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C2C Trip Day 2: Ahoy there! July 3, 2009

Posted by dakotabiker in Rides.
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Am sitting aboard the Lake Express ferry running between Muskegon, Michigan and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I know… seems a little hypocritical to take another mode of transportation on a cross country ride, but I see it more as an experience unto itself.  Plus, I have ridden through Chicago before (and driven it a few times) — not a lot of fun. 

Last night was a bit of a bust.  I rode around and asked around trying to find SOME “official”, bike-photographable signage denoting that I was in Canada…  Nothing.  The locals were even pretty sure that Canada did away with their post offices some time back.  My best hope is that the Harley Dealership will count for the country as well as for the province.

canada-abc

Riding around, I was again reminded of a mistake that I seem to make over and over…I need to RIDE around town BEFORE checking into my hotel.  Not that I was in a bad area; it was quite safe and quiet.  It was in the boring area.  On the other hand, downtown Windsor is really quite cool; it kind of reminds me of a weird hybrid of San Francisco, Atlantic City, and middle America, except for the inordinate number of Arabian and middle eastern restaurants. 

Unfortunately, when exhausted on the road, I tend to dine and drink near where I sleep – so that instead led to some little hole in the wall out on Huron Church.  I had mistakenly used all my small bills on coffee and Gatorade on the ride, and foolishly paid for a beer with a $100US bill, and got $95CDN in change… somehow that $30 beer didn’t taste any better.

I found the Windsor police to be quite pleasant.  After giving me directions to find my street, and allowing me an illegal U-turn to get back on track, they followed and caught up with me to politely inform me that my tail light was out, and to be careful.

Back in the hotel, I set my cell phone to wake me at 0-dark thirty to make the early ferry on the other side of Michigan.  But come morning, I got on-line to review the directions and logistics for getting checked in.  The General Cabin was sold out; I could buy the Premier Cabin, but still the time was just too tight considering check-in security, and I neglected to allot time for the border patrol.  So I bought tickets for the afternoon ferry and went back to bed for a couple of hours.

I re-awoke, re-showered, re-packed, and replaced the taillight with a spare bulb in my tool kit.  Unfortunately, it is apparently not the bulb that is the problem, and I still do not have a tail light – which is seriously going to hamper night riding until I get it fixed.  At least the brake light is working.  However, my start-up this morning was very rough, and the fuel pump they supposedly replaced in Florida is now making some pretty nasty noises.  Nothing like the looming threat of another break-down to ease the nerves.

Leaving Canada, I crossed the Ambassador Bridge again and this time met with about 8 short lines of about 4 cars each.  I headed for the first one and waited… and waited… as line 2 completely refreshed itself.  It amazes me that they do their vehicle searches RIGHT THERE… in line.  Heck even the McDonalds drive-thru has the sense to send the customer who orders a Big Mac with no sauce, twice the pickles and half the onions into a penalty waiting area so as not to prolong the separation of the “normal” customers from their rapidly-prepared, standard-issue, quarter-pound victuals.

So, after waiting through two car searches ahead with the neighboring line recycling again, my line starts to move and I was right at the front when they CLOSED the lane and sent me to the END of another line.  I was livid. 

I rode about 40 miles out on I-96 and thru-rode the rest of the width of Michigan until I was about 30 miles shy of the ferry.  The day was cold again.  This time starting in chaps with two shirts on under my jacket, and I was still cold. The sky was really clouding up ahead of me, and I dreaded the prospect of rain or its potential delay in my getting to the (pre-paid) ferry.  I passed up ABC county after county; it was like someone laid out Michigan counties around those I was missing — but I was “too hurried” to avail myself of the opportunity.  

I guess my haste “paid off”.  I was near the front of the line only about 15 minutes before they started checking vehicles in and I didn’t get rained on.(Well, it didn’t rain at all, so my haste had nothing to do with it)  I have to keep reminding myself that I “planned” to be “progress” oriented in the first few days of the trip, to allow more time to relax toward the end…

So… The ferry is really very cool.  Nothing like the whale-watching tour I took several years back which billowed diesel exhaust on choppy seas leaving me more of a land-lover than ever before.  But this is really nice:  cool and windy air over smooth waters,  spacious observation and sun decks, and the premier cabin has comfortable reclined/tabled seating and food/beverage service.  I had heard about the great lakes being so large that you can’t see land when in the middle – and now I have seen it for myself.  I’m really glad I opted for this route.

ferry

I’m not sure what my future holds in store for tonight.  I would like to get all the ABC points for the Harley Facility and the Harley Museum in Milwaukee, but that will clearly keep me from any additional miles today as evening approaches with no tail light.

Coast to Coast Day 1: Oh Canada! July 2, 2009

Posted by dakotabiker in MegaTweet, Rides.
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A pretty uneventful ride so far.  Made it from Maryland through the SW corner of Pennsylvania into Ohio following I-76 and I-80 west.   It kind of galled me to ride the exact same Interstate route that I took two years ago on my ride to Sturgis.  But my objective was to put a lot of miles under me quickly at the start of the trip, so I could be more leisurely out west.

I hit rain about 30 miles before Ohio and rode through about 40-45 miles of it.  It was much colder than I expected.  The chaps went on early (to think I almost didn’t bring them).  Fortunately I had the sense (for a change) to pull over after the first light rain to put on the rain gear over my leathers.  It was still chilly, and my hands and feet got a bit wet, but quite manageable.  Only about 5 miles of really hard driving rain with about 3-second visibility.  The rest was steady with a lot of road spray.  I was pretty much dried out as I approached Toledo. 

I was in a quandry about where to spend the night.  On my 2007 Sturgis ride, I had a really great time with a couple of other bikers I met in Toledo at a bar right across from the Mud Hens stadium on game day.  I then camped out west of town.  I debated whether to stop again in Toledo, try Detroit, or press on toward Indiana.  At the last rest stop before Toledo I pulled in to check my maps and happened upon a guy from the Gunfighters MC in New York who was through-riding from NY to Detroit to visit family.    By the time I was done talking with him, I was convinced not only to get into Michigan, but press on to Windsor, Ontario.  Fortunately, I brought my passport “just in case” knowing I could be close to Canada (and maybe Mexico – we’ll see). 

The rest stop had local weather displaying so I felt confident enough to ditch the rain gear, had a cup of coffee, and headed out.  I took I-280 to I-75 into Detroit getting off at Ambassador Bridge into Canada.  I was amused by the $4 ” fee of admission” (the bridge toll). 

After sitting in line for long enough turn off the bike a duck-walk it, I arrived at the boarder guard who didn’t seem too jazzed at letting this biker into his country.  I guess my saying “just to say I’ve been here” wasn’t on the approved list of reasons to come in.  After typing my plates into his computer and querying me about my heavily packed bike, he let me pass. 

I was hoping for a big “Welcome to Ontario, Canada” sign where I could get my ABCs picture, but there was nothing that I could safely pose the bike for.  I kept heading up the road and at least got an official Ontario sign at a visitor’s center.  You’d think that would be enough for both the Ontario point as well as the Canada point.  But since the sign didn’t say “Canada” I didn’t want to risk losing the point after coming so far, and I headed further up the road.

Fatigue was starting to set in, so I decided to just spend the night here in Canada.  I checked into a Comfort Inn (too tired to find a camp ground to sleep in the cold).

I suppose my next steps are to find a post office to get my ABC’s picture, get dinner and a beer and head to bed.  I will have an early morning tomorrow.  I intend to ride across Michigan to Muskegon to catch the 10:45 ferry to Milwaukee – so it will be early to bed tonight.

(Last night, while cutting maps onto SD cards I started a wrap-up blog for the LRO/LCROSS launch trip to Florida.  Maybe I could work on that tonight…  we’ll see.)