Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ottawa – USA Trip 2009 Part 1 of 9

My Mission
The first day was the Worst day
Lake Superior in light Drizzle

My Mission

My mission was simply to bring my 1982 Yamaha Virago 920cc V-twin motorcycle back to Ottawa from its current home in Vancouver, BC. The plan required that I first go from Ottawa to Vancouver on my Harley Davidson 1450cc Super Glide, alone. Once there, I would pick up my Yamaha motorcycle, no longer used in Vancouver, and prepare it for the trans-America trip back to Ottawa. My eldest son Brad would then fly to Vancouver and he would ride the Yamaha, and I the Harley, back home to Ottawa.

Simple right?.............Well, ....not quite so simple!

I don't know where to begin. How do I describe the most thrilling adventure of my life crossing a continent on a motorcycle covering 10,058 Kilometers (6,236 miles) and twenty-four days of riding. If I were to drop dead right now, I would die happy after what I've seen and done on this great adventure. I feel that I have done something really significant in my life after completing this trip successfully.

That doesn't mean it was all good!... It wasn't! This journey had everything in it. Shock and awe; breathtaking beauty; danger; injury, problems; disappointments; dismal failures; thrills of all kinds; and joy and special delights - but most of all – being left with a feeling of great achievement and satisfaction.

The First Day was the Worst Day

I left Ottawa on June 20 in glorious sunshine at 8:00 o'clock in the morning. At 9:00 am, it started raining. It rained continually for the next three and a half days varying from heavy downpours to a light drizzle. At Rat Lake campground on the north shore of the Georgian Bay I was literally attacked by swarms of hungry mosquitoes. They left my head, neck and legs bleeding so badly that blood was trickling down my body even before I got my tent up. I didn't have any insect spray. I should have known better. With all the rain; the wet ground; the wet trees and the dampness; and this being the third week in June (the worst week in the year for mosquitoes and black flies) they were deadly that night. They sounded like the German Stuka dive bombers of WWII. Some got into my tent and tormented me all night long. I got no sleep at all the first night. The next morning wasn't much better, but at least I could run to the showers to wash all the dried blood from my head and neck and especially my legs. The second thing I did was to buy two large cans of the most powerful bug spray I could find.

Lake Superior in Light Drizzle

Early morning riding around Lake Superior was beautiful and somewhat eerie; even ghostly. There was a layer of heavy white mist covering the lake but now and then you would see parts of small islands peeking through it. I forgot about being damp. It was as if I were being rewarded by God for a terrible night in the tent. I even slowed the bike down to two-thirds cruising speed so I could clearly see and appreciate some of the most beautiful raw scenery in the world. It was as if it were untouched by man. At one point in the road I came to a slow stop and I turned the engine off to let a fully grown male deer cross the road. There was no traffic around at all. He looked at me as if he was saying, “What are you doing in my garden?” He snubbed me by raising his nose high in the air; turning around; and going back into the bush the way he had come. I had the road all to myself going around Lake Superior. It was great. I had the lake and its protruding islands to my left; a soft drizzle in my face; and ocean-going freighters on the lake carrying iron-ore from Thunder Bay to God knows where. I thought, “WOW!” ....You can't beat this thrill! ...I'm glad to be alive.

I carried no food at all. I ate on the road. If I saw a small village with a grocery store late in the afternoon I would buy a ham and cheese sandwich and a couple of cans of Coors light beer. Then, I would find the nearest campground and have that for my supper (Tea). Breakfast was usually a cup of coffee and an egg sandwich at a fast food restaurant if I could find one, and more often than not, I wouldn't bother with lunch. I was far too excited to be hungry. My adrenaline levels were sky high. I was full of energy. I never felt so good. ...I didn't know that it was possible to feel this good at sixty-six.

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