turned back to the Kingsway due to the traffic accident, we could have been in the middle of the burst instead of on the edge. Hence the luck I spoke of earlier.

From time to time Sudbury gets hit with adverse weather events. Lets hope this does not become a habit.

Our route across town:

Woodstock Ontario to Sudbury Ontario

We were in no rush this morning. After a leisurely hotel breakfast, which included scrambled eggs and link sausages for me, we were on the road just after 9:00 AM.

It was Monday morning so we avoided Toronto by taking Highway 24 to Airport Road and then Highway 9 to 400 North. We did stop at the Tim Horton's in Erin for a bathroom break and, while there, Lorna got an apple fritter. One more stop at Tim's near Parry Sound and we were back in town before 3:00 PM.

While we were on the road, Sandy's cousin Marie phoned. It seemed that Sandy's mother Jan had called Marie to say that she had broken her glasses. Sandy noted last week that Jan was wearing her old glasses so her new pair should be in a drawer. Once we arrived in town, we went directly to the Extendicare York nursing home and found the good pair of specs for her. Sandy will consult the optometrist regarding repair or replacement of the backup pair.

We left Extendicare a little after 4:00 PM but the final leg of our trip was not without event, as the next post will explain.

Today's Route (306 Equinox miles):

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Sudbury Ontario to Woodstock Ontario

Sandy's cousin Lorna from New Zealand arrived in Sudbury on June 30th when we picked her up at the airport. Since then, she had been visiting with various cousins around the area. Because she had never met all our grandchildren, we plotted a quick weekend visit to Cambridge and Woodstock. Yesterday was Sandy's cousin Susan's wedding anniversary and, after the party, Lorna came back to our place. The plan was for us to leave early this morning, spend the afternoon and evening visiting kids and kids of kids and then return to Sudbury tomorrow.

We left Sudbury before 7:00 AM, stopping at the Tim Horton's near Parry Sound and the Innisfil service centre. I was originally planning to take Highway 400 to the 401 in Toronto but didn't like the look of the traffic heading out of the city. Instead, we got off at Highway 89, a route that we haven't used in years. Cookstown, Alliston, Tottenham Road, Hockley Valley, Orangeville, Highway 24 and Guelph to Cambridge. That was a blast from the past.

Co-pilot Lorna kept me awake with conversation

Edsel in Orangeville

It looked pristine

We arrived at Kim and Mike's in Cambridge after noon. The family was back from church and suggested lunch at their new favourite place, Obie's Bar & Grille on Pinebush Road. We arrived just as they were opening at 2:00 PM and were seated by a lady who greeted Kim and Mike as regulars. The food and service were everything they said it would be and Lorna got a chance to spend some time with Jolene and Robyn while we ate.

Jolene has taken up knitting

Obie's Bar & Grille - Cambridge Ontario

Sandy and Kim

Robyn and Lorna

Waiting for the food

How better to pass the time than colouring?

After lunch, we headed directly on to Woodstock with a plan to meet later for a family supper. We found Heather and Tom at home after a morning of church activities and had some time to play with Fiona and Jasper.

Fiona as almost always smiling

Looking thoughtful


Fiona and Jasper

Heather suggested we go to Camp 31, a southern BBQ place in Paris, Ontario. It was based on the original Camp 31 established in 1908 in Brewton, Alabama, which started serving BBQ in 1985. The restaurant was about 25 miles away on Highway 403. I texted Mike, who was actually closer to Paris, and we set up a time to meet. What I didn't do was call in a reservation.

We arrived at Camp 31 just after Kim and Mike and were told that it would take about a half hour before they could seat a party of eleven. We spent the time outside catching up while the grandchildren played. Jasper was a big fan of the Cars movie franchise and liked the Tow Mater replica out front.

Sir Tow Mater, KBE

There was no trouble finding the place

They travel

And win

1, 2, 3 and swing

It wasn't a half hour when they summoned us to a long table set for eleven. The interior decor was a definite homage to the rustic feel of southern BBQ places we have been in. The fellow who served us was engaging and competent.

Paying attention to my carbohydrate restrictions, I ordered a two meat combo (brisket and sausage) and coleslaw. The brisket was good and the smoked sausage was the best I have ever had. Everyone else, including the young ones, seemed to really enjoy their selections. It was not inexpensive, but it would deserve a return visit.

The family gathered

My brisket, sausage and slaw

Sandy's brisket, slaw and cornbread

Lorna had (cat)fish and chips

Imagine a pulled pork poutine

Mike opted for quesadillas

Tom went the burger route

Heather's meal looks like a cheddar/brisket melt sandwich

By the time we wrapped up the supper, we found that we were pretty tired after a long day. Sandy, Lorna and I opted to go directly to The Best Western Plus in Woodstock where we had a room reserved. We said our goodbyes to everyone in the Camp 31 parking lot.

Just as we were leaving, a very nice vintage pickup truck arrived. It bore a sign on the door indicating it belonged to J. H. Minter Farms of Woodstock. While obviously in prime condition, the paint had been done to convey a feeling of age. It was quite impressive.

Seen at Camp 31 BBQ in Paris Ontario

On the way back to Woodstock, I got a call from Leslie, an old friend and one of my Sudbury Trail Plan Vice-Presidents back in the day. She and husband Eric had bought a boat to live on for the summer. The original owner of the boat was supposedly Pete Townsend of The Who. In any case, she was calling to say hi and tell me she had met Al, a golf buddy, in a lock on the Trent Canal. I didn't even know Al had a boat.

We checked into the hotel without incident, but I got sidetracked in the parking lot by a couple on a GL 1500 Goldwing from Prince Edward Island. Dave and his wife were active in the GoldWing Road Riders Association and they were in the area visiting offspring. We spent quite some time talking motorcycles and travels until Sandy came to collect me.

It wasn't long after we hit the room that we were all asleep.

Today's Route (378 Equinox miles):