The end of the road.
The end is quite anticlimactic. I powered on through with little sightseeing as it was time to put this to rest. Not the best way to end a trip but nonetheless a nice ride home.
So a year after I finally finish the write up.
~28,000 miles on a scooter. Alaska twice, Prudhoe Bay, Key West, the Alcan, the Alaska Ferry System, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Tok, a hundred other small towns, The Dalton, parts of the Dempster, the 'notch' twice, no flats, a couple of close calls with fuel, animal crossings, Denali Park, many river crossings, rain for weeks on end, some sleet, lot's of beer, and a thousand conversations.
Would I do it again? Sure.
MP3 500 LT SPORT ABS/ASR
Joined: 17 Apr 2014
Location: Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear - UK
bv350 (sold) and now,'14 honda ctx700 dct
Joined: 03 Aug 2014
Location: haifa israel
howdy, I also really enjoyed your tale of keeping on keeping on. I have been dawdling on a decision to ride from Portland Oregon to san Francisco but after reading that, how can I say it's too far? I guess it's as much the idea of having no particular friends along that route to overnight with so it's motels like at least 5 nights to do what I want to do. my belt replacement is done and the scoot is ready to go. maybe next week
lotsa miles and smiles to ya
Red Mp 3 500
Joined: 08 Dec 2007
Location: Norman, Oklahoma. USA
MP3 400 | LX150
Joined: 25 Feb 2014
Location: Seattle, WA
I can safely say it's the best I've ever seen, and would be very hard to top.
Thanks for taking us along for the trip. One of the best, if not the best.
I live in Seattle and was at Big People's when your MP3 was there!! I asked them whose it was, and they said he was from Florida and had just gotten back from Alaska. I was completely floored. You've opened my eyes and inspired me to be a little fearless on the scoots.
MP3 400 | LX150
Joined: 25 Feb 2014
Location: Seattle, WA
Scarabeo 500GT(hers), `07 250 MP3, `09 400 MP3
Joined: 13 Oct 2008
Location: Kingman, Az.
I too travel by MP3. Not near as much as you but have to say it's much easier than doing it on a MC as I've done in the past. I still have MCs but compared to a MP3, they just don't cut it once bitten. 2 summers ago my 400 MP3 spent a couple nights @ the Ouray, Co. KOA meeting other bikers. At those high altitudes it doesn't have much oomph left, but still passed 2 BMW GS1200s on a straight. Really enjoy your pics/music. I take hardly any pics, already have so many from past MC trips.
Last edited by norCal Randy on Thu May 28, 2015 9:56 am; edited 1 time in total
Starts in 90 minutes. Update every 10 minutes while moving: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=00y6rrAO3qJHKsI4g6SlPyDMXzKc2bbxY
Veni, Vidi, Posti
MP3 500, GTS 250 (both 2008 MY), 2012 Honda NC700 DCT, 2014 Can Am Spyder RT
Joined: 02 Mar 2013
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
There's a protective sheet between the pannier and the scooter. Planning on heading North of the Great Lakes.
Madison Sully wrote:
I'd be worried about burning a hole in that right pannier.
Are you planning on going through Wisconsin or northern Illinois at all?
Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Thu May 28, 2015 5:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
Palm Harbor to Pembroke Pines
Started after 12 as I wanted to let my blood alcohol get below .08 if I got pulled over. Pretty straight forward day. I had a few issues with the gear getting acclimated to it and that slowed me up for the first ¼ of the day.
I got a new helmet that is a dual sport type with a big beak. I'm getting a lot of noise with it. If I duck down just two inches the noise dramatically drops. I pulled over and took the beak off after the Everglades and this helped. Now if I duck down the noise is almost completely eliminated. I'm probably sitting up too high for the windscreen but if I sit lower it cramps up my legs so I'm going to stop in Lauderdale tomorrow and see if I can find a laminar lip to add to the wind screen.
I have packed and repacked several times in an attempt to keep the bulk down. Finally I left behind my tent as it was too bulky in comparison to some more important items. Still have to make room for two gas can.
Pretty hot with temps in the 90s and a little rain just at the end of Alligator Alley but didn't last too long. I rolled 30,000 miles on the scooter just as I entered Big Cypress National Preserve.
I was going to stop in Naples but continued on to Pembroke Pines.
Oh, I have stickers for anyone who tags me. Only exception id if I've pulled over for some Happy Hour - then it's no fair. Kind of like hunting wild game on a fenced ranch.
This is NOT good.
At Vespa of Savannah this morning: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Motorini-Vespa-Savannah/187539077936291?fref=ts
Pembroke, Key West, Lantana, FL
Somehow my alarm didn't go off at 0300 for the early start South to Key West that I planned. Sadly disappointed in the Samsung App. However, I did salvage it and got on the road WAY before noon.
The day started out pretty crazy. As I was getting ready to ride off I couldn't find the key to the scooter. Back to the room, flip over the sheets stomp around and make some noise, no key. Back to the scooter, look around on the ground, kick a few inanimate objects, no key. Back to the room, take all the gear off and lay on the bed with the air conditioning on full blast for a few minutes, still no key. Back to the scooter, take everything off the scooter and look for the key, no key. Back to the room with a quick side trip to the free breakfast, still no key. Back to the scooter and begin to take everything apart. All the while the temperature is starting to slowly make it's way to 90 +. No key. Back to the room for a cold drink, no key. Finally back to the scooter and I started to pull everything apart again the key was in my tennis shoes. Not sure who put it there. Off to Key West 5 pounds lighter from all the work in finding the key.
Key West is a long way from South Florida. It's quite deceptive. "Hey we're in Miami let's make a quick run to Sloppy Joe's for some drinks and back." Yeah, that's not going to happen. The upper part is 55 mph then as you work your way down you face with traffic lights, then 35/45 mph speeds, single lanes, etc. Key West is a long way from South Florida.
Thankfully I was heading South on a Friday morning and not having to deal with the mass exodus that occurs at noon on Friday. It becomes wall to wall cars and campers and trailers as everyone heads out for some fun in the sun. However, this doesn't stop the few that left early or are unemployed from blasting down to the Keys as fast as they can.
In the Keys 'Passing Lane' is French for 'drive as fast as you can because no one is going to stop you' 'no really put the petal to the metal you only live once so why not die in the Keys' and on they came. Speed limit 55, then by god they'll try and top 70. 10 feet of space between me and the vehicle in front; 'hell yeah we can fit the Bronco and a trailer in there, move over little buddy'. I got passed by everything on the inbound and outbound legs; cars that shouldn't be on the road towing boats that shouldn't be on the water, trucks filled with rusty bicycles headed to a recycler in Miami, limousine tinted luxury cars 5 in a row blasting past on one lane, Mom's in minivans passing on the shoulder, a dump truck dropping some sort of green slimy stuff all over the road. Yes, the only thing I didn't see was the Police.
It was a miserable day for me. I thought I found a cure for the issues of the seat before I left but I was wrong. I had bought a foam mattress top for a twin bed and folded it up into a small rectangle to sit on. It was advertised that it would relieve pressure points and I sure need relief on those pressure points.
No go. It was semi-painful yesterday but I was thinking that my ass was simply out of shape from sitting in an office for so long. But no, it was the seat, the foam.
It was so painful it was like I was in 50s sideshow circus touring Mississippi; 'Right this way folks see a man sit on a bed of sharpened nails, right this way!' And they were paying big money to see this. They kept screaming 'sit on the bed of nails you crazy fool, sit on them.' And I did for about 20 miles and then I would have to pull over and readjust. I stopped so many times I could have made better time on George Jones' John Deere mower. He probably had a custom seat on that thing.
One time I pulled over and a man and woman on a BMW scooter pulled out from a housing complex. They were wearing bathing suits, just bathing suits, sitting behind a large windscreen on a seat of what I imagined was fine Corinthian leather - with the optional cooling turned on. Laughing as they rode away into the sun I struggled to stand up and flip over my torture device for another 20-minute session.
To add to the misery was the omnipresent heat and the noise I was getting from my helmet. No matter what I did the wind was slapping the helmet around and making a god awful noise. I was thing I was going to max out my health benefits by Friday with the audiologists bill it was so painful.
I pulled into Riva Motorsports in Key Largo and decided I was going to chuck the helmet and buy another one. I really didn't care what I spent as long at it was quiet. But as they are primarily a watersports dealer they didn't have many helmets.
As I left I had an epiphany, or maybe I was hankering for a mid-day drink, that it was the GoPro camera mount? I was using a high camera mount on top of the helmet. So I pulled into Divers something or another and spent $60 on GoPro Mounts. It took me about 20 minutes in the searing heat to figure everything out and remount the camera and I was on my way. Still no relief.
I then started to try and sort out the air flow over the helmet by holding my hand between the helmet and the wind screen to see where the air was flowing. Admittedly, Chuck Yeager would not have been impressed but I narrowed it down to the left side of the helmet. I pulled over and there it was, the base mount for the camera on the left side that I had forgot about. So I taped it over and it was amazing how quiet it was back on the road. They must put these things in wind tunnels because the mount is only a few mm high.
I made it to Key West finally with my ass screaming for relief. I made a quick run past the most Southerly tourist attraction in North America. It reeked of Patchouli, Axe Spray, Keystone Beer and an undercurrent of weed, in other words a normal day in the Conch Republic.
I didn't even turn off the motor I did stand up a few times at stop lights to try and relieve the agony though. No fudge, 6-toed cats, ice cream, 4 t-shirts for a dollar, Sloppy Joe's, Conch Republic stickers or mile marker 0 stickers. Nada, zip. After 15 minutes I turned North in the 99-degree heat.
Painful does not even describe the next few hours. I was going to try and jump the barrier in the middle of the Seven Mile Bridge to end it all but I chickened out at the last minute.
Finally at Islamorada I pulled into a K-Mart. You might remember K-Mart they were a big deal 25 years ago. I bought an 'Overfilled Pillow' for $9. I debated on getting the $7 one but splurged. I folded it in half and used that for the rest of the ride. The foam torture device is in a shopping cart in the parking lot of the Islamorada K-Mart if anyone is interested. Probably still there.
Much better but not perfect.
Hours later I looked to my left and saw the hotel that I had spend the previous night in. Talk about depressing.
I ended up in Lantana, FL which is only 53 miles North of Pembroke. And to add to the misery the hotel declined my card, YET the skeevy liquor store next to the hotel gladly accepted it.
Seven Mile Bridge
Lantana, FL to Brunswick, GA
Yesterday I went to Target and grabbed a faux 'gel' pillow with the idea sitting on this rather than the 'overfilled' pillow I had bought in Islamorada. Great choice. Early in the morning before leaving I folded this over the overfilled pillow and used Gorilla Tape to tape them together.
Pretty straightforward day with few issue other than helmet noise. I pulled into a Sonny's for lunch and after this when I started out I really thought that someone had swapped helmets the noise was so noticeable.
I pulled over for two reasons; is this my helmet and did I put in my ear plugs. The answer to both was yes which surprised me.
I'm going to look for a different set of ear plugs the first time I get. I'm close but there is still a bit too much noise.
Much less ass pain. I'm able to go almost 75 miles without screaming when I shift my weight on the seat. A marked improvement.
The hotel has a sign about the prices of items should you so be inclined to remove them. I'm signing on for the 'Alarm Clock' at $25.
Ended up doing 366 miles.
Tips from the road, number 157:
I often get asked; How do you do it day after day? What's your secret?
Well the answer is tomato juice. I try and have several cans of tomato juice after every riding day (and a few on the off days). It contains just the right blend of nutrients and carbs to allow me to ride for so many hours, especially in the bad weather.
2007 MP3 250(retired) C650GT
Joined: 01 Jan 2011
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
2007 MP3 250(retired) C650GT
Joined: 01 Jan 2011
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
Brunswick, GA to Wilson, NC
Started late as I had planned. I was going to kind of take an easy day and stop short of the DC area and do laundry and get ready for a big push North but it didn't work out that way.
First stop was Motorini - Vespa Savannah. I had a few issues that I wanted to run by someone at the shop.
On the way up the plug for the GPS shifted so I went to battery power and that quickly died. Hit a bump and it's back on, hit another and it's back off. I didn't want to stop and pull everything off because some genius at Piaggio decided that the best place for a power outlet was under the seat. Another bump and a quick tease and then off, back on, back off. Finally I was able to actually use the GPS to make the turn onto the street they were on.
On their website it shows an old gas station, at least that's what it looks like, as the store. I turned down the street and cruise it looking for an old gas station. No go. Back around the neighborhood and back down it again. This time a guy was pushing a scooter out of a door onto the sidewalk from a building with no 'Scooter signage'. When he saw me he stopped and waved me over. Motorini has moved.
It was John who is one main employees opening up for the day. Not many motorcycle or scooter shops are open on Sunday and this visit was just a fluke to see if someone could help me out.
Yes, I found out a tech was in for a few hours on Sunday but wouldn't be in for some time. John sent him a text to head over now. In about 30 minutes Tommy showed up. Fantastic.
After discussing a few things it was back on the road. Nice shop, great store layout and apparently the owner is a BIG scooter supporter. They are in the old part of Savannah so the street is real quiet with little vehicle traffic and large trees shading the street. Definitely worth swinging by and saying hello if you're in the area.
Since I knew I was going to be on 95 all day I was going to wait until I needed gas to adjust the power outlet plug. Out of Savannah over the Savannah River and the Black River, a really cool cable bridge and on 17. 17 was almost washboard it was so rough. Eventually I made it back to 95 and spent almost the whole day on it. Along the way the low fuel light came on - first of the trip.
The heat was oppressive it had to be close to 100 degrees.
More oppressive were those 'South of The Border' billboards. Who is this Pedro fella anyway? I stopped in for a few trinkets anyway.
I finally called it a day in Wilson, NC.
Motorini - Vespa Savannah.
Motorini - Vespa Savannah.
Wilson NC to North East, MD
I had one of those 'Then Came Bronson' encounters this morning before I left. I made a few trips out to the scooter and each time there was this guy hanging around and on each trip out he would be closer and closer to the scooter.
Finally as I was gearing up he asked a few questions. He was just retired from the Coast Guard and had been stationed in Alaska! I could tell by his questions that he really missed it. Every couple of sentences would be 'Man, I wish I was riding with you.' I offered to wait a few days for him to get a ride but he just shook his head. He was on his way to Tennessee to start a new job. Best of luck Frank.
I'd recently, a few weeks ago, ended 15 months in Washington, DC for work and I wanted to avoid it like the plague but as I approached the DC I got stung by the GPS.
Approaching DC it said go to 395 off 95 so I did. My first thought was 395 is going to swing out and away from DC and Baltimore and all the congestion. About 10 feet into the commitment I realize the mistake. 395 took me into the city. I even passed within a ¼ of where I used to live.
Up into the city onto New York Avenue a street I despise because of the traffic. Then to make matters worse onto the Washington-Baltimore Parkway. AHHHHHH what have I done.
It quickly went down to 15 mph and then it started to rain. Slowly, ever so slowly I got back to 95 and the traffic died down pretty quickly.
I motored on and hit a few bad rain storms and decided to call it a day when it got pretty black in front of me. Right before I pulled off I crossed the Susquehanna River Bridge. Lot's of warning signs about high winds so I was pretty worried about the crossing.
Lot's of wind from the left as I crossed it. On the bridge I looked to the left and I saw nothing but rain, I looked to the right and saw nothing but sunshine - strange. Just as I was about to exit the bridge a tractor trailer blew by me on the left and almost pushed me into that ever so small guardrail. Close but I pulled it off and I was off the bridge. A mile later I stopped and paid $6 for the privilege of crossing.
I pulled into North East, MD to a Holiday Inn. It was a pretty pricey room and I'm not sure what is driving the prices up as there is nothing in the area. Oh, and it has terrible Wi-Fi and NO laundry.
On checking in I gave the front desk clerk my ID and a credit card. I told her I was a Priority Club Member as asked if she wanted my number. No, she said she would find it.
Her: looking at her computer screen intently, 'Are you from Kansas?'
Me: 'No, do you want my Priority Club number?'
Her: 'No, oh I see you're from California.'
Her: 'Hmm, oh here you are, all the way from Washington state.'
Me: 'No, do you want my Priority Club number?'
Her: 'No, gotcha! How was the drive in from Mississippi?
Me: 'No, do you want my Priority Club number?'
Her: 'No, wow all the way from the Marshall Islands! Welcome Mr. Fitzgerald.'
Me: 'No, do want my Priority Club number?'
Her: 'No, did you stay with us earlier in the week?'
Me: 'No, want my Priority.....'
Her: 'Found you. Buenas Noches Senor Wilson, always glad to see our neighbors from South of the border.'
Me: Silence and a hard a stare as I could muster without having a stroke. 'Want my Priority Club number.'
Her: 'Oh, you have it?'
Me; 'Yes.' I give it to her.
Her: 'Oh, something happened to the room I had blocked for you it's disappeared from the screen.'
Next to her was the other front desk clerk whom I'll call, Mable.
Mable: 'That means that the room has been taken and is no longer in inventory.'
Her: 'I'm sorry sir I'm out of rooms, would you like a suite?'
At this point in time I was wondering if I reach over the counter and slowly squeeze the life out of her would I actually get jail time after this? I'm mean I'm cool with that whole working on the side of the road with matching outfits kind of thing and drinking from a shared tin cup. Sort of a back to nature rehab program with a clothing allowance. But an actual cell?
Mabel: 'If he takes a suite, you'll have to charge him the same rate as a standard room.'
Her: 'Would you like a suite?'
It ended up raining cats and dogs, fish, hail, biblical proportions that afternoon. So bad that the liquor store up the street closes and it NEVER closes. Flash flood warnings until the morning.
North East, MD to Gananoque, ON, Canada
Up early as I wanted to avoid the weather in the area. Not a big fan of this Holiday Inn and in showed that by 0615 they were out of bacon. Oh, they had boron nitride biscuits, but no bacon.
It was drizzling as I got ready to go and chilly. I put on the inner liner that came with the new jacket and long pants. Because they had no laundry I had to go 'commando' in regards to the underwear.
It was chilly and rainy for most of the day. Out 95 North through Wilmington along the Delaware River. Off to the East in the fog/mist there was a huge suspension bridge with traffic on it.
Finally at 476 I headed North. This is an auxiliary interstate. You pick up a ticket at the entry point and then pay at the end for the mileage you drive. I was a bit confused but figured it out pretty quickly with all the horn blowing behind me.
Cold and rainy for the most part. Lots of construction on the interstate. However, this apparently doesn't slow traffic. They had plenty of those; 'Speed Limit 55' and then 'Your Speed' with a radar display of your current speed. I saw plenty of 80+ mph speeds as pretty much everyone with a Pennsylvania tag blew by me. Early on I even got passed by the short bus. Those kids NEED to be in school on time.
Because of the rain and the cold I pulled into the Hickory Run Service Plaza. I hung out there for over an hour waiting for the rain to stop. Looking at the weather radar just 15 miles away the sun was shining just not on the Hickory Run Service Plaza.
I had the absolutely worst breakfast sandwich of my life there. I'm going have issues for days because of this. After almost an hour of looking at the rain and the inside of a handicapped stall I moved out.
That pillow that I so love now weighed so much because of the rain I don't think I could straight arm it if my life depended on it. It was that heavy. And sitting on it was quite the experience as well. They never get dry.
On North in the rain. Every once in awhile the sky would turn something that looked like blue but the sun never poked through.
Finally I got to what I thought was the end of the interstate, paid my $10.60 and moved on. Almost immediately all the traffic in front of me was exiting. I stayed in the left lane and continued on. Just after the exit I noticed a police car stopping traffic from getting on the road and I though 'great, an accident up ahead'. No worse. 'Beam Placement', 'Monday through Friday. 9 - 5'. Who in their right mind schedules beam placement Monday through Friday, 9 - 5 on a major interstate? Apparently someone in Pennsylvania does.
After 45 minutes on to 81 through Syracuse and some intermittent sun. Somewhere South of Watertown I may have dozed because on one long stretch I looked to my left and I could have sworn that I was making eye contact with Woody Harrelson. No really, Woody! Because of the weather I wasn't wearing sunglasses and it was just Woody and I looking deeply into one another's eyes at 70 mph. He never looked at the scooter, just me. He was in a gold Toyota Camry - probably 98 or 2000 model year heading North.
Ended up in Alexandria Bay but no hotels fore me so I headed over to Gananoque, Ontario. Crossing the bridge looking out over the small islands was amazing it was so beautiful. The customs stop was a little more than I was prepared for. Lot's of questions about bear spray, Icelandic vodka, weapons and employment. Fortunately I didn't have to take the helmet off or submit to a urinalysis and polygraph.
Really beautiful area. Talking to the guy at the service station apparently the Canadian sun doesn't cause cancer, so no sunblock for me for the next week or so. Oh and the dollar is pretty strong even with the pricey fuel and alcohol expenses.
By some fluke I scored the Honeymoon Suite, not a big fan of the hot tub but I'll take it.
My only competition with the ladies for the next 2 days.
Always eat where the locals eat.
Gananoque, ON to Toronto, ON
Late start as I only had about 200 miles to go. Staging myself for service on Friday. Getting the back tire replaced as well as the belt and rollers. I'll have to toss the relatively new tire in Edmonton because it will be too far on this one until I have an opportunity for a new one.
Get on 401 and ride West, pretty straightforward. I put the camera back on the helmet, this time on the left side. I'm amazed at how much noise this helmet generates with a camera on it. I had to pull over and take it off it was so painful. I don't remember any of these issues with the other 'non-cool looking' helmet I used before.
Toronto is huge, far larger than I thought it would be. Didn't really see many areas that had high rise congestion. Looked it up and it's 243+ square miles. That's pretty big.
Got to the motel early but they allowed me to check in. Walking around it looks like...wait for it...Tampa, FL.
The next morning I headed into Toronto for scooter work at Vespa Toronto West. It's in a pretty cool section of town just off the water.
While there I was able to test ride the 2015 MP3 500. The seat was very nice but it had a bolster that didn't allow me to slide back as far as I wanted on the seat so I felt a bit scrunched up. The tires on the front are smaller so the handling is a bit different. All in all an improvement but back on mine it felt more comfortable to me. Nice shop and everyone was very personable.
I had BIG plans for the afternoon; the CN tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, etc. But after getting the gut punch of nearly $900 of preventative maintenance I headed back to the motel and drank Canadian tomato juice the rest of the afternoon. I did miss a pretty intense storm that moved through the area.
What I like about visiting foreign countries is all the great local establishments.
2015 MP3 500
Toronto, ON to Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Very chilly in the morning when I left. I headed out and got on 407 which is Toronto's ETR (Electronic Toll Road). It headed me South so I got off as soon as possible and worked my way back through some feeder roads right back on the same toll road I just got off.
Eventually it led to 400 North and I was on this for quite some time. I pulled off at the first OnRoute Service Plaza for breakfast and put the liner into the jacket as it was so cold.
As you get past Barrie, which has a heated outdoor golf course, your running next to Georgian Bay which is part of Lake Huron. I looked down at the GPS and I was literally surrounded by hundreds of small bodies of waters that I couldn't see from the road.
The roadway is literally carved out of rock as for miles and miles your running between rock walls that have been cleaved to created the roadway. Traffic was light with very few towns or business to slow you up. It, at times, almost had the feel of what I saw far further North and West in Canada. While you didn't have to pay close attention to your fuel gauge there was quite a distance between gas stations.
Outside of Perry I ran across a roadside memorial that is pretty unique. It's likeness of a young mans who was killed in a crash in 2012 that took the lives of 4. He's sitting at a drum kit beside the road. Pretty cool, there's even a solar power light on the drum kit.
I pulled into the French River and did a quick aerial video with the DJI Phantom I'm carrying with me. The weather broke there and was really beautiful with some warmer temperatures.
Just North there they are 4-lanning the road and if you look at the work they are doing they are turning over rock and very little soil. This whole are must be some rock bed. I saw no farms or gardens for miles.
Made the turn at Sudbury on to 17 West. Sudbury has these massive smoke stacks for the Nickel plant that is there. Apparently they are the largest in North America. You can see them for miles.
The last 50 miles or so your nearly right on the water. It's pretty strange approaching Sault Ste. Marie as you never know it's there; no outlying suburbs, business, increased traffic, etc. Your heading West, you pull up to a light and make a right and your in the city, motels, gas stations, fast food joints. There was even a motel that was half motel and the other half Greyhound station.
On this leg for the first time in years I saw quite a few people hitching. I also saw more Can-Am Spyders than I've ever seen in the states.
I rode into the downtown area and tried to get a room but everything was booked because of the Monster Truck Show. Headed on West but snagged a Fairfield Inn room right across from the LCBO!
I wasn't really prepared to fly and had to struggle to find everything. At least my underwear got aired out.
Nairn Centre - gas and candy bars.
2009 GTV 250
Joined: 17 Nov 2005
Location: Olympia, WA
2012 BV 350, 2013 BMW C650 GT, 2015 Indian Chieftain
Joined: 20 Feb 2009
Location: Brentwood, TN
Story on the memorial. Interesting for sure.
2009 GTV 250
Joined: 17 Nov 2005
Location: Olympia, WA
5 years since we talked at Vespa Seattle aka Big Peoples Scooters?
Yeah, decision on Edmonton then on to Inuvik or over to Seattle. Having tire issues. Lunch - yes, it's been 5 years!
....you are back at it again!
I still owe you lunch.
MP3 must be OK?
WOW! Where does the time go?
Have to be sure and make lunch happen....looks like others in the Seattle would like to buy you a beer or three also 8)
Sault Ste. Marie, ON to Thunder Bay, ON
Pretty early start. The weather looked wet so I put on the waterproof liners for the pants. I was wearing my only heavy shirt and used the inner liner for the jacket. Smart move.
It was cold, not brutally cold but cold. I wore my heavy fleece gloves but my fingers were still cold as my hands are out in the wind with no protection except the gloves. I ended up with a couple of my fingers getting frost nip. If I hadn't had these gloves I would have had to pull over, turn around or drive off one of the numerous bridges hopefully to a fiery death.
Heading out of town I wisely decided not to get fuel. Not long after leaving Sault Ste. Marie I noticed police cars coming up behind me with lights flashing. They blew by me probably going faster than a 100. Good thing I didn't try to flag them down to find a gas station and get their recommendations on a hearty Canadian breakfast.
About 20 minutes later I passed three police cars and an SUV sitting along the road just watching traffic. A few minutes later I came up on a police roadblock. It was just on this side of a gas station. Great I'm going to run out of fuel a t a roadblock - one for the ages! After a few minutes I was called up and waved on without any questioning or a roadside breathalyzer.
I pulled in and began to fill up. Because the gas tank is so low you have to lean into the scooter to get the nozzle in the tank. Just after I started I looked up and there was this guy all dressed in black leaning over me looking at what I was doing. It startled me for a moment but then I realized he worked for the station or had a fetish for Floridians in bright green jackets on wearing a helmet. He was close though, HR needs to re-train him on personal space.
After I finished and hung up the pump he moved in between me and the pump and as I had parked close to the pump to fuel it was a tight squeeze for the three of us. He then started repeating the charge that appeared on the pump; 12.45, 12.45, 12.45... I followed him in and just as he was about to write the number down in a ledger I said: 'I think I'm going to get a drink and something to eat.' He blinked and just nodded. When I got back with the drink I noticed that the figure he had written down was nothing like he had walked in chanting. Chalk one up for me as I went head to head with one of Canada's finest minds and came out on top. I may have to take up chess after this.
Right before I left I went back in to use the bathroom. If I had known how awkward it was going to be I would have just went in my pants and dropped them beside some remote road. After all isn't this what these remote Northern roads are for?
Entering the bathroom there is only one toilet and one urinal. As the toilet was occupied I occupied my self by hanging out by the door and looking and the floor trying not to tear up from the smell that the Canadian long haul trucker was creating in the stall.
Eventually 'Man with no Nostrils' exited and left without washing his hands. I entered and spent the next few minutes trying to work up enough nerve to sit down. Eventually I had to.
With riding gear it's incredibly difficult to sit because you have on the high boots and the riding pants and in my case I had long pants on as well so it's quite a gymnastics routine to work your way to a sitting position.
Well after settling in I looked to my left and noticed that the door was a half height door, the kind that in the past you might go up to, to pick up mail, pick up a to go order, etc. Yeah, that low. And just as I was digesting this three people walked in. Two of which wanted to trade places with me. They didn't wait by the door like I did they walked right up and started jawwin' back and forth about the weather, the roads, the cops, lack of teeth, etc. All the while I'm essentially a silent partner in this back and forth Canadian hillbilly dance.
Well I waited as long as I could so I had to stand up. I did in as dignified way as possible. I had to do a modified Urdhva Dhanurasana to gracefully pull this off. It got the job done and I was out and on the road shortly after that.
Further on when I entered Lake Superior Provincial Park the fog rolled in and visibility was down to 50 yards at best. During this time someone on a motorcycle pulled up behind me and stayed with me for over an hour never passing even on the slower sections.
Early in the trip I saw signs, little 1 foot by 10 inches or so, for WAWA with the distance to it posted. I was thinking WAWA the gasoline company? Hmm, was this the home of this convenience store behemoth? Wrong, this Wawa is a dumpy little town on a small lake. It's claim to fame seems to be large sculptures of birds.
There's a Tim Horton's at the entrance to the city and sitting in it eating someone else's order it seemed that everyone that passed the entrance to the town eventually turned around and pulled into Tim Horton's. By the time I left the wait was probably going to be an hour - assuming you wanted the correct order.
Just past White River I spotted a black bear beside the road. I did a 180 and headed back to take some pictures. Completely ignored me and the half-dozen cars that pulled up as I was there.
At the Pic River I stopped to do some aerial photography. As I was trying to get set up a train appeared. Scrambling I tried to get everything ready to gather to get some footage. Just as I grabbed the last piece the last car slid on by. Just my luck.
During the ride I saw a couple of trucks hauling military equipment during the ride. Not sure where they came from or where they were headed. I also saw three truck carrying blades for wind turbines.
On one of the gas stops I called ahead to Calgary to see if I could get a tire change on Friday. Scheduled but they have to order the tires so it will be Wednesday until I get confirmation. If this doesn't work out I'm going to have to drop back into the states or head into Seattle which I'm not looking forward to if it comes to that.
I got stopped one more time on the road. The police were questioning driver about hitchhikers. Since I had no room for one I was permitted to leave quite quickly.
At Marathon the sun came out for a time and the road ran through a series of small canyons that made up for the early slow riding. There seems to be thousands of small lakes in the area. Looking at the GPS screen it's just filled with dots of blue.
Approaching Thunder Bay I got on a new 4-lane highway. Amazing, not a bump or blemish. This went on for 25 miles until it joined up with an older 4-lane highway that had bumps and blemishes. Surprisingly there were no businesses, gas stations and only two exits off of it. A
t one point on it I could see tankers waiting out in the bay. Finally I came to a light and I saw more traffic cross in front of me in a few short minutes than I had seen all day.
A quick left and down to the business district where I got a so-called 'suite' for $145. I'm not against paying for a decent room but this was clearly not a $145 room. The internet was terrible, I couldn't do anything until about 0300 when I got up to check messages. If you advertise high-speed internet you need to provide it.
Went next door to a place called Montana's. Should have been called Shit-Shack as the food was terrible. $75 later back to the room and an early night.
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