Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving...

What a wonderful weekend... Great food, very nice weather and a pretty nice surprise yesterday, when my better half suggested that we both go out for a Thanksgiving ride. This was her first time back on the bike with me since my accident last year. It was quite cool outside and we had initially decided to make the run out to Merickville and back. We dressed for the weather and I made sure Baby was cleaned up before we headed out. I had taken advantage of opportunities to ride two up with other people during my recovery so I was more than ready for this.

We saddled up by about 1025hrs and headed out. It was just like it had always been. She is a very good passenger and rides well on the back. We manoeuvred through the 'chicane' leading to Renaissance Street, up Dorima and then left onto Innes in one smooth motion, as there was virtually no traffic to impede opur progress. It was an auspicious beginning. We motored along sedately until we arrived at Mer Bleue, where again we caught the light and wheeled left unapposed. Things were really going great. I kept our speed under 80kmh, so it wouldn't be too breezy for us. The trees were amazing as they were pretty much at their peak, colour-wise. The smell of decaying leaves was heavy in the air and it was a picture-perfect fall day.

By the time we had reached the end of Anderson Road, I began to suspect it might be a little too cool for my Honey to ride all the way out to Merrickville. I mentioned this as we rode along, suggesting that maybe we'd want to make our way to the River Road and then double back into town, where we could take Colonel By along the canal, then the Rockcliffe Parkway back home. "Ahhh...but then I wouldn't get my wonderful curry vegetable stir-fry...", she chided. "Roger that", I said. "Merrickville it is!"

We cut off the Ramsayville Road onto Rideau Road, which we followed past Bank Street and the Bowesville Road. As we arrived at Limebank Road, figuring I'd surprise her, I turned left and we headed off towards Mitch Owens Blvd. We rolled along through the countryside, my favorite place to be, just enjoying being out there and a part of it all. Reaching Mitch Owens, we swung through the light and headed into Manotick. A nice little rest and warm-up stop at Tim's would be just the ticket.

We pulled into the parking lot and the place was jumpin'. It is a rare thing indeed to arrive here and not find a multitude of people. It's a social hub for the community in these parts. Much like back home, I might add. We hauled into the very first spot at the entrance off the River Road and dismounted. It had been a cool little jaunt so far, but I had nothing to complain about.

My better half thought she might have worn a pair of heavier socks with her riding boots, but other than that, was toasty as well. I made a mental note to see if I could find some heavier socks for her, in one of Merrickville's small shops. We headed into Tim's and I ordered up a green tea and a small double-double. We took a seat and toasted one another on this, her first ride of the season. The warmth of being inside felt good and she had soon peeled off her riding jacket. We chatted about the ride so far and how she was doing. Before long, it was time to get going. I was hoping the sun might warm things up as the day progressed but it didn't look as though that was going to happen.

We bundled up and headed out once more. We swung out onto River Road, heading towards the Swan on the Rideau. As we coasted along passed the grand waterfront mansions of Manotick, she tapped on my shoulder. "Maybe we'll do what you suggested before. It is a little cold out and Merrickville is still at least another 40 minutes away...". "What about your curry stir-fry...?", I asked. "No, that's okay", she replied. Fair enough. I didn't want to push the matter and riding is about enjoying yourself, after all. If she was going to be getting cold, there wouldn't be much enjoyment in that. I wanted her first ride (and potentially last ride...) of the season to be a nice one. As we came to the Swan on the Rideau, we hung a right onto Roger Stevens Dr.

I was kind of debating crossing the 416 and returning to town via the 16 (The Ho Chi Min Trail), when I came upon a better solution. We crossed the bridge spanning the Rideau River and I turned us onto County Road 13, which would lead us along the river, right back into Manotick. There, we viewed some pretty nice properties bordering the water's edge. Arriving into the village, we had to take a little detour, sidestepping some construction work through the back streets, in order to make out way back to Bridge Street. Eventually we ended up right back at the corner of Mitch Owens Road and the River Road (CR 19), right across the street from Timmie's.

We hung a left at the lights and followed the River Road right into town. Again, I kept our speed down and we just bimbled along, enjoying the view. As we passed through Honey Gables, I half-turned and asked my better half if she would want to stop for lunch at the Elgin Street Diner. "Sure...if we can get a parking spot near there", she replied. "No problem", I reassured her. We hit the intersection of Hunt Club and River Road, where we turned left at the lights. I wanted to take Prince of Wales, which would get us on to Colonel By Drive. I knew from my trip through there last weekend, that the leaves along the canal, notably near the Carleton University campus, were absolutely stunning. We both got to enjoy the view this time and I was happy for it.

Traffic was light as we ambled along the canal. Gone now were the armies of earth-pigs that used to inhabit the still lush, green lawns of the campus. Only the occasional black squirrel could be seen darting about, gathering the last of the remaining acorns. "A rat with a boa", is how my wife describes these little fellows. The little earth-piggies have long since moved into their burrows, with their 46" plasma screen HDTVs, all set for their winter hibernation and re-runs of "That '70s Show". We were finally halted by the light at the Pretoria Bridge. Our old stomping grounds, from back in the day when we inhabited Lees Avenue.

We turned left with the arrow, crossed Queen Elizabeth Drive and climbed Elgin Street. We actually found a parking spot (the very first one) at the corner of Elgin and Gladstone Street. Right kitty-corner from the Diner itself. The Gods were truly smiling on us. We dismounted and made our way to the front door, stripping off gear as we went. Inside, the place was full, not surprisingly. We took our place in a lineup of perhaps 6 people. As we stood there, my better half admitted to feeling a bit chilled from the ride. Two seconds later, the owner, who had been standing behind her at the counter, handed her a nice hot Cappucino. She demured as she isn't the coffee type and so the owner turned to me with said beverage. "You Sir, are a gentleman and a scholar!", I praised him. It was a wonderful Cappucino, for which the Diner is reknown.

Before too long we wered seated in a corner booth, all comfy. I ordered the eggs benedict with a side of sausages. It was marvellous. The service there, no matter how crowded it becomes, is always above par. It's always a treat to stop in at the Diner for a bite to eat. Many of the regular wait staff are now like family to us, we have known them that long. We enjoyed our stay there and the food was definitely a good thing. I asked my wife if it made up for the lost curry stir-fry. She replied that it absolutely did. Draining the last of my coffee, we got dressed and headed back out for the last leg of the trip.

We hopped on the bike and headed up Elgin Street. We'd pass through the Market and then along Sussex, to take the Rockcliffe Parkway back home. There was hardly any traffic ahead of us and what there was we left behind at Rockcliffe Park and on the turnoff to the Aviation Parkway. We had clear sailing ahead of us and we motored along at a sedate 70kmh, taking in the scents and the scenes of the blazing leafs. We made it back home with nothing untowards to report. It had been a great ride, with not even one close call. Truly something to celebrate. We were finally back on the road again. Both of us. And it felt good.

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