Lavender, Motorcycles and Prison


It’s hard to believe that half the summer has slipped away and I’m a month behind with my posts. Guess that means we’ve been busy! I now offer a summary of what we’ve been up to.

1. Something to improve My Quality of Living While in the Motor Home

The installation of a new refrigerator in the motor home was exciting for me, and I was happy with the results when we spent a weekend in nearby Preston Springs at the Country Jamboree. We decided to try a house fridge instead of the usual two-way models used in most motor homes, mainly because the very hot, direct sunlight in the spring in Arizona sometimes causes freezing on those, and because the gas components take up a lot of space that I’d rather have for inside fridge space. Household models are also much less expensive than new motor home models. Since we already had a voltage inverter in the motor home, Jim just had to run wiring to reach from it to the fridge outlet, and install a switch so that we can use the coach batteries to power it when we are on the move, and then switch to 110 volts when we are plugged in at an RV Site. It was a bigger job than expected, but worth it.

 

2. Lavender Fields

In mid-July I made a trip to Campbellcroft to meet my Red Hat friends at the Lavender Fields, but  by the time we all arrived, heavy rain and the threat of thunder storms chased us away to the nearest shopping area and an indoor lunch.

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I was disappointed that I couldn’t get any pictures of the fields, so Jim and I took a drive out a few days later. There were so many people there that day, it was still difficult to get good unobstructed shots, but here are a couple.

 

3. A Motorcycle Ride to Picton

Last week, instead of playing pickle ball on a Wednesday afternoon, we joined our friends Steve and Sue on one of the few motorcycle rides we’ve taken this year. We left Hastings at 10:30 in the morning, expecting to be gone a couple of hours, but having no particular destination. By the time we stopped for lunch at 1:00 pm, we were in Picton in Prince Edward County, having explored many country roads and covered many more miles than anticipated. Picton is an interesting community that is heavily populated with tourists and cottagers during the summer months and well worth checking out if you are in the area. We reached it via Hwy. 49, but after lunch we took the Ferry across the bay to Glenora and drove along the shore of Lake Ontario before turning back north through the towns of Napanee and Tamworth, then cutting back west to Campbellford and home. That was the longest bike ride I’ve been on since my hip replacement almost a year ago, and I have to admit that I enjoyed the scenery and the perfect riding weather, but my joints and muscles were a tad sore when we finally got off at nearly 3:00 pm!

 

4. A Tour of Kingston Penitentiary

This past weekend we went to Kingston to tour the Kingston Penitentiary, which ceased operations on September 30, 2013, and was opened to the public just last year. I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy it, but the hour and a half passed very quickly. We were amazed by what we learned about this, the first British North American penitentiary, which sits on 8.6 hectares of land on King Street. It was constructed through 1833 and 1834 and officially opened on June 1, 1835 with the arrival of the first six inmates. Our various tour guides, many of whom are retired guards or wardens, explained the operation, the security systems, the routines, and enlightened us with stories of riots, escapes, work crews, rehab programs and building updates. It was well worth the $25 price of admission.

 

After a visit with family in Brockville over the next couple of days, we stopped in Napanee on our way home to have a lovely lunch with friends on the riverside outdoor patio of a relatively new restaurant that wasn’t there when I used to live in Napanee. How things change in thirteen years!

 

Next week I’m flying out to British Columbia for three weeks to visit with some more of my family. Because they are spread from southern BC to Vancouver to the Gulf Islands, it has been a challenge arranging the various modes of transportation needed. It will be an adventure. Stay tuned!

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!