Monday, October 19, 2009

around the Georgian Bay - part 2

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Parry Sound, ON to Manitoulin Island, ON Canada

The evening air was so nice we opted to sleep with the windows open.  This was a big, big mistake as there was a screeching train over the trestle outside our window seemingly every hour.  To be fair to the Inn, every waterfront B&B in Parry Sound is affected by the train noise – we just subjected ourselves directly to it by having the windows open all night.

Having been woken several times through the night, knowing that we didn’t have that far to travel and knowing that our ferry passage wasn’t until 4:40 PM, we took our time getting out of bed.  So much so that we opted to skip breakfast at the Inn.  You’ll read more about these flawed decisions shortly.

We decided to handle breakfast as we had the day before.  Our attitude was that we would cover a hundred or more miles and see what was available at that time.

Paid up, packed up, and heading out, we found ourselves going in circles before the GPS really gathered its bearings.

Just out of town the road opens up and quickly turns into Interstate.  Miles and miles pass with nowhere to stop to eat – I guess we should have known this.

Turning off of the super-slab and onto Highway 26, the promise of breakfast looked bleak – until out of the corner of my eye, I caught an image of a muffin.  Gold Mine!

A check of the traffic behind, I was hard on the breaks to “dive'” into the parking lot.  Confusion quickly sets in. Where are we?

Somehow, we had found the one place for miles where one could have breakfast – the Edenvale Cafe.  The Edenvale Cafe is part of the Edenvale Aerodrome – what we would call in the States, an airport.

What we had found wasn’t just a place to get some breakfast.  It was a jewel!  We were pleased to find the cafeteria to be clean and nicely decorated.  We had a great breakfast and enjoyed quite a long conversation with our server.  On the way out, we grabbed some pastries for our upcoming ferry passage.

Armed with the knowledge of every speed trap between Edenvale Cafe and Tobormory we were off for a leisurely stroll up the Bruce Peninsula – or so we thought.

We left the cafe at a little before noon thinking we had plenty of time since the Ferry to Manitoulin Island didn’t depart Tobermory until 4:40 PM.  The detail that your humble correspondent had overlooked was that the ticket clearly stated that we should arrive and check in one hour before sailing to guarantee our spot on the vessel.

Upon realizing my mistake, I though, “No big deal.  it isn’t that far to the ferry from here.”  Though this was true, I had no idea of the congested vacation towns and construction we would encounter.

Employing the knowledge about speed enforcement garnered from our friendly hostess, we briskly made our way up the road hoping like hell we would make it in time.  Did I mention that we were booked for the last crossing of the day?

Thankfully our haste delivered us to the docks of the MS Chi-Cheemaun forty-five minutes before sail.  We were low on gas and stressed out, but we had made it.  I would have never planned it this way.  What was the blur we had just passed through?

Waiting for the ferry to arrive allowed for a certain uneasiness to set in.  I had never been on a ferry in a car let alone with a motorcycle.  I knew that I was supposed to lash my machine down in case of rough water but I wasn’t sure exactly how to.  It didn’t help that the only other motorcyclist queued up to board had never done it before either.  Thankfully, just as the ferry was arriving, a Manitoulin local pulled up on his Triumph.  Once we were in the hold of the ferry, he kindly shared his advice with both of us greenhorns.  He even helped the other guy lash the bike down.

Erica and I took full advantage of the gorgeous weather during the crossing.  We sat on the viewing deck at the stern of the ferry.  The sun was shining, breeze was blowing, and the scenery drifted by as we enjoyed our pastry treats.  Something was missing though.  We had nothing to drink.

Since we had missed the chance to exchange currency at the border I thought it was hopeless that we would be able to get anything to drink during the crossing.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The full service cafeteria accepted plastic even while under way!  I filled up the largest cup available with ice and Sprite.  At the register,  I apologized to the lady for using a card to purchase a soda, and that it was all I had – except for US currency.  To my delight, I found that they even accepted “Green Backs.”  Too bad the change was Canadian but at least we had a little cash should a similar situation occur before departing the country.

The crossing was relaxing and uneventful.  There was never more than a light sway of the ship.  Good thing, as I wasn’t terribly confident in my knotting skills.  It was at least good enough for this crossing.

Taking full advantage of the first-on / first-off policy for motorcycles, we went down to the cargo area before the ship had stopped.  Once docked, the massive hull opened up exposing us to the bright sunlight.  It was exhilarating riding out of the hull of that ship knowing that Manitoulin Island was ours to explore.

I had previously made great efforts to map our way across the Island.  It was stored in the GPS.  All we had to do was follow the directions.  It was about 80 miles to our destination, Meldrum Bay.

Strait off Chi-Cheemaun and out of South Baymouth we went.  North on Ontario 6 to Government road, then west.  We should be to our destination in no time flat.  So goes the saying of best laid plans.  The roads which appeared as minor paved roads on the map were actually chip-n-seal with very loose gravel floating about the top.  Not my definition  of a paved road nor was it the best selection for 40 miles of travel across less inhabited lands on a loaded sport-touring rig.

Plan “B” sent us back out to Provincial route 6 north to catch 542 which cut through the heart of the Island and eventually met up with 540 which would lead us west to our destination.

Two things struck us while traveling across Manitoulin Island.  The first was just how beautiful the Island was.  The second was how sparse services such as gas stations were.  We were finding ourselves in need of gas in short order.

Our first stop for gas was on the “M'Chigeeng Indian Reserve 22.”  There was one pump with one handle, and mechanical readouts.  I began thinking to myself, “Why didn’t you get gas back in South Baymouth?”  It was too late though to second guess myself.  I stepped inside the station to inquire about a nearby premium pump.  “Just up the road here, he does a big “skiddoo” business.  He’ll have it.”

So up the road we went in search of Premium.  If it had been a dire circumstance, I would have, pumped the tank full of the budget friendly stuff but since we had options, I would do that right thing.

The next station had two pumps with mechanical readouts.  The owner was friendly and explained that the “skiddoo” were in fact what you and I might know as a snowmobile or Ski-Doo if you know them by brand name as many people know Kleenex brand facial tissues.  Whew!  Am I glad to have that one behind me.

Almost 7:00 PM and nearly 60 miles remained in the days journey.  Erica and I were both tired and hungry, but the road didn’t seem to mind.  Mile after mile passed with little more than a scenic panorama of water, a small house, or field.  Though we were ready to arrive at the Inn we were both blown away by the natural beauty of this place.

Nearing the end of our journey, we encountered deer crossing the road.  Thanks to an alert passenger, good brakes, and our helmet communication system, neither the deer nor the travelers were harmed.

Hungry, and travel weary we arrived at Meldrum Bay Inn.  The bay was spectacular and the Inn was exactly what we needed.  Meldrum Bay Inn dates from the 1870s and is now cared for by Shirin and Bob Grover.

We found our way to the bar where we met Shirin.  I think she thought we might not have been coming.  She promptly offered to show us to our rooms at which point I replied, “We’re more hungry than tired.”  Shirin immediately shouted to the kitchen, “Bob don’t shut things down.  Our guests have not eaten.”  Boy!  Did we feel bad.  Not for long though as Shirin wasn’t having any of it.

We ate dinner on the wrap-around porch near the hummingbirds battling for the “nectar” hanging above our table.  I’ve never before or since been so close to these little creatures.  We could hear their wings buzzing.

For dinner, Erica had white-fish and veggies.  I had (get this), smoked trout in a whiskey alfredo sauce.  Yum!  Since we were on vacation we finished with desert.

After finishing our meal, we noticed that everyone had gathered in the common room.  A couple visiting the Inn for the evening were playing traditional Irish folk music on their fiddle and flute.  It was so enjoyable and seemed like we had entered a dream world.

After an hour or so of Irish music and drinks, it was time to settle in for tomorrows adventure.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

around the Georgian Bay - part 1

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hessel, Michigan to Parry Sound, ON Canada

Up bright and early to get things packed and beat the lines at the border crossing.  There wasn’t even time for breakfast.

Though we made it out of bed early enough, we had a few distractions that delayed our departure.  First, I discovered that my awesome Ray-Bans were left on the dash of Mark’s (my father in law) boat this past evening.  The boat, and consequently sunglasses left the dock before sunrise.  Darn.

The next adventure for the morning was getting Erica’s slightly over-packed bag in the pannier.  After much huffing and puffing, and removing some not-so-necessary items, we were on our way!

First stop, Sault Ste Marie McDonalds…

We arrived at the SSM McDonalds to be utterly surrounded by gnats.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many gnats.  They were everywhere, except inside the restaurant.

Erica had a coffee, Bacon and Cheese Biscuit with a hash brown Since they didn’t have my favorite Sausage Gravy and Biscuits, I settled for a Sausage Cheese Biscuit, hash brown, and coffee.

The truth is neither of us were really into our breakfast.  We both had our mind on getting across the border, and getting down the road.  The truth is, neither of us had done a land border crossing – despite the fact that we’ve both been out of the country.  We’ve flown every other time.

Heading across the Sault Ste Marie International Bridge, we were overwhelmed at how high it was.  Though not as high as the Mackinac Bridge that I had crossed days earlier, I believe this one felt taller.  This may be because there is much development under this bridge which allows one to better judge the height.

We were both fairly distracted while crossing the bridge.  Anyone who has crossed a toll bridge on a motorcycle should understand.  Going through our minds were thoughts such as, “Where is the toll booth?”, “How much is the toll?”, “Where are the passports?”, “Where is customs?”, “What will they want from us?”, etc.

On the far side of the bridge we discovered the tollbooth, and not far past it the Customs stop.  “Do you have any guns, pepper spray, or illegal weapons?" asks the border agent?  We replied, “No.”  “Welcome to Canada,” she says.  Really that’s it!?  You don’t even want my passport?  I would have liked to have the stamp, at least!  Oh well.

For what hassle the border crossing lacked, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario Canada made up for.  Between the stop-n-go traffic, construction, and my outdated GPS maps we really didn’t know when we would get out of there.  Not surprisingly, Garmin released the map updates shortly after we returned home.

Quickly on the open road, the only thing on our mind besides missing the opportunity to exchange currency was getting a move on to Perry Sound.  We had many miles to cover and it had begun to rain.

I’m not sure what we expected for Canadian scenery but we were disappointed to find that for miles and miles the scenery looked just like Michigan!  Rationally, we knew that we had only crossed an imaginary line; however, we expected to feel like we had crossed into another country.

Riding along the Trans-Canada highway, we passed through small towns such as Laird, Tarbutt (no joking), and Bruce Mines.  Many of these towns were, thankfully, not much more than a wide spot in the road.

Arriving in Blind River, we decided that it was time to take a break from the rain, and for Erica, warm up with a little hot chocolate.  We quickly decided on Tim Horton's.  We had them in the States, it was familiar, and most importantly quick.  We couldn’t have been more wrong about that last point.  Though the staff were serving very quickly, the wait was long due to the sheer volume of patrons.  We soon learned that Tim Horton's, or “Timmie’s” as some locals call it, is something of a religious trek for many hardy Cannuks.

After having been refreshed by our short break at “Timmie’s,” it was time to move on.

On we did move.  We passed through Spragge, Spanish,and Massey before arriving at the intersection of Canadian Route 6 and 17 (Trans-Canadian Highway).  It was time to stop for gas.  I will have to say that by this point Canada had made an impression on us.  We were shocked at how there was little to nothing between the little towns, and how busy the businesses were in these little towns.  The only way I can describe the traffic at this gas station is to ask you to imagine how the grocery stores are just before a huge snowstorm.  It was that busy!

Having acquired a cheap pair of sunglasses and a tank of gasoline on my trusty credit card, it was time to get moving again.  The funny thing about that gasoline is that I wouldn’t know how much I paid for it until I was back home.  Converting liters to gallons and Canadian to US dollars, I learned that we paid – a lot!  Oh well, its vacation.

Continuing through the now less than spotty rain we arrived in Parry Sound.  Thanks to the trusty GPS, we had no problem finding our home for the night – Parry Sound Bayside Inn.  Like Erica, I thought to myself, “Really?  This is it?”  Well actually, Erica said it out loud.  I had the advantage of seeing photos of the inside, so deep down I knew we were fine but Erica had to wait.

We were well received by Jeff in the nicely decorated lobby of the Inn.  Since we had arrived relatively early (around 4:00 PM) we had to wait on the porch a few minutes for the room to be finished up.  I don’t think that either of us minded though since the rain had ceased, we were at our destination, and we were setting in some other position than upon the motorcycle.

We were taken into our third floor suite after not too long of a wait.  The room was stylish and clean.  We learned from our host, Jeff, that we were amongst the first few quests to stay in this room as it had just been completed.

Upon changing our clothes into something a little more appropriate for dinner, we headed off to the Bay Street Cafe.  Employing the “We’re on vacation” strategy, we had a little of everything including drinks, appetizers, entree, and desert.  Though nothing was spectacular, the food was good and fairly reasonably priced.

headin' north


date: 7/24 to 7/25/09

distance: 773 miles

total elapsed time: 36:15 (including overnight stay)

moving time: 15:30


Friday July, 24th

Finally!  Vacation has come.
Up early for a “healthy” breakfast, final check of the bike, and some last minute packing.  Erica and I sat down for breakfast together since it would be a couple days before I see her again.  She will be driving her car to Michigan where we will meet up and do some touring together.  It is a workday so I prefer to get onto the road before all of the commuters.
My goal is to get out of Ohio as quickly as possible, cut through Indiana and get into the “scenic coastal stuff” as quickly as possible.  I don’t dislike Ohio scenery, it is just that I’ve seen much of it.  This trip is about seeing something different.
On the super-slab getting to out of Columbus, I make good time and discover that 33 has been “improved” most of the way.  Four lanes of freely flowing traffic.
My first stop was at the Magic Wand Restaurant in Churubusco, Indiana.  The “Magic Wand” must have been broken since neither my hot dog or milk shake were magical.  I guess this is what I get for ordering a hot dog at a hamburger place.  The other reason I chose this place was for the convenience of the gas station across the parking lot.  Little did I know they were out of premium gasoline.  Thank goodness for the R12’s massive fuel tank.  Moving on…
When planning the route, my goal was to move in the most direct way to the left coast of Michigan while avoiding most population centers.  In doing so, I routed myself right through Shipshewana, In which turned out to be the epicenter of Indiana Amish Country.
Thankfully, Shipshewana was not as commercialized or crowded as Ohio’s dreaded Holmes County.  Looking back, I wish I had stopped and snapped a photograph of one of the neatly groomed farms and farmhouses.
Crossing the border into Michigan, I continue North to Holland, MI where I pick up US-31.  I am a little disappointed to learn that US-31 is heavily trafficked, quite developed, and rarely in sight of the water.  “C'est la vie” as they say in France.  At least I am riding.
By the time I reach Montague, MI I’m feeling like I am nearing my destination for the evening.  I stopped at the Visitor’s center located along an old rail bed (now jogging path).  The center was in the town’s old train depot.  After finding that the visitor’s center was really only a place to pick up those finely printed tourist pamphlets, I stepped outside to have some water, homemade Zucchini Bread, and a stretch.
While sitting there I met a nice couple from California who encouraged me to take a look at the old caboose there in the parking lot.  They were right, it was one of the most complete caboose I have ever seen.  Inside the caboose, there were bunks, storage cabinets, a pot-belly stove, and a wash sink.  I never knew what was originally in these things.  Now I know.
As for the couple from California…  Their son attended The Ohio State University and landed his first (and current) job in Montague.  They liked the town so much they sold their house in California and moved to Michigan(!).  I guess I get it.  Depending where you are in California, it can be crowded and hot.
After my snack break and chat with the California transplants, I decided that I had at least another hour in me.  The couple told me that Ludington and Manistee were about an hour ahead and that I should be able to find somewhere to stay in either of those towns.
It wasn’t very far to Ludington so I decided to continue on to Manistee.  On my way into town, I saw a sign for a “historic Inn.”  I followed the its directions in an attempt to find the Inn but never did.  Somehow, I ended up traversing the entire length of the town on back streets and came out just around the corner from the Motel 8.
By this time, Motel 8 sounded as good as anything.  I was beat.  I pulled up outside and started removing my gear when I met a nice British gentleman named Roger.  Roger and I chatted for a few moments when I politely excused myself so that I could secure a room.  Pricey smoking room secured, the conversation resumed.  I really would have preferred a cheap non-smoking room, but what can one do when he is traveling without reservations.
Over the course of our conversation, I learned that Roger was from Spokane, Washington, had just come from the BMW MOA rally in Tennessee, had been on the road for a couple weeks, was headed to northern Michigan to meet some buddies at the Suttons Bay Blues Festival, and then headed back home.  I envy the freedom that he has gained through retirement.
Roger and I talked about bikes, where we had been, and most importantly dinner.  Having ridden all day, I was so tired that I didn’t even want to think about dinner.  Roger directed me to a Chinese buffet just up the street from the Motel.  He was right.  It was clean, tasty, and relatively inexpensive.  Mission accomplished.

Saturday July, 25th

As expected, It rained through the night.  Thankfully it fell only overnight.  The bike was happily under its new waterproof cover.  I stepped out in the damp crisp morning to chamois as much water off as possible to give it a chance to dry.

After a shower and some preliminary packing, I went down to the lounge to partake in the free (as in included in the room rate) continental breakfast.

The night before I arranged to meet Roger to finish our chat.  The conversation was much better than the onion bagel and bowl of cereal.  We talked motorcycles until almost everyone had finished their breakfast and left.  We could have probably talked bikes all day.

One of the most interesting tidbits I learned about Roger was that his name full is Roger Slater.  He came to the United States From the UK to import Laverda Motorcycles.  Laverda motorcycles were made until 1985 then had a rebirth in the 1990s.  In 2000 Aprilia purchased the brand who then was ultimately purchased by the Piaggio group (Moto Guzzi, Vespa, etc.).  The net result of all the acquisitions was that Aprilia tried to ruin the brand by importing cheap Asian scooters under the name then Piaggio retired it. (At least according to Wikipedia.)  Considering my age and relative late entry into the motorcycle world, I no longer feel guilty about not having heard of the brand.  From what I have read though, these machines were truly something.

I am really fortunate to have met Roger.  We have exchanged e-mail regularly since returning to our respective homes.  After convincing me that it was a good idea to take on the BMW R1200 maintenance myself, Roger “coached” me through valve adjustment and rear transaxle lube change by e-mail alone.  “She” runs like a champ now too!  Thanks Roger!

Out of the Motel parking lot I headed north on Michigan 110.  I was hoping to follow coastal roads most of the way until I passed a car spiritedly and immediately was alerted the need for gasoline.  Gotta love the idiot lights.

Thinking back to when came into Manistee on the day before, my three priorities were lodging, food, and fuel (in this exact order).  It seems after I finished with food, I forgot the last one.  The problem was that I thought that I gassed the bike up – but obviously didn’t.

I nervously watched the “miles remaining” count down mile after mile.  Thankfully, I never ran out of gas.  This is the exact reason I keep the Garmin Zumo GPS with me.  Its good for directions but even better for finding gas, food, etc.  The Zumo guided me to the nearest gas station which was, unfortunately, nowhere near where I wanted to be.  I headed for a filling station in Onekama then began trekking back to the coast.

It wasn’t long after returning to the coast that I received my first treat.  Off to my right after passing row after row of vacation homes stacked up like cordwood, was an unforgettable view of Chrystal Lake.  Views like this are what I came here for!

Moving on, I come across the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  Out of nowhere appears this massive sand-dune.  I’ve seen mention of this before in other travel blogs, but soon learn that it is a pay to enter attraction.  Since I wasn’t interested in climbing the thing, and only wanted to snap a photo and move on I proceeded to turn around.  The only good turn-around was the ticket gate.  There I learned you could ride the dunes.  This sounded interesting enough to hand over the compulsory $ 8.00 motorcycle fare.

I have to admit that the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive was pretty neat.  As you can tell by the attached tracks, the roadway (1 lane, 1 way) wandered around all over the hills and allowed for some unbelievable views of the dunes and Lake Michigan.  I’ve kept this and most of my posts light on photos so that you too have a reason to go see it for yourself.

Out of the dunes, I headed  north to the very tip of the Leelanau Peninsula – but not before stopping to get a bite to eat.  Just south of Northport I ran across Fischer’s Happy Hour Tavern.  Sign me up!  I had an tasty Reuben and a glass of iced tea.  Although I was very much the passing tourist, Fischer’s felt like the local hang-out.  Would recommend it to anyone.

It was a gorgeous ride to the tip of the peninsula.  I was concerned that Northport would be a tourist town.  It turned out to be a tiny little burgh with probably less than 1000 residents.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was in for an unfortunate surprise just up the road.

Several hundred yards before arriving at the highly anticipated lighthouse, I was stopped by a Michigan State Park Ranger demanding ransom.  She wanted $ 8.00 dollars for me to park my motorcycle and walk around the outside of the lighthouse.  After explaining to her that I only desire to photograph the outside, she responded that this was the cost of an “vehicle pass which would grant me access to all 98 Michigan Parks.”  She forgot to mention that this was only a DAY PASS!  For your entertainment, I have attached a photo of the “tax booth” to the interactive map.

Though I, no doubt, could have afforded the $ 8.00 fee to see the lighthouse, I was a bit irked that the State of Michigan overlooked the fuel taxes, bed taxes, and sales taxes I had spent (and would spend) while vacationing in their state.  After all of this, they want me to pay a fee to simply snap a photograph of the outside of a lighthouse?  Not a chance.

In hindsight, I wish that I had been thinking a bit more clearly.  With a cooler head, I would have parked the motorcycle along the road and walked in to snap my photograph.  Maybe next time.

I had planned to run US-31 up through Petoskey, then cut around Harbor Springs on US-119 to the tunnel of trees.  The route so far was more developed and crowded than I had hoped.  I had previously heard that the Tunnel of Trees tended to be crowded and slow during peak season.  I decided to skip all of this and join my (lovely) wife, Erica, in the UP.

The only touristy city I really had to suffer through was Traverse City.  Traffic-light after traffic-light following disturbingly loud Harleys and packs of idling cars wore at me.  Once through this area, it was smooth sailing all the way to Mackinac City.

I’ve crossed the Mackinac bridge by car several times.  Nothing compares to crossing it on a motorcycle.  If feels so much longer, taller, and higher off of the water when hanging out on two wheels.  I loved it!

Shortly after crossing the bridge, I arrived in the very quiet, un-developed, open, and not-so-crowded, heaven called Hessel.  After coming through the resort towns I’ve left long behind, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.

“Now, where’s the beer?”

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Memorial Day has long been a time for friends and gathering for my wife and I. Since our good friends, Curt and Jess M., moved back to their home state, we have made an annual road trip to see them.

This being the first year owning a touring bike, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to stretch it’s legs (and add another state to my riding portfolio).  I had only one problem.  My wife, Erica, is not so much a motorcyclist.
Erica rides with me from time to time.  So long as it isn’t too hot, too cold, too wet, to sunny – well ok, that might be a little exaggeration but I think I made my point.  This was a long trip and I wasn’t sure she’d go for  it.
To my surprise, it didn’t take much to convince her that this was a good idea.  Between her understanding for my love of riding, a clear weather forecast, and a promise of plentiful shopping with Jess at King of Prussia (more in this in a second), she agreed.  I think all would agree that I married well.  :-)
I’m not sure if it occurred to Erica when she agreed to go that she wouldn’t have any way to get her purchases home but I’ll have to say that she handled it like a trooper.  A good sport,  she is!
Our route was carefully chosen to minimize the time spent in Ohio (been there done that) and maximize the time that we would have on PA two-lane roads.
Our departure from Columbus was early.  So early, in fact, that it might have been a contributing factor of me forgetting the digital camera.  It wasn’t until almost Zanesville, OH that I realized what I had done – and it was too late to do anything about it.
Fast forward a few miles and we hit Washington, PA.  The only real significance of Washington is that we turned southeast and ended our journey on the dreaded “super-slab.”  I shouldn’t be so harsh – it has its uses, I guess.
A quick stop just past, Brownsville to make the same dad-gum wrong “detour” turn as we did last year in the car -- then onto Ohiopyle.
We discovered the beauty of Ohiopyle last year on the way out to Washington, DC.  Ohiopyle wasn’t our intended destination, just a place that stuck in our mind after we passed through on our way to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.
As it turned out, there wasn't much more to the town (village) than we had seen the prior year.  The draw here is the beautiful falls on the Youghiogheny River.  The place is usually teaming with whitewater rafters and outdoorsy types.  This trip was no exception.
My hope for Ohiopyle was to enjoy the mountainous natural beauty, and grab a bite to eat.  At least the scenery was nice.  There was only a place or two in town and neither one ticked my or Erica’s fancy.  It was hot and I think we were both thinking about the long journey ahead.
From Ohiopyle, we pushed northeast to catch US30 and ride all the way to Caledonia State Park.  The torturous construction zone before Chambersburg immediately followed by the rush hour stop-n-go of the town were a not so distant memory as we headed north on SR233.  I have to thank you Curt for this route recommendation as I am not sure we would have survived Gettysburg.
Several days spent with our good friends drinking and eating ourselves silly allowed Erica and I to reflect on the trip out.  We had some wonderful scenery, but having seen it and knowing what Chambersburg held, neither of us wanted to go back that way.
Curt and his Dad, Steve, were of great help in choosing a route back.  Minimal interstate, minimal toll, scenic, but not passing through many not so little towns like Chambersburg.
US22 was the road.  6:30 AM was the time.  The only toll road being PA Turnpike 66.  Exact change in (Erica’s) hand (the Internet rocks), and we were back to Ohio ready to do it again.

Monday, March 30, 2009

grey roads

View Interactive Map

date: 3/30/2009
distance: 94.4 miles
temp: 53 Deg F

This post is about those roads that appear as grey lines. My "Official Ohio Transportation Map" describes these roads as "Selected Local Roads."

"Grey roads" are the roads less traveled. I am learning that of all the roads which appear on the map, these roads might have the most to offer. Not the most to offer as in shopping centers, rest stops, and such but rather, the most scenery, kindest people, and most importantly, the most character.

This was a nice evening after work. I started out in only my jacket and gloves but quickly decided that I needed to stop at the Hartford Firehouse and don the 'rocket pants. Just as I was getting ready to leave, the firefighters were dismissing their meeting. Two firefighters stopped and commented about how nice my bike was. "Thanks," I said back to them. Luckily, these kind people also had places to go and we didn't talk more than several minutes.

I continued from Hartford to follow more grey roads. Though technically not a grey road, I did discover SR229. It wasn't too far up the continuum from a grey road and became ever more interesting towards Mt. Vernon.

With that, it was time to head home. I tried to put myself in the direction of Lewis Center so that I could stop at a coworkers house but ran out of sunlight. The deer that crossed in front of me near Hoover reservoir reminded me why I don't like the ride the two lanes when its dark.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Motohio to Millstone BBQ

View Interactive Map and Photos

One of the cool things about the dealership where I bought the R1200 is that they regularly do semi-organized rides. From what I understand, the rides normally depart from the shop and almost always involve food.

From the moment I learned about it, there was never a question of whether I was going on the Hocking Hills ride. It was a chance to hang out with like-minded people and possibly learn of some new roads. This is all above and beyond being a really good excuse to get the bike out of the garage. :-)

The night before, Erica had excluded herself from participation because the morning was forecast to be a little chilly. In her defense, she hasn't any riding pants (yet).

The morning of, we learned just how chilly. It was some 28 Degrees Fahrenheit when I woke. As Erica repeatedly told me that I would be cold, I reminded her that the day was Forest to be a nice 58 Degrees Fahrenheit and that I had some really nice riding gear, heated seats, and grips.

The ride to the dealership wasn't bad except for the feeling that someone was stabbing pins into my cheeks. It had "warmed" to 30 Degrees Fahrenheit by this point. My gear was actually doing a great job of keeping me warm. The only problem was that my face was hanging out of my 3/4 helmet catching the cool breeze.

This clearly wasn't going to work for very long -- at least not without longstanding consequences (frostbite).

I was the second bike in the lot. Not long after I arrived, Ted (the guy who sold me my bike) arrived on his demonic monster of a motorcycle (this is another story for another day).

I'll have to say that Ted is one of the most generous people I know. He offered to loan me one of his personal balaclavas and/or show me the inventory on hand at the shop. Since his balaclava only solved my problem for the day, I opted to see the inventory. They had one just my size and weight and I was all set -- except that all the registers were closed because of it being Sunday. The owner, Mike Allen says, "...take it. Call us on Tuesday with your c/c and we'll run it." Can you believe these people!? They were more concerned with my comfort for the day that getting paid for merchandise that I was carrying out of their store. "Thanks guys!"

Having solved the first problem of the day, I joined Ted and other motorcyclist to solve the other problem -- hunger and the urge for coffee.

By the time we left the dealership it had warmed to nearly 40 Degrees Fahrenheit . The bike count rose to around 22 and rider count to nearly 30.

The route was one completely different that I normally take. We went south then east whereas I normally go east then south. The former route (south then east) was one that I will repeat on my own someday. The neat thing about this route was that we gradually entered the hills. We started out in plains and slowly entered the foothills. It was really cool.

I think I am beginning to understand why I love motorcycling. I've owned three bikes and ridden many others. I've accumulated more than three years and nearly 20,000 miles and yet I am still learning about the right gear for the weather, new routes to areas I frequently ride to, and constantly working to improve my riding. This might take a lifetime.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Roscoe Village

View Interactive Map and Photos

date: 3/15/2009
distance: 145 miles
total elapsed time: 5:45
moving time: 4:00 (approx)

I picked up the R1200 from the dealer yesterday. Only two trips out and she was ready for the six-hundred mile service! The ride home was cold and gloomy so I took the shortest path possible (super-slab).

Today started sunny and a little warmer. It looked to be a good day for a ride. Erica chose to join me today. This would be her first ride on the new bike. As this post's name implies, Roscoe Village was our destination but we first had to stop to get the lady some warm riding gloves.

Gloves on hand we headed for Roscoe.

As we left Columbus the sunny skies turned grey. It felt much cooler. I believe that Erica may have suffered a bit as she hasn't yet found a pair of riding pants.

Traffic on the route was light and SR-541 was the highlight of the ride. In contrast to SR-62 west of Martinsburg, SR-541 runs straight through the hills! Sweeping curves and constant elevation changes keep things interesting as farm houses and livestock sweep by.

First impressions of Roscoe Village reminded me of the Netherlands. Albeit a hilly version but the Netherlands none-the-less. The buildings are all brick three-story structures. Storefronts line the street filling the first story of the historic buildings.

After a quick potty break, which was no doubt bought on by the cold, we sat down for lunch at Lock 27 Pub. The lady had fish and chips. I chose the "Ribs, Wings, and Rings" basket. Neither of us were overly impressed with our meals, but as we had discussed over lunch, this was probably because we both have joints near home that we consider to do the best wings, ribs, and fish (e.g. Hickory House and Old Bag of Nails).

After lunch we waddled around town checking out the Visitor Center, shops, etc. We nearly walked by River Ridge Leather. I'm glad we didn't because we really enjoyed seeing all of Dennis's hand made creations. I even picked myself up a new belt! :-)

Except for the stop in Granville for a rest and some warm beverage, our trip home was a straight shot on SR-16.

We could have spent many more hours in Roscoe Village. Even overlooking all of the "kitche shops" we left much of the village undiscovered. I'd like to think that this is because we intend to return.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Hear ye! Hear ye!

Chronicles of m is being reorganized to serve a new purpose.

Though I have used this site in the past as a soap box, I now plan to post information on recent motorcycling experiences for friends, family, and fellow motorcyclist to discover and enjoy. Who knows, maybe I'll even reminisce during the long Ohio winters.

Chronicles of m is also in search of a new name. This name should reflect the intention of the site as well as the original namesake. If you've got an idea, leave a comment on this post.