Friday, July 2, 2010

Canada Day on the road...

This year Canada Day fell on a Thursday. The weather however, was much more conducive to riding than last weekend had been. There is no better way in my mind to celebrate this country's birthday, than to spend time on the road taking in the natural beauty of some of my favorite areas. Not being close enough to take a leisurely tour of Nova Scotia's enthralling coastline, we settled for a trip along Rte 2 to Kingston.

My better half and I left Orleans at about 0846hrs. Plenty of time to make our appointed rendez-vous with Claude at the Tim Horton's in Manotick. We were scheduled to meet by 0930hrs. True enough, there were some darkish clouds hanging about as we wheeled out of our neighborhood, but I was confident that we would be leaving them far behind us.

It was cool and quite blustery as we headed out down Anderson Road. In fact as we travelled down Rideau Road, we literally had to tack into the wind by leaning the bike to the right. Fortunately we had dressed warmly, as it was just like late fall riding at that point. We met up with Claude at Timmie's and there were several other riders there as well. The line-up inside was ferocious but was moving at a fairly rapid clip. We sat and had a coffee and a breakfast sandwich before heading out. Sated and fuelled with caffeine, we struck out on the road.

Having decided we would forego the 416 in favour of the back roads, we made out way to Merrickville first. The clouds stayed with us but were showing more and more patches of blue sky.The ride to Merrickville was wonderful. We stopped for a little break at their local coffee shop, while Claude headed for the Country Bumpkins' Fudge Store. Apparently we have created a monster... I managed to show some restraint this time around but hey, the summer's young.

After a stretch and a washroom break, we headed out of town on the 15 going South. The wind persisted but seemed to have lost some oomph and by now the temperature had also started climbing so we were well comfy. We toodled along enjoying the sights and smells around us. Traffic was light on these roads and our pace was unhurried. We averaged around 80-90kmh in all our travels, less when on the Parkway or travelling through towns and villages. It was idyllic. Before long we were on Rte 2 and heading into Brockville.

I had intended to stop in Brockville to top up on fuel. The Ultramar station near the end of the main drag was way too busy to contemplate getting into that schmozz, so we carried on past. I knew that once on the 1,000 Islands Parkway, there was a gas station not too far along there that would do. We did the mad dash along the 401 and finally arrived at the exit ramp to the 1,000 Islands Parkway. I was looking forward to today's ride, as it would be the first time in quite awhile that I would be getting to ride the entire length of the Parkway. From it's beginning off the 401 to it's end in Gananoque. I was pretty stoked about this.

I stopped for fuel at the same spot that I had when I was headed to Virginia. It kind of brought it all back to me again. I grabbed some water while we were there, then we were off again. The air was warming perceptibly as the day progressed. The ride to Gananoque was great, where we then branched back on to Rte.2 proper and made our way to Kingston. The ride to Kingston was a pretty one. It had been awhile since I had last been there. The downtown area was bustling and they had blocked off the main street down by the water to vehicular traffic.
We ended up parking down by the Holiday Inn on the water. The rates were reasonable and our bikes would be under someone's watchful eye. We walked up the block and turned left, travelling just one more block which led us to the Lone Star restaurant. We always enjoyed coming here as the fajitas were the freshest you would find anywhere.

Before long our waitress had us sorted out with drinks and it wasn't long before our orders were taken. We chatted about journeys past, riding and families and the ride so far. Claude asked about the route we would take going back home. I told him that one of the better points about taking the 1,000 Island Parkway, was that you got to see it all over again in reverse, when you went back home. I never, ever tire of this road. Our meal and the time spent in Kingston were very enjoyable.

The quality of the food lived up to our expectations, although to be truthful, the prices were higher and the chicken portions smaller than what I remember from the past. Too bad. Still, we decided to have an Apple Sizzler for dessert... So-oooo bloody decadent and delicious. After a final coffee, we were now in fine shape to get back out on the road. We took our time getting back to our trusty steeds, as we soaked in our meal, the sunshine and the fresh breezes by the water's edge. It had been a peach of a day so far and we could look forward to an equally enjoyable trip back home.

We headed back out along the main drag, across the bridge and past the Royal Military College. Up the steep hill which would lead us back onto the 2. The winds had abated somewhat by this time and we found ourselves in ideal riding conditions. We had decided that we would follow Rte.2 all the way along until we reached Morrisburg. At that point we would head North along Rte.31 (Bank Street) all the way to Snake Island Road, where my better half and myself would then branch off along John Quinn Road.

We actually ran into some slow-moving traffic as we tried to make our way out of Brockville. We decided to stop at Tim's for a water and a pee break as some darker clouds began gathering ahead of us. Within 10 minutes, we were making our way back to the bikes. Once back on the road, there was no end of curb-crawlers who for some reason couldn't manage to find the long flat pedal by the radio. It actually stated spitting, then raining as we were logjammed behind these unskilled cretins. I'm sure it only seemed to last longer than what it did and we finally found ourselves behind someone who actually wanted to get out of town.

Once we made it past the Honda dealer, the skies began to clear once more and we picked up speed. We made one more stop in Prescott, to top up our tanks before beginning the final run home. As we exited Vernon, I let Claude take the lead and we parted ways after cruising through the lights at Snake Island Road. I like taking John Quinn Road, as it allows me to slow down and take it easier that the flow of traffic on the 31 would normally allow. The remainder of the ride home was a decompression of sorts. We had a wonderful day of riding and would sleep very well that evening, what with all the fresh air we had rammed up our nostrils... :)

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