Yes Emily

Yes Emily, girls can ride motorcycles!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Long Weekend

July 31 and the beginning of that obscure, what are we celebrating, only in Ontario, Civic Holiday, long weekend. Any excuse for a party weekend in Ontario and a good excuse for a little bike ride. My friends were showing their Jag in an historic car show in Westport today and I invited myself along (their car, a two seater so of course I had to take the VStar).
Perth Road (Regional Road 10) runs from Kingston to Westport, ending in a breathtaking view of Upper Rideau Lake. It's a popular run for motorcyclists and motorists alike with lots of gentle curves passing through small Hamlets and by lakes galore. There's a bit of construction finishing up and I'm always cautious in the "zones", always expecting some left over loose gravel.
A beautiful day with lots of cars at the show that brought back memories of both childhood and dreams gone by. Sexy imports, the old family cruisers(the Galaxy 500 bringing back memories for both Barb and me) plus many of the American Classic Muscle cars - there was a great variety, over 80 models plus a few other unexpecteds. Barb and I had the chance to walk into the village for a bit of shopping too.
Westport Ontario ( in the heart of the Rideau Lakes area. It's a quaint little tourist town sitting at the west end of Upper Rideau Lake with Westport and Sand Lakes nearby. The village is nestled at the bottom of Foley 'mountain' and the population exponentially increases on a holiday weekend, no wonder why. Delightful shops, lake and mountain views, homey little restaurants, White Mountain Icecream and today the Show and Shine Antique Car Show. If you're in the area, it's a definite destination spot.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

18 Days - 6,300 km On A VStar

aka 18 Days - 3,915 miles

The 650 VStar Custom - I give it 4 stars
My trip lasted 18 days, at least I was away from home for 18 days. One day I spent visiting friends and relatives, not much riding and one day I spent drying out from the ride visiting friends and relatives - so really, it was 16 days of "Riding On A VStar". What a great way to vacation, new sights, new sounds, new smells, new roads, old roads and always a bit of personal and sometimes a physical challenge.
(By the way, thanks Leslie for pointing out my typos and spelling errors and for making me realize I really did have a spell check feature I could have used all along, hum, how'd that get there?)
The Bike
Yamaha 650 VStar Custom: Air cooled, 4 valve VTwin, 649cc, 5 speed transmission, shaft driven, single disc front break, rear drum break, 2340mm (92.1") long, seat height 695mm (27.4"), wet weight 233kg (512.6lb), 16 litre (3.5 imperial gal) fuel capacity, estimated mileage 21 kpl. (For more specs go to
Accessories: Spitfire universal windscreen, Custom World 8" passenger backrest, luggage rack and saddlebag brackets, Rapid Transit soft sided top bag (fastens to backrest), Gears soft sided saddlebags, Oxford Sports Lifetime Luggage magnetic tank bag.
The bike ran like a charm, and so it should have being brand new. It drew a lot of great comments from other bikers and enthusiasts with it's luminous white paint and chrome, and flashy tank detailing (in pink I might add).
The front break developed a slight squeal after the last day of rain, but has since been checked by the mechanic, not an issue and now gone. The single disc front break rear drum break provided adequate stopping in both light and hard stops, though the rear break pedal takes some getting used to in both position and pressure required to stop.
I didn't get the estimated 336 kilometres per tank - the maximum I got, pre trip was around 250 on a tank. On the road I stopped every 150 km and kept it topped up, knowing that I could probably go another 100 km but not wanting to risk it. At 150 km it's time to take a break if you want to stay alert and safe. The tripmeter is a great way to keep track of when you need to stop and I managed to remember to reset it most times. I had the Garmin set as a back up to remind me to refuel. I was less consistent remembering to reset the Garmin fuel reminder.
The foot pegs and seat height on my "low slung" VStar are the perfect "comfort" height for me. I can rest both feet flatly on the ground at a stop and don't feel cramped on the go. The handle bars are also set in a comfortable place and distance from the seat for my reach.
I appreciated the 5 speed transmission - the range of 5th "overdrive" gear. It is particularly great when touring, usually no down shifting required when slowing down from 100 kph to 60 kph going through small hamlets or towns and lower rpms on the highway.
I found the speedometer in a less than perfect spot for a full face helmet wearing rider. It's low enough on the tank that a full head nod was required to see it - in my case, the 'on center' handle bar mounted, see at a glance Garmin replaced the speedometer and gave me a lot more information at the same time.
I appreciated the locking side cover storage area for tools, air pressure gauge and extra head phones and wires for the Garmin but the helmet lock was unusable with the saddle bags on, just not enough room for it to open.
Most favorite all round feature - the shaft drive system. No more oiling chains, checking tension of chains/belts. The extra weight is well worth it and appreciated riding in the high NewBrunswick cross winds.
Packing The Bike
For the trip I had packed approximately 95 lbs of gear plus myself so the VStar was what I would call loaded to capacity or at least loaded to the maximum weight that I felt comfortable with, especially making a few of those U turns in tight spots. The loaded weight was close to 720 lbs. Since I'm not into body building and don't consider myself particularly Amazonian or even strong the weight is something that has made me always shy away from heavier bikes. And if you've been following along I did have a problem in one location trying to back the bike up in a tight spot. The bike is well balanced and I had no issues on the straight stretches or curves of the road carrying the weight. The extra overall length gained mainly by the roomy passenger seat and luggage rack that extended the length of the bob tail rear fender accommodated much of the extra gear I packed for this solo trip. On the Suzuki the top bag, fastened to the front of the passenger backrest became my backrest, but on the VStar there was gap large enough to cargo net a rolled Mountain Equipment Coop 2 person backpacker tent and sleeping bag (tent poles and sleeping pad were packed lower in a saddle bag). I appreciated the rolled tent and bag as they became my backrest making for comfortable touring. I had sufficient seat and leg room but if you are much taller than 5'3.5" you might find it cramped and need a more foot forward peg style or an overall longer bike (the VStar 650 Classic is, I believe, a bit longer than the custom and not that much heavier). I tried to pack as much weight as low as possible and thus the ripping of the over-stuffed and travel worn saddle bags early on. The saddle bags and top bag all expand to nearly double the zipped up size so, to prevent further ripping, I expanded the saddle bags to the max. Ripped, the saddle bags were even less water resistant than usual, luckily I had most things in plastic bags or dry bags inside. The top bag has proven to be quite waterproof in the past, but I always line it with a kitchen size garbage bag just to be safe. My netbook and collapsible cooler were cargo netted to the luggage rack. The net book securely inside a 20lb dry bag which did the trick.
I've finally figured out the ideal footwear to have with me. Of course I have the protective riding boots - that's a given, but they are not great off the bike (heavy, hot and high). In the past I've always tried to pack hiking boots or running shoes plus sandals. This year I found a much better balance by taking some "light hikers" by Sketchers. Lower and much lighter than either running shoes or hikers and great for the 4k evening walks or just strolling around town. Plus I took a pair of rubber flip flops for poolside and campground and they easily slid in amongst the rest of the gear. As usual,I packed a few articles of clothing that never made it out of the bag, less this year than last but I wonder how does one judge that? I guess you just have to keep reminding yourself, there are laundry facilities out there! The cosmetics, well don't get me going, I may have to haul a trailer to keep up with what's needed there (ah, the vanity).
I didn't carry much food with me I'd either stop when I thought I was getting ready to end the day or rely on the camp store or a nearby restaurant for dinner. The cooler was most useful when I set up camp for the extended stays on the Island and grocery bagging it - much less expensive than 'restauranting' it for sure.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Missing The Road

Some people plan their next journey before they've finished their present journey - I can't seem to do that. I have to go through a mourning period for the trip just finished, wishing I was still on the road, though as I stood watching the storm race in yesterday I was glad I'd made the choice to come home a day early.
The weatherman was right for a change, and when he's right, he's right. It was a 'wicked' storm with fierce winds, jagged bolts of lightening, driving rain and pelting hail stones as big as good sized marbles. For a brief moment we even had a tornado warning. It was the real thing and it passed through the area not once but twice. I was glad to be safe and sound inside. Home, where some things never change. The dog still panics during a storm while the cat snores on soundly from inside the paper shredder box. The big news was the neighbour's barn burned. The only thing that perished in the fire was his RV which was stored in the historic barn - sad but replaceable.
I'm on the road again, but this time on four wheels. The road seems so narrow. I brought Garmin Dan along for old time sake, but I miss the feel of the wind and the smell of the countryside, okay, some of the smells. I don't miss the rain that is moving in once again today, more weather in the last two days than I really saw in three weeks on the bike.
Well, the best way to get over it is to begin looking forward to the next adventure, it's time. I'd love to hear your suggestions. How does a trip down the Lincoln Highway strike you?
In the mean time I hope it will be useful to muse, in hindsight, on the pros and cons of living with Garmin Dan, touring on a 650 VStar, packing for a tour (I had just gotten to be "efficient" when my trip ended. Just gotten to where packing and unpacking was organized, everything finally had its place and I could get it done in half an hour.)
. . being a gal on the road! I'm really looking forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions on the blog this tour and the next tour.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20 - Day 18

The smell of the day - home! It seems like it's been a long time and yet no time at all, and the adventure is over (well this adventure, for now). There's something sad about the end of a journey, whether it's the end of a journey in your life or a road trip, but it's been a fun ride! What's even more fun is realizing that this was just part one of the series.
I left Trois Rivier this morning, a bit late. I don't understand how I can get behind on a departure when I have less to pack (left the camping gear on the bike), must have been the free breakfast again. Then Garmin Dan - well, don't get me started. I know it's not his fault. I programmed him not to take me on highways or in traffic, but Dan, there's only one real bridge, and it's part of the highway. I can't cross the river under the bridge - really, I can't, no matter what kind of angelic bike the VStar is. That was really how the decision was made - North we would go. I reprogrammed Dan and we headed north on the superslab. The the sky said, "a beautiful day for riding" (I've come to trust the sky more than the forecast). And it was a beautiful day. After Montreal I pressed "home" on the "where to" menu and Dan took me across roads only the locals (and Dan) know about.
The VStar is past her scheduled maintainance - I'll be calling the Performance Shed tomorrow.
This leg of the adventure may be over, but not the journey. I'd love to hear your comments on the blog and the trip so far.
Cathy - I'm so glad that you felt like you were riding with me, it was fun!
Not the last post!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rte. 132

OMG - what was I thinking? A white bike with lots of chrome! One day of riding in the rain, not a full day or even a long day and she was a sorry sight. (Luckily I carry a couple of microfibre clothes for wiping down the bike - she's looking better now.)
I left Rivier-du-Loup on what I call the ride of Saints, Rte. 132 lined with picturesque, little towns, many named for Saints: St. Andre, St. Germain, St. Denis ... It was a beautiful ride. If you have the chance, make it a destination. The mighty St.Lawrence on one side, the antique, time chiseled rock cliffs on the other - even the roadside weeds seemed beautiful. The St. Lawrence valley and Rte.132 hugs the river front Rivier-du-Loup to Trois Rivier, at times only a few feet away. Only for one short time, just after Rivier Ouelle, was the super slab, highway 20, allowed to take the riverside, then like two ballet dancers the roads twirled back and Rte. 132 was back dancing along the water. You curve loving riders might be a little disappointed, but the straight stretches give you a chance to get caught up in the scenery. Speeds varied from 30kph to 90kph.
The mighty St.Lawrence might have been the Muddy Mississippi today, churning brown and merky - perhaps it was just warning of the weather ahead. It rained fairly steady from about 9:30 on. Once again the weather report was misleading. The rain was supposed to hit Montreal in the morning and move east from there. I thought I would beat it if I planned a shorter day. Not so! I had to put on the rain jacket early on and look for sheltered pumps to fill up at. I saw a roadside sign announcing that the temperature was 70 degrees but it didn't feel like it. I was wearing a fleece under the jacket and raincoat. I pulled into my planned spot in Trois Rivier and the clouds parted (of course). It was suddenly warm and sunny - great for a 4k power walk here in Trois Rivier, a great way to warm back up.
I could make it to Ottawa tomorrow in reasonable time but it wouldn't be fair to drop in three days early. It's a longer ride back to Kingston so I've been mulling over a couple of options. Tomorrows weather looks not too bad in all directions, but the next day is calling for thunder storms. Do I want to ride another day in the rain? Look out boys - Mom might be home early.
A note about dry bags: The Sea Line Baja (ruberized) bags are keeping things very dry, the Sea to Summit (tent type fabric) bags are, let's say, keeping things damp (not wet, but not exactly dry). Good thing the electronics are packed in the Baja bag.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Baie des Chaleurs to Saint-Laurent

Last night after I posted I went back to my campsite and while sitting quietly reading my book I heard a little me-ew. I found a kitten, black and white, huddled in the bushes behind my tent. There had been a sudden down pour and afterward there was poor kitty, wet and seeminly lost. She meowed, telling me how she hated to be wet, I offered her tuna from a tin (which she might have taken if I hadn't moved) and then she was gone. Poor kitty.
I was up early this morning, despite the revelry in the campground last night. I'm getting quite efficient breaking camp, but the heavy dew meant packing a wet tent. I've made it to Rivier-du-Loup. It rained on and off today - not enough to get wet, really, just enough to make me stop in a panic to stash my camera in the 'otter box' several times. I've already lost one camera to the rain, don't want to loose another.
Bathurst NB - best McD's place for breakfast - they do real eggs, anyway you like them, with real toast (just like a real restaurant!).
I bought gas in Dalhousie before heading across to Quebec and the Saint Lawerence - as I recalled the gas stations were few and far between going that way. The highway is cut through bush in New Brunswick. I was glad I did, though the VStar has a large enough tank I would have made it. I enjoyed Campbellton the most - it was where the mountains reached down to touch the Baie - the best of both worlds (hills and sea). I took some pictures at Tides Head.
Apparently there are moose in Quebec as well as in New Brunswick. The Quebec road signs are much more graphic - giant signs showing cars and moose colliding. Can't imagine what a motorcyle and a moose collision would look like. Now I'm fairly certain these woods contain bear as well. On my last three road trips I've seen bear - I've never seen a moose - it appears that the odds of seeing bear are much greater than that of seeing moose, so why aren't there "Bear Warning" signs posted on the highways? (Caution, tourists being eaten!)
There was some road construction today. Grooved pavement. I still don't love driving over grooved pavement but it seems that a heavier bike with a larger back tire is easier to manage than what I've been used to.
Garmin Dans up to his old tricks. Short cuts, short cuts. Today's short cut cost me 17 extra kilometers. Had to double back - in Dan's defense, he had no idea that the mountain road would be under construction and turn to nasty old gravel. Luckily I heard him say I would be meeting up with the main highway again, so I just doubled back to where I had left it.
The smell of the day - French Fries. Don't know where it was coming from, but all of a sudden there it was (only in Quebec - it was probably Poutine).
Just as I was about to pull into a campground this afternoon the clouds opened up again. Big burly clouds overhead threatened thunder and lightenig so I decided to hotel it. I'm staying at a "St.Hubert" motel in Rivier-du-Loup. An interesting concept - pick up your chicken or check into the motel, whatever, all at the same desk.
Who knows where tomorrow will get me - no rush now.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Caraquet/Pokemouche NB - July 17 - Day Whatever

I'm in Pokemouche, not to be confused with Pokemon kids!
I can't help wondering if the heat wave is still happening in Ontario because the wonderful temperatures of PEI are a thing of the past and New Brunswick is hot. I left fairly early under a threat of rain and high winds, even the campground attendent threatened that I would get wet, but as I approached the Confederation bridge I saw the clouds part and a sunbeam lit up the majestic arches at the center, the highest part of the bridge. I knew it would be and it was clear skys and beautiful riding right from there. There was some construction toward Moncton but it wasn't holding up traffic because they weren't working.
New Brunswick - the land of bush and moose. They have three kinds of roads in New Brunswick, those with BIG moose signs, those with little moose signs and those that they don't apparently care if you hit a moose or not. I've been on all three of those types of roads today. Garmin Dan must be a drag racer at heart given that he wanted me to travel the roads coated with rubber and quarter mile skid marks much of the time.
I'm camped at a new KOA tonight - I'd have to say it's a "cruise ship" of campgrounds. They are actually celebrating Noel here tonight (I'm in the heart of Acadia and it is mainly French) The main drag is paved and the rest of the streets brand new. Brand new topped with very loose, sandy gravel. The few tent sights are small, but thoughtfully placed amongst trees but it is the only campground so far that Ive had to ask for help with the VStar. I pulled in, onto the grass - the ground below the grass soft and fresh. I could still see the seams in the new sod, now almost dried crisp. The tires sank slightly and the rear end of the bike was on slightly higher ground. The grassed area is about 2 feet wider than the bike is long, with a nasty little ditch between the sites. I could not back it up to turn it around. I tried unloading everything to make it light enough, but it was a no go, the back tire, ever so gently, sank about an inch and I couldnt get out of the rut (I guess that's where that expression comes from). Luckily for me there was a young park attendant travelling around in a golf cart and I flagged him down. With just a little extra push on the front I got it backed up and turned around and resting comfortably on the gravel. I'll be pulling out very carefully in the morning. Tent set up, I went for a very warm walk down the highway to a little village where low and behold, for all you Battersians, there was a Creek restaurant - beside a much bigger creek than the one in Battersea.
Have I told you all about my BigEars. Well, my ears aren't actually big, they are quite dainty really, but my ear plugs are custom fitted by bigearinc and work like a charm. Comfortable to wear, easy to insert and they fit flush with my ears so there's no accidently knocking them out when I put on my helmet.
Tomorrow, I'm off to Rimouski about the same distance ride as today as long as Dan follows the straight and narrow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The North Cape

Finally made it all the way to the North Cape. Absolutely well worth the second try - go all the way or stay home (or go back and try again). Standing on a tip of land you see water to your left, water to your right and windmills behind, with a real working lighthouse right there. Looking at the windmills close up - I had no idea how large those blades really til now. The North Cape (Black Marsh) is a wind generating station as well as research station, with walking trails (take hikers) around the coast and a museum.
On the way up I was following a 55 Mercury with a bumper sticker that read Coast to Coast - 2010 - Curly and Marj. Curly and Marj and that Mercury became almost as important to me as seeing the North Cape. I couldln't imagine going coast to coast in a car of that vintage, actually, I could, but I couldn't imagine the car making it. I was hoping they were going my way. I had the chance to take a photo of their rear bumper at (you guessed it) a construction stop. Sadly at Tignish (haven't I been there before) I needed gas and they made a U turn and headed in a different direction. Low and behold when I came out of the museum there was that turqoise Mercury in the parking lot. I tracked down Curly and Marj and not only has that Mercury made it cross continent, this is its second time. Marj told me it has automatic door openers, she automatically opens her own door. (Check out today's photos).
I met a couple from Ohio at the North Cape. Apparently I drove right by their house on my little sojourn on the Lincoln Highway.
From the North Cape I headed off to see elephant rock, but sadly was not bold enough to try the road which had a large sign - privately maintained, washed out areas, use at your own risk at the entrance. I continued on the North Coast and did make it to see the birthplace of Stompin Tom - it was rather understated for such a Canadian Icon.
The campsite is filling up for the weekend - I'm sandwiched between tent trailors and RV s with threat of rain in the morning, but the promise of a pancake breakfast in the recretion hall before I leave so all is still right with the world. I am hoping the threat of high winds and rains is a figment of somebody's imagination.
Still swimming - smell of the day, campfires burning.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Anne's Land And More...

I'm at a new campground on the Anne's Land Shore (that's the Cavendish shore for all you mainlanders). It's a bit (that's polite for a lot) more commercial on this side of the island. Okay, there are no squirrels or earwigs, and the grass has been nicely mowed, and they have a poster up that they've won an award (it must have been for orderliness). My tent is, what I would call, sitting in a long row of other tents and RVs all very neatly stacked one by the next. I never would have guessed yesterday that I'd be asking for the gosh darn squirrels (and the trees and a bit of "rusticness") back. I like the 'safetyness' of civilization, I just don't like the 'civilizationess' of it. But they have their internet back up and running and all is almost well with the world once again, after all it's dark and I am inside my tent.
I had a beautiful (in sunshine, yahoo!!!) ride up and down the coast from North Rustico to Kensington and Malpeque (which is a place, by the way, that Garmin Dan has never heard of). I did enjoy the parkway, which, who'd have guessed, is under construction. I figure at the rate they are going, by the year 2014 Prince Edward Island will have been totally rebuilt. I ate a fish sandwich in North Rustico for lunch and a turkey club (not nearly as good as the Creeks) in Cavendish for dinner. I met two couples (bikers: one Harley, one Suzuki, one Hyosung and one Kawisaki) from Nova Scotia at dinner who have persuaded me to go back to find the north cape, they said it was beautiful - so I guess that is tomorrow's plan.
Today I watched a border collie chasing waves on the beach, vigorously shaking them off just as soon as he caught them. I think he was having more fun than all of the humans.
My pristine little VStar must be having fun by my standards as she is covered in red mud splotches. She is working incredibly well with the exception of a little difficulty getting her into neutral on occassion.
Did I mention how nice the pool was here?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Charlottetown - A Misty, Moisty Look

Well, plans to visit Anne's land had to be postponed because the afternoon rain started at 8am, I must be confused about Atlantic time. (If I was a hard core rider I'd have gone anyway, but I chose to switch to a more tenderfoot plan B). Charlottetown, the birthplace of Confederation. Charlottetown seems to be under construction in just about every direction. Canada, two seasons,hockey and construction. I filled up with gas and added air to the front tire (down by 3 psi)at the first stop. The second stop, Tims for coffee, where I overheard a little girl's comment, "I didn't know girls could ride motorcycles." I had to tell her about Emily and this blog, and yes, girls and boys can ride motorcycles, girls and boys can do anything they choose, right Alexa and Rachel, Mitchel and Jessica!
The ride into town wasn't too bad in daylight under a steady drizzle, at least it's warm. I'm always cautious in the rain and they seemed to have filled in the cavernous holes in the road with gravel today rather than slick, slimy, red mud. The hustle and bustle of Regis and Kelly was winding up as crews were wrapping stacks of folding chairs in plastic wrap to be loaded onto trucks down on the quay. There were musicians busking on the scenic streets including a brave piano player, playing under a gazebo roof - the rain didn't dampen their spirits. I didn't go far, walked around doing the tourist thing downtown then a quick stop at Wally-Mart for supplies. Luckily I headed back to camp just before the once again heavy downpours.
Back at camp zero I seem to be battling another plague - I've managed to hold the squirrels at bay by unloading the luggage and bringing it indoors (such as it is), they're ticked and chatter at me from the trees. Now it's the earwig brigade I'm fighting. My picnic cooler was full of floating earwigs, I catch them scurrying up the tent walls, on the tent floor, they're everywhere - I've become a ruthless killer (My new weapon of choice, paper towel). I suspect I've squashed one of the little critters under my right shift key, which is now making a crunching sound when I press it. Luckily I am bigger than both squirrels and earwigs and think I will survive the war.
Thanks Elizabeth et al for the wonderful evening of laughter, food and fun. Enjoy the weddings.
Tomorrow once again the weather fairies are promising sun and I'll be off to the other side of the Island.
Hey Shelley nice to have you along for the ride, that must mean my Mom only has to pay 52 people to read the blog - unless of course, did my mother call you?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Evangeline Region to North by Northwest

The North Shore was my goal starting from the not so north of Seacow Head Lighthouse (that's the one in the picture). I was following the road signs marking the scenic routes today(not Garmin Dan)and it's obvious that I missed a turn and I missed the North by Northwest scenic route (not to mention the Giant's Armchair Rock and also Stompin Tom's birthplace). Still, it was an 8 hour ride with some lovely sights - many of them twice since I ended up going north on 2 and then back south on 2. My turnaround point was Tignish, where I had lunch at 3 (too much b and not enough t in the blt, unlike at the subway shop in Kingston where they asked me if I wanted bacon on my BLT - what do you think?). A lot longer trip than I had expected. There's a picture of a field of potatoes in blossom, just for my Mother - who by the way must have payed at least 53 people to visit my blog since yesterday's count was 56 and I can't believe that any more than 3 people I know are actually following me. Tomorrow, Annes Land, provided the weather holds and I don't get arrested for trying to do in a squirrel with my pink Leatherman here on the campground (for my Mom and anyone else, a Leatherman is like a pocket knife, but a whole lot more - it's also scissors, plyers, assorted screw drivers. It has a knife and saw blade, a surprisingly efficient can opener and corkscrew, nail file plus a little tool that I have no idea what really is for, but it's what I've been trying to clean my fingernails with.)

Going Squirrely

Alright, yesterday the little b****** squirrel was cute trying to get into my bag. This morning at 4 am when I heard him out there he became slightly less cute and at 4:30 when I decided I should get up and shoo him away he was really not cute anymore at all. The squirrel has tried to chew his way into my bag (should have gotten up at 4 when I first heard him). I had to unfasten the bag and bring it inside the tent with me.
I am off today to tour the north end of the Island - in the sunshine! This time I'll take my camera, wait a minute, maybe I should take the little b***** squirrel with me and leave him on the other side of the island.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Day Is It?

You know you're really on a holiday when you can't remember what day it is! For me, it's a drying day. That ocean breeze that was giving me so much trouble on the ride to the bridge is now a welcome commodity. My riding gear that got so wet last night on the ride home(to my tent) is drying nicely hung between two trees and my little paprika tent, well, you'd never know it had been in torrential down pours. It's looking snugger and dryer than ever. The only true victim of the storms, with little hope of recovery today is my left boot - soaked to the top???
Alright then, PEI may not have bears but they have sneaky little squirrels. This morning I discovered that in my rush for cover I forgot to zip up my top bag which had a banana and an apple inside. A tricky little squirrel managed to wiggle in under the lid and taste the apple. Lesson learned, zipper everything or feed the wild life. I've booked a third night at this site to relax and hopefully dry out so I can enjoy a bit of a ride around the Island tomorrow (last time I looked they were threatening some sunshine for tomorrow). I've added a link to the weather forcast here so you can keep up to speed with me. I hear there were some total washouts on the main highway into Charlottetown last night - I went through a couple of really rough spots, guess I made it at the right time.
Hey Tim, nice to have you join me - you can the kidlets should have blogged, it's quite fun (obviously doesn't take much to amuse me!)
I now have a twitter account, of course I have no idea how to tweet (next learning curve) but apparently I already have two followers - cool! Hey there cooldude and pegscrapers. Yikes, here come the sprinkles, time to put the techno toys inside.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What's Wetter Than A Day Of Rain On The Island?

What's wetter than a day of rain on the Island? That would be two days of rain on the Island. It's pouring for a second day here on Prince Edward Island and everytime I check the weather forcast, they (whoever "they" are) change their minds...doesn't matter how often I check, each time the five day forcast is different. What are they doing, putting little notes in a hat and pulling them out hourly?
Another biker (Al, from BC) was camped here last night - he's touring Canada from the furtherest point in the west to the eastern furthest tip and enjoying every minute of it (except for the noise in the campground last night). Thanks Al for the visor squeegie - fits on my thumb and I can squeegie off my visor in the rain - cool.
I stood this morning pondering what to do (in the pouring rain at 6 am, and of course the office, with hot coffee doesn't open 'til 8:30). I don't like riding in the rain. But then the rain let up and I said, "Hey, lets go visiting." I headed to Stratford, just outside of Charlottetown in a light drizzle. Not too bad. There was construction on Hwy 1 close to the city, a bit rough, but I'm cautious. It was the trip home that had me worried. It rained torrentially (is that even a word?) I was glad that I knew where to expect the construction work because by the time I was heading back to my cozy little campground, there were washed out parts on the road and flooded areas on the roadways. I was soaked through when I got back. Thank you KOA folks for letting me hang my riding duds in your locked up and heated back room. Maybe there's a chance they will drip dry by tomorrow, only to be soaked again on the next ride, but who knows, perhaps the weather forcast will change, again, by then.
The temperature has dropped from the 90s to 69. I've gone from a tank top to my Helly underarmour, but my little tent is holding up and I'm dry inside!!! I just want to know, why is it you have to visit the bathroom 10 times more often when it's pouring rain, and the bathroom is 300 meters away than when the sun is shining and the bathroom is right next door?
The smell of the day - more bacon sizzling. Did you know, there are no bears on Prince Edward Island, enjoy your bacon folks?
Didn't even take my camera out of its little ottor box today - too wet for pictures.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rain Is Wet ...

Here I am in PEI - you should know that everytime I come to PEI it rains (I'm to blame). I've checked the forcast every day for PEI and everyday, sometimes twice a day it changes. First it was rain today and tomorrow, that's why I raced to get here, isn't it? Don't you think it's ironic that when it starts to rain all the people jump out of the pool and run for shelter - what do they think, they're gonna get wet? Well, I had just finished setting up camp and returning with saddle bags full of fresh, delicious food and decided to change and go swimming (for my second time today - did I tell you I like to swim?). I just walked out of the change room when the heavens opened and it began to pour, I'm in my swim suit yet I run for cover to the nearest building and look at the pool where everybody is jumping out, towels over head running for the nearest building for shelter. Here's my sign!
I'm sitting in my little tent from MEC - and it's holding up so far. I love the sound of the rain on the tent just as long as the rain stays on the outside and I'm on the inside. Speaking of inside - there is just no way to gracefully get into a small tent, in the pouring rain, in a hurry. As I was trying to get into my little "paprika" shelter I had a vivid picture in my mind of what the campers across the way could see and it definitely didn't include my best angle.
I had a moment this morning when I thought I might just hotel it again for another night, but then the sun came out. I thought as long as I can set up camp before the rain, get my gear nicely stowed inside I'd be fine, and I am, though I've left most of my stuff in dry bags just in case. I must go and see if I can find an extension cord as I'm bit too far from the "plug in" post to reach and I'm on half battery, oh no.
There's another little tent, just like mine (different colour) just two tents over. Hope they stay dry as well.
Hey, what's with Regis and Kelly, they've been following me on my vacations - March Break, I'm on NYC, they're in NYC and now they turn up on the Island as well. Wonder if we'll get chat? I should make a sign for the VStar or tie some tin cans to the back of it to get their attention. Lots of things happening on the Island - it's a busy place this week.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Dirt on Dirt

I promised to talk about Dirt and Ken's birthday - well, happy birthday Ken, I made you a video - sorry, couldn't post it.
Now for the dirt on dirt. It's always been my "kindergarten philosophy" that if you don't end up dirty, then you didn't have fun ... well by those standards I must be having fun, I haven't been able to get the dirt out from under my fingernails for about 5 days now - and when I stop for the day I have to scrape the soot (where it comes from, I don't know) off my face, kids point at me in the pool and laugh.
I did 670km today. Okay, by SUV standards, not far, but by biker butt standards it's a respectable distance. I am in Prince Edward Island.
Dan took me on a short cut from Bar Harbor - fabulous little back road where I met a woman who couldn't open the gas lid for her Volvo - 5 men and 15 minutes later, she was getting gas.
Once again, I hit Canadian soil and the fog rolled in and the temperature dropped. I had to stop to add layers.
I'm here - No thanks to my friend "Garmin Dan!" Let me tell you about my little falling out with Garmin Dan. It all started when I met group of bikers from Halifax. We chatted - they were heading to Deals Gap (Good luck with the Dragons Tail boys, hope you don't end up on the tree of shame), they warned me about road construction on the way to the Island - they said make sure you go to Sackville not the scenic route, so to be sure I told Dan take me to Sackville. For future reference, if you see a road sign that says no exit, believe it! If it looks like Deliverance country, it is! At first I thought it was one of Dan's little short cuts, but then the road seemed to disappear - U TURN. I kept UTURNing until I let common sense take over and headed east (against Dan's advice) and hit the super slab. I finally made to to Sackville and the bridge with Dan still saying, drive 1 kilometer and make a UTURN. My question is, Dan, if you want me to make a UTURN, why should I drive 1 kilometer before I do that, shouldn't I do that now? Dan was still telling me to UTURN at the foot of the bridge, of course it was then I realized I had programmed him not to take me on any toll roads, and the bridge is, of course, a toll road. All is forgiven, sort of.
I remember many years ago coming down to the Island with my family on what was to be Matt's last trip to the Island. The bridge had just opened and we were passed by cars zipping along. His comment was, what are they rushing for - there's a bridge now, don't they know they dont have to hurry to catch the bridge like they did to catch the ferry? Yet as I drew closer I found myself rushing, it wasn't to catch the ferry, it was to catch the spirit, the spirit of the Island. I'm here!
The smell of the day - clover.
The wind was wicked from Saint John to Sackville - cross winds. I couldn't help but think that poor Suzi Suzuki (100+ pounds lighter than Prissy VStar) would have had me calling it quits for the day long before the Island however she would have been a lot easier to UTURN).
I've had dinner at brothers 2 or 2 brothers, not sure which it is - food wasn't nearly as good as the Creekside Pub (It's Friday, I miss the Creek), but the entertainment was great. Singer, song writer John Oliver a little country a little blues. The sign didn't mention the name of his co singer, it should have - she was great!
I'm hoteling again tonight - it had better rain like "they" said it was going to. Tomorrow I hope to scope out a nice campsite and relax for a couple of days, after my free breakfast and a swim in the hotel pool.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Brings Back Memories

Hello from Bar Harbor Maine - when I passed the sign saying "Boston" the memories of Justin's and my trip to Bar Harbor came flooding back. We were heading to Old Orchard Beach when I read the sign "Welcome to Boston" - missed the Beach by a couple hundred kilometers. Ive never laughed so hard in my life. Guess Justin gets his sense of direction from me. No bears out looking for tasty tourists to eat today, which was totally fine by me. A few Americans out though, met a young man with his two children at today's icecream stop who, when he saw my Ontario plates, had to tell me how much he loved the Canadian Goverment because they sponser shows like Trailor Park Boys, it's his favorite show - don't it just make you proud to be Canadian!! He did inform me, sadly - really, he nearly had tears in his eyes - Boston has just traded their best goal scorer to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Every time I cross mountains I get the same feeling, I know at the top of this hill it'll be the last hill and then I get there and all I see are more hills. Then I finally get to the top of the last hill and there before me is the great big beautiful ocean - but before I see it, I know it's there. I smell it, the smell of the sea. It has been 6 days of smells - the smell of the Ohio dairy farms with new mowed hay and silage, the hot sweltering smell of tar and steel in the cities, the cool, crisp, refreshing pine smell of the forested mountains, the smell of campfires and of bacon cooking . . . bacon cooking, what are those campers thinkin?. They're just advertising "tasty tourists" for the bears, yikes - no bacon for me!
Today was cool - temperature is a matter of perspective. It was only 85 this morning and I felt chilly, didn't take off my fleece until 10:30 and near the ocean the air was even cooler with a fog rolling in on a brisk breeze. The VStar is holding the road nicely in the breeze, ladies, don't think you need a big hog of a bike to have a comfortable ride. The 650 VStar is turning out to be a great ride!
I met two bikers from, I don't eactly remember where - a state that has a K in it, I think. They loved my VStar - they thought it was a 1200, they too are on a 21 day bike tour and were heading to Bar Harbor, maybe I'll run into them again (wonder if they watch Trailor Park Boys).
Please, no "Why did the bear cross the road?" jokes - we all know it's to eat the tourists. Tomorrow's blog - all about dirt and Ken's birthday.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Brake For Bears ...

Actually, I come to a full stop for bears!!! This morning just 20 minutes or so out of Shawnee I came sailiing around a mountain curve to find a full grown black bear standing about 100 meters in front of me in the center of the road. It was enough time to use moderate breaking and come to a full stop with an "almost" comfortable distance between me and bear. It was at that moment when I wondered, was it really a good thing that I traded in the old Suzuki which tended to backfire as all Savages do on deceleration (thinking that the bear banger thing was true) or was it a good idea to just quietly sneak up on him so as not to bother him on the quiet but prissy little VStar. I obviously didn't look tasty enough to him this morning because after pondering me for a few moments he wandered to the side of the road. I waited just a bit longer, posied like a cat to run should he make one tiny flinch, but he shuffled into the ditch, at which point I gave him as wide a birth as the road would allow and opened Prissy's throttle as wide as it would go - just call me gone in 60, but not eaten today. And no, I didn't get a picture, my hands were poised and ready for a timely get away - Got to get a helmet cam!!!
That was the exciting part of the day - now for the rest, now that my little heart has stopped racing from all the "fun".
I recommend sleeping in the tent with the fly off in the heat - I had a wonderful sleep and was wakened early by the light of dawn - and I would have gotten off to an early start today, really I would have except for a chance encounter with a new friend. It just so happens that a woman living my life in parallel was camping next to me last night, and it just so happens that she gets up at 4 in the morning (okay, we didn't parallel that part) and makes coffee. She offered me coffee and a chat this morning. I was awake and dressed by 6 - didn't finish packing and hitting the road 'til after 8 after a wonderful chat with Ang from New York (who by the way is the same age as me, has been widowed and has two sons and one grandchild (her's a boy, mine a girl). Many other facets of our lives seem to be the same - small world. Nice to meet you Ang.
Today, just as I suspected going through the mountains was a cool and beautiful ride and I arrived at my campsite early enough to set up the tent,swim, do laundry look at my maps, finally eat that hotdog that I've been craving (??? got to be an outdoor air thing) and now download my pictures and blog.
Not too many pictures today, again. I've come to realize it's all about the ride. It's either too hot and nasty to stop and take pictures or it's just too darn nice to stop and take pictures. But there's always time to stop for icecream!
By the By Cathy - great to have you along for the ride, hold on there might be moose next!
Here's the map folks:

View Larger Map

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How Hot Was It?

View Larger Map

Thought I'd start with today's map, didn't get far and it took a long time, most of the time riding on a two lane behind one transport or another in heavy stop and go traffic. I think Garmin Dan was affected by the heat - his voice cracked and then he was nothing more than garbaleegook. I took him inside a McDs for a berry smoothy, let him cool down, told him to recalculate and we were on our merry way once more. I decided to scrap the touristy route and head directly for the campsite once the temperature hit about 100 F . . . so you ask, how hot was it:
It was so hot that the block of cheese that I had in my cooler melted (grilled cheese without the pan, or the bread).
It was so hot that when I poured out the water I was carrying in my insulated water bottle and put in a fresh cold drink - I got steam!
It was so hot, that when I finally hit a little shady moutain road and the temperature dropped to about 89, it felt positively chilly.
It was so hot that even the Star had to think twice about starting after the last stop. (It's the first time she's complained)
Again kutos to the MEC man who said, "you don't want a four season tent in July" He was right, am sleeping with the lid off tonight.
Am camping tonight at Delaware Water Gap. Have been through Gettysburg and toured the battlefield memorial, rode through Lancaster (I know I've been there before) and through Reading (made me think of NYC) and Allentown - tomorrow I hope to be in Vermont, isn't the weather always nice in Vermont?.
Alexa - there's lots of room in the tent, surprising, as the first time I set it up was in the living room, so it's not too big, just right. I can only sit up in one end though. Tonight I'm blogging under the canopy of the trees, okay, that's really because I have to sit near the post with the electrical hook up otherwise I'd prefer to be in my cozy little tent out of bug city.

Day 4 Begins

I am a little late - but much better planned. There's a heat wave on my route (hottest it's been since 2001 they say!) I'm almost packed (free breakfast held me back again). Hopefully I'll be in the mountain area by the time the heat is bad. Am on my way to the Delaware Watergap.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 3

Hi Sarah, nice to have you along!
I can't talk about day three, I've got to comment on night 2. Camping! Kuto's to the man from Mountain Equipment CoOp who said, "Go for the 2 inch luxury air mat," Just one comment, one man's two inches of luxury is another woman's sleeping flat on the ground. But truly, I had the best sleep, aside from the fact my sleeping bag kept slipping off the sleeping mat. It was a much better sleep than in the hotel - and on that note, here I am in a hotel again. It's what I call poor planning. I said to myself, start looking for a campsite by 4, by 6:30 there wasn't one in sight (who would know? I should have because that always happens!)
Garmin Dan cut out on me today, but thankfully he came back on. Sometimes I think he must be mad at me - he stops recalculating when I don't do what he says and I have to ask him to recalculate. He's usually bang on when he does. Garmin Dan can get confused if you pull off the highway and make a circle into a gas station (I tend to do that myself) - just keep that in mind if you are navigating with 30 billion dollars worth of satellite equipment, sometimes you just have to trust your instincts and ask him to "recalculate".
It was a hot one today, rode pretty much straight for 11 hours stopping for breakfast, gas and a Ben and Jerry's ice cream bar - too long, will have to plan better tomorrow.
My Star is still working great and managing to get comments along the way. Can you believe it, somebody asked me if she was an "1100 cc" today. She felt heavy today but still handled the mountain switch backs with form. I've come from Ohio, spent a nano second in West Virgina (Almost Heaven) and was straight into Pennsylvania - Pittsburg and steely hot!!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 2 - Ohio

It's day two of my little adventure and I put on a few more kilometers today - 506.1 to be exact. And yes Barbara, I am camping tonight on Bunker Hill Road near Mansfield Ohio. Decided to drop down to Mansfield instead of Marion because the campsite I wanted was here. I had lunch in Meadville at the Wendy's - did you know that all of the McDonalds, Wendy's and Tim Hortons have free wifi in them? I just discovered that today so when I take a little break from riding I can read messages and check the weather on my IPOD. My lost phone, has been found - really, it's all about the packing thing.
Sad news today, my poor saddle bags, both of them, ripped (I expect from the strain). they have been with me for six years and I knew they were looking a little worn but I was hoping they'd make it through one more trip.
Again today I didn't stop for pictures, except for the one of the windmill. Don't know what it is about windmills, I just think they are beautiful and there's gotta be fewer health side effects than from a nuclear power generating station.
The camp ground has a pool, but very little in the way of groceries (not like the WalMart). Dinner was a can of beans and some cheese.
I figured out the self timer on the camera and am leaving you with a photo of me, my tent and my star.
Hey Alexa and Rachel - there are fireflies at my campsite, I think they like my computer screne!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day One, On The Road

So today, I didn't get as far as I thought I would, but was delighted to know that Rachel and Sydney are on board with Alexa, Mitchell and Jessica (Hi guys and gals! Hope you are enjoying the first few days of holidays, yipee, we get to stay up late!)
Really, I think I could have made it farther if I hadn't made four stops before I even got started, just had to make the rounds to say "See you in a bit" to my neighbours and my Mom. It was good practice because the weight of the bike is slighly different fully packed (somehow I managed to stuff and elephant into one of my saddlebags). I am going to try to post a link to the google map that approximates where I've been - but here are the highlights, Battersea, Gananoque, Clayton, LaFargeville, Dexter, Pulaski (and around and around Pulaski - ask Garmin Dan about that one), Mexico, Fulton, Hannibal, Rochester, West Henrietta, Rush and now here I am treating myself to a comfortable hotel (what am I going to do when the trip gets rough - yikes) in Geneseo. I've had a refreshing swim in the pool and a 20 minute hike to Walmart (last of the big spenders, dinner from the Walmart Super Store). Leslie, I had to use my leatherman tonight - I needed the scissors to open the bag of cheese that said tear here (right), cut here if you want to actually eat the cheese.
I guess I was so excited about getting on the road, I didn't want to stop to take pictures, that and the fact I realized it would be an effort to get at the camera which was packed under the zebra that I apparently packed in the top bag, (must rethink the packing for day two). There were a few scenic spots along the route, but really nothing I'd call breathtaking. So todays pictures kids ... me and my bike in front of the hotel along with the nice Harley couple (from Pittsburg Pennsylvania - they're here for a wedding by the way) who took my picture in front of the hotel.
My Prissy little VStar is working well, humming along. I'm so happy not to have to oil chains or check tension on belts - the drive maintainence is up to my most spectacular mechanics (just the way I like it.) I check the oil, check the air presure in the tires, put in gas and get on and ride. Must say, that around 2 this afternoon, my usual droop time, I appreciated having some upbeat tunes to listen to thanks to Garmin Dan - even if he did insist that I tour Pulaski until people started to point at me.

Hey, It worked!!!
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Friday, July 2, 2010

Packing it all ...

Well, the VStar is packed (almost) with the exception of the netbook that I'm typing on right now, and a few last minute "girly" accessories including the shoes I'm wearing. In the end it was not about where all the stuff would go, it was about, would all the stuff go! I turned out not to be about what would best be packed with the underwear, it was about will that last little bag of granola squeeze in anywhere, and which is more important the granola or the underwear? Doesn't matter, just as long as it gets in, I don't care where it goes anymore. One more sleep, and I just realized I packed all my clothes - I am not unpacking now. I'd post a new picture, but I already packed the camera. Just kidding - will take one in the morning. Talk to you all from somewhere in the U S of A, sometime tomorrow.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Alright then, another lesson learned. You probably know this already, but when you’re posting a new message to your blog and you click something and get a message asking if “you are sure you want to navigate away from this page,” SAY NO, I’m not – I’m not sure of anything – please don’t pressure me. The point of this story is that I wrote a wonderfully, clever blog posting to you and lost it completely. So I gave up in disgust and went to bed.
Here I go, once again trying to remember it all, by the way this time I’m typing in word and I’ll experiment later to see if I can cut and paste (and I’ll save it, just in case). Of course I’m realizing here that I can’t remember what it was I was trying to tell you except no, I will not be ready to go on July 2, so that means, not sadly, one more Friday night dinner at the Creekside restaurant in Battersea with Sarah (our most fabulous waitress, and admirable grad student), Kyle (the owner) and Barb and Ken (my next door neighbors).
I just couldn’t get my stuff together, literally – so much to pack. I’ve spent many a waking moment trying to decide what would make sense to put in this bag? What goes with the stuff in that bag? What will I have to get off the bike first (so I should try to put it at least somewhere near the top right?) … I need a professional bike packer (do they have such a thing?). The moral of the story is my launch has been put back by one day.

I was so excited to see the first comments left by my friends – thanks Laurie and I can’t wait to show Alexa, Mitchell and Jessica my pictures along the way (I hope I don’t get so excited about the journey that I forget to stop and take pictures, I knew I should have got a helmet cam). Alexa and I have a special bond now, we’re both gals on new bikes this summer. I know Rachel will be watching and KM Sing, take a deep breath and keep singing your beautiful song. Barbara and Leslie, we’ll be chatting along the way.

SCHOOLS OUT FOR SUMMER!!!! Back to checking my list and trying to figure out the really important questions, "what really does get packed with the underwear?"
By the way, in my last posting I didn’t mean to ignore the mechanics at the
Performance Shed, they are fantastic as well – and the sales and service staff are phenomenal. If you’re in the market for a new Yamaha product, I highly recommend them. If you need mechanical assistance and you are in the Harrowsmith area check them out.

PS (Thanks Ken for the google search info) I have now figured out how to cut and paste a word document into a blog post. Send the document as an attachment from one email account to another, if you have two, then in the receiving account click on view, as (in my case) web layout, copy and paste - and ta da! Life is great, isn't it?And Ken, I'll keep you up to date on the riding pants and the roadside bathroom issues and whether or not to zip the pants to the jacket all from a woman's perspective as I travel.I'm sure every woman travelling by bike is eager to learn more.