Haugen’s – The Place to Be ©2009


(a version of this story was published in Canadian Biker Magazine in June, 2009 under the title They Came for the Fries. They Stayed for the Bikes.) Note: This Magazine pays well, but the editor likes to do a lot of re-writing, often with grammatical errors, so I prefer my own versions. Hope you agree)

After having spent two sunny weeks without a bike, amongst the curves and hills of the popular town of Kaslo, BC, it was refreshing to at last be on our Venture once more, taking advantage of what was apparently one of the few clear evenings that central Ontario had experienced since we’d left.

It began with a call from Mike at 4:00 pm.  “Can you meet us at the Bell parking lot at 4:30?  It looks like we’re going to be done work early.”

After exchanging our shorts and sandals for jeans and boots, and making a quick call to Keith to see if he was up for the ride, Jim (Victor) and I were on our way. It took a little longer than anticipated to get everyone gathered, but by five there were eight bikes heading out the 115 from Peterborough towards Port Perry. Our destination was the weekly Bike Cruise-in held at Haugen’s Chicken & Ribs Barbeque Restaurant, a seventy-five kilometre trip from Peterborough.

Besides our Yamaha Venture, our party included Brian and Carol on Vulcans, Tom on a Harley Fat Boy, Randy on a Honda 750, Keith on his Honda ST 1300, Mike on a Honda 13TX 1300 and Glenn on a 1500 Kawasaki Mean Streak.

The sun was warm and the air was clear. We left Hwy 115, and followed the grey ribbon of highway 7A up long hills and down through lush valleys, past corn fields and rows of freshly mowed hay, through the little communities of Cavan, Bethany, Nestleton and into the Town of Port Perry. Three kilometres west of there we turned south at the traffic lights onto Hwy 12 and road into the Hamlet of Manchester. Soon the familiar sites and sounds of a Motorcycle Cruise-in greeted us. The smell of barbecued meat and homemade strawberry pie accosted our senses as we pulled into the parking lot. The paved parking areas were already full.  We picked up our free door prize tickets at the gate, and continued over the bridge to the grassy excess parking spot, next to a corn field.

Haugen’s has been around since 1953 and over the years has become popular with thousands of families and travelers. Fourteen years ago the current owners started welcoming area car buffs to a Classic Car Cruise-in on Wednesday nights throughout the summer. Seven years later they expanded that invitation to motorcycle enthusiasts, creating the Thursday Night Motorcycle Cruise-in. With about 1000 bikes attending weekly, Haugen’s has become the place to be on Thursday Nights.

On January 7, 2006 Haugen’s was presented with the Max Award in the category of “Motorcycle Event” at the North American International Motorcycle Supershow in Toronto.

After filling our growling stomachs with some of the specialties at the restaurant, while watching the empty parking spaces gradually fill, we went out to do the tour.

Although Harleys were in abundance, a large variety of other bike makes and classes were represented. Near the front door, four shiny new Boss Hosses with their V8 car engines were attracting a large crowd, the owners more than pleased to rev the engines to demonstrate the roar from the pipes. There were vintage Triumphs, Hondas and BMWs.

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We checked out the details of some unique custom work, such as the copper coloured chopper with brown tooled-leather seat, bronzed fenders and accessories, and exposed primary belt drive; and the custom-made bright yellow trike with a leading link front end and a chrome combination of crash bar/floor boards; and the low-to-the-ground customized Suzuki with a single swing-arm, and chromed connecting rods used for mirror arms, brake peddle, shift lever and kick stand.

The sun reflecting off the profusion of glistening chrome was sometimes blinding, and we looked in amazement at the variety of graphics and pin striping. One Shadow could have been an advertisement for a popular biking magazine, owned by a proud “Canadian Biker” displaying red maple leaves air brushed onto the white tank and fenders.

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There was a new green Ural with sidecar that one person passing by mistook for a restored vintage bike.

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“Wow, this is amazing,” exclaimed Carol when I caught up with her an hour later. “I’ve never been to anything like this before.”  She explained that she was a new rider, having ridden for just three months, and she hadn’t been to any kind of a motorcycle gathering before. I think she’s hooked.

Two young girls approached us to ask if we’d purchase 50/50 tickets and we obliged.  The proceeds are donated to the local Big Brothers and Big Sisters Organizations.

Each year, on the first Thursday of September Haugen’s runs a Motorcycle Rider Appreciation Cruise-in that has become known as “The Big One”. For this they bring in a live band and a number of vendors.  The attendance count for last year and this was 1350 bikes, but that didn’t break the record set on September 7, 2006 when there were 1522 bikes, and $1000 was raised for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of North Durham.

We connected with several bikers who until then had been only names-without-faces that we’d gotten to know through online exchanges. Great food, great friends, great bikes, great weather – what more could a biker ask for? No wonder it’s the “place to be.”

This quote from Haugen’s website (www.haugensbbq.com) sums it up:

Here’s what you need to know about our Motorcycle cruise in: All bikes are welcome, it’s free and it starts at 5pm on Thursday nights. Besides all the amazing bikes to see and like minded people to exchange stories with, there is music to be enjoyed and door prizes to be won.

Bikers Reunion©2007


(an enhanced version was published in Canadian Biker Magazine, November, 2007)

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 The Bikers Reunion in the northern Ontario town of New Liskeard got its humble start in 1999 when Barry Phippen decided to celebrate twenty years in the sign making business.

“I started with an Open House at my shop where we had displays of the history of our business, and I invited 20 bikes over to show them off while we were flipping burgers for cancer. It wasn’t to be a Bikers Reunion at that time and we missed a few years, but the demand for us to put on another event just grew and grew. From that start it has evolved into the reunion as we know it today,” Barry explained.

And what a reunion it has become! In 2004 the first official Bikers Reunion was staged at the local fair grounds as a community event in conjunction with the New Liskeard Summer Festival, the purpose being to celebrate the thrill of motorcycle riding and to raise money for the cancer care unit of the Temiskaming General Hospital. It was held on the July 1st long weekend. $45,000 was raised.

77-year old Keith Gummo was there in 2004 and every year since. Last year he convinced my husband, Jim, and me to make the 472-kilometer trek with him. Despite some bad weather that sent many people packing, it was such a great family-oriented event that we had to return. This year Keith had exchanged his Goldwing for a new Honda ST1300 and we were on our Yamaha Venture When we arrived at the registration table on Thursday afternoon, it was apparent by the number of bikers already there that the gathering was going to be bigger than ever. I was amazed by the community support, evident from the sponsor banners that lined the roads into town, and hung on the walls of nearly every business establishment.

At the campsite, members of the Ottawa Vulcan Riders Club volunteered their reasons for having traveled so far, other than to have some fun. Len told me he was there in memory of his father who’d died of prostate cancer. Brothers Denis and Roger were also there in memory of their father who’d succumbed to cancer in 2004. Dani was thinking of her mother, Denise, who has been in remission from thyroid cancer for fifteen years. They would add these names to the Memory Board.

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Friday morning began with a ride on the “Shower Shuttle” to the nearby Pool and Fitness Centre and the Arena, where use of their showers had been donated. Two newly constructed covered wagons fitted with bench seats and pulled by John Deer tractors made the circle every ten minutes from 6:30 am to 4:00 pm daily.

That afternoon we joined the Early Bird Ride to Elk Lake, escorted by two OPP officers. With lights flashing, they stopped us in the middle of the highway to don our rain gear when a torrential downpour suddenly hit. Unfortunately, many riders who were unprepared turned around. For the occupants of the 40 bikes that braved the trip, hot coffee, hot dogs and burgers were waiting at the local Legion. Among the riders was Biker TV’s Heather Ireland. We enjoyed an interesting two-hour tour of the Domtar/Liskeard sawmill before a sunnier return ride along some nice biking roads.

Back at the fair grounds, we watched riders as young as six maneuver dirt bikes around barrels, sand flying, in the Motocross Olympics. A few horseback riders even got in on the challenge. In the evening, while enjoying a drink in the beer garden under a massive tent, people of all ages, both bikers and locals, listened to one of the talented live bands that entertained all weekend. Some even made use of the dance floor.

Despite persistent rain on Saturday, a crowd cheered for the entrants in the Strong Man Competition. The sky cleared long enough for a Show and Shine that featured thirty-five bikes, including one dubbed a Yam-da-har, a 2006 Yamaha Silverado that had been customized with Honda Goldwing top trunk, backrest and saddle bags, and a Harley bat wing faring. Several times each day members of the Free-Style Motocross Thrill Show had observers holding their breath as they did hand stands and back-flips on their bikes while sixty feet up in the air.

In Vendors Alley we met Trillium Muir, the recently crowned World’s Fastest Woman on an open wheeled motorcycle. She was surprisingly quiet, and unassuming for a girl who, in North Carolina in May, had clocked 350.76 km/h on a Suzuki GSX-R1300 Hayabusa. Her boyfriend and owner of the bike, Jody Leveille, enthusiastically displayed the machine to the inquisitive crowd.

The highlight each year is the Sunday afternoon Terry Phippen Memorial Freedom Ride, a scenic tour of the North Country and its towns, with a stop at the Temiskaming Hospital where bikers give out roses and care packages to every nurse and patient. This year the site and sound of over 700 bikes pulling into the hospital parking lot brought goose bumps and tears to both participants and recipients. Signs of thanks greeted us at the entrance. Young volunteers handed out cups of water; others carried signs to let us know when the ride would leave again.

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Along the entire 120 km route men, women and children were out to greet the parade of bikes. As we descended the hill into downtown Cobalt, two people dressed in red and white stood on a house roof holding a huge sign, and waving. “THANK YOU BIKERS” was written in large red letters on the white billboard.

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This well-organized event wound down on Sunday evening with a draw for a new Yamaha Roadliner. Dave Wilson from Waverly, Ontario was the lucky winner. Four bikers from Grand Prairie Alberta earned the prize for longest distance ridden. A fantastic display of fireworks followed the announcement that $80,000 had been raised. Barry and his committee were already making plans for 2008. I’ll be there. Will you?

The Tour Riders Ride Again


Last night we rode the Boulevard to Peterborough to meet up with what few Tour Riders could make it.  Our numbers are dwindling: some have given up riding for age related reasons; some have moved away. Sometimes those who have moved, like us, return occasionally just for a reunion. Last night was one of those nights for a few people.

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Although I have known these riders for only twelve years, the group has been together for over thirty. Mike came down from Toronto last night and brought with him a photo album of memories. John, who makes it out only once or twice a year made the journey as well.  By the time the walk down Memory Lane was finished, there wasn’t a lot of time to ride so a shorter trip was planned. We were a group of five bikes.

The wind on our faces felt good on that hot evening as we headed north up Water Street from our meeting place at the Peterborough Zoo. At the third set of traffic lights, we turned right onto Nassau Road, which winds to the left after crossing River Road, crossing the Trent River and then makes an unexpected turn onto the first road on the right.

We cruised through the twists and turns, up hills and down for many miles, until we came to a stop at Peterborough County Road #4. Here we turned left, and then made a quick right turn onto County Road #8. This road isn’t as windy, but there are lots of hills and great open spaces. We continued on for many more miles, until we reached what seemed to be another road to the right. If you take this course, be sure to keep an eye on the signs, because this right turn is the continuation of County Road #8 and you want to stay on it, through South Dummer.

Several miles later, we made another right turn at the stop sign, onto Asphodel 11th Line, which soon took us onto Hwy 7. A left turn from there soon took us into the town of Havelock and a Tim Horton’s where we stopped for coffee and more reminiscing. Before we knew it darkness had taken over the sky and we all headed for home back down Hwy 7, after making vague plans to get together again in a couple of weeks. At Norwood we turned left toward Hastings, while the others continued back to Peterborough.

If you’re a local rider, looking for more roads to ride, give this one a try.

Fireworks, Parades, Cars and Motorcycles – Canada Day Weekend in Trent Hills


Our community of Trent Hills is made up of the three towns of Hastings, Campbellford and Trent River, and their adjoining areas. When it comes to celebrating summer, especially on Canada Day, the events are grand, and well-coordinated to enable visitors to sample all there is. We did just that.

Celebrations started early in Hastings. On Thursday the long awaited stainless steel fish was unveiled at Pisces Park, a small patch of green space next to the marina. This six-foot high piece of art, sculpted by Bill Lishman, is to be the first of several fish that will form an icon to represent the fact that in 2012 Hastings won the distinction of being named the Ultimate Fishing Town of Canada in the World Fishing Network’s Ultimate Fishing Town Challenge.

On Canada Day the weather was a little uncooperative at times, so we didn’t go to the morning celebration in Campbellford, but the skies almost cleared up in time for the parade in Hastings at 4:00 p.m. I’m ashamed to admit that I went without my camera, but here are a few photos from last year:

A thunderstorm after that cooled the air considerably and when we walked to the park with our lawn chairs at 8:30 to wait for the Fireworks, Hastings’ big contribution to the celebration, we were dressed in layers. As the sun went down, the wind turned quite chilly, sending Jim home to get some more layers! But, it was worth it.

On Saturday the sun was shining again and the temperatures perfect for a ride on the motorcycle to Campbellford for another annual event, Chrome on the Canal. We found a place to park our bike, and then began the mile or more stroll along the Trent Canal banks to exclaim over the interesting variety of bikes and cars. They ranged from antique to classic, to the latest models. Some were “chopped” (modified); some were restored to original; some were just as they’d been found abandoned in a field or garage.

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Original Powered Bicycles?

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1948 Indian

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IMG_1453A lot of work went into building this one!

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Amazing pin-striping

IMG_1482A few, like this one,were For Sale

On our way back from Campbellford, we turned north off County Road 35 onto Smith Road, a lovely tree lined stretch of curves, and then east onto Concession Road 11 that climbs high over the eskers. This is another recommended route for bikers.

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A Happy Canada Day!

Come for a Ride in Peterborough and the Kawarthas


Recently, a young rider relatively new to Peterborough, suggested I do a post about some of our favourite rides around our home area of Peterborough, Ontario. I’ve been debating about the best way to do this. I started out by making a list, always popular, but difficult for my style of writing. Since I have written about many of our tours over the years, some in blog posts, some published in magazines, some still sitting on my computer, I’ve decided to share these with you, in a series.

A version of this first one was published in the June, 2007 issue of Canadian Biker Magazine under the heading Lock to Lake.

Come for a Ride in Peterborough and the Kawarthas

One great thing about Peterborough is that there are lots of great roads to ride.

It was the regular Every-Second-Tuesday Ride Night for the Peterborough Tour Riders. Our small group of six bikes left the parking lot of the Peterborough Zoo on Water Street, the usual meeting place, and then turned right onto Nassau Mills Road, crossing the concrete bridge that spans the Trent Canal. If we’d continued on this road, it would have taken us through Trent University campus, along the scenic Otonabee River, past four historical Trent Canal locks, and into Lakefield for a mandatory ice cream cone at Hamblin’s Ice Cream Parlour. That is one of our favourite shorter trips.

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This time, however, we took another right hand turn onto University Road, still part of University property, but as yet undeveloped. It’s a two-lane, tree-lined road with several abandoned houses that have been bought by the University. You have to remember that Peterborough is a small city, and after a five-minute ride we were “in the country” enjoying the quiet roads with their many hills and bends. At county Road 4 we turned left into the tiny town of Warsaw, and then onto Caves Road, which led us past Warsaw Caves Conservation Area (one of many tourist attractions in the area).

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We crossed over the Indian River, a narrow but clear waterway that flows gently under the wooden bridge.

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A few more turns took us onto County Rd. 6, which later became 44. A sign at the beginning of the road warned us that we’d experience six kilometers of twisty road, and indeed we did.

The road snaked between tall maple trees and past an old log house, now covered in a plastic cocoon. An old man dressed in denim overalls and a plaid shirt sat in a chair by the door. It wasn’t a road that could be traveled in haste, for many turns were so sharp that it was impossible to even glimpse what might be around the bend. Some corners were banked and the shoulders were narrow, all of which added to the excitement of the ride.

At the junction of County Rd. 46, we turned right and headed into Havelock, home of the annual Havelock Country Jamboree, which has been nominated several times as one of the top five County Music Festivals in Canada. County Rd. 46 became County Road 30 and we soon entered another little town, aptly named Trent River, after the river that flows through it. As we crossed the newly reconstructed bridge over the river, the setting sun created splashes of salmon-red in the sky. They hung over the treetops and reflected off the pale blue of the river.

Heading south, just before reaching Campbellford, we took another right hand turn onto County Rd. 35 towards Hastings. Within a few kilometers we discovered the bridge was out and we were forced to take a detour onto Godolphin Rd., which runs along the tops of many eskers. Around us, wheat fields caught in the evening light looked like stretches of golden sand. This scenic road took us into the town of Warkworth. From there we headed north again on County Rd. 25 and then west onto County Rd. 24, which led us into the rustic little hamlet of Dartford.

Jim said,” Watch on your right at the bottom of the hill. There’s a neat old building with an old working water mill.”

When we rounded the bend, we were disappointed to see yellow police tape around the perimeters of the property, and the clapboard house blackened with remnants of a fire.

We traveled on, through the town of Roseneath, locally known for its covered carousel, then south once more onto Hwy 45, through the First Nations Reserve of Alderville.

We then turned west onto County Rd. 18, past a Llama farm, and through Harwood to Gore’s Landing, a popular cottage and fishing resort area. At the top of the hill we turned right onto Lander Rd, which took us along a high cliff overlooking Rice Lake. By now there was just enough light remaining in the sky to cast shimmering shadows over the glassy water. A few more twists and turns brought us onto Cavan Road and into the lakeside community of Bewdley and to the Rhino Roadhouse. Here we indulged in some culinary treats and liquid refreshments, before striking out for home, along a much shorter and more direct route, up Hwy 7A. We’d covered 150 kilometers that night, more than usual, but it was a beautiful night for a ride.

No, We Never Get Bored in Mesa, Arizona


We thought we had a good internet solution with our T-Mobile hot spot, and for the first few weeks it was. But we soon ran out of data when we started sharing pictures and looking at videos. It became impossibly slow so I had to give up on trying to post on my blog. Now we are hooked up with Century Link and hoping that it will continue to serve us well.

Contrary to the impression we have given of always having warm sunny weather here, today is rainy and cold. In fact yesterday morning it was colder here than it was back home in Ontario! So it’s a good day to catch up on all the things that have been keeping us busy the last few weeks.

When I was talking to my sister at Christmas time last year, she thought we would have been home already. I told her we wouldn’t be “home” until the middle of April. She said, ”Aren’t you bored?”

I replied, “If you get bored down here, it’s your own fault!” Here are some reasons why:

Besides enjoying good food and music and dancing on the patio with our many friends at Mesa Regal, we’ve enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with our American friends;

We celebrated the birthday of one of those friends, with an evening at the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas display;

We’ve spent a good part of a day touring area roads on the motorcycle, with other Mesa Regal enthusiasts;

We’ve played pickle ball and bocce ball, and for three days last week cheered on good friends who were in the Pickle Ball Tournament, held right here at Mesa Regal RV Resort.

Jim makes a good shot at Bocce Ball

Jim makes a good shot at Bocce Ball

Patti and Mark Earned a Silver Medal

Patti and Mark Earned a Silver Medal

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We participated in the Tree Lighting Ceremony and caroling on the west-end patio;

We rounded out the last week with a ride on the light rail train to Tempe with two of our neighbours for dinner, followed by a stroll to the Salt River to watch the annual Lighted Boat Parade and Fireworks on Saturday evening,

And a drive to Glendale on Sunday with friends and neighbours to view these marvelous Sand Sculptures that were still being finished off near the end of the three-day competition.

So, no, we are never bored down here. But we might be when we return to our Ontario home!

A Visit with Dorothy in Kansas, The Old Town Museum, and The Indy 500


We’ve been home for over a week now and I’ve taken no time to write! Time to catch up!

As when we headed south, it was our plan to spend more time exploring on our way back home too, but somehow that doesn’t last too long. I don’t know if it’s the poor weather that we encounter, or just the anxiety of getting home. This year our “summer” home is all new to us, since we moved into it just two weeks before we left for Arizona. There is still a lot of unpacking and organizing to do. We did make a couple of stops though.

The wind blew us into Liberty, Kansas and we had to take a look at Dorothy’s House.

Dorothy's House

Dorothy’s House

The storm shelter

The storm (root) cellar

Dorothy and Toto

Dorothy and Toto

After we looked at things outside, we tried to get into the Museum. We were greeted by a live Dorothy, who informed us that the Museum was just closing. We told them that we’ d come all the way from Ontario, so we were allowed a quick look around the main floor and the gift shop, while Dorothy filled us in on some of the history of this Dorothy Memorial.

Not far down the highway, at a truck stop near Greensburg, Kansas we camped in the “RV Park” that a sign advertised as newly opened. It had hookups, but construction debris and other garbage still littered the area. We went into the restaurant for dinner and were entertained by the conversation that flowed around the small room between the truckers.

We were the only ones there!

We were the only ones there!

By noon the next day we were in Wichita, where we spent some time touring Old Town Museum. blog4Old Town, Wichita, Kansas

blog9 Old TownOld TownWe lunched on Brats and Sarsaparilla in Fritz Snitzlers Saloon.

Fritz Snitzlers Saloon

Fritz Snitzlers Saloon

barber chair

Barber chair

Interesting story about whistles and time.

Interesting story about whistles and time.

Funeral Parlour

Funeral Parlour

Couch in the office of the local newspaper.

Couch in the office of the local newspaper.

Then we watched the Kansas Twisters Motorcycle Drill Team practice in the parking lot next to where we were parked.

Drill Team

Precision DrillFor more action, check out this video, courtesy of Jim Victor. https://youtu.be/3xwjI5FKhv4

By the time we left it was time to find a place to stay for the night. We looked up an RV Park listed in El Dorado, a half-hour drive off the highway. On the way we stopped for dinner at an Italian Restaurant. Despite its tired look, the food was good and the owners friendly. The RV Park, however, had to be the worst spot we’d ever seen. I was surprised that it was endorsed by Good Sam. There were very few sites that could accommodate large rigs, as they’d advertised, and all but one spot was filled. There was no one in the office to even tell us that, so we had to drive down the two rows in search of something. It was near the end of the final row that we spotted the empty site, which was barely big enough for us to turn around in, and turn around we had to because there was no exit! Twenty minutes later we were back at the Walmart parking lot for the night, listening to the rain and being rocked by the wind.

Easter Sunday we stopped into visit friends from Mesa Regal who were now home in St. Louis, Missouri. Dave and Nancy were gracious hosts, treating us to a wonderful late meal of their Easter dinner left-overs. That night we found what would be our last good KOA campground of the trip, at Granite City. The further north you get this early in the season, the scarcer they become. Most don’t open until Memorial Day.

By the time we arrived in Indiana the next day the dreary weather and heavy clouds were weighing me down, but one stop on our schedule was the Indy 500 Speedway, so we took a camping site for the night at the State Fair Grounds in Indianapolis. It was not an easy place to find as only one gate was open and the GPS didn’t know that. It was even harder to find out way back out the next morning because the exit signs all led to closed gates, until we eventually found ourselves back where we’d entered. It was after noon when we finally drove into the parking lot at the Indy 500 Speedway. I have to admit that by that time I was feeling a tad hungry and grumpy. We paid the $8.00 each to walk through the very small museum. It would have cost another $30.00 each to have the tour behind the scenes of the track, so we passed on that.

Indy 500 Museum

Indy 500 Museum

Former Championship Cars on display

Former Championship Cars on display

1969 winnerWe did hand over $8.00 each to take the twenty minute mini-bus tour around the track.

blog6 blog5Indy 500 TrackThat night we were at a private campground at Enon, Ohio, next to the freeway and a train track where freight trains frequently rumbled past, and airplanes heading into Columbus flew above us. I didn’t expect to get much sleep, but I guess I was tired enough to tune them all out. Our last night on the road, after driving through Pennsylvania, we ended up where we’d started our trek across the US, at a Walmart in Ferdonia, NY.