Thursday, July 27, 2006

Lake Superior, July 26th and 80 Days

I’m surprised where I ended up, but it’s one of my favorite bars, Old Chicago and the one in Eagan…boy how the miles just fly. It’s probably a good thing too cuz if I ended up in Duluth which was what I was shooting for, who knows how tomorrow would have turned out cuz I might’ve gone in search for that closure that I deserve…oh well, like I keep saying, everything happens for a reason that I’m within 5 miles of home. Had to stop to get something to eat since have been on the road for almost 12 hours, that I couldn’t think of a place that I have more fun at on a Friday night than this…oh yea, it’s only Wednesday – ok the place that I have more fun at on a Wednesday night. Today started out as a wet one as you can tell by the picture leaving the hotel so I didn’t get any shots of the ride for you to enjoy, but even in the rain, it was a beautiful ride. I do get into riding in the rain though, cuz I’m doing something that many don’t, you know those fair weather bikers that unless it’s sunny and rain free, you’d never see them on the roads. Well the day got off to a good start cuz actually got up early to work on yesterday’s blog only for the power to go out and being in the dark…ok, so sometimes yea, I might be in the dark, but not too often. Figured it’s a good time to catch that continental breakfast that I paid for and pack the bike and maybe the electricity’d be on in time for me to shower and sure enough, just before I needed to shave, power.

It’s a little easier putting on the rain gear from the get go before getting wet, so strapped it on to get ready to go…sure wish I would’ve filled up with fuel the night before when it wasn’t raining, cuz remember, most of the gas stations in Canada don’t have an over hang. Got gassed up without getting too wet and it was time to ride in the rain. Like I was saying don’t mind riding in the rain and it was pretty comfortable except for the slow vehicles and all the road spray that I had to pass and most seemed to be U-Hauls…just give me a passing lane and I’ll be happy. It’s a whole other world riding a bike in the rain, but something that definitely keeps you on your toes cuz you never know what might jump out in front of you or how well the tires’ll hold in the curves, but did really have a great time and was deep into thought…thought about where I might end up tonight and plans for tomorrow…ok, sometimes you do have to plan things, but I can tell you right now, tomorrow won’t be according to any plan any more. Hit some dry weather and just in time to check out Canada’s longest suspension bridge. The entire walk’ll take about 20 minutes and although it was 14 bucks, Canadian, it was pretty cool. It was actually more fun with people on it cuz it’d sway with everyone walking across it that added that sense of adventure. Did ask a couple once over the river below whether it was deep enough incase I jumped, but I can’t imagine anyone thinking about doing that, except for a psycho or stunt man…hey, that might be a good career for me to keep this adrenaline rush going – stunts. Once done with the walking trail hit the bike trail and a good thing I put the rain gear back on cuz I’ll swear, the only place it’s raining along the way is Hwy 17 cuz the canyon was dry, but 4 kilometers toward the lake and it was rain…you know the kind, ‘fallin, right out of the blue sky’ country song, July 22nd.

Ok, no more pictures until hit Thunder Bay, but had to wait with most until I hit the border which was dry and looked like a dry ride south. Was taking pictures of the border only to get yelled at by the US border patrol not to take any pictures of the buildings because they are federal property…well, a little late, but aren’t all the buildings in Washington DC federal and they’ll let us take their pictures? Once across the border that much closer to home and hey, I know this route, have taken it a number of times and it is one of the rides I’ll do at least once if not twice a year, especially in the fall when all the leaves are changing colors…ok, another one of those things which are more fun to share. Anyway, stopped at the visitor’s center to ask about the National Park in Minnesota cuz I shouldn’t be like some of the national parks I’ve visited where someone who lives next door has never visited. Well, Voyageur was a few hours out of the way, that if I want to make Duluth today, should save it for some other time, which is just what I’m gonna do; Did have to check out the Grand Portage National Monument since it has to do with fur trading and know a family; big into it, but didn’t tour the entire thing…got some great pictures though and it looks a little newer than it otherwise might be from the times. Well, you can see the north shore of Lake Superior is definitely worth seeing and made it into Duluth in pretty good time…now just as long as I can find a room, I’ll be a happy camper and went to the hotel which has always come thru for me, and stories… this’d be the place for them – the Hawthorne Inn. They happened to have one room left and it was their most expensive that although it’s normally $340, they’ll give it to me for $220, well for just me, can’t see paying that kind of money, so’ll save it for the return visit…same one as the others, when I get to share. Did have them put my name down incase anyone cancels which has landed me rooms there before…yea, and the stories. Had to check out the rest of the Canal hotels only to get the same story, booked for the night. Ok, what to do, cuz if I stay here, will have to take the scenic trail thru Wisconsin which might not be such a good idea….that’s the closure thing, or head home which is just about 3 hours away…well, from where I ended up tonight, you might have figured it out and it’s probably a good thing all around – home in plenty of time to get ready for Sturgis and have to let bygones be bygones…is that like water under the bridge?

Ok, a quick recap 26,000 miles in 80 days and 7126 pictures later…yep, like taking a lot of pictures, but with digital it’s not too hard to do, and I’m home. Had a great time and still have another week to spend on the bike, Sturgis which will cover North and South Dakota…will also hit some of the other states I’ve already visited, but the sides I missed – east. Am looking forward to Sturgis – not as much as in years past, but for those who know me, I’ll have fun or make fun out of just about anything I do. Since I am home, will be offline for a few days working on preparing for my Sturgis trip which will be the finish to traveling the country. Will eventually write about the preparation for the trip and this year to complete the ride around the country, will be riding the bike to Sturgis instead of trailering it...yea, it might be on the trailer home, but at that point, even I deserve a break. Oh, and the other reason I didn’t hang around and spend the night in Duluth although I got a call about 30 miles down the road about an opening, have never spent a night in Duluth alone that I’ll consider to look forward to sharing the experience. Lake Superior Pictures.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Marathon Ontario, July 25th

Marathon Ontario and according to Danielle it’s bumfuk in the middle of know where…glad to know where I’m at. Today was about the riding and had another country song to go with the day, ‘Life ain’t always beautiful, but what a beautiful ride’ and that’s exactly what today’s ride turned out to be. Got to hit three of the great lakes in a day and put a foot into each one…ok, maybe I didn’t touch Erie and Ontario, but you at least got the pictures. Didn’t get the earliest of starts, but since Thunder Bay is 9 hours away and I’m suppose to take my time to make it in three days, had plenty of time…might’ve had something to do with the partying on a Monday night too with the locals in Blind River. Anyway, it was bright and sunny, but still a little brisk, cool ya know, how the north shore can be. Made great time to Sault Ste Marie and what’dya know my second town on this trip that crosses the border, that’s the US and Canadian border so I’m coming into the states for a bit. Remember, have to hit Michigan which was right across the river and have to head to Lake Michigan which the visitor center suggests going to the Mackinac bridge cuz then I get to cover 2 lakes at the same time. The bridge was 50 miles from the border and now that I understood the speed limit and it’s definitely faster in the US than Canada, had a need for speed which you can see from the shot of the speedometer. Because of the side of the bridge I was on and because you had to pay to cross it, only put a foot into Lake Michigan, but figured it’s worth the $2.50 to cross it and have both lakes to visit at the same time…I’ll just add that to my lunch bill, so lunch turned out to be about $20 and just had soup and salad…remember, I’m watching my weight – drop. While there put a foot into Huron even though I know it was already covered, but the really impressive thing was putting one foot into each lake at the same time…that’s gotta be right up there with touching four states at the same time and did have to ask the ranger to make sure the divider was right under the bridge…ok, can’t straddle that far, but if in the center of the bridge, that’s gotta be good enough – oh, and all of Lake Michigan was blowing into Huron today.

Hey, check out the house I plan on owning some day. The way I figure it and the way Pete put it, most don’t become millionaires until 50, so I still have a few years to go and I’m stating it now…I’ll be there before 50, count on it. Had to pay again on the way back over the bridge so someone is raking it in for the number of vehicles that cross the bridge and forgot to mention, had the same thing on the bridge crossing borders, you know, US and Canada that someone there is making money and it’s gotta be all the US since that’s the only side that had toll booths. Would’ve been better on the Canadian side since our dollar goes further than theirs, but oh well, gotta pay to cross. Did have phone service while in Michigan so checked in with a few since I’ve been behind in blogs and they might be wondering what’s going on with me, but the thing I’ve found in most of Canada is my cell phone doesn’t work at all, not even the roaming. Ok, so will have to do something about that later today and see about finding a place that has true high speed internet…the hotel in Blind River had dial up which I could never get to work, so gotta get caught up sometime soon.

Once back in Canada, the next lake that I’ll hit has gotta be Superior and already I could tell this was going to be more scenic than any of the other great lakes that I rode around, or at least touch and it was quite impressive. Oh yea, and Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world, both acres and volume…hey, I have the paper work to prove it…like the song says, ‘what a beautiful ride’. Eventually found a beach area to dip a foot and now I have completed toughing the water of 3 great lakes in one day – wow. Saw a sign along the way for the Travelodge and having high speed internet that it was getting late enough and I needed to do a little catching up that I might as well check it out…even though it’s in bumfuk in the middle of no where. Told Harry and Caleigh about my travels and some of the great rates I’ve gotten along the way that they were happy to give me a deal and what a deal…you can see, got caught up on at least three blogs that it’s definitely high speed internet. Oh, and a big thanks to Caleigh for helping me find the title, artist and lyrics for ‘Ever Time I Here Your Name’…still waiting to hear a certain country song which will verify why people listen to country…stay tune cuz when I hear it, I’ll share it.

Well, once settled in, had to find a restaurant to get some grub and like so many small towns I’ve hit along the North Shore, most are closed down by 8:00. Did find a little steak place that what’dya know, their open till 11:00 that got something to eat before heading to visit Danielle. Yep, this is the happening place in town and even though it’s a Tuesday night, it’ll be more happening with me in town – ok, just go with me on that. Did talk to a number of people about the trip, ok didn’t get pictures of them all, but they were in and out so did my talking fast, but did talk to another couple traveling around the lake from Missouri and told them I’ve already been there, Missouri that is. Closed up the place which has been customary in these small towns, but that’s because they close early since I’m the only one still there…it couldn’t be me, could it? Oh, and the other thing is Danielle said she might have to cut me off after 3 cuz with the limit and the laws, she could get in trouble for serving me enough to put me over the limit…that sounds about the same as the states and I did see that once on this trip, in Falls Church, Lori had to cut a guy off, but that’s because he was trashed – and that was the same guy that dined and dashed…not sure whether I covered that story or not, but now you know the rest of the story. Thunder Bay is three hours away that should be able to make that and Duluth, here I come. Lake Pictures.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Blind River Ontario, July 24th

Blind River Ontario and I’m just as lost as you are, but I do know I’m somewhere on the north shore of Lake Huron. Right now at the Iron Horse Inn which is the reigning champions of the Blind River Dragon Boat races, whatever that is. In case I missed Huron, remember my question about Cleveland, I’ve covered it that now I only have two more lakes to hit, Michigan and Superior. That also had me realize the other day when I thought West Virginia was my last state to cover that I haven’t hit Michigan or North and South Dakota. I know I’ll hit the Dakota’s on my way to Sturgis, remember the big bike rally in South Dakota and wish I could end this journey with the person I started it with, but apparently that ain’t gonna happen, but I’ll at least cover those states on my way to Sturgis and yes, for the first time in as many visits as I’ve made to Sturgis, this year I’ll ride out there.

I was anxious to get going this morning and that’s because I realize I’m on my last leg home and looking forward to getting there…probably for the wrong reason, but some people need closure, such as me and it’ll take me the week to get ready for Sturgis which won’t be a camping or riding experience like I’ve already had along the way. I cannot thank Pete and Coleen enough for their hospitality and this is what it is really all about…meeting people along the way who become good true friends because they are very much like me, willing to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are good people and realize life is too short that having fun is what it’s all about. That’s where Pete and I are trying to figure out what kind of business we can start with Rob since we’re all not working, but the only thing we could come up with at the time was place for battered men…yea, I’d have to see those guys, but I suppose, there are some pretty strong women out there…could use the appropriate term, but you know what I mean. Anyway, the bike trip started meeting Pete and Coleen the first week on the road that I think it only appropriate that my last week on the way home is with them They will always be friends and I look forward to being able to return the favor for their trip to Minnesota, someday soon I hope. It really does make you appreciate what you have as well as the friends and people you meet along the way. I will say that at many points along the way I’ve felt that I walked away from something that is very important to me to do what I needed to, but things are meant to happen for a reason that, because of some of what I’ve gone thru in life, it is too short that there is no reason to be honest and up front with everyone we encounter, even if it’s gonna hurt, cuz honesty is what it’s all about.

Ok, enough and back to today’s events. Well Pete checked the ferry schedule for me, no not those kind of ferry’s and for as late as it is , 3:40 is the time to shoot, just gotta get out of here by 11:00 and the weather should be nice all the way. Time to pack the bike and get showered and ready for the day, but ran out of shaving cream which Pete has so generously donated his bottle for me to finish my trip with. Like he said, and don’t forget Pete, but when he comes to Minnesota, the cream is on me. Well, you can see I got an escort out of town to where it was easy enough to set me free without getting lost, cuz if I miss the 3:40 the next ferry wouldn’t be going out until 8:00 and that won’t work with Pete’s estimate of 3 days to get to Thunder Bay. Tried talking Pete into riding all the way to Minnesota with me and having Coleen fly to Minneapolis or Rapid City to do Sturgis, but maybe some other time. I know they’d get along great with the Sturgis group and who wouldn’t; we’re all out to just have a little fun.

Well, part of this journey is taking a ferry ride and I’ve been on a number of them that going around the great lakes, why not. On the way there, did get spit on that at least put on my rain bottoms, pants, but it wasn’t too bad…so much for having good weather all day. The ferry ride will also give me time to work on my blog which I realize I’m a few days behind, but when you have as much fun with people that I had this last weekend, ya can’t spend all your time writing. I’m a little worried about the ferry ride cuz this is the first time they’ve pointed out ropes and hooks in the floor for us to tie our bikes down to, but hey, I’m a quick learner and if it’ll keep my bike from tipping over, I’m all for it. The other thing I found out was everyone is suppose to get out of their vehicles and move to the passenger level…ok, so if this thing went down I suppose, would you survive better not trying to save you vehicle than going down with the ship…might not be much difference for many, but I know for me, ta’hell with the bike, it’ll be all about me.

Some great scenery along the way of the other beaches which make up the longest fresh water beach in the world, but made it with an hour and a half to spare. These Canadians drive slow for an 80 speed limit, but I guess 80 kph are like my 50 mph…ok, 70 mph is close enough in my book. Got front row parking again, yep, they do the same thing here with bikes; first on and first off, that I better make sure I’m back in plenty of time otherwise I won’t get on. Found a little pub a block away and figured can afford a beer and a little lunch and give me the local special…ok, that’d be white fish so might as well go fish today. Had a great time talking to a local statesman, Tom from Michigan who was doing laundry next door and has a cabin north of here, where they live it rough…no running water or electricity, only propane and one of those buckets full of water to shower under…not exactly my idea of a fun get way. After he left I got to chat with Greg and the gang, yep more hot Canadian’s, Mary, Julia and Martha. They were pretty busy that it was tough getting a picture cuz my time is running out, to get back and load up the bike, but eventually stopped what they were doing for the picture…thanks and the Fish’n’Chips were great. Forgot to mention that Tobermory where the ferry is, is the scuba capital of Canada…like Tom had said, at one time they were drinking the lake water cuz it was clear enough and not as polluted as it’s become…oh, and now you can get bottled water anywhere – do you remember the time when three was no such thing as bottled water? Someone came up with a great idea.

This is a pretty cool ferry with the front opening and closing like it does, but the ride is a rough one and the boat definitely seems to be loaded more to one side than the other…might explain why everyone was walking into the walls. Spent most of my time working on the blogs I need to catch up on, but it didn’t seem like a two hour trip…man how time flies when you’re just having fun. First off, the ferry that is, and had the road all to myself that don’t have to worry about passing the slow Canadians and again, you can see some great scenery riding off the Manitoulin Island, where the ferry dropped me off to get to the mainland hitting rain once again on my way to Espanola. Thought about calling it a night there, but someone at the gas station said it wasn’t too bad toward Saulte Ste Marie which is still 3 hours away and if I’m going to make it to Thunder Bay in three days, better get some miles behind me. Running out of gas again, and wouldn’t you know it, when there’s a sign how far you are from the next town, there’s not gas between, but here, it’s in Kilometers which I know is less than miles, but how much less. Did just hit the gas station as I was running out and another full service station. Oh, and the other thing, remember my trip to Meadville and hitting a gas station without an overhang, well, very few if any in Canada have an overhang, so they’re just as hard to find. Well, talked to the attendant and she told me the next big town is still an hour away, that might as well crash here for the night and checked out 4 different motels until finding one that had a room and internet…it was dial up, but ok, I can get caught up on my blog. Took a trip downtown looking for something to eat and right next to the only bar in town was a little restaurant that I was already half an hour late for their last call, but once the owner heard me, said she’d cook something up for me quick…thanks, needed some food before partying in the bar on a Monday night lost along the North shore of Lake Huron and Colette is going to make sure we party. Tomorrow, more riding if I hope to make Thunder Bay in three days. Lake Huron Pictures.

The Real Wasaga Beach, July 23rd

Today is a good day for church and a little R&R, since it is Sunday, but slept in and ended up missing mass that I’ll just have to settle for brunch. After the night we had last night and since I didn’t get any sleep the night before had to try and catch up, but hey, at least I’m not in jail Found out from everyone last night when I told them the story about the cops that they probably wouldn’t have don anything, especially if you told them the story cuz like they said, they’re not as bad as the cops in the states and if those cops I talked to about setting up a tent in the city park suggested one for me, I guess that probably would’ve been true, but didn’t want to find out. Pete is hard at it already firing up the grill to cook up some great Canadian bacon, pork chops and some of that thin steak that was left over from last night. What a brunch, Coleen’s special poached eggs…look at how perfect they are, Pete’s bacon, chops and steak as well as new potatoes and Kasia’s toast. Gus tried doing the toast but he was stressing us all out since he couldn’t wait for the toaster to toast, that Kasia took over…good thing too, cuz I like my toast done. We did find a job for Gus, open the champagne for mimosas.

Took a walk down to the beach cuz after a meal like that, we needed to do a little walking and learned a lot about the beach and Bruce peninsula, first that it is the longest fresh water beach in the world. The other is Wasaga Beach itself is suppose to have the 7th best sunset in the world, more on that later. What a beautiful place and like we were talking it reminds you of all those beautiful beach’s you’ve visited in a lifetime and the memories that go with each. Mine, Cozumel and the beginning of this journey…and I go back that far since Cozumel was the first thing I did the weekend I was laid off and has some very special memories for me. The other is just the beauty that I have seen in my travels and how amazing some of these places that I have seen and visited are…places that I’ll always remember and some that I hope to make other memories at.

Well, the houses along the beach are impressive and I met some more people along the way, Lorena, Dom, Ray and Terri and what a view from their place. They had a party last night so that’s why they didn’t join us last night, but today’s a new day so lets see about tonight. This beach is the quieter one since it is mostly residential, but still haven’t seen the topless women…maybe when we hit the party beach which is next and easy to tell, more people and sand volleyball. Still didn’t see any topless, but now they tell me that it is few and far between that you’ll see it, something about they passed the law allowing it and then reneged on the thing or something, but’ll have to take a walk later to check it out. Met a bunch of bikers that were in town for the weekend from Toronto and yea, Gus and Pete know them all that you can see the names on the pictures. Had a great time visiting with them all and telling them stories of my travels that we had a great time and what a beautiful day for hanging out at the beach and sites…I tried capturing some the best I could, but most are for my eyes only. Ashley was or server and Craig is the manager that had to capture their picture and Craig had heard my story and had to tell the rest of the women about it…that’s how I found out they had all known me as the traveler – thanks to Craig. Oh yea, and the mother and daughter is the daughter I had met at
Stubs & Lunnigan’s the day before, remember where the local drunks bought be a drink – no, and they weren’t the ones. Notice how the guy on the bike almost wiped out looking at the thong, but like we’ve always said, if you have it flaunt it, and that’s just what that chick is doing.

Hey, I found where all the beautiful Canadian women hang out and it’s here at the Dardanella beach bar. Ashley whom you’ve already met, Bri, Danielle, Heidi and Heather…I like this place already. Ashley was getting off from work soon and had to talk her into a bike ride since she’s never been on one before and is afraid of motorcycles. It was funny how we found out, but both Pete and I were talking to her, at the same time and I was talking about riding while Pete was talking about me so at one point Pete said I was a priest which my next question, not hearing what Pete had said, was, ‘You ever ride one before’? she thought I meant priest although I was still talking about bikes…I knew I shouldn’t have left my collar at home. Ok, guess you’d have to be there to appreciate it, but did get her on the bike and although she’s been against her boyfriend getting a bike…I know, I was as disappointed… she likes the ride. Like the stories go, once a woman rides a Harley, she’s hooked. Some may be hooked into riding any kind of bike, but they’ll never forget their experiences on a Harley…sorry to say, it’s a whole other world. Anyway, the group headed back to the house for the usual Italian snacks, meat, cheese and bread, but for me, I like crackers with my cheese. Since Pete and Coleen are only a couple of blocks from the beach, kept our eye on when to head down to the beach and got some great shots of the sunset…and they are right, what a beautiful sunset. There were a few clouds, but it’s a sunset I’ll remember and one that someday I’ll get to share again.

Ok more partying with the Sicilians and something that I forgot we talked about at length during brunch is what today’s lesson is all about…related to a poem that I got from Ann, remember Ann in Seattle - have been waiting for the right time to share and now’s as good a time as any, but it goes something like;

“You already have what you want and what you need. You could not even think about seeking something if you had no awareness of it. You seek because something in you has been touched. You are attracted to someone because you already have within you what you are attracted to. You have a heart filled with the desire for the good. You have a soul that will find your way. You have an imagination with which you can create a love that reveres all things, especially the depth and sacredness of everyday. You can transform your ordinary life into something full of wonder.”

Like we were saying and what this poem I believe is trying to tell us, we continue searching our entire lives for something we already have inside…and I believe, life has a way of working itself out…remember, everything happens for a reason. Wasaga Beach Pictures.

Wasaga Beach Ontario, July 22nd

Wasaga Beach Ontario, and yep, that’s Canada and made it to Pete and Coleen’s, remember them? Met them my first week on the road in Myrtle Beach and they invited me up to Canada sometime, so here I am…and glad to be here. I didn’t get a very good sleep last night, but that was because of my choice of sleeping and there were squitters to worry about as well as cops driving thru the park every once in awhile, but they never saw me or my bike parked in the pavilion. At about 5:00 this morning some guy with his kid showed up at the park to play on the slides and I don’t know who was more surprised, me seeing a kid climbing up to slide or them when I said something. Anyway, they decided they’d go elsewhere to play which was a good thing cuz I still needed to get some sleep. Since I didn’t sleep well, stayed laying there and figured I’d wait until I was good and ready to get up, but may have waited too long cuz at about 7:00 a cop drove thru the park pretty slow and I figure they had either seen me or was looking for something pretty hard that as soon as they left I figured, better get the sleeping bag rolled and packed and get dressed. Well, about 5 minutes later another cop drives in and I take cover in the crawl thru on the slide, but this time the cop stops next to the pavilion and now I know they know where my bike is. Fortunately that cop left and I got out of the slide and packed the bike as a park maintenance worker came over and told me that the cops are coming to haul the bike away to which I said that’s why I’m trying to get it packed as quick as I can and get out of here. Did get out of there and decided to head a different way toward downtown than the main road, I don’t want them finding me or anything, especially if they put out a call about me. Thought about heading over the border back to the US, but then thought what if they let border patrol know, I’d have a tough time getting back into Canada and I still have people to see so I decided to go back to the casino I was at the night before and see about getting cleaned up and such before heading to Toronto.

Ok, got my face washed and fangs brushed that I feel a lot better that as soon as I can find the freeway to Toronto, I’m good to go and hope to get far enough away from Niagara Falls so I don’t have to worry about the cops, well, did just that, and remember the parking in the casino was free with the new players card I got the night before? On the road to Toronto found my first visitors center and stopped in because I could really use a map of Canada and they were just opening that again, great timing. They gave me a map and the guy was really helpful because not only did he show me the route I needed to take around the lakes thru Thunder Bay back home, but he highlighted all the roads I’ll need to take for the trip. Great, I’m good to go and now have an idea of where I’m going that have to check out Toronto and some of their sites, like that tower they have and it also connects me to another one of the great lakes, Ontario which I’m not sure I’ve touched yet. On the way there the rain started to come that pulled under an over pass to suit up, with the rain gear that is, and some other bikers decided to follow suit. They were saying that the forecast for the weekend was for some nice weather, but like I told them, haven’t seen TV for quite some time. They were also going to Toronto, but for different reasons than me, I’m just going to site see since it’s early. The rain eventually let up before I made it to Toronto which wasn’t too long a drive and as I pulled into town notice a lake shore drive that if that works anything like the ones in the states, it’ll take me right along the lake for pictures and should take me downtown. You can see got pictures of Lake Ontario so I think that makes three of the five I need to hit…don’t remember, which one does Cleveland touch? After the pictures made my way downtown and sure enough, just like the states, along the lake and too downtown that now all I have to do is find free parking. Well, not today cuz not only didn’t I find street parking close to where I’m going to be at, but with the threat of rain figured a parking ramp would be a good choice. Parking wasn’t too bad for Canada, $14 dollars for event parking and you won’t believe what event is in town…again, what timing by me.

As long as I’m site seeing today, have to do the CN tower which you can see is pretty impressive. There is no comparison to the Space Needle in Seattle, but you do have to take into consideration when they were both built and for what purpose. Not sure what this tower’s intent was, but it’s definitely worth taking the ride to the top. Bought the pass that takes me to all three levels and unlike going to the highest point of the Empire State building, every level here is worth seeing. Too bad it’s a rainy day too cuz on a clear day you can see all the way to Rochester NY and Niagara Falls…guess you’ll just have to wait for my next visit or check it out yourself. There’s also a level which has a glass floor to walk on making you feel like you’re standing that far off the ground. Notice a lot of people afraid to go on it, but hell if it can support the weight of some of the people I saw on it, it’ll support us all. Well, you can see my feet in the picture so I had no problems going out there, but than again, there’s not a lot that scares me…that is except for the back hills in Virginia. Met Andrea and talked to here about bikes because she just got one herself, just a little 185, but at least she’s riding and getting around town on the best transportation there is, a motorcycle. You can see pictures of the Sky dome, wait, they renamed it to Rogers Centre, not my spelling, but I’ll have to check it out and that’s where my timing is great once again. You’ll never guess who’s in town for a baseball game today, yep, the Yankees, remember I just saw them about a week ago in New York…and you thought it was the Twins or Brewers.

If it weren’t for wanting to get to Wasaga beach while it’s still light out and I could really use a shower, might have thought about sticking around for the game and seeing about scamming a free ticket, but’ll do the next best thing, take the last Roger Centre tour. It was about $20 Canadian which might not be too bad, but I hope they show us how they open and close that roof. Hey check out the waiting area for the tour, they must have the right kind of fans around her, Packer fans with a helmet and jersey signed by Brett Favre…I’m liking this place already. Margaret gave us the tour and she definitely knows her Roger Centre and history of the area. She did point out an aluminum bench in the museum suite which I didn’t get a picture of, the seat that is and was talking how the Blue Jay’s were definitely a Canadian team because of playing their last game before moving in to the Sky dome, ok, name at the time in a snow storm and like she said, can’t be too comfortable sitting on aluminum in the snow. Well, I had to educate her on that later that the seats in Lambo field are aluminum, but she had never heard of it…ok, that’s because their still on the kick that the Argonauts, you know the Canadian football team are the inventers of football which eventually became American football as we know it because of some of the colleges picking it up…what ever, but you should know about Lambo field. One other thing in the museum suite is the hole in the desk that was donated by the old General Manager, everyone, including myself thought it was for trash, but not at all. The manager had it specifically built and to the far end of the desk for bats because most of the time when they needed to talk to a player, they were coming in from practice with bat in hand, that incase he had to give them some bad news, doesn’t want them holding a bat…hey remember the movie with Al Capone? It was a great tour and you can see from the pictures that we got to see all the levels, even the nose bleed, which I don’t remember how far from the floor we are at that point. Oh yea, and they use to have tours of the roof where people could walk the cat walk from one side to the other, but after too many people getting scared of the height and having problems making the trek since it’s a half hour trip, they stopped doing it but are in the process of bringing it back…ok, just screen people better and once committed, make’em go all the way.

Time for me to head north after the tour and found out from Pete that it’s clear and sunny where they’re at, but me, gonna have to put on the rain suit and head that way, hopefully getting out of it sooner than later. The directions Pete gave me were great and I was on the back road to their place in no time…now just have to stop for gas. Well, since all I know is a Kilometer is less than a mile, figure I better get gas sooner than later that stopped at a station only to find out their out of gas….all gas. Ok, not a problem because there’s a small mom and pop place just up the road, and yep, they have gas, just not the premium, but this time, not taking any chances. The pumps pumping slow so their almost outta the cheap stuff and figure I have enough gas now to get me to the next major town to fill up…well, ran into another problem, my shift peg is laying on my floorboard…yep, they even call them floorboards on a bike. The shifter peg, which the Seattle dealer warned was rusting gave way that now what do I do. Tried the suicide shifting thing, but this is worse than most because not only do I still have a hand clutch, but have to reach across with my throttle hand to pull or push the shift, well, not such a good idea that have to come up with another plan. Ok, for most who don’t know what suicide shifting on a bike is, it’s one of those things where you had a foot clutch and had to take your hand of the handle bars to shift – maybe doesn’t sound that tough, but just try it sometime. Anyway, did get it wired up thanks to some wire from a local fireplace shop that all I need now is a Harley dealership close and hey, there’s one in Barrie which is about 45 minutes away and on my way. You can see I made it and that’s a whole other story in itself.

First off, they weren’t sure whether they had shifter link or not, but after Cheryl checked in the back, good news, they just got some in and can fix me up right away since I’m traveling thru, maybe it helped that I was from the states too cuz they might want to get rid of me…well on the contrary had a great time talking with everyone there and not only were they going to fix my shift link, but they’ll take care of my 5000 mile oil change, yep needin one already, 25,000 miles in less than 90 days…remember the 90 day rule? I’m desperate for a belt that have to check the clothing department out. With the weight I’ve lost on this trip, my pants don’t fit anymore and can’t afford to buy new pants cuz don’t have room for them, but a belt won’t take up much room, well, that’s cuz I’ll be wearing it. Aileen did a great job suggesting some belts and check it out, sorry the picture doesn’t show the belt very well, but it did get you looking at my crouch now, didn’t it…ok, enough. Like Aileen said I should be styling for the money I’m paying for the belt that go with something that stands out instead of plan and all the other women in the shop agreed…ok, now how many of you would pick me up in a bar with this belt? While I was waiting and since I got off the road I was suppose to take to Wasaga beach, got some great directions from Dave, sorry I missed his picture, but that’s because I just remember him telling me how much I’ll enjoy Wasaga and how the women can go topless there so I should have some eye candy when I get there…like I said, that’s why no picture cuz I was already dreaming about that. Well, Cheryl, Josh and Amber got me on the road pretty quick and like I told Cheryl, don’t be offended but someone warned me on this trip that that name would haunt me…well, it’s not that it haunts me, but has me thinking of the country song I hear every once in awhile, ‘Every Time I Hear Your Name’ by Anderson Keith…you have to hear it to understand. Well, the other ironic thing, guess what her husbands name is? Yep, Dale…same name, different spelling - oh well, life goes on.

Finally on the road to Wasaga beach and Pete’s gonna pick me up where ever I end up that you bet, a bar called Stud Lunnigan’s and guess what, the local drunks bought me a beer. That works for me cuz after the day I’ve had I could use one and Pete’s on his way. Well, sucked it down and Pete showed up which I don’t think the locals were too happy I was leaving without buying them a drink, but like Pete said, have people a the house to get back to. Check it out, their having a party tonight, just for me and it’s with a bunch of Sicilian’s, I’d say Italians, but these guys are from island. Jim and Theresa are from Washington and showed up for a few drinks, Gus and Kasia are from Toronto and going to be in town for the weekend and Karl and Carlie are from the area I believe, but we’re just gonna eat like Italians do and drink. Gus brought the meat and what a variety, thin steaks which I tried calling my buddy Tony to find out what he calls it cuz I know he has a name for it, pork chops and Spinochey, tried to spell it the way Gus was pronouncing it, but great Lamb shish kabobs, oh and a special spice to put on all the meat too. And get this, that grill that Pete is using is one he brought back from Myrtle Beach this year and was waiting until I showed up to use it…what a deal even though he thought I’d never call. Had a lot happen today that now it’s time to chill and party like Italians…I mean Sicilians do. Tomorrow, let’s see what tomorrow brings, ok? Toronto and Wasaga pics.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Niagara Falls New York & Ontario, July 21st

Niagara Falls New York, wait, Ontario and tonight I’m on the Canada side. Ok, so I’ve been in cities that are in both states, but this is the first that jumps borders, US and Canada. Figured as long as going to spend some time in a place that feels like another country on my way home, might as well spend a night here…hold it, this is another country. Gonna have to get use to things around here quick and it took me part of the night to figure out the currency thanks to the cashier at the casino…a helluv a lot easier than Mexico though.
Didn’t get as early a start as should’ve, but had to finish up yesterdays blog and figured had plenty of time since don’t have to be to Wasaga Beach until Saturday. Took the quick route to the falls because according to the map that was going to be the closest to the water, ya know, the Great Lake and that’ll save me time to do everything I’d like to get done…nope, no plan, just going with the flow. There was one thing I wanted to make sure I did get done and that was stopping at the home of the Buffalo wings, the original place and since have no idea where that place is, other than Buffalo, figured a stop at an information stop would be the thing to do. Well, most if not all the information stops along the way are for Niagara Falls, but why not, most are traveling there instead of Buffalo for Buffalo wings like me. Well, Kathy was great help and told me Anchor bar on Main Street is the place to go, but that was after trying to sell me the Niagara Falls package…$70 for a four hour tour by trolley, boat and some other sites worth seeing, but not sure I’ll do a tour. Met a group of bikers heading the same way from Cleveland, Ohio that is and told them I was thru there a few weeks ago and stopped into the Rock and Roll Museum for a quick peak and of course had to tell them about Anchor bar, but from that point I was on my own.
Couldn’t find the exit that Kathy told me to take, but anyone downtown is going to eventually get me to where I want to and only stopped twice to ask how to get to the Anchor bar, the first was to find Main street which was straight in front of me and the reason for a second was because main street was a mall that you couldn’t drive on so I wasn’t going to park the bike and walk far if I didn’t have to. Well, it was a good thing I didn’t park cuz it was still a couple of miles down the road and once there, no mall that you can ride the road. You can see I made it ordered my usual drink, a root beer and asked for their original, wings that is. First thing was, they don’t have root beer, birch beer instead…what’s that, never heard of it, but it’s suppose to be sweeter and apparently around here more popular than root beer, that ok, I can try that and they were right, sweeter, but not sure about better cuz I like a little kick at the end…ya know the kind that quenches the thirst. The other thing was I could get an order of 10 or 20 wings; they don’t sell them by the dozen and thought I should ask, but never did. Man are these wings good, not necessarily the best I’ve ever had, but they make a difference at this place since their the original, they know what their doing.
On the road and next stop, Niagara Falls which is only 16 miles away, that’ll be easy to get to, the only thing, had to worry about when got into town was where to park. According to the guy parking vehicles in the visitors parking, no discount for motorcycles and like I told him, there’s always free motorcycle parking so just point me too it. He said there is free on the streets, so if you can find yourself a spot it’s yours and for me, that won’t be hard to find…right around the corner in fact because there was plenty of room behind a vehicle to the curb that the bike’ll just fit and right next to the visitors center saving me a walk, not that makes any difference, but need to find out where to go before moving the bike again. Got the same thing in the visitors center, a spiel on a package that I can buy to take me to all the sites, but I told them, I want to experience what one person should while here while saving something I can share on a return visit…yep, will definitely be back here to share. Well, according to them, still should do the package and can always do it again, but nope, I’ll see about doing some things and saving others, so I’m on my own. On the way to the falls there was another visitor center, this one the State Park center since this is a state park and Kimberly was great help. Told her the same thing, what should I do while I’m here on my own and what can I save where she said the boat tour is definitely worth saving, because it’s amazing…ok, that’ll be something worth sharing then and there’s still plenty of other to do. Walk along the falls, do the caves and the Whirlpool jet boats are a lot of fun…ok, I’ll do the wet thing today and save some for later.
Wow, these falls are something and still had to pay to get into some of the things, but it’s all worth checking out and for a buck to go onto the observation deck, the one that takes you to the boat tours, got some great pictures. That bird on the rock definitely has the best view of all of us, but can’t get out there, might fall in if I crawled over the fence or worse yet, arrested that don’t need to do that. From there, gotta head to the island and walk along the river to the falls as well as check out the cave tour and again, more great pictures, but most are being saved for the falls themselves. Well, the cave tour is $10, but hey check it out, get a pair of water socks since can’t wear your shoes in, so they give you the socks, a bag for your shoes, so you can carry them with and a plastic poncho to keep you from getting wet, well from getting too wet. That’s us in the yellow plastic and didn’t take many pictures cuz almost right under the falls and I still have a few days to get out of this camera that getting it wet won’t help and these ponchos don’t help keep you dry either…you’re definitely getting wet. Ok, it was a cool experience, but no caves since those caved in years ago so now they built these wood stairs to the bottom of the falls which by the way, they tear down and rebuild every year, the ice on the falls would rip them apart that it’s easier to rebuild and like the guide said, the water is then about 35 degrees, now that’s cool…I mean cold.
Got my fill on the this side of things that have to cross the border to see the rest…well, that’s according to what I’ve heard, Rochelle told me, remember her from the Morgantown Harley dealer, the Canada side is the side to see. First things first, gotta get across the border and since spending more time in Canada this trip had to answer more questions, but the border patrol was great and although I wanted to get her picture to share, not luck, they can’t have their picture taken a probably should’ve told her I’d catch her later for pictures. Anyway, the next stop should be to get Canadian currency since I’ll need it in this country…remember, foreign country? Well, parked the bike, yep free parking on the street again behind a car and what’dya know, can get Canada money right there, but the exchange wasn’t very good, 8 cents on the dollar where as if I go to the bank can get 11 or more…ok, the banks just down the road that trip on the bike’ll be worth that little extra. Ok, the bank teller tells me, good one, that it’ll cost me $5 since I don’t have an account with them and 25 minutes to open one that my best bet is going to the casino cuz they’ll give me the same exchange if not even better and then I have a place to park my bike. Works for me and as soon as found the casino no free parking unless I have a players card, but that’s easy to get. Well, this is where the cashier at the casino comes in and was great help, and forgot one detail that I found out in the US before crossing the border. That is, called my credit card company cuz after my Mexico trip earlier this year had a $30 charge for currency exchange that needed to find out if have to worry about the same thing this time for every charge, but shouldn’t have to, they’ll just charge me an extra 3% on purchases since US retailers pay it for us, that is by marking up their merchandise. Ok, the cashier pulls out the money and tells me the only difference is the coins for a buck or 2 bucks, two colors, 2 bucks, one color, 1 buck…hey, that’ll be easy enough to remember. The other thing according to her is might as well get as much currency as you can cuz you won’t be losing anything when I leave the country, so ok, that’ll also work for me.
Ok, to the falls it is and everyone’s right, what an incredible view from the Canada side…makes me feel sorry for those who can’t cross the border…ya know the ones. Well, have plenty to see and met a couple from Connecticut, Terry and Patty, hey I was there a few weeks ago. Had fun talking with them and they were doing the tour thing since they got a great package deal which I’ll do some other day…you know the one. While walking along hit rain, that is rain from the falls themselves that tried to take pictures to give you a feel for just how much it rains by the falls. If you’ll notice the picture from the hill back to the falls, the one with the buses in it, it was raining that far away which was about 220 paces and my paces being 2 yards, put’s that quite a ways away…ok, maybe a yard, but hopefully you get the picture. Anyway, the road, grass, every thing that far from the falls for a ways is wet and it’s all from the mist down below, now that’s a lot of water. Check out how close you can get to the water along the way, signs warning about the water, oops, forgot a picture of that, cuz everyone knows how I heed the warning, but it’d be real easy for someone to fall in and get swept away, me though, I could use a dip for as hot as it is and have suit on bike so might just have to do that…check it out, ok, I’m not that stupid. Well, met a couple of hot little Russians on the walk so helped them out with a picture and gotta get one for myself…a picture that is. They didn’t speak any English, but that’s a whole other story.
Starting to get late that since my Toronto connection fell thru, forgot to mention that too, but called Maggie, remember her and Kristy from Boston, to see about making it up there for the night, but it’s doing nothing but raining in their area and they are busy and don’t really have a place for me to stay, that I might as well just chill in Niagara, Canada that is for the night. Called a few places on both sides, remember, US or Canada and the cheapest would’ve been $80, but decided to ask some cops if it was legal to setup a tent in the park and crash for the night. They didn’t know so called their supervisor to let me know no it’s not, but then went on to tell me about a park down the road that it’s wooded enough that could setup a tent that no one would notice. Thanks, I’ll have to check that out later, but first might as well scope out the casino, have something to eat and see if there’s anywhere there, the casino that is to take a little snooze. No luck and according to the waitress at the buffet, security would probably frown upon it. Ok, down the road it is and hey, did I time it well or what, but on Fridays and Saturdays, they have fire works over the falls. Ok, didn’t get any decent pictures, but the ones of the falls all lit up didn’t turn out either…what a great view though. Found the park and although I didn’t find a good spot to setup a tent, found a pavilion that can park the bike in, you know, hide it in the corner and hey, the kids slide’ll work as a place to layout my bed roll, yep, like a cowboy tonight. Tomorrow, Toronto and Wasaga Beach are the ticket. Incredible pics.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Meadville Pennsylvania, July 20th

Applebee’s in Meadville Pennsylvania and the reason I ended up here is because of the rain. Just south of Eerie and was shooting to at least make Buffalo, which I suppose if I would’ve rode the rain out might have made, but someone was telling me their girlfriend said it was worse north…more on that later. Right now I’m laughing how some couples go out and do the same thing in a bar that they probably do at home. The guy next to me is reading the paper while his wife smokes and I think they’ve said a few words to each other deciding what each was going to order…oh well, if that trips your trigger, but my idea would be as long as your going out, make the most of it, have fun and leave the paper at home – and the cigarettes too. For the second time today have heard people talking about the smoking band going into affect soon for this state not allowing smoking in the bars…great move I think, but I know some don’t agree. Also heard an advertisement for the Washington Post’s top story about a leading hotel chain eliminating smoking rooms altogether and how soon the other chains’ll follow…again, great move I think, but I know some don’t agree.

First off, a big thanks to Mary Ellen for putting me up for a few days not knowing me from Adam…you, know Adam that visited Ann in Seattle? I really appreciated them taking me in on the word of their friends that I’m a nice guy, but it just goes to show what kind of people they are, willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt that they are decent people if they have common friends. It was funny though, that one of Mary Ellen’s questions to George was whether I’d kill her in her sleep. That’s where I had to tell her the story of my friend Chris, remember him from the Wausau group in Yellowstone, and how when we were at the Harley Davidson’s 100th anniversary party in Milwaukee, I was staying with a friend, but since his bike broke down had to ask my buddy if it was ok if he stayed too…same question, I don’t know, is he going to kill me in my sleep? Well, after they met and talked they had friends in common that yea; I think you can trust that he won’t kill you in your sleep. Hey, that couple said a few more words to each other…who’s paying the bill.

Today was about the ride and making sure I hit West Virginia, which looking at the print out from Map Quest should catch a corner of, but a good thing I asked on my first gas stop. Well, didn’t ask specifically whether I’d hit it or not, but asked how far up the road West Virginia was only to find out the road I was on wasn’t going to get me there. The lady at the gas station pulled out a state map and showed how I would just miss it, so suggested a better road to ride, the National Freeway. A freeway that runs 116 miles from Hancock Maryland to Morgantown West Virginia thru the Appalachian Corridor “E” and what a great ride. Ok, she didn’t know that and neither did I…looked it up on the internet. Knew the road I was riding was called the National Freeway or something like that, that sure enough, I-68 was it. Figured I’d wait until getting to West Virginia to have something to eat and there’s a lot of Maryland to drive thru before getting to the border, but did get a picture, the state sign. There were a few times I slowed down thinking the sign for the state was coming up, but hey, they were Maryland signs showing what kind of animals they have in the area and to watch out for them…no, not deer, but some other kinda animals. Once in West Virginia, noticed a sign for a Harley dealer…yea, imagine that, and figured they’d have some good suggestions on where to eat as well as roads I might consider riding instead of the freeway. Well, Andrew and Rochelle were great help, maybe not Andrew as much since the first thing he said to me was don’t ask me, but that’s because he was sitting at the performance booth, ya know, where you can pump up your bike, but wasn’t the person to ask…on performance that is. Well, they were both great help and pointed out some back roads, but most were outta the way I was heading that the freeway’ll probably be my best bet…oh, and for a place to eat, their only suggestions were the same kind of places we have back home, Ruby Tuesdays, Wendy’s, Burger King, etc…I’m looking for a hole in the wall with great food like the green chili cheeseburger I told them about in New Mexico. Anyway, the free popcorn at the dealership and a Blizzard at a local Dairy Queen did the trick…hey, it’s pretty hot that a guy deserves a treat now and than. Oh and for my story about the Dairy Queen, pulled my bike into a spot to share with another bike and gave him plenty of room to back out…some guy on Gold Wing. Well, he came in and asked me to move my bike so he could back out. What the hell, you can’t back your bike outta there with the room I gave you? No I didn’t say that, just thought it. He had an excuse that there might be loose gravel or since his bike is heavy he didn’t want it tipping into mine. Ok, so I went out, in the middle of my Blizzard and backed my bike out, and what’dya know, no loose gravel and then I thought, my bike might be heavier than yours, that is until the fat cow with him got on…I know, not very nice, but he could’ve backed it out before she got on and not worry about how heavy the bike was…and no, with her on his bike, it’s definitely heavier than mine…ok, not very nice, but I just say it how I saw it.

Back on the road, heading north…remember, I’m the young man heading north? Well, was making pretty good time with freeway riding and got past Pittsburgh, only to have the weather look questionable and sure enough, started hitting sprinkles. The other thing is I’m in need of gas that as soon as the next exit with gas comes along, it’ll be a good stop to pull under an overhang, get gas and put on the rain gear, and wouldn’t you know it; the exit I took just as I was running out of gas had a little gas station which wasn’t marked very well. There I am sitting at the intersection, getting wet, wondering which way of six roads should I take that had to flag down someone and ask. Oh, just off to the left and you’ll see the entrance that that’s what I did, but couldn’t find a gas station…oh, in this case, a gas station with an overhang. Now how many gas stations do you see now a days that don’t have an over hang? Well, pulled into the station and not only don’t they have an overhang, but no premium gas, well, at this point I have no choice that threw on the rain gear and pumped the gas myself to get back on the road. Yea, it was a full service, but the guy said they don’t pump gas for bikes or expensive cars…well, how many expensive cars pull into this station? Anyway, asked that guy whose girlfriend said the weather was worse north, where to find a hotel that he pointed me out to this place, Meadville, just 7 miles up the road, so here I am. Even though the weather was starting to clear, sounded as though it was still bad north, that might as well call it a night so, again, that’s how I’m here…about 2 hours from Niagara Falls. Tomorrow the falls and we’ll see what O’Canada connections I can hook up with. West Virginia Pictures.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Falls Church Finale, July 19th

Day 4 in Falls Church and guess where I am…the last picture should be a dead give away, yep, Gordon Biersch, but what was I saying, they have good beer and high speed internet…oh yea, and great scenery. Well, Kat and Sarah aren’t here, but have Lori for the third night in a row and this has been my most visited bar along the way, four nights. Ok, really liked McSorley’s and had I been there my first night in New York and spent any more nights, would’ve made the trip, but found this place in Falls Church right away…thanks to Andrew and Mary Ellen.

Today was gonna be a day to check out Monticello and go to Baltimore for steamed crab, but couldn’t find a place that rented helmets…was gonna take Mary Ellen on her first Harley ride and you know what happens then, they’re hooked. Was surprised to find out that places that rent bikes and include the helmet for free, won’t just rent out a helmet - oh, well, will do my own thing so might as well head toward Monticello and then to the Shenandoah National Park, you know the northern half of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Well, on the way down toward Monticello stopped for gas and like the name of the restaurant next door that might as well check it out, Pig and Steak…ok, which to have today, but after beef yesterday, you know a hotdog and steak dinner…wait, not sure it was a beef frank, decided on pork today – at least I think it’s pork. It was a good sandwich and asked for directions where the waitress told me I should check out the mountain in their back yard, Graves Lodge and sent some guy over to give me directions to Monticello. Not sure if he was calling me sir because of being older than him, but it’s probably that southern nice thing that they’ll call everyone sir. Well, when he found out I was on a bike, told me about his 64 Harley Sportster…wonder if that’s anything like the one the Washington cop had yesterday, but I’ll bet not. Anyway made the trip to Graves lodge and kept going on the road cuz it looked like it was going to lead me into the mountains which is just where it was going…that is until I hit gravel and started remembering what someone said about getting into the back mountains of the south…remember Deliverance? hell I’m turning around and getting outta here as quick as I can and noticed people popping out the houses I passed on the way up checking me out on the way down…ok, just some old lady, but ya never know what her boys look like.

Out of the mountains back on my way toward Monticello that decided I’ve seen enough history for a few days that today should just be a day for riding…I could use to blow the cobwebs out of my head and think about what I should be on this trip – what a great adventure it is and how I’m getting to see the beauty this country has to offer as well as the goodness in people…most people. On the way down stopped to find out what the name of the road going thru Shenandoah park was and some guy gave me great directions to take the scenic route there, and what’dya know, it took me past the Monticello visitors center that stopped in there and at least caught the movie about Jefferson...and for those who don’t know, Monticello was the home of Thomas Jefferson, yep, our third president and that’s why the Monticello visitors center showing a movie on Jefferson. Hey, that reminds me of a couple of things, no one has named the tune and artist from a few days ago and no one said they knew the story behind bar and grille, finally found something that’s new to you. Well, the ranger at the visitors center gave me a map of the Shenandoah Park and said it’s a 3 ½ hour trip thru the park, but he’s never seem me drive. Anyway, since still want to do the steamed crab thing, hit some freeway to the park and guess what, hit the middle of the mountains, you know where south meets north, the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs down thru North Carolina (south) and the Shenandoah Skyline drive (north). If you remember, close to the beginning of this trip, hit some of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

Since this is another National Park have a fee to pay, but guess what, that $50 park pass that I got for less than $50 will do the trick…yea, have paid more than 50 bucks for National Parks, but if someone would’ve told me there’s a fee at each, I might’ve gotten wise to the scandal earlier. Anyway, the ranger told me it’s 105 miles to the other end and’ll take 3 ½ hours, like I said how fast is the fastest anyone has made it…well, maybe 3 hours, but that’s because it’s 35 mph all the way…well, you haven’t seen me drive, but she did warn me that there are police patrolling the speed, ok, let’s see what we can do. It was a great ride and had a lot more of the ‘curving road’, remember the official term from Oregon, that haven’t ridden much since the parks out west, but did make it in less than 3 hours and only saw two cops along the way…to my luck, while I was following someone slow before hitting a passing lane – works for me. Almost hit a guard rail again, and this was probably the closest I’ve gotten to doing that, and it wasn’t because I was messing around trying to take a picture. It came up on me fast that downshifted and hit the brakes, remember, rear brake only in the corner, but it wouldn’t catch, kept going into a skid that finally had to do what they teach you in safety class, but I’m sure most don’t do, went straight for the guard rail and hit all the brakes…and fortunately for me, it works. Stopped just before reaching the gravel which was about 2 feet from the guard rail…man if that don’t get the adrenaline goin, but even though it might not sound right, what they teach you in motorcycle safety works. That reminds me of something they do teach you in case you need to put a bike down…as I’m knocking on wood, hit the rear brake and lean to get it to do what happened to me in the curve, that’ll be better sliding than loosing control and going into a tumble…hope I never have to experience that. Oh, and the guard rail had nothing to do with me trying to take a picture, but if you have noticed, have been free handing it at times. Am normally stopping to take a picture, but also have been pulling the camera out of my pocket driving with one hand while taking a picture. I know, not very safe, but it works much better when I have the cruise control set. What a difference between the pictures I was able to take the first 20 days before having camera problems.

Made it back to Falls Church, later than expected, but time to head to Baltimore for steamed crabs that is until we find out that the place I had been to years ago closes in 5 minutes, 8:30. Ok, now what’do we do? well, ME remembers a place in Bethesda which is open until midnight and it’s only 15 minutes away, much closer than the hour drive to Baltimore…map quest time, not mine. You can see by the pictures it’s the way I remember if from Baltimore, the paper on the table with a tray full of crab that you crack, make a mess and eat…man is it ever good and had to have a pound and a half of the shrimp…haven’t had as much shrimp since the gulf, but this is much larger. All in all a great meal and they even took me into the kitchen to show me the live crab and how they steam’em which was new to me. For those who know, when you boil or steam a lobster you just throw them into the hot pot and’ll hear a hiss from them, maybe more like a scream, lobster scream that is, but the crab they have to stab to paralyze them otherwise they’d tear each other apart in the pot…not a deadly stab, just a paralyzing stab. Reminds me of that Poboy I had in Florida. That’s how I ended up here; Gordon’s and had to track down a drunk that left without paying. Had no idea he dined, I mean ‘drank and dashed’ but tried to track him down with no luck. The last night in Falls Church that time to head north young man…that’s me and gonna hit Niagara Falls on my way to the O’Canada connections. Shenandoah Park Pictures.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Washington Capital, July 18th

Might as well start today’s story early while sitting in the Daily Grill, no not having a beer in the middle of the afternoon, but a root beer float which sounded good at the time and because I’m sitting next to the Sprint store that is seeing about getting my phone fixed. Asked like I do at the Harley shops if there’s anyway they can give me priority since I’m from out of town and traveling thru and they were great enough to oblige. Was getting a little pissed today trying to call Sprint info and find a store closest to where I was, but although it was pretty frustrating, it must be happening for a reason…not sure what, but heard about this downtown Washington DC store, that I can find that…have become pretty familiar with downtown even though haven’t spent a lot of time driving around in it.

Got an early start since I had an appointment, a 10:15 meeting with Norm Coleman. Ok, I’m not worried about party lines, but for those of you who are, hey, whichever senator can help me out, I’m on their side. Anyway, was early after a late night, but sometimes it ends up being late working on these blogs. That reminds me, thanks to those who comment and send me emails along the way because sometimes that’s the only thing that keeps me going, but after the Yankee game was talking to my roommate, well house-sitter since she’s moving out this weekend about stopping the blogging all together because of having problems getting motivated and in the frame of mind I should be to put a positive spin this trip deserves because of some other things I’ve been dealing with lately…no, not going there cuz that’s a whole other story and you’ve gotten snippets along the way. Well, thanks to her she told me how so many people have told her how they check up on me everyday and even the neighbors have been enjoying my travels and stories. Sometimes I do wonder if my writing is worth reading or getting carried away, but all I can do is put down what’s on my mind a the time and ok, might be getting a little carried away with some things…and some know what I’m talking about, but that might give you an idea of what’s on my mind a lot during the day. All I can say is life is to short not to live it to the fullest and treat everyone around you with love and respect…cuz, isn’t that what they say makes the world go round – love?

Ok, back to the Capital tour and the traffic into downtown wasn’t bad at all that made it with plenty of time to spare so might as well take the bike to the sites I scoped out yesterday and get a picture. That didn’t take long and this morning was definitely the time to do if for as hot as it’s gotten since…and that’s why I’m sitting here in a bar in the middle of the afternoon, having a beer, a root beer float. Oops, just remembered that someone said the Holocaust Memorial is definitely worth seeing, but it’s closed by now. Well, can’t see everything around here in a few days that there’s more to cover on my return visit, you know the one, where I get to share and that’ll cover some of the other sites I decided against seeing today…more on that later. Well, got front row parking in front of the Hart building where Norm’s office is and since I’m early just hung out in the lobby...and probably shouldn’t have cuz when I was heading towards Norm’s office he was heading to the elevator…got a ‘Hi’ in and maybe I can get a picture when he’s done. Ok, sat in the office and talked with Stefani and Lauren and Stefani is from New Hampshire, yep I was there, went to school in Boston, there too and has been here for a few months I think she said. Don’t remember for sure cuz also found out our tour guide, Ross has been here for two months and is flying home next week Thursday…home being Alexandria MN and school UW-Madison...a great party school.

Check out the pictures and not sure which ones to talk about, but it was a pretty cool building to tour and Ross did a great job telling us what we needed to know. Many of the rooms were pretty loud, but that’s because all the other senators had interns taking people on tours that when everyone is in the same room trying to give their spiel, it’s loud. A couple of things though was the subway from the senate buildings to the Capital, someone got sick of the walks in the 60’s that they had to do something…reminded me of the tunnels in St Paul and how most of them lead to the river, and brothels in their time…ok, show me where else this tunnel goes. Made it into the capital and the paintings were something else to see. Apparently when this place was built the idea was to have paintings of everything, but it got to a point that someone decided they needed to save space for future events, and that’s just what they captured, if you’ll notice the Columbia shuttle pictures in pics, 6190 and 6191. Most of the rooms in the hall were used for the different committee meetings, but have since been shut down and are only used for storage. There was one that is still in use and got a picture of what that looks like, but most meetings that are needed take place in the new senate buildings now instead of the capital. The chandelier was another one of those gifts from some country and I believe Ross said France, but I just remember hearing that it is now worth over 2.5 million dollars…there’s something we could salvage if this country ever needed the money. Oh, and the grate in the floor is how they use to air condition the place, they’d put blocks of ice under the grate and that did the trick…not sure that would’ve worked on a day like today so well and with all the people running around the place. Every state has two statues somewhere in the Capital and we were able to see only one of them from Minnesota…nope not sure who it was, but think the last name was Rice, the one we couldn’t see was of some prominent female in her time. A lot to see and like most, you’d have to experience to appreciate it because the pictures don’t give it the grandeur it deserves. There was one thing about the small brass circle in the middle of the floor. That was where one of the presidents desks us to sit, kind of like the other two square ones of Franklin Pierce and Abraham Lincoln, but by the round one you can stand at the other end of the room and have a conversation at your normal tone and hear it as though they were standing next to you. At first thought there was a pipe thru the floor from one end to the other with a hole in it that would carry the sound, but nothing of the sort…it was the design of the arch in room and how that would carry the sound from one side to the other…ok, I thought I was pretty cool. And one other thing was the crypt room downstairs. Well, that was what they had planned it for, the room with what looks like a white star in the middle of the floor, but since Washington and others decided they wanted to be buried somewhere else, they nixed that idea…the star is suppose to be the center of Washington DC though – maybe in their time, but not sure whether it still is today.

Another place I wanted to check out today was the Spy Museum and that wasn’t far from where I was that headed that way. On my way out though noticed a cop pulling up on a Harley Sportster so had to get a picture of that. Told him I don’t think he’d be able to catch me with that thing and he did say it doesn’t have a lot of kick, but that force does have the bigger bikes…I know, I’ve seen the others around, but never a cop on a Sportster – at least it was the 1200 and not the hugger. Well, off to the spy museum and at least in this town there’s plenty of free parking for bikes. Just pull it between, behind or in front of some parked cars and I’m good to go…did ask the officer on the bike across the street if it was ok, and yep, I’m good to go. The spy museum was pretty interesting and will easily take over a couple of hours just to see and read everything there is to know…or almost everything there is to know. Again, the pictures don’t do it justice…wait, there aren’t any pictures – ok, that’s because no photos thru the place, hell, they don’t want someone giving away all our secrets do they? Well, it was a fact that no pictures were allowed, but it was still worth the $15 to see. I tried to get the Intelligent Person discount for $14 cuz I told the lady I was an intelligent person, but I didn’t pass the test…needed a card to show that – next time I’ll have to get that card.

Saw what I needed to that instead of walking to any more memorials for as hot as it was, thought I’d take a bike ride out to Mount Vernon, it’s only 14 miles out that can see where Washington use to live and on the way there, made a stop at Arlington National Cemetery. Had thought about walking around there, but since parking isn’t free and it’s so hot and uncomfortable, that can wait for another day…maybe tomorrow since it’s suppose to be 10 degrees cooler. I know back home there’s record breaking heat, so I have to deal with it just the same, big different though? I’m not working in an air conditioned place…hell, better yet; I’m not working at all. Anyway, headed to Mount Vernon which was a very nice ride thru some pretty country side and once there also decided it was too hot to pay the $13 to tour the 50 acre place. Sure the main house has AC, but that’s a small piece of what you can apparently see that again, will save it for another day.

Ok, better see about getting my phone taken care of because I’m really gonna need it. Have some phone numbers, like the couple in Canada that I have to connect with and without a working phone, or at least one where I can see who I’m calling, could jeopardize cutting this trip short. Well, called Sprint info and asked for the closest Sprint store to downtown Richmond which they didn’t now, but connected me with one of them in the vicinity. That took a few tries before I finally got a person on the phone and told them I just need the nearest Sprint store near where I was. They didn’t know of one near downtown and said they were about 20 minutes out that hell, I’m a lot closer to Washington DC and know that there’s one on 18th street so that should be easy to find and thank God it was. Also thanks much to Brandon and Sabrina for taking such good care of me. Told them my situation and that I really needed the phone to continue on that once they determined it couldn’t be fixed, they just happen to have a new one that they can load and give me. Great, a new phone would be nice getting a new camera like this, but anyway they can load my phone numbers from my dead phone to the new one so that’ll help much. Got that taken care of so headed back to the Grill to pickup my laptop…remember, I started this blog early, and made a call only to have problems with the speaker, and the call. Well, back next door and they had another new one that they would be able to load for me, so hey, get-er done. They took very good care of me and I was happy getting my contacts and numbers loaded, but pretty bummed to find out the pictures and especially some of the text messages I had kept would be lost forever…well, lost to read and only left as a memory – it must be telling me something, but I’m still searching for what that is.

Time to have something to eat and wanted to experience the Washington DC thing that they sent me to Sam&Harry’s, they being the bartenders at the Daily Grill. Looks like a pretty good place to eat, but when saw the price of a piece of meat walked out and figured I can find something else. Ok, so I asked a guy walking by, remember, I have a hard time meeting people and like he said, this is pretty good that you should really try it that oh well, it’s only money anyway that I might as well give it a shot and their right, it was a great piece of meat. From there and since they didn’t have draft beer figured it’s a good time to get closer to home…remember Mary Ellen’s home, so headed back to one of my favorite places, Gordon Biersch, hey they have high speed internet, great bartenders, tonight Lori and Jay and some pretty good scenery, Sarah and Kat, sorry about the read eye, but I did have the camera set to reduce it, must be a little devil inside though. Tomorrow depending on the weather either heading north or going to see more sites…let’s just see what tomorrow brings. Capital Pictures.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Washington DC, July 17th

Today was another day for site seeing so did the same thing as New York, take a train downtown and scope it out to see where I can take the bike tomorrow. That’s the big difference between what I’ve seen on the west coast compared to the east. Out west it’s mostly national parks set aside for us to see the beauty this country has to offer whereas the east coast is all about the history. Not that the scenery isn’t as beautiful, true different, but there aren’t national parks set aside like there are out west. Ok, someone could argue that because everything that I did see today was run by the same National Park Service, but they are the National historical sites around here…not a large land mass – ya know what I’m talking about? Well, the train system around here is much easier to navigate than what New York was, but that might be because there aren’t as many trains to deal with or transfers. Anyway, made it down to the Mall/Smithsonian area which seems to be the natural choice to start a tour of Washington DC, but there’s no visitors center around…that is except for the Smithsonian one which is only concerned about their buildings on the mall. Found that to be a little strange and that I’ll have to make a walk to the Washington DC visitor’s center, but hey, I’ll see what I can around here before heading over there.

Well, just up the path is the Capital that have to get some good pictures of that. Didn’t get as close as I could’ve, but it looks like a great place to pull the bike up in front for more of that tomorrow. Started walking to the other end of the mall, ok, this mall runs from the Capital to the Washington Monument, but for as hot as it is figured I’d find some shelter in an air conditioned building and I’m kinda into machines and flight…you know, traveling down the road at 85 mph on a bike can be like flying…that have to check out the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. Remember Oregon and the museum I saw there? Well, I was about to say that one difference is everything here is authentic, but I’m sure Oregon would claim all of what they have to be original and hey, they actually have the ‘Spruce Goose’, the Smithsonian only has a model. Now, what I mean is everything here from the Wright brothers first plane to the space station and rockets are the ones which were actually used that if you think about it, what an awesome collection of Air and Space paraphernalia…ok, maybe not paraphernalia, but you know what I mean.. I caught that when the lady giving a tour of the planes pointed out how one of the planes hanging use to be out of the reach of the public, but with the public getting taller all the time most are touching the thing that with it’s fabric cover and the oil from peoples skin, it’s damaging the plane. Now that explains the plastic covers around a lot of things, to keep the public from touching it cuz you know the signs “don’t touch” don’t do any good…which reminds me of a couple I was following thru the Hearst Castle. The tour guide kept telling us not to touch things but I notice how the chick would touch everything she walked by – sure she tried to hide it, but it reminded me of someone and how disrespectful that is…well ok, that’s a whole other story that we won’t go there. Ok, back to the Smithsonian and the other thing I have to try is the flight simulator... and signed up for a solo asking for the fastest plane they have. Well, wasn’t the kind of ride I thought it would have be, but spent enough time doing loops that it made for an interesting ride…takes some time to get use to the controls, but doing the loop’d’loop made for a fun ride.

Next stop, the Washington DC visitors center which was a walk, but on the way to the White House and got a good map as well as info on what I should see while in town. Headed toward the House, ya know, the White House and stopped into the White House’s information center just around the corner. Got an even better map from there since it’s the National Park service, yep, much better than the other, but it’s good to see our tax dollars at work producing as much paper as they can possibly hand out. Well, talked to the ranger who was very helpful and asked her how I could get a tour of the White House…well, that’ll take an act of God…ok not that bad, but a recommendation from a senator and at least a six week background check that it probably won’t happen. Like I told her, have been pulled over twice on this trip and each time they checked my record it was clean that I’m good to go. Anyway, she got the numbers for my senators, Mr. Coleman and Dayton that I called the Coleman office right away and guess what I get to do tomorrow, yep, a personal tour…no, not the White House hell, that takes a six week background check, but the Capitol. Ok that’ll work for me cuz that’s even something that you can’t just go and sign up for without going thru a senator. Got some great pictures of the White House and even one of me thanks to Marna and John, ok, I ask a lot of people along the way if I can take a picture for them because then I can ask for one in return, but I don’t always do that…have them take one of me. Sure, they ask if they can, but hey, I got that picture eye that I want to see what a camera that works looks like. It’s gotten bad enough with my camera that I can’t even tell thru the view finder what I’m taking a picture of, but hey, bear with me…I’m doing the best I can or at least the best the camera will allow me to.

Headed toward the Washington Monument only to find out you need a ticket to go into the thing, free, but they were all handed out by 9:30 this morning. Asked if I could get a ticket for tomorrow, but nope, they only hand out what’s left the day of…left from those not ordered online. Started my traveling spiel and the guy said, talk to the ranger and see what they can do for you. Well, the couple standing behind me heard my story and said they might have an extra ticket. Beth had ordered a number of tickets for 4:00 and 4:30 for their group and got those tickets at which point they didn’t have an extra one, but she asked about the 10 tickets she forgot at home and whether they could still get those…ok, I wasn’t surprised, but Brian said.; ‘so that’s what happened to the tickets’. She was told the same thing as me, talk to the ranger at the entrance and when she did, she asked if they could get me in on one of those tickets…thanks Beth, saved me from having to come back.

Now the story behind meeting Brian and Beth’s family and Phil and Laura’s family, who are from Chicago by the way…, remember my Chicago connection at Yankee Stadium? Well, Brian and Beth had lived in DC for years before moving to Boston, yep another town I’ve already been to, but all the while they lived in DC, had never seen all the monuments or sites the town has to offer – you know, the same story I’ve heard all around the country from people who live next to a national park all their lives and have never visited it. Well, they planned a vacation together and why not see Washington DC because Phil and Laura’s family have never been here and Brian and Beth can show their kids what they’ve never seen – and that brings me to meeting them all and telling my story of traveling the country where Phil said, ‘it must be hard for you meeting people along the way’…yea, he was kidding since you know me, I have no problem talking to anyone anytime about anything and especially my adventures traveling the country. Brian had an enticing story for me about his brother-in-law who just traveled Europe renting a bike for his trip and like I told him, I met some Brit’s in Indianapolis that invited me to the island if I can get my bike there and I should be able to travel Europe…now if I can just come up with the money and figure out a way to make money doing this – hey, ya never know, could sell everything I have except for the bike and make a trip like that…now it’d be great figuring out how I could make money doing it along the way.

Back to my adventures in Washington DC and while at the Washington Monument saw helicopters coming in, yep, the presidential helicopter and I was wondering why people were congregating around the White House. Yea, maybe I should’ve hung around there to get a picture of the president landing and getting off the thing, but things happening for a reason brought me to this monument to meet these families and get in for the last tour of the day. Oh, and for the story about the ranger taking us up in the elevator talking fast. She was saying how the ride to the top would take about 70 seconds and that’s fast compared to the 17 minute ride they had with the first elevator which was run by steam. Like I told her, back then they didn’t have to talk as fast, but think about it, they wouldn’tve had the same story to tell, now would they? The ride down took a little longer, again with the same ranger, but that’s because the elevator slowed down to show us the stones from the different states or donated by the wealthy…ok, didn’t get very good pictures, but it’s tough with a vator full of people and a flash against a window in a dark place…hey, at least I got to see’em.

More memorials and monuments to go thru and in this heat, well, I should’ve picked a cooler day. From the Washington Monument there’s a lot more to see and the WWII memorial was the first. If you’ll notice the pictures from atop the windows in the Washington Monument, it showed what the view use to be compared to my current picture and the WWII memorial is new. Was worth seeing and reminded me of my trip to Pearl Harbor a few years ago when I got to visit Maryanne and EK in Hawaii….remember them from Loma Linda in California? Boy how time flies. From there have to get a picture of reflection lake and the Lincoln Memorial, but couldn’t walk along the water all the way…a lot of goose poop and the water isn’t the best smelling. I remember pictures from years gone by when people would be wading in the thing and I had even thought about walking thru it to cool off, but not today. The presidential memorials are worth seeing, but the war memorials are the ones that really hit you because of the number of people that had to die for freedom…ok, maybe not all for this countries freedom, but to try and bring freedom to the world and like the Korean war memorial reads; ‘Freedom is not Free’.

Starting to run out of steam because of how hot it is and probably not drinking as much water as I should, but have to see the Lincoln, Roosevelt and Jefferson memorials before I call it a day and that shouldn’t be a problem, their all on my way back to the train station. Spent some time at the Jefferson cooling off and trying to decide where to eat for the night and thought I had made up my mind until I got on the train. Was going to hit a place downtown for dinner and drinks since not on the bike, but have done enough walking for the day that I’m heading back to Mary Ellen’s and going to someplace close to home…at least here home. Ok, the other thing that just happened to me, the screen on my phone went out so now I have no idea who’s calling or who I’m calling…not that I’m gonna get the call I deserve, but hey, some people are just cold hearted – ok, enough, but can you tell I might be a little bitter? Well on my way to Gordon Biersch to see Keely again and a new bartender, Lori, saw a Sprint store only to find out they can’t do anything for me…ok, guess I can’t play the phone game and not answer when someone whom I don’t want to talk to calls, but then again, that’s not me. Tomorrow, a tour of the capitol and we’ll see where else the bike takes us. Washington DC Pictures.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Falls Church Virginia via Philadelphia, July 16th

Falls Church Virginia and I’ve gone as far south as I need to, covering almost all the states but one, West Virginia and it’s gonna be for the moonshine. Covered 6 states today, some that I’ve already hit, but left New Jersey, went thru New York back into Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and ended up here in Virginia…wow and in less than 90 days. Ok, for those who don’t know the 90 day rule, well, how’ bout for those of us who do, if you get past 90 days with something or someone, it deserves a different level of respect and better treatment than it otherwise might be getting…hey, still working on that therapy thing.

Found out something pretty interesting the second Sunday traveling the east coast and that is none of the country music stations here play music, not on a Sunday cuz it’s NASCAR. Yep, have been jamming to country music along the way, but it’s not really jamming, hell, that music can be downright depressing…you know like a Texas tornado or divorce - you loose your dog, your house and your car, but the divorce…it takes the wife too. Well, have found out a lot about the music in certain areas along the way and had thought I left the Spanish in California, but around New York, got all sorts and I’m not talking English or Spanish. Got off to an early start and a big thanks to Dale for letting me stay in the apartment for the weekend, I had a great time in New York and it’s definitely a place worth visiting again, and of course hitting McSorley’s. Figured I better get on the road early since there’s a lot of history to see in Philly although I saw it years ago, but forgot just how quick you can get around and see everything there is to see. Found the visitors center right away and they gave me the map which listed out what to see for a half day or full day tour and although I’m probably shooting for more a half day, saw pretty much everything. The only tour where you needed a ticket was Independence Hall, but since I was by myself the ranger gave me the earliest available…that was easy, and again didn’t even have to start with the travel spiel. Things have definitely changed around here since the last time I was here, but hell that was almost 20 years ago that it’s a good thing they have a new visitors center, museum and house for the Liberty bell, of course you have to get a picture of that and notice my photographic eye, got the steeple it use to be in in the that’s some good photography.

Figured since heading to Washington DC, have to give the first city of government the recognition it deserves and there is plenty to see…the other nice thing, it’s all within walking distance and a small area that it’s easy to cover in a short period of time – the only thing it’s missing is the red line like the Freedom trail in Boston or the trail in Salem, oh well, the map did the trick. There’s definitely a lot of history to see here, and it was great seeing it all and am not going to title all the pictures of what you’re looking at, but had me thinking along the way how some of the self help books you read now a days tell you how to let go of the past and live for the now…gotta be talking about something completely different – hey still working on it and today it actually hit me how I missed Colby Cheese days for the first time in a very long time… well, hopefully this’ll be the once and only, but then again, that depends on whether I can turn this trip into something know, get the bike to the island, Britain, and cover all of Europe from there. I know the money would run out by then, but I’ve heard how easy it is to get a job overseas, right?

While in Philly have to eat something they’ re known for and that’s the cheese steak sandwich and found just the place, Sonny’s, well they advertise as famous and it was definitely a good sandwich. Ok, more site seeing and you know that Ben Franklin was pretty big around town in those days that saw more history on him than anyone else…kinda like those who are a big fish in a little pond and although a change would do them good, they’d be lost any other place…ok, enough already. Well, got to see a lot and Ben’s saying about ‘Speak little, but do much’ still sticks with me…how so few words can mean so much. Checked out the oldest Catholic Church in Philly, yea, didn’t do the oldest bar in Pennsylvania, but the City Tavern could have been it if it hadn’t been tore down in 1854 and rebuilt in the 1970’s still an interesting place to visit and I learned something new today. You know where the term ‘Bar and Grille’ came from? it was the taverns in those days. They use to have heavy lead goblets that drinks were served in that when ever a fight broke out in a bar…I mean tavern, the bar tender…again, tavern tender would close the grille and put a bar across it so they as well as the liquor would be safe. They’d also stand in the back so no swords could reach them. Apparently those lead goblets were pretty heavy that they could do quite a bit of damage and ya gotta save the liquor and bartender…I mean tavern-tender. Now if anyone already new that, hat’s off to you, but that must mean you’ve already been here and had a waitress so willing to tell you the history that you learned something…well, in my case, I ask a lot of questions.

Got a picture of the old original Bookbinder’s which is where I had my first full lobster dinner some 20 years ago. Like I mentioned before have already been here and that was with the first company that I worked for, Cenex, that it was great going to a place like that and having work pick up the bill, pretty spendy and thought about having dinner here again, but after that cheese steak, will save it for my share visit…you know, when I get to share this experience with someone. I’ve found a lot of places along the way that are definitely worth sharing with someone else that I could probably write a book on just that, but you never know, maybe there’s a book in the future from this trip. Still more Philly to see and took plenty of pictures and check out the ‘Heat’ sign…definitely hot here and although not as hot as back home…hey, had good weather with record breaking heat still following me. Oh, and notice the car duct taped together…it’s true that duct tape’ll fix anything – wonder whether that car leaks in the rain or not?

Ok, have seen it all according to Andrew and Nick that it’s time for me to head here, you know, Falls Church and wouldn’t you know it, ran out of gas on the freeway and was so close…well, 3 miles from the nearest gas station. Yea, kept trying to get the thing to go a little further, but this time it was bone dry. So, the only thing to do is hoof it until I can find the nearest gas station which must be just up the ramp, but not my luck today…well, that was until a guy on a crouch rocket stopped to help. Nope, you’re not going to see any pictures of me riding bitch with some guy on a bike cuz I’m just not going to take it, but he did get me to the nearest gas station…what’d I say, 3 miles away? I can imagine what people were thinking seeing me on the back of that bike. Got a gas can from the attendant that all I have to do is get back to the bike so I started hoofing it, with my thumb out – someone’ll help a hitch hiker with a gas can won’t they? Well, came across a guy walking my way and on the cell phone that maybe he knows of a taxi service in the area and can call one for me, but no, he sounds as upset with this place as I could be, but what’dya know, a taxi was just coming along. Ok, so it was an $8 ride, but that saved me what it otherwise would have taken me to walk and I still have a ways to drive today. Got enough gas into the bike that I can make the nearest gas station so finally did what I need to do on this trip…filled the can and attached it to the bike so if I ever run out again, this time I’ll be prepared. Maybe not, but thought attaching the can to the bike to get it back to the station was a good idea and hey, had you going there for a while, didn’t I?

Traffic wasn’t the greatest, but on bike can even white line it here that got up to the tolls sooner than most, yep, cost me extra to ride the road, but made pretty good time getting here…and this is another curling connection. Remember Port Orchard and how Ann who had never met me put me up for a few nights because of the word from someone I’ve curled with? Well, Mary Ellen is gracious enough to do the same thanks to George putting in a good word for me – remember New Hampshire. Well, there’s plenty to see in the DC area that having someone to stay with for a few nights will really make a difference…thanks George and especially Mary Ellen for putting me up for a few nights. Ok, you caught me, sitting at a bar with Mary Ellen and Andrew having a few thanks to Mark and Keely, hey, that’s a cool name. Ok, have the first capital city outta the way that lets see what the current one has to offer. Philadelphia Pictures.