Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Niagara Escarpment and Dunnville

Although we have not been able to travel again this summer, I have been out from time to time exploring the roads around our new home. We are not total strangers to the area, having attended the Cyclefest Rally here for 29 of its thirty years between 1980 and 2010. The countryside is pretty but the limited stretches of curvy roads are joined by many more miles of dead straight routes. Still, I have been searching out the interesting sections and stringing them together for some fun outings.

The Mighty Stonewall (Gordon) has been a VROC friend for over twenty years. He lives in Woodbridge on the north side of Toronto and we have been talking about getting together to ride for some time now. He offered to show me some of his favourite roads to the south of us, an area I was not that familiar with. We agreed to meet a a Tim Horton's in Milton at 10:00 AM.

I was up early this morning, something I don't do very often these days. I decided to leave a little early and avoid the 401 superslab on the way to the rendezvous. The secondary roads were fairly peaceful and I got to the Timmie's in Milton a little early. While waiting, I talked to a gentleman from Texas who had gotten his motorhome into Canada and was visiting relatives in Toronto.

Waterloo to Milton - 44 miles

Waiting for Gord in Milton

Gord pulled in on his white GL-1800 right right on time. I followed him down backroads past farms and intersections. The scenery was great and then we started climbing up and down the Niagara Escarpment as the turns got tighter. There were even a couple of hairpins marked at 10 KPH. It was a hoot. Eventually, above the town of Dundas, we stopped at the Sydenham Lookout where a few other riders were already admiring the view.

Milton to Sydenham Lookout - 27 miles

Sydenham Lookout - Hamilton on the horizon

Leaving the lookout, we descended and negotiated the busy streets of Dundas and Ancaster before finding the open road. Eventually, we connected with Haldimand County Road 54 at Onondaga and followed it along the Grand River through Caledonia to Cayuga, where we jogged onto Haldimand County Road 17. Signs billed this whole route as the Grand River Scenic Byway.

The whole time we rode along the river, we were traveling through the Haldimand Tract. This is an area of land encompassing six miles either side of the entire length of the Grand River that was granted to the Mohawks in 1784 in return for their support during the American Revolution. This land has been and still is the subject of a dispute between the Mohawks of the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve and the government of Canada. In the meantime, the road made for a pleasant and relaxing ride.

Eventually, we arrived at the Country Chip Wagon in Dunnville, which lies near where the Grand River empties into Lake Erie. It is about half way between Niagara Falls and the sometime motorcycle mecca of Port Dover, where riders gather every Friday the 13th. Food at the chip wagon hit the spot.

Country Chip Wagon - Dunnville Ontario

Lots of choices on the menu

Gord checking his messages while we wait for our food

When we finished eating, we started back up 17 and 54. Not to far along, i saw something fall from Gord's bike and end up on the road. I stopped and walked back for it but a car clipped it before I could get there. It was a hard case for eyeglasses that was empty when I picked it up. I caught up to Gord, who was waiting on the shoulder a short ways up, and we continued until we stopped on the Six Nations Reserve for fuel. I gave Gord the case and he was surprised that he had apparently left it on his seat and, further, that there was not a pair of glasses in it. This was the second pair he had lost in a short period of time and Mrs. Stonewall was not going to be happy.

Continuing on, I left Gord who stopped at a smoke shop for some discount Backwoods cigars before turning towards Toronto. I continued northwest through Brantford and back to Cambridge and Waterloo. I took a bit of a side jaunt through Glen Morris so I could ride Waterloo Regional Road 75 back to Galt. This is one of my favourite stretches of road and I ride it any time I am nearby.

I got back to the condo in time for supper. I had covered 199 miles, seen some new roads and really enjoyed having someone to ride with. Next time, I will lead.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Happy Birthday, Sandy

The travel blog has been pretty quiet so far this year. That is obviously because there has been no travel. With the US border closed to non-essential traffic and the pandemic numbers there not looking so good, we have been tied pretty close to our new home in Waterloo.

On the plus side, we are really enjoying this leased condo. It is roomy and the building is nice and well managed. The exercise room and pool were just reopened yesterday as Ontario moved to what they call Level 3.

Level 3 allowed unlimited indoor dining and, since today was Sandy's birthday, the family gathered last evening at the Crowsfoot Smokehaus in Conestogo (just north of the City of Waterloo) to celebrate the occasion. This establishment used to be the Black Forest Inn where Heather and Tom tied the knot in the fall of 2009.

We had not seen an indoor table set for ten people in a very long time. Sandy and I split a three meat plate with brisket, pulled pork and chicken plus a couple of sides. This was followed by sharing Black Forest cake for dessert, a family tradition started by Sandy's father Harry.

The first full family meal in a long time

It was a great evening celebrating in person together. After we were done, we all took a drive to West Montrose and crossed the Kissing Bridge, a covered bridge that appeared in the most recent film versions of Stephen King's It and It 2. Then we all headed for our respective homes.

Scene from movie It

After that, Sandy's actual birthday was anti-climactic. We stayed in while she received many congratulations and birthday greetings from friends through her Facebook account.

More often than not since we retired, we have celebrated her birthday on the road somewhere, Usually with friends in places like Lake Topaz, Nevada; Solvang, California; Shelter Cove, California or Richmond, Kentucky. Hopefully, we can get back to out travels while we are still able.

Until then, Happy Birthday to my favourite wife. If I had to be locked down with anyone, you were the best choice possible. I love you to the moon and back