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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Days 1 and 2

Day 1

Well, today’s ride took a little longer than anticipated, due in part to a few little navigational glitches…Garmin Dan and I’ve had more words today especially after he asked me to leave the thruway and go off roading. If I refuse to ride on a gravel road, whatever would give him the idea that I might be inclined to jump a ditch and head over a wooded hill. He’s either stubborn or he has burned a cyber circuit. He just couldn’t get a “way-point” out of his silly micro chip brain. At one point, I swear he was just sending me in random directions, and I swear I heard him laughing behind his little digital LED screen. In the end I had to feed him bits of information piece by piece until he finally came round.

I left home at 7 am this morning with one quick stop and was not 15 minutes early for the Wolfe Island ferry as I had thought, but 45 minutes early, one lonely little motorcycle waiting … but what a send off. Today was the French Festival in Cape Vincent and riding the ferry was the Picton Legion Pipe and Drum Band on their way to the parade. I’ve never been piped across the lake before but what a terrific, “just having fun” kind of band they were. They played across to Wolfe and then on the William Henry to the Cape. The trip was filled with some familiar faces as well, hope the cyclists all had a terrific day.

The temperature this morning was half what it had been yesterday (15 C) which meant unpacking the warm fleece so I could wear it. The good news, the watertight packing held. The saddle bags felt damp inside, but the packed goods were dry. By the time I arrived at Cape Vincent it was time to peel the sweater and the temperature was perfect from then ‘til the night’s stop.

I’ve felt behind schedule for most of the day, maybe because of the leisurely ferry ride or maybe because of the many circles traversed today (Ken, I’ve done my favorite U Turn maneuver today more times than I can count.)

I finally arrived, by all estimates, 6 hours behind schedule, traveling the last 12 k over a twisty, wooded, mountain road with the sun shrieking its glaring light into my eyes. I was afraid I’d missed the campground because the blinding sun so stopped, yet again, to pull out the map. Of course as I was putting the map away, deciding I had to be on the right road, I looked up and not fifty feet away was the ever so welcome yellow and red of the big KOA sign. I pulled into the gravel drive and was inching my way to the office when I came to the “Bear Crossing” sign. The campground proprietor assured me the bears wouldn’t bother me, after all he’d never met a bear he couldn’t make back down. They only come every night for the dumpsters he tells me. So put me in a cabin! . And where’s the bathroom, on the far side of the dumpster, of course. Tonight there are bears between me and the bathroom … it will have to wait for morning.

Day 2

I slept in. Must have been the mountain air, or perhaps it was because I kept waking up thinking I heard bears. Whatever the reason I started day two, two hours later than I should have. I was even farther behind after having my morning chat with the Campground proprietor who felt the need to mention I need to take care leaving on the mountain road, ‘cause it’s common for deer, bear and coyote to dash out onto the road … oh, and don’t forget about the mountain lion that’s been spotted around the area lately.

The mountain road was a beautiful ride this morning under bright sunshine. The crisp cool air was scented with fresh smell of pines. The only wild life I encountered was a mole that scurried across the road - He made it and so did I to the end of Day 2. I have to believe that mountain folks think differently. I rode by a sign announcing it was a ‘High DUI Crash Zone.’ Now is that sign meant to shame the drivers into remaining sober or is it meant to warn us passersby that the mountain folk can’t be shamed into driving sober. The second sign I loved was ‘buckle up – for the next million miles’. The one sign that was missing, ‘smart riders wear helmets!’ Neither state I rode through today requires motorcyclists to wear helmets. I was actually approached by a man at one of the rest stops. He just wanted to comment on my ‘protective gear’. He said I was the first rider he’d seen today who was properly attired, from head to toe.

The mountains gradually disappeared and I found myself riding through flat farmland with patchwork fields of corn, wheat and soybeans. I switched to the ‘super slab’ for most of the days ride - to make up for lost time and to hopefully decrease my chances of getting lost. The tactic worked and by 6:30 I arrived in Wapakoneta, at a campground surrounded by fields of soybeans.

Interstates 80, 76, 71 and 30 – all look the same. They’re lined with a different kind of trees than the mountain roads. The tall trees reaching for the sky along the interstates are announcing McDonald's and Burger King and gas for 3.49. I ate lunch, regrettably, at a truck stop and headed back onto the ribbon of grey thinking it was an hour that I had wasted. Traffic was light before noon but then truck traffic picked up through the Youngstown, Akron and Mansfield regions. By five the road was nearly deserted again and it was hot. I guess everyone was heading south to Pittsburgh or Columbus. I remembered travelling through Pittsburgh last summer in the middle of the heat wave and was glad I wasn’t going there today. By the third rest stop along the corridor I had peeled every extra bit of clothing and opened every vent on every piece of remaining gear I had on. It felt good just to pull off the highway every hundred k or so for a quick drink of water even though by the third stop I was drinking hot water. I couldn’t believe how quickly a hundred kilometers went by. I continued west to Lima. Who knew Lima was such a large town.

I am luxury camping again tonight, in a cabin. Although there was no sign of it today, the weather forecast for tonight and on into tomorrow is serious. Major storms have hit the western states according to the weather network and are headed right at me straight down the free way. The weather network is calling for severe thunder and lightning, hail stones, and I quote, as big as baseballs and they are not ruling out tornadoes. I’m nice and cozy here and tomorrows ride is looking like it could be cancelled because of weather. I’ll make that call tomorrow. (many of past two days photos are temporarily or possibly permanently lost)

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