Saturday, September 26, 2020

Janet's Memorial

We gathered at a small picnic area on Highway 64 on the shore of the West Arm of Lake Nipissing to say goodbye to Sandy's mother, Janet L Jacobs. This was the spot where her father Harry and brother Malcolm had their ashes released and we set Jan free to join them. It was a significant location because Jan and Harry had spent many happy weekends on a houseboat they moored near there.

Attendance was limited by the new COVID rules so the gathering was just cousins and a few friends. Son-in-law Tom held my phone as we live streamed the gathering on Facebook for friends and family around the world.

Kim, Mike and the girls could not make it because they found just as they were ready to leave Cambridge that they had been in close contact with someone who was showing possible COVID signs. They were self isolating until the test results came back. (It was later found to be a false alarm.)

It was poignant as various people shared memories of Jan and then we played Dancing in the Sky by Dani and Lizzy as I released the ashes into the channel. COVID meant we could not have the family dinner we usually hold at times like these so everyone went their own ways after we were finished. Luckily, the weather held out until after we were finished.

On the way back, Heather, Tom, Sandy and I stopped at Kate's Place near Warren for a bite to eat. Leo and I had stopped here September 4th and then found out there was a COVID alert for the time we were there. I got the scoop today. Someone who at tested positive thought he had stopped at Kate's but wasn't sure when, so they out out a blanket warning. It turned out to be nothing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Highway 522 Loop

Terry, Leo and I have been riding together for almost 40 years, having met as members of the Nickel Riders Motorcycle Club. Short rides, long trips and everything in between. Terry had every second Wednesday off and called to see if we would like to ride the Highway 522 loop today. The forecast was good and the leaves were changing so it sounded like a great idea. After we opened the invitation up, Kevin joined in.

We met at Tim's on Levesque and then rode fifty miles south on Highway 69 to Highway 522. This is a secondary highway that joins Highways 69 and 11, passing through some unpopulated areas.

The first stop was in Port Loring at the famous Jake's Place. Unfortunately, Jake's takes Wednesday off so we backtracked to Roxie's.

Jake's Place - Port Loring Ontario

Yes, it was Wednesday

Roxie's was open

Kevin ordering

The burgers were creative

The dining room was huge

After lunch, we motored on following 522 east to Highway 11. The 500 series highways in Ontario can be interesting and this one has enough curves to be fun. Terry was always a fast rider and today was no different. It was like a blast from the past. There were a few spots I wished I had my co-rider and her camera to capture some of the spectacularly coloured trees.

When we got to the end, we headed north on Highway 11 fighting a hellacious crosswind to North Bay. There, it became a headwind as we turned west. We did stop at Tim Horton's in Sturgeon Falls to say goodbye to Terry. He lived about 40 miles east of Sudbury and would leave us as we passed by.

The Three Musketeers

The rest of the trip was uneventful but the great day and old friends had given us another round of excellent memories.

Today's Route (238 motorcycle miles):

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Sudbury Ontario to Calabogie Ontario and Return - Visit Koolens

After six months without a road trip, we had planned to make a day trip down to visit Kim, Mike and the girls at a cottage they were renting near Calabogie in eastern Ontario. Despite Jan's passing a couple of days ago, we had already made all the necessary arrangements and needed a break. It was 57 F and raining steadily as we hit the road at 5:00 AM. The GPS predicted an arrival time of 9:48 AM but I figured 10:30 would be more realistic.

We drove along in the dark listening to The World According To Tom Hanks, an audiobook borrowed from the library. The rain eased of about thirty miles east of Sudbury and then we stopped at McDonald's in Sturgeon Falls for some sustenance to go. The rain stopped as we continued east towards the rising sun.

As I cruised along, I wondered how many lives had been saved by the simple act of carving rumble strips into the centre and fog lines of the highways. I am sure I ponder this every time I travel a two-lane highway.

Light but overcast on Highway 17 east of North Bay

After encountering the particularly pungent scent of a skunk near Pembroke, we took the usual shortcut on B-Line Road towards Eganville. The was a stretch that was hard packed dirt (greasy when wet) that I would not have liked to ride the bike on.

B-Lime Road

We stopped for gas in Eganville and I saw a sign for "Fat Tarts", a local type of butter tart. Unfortunately, they had not yet received their tarts for the day so we could not bring a surprise gift with us. A tree in the next door St. James Cemetery showed early tinges of colour, a message that summer was on its way out.

No tarts today....

Fall is coming

We encountered some construction on Highway 41 south of Eganville but it only held us up for a few moments.

Pretty flag persons keep us from getting too upset

The whole crew watching one person in the hole

We were heading to a place that my Garmin never heard of, while Google maps on the phone thought it might have an idea. While navigating the back roads, I made an error and ended up on something called Keneally Mountain Road. It was dirt and, according to the phone, would not take us where we needed to go. The GPS was totally confused so we backtracked until the proper road appeared.

Eventually, we arrived at Calabogie Road 508, a real road with an actual centre line. This took us to a bridge across the Madawaska River below the Barrett Chute Dam, built in 1943 to create the Norcan Lake Reservoir and generate hydro-electric power.

Barrett Chute Dam on the Madawaska River

Just across the river, we managed to find the Calabogie Stone Cottage on Norcan Lake. Pulling in at 10:27, almost exactly as predicted, we were greeted by the family. After paying some games and telling some stories, we had a fine lunch before starting for home at 2:00 PM.

Mike, Kim, Sandy, Jolene and Robyn

It was a long drive for a short stay but well worth the effort. On the way back, we took the better road to Calabogie and Renfrew before heading west on Highway 17 aka the Trans-Canada Highway.

Nice two-lane roads in eastern Ontario

An upgraded log house south of Renfrew

The road home brought back a series on motorcycle memories. At the intersection if Castleford Road, the western entrance to Renfrew, I was reminded of the dark night around 1978 when Sandy and I, accompanied by Ed Denis, were hurtling east on a weekend run to the Laconia Classic. About midnight, as we passed through the intersection, someone in a westbound car threw a beer bottle that caught Ed in the headlight. The light smashed and the silver plastic ring that held it in place departed for parts unknown.

Not being quitters, Ed followed me into Arnprior where we found a service station that was still open. We bought a sealed beam that was the same size as the broken shell and taped it in place with red duct tape. Voila, we continued on for a great weekend of racing, meeting new people (including the infamous Dick Hazelwood from Ames, Iowa and his buddy Porky) and dipping our toes into the Atlantic Ocean.

The icing on the cake was that we stopped at the scene of the crime on the way back and found the silver ring that had held the headlight in place. It was lying in the ditch by the side of the road.

Scene of the Laconia Beer Bottle Episode

I have spoken before about the Champlain Astrolabe marker near Cobden, Ontario. We stopped again today for another photo. There was no ark there nor were there any pairs of animals when we stopped here for a photo on our first long motorcycle trip in 1976.

Champlain Astrolabe Monument

Logosland entrance

What's a cubit?

In 1981, Terry, Richard (Batman) and I decided to check out the first Ottawa Valley Touring Club Rally In The Valley. It was a memorable weekend that included some pretty heavy partying. It was also the birthplace of Team Gypsy but that is another story.

Sunday morning, the three of us started for home. We had a reputation for covering a lot of ground in a short space of time but we were hurting puppies this day. As we approached Stonecliff, Terry got on the CB and said that we should stop[ for some gas. My reply, and he still reminds me of it, was "F**k the gas, I need a coffee".

Gas station in Stonecliff

One other weekend in the early 80's, Leo and I got the bright idea to ride to Peterborough for the spring sap run and come back the same day. It was below freezing on the April morning as I scraped the frost off the seat of my bike and we set out in the dark. We finished the 240 miles and were sitting in the Mickey D's on Lansdowne when the Peterborough Tour Riders showed up about 9:00 AM, surprised that we had beaten them. The group rode to a maple syrup shack in Bancroft and then Leo and I headed north, connecting with Highway 17 for a straight shot home.

Leo was riding a GS-850 Suzuki with a Windjammer fairing. This fairing was equipped with a Cycle Sound, an aftermarket plastic housing that held an automotive radio/tape player. One of the mounting screws fell out and, since there were only two to start with, the unit started flopping around. This was not a good thing at a sustained 80+ MPH, so we stopped. My GL-1000 had a large one piece trunk assembly called a Trip Trunk, the brainchild of Ray Bish of Brockway, Pennsylvania. There weren't many around, the most famous being the Jesus Bike Moto Guzzi if the 1980's national rally circuit. In any case, it would hold five cases of beer (real 2 4 cases), so the Cycle Sound was nothing. We stowed the unit and rolled on. I'm not sure why but I always think of that when I pass this spot.

Where we stowed the Cycle Sound

These memories don't mean anything to anyone but me, but they (and many more) remind me of the many miles that have passed under my tires and all the places I have been. Especially, I am reminded of all the great people I have shared the journey with.

We stopped in Deep River for gas and then at Tim's for some cookies. I know, I am not supposed to have cookies but they were calling my name. The rest of the trip was uneventful as we passed from sunshine to rain and back. We pulled into the driveway just before 7:00 PM. It was a long day but, as I said before, it was worth it.

Today's Route (537 Equinox miles):