Monday, July 15, 2013

Anniversary'n, Birthday'n, Hay'n

I can't remember a summer in many, many years where I haven't thrown a few bales of hay.  I probably started when I was 15 or 16.  I hayed for my grandpa Young for many summers, I hayed with Joel at his parent's house, and with him over at Glen McNeils, and most recently it has been for Shelly's dad, and for my uncle Larry.  Domesticated animals come with a price.  For most of the year they don't feed themselves, nor can they survive on their own in our environment.  Horses, cows and sheep eat an incredible amount.
(Our Lilies and garden is looking pretty good...)

 (Shelly and her mom Gladys.)


The baler read 895 bales. Probably only 6 or so were broken.  A bale is about 45 pounds.  Most are about three and a quarter feet in length and about a foot and a half wide.  Even though I had help in the mow, I touched pretty near all three quarters of the bales.  Like shingling it starts easy enough.  Now mowing doesn't require the precision of shingling, it requires a bit of engineering so they don't all topple down.  After a while it becomes dustier, the bales seem heavier, there is the odd snake in the assortment, and with the afternoon heat it becomes much hotter.

At any rate, we started just after two, and by seven Larry's goal of 900 bales were in the barn....  It is very relieving and satisfying to know that one has sufficient food to feed 4 horses and 20-something sheep through October to April...  Well, there is still the second cut.  That can be for the sheep.  Plus he'll round bale up a few dozen from that supply.  I had my camera, I meant to take some photos of the progression, but I didn't.  However I am sure there will be another opportunity in the future to document this chore.

Lastly this weekend marked my 38th.  July 13th.  I hit 38 with a ton more grey hairs on my face, a bit more limp in my running step, and feeling a bit aged.  However, here I am.  I can't do too much about getting older, so I don't fight it too much. 

Not to mention Shelly and I hit 3 terrifically, marvelous years.  July 10th was that milestone.  We celebrated by getting a babysitter, going out for a fantastic meal, and then we hit up the beer tent in Goderich to enjoy a few cold ones, and listen to The Full Nelsons.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Broken Down Bike

Whiskey Lake - Goderich
Kilometrage - 415 km (tot. 2305 km)
Gas - 11 L (tot. 106 L)
Cost - $15.00 (tot. $155)
Ferry Crossing  - $40 (tot. $40)

I don’t know why - but the bike was dead. 

I woke up at 8:00 am or so with sound of excited children.  The went to bed excited, and woke in the same state for the most part.  Oh well, I had a great breakfast and lazed around as one should in such an atmosphere.  By 9:30 I figured I should make some tracts.  South Baymouth was my first destination, and it would take everything of 3 hours, despite only being 165 km away.

Packed and load at 10:00.  The ferry was to sail at 1:30.  No problem.  However the bike didn’t start. 

I have had this problem off and on.  There seems to be a drain on the battery.  If the bike is running and moving every 3 or 4 days there is no problem.  But after it sits for a week, 9 days, it just doesn’t crank over.  KTM stands for Krank, Throttle, Motor.  Kranking has been its problem ironically.  Well, nothing that a jump start won’t fix....  That is if there was a vehicle, which there wasn’t....  But they had a marine battery pack unit with cables.  So we tried to give the bike life with that, but the connectors on it were too thick to pinch to my smaller connection.  No good.

Fortunately, being at a cottage and all, and Brad having most tools that have ever been made, they did have an alternate set a jumper cables and a suitable vehicle was found to provide the resuscitation I needed.  The episode set me back 20 minutes, but at least the bike started and had fuel running through it.  Off to Espanola. 

It took about and hour and a half to get there.  I got to the Canadian Tire.  I could safely turn off the bike.  If it didn’t restart - I’d have to buy a new battery.  No big deal.  I turned off the bike.  Waited 10 seconds like one would do if they had to make an emergency restart of a computer, and hit the ignition.  Ignition.  Certainly my bike would have enough juice to cover the distance it would be shut off on the Che Cheemon.

And it did start.  Along with the 20 or so other bikes aboard the scow.

I gassed up in Espanola.  It was 110km to the ferry.  I got to Southhampton and Port Elgin and the odometre was turning over 230km or so.  I know I can get 300km to the tank.  I was 280 or so in Kincardine.  I wanted to the push the bike to its limits.  I got to Amberly and the odometre was at 300km and my warning indicator light was not on.  The sign to Goderich said 37km.  I had my running shoes. 

I was worried when the bike wouldn't start in Whiskey Lake, but I was not worried whatsoever about it running out of gas 15 km from home.  My feet would finish the trip.

However, I drove on and got home easily.  I wouldn't have to run it in - sort of unfortunate because it would have made for a good/funny ending...  I started the trip right topped up with gas, and have ended with virtually nothing in the tank.

So I think my tallies are all correct.  Driving 2300 km on 110 L of fuel is basically 21km for every 1 L of gas.  So I am at about 5.5L for every 100km.  Average price of the gas was $1.46.  I paid about $155 for 106 L.


3rd Anniversary Day (Wednesday July 10)

Agawa - Whiskey Lake
Kilometrage - 430 km (tot. 1890 km)
Gas - 24 L (tot. 95.6 L)
Cost - $35.00 (tot. $139.50)
Len and I launched in very bad weather.  It had rain, thundered and there was lightning for most of the night.  I didn’t get too much sleep.  But I did shake from the tent by 8:00 am.  The tent was soaked, but everything inside was dry.  So all in all we escaped significant damage from the in climate circumstances.

We pushed off and incidently headed back north to check out the Picture Rock area of L. Superior park.  It is a must see.  But the weather, again, really prevented us from venturing too far out on the ledge to see the native hieroglyphics created hundreds, upon hundreds of years ago.  I got the gist.  That was all, and better than nothing.  Again, Len indicated his fingerprints on the area from some 30 years ago as he help make this and that part of the trail, that outhouse, and that cement footing.  I wonder if that effort will last as long as the copper/okra etchings?   

In rain and hail we journeyed south towards the Soo.  The worst was the dense thick fog.  It made for possibly the worst visibility I have ever driven in.  I doubt there was anything clear to be seen within 100 feet.  There were a few wind gusts that challenged our balance and road position as well.  We made for the Pancake Bay native outpost, gas station, native art, and all purpose station to grab a coffee, dry out, and collect out wits.  It wasn’t great driving. 

We rolled into the Soo for a Bruno’s breakfast.  It was a 3 coffee wait to get our simple order processed.  But it was a good scoff and filled our bellies.  The sky cleared, and the sun was going to be shining down on us for the next few hundred kilometres....  We decided to push to Massey.

There was significantly more traffic along 17, and bits of bridge construction....  But making it to Massey wasn’t a big deal.  It was about 4:00 pm in the afternoon.  It was time to make a decision regarding the next phase of the journey.  I proposed to Len that I would head up to Whiskey Lake to stop into the Schumaker’s, and he thought that maybe he’d push on.  There wasn’t any issue on the topic, so with big smiles and a collective agreement I went north to my destination, and Len continued on.

It had been super terrific traveling with Len.  He is a conscientious, safe driver.  He is very capable on the Triumph Tiger.  More importantly he is just a great individual who is easy to travel with.  He had extensive knowledge of most of the area we traveled, and he shared that with me.  He was really excited to see and revisit the areas he once worked and met his wife.  The trip was a big success.  I have traveled solo extensively, and with others.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages obviously, but I don’t have a negative thing to say about our 1600 or so kilometres together.  We have unfinished business though.  That is to get up to Radisson, PQ.  Next year.

So up to Whiskey Lake.  This is a dam difficult road to traverse.  I seemed to be a little heavier on the bike and found the road much more problematic than last year.  The gravel seemed much looser, the ruts bigger, and it was just tough.  So, I took it slow and easy.  I made my 55km distance in about an hour.  It was about 6:00 pm.

I pulled into their area and was taken back a bit because there weren’t any vehicles their.  I found that to be a bit odd, but hey, the windows and door were open.  In ten seconds out walked some forms of life from the cottage.  There were eating dinner - How great for me!  With a lot of surprise “hellos” and “what’s going on?”, I no sooner answered their interrogation, and was eating freshly caught lake trout, succulent lamb skewers, baked potatoes with bacon, and had a cold beer in front of me!  It was just what I needed - And, I might add, the staff at Bruno’s in the Soo could take a lesson from.

So I had 3 days worth of stories that I tried to cram into 25 minutes...  I didn’t want to monopolize the conversation, so I was mindful to reciprocate the communique.  Basically the Schumaker’s explained that their truck had broken down, which explain the reason why there was no vehicle at their camp, that a 300 plus pound black bear had been nose’n around the cabins for the past few nights, and that the patriarch, Brad, was back in Kinlough because he had to work....  All was well with them and I know they were quite excited and happy that I dropped in on them.  I think so anyway.

The night ended as most do at cottages.  Swimming.  Dice games.  Spoons.  Played a bit of guitar.  Some sibling rivalry.  And hero mom (April) negotiating it all seemlessly.

Look out - I’ll be back up to Whiskey Lake with Shelly and Molly in a few weeks.     

Day 3

Timmins - Foleyet - Chapleau - Wawa - Agawa (campsite in Superior Provincial Park)
Kilometrage - 450 km (tot. 1460 km)
Gas - 30.8 L (tot. 71.6 L)
Cost - $47.00 (tot. $104.50)

I left some info out of yesterday’s posting.  I gave a phone call to the infamously famous James Gosslin after arriving into Timmins.  James was surprised to hear from me, but quickly indicated he’d be immediately over to the hotel.  And he was.

I told James Len and me were excited for a dinner that consisted of a chip/wagon type facility.  One where you walk up and order from a shack-like looking place, where you sit on picnic tables, they call out your # when the meal is ready, and that the condiment containers are older than me.  He new exactly what I was talking about, and took us to The Foodland where Guy’s Snack Shack had the meal we were looking for.  It would be a pogo stick combo, one each for Len and I, but make the fries into poutine.  Quebec poutine no less.  (Quebec pountine has cheese curds, just “pountine” had mozzarella.)  Dinner was quite satisfying.

After dinner James took us on the J. Peterman tour of the city for free.  He had it all; the facts, the history, the names, the stories and the layout down pat.  He didn’t miss a beat.  James is a feller who really is passionate about Timmins.  I can’t recreate or recite the 45 minute expedition, just know that it was great.  He was a great host.  It capped off with a tour up to his old high school, standing in the bleachers, and looking around 360 degrees of views of the city.  Him and I would meet up again on Tuesday morning for a 10 miler on a trail system with numerous nicknames and flavourful local appeal.  Timmins is a must see stop.  Bring a mountain bike for sure!
This store's moniker was "If we don't have it, You don't need it!"

Len and I pushed out by nine or shortly after.  We were warned that the road to Chapleau was in really poor condition.  Well yes.  Compared to what we had been on in Quebec, it was awfully rough.  It had tiny shoulders, and the effects of many cold winters could be seen.  However it wasn’t busy.  In the first one hundred kilometres there wasn’t more then 10 vehicles.  Chapleau was another 100km, and another 10 or so vehicles were counted.  So what is lacked in poor quality was excusable based on the low volume of traffic.  Into Chapleau....

Just before Chapleau we spied a cow moose and twin calves on the side of the road.  They were a bit started from the sound of our engines, but we got a spectacular look....  Then we pulled into a park called Potholes.  Len worked for three weeks, 12 hour days making a 400m trail of gravel, lined with cedar rails, and a bridge to an amazing natural phenomena where the combination of millions of years, billions of gallons of water, million of rocks and stone, glacial ice, and so on, have made a few 15 feet deep, half-cylinder like formations in the earth.  It meant a great deal for Len to see it once again.  I can tell you that it was an great spot, and his craftsmanship is still evident.  Thousands of people over the years have Len and his crew to thank for making it much more accessible to see the “Potholes”.

Len had lived in Chapleau over 30 years ago.  Well, he was stationed there for a month or 6 weeks or so back in the 80s while he worked for the ministry of parks and recreation.  We went into town, posed for a few photos and the raildocks, saw a number of OPP just waiting and looking to wheel any law-breaking vagabond, (didn’t get us!) and then carried on our way.  We got gas and had a coffee.  I can now say I’ve been to “Shatpleau”.  Down the road to Wawa.....

Wawa holds a special place in Len’s heart.   It was in Wawa where Len met the love of his life.  His wife Sheila and him met and the Empire Hotel on the neon lit dance floor....  Fortunately there love has lasted longer than the Empire.  It was boarded up and it looked like a hotel you’d see in Kandahar.  We had a good relaxing lunch at the Empire restaurant, which time has completely forgotten, and we went to the General Store and posed for pictures with the famous Canadian Goose statue.  Wawa was a bit more happening, but it didn’t hook us to stay the night.  We were at three or so in the afternoon and decided to push a bit further.  We should drive another hundred km or so and pitch tent.  Camp.  We were off to Superior Provincial Park and more specifically the Agawa campsite....

It is really a great drive south from Wawa.  The traffic was a bit heavier, but nothing too terrible.  There are a number of fine stops along the way, and we had to check them out.  It was time for Len to give the J. Peterman tour, as he was a Warden in this area for a number of years back in the day.  Like James he is very knowledgeable and can explain in good detail about the finer-points of an area.

Camping in Agawa was great.  We staked our claim in site 248 and set up our tents.  Len had no problems getting all the way into Lake Superior for a swim.  Me.  Not a chance.  Too cold.  Way too cold.  The water couldn’t have been a degree warmer than 60.  It was probably closer to lower 50.  I am sure I could have dove in off a ledge/dock.  But to wade in.  Nope.  Too sensitive perhaps.

The bugs are a tad bad camping.  But basically it is a doable situation.  We had a decent dinner.  There are showers and flush toilets here.  The visitor centre at Agawa is fantastically amazing.  It has a historical highlight account of the area and its major events from the past 200 years.  I think it is a bit expensive - $38. $38 to camp in an Ontario Provincial Park.  Now it is dam clean.  The sites are well maintained.  I am sure the summer staff are each getting $20 plus an hour to do their jobs, maintenance, janitorial jobs, and so on. I thought I heard
was $14 a bag!  That is expensive....  So I just mention it as a point of interest for those who compare in other areas, or if I read this again in 15 years and it is $60 a night in 2030.....  The Comfort Inn in Timmins was $120 after taxes....  On a Monday night

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 2

Monday July 8

Eagle Lake - Rouyn Noranda - Timmins
Kilometrage - 600 km (tot. 1010 km)
Gas - 26 L (tot. 40.8 L)
Cost - $37.00 (tot. $57.50)

Fantastic day on the highways of Ontario and Quebec.

Len and I skidded out by 8:30 or so, got on 11 north to North Bay, then decided to take 63 into Quebec.  We were well aware that our daily destination of Matagami, PQ would not be sensible because of highway closures up to Radisson.   We were going to try anyway.  Well, we were going to get to Rouyn-Noranda for sure.  It wasn't out of the way. 

Getting to R-N was terrific.  From 63, we took 101 for 50km or so, then we took a parallel road called 391.  It was about 220km in all.  The roads were sooooo smooth.  There was one-twentieth the traffic one would see and expect on any road in southwestern Ontario.  It was just really relaxing to be on it.  There wasn't any animals; alive or dead....  Actually a few farms with cows, but very little considering it was two hundred plus kilometres.  We saw some turkeys actually.
There was lots of little interesting towns with the standard Catholic church and volunteer fire hall.  There were a few dams we crossed.  Lots of little camping or RV areas.  It was just such a nice drive.

R-N was a happening spot.  Female french fashion at its finest.  Lots of skirts and high heels.  All of the fellers were in dapper attire.  All of the restaurants were basically like patio, sit-down, bistro, looked fancy, kind of places.  We walked around the downtown core, then headed out to the tourist information building to get the official bad news that our trip to Radisson was not going to happen.  Back to Ontario.

Kirkland Lake was only 35 minutes or so away so we headed west.  It was after four o'clock, and we thought we had it in us to get to Timmins.  So it was off to Timmins.  Again, another easy ride with very little traffic.  Timmins and the Comfort Inn at just after six. 

Day 1 - Rain, Mostly

Sunday July 7

Goderich - Eagle Lake, On (South of North Bay)
Kilometrage - 410 km
Gas - 14.8 L
Cost - $20.50

So a few months back I arranged to meet up with a teaching colleague from Stratford for a summer motorcycle trip.  I wanted to be his guest, so to speak, so I left the destination up to him.  "Radisson, PQ", Len proclaimed.  Google it.  Find out how far north it is.

I booked out of Goderich with a few kisses and a packed bike for what I thought would be a week or so in northwest Quebec.  I also had some knowledge that the only road to get to Radisson, has been recently closed because of forest fires.  Oh well, I only had to get to North Bay to meet up with Len, and then the adventure would really start.  However getting to North Bay was not so great.


It was quite warm leaving town at eleven.  I made quick work getting to Walkerton, (50 minutes), and was through Hanover in just a shade over an hour.  I was driving pretty fast.  At or about Hanover it started to rain/mist/sprinkle.  Seemingly it didn't seem that bad based on the speed I was traveling, the warm air, and because of the rate it fell to the ground.  However onto Durham, and Flesherton, and into Creemore it was absolutely pouring....  Raining cats and dogs as they say.  My rain gear was safely tucked away, and dry, in my panniers.  Why I didn't get it out and on in Hanover?????  Stupidity.  By the time I put it on, I was soaked.

I ripped through Stayner, then onto the Horseshoe Valley Road (#22?) to Orillia.  It wasn't really raining, but I was still soaked.  Just north of Orillia I got onto highway 11.   I was somewhat drying out.  Spirits were okay.

By 4:45 I pulled off at Mountain View Road, made a right onto Morris Lane, and I was on my way to meet up with Len.  We actually passed each other on the gravel road.  We stopped.  He was in his car with his wife, and I was on my bike.  Then I was off my bike.  I dropped it.  That was stupid too.  It wasn't like it crashed down with a boom.  I was just not being very mindful, it was dam heavy too, and it fell to the right.  His car was on my left.  I guess it could have been worse; if it fell into his car that would have easily been a $1500 dent.  Trust me -I hit that Subaru in Rossland, BC a few winters ago and that rang me a grand plus some.  Anyway - at least I got my crash over with early in the trip.  No picture.

So that was the excitement for the first day.  We had a great super, had a swim, played 10,000 and another dice came called Liars Dice.  We also went for ice cream....  And my first day was basically over....

Saturday, July 6, 2013


The baked, bent up shingles on the back of my roof have had it.  They were toast.  It was easy to spot.  So a month or so I lined up the famous Wonder Watt and Brucey to give my roof the loving it deserved.  They assured me it would be an easy enough job.  "30 bundles", proclaimed Bruce.  He eyed it. 

I insisted that I couldn't let two sexagenarians, not that there is anything wrong with that, do it all by themselves.  I have never shingled.  I haven't even really swung a hammer in my life.  I've never carried a bundle, nor used a cutting knife with any real purpose....  That all changed over the past few days.  I was told the only thing that could go wrong is we'd run out of beer.  I assured my crew that wouldn't be the case.  It was time to strip!  (The roof of course.)

Obviously there was an odd hiccup here and there, but it really went swimming smooth.  With all the supplies order, paid for and delivered, we got favourable weather for this task and started at it.  Bruce and Warren indicated they don't work too quickly, which was fine, but their attention to detail and a job well done was not overlooked whatsoever.
They eased me into my roll.  Most of the first day was garbage duty.  It was to pick up the shingles that missed the dump trailer.  After getting an "A" in that, they had me do a few more tasks getting progressively harder.  Next I got the coffee at break, then I rolled my yard to pick up the nails that missed their mark in the trailer.  Roofing was dam easy I'll tell you.  Then, yes, it got way harder.

My work was now getting difficult.  It was time to shingle.  Because of the odd location of my house and its driveway, a boom truck was not able to deliver the shingles on the roof.  It was hand-bomb time.  Shingles up a ladder I'll tell you is no joke.  Even a one story haul is substantial.  First they are heavy.  I never did get the total....  Eighty pounds??  Also they are sharp and they dig into your skin and shoulder pecking away at the epidermis.  However, despite a few wobbly steps, I managed to heave my fair share of the material up the ladder to be laid. 
But there are also nails to fetch, lots of sweeping, getting the hose to water down the shingles, untangling the air hose, cutting, caulking, trimming to fit, lining up the gussets, and so on, and so on.  It is serious work, and also can be quite dangerous on a steep pitched roof with increased height.  No wonder these guys are selective and only choose jobs, such as mine, that are relatively "easy".  Though I don't think "easy" and "shingling" should be used in the same sentence having now down it.

And as for my last job on Friday at 4:45 when we were just finishing - I bet you think it was off to the beer store.  Nope, we were one bundle short.  Back to the supply store for one last bundle.  We were 8 or 10 shingles short....  One more blasted package to mule.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pittsburgh Recap

Just a quick, jot note recap and some photos from a recent and quick Pittsburgh, PA trip with 3 fine, righteous individuals.  Firstly, Pittsburgh was a super terrific trip and I would highly, highly recommend anyone reading this to check it out.  Why? 
  1. Great, reasonably priced food and accommodation!
  2. Awesome districts like "The Strip" & "The Waterfront"
  3. Checked out the institutions of higher learning Pitt and Duquesne
  4. Great sporting action with awesome running trails, and of course the major sports teams
  5. Two great museums: Andy Warhol and Carnagie
  6. All the bridges are really neat
  7. A traditional blue collar city with historical roots to strong unionism
  8. It is in a neat geographical valley
Hey - I am not doing enough here, but it really was a good trip and super close to southwestern Ontario residents....  I took lots of pictures:
We all had a very good time...