Highlights and lowlights

I had an amazing trip this year – 6,000 miles in all kinds of weather – although I prefer to avoid the massive thunderstorms I experienced in the Dakotas. It’s no fun on a motorcycle to be hassled by hail, driving rain and strong winds, all at once. I followed the back side of that storm all the way east, during which time there was only one day that I could make 500 miles.

Okay, so I’m whining about the weather. I do have a very good rain suit, but I just hate to have to put it on.

I discovered a couple of great places to eat, and if I’m in the neighborhood again, I’ll stop for a bite.

On the other hand, I discovered a place where I will never ever stop at, never stay at and never eat at again!

Interstate riding is still boring, no matter the flora and fauna — and even when the countryside is green, treed and covered with lakes.

A rain shower in the northeast is not like a rain shower in other parts of America. You’ll get very, very wet and miserable if you don’t don your rain suit. I got fooled once this year. Two years ago, in the same area, I got lucky and rode through a sprinkle. I assumed that the storm cell I rode through this year would be the same light sprinkle I rode through then. Wrong! It turned into a downpour.

I learned that if you do a walking tour of D.C., wear the most comfortable shoes you own. Seriously — no matter how bad they look. You’ll be glad you did at day’s end. Fortunately for me, I could relax on the VRE (Virginia Railway Express) during the trip home.

Entering Ontario via Buffalo and the Peace Bridge is a pain in the ass when you’re trying to cover new ground and there are no signs directing you. The Buffalo side is fine; there are plenty of signs to direct you to the border. It’s the Canadian side that continues to be a mystery, and finding your way — especially if you’re new to the area (or visiting after decades of absence) — is a royal pain. The absence of directional signs until 20 miles past the border, on some road, is ridiculous. But of course, it’s Ontario the good, isn’t it? Idiots.

Here’s a Wikipedia explanation of concession roads in southern Ontario. After reading it, there is no doubt that southern Ontario has got to have one of the most stupid highway naming conventions in North America. And I haven’t even begun to talk about those miniscule blue and white county road signs. Try following those through a city some day. Put up a meaningful sign, you morons.

The Tobermory ferry is still the most motorcycle-friendly, two-hour ferry ride that I know of. Motorcycles do not require a reservation, they get first-on and first-off treatment, and the cost is only $35.00.

Shea’s Ice Cream Oasis ( Update: closed in August 2010) is truly an oasis in the middle of nowhere.

Yet again, my motorcycle ran flawlessly with nary a whisper of any problem whatsoever.

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Well, all of it but the Lone Steer Motel, that is.

My red barn

The all new Red Barn

The all new Red Barn

When I pass by this place, I stop. Although this new building doesn’t quite have the class of the old, the food is still pretty darn good. They’ve added a bar, too. With the twinned highway passing by to the north of the former location, the owners had to do something to jazz it up and encourage highway travelers to pull in.

This time, I only had time for the potato soup, but it was excellent. My normal fare is eggs over easy, and that’s pretty hard to screw up, although this place in Steele, North Dakata managed that, and more, early on in my ride.

The old Red Barn

The old Red Barn

The call of the loon

Early in the morning I was riding by the Dixie Lake road, so I just had to pull in and take a break from the monotony of forest and field and stream. This time, there were two young loons, complete with remaining pinfeathers, paddling on the surface and diving.

A few minutes later, I heard the plaintive call of a loon and an adult flew by and landed farther down the lake. It had been years — I have absolutely no idea how long — since I had heard the sound of a loon calling.

Young loon with pinfeathers almost gone

Canada adds U.S. to torture list

I must admit, I missed this back in January:

In Canada, the United States has joined a notorious group of countries… as a place where foreigners risk torture and abuse, according to a training manual for Canadian diplomats… — washingtonpost.com, Robin Wright and Julie Tate

Other nations on Canada’s list where foreigners risk torture and abuse:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • China
  • Iran
  • Afghanistan

Distinguished company, that.

Link to article here.