Yes Emily

Yes Emily, girls can ride motorcycles!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Back In The Saddle Again ...

Not ocean - but Big Water just the same.
Lake Ontario's Shore - Wellington ON
The Star is now proudly sporting a new rear tire; can you believe the old one lasted over 25,000 km? She’s had a much needed oil change, once over and RX for the ‘clunk, clunk, clunk.’

I’ve made it clear in the past that I am not the ‘mechanical’ type. I carry a CAA (come float me away) card not a repair kit and that’s one of the reasons why the whole shaft driven system was so enticing. Compared to a chain or belt driven motorcycle (I’ve ridden both) it seemed to be a no muss, no fuss, and right up my alley choice. I hadn’t ridden further than to the village and back while waiting on the tire so the clunk, clunk, clunk was new. I was a bit concerned riding to the Performance Shed and was eager to tell them about the problem. It sounded like it was coming from the left and under me but I really couldn’t describe it better than that. As it turns out, that no muss, no fuss drive shaft was dry and in much need of TLC and lubrication. Add one more thing to the list of things I’ve learned.

So yesterday, happy to be on new rubber and relieved that the clunk was so easily fixed I was off to ‘The County’ to meet fellow rider and friend Ron for lunch at the Tall Poppy Café. It’s a beautiful little ride (240 km round trip) and I had planned to leave early so I could take the scenic route through the back country saving the happy little ferry ride for the return trip. Lucky for me I started early because, as luck would have it, I let the bike drop backing out of the shed and for the second time this summer my star was laying on her chrome – why the chrome, why does she always fall on the chrome? Luckier still, friend and neighbor Ken was still at home and was able to help put her back on her wheels again, no harm done (except to my pride).

Lunch was fabulous as usual. Ron and I shared stories of our latest adventures then we were off to visit a few of the regions wineries. I would have posted the photo of both of us at the winery, it was really a great photo except for the fact it was out of focus, maybe that’s why it was a great photo, but none the less, it was out of focus. So here's Ron, tasting the fine County wines ...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day Trip to Wolfe Island

It has rained or threatened to rain 4 of the 5 days since I arrived home. I think its Mother Nature telling me the vacation is over and I should be looking for my weed enveloped house under its layer of dog hair. But I’m always looking for a new day trip close to home and am easily persuaded to put the vacuum down.

Yesterday brought an invitation to join Barb and Ken on the north east shore of Wolfe Island for the last “Boot n Bonnet” barbeque of the season. The gathering thunderheads meant tripping with the neighbors in their Subaru though there were some club members who risked getting their ‘babies’ wet. My pick of the day was the Lotus; you’ve gotta love the rumble of that little baby pulling in the drive but the turquoise jag was a show piece.
Sunset on the Island
In the end I was glad to be riding on four wheels. Though the rain never really materialized the day lasted well past sunset with a moonlit ferry ride home and a starless drive up Battersea Road. Riding after dark – that’s a risk I’d prefer avoid!
Wolfe Island Ferry at night

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Post Trip-partum Depression

The Star is covered and sitting on the drive (couldn’t put her into the storage shed as the grape vines crept in and took over most of the floor space while I was away). My gear is helter skelter all over the house, laundry is waiting and I just wanted to stay in my jammies for the day. I’m afraid it’s post trip-partum depression. To make things worse, the Star is feeling depressed after the trip as well. The back tire is definitely showing its age. Now, it’s a good thing that it got me home, but it means I will not be riding to meet Renee (aka Belt Drive Betty) on the Ottawa to North Bay leg of her “Share the road” awareness conga as I had hoped. I spoke with her tonight and she’s had lots of folks meet up with her for sections of the ride. There’s still time left - you can find her itinerary at Belt Drive Betty.

To distract me, my friend Barbara and her Border Collie Logan took me to see the Sheep Dog Trials. Dogs and their trainers come from all over North America to compete in the trials held at Grass Creek Park, just east of Kingston, on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. It was a dog filled day and quite a display.

View from the beach today
Upcoming blogs planned (when I am finished being depressed and have chopped my way through the weeds and vines): What I've learned from the road , What worked what didn't: an equipment review, More scenes from around town: there must be somewhere else I can go ... and whatever else comes to mind.

Friday, August 5, 2011

13,581.4 km Round Trip And The Circle Is Closed

I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the deserts bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.
I’ve been to; Reno, Chicago, Fargo … (Johnny Cash)

That’s the song I heard in my head as I waited in line for the William Henry at Cape Vincent to take me back to Ontario. I’ve been home for 7 hours and I think the dog (and maybe even the cat too) has forgiven me for being away for 28 and a half days. Someone told me that when I got back I wouldn’t believe I’d actually done the trip – they were right.

I made a quick stop to see number two son at work, then my Mom (who cried) then home to number one son, pets, friends and neighbors. What’s next? (An oil change, rear tire change, tune up and … who knows.) But for tonight - it's a cozy bed and bathroom in house, no flashlight required.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another 527 km - One More Day ‘Til I Complete The Loop.


There’s something about the mountains. Unlike the beach, when you turn your back it’s just a memory, the mountains seem to go on forever. I left the mountains in Maine this morning and I’m still, at the end of the day, in the mountains. I’m camped at Whiteface Mountain. I’ve never been here before so it’s an adventure. The cool temperatures of yesterday and last night meant there was very little dew on the tent and it packed easily this morning. My camping neighbors, a teacher and her family from New York invited me for morning coffee and by the time we finished comparing Canadian education, banking, health care, dental care, poverty, homelessness and taxes … it was 8 o’clock. Another late departure for me but it was worth it for the conversation and coffee.

Much of the route today was secondary road, like the lady at the gas station told me yesterday, “There are no highways here honey, just roads.” I travelled a few of those roads today. Some were in good shape and some a bit rough but all in all they seemed more predictable than western ‘roads’. There was always construction lurking just around the corner and I’ve learned to slow down until I see for myself just what it is they are calling a ‘bump’ ahead. For one state a bump might mean a simple blip in the road while in the next state it could be a knock you right off your seat mound or a section of road that has been hollowed out and replaced by gravel. Luckily most of the construction sections were short with few delays.

I followed the 302 ‘road’ much of the way then was on and off the freeways. I had planned on crossing Champlain from Vermont into New York State by bridge but the bridge is no longer there. I found myself in the ferry line not exactly sure what was going on when I heard someone call, “Hey motorcycle!” I turned around to find a kind stranger bringing a ferry ticket to me. He had done the same thing but when he realized he needed a ticket, went to the booth and picked up a ticket for both of us. The ferry ride is free, but you still need a ticket. On the ferry I met a couple riding their Yamaha scooters, along with their little, goggle wearing pooch. The funny thing, theirs wasn’t the first dog I saw wearing goggles and riding a motorcycle today. The first motorcycle canine was a black lab riding shotgun in a side car.

This is my last night camping and as much as I’ll be glad to get home I’m enjoying the crackling sound and “summer’s great” smoky smell of vacation for one last night.

Main Street - Lake Placid

Scenes From The Beach Day

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

From the Atlantic Coast ...

Today – a little crisscrossing, a little back tracking, a little searching for a beach and all in all I travelled 534.8 km. On the map I’ve moved from Enfield near Hartford CT to Freeport near Portland ME. It was cooler than I expected given the current heat wave and I was glad that I’d put on the extra fleece this morning. I made the mistake of giving Dan free rein to take toll roads today and so it cost me $5. to get here. I've touched both the Pacific and the Atlantic. I thought it fitting to turn west from Portland Maine and head for home just as I had turned and headed east from Portland Oregon so many days ago.

I hit Maine about 11 this morning. The sky was of course looking a little dubious, just to add a bit of drama to the day. I spoke to a man at the gas bar, who, on hearing of my little adventure suggested a beautiful beach for my Atlantic coast photos. I headed to Reid State Park and eventually got there after a Garmin Dan meltdown. He was right, it was beautiful – two miles of beach, rock and sand, crashing waves, colorful umbrellas, swimmers and squawking seagulls.

On the road today I met an 81 year old gentleman who told me he had taken his bride on a Triumph to Florida for their honeymoon many years ago and I think I impressed another couple of young men at a rest stop who thought I was far from Ontario until I told how far I’d actually been. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of wonderful people on this journey. The owners of tonight’s campground are both motorcycle riders and planning a cross country tour next year (currently they are in the midst of the to trailer or not to trailer, he wants, she wants debate…) and another of the campground employees, a gentleman and Goldwing rider from Maine tells me he has lots of friends in Ontario who ride with the Blue Knights Club. Tomorrow I head northwest toward home and closing the circle – one more night on the road, I wonder who I’ll meet.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

12,182.8 km So Far

I've been away from the calendar on my refrigerator for 25 days and it’s hard to remember what day of the week it is let alone what day of the month. However, I do know that I’ve travelled 12,182.8 km so far. I can't believe the back tire is still looking trustworthy. Every now and again I think it must be done but then I realize it's just the troughs worn in the road by heavy truck traffic and all is well.

I’ve been pounding pavement, so to speak, in order to make it to the Atlantic Coast and home by Friday for dinner at the Battersea Creekside Pub. Then on Sunday I’ll be off to meet up with Belt Drive Betty on her share the ride/share the road awareness conga.

Once again this morning I was facing mountains as far as the eye could see, not the majestic snow capped Rockies but the gentle old rolling peaks of the Appalachians. I’ve noticed, however, it’s not the height of the mountains that defines the difference, east from west so much as it is the number of people and the number of towns and cities built within the mountains. Traffic was heavy and moving fast enough today to make me think the speed limit signs were meant merely as suggestions, or possibly somebody forgot to tell me that posted speeds now refer to the minimum speed rather than maximum speeds. Either way, I was glad to be off the freeway by 2 having reached my destination of Enfield Connecticut. No campsites in this area but as luck would have it my little no frills Motel 6 is a five minute walk from a major air conditioned shopping mall. If there can’t be a pool at least there’s a place to walk that’s cool. Tomorrow – the Atlantic Coast. Think I'll try to leave early before the morning rush.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Happily Dry in New Columbia PA (471 km)

I got on the road by 8, wet tent once again, painstakingly squeezed into its all too tiny sack, grey skies overhead. I stopped for gas at a small station and could tell it was Monday by the people rushing in and out of the store. I bought a coffee and a muffin since the camp store wasn’t open when I left. The lady behind the counter called me dear, wished me well and said she hoped it wouldn’t rain on me. The skies cleared ahead and it was a great ride for most of the day. I got a hug from a complete stranger at a rest stop. We had smiled at each other two rest stops before as she was coming out and I was going in. This time she stopped to talk. She was on a nine hour car trip and was excited to hear about my adventure. She just reached out for a hug as she said good bye. I also met a fellow who has designed and patented a motorcycle golf bag carrier. He and his wife are headed to Portland ME, carrying the clubs.
I headed back onto I 80 watching the sky grey ahead when I smelled it. I could smell it long before I could see it. It reminded me of the smell of an old, wet canvas tent…it was the smell of hot, wet pavement and I knew I was riding into a cloud burst. I rode through the cloud burst in a matter of minutes, just long enough to cool down but could see there might be more ahead.
I could see the storm clouds gathering and bolts of lightning began streaking to the ground ahead of me. I was only 15 k from my campsite according to Dan when a crack of thunder vibrated my helmet and I remembered the last time I thought I could make it. I made a U turn and headed back to the hotel at the highway. I’ve bailed on camping for the night. Of course it isn’t raining yet, but the weather channel keeps beeping a severe storm warning for this area, so who knows. I am happily dry (and have spread out and dried my tent once again).
Will it or won't it - Rain?
Even though it isn’t raining it is probably a good thing that I turned around. On the way back to the hotel I noticed a sign saying the campground was ahead 5 miles, which of course, was the opposite direction to what I had been going. After checking into the hotel I got out the maps to see just how many campgrounds there were in the area and I noticed written under the description for the campground where I was headed to not follow GPS directions. It would seem I am not the only person who has headed in the wrong direction. It might have been one of those roads, you know, the Mountain View kind of road.
Tomorrow folks…I’m on my way to the Atlantic coast. I looked at the map and saw how far I’ve ridden and how close the Atlantic coast is (relatively speaking) and thought this might be my only chance to ride coast to coast. Since I’m three days ahead of schedule …I’ll only be one day late getting home - if the weather holds.