Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!
Man oh man, time flies when you are having fun!
It is already approaching the middle of June 2019 and I haven’t updated you on anything at all since October of last year. And while not all of it is exciting, a lot has happened in the last 8 months.
I went on the previously mentioned MABDR ride; I had a little work done to the GTO and then parked it for the long, cold winter; I spent time with family at Christmas and covered a little over 6,000 kilometres on my sled again this winter.
I got a new-to-me pick-up truck and was interviewed twice on local radio as a part of the Christmas fund-raising campaign with my old employer, Shepherds of Good Hope.
I went on a weeklong vacation to the Dominican Republic with my sister, and then planned for, packed and got ready to spend a month in Thailand only to delay that particular adventure until this coming December.
And beneath all of that, slowly rippling through the undercurrents of my seemingly idyllic life is the realization that my temporary retirement will soon be coming to an end. Yes, it is true. 2019 will be my last year of ‘not working unless I want to work.’
I’m going to have to rejoin the ranks of the employed.
But before that happens I plan on doing and seeing as much as possible!
I have some exciting things planned for the upcoming car show season including entering Baby Blue, my 1969 Pontiac GTO into the Adirondack Nationals in Lake George, New York as well as attending the Syracuse Nationals for the first time ever.
Before all of that, though, lets wrap up last year, shall we? I left you with the mention of my riding the MABDR, or Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route. The newest in a growing series of plotted off-the-beaten-path motorcycle routes through some of the most gorgeous backcountry areas of the USA, the BDR’s are a must-ride for adventure bike riders of every sort and skill level. It doesn’t matter if you are on a 200cc starter bike or a 1200cc Bavarian beast – the Backcountry Discovery Route rides have something for everyone.
Our adventure was planned as a 3 Amigos ride, however plans are inevitably set to go awry, right? Ours did in a most unfortunate fashion as Ron’s dad was rushed to the hospital with heart and breathing complications. Thankfully all ended very well and Ron’s dad is doing fine, however Ron was not able to join Claude and I on the ride.
I met Claude at his place in downtown Ottawa and we set off bright and early, headed for the US border crossing at Mallorytown. The ride was a little chilly, but spirits were high!
This was to be my very first motorcycle ride into the USA and I was really excited by that simple fact alone. At the border crossing the CBP Officer asked where I was going and I said “Well, we are riding the highway to Damascus, Virginia where we will turn back north, head into the mountains on forest access roads and ride back to Pennsylvania where we will once again get on the highway and head back home to Ontario.”
The CBP Officer examined my paperwork, shook his head and said “well you enjoy that, and be careful.”
Kind of anti-climactic after all that I went through to obtain my US Entry and Travel Waiver, but hey, not everything has to be an adventure, right? Border crossings are likely best left out of that category.
Here are some photos of our MABDR Adventure, and a little of the story as well. It is a journey that I recommend to anyone looking for an easy but super-exciting motorcycle ride through the most beautiful areas of the US Mid-Atlantic East coast. The vistas will leave you wide-eyed and slack-jawed. The people are as wonderful as the countryside is beautiful. And the riding is second to none!
Claude and I stopped at the Virginia State line as I was on my ever-pressing search for more stickers to place upon Big Ethel and it was there that we met our first adoptive ‘host’ of the MABDR adventure. Rob pulled up beside us before I was even able to dismount, riding a GS1200A and dressed much the same as Claude and I were – kitted out for adventure. Having spotted our bikes as we were exiting US highway 81 Rob was curious to see where these two Canadians were headed and so greetings and conversation ensued immediately.
Hearing the acronym MABDR was all it really took to have Rob completely change his plans for the day and instead of riding to the annual Bridge Day celebrations, he chose instead to lead two Canadian adventure riders along some of the most beautiful, twisty and exhilarating roads between the state line and Seneca Rocks
Rob introduced us to some really interesting spots, not the least of which was the Robert C Byrd Radio Telescope installation in Green Bank, W Virginia, – home of the worlds largest fully directional radio telescope – before heading off to is mom’s house several hours later than he’d intended. Claude and I understood that this is a characteristic of the adventure riding community, yet we also were both filled with gratitude that this perfect stranger had completely altered his day for us.
Claude and I would meet several more incredibly accommodating adventure riders during our brief visit to the mid-Atlantic east coast.
We met Tim, Robert and Tony when we stopped for a break at the Shady Valley Country Store while riding the Snake 421 and once again, perfect strangers completely altered their day in order to show to visitors a rip-roarin’ good time. Being locals and having ridden everything in the area, these fine gentlemen advised Claude and I that we had already experienced the best parts of the Snake, and that if we were in the area to ride the MABDR then we may as well ride some of the local mountain fire access roads! “We can go left, which is ok, and fun. Or we can go right and take you guys on a real gravel adventure”
Claude and I both agreed that we should go right!
We spent the next couple of hours having an absolute hoot of a time ripping through some mountain passes on gravel access roads with some crazy switchbacks, fallen trees and steep, steep grades. By the time that we stopped for lunch at the 7 Trails Grill we were all ready to refuel our bellies with some good grub and share brief stories of our lives.
It was here that Claude and I went off on our on and began our MABDR mission in earnest, as the actual starting point is just down the road from where we had stopped for lunch.
By the end of that days riding we had arrived in Marion, Virginia and got ourselves a room at the Comfort Inn. It was here that two more really cool things happened: I happened upon the “Back of The Dragon“, an absolutely amazing ride that travels from Marion to Tazewell, Va heading over 3 mountains and through Hungry Mother State Park it is a route that I will be returning to in the fall of 2019 when the new Back of The Dragon welcome center is slated to be open.
The other really cool thing that happened occurred back at the hotel. That is where Claude and I met our final US Ambassador of Adventure Riding, Greg Starks. Greg had pulled in behind Claude and I and it took all of 15 seconds to discover that we were all headed in pursuit of the same adventure: riding the MABDR. So of course plans were made to ride together, leaving after a quick breakfast the next morning.
Turns out that Greg is a much more advanced rider than either Claude or I, and he had to wait for us both on several occasions along the ride especially after some of the more technical areas where washouts had occurred, however that did not seem to lessen his enjoyment of the ride whatsoever. Once again brief life histories were shared over dinner, this time at the Smoke Hole Cabins resort. I highly recommend a stay here if you are ever in the Seneca Rocks/Spruce Knob area of W. Va
Unfortunately it was here that our MABDR adventure was cut short. A check of the long-range weather forecast brought news of freezing temperatures and snow coming to the north, including Pennsylvania, New York and eastern Ontario – areas we were slated to be riding through over the next several days. Rather than risk having to ride through treacherous conditions we opted instead to hit the road and head for home, outrunning the inclement weather and saving the completion of the MABDR for another day.
Claude, Ron and I will be returning to complete the MABDR ride in early July and this is an open invite to anyone who would like to tag along. You can email me here or message me on my advjoe Facebook page.
After arriving home in Ottawa feeling just a little disappointed that we were not able to finish the ride, I was faced with another sad and sobering thought: it was time to park Baby Blue for the winter.
As sad a moment as it always is for me when I have to park my GTO for the winter, the dark cloud does not last very long.
Because it only takes a couple of weeks for the weather to shift, and the snow begins fly. Signaling the beginning of snowmobile season!
My riding buddy John and I had another great season of sledding together. John actually purchased himself a new sled as well as a new trailer – winter and snowmobiling flow in this man’s veins!
We went on our usual Northern Ontario tour up to Abitibi Canyon, but this year we turned the trip into a pretty awesome 10 day tour covering over 2,500 kilometres riding a loop from Temagami-Rouyn Noranda-Cochrane-Abitibi Canyon-Smooth Rock Falls-Hearst-Wawa-Chapleau-Timmins-New Liskeard-Temagami. What an incredibly great time we had!
Those of you who sled in eastern and northern Ontario have likely been to Abitibi Canyon, and it is always a great ride but I have to say that Wawa, Half Way Haven and Chapleau may be my new Ontario adventure destination: the snow is soooo deep, and off-trail riding is not only acceptable but actually promoted which is hugely appealing to many riders, yours truly included.
I only wish more of our local off-trail riders would trailer out to Wawa and stop boondocking in the eastern Ontario regions. We are losing more and more trails due to these self-centered riders hitting the powder wherever they want, ignoring the requests from private landowners and area clubs to please stay on the trails.
John and I also rode up into the western Quebec region of Mont Laurier and the Laurentides with the highlight being a deep fresh-powder rip up to Montagne du Diable. The scenic beauty alone is worth the trip. The incredible trail riding is simply icing on the cake!
We also rode the Missing Link trails up in Rolphton-Stonecliffe-Mattawa area a few times this season, including my last ride of the season in late March. There were more opportunities to ride – John actually went back up to Abitibi Canyon for a second time this year – but I was planning an extended trip to Thailand and wanted to focus my energies on that. Which is exactly what I did for the next 2 weeks, going as far as packing my backpack and setting it by the door, ready to go. And then, . . . ya, you guessed it.
But you know, I think that is exactly as it should be. I am now planning to head to Asia in December when the weather is significantly better (cooler and less rain and humidity) and I will also be able to coordinate things in finer detail.
Which pretty much brings us up to date. Well, with one change. I mentioned in the beginning of this post that I was going to need to rejoin the workforce in 2020. But I started writing this in February. And it is now June 15th. During that span of 16 weeks I started thinking about what it is that I would like to do when I go back to work. And my first thought was ‘driving.’ So on a whim I pulled up the online job ads for the Ottawa area and saw a posting for a vehicle jockey at Enterprise Rentals.
And then I created a resume online.
And then I applied.
And then I got an interview.
I then I got an offer of employment.
It’s part-time. It’s a driving job. I am excited by the possibility.
It all hinges on my being able to sell myself after submitting my Police Background Check to the hiring panel.
Which led me to my latest project: applying for a pardon/record suspension.
And the adventure continues . . .