Tuesday, 30 April 2013

152 Gettysburgh

Monday 29th April Miles Today   226 Total 1525
We missed the overnight rain but awoke to a dull and damp day. By the time we had eaten brakfast and sorted our gear out it had started raining again. Nice.
Our B&B for the night before.

We set off following Garmin on the "Avoid Motorways" route and it took us straight onto a dirt road. We soon changed that setting and were then off on the 30 mile longer route that allowed Interstate roads.
It rained all day but despite this we were very cheerful and sang along with the music. Our gear was again top notch and the heaters kept the cold and damp at bay.

After a couple of hours we stopped in a small town to visit a "Subway" for a sandwich (or Sub) it was very tasty and whilst eating I saw this wiew and thought I would share it. It reminded me of a lot of American films.
I just liked this view.

Whilst in the Subway we were spoken to by a couple of gobby yobs, one of whom was in a neck brace. He proceeded to tell me about the bike he was getting from his dad but could not ride it yet at he had been beaten up a couple of days ago but the assailants were paying his $7,000 hospital bill. I remember thinking, "I think I can guess why they did it". Naughty thoughts, behave yourself Raymond.

Anyway we set off again and once on the main road were passed by a guy on a BMW 1200 GSA. He was fully kitted like us and on his way to Baltimore. He told us he had seen our bike in Canada a few days previous. It's the first adventure bike we have seen since arriving in North America. All the reat have been Harleys and some sports bikes.

We arrived at Gettysburgh at around 4pm and it was still raining.  As I understand it, Gettysburg is famous in American history for being the turning point in the American Civil war. (Any Americans that read this, feel free to correct me with any comments below.)
The civil was was basically due a difference in opinions from the North US to the South US regarding trading tarrifs and slavery, where the North wanted tarriffs for goods to inhibit exports and the south wanted the opposite to export cotton and tobacco. On top of this the North had all but done away with slavery, so much so that they even had Black infantry regiments, and the South actively used slaves in the cotton fields.

The turning point in the war came in a decisive battle on the edges of the town of Gettysburg on 1 - 4th July 1863 where the North (The Union) successfully held back the South (The Confederates) and depleted their numbers to such a degree that they retreated and effectively kept retreating. Following this, in November that year he gave the famous Gettysburgh Address at the war grave site.    
Eventually in April 1865 General Lee surrendered the South and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated a few days later by an actor whilst at a theater. 

A contrast in times.

Lincoln's statue outside the Wells house, where he wrote the Gettysburg Address.

We found a motel and once in went to the Civil War Museum and then to a restaurant for dinner.

Outside the Civil Was Museum
Tomorrow we intend to head toward Washington, the White House and the Arlington Memorial.

Monday, 29 April 2013

151 Back into the USA

Sunday 28th April Miles Today 141 Total 1299

We set off South today and towards the US border. It was a relatively short 15 mile trip in brilliant sunshine and it was 24 deg C (75F). We rode over the "Peace Bridge" and into the US border post.

The queue for the border controls.
We had about a 10 minute wait in the queue and were attended to by a rookie border official. He was a surly miserable git and did not listen when we told him what we were doing. He did not believe us when we said we only had about $100 dollars on us and when he did listen did not seem to comprehend what we had said. He did the same 'Try to read the plate with the camera' thing and having failed, instead of asking us decided to come out of his booth to look at the plate.  He was clearly getting agitated and came out of his booth to inspect our number plate. On looking at our plate he said "You bought this from  England ?". He then ran off and asked a Canadian Border official what he should type into the 'Number Plate' box on his computer. Whilst he was sorting this he spilled his coffee over his desk and keyboard. He then lightened up and accused me of making him spill his coffee to which I stupidly replied "Oh no I didn't, you did that all by yourself". I Got the obligatory dig in the ribs that said "Shut up - idiot". The bruise will fade in a day or so !
We were then released and he completely blanked me when I said "Have a nice day". We then rode off giggling to ourselves.

After riding for an hour or so we started passing a lot of classic cars and then came upon a sort of fete in a small town. Part of it was a classic car rally.

One of the disadvantages of a point and shoot camera on the move.
A while later the GPS took us down a dirt road. It was apparent that I had missed a turning and it was trying to make the best of a bad situation.

Normally this would not be a problem, especially considering the type of bike we are on, the problem was, it ended in a dead end that the GPS was unaware of. We ended up turning around in someones garden desperately trying to avoid the daffodils.

We then went in search of a coffee and the cosy bar cum restaurant we found, had a TV showing that the weather where we were was just about to turn nasty so we asked the barman if he knew of a place to stay and ended up in a lovely little smallholding and even managed to park Wallace in a shed beside the obligatory snowmobile. Here we settled for the night ready for the next part of our journey.

An American Robin, it is the size of a blackbird, everything's big in America !

Sunday, 28 April 2013

150 Niagra Falls

Saturday 27th April Miles Today  76  Total  1158

We set off for Niagra at around 11 and arrived at the falls at 1230. The falls were spectacular, the picture speak for themselves.

We went on this thing. $20 (about £13). Very touristy but is was actually a lot of fun and worth it too. Oh, and very wet.

And this is Karen modelling the latest in designer waterproof gear. A thin and daringly see through PVC cape over a Gerbing heated jacket and a pair of Hein Gerick thermal lined bikers trousers. The number is topped off with a pair of virtually solid, Mahmut, Gore Tex lined, mountaineering boots.

The American Falls

The capes came in useful
A pair of drips...

The sun made for some very pretty rainbows.

Another cheap motel, but adequate and comfy.
I took all the bags off the bike. Now, with no weight on the suspension, it was very high and felt like riding a Harley Davidson hard tail (no rear suspension). The guys who designed the rear shock got it spot on with the loaded weight setup. 

Another day, another high viewpoint. This time she took me on a mini version of the London Eye. A big Ferris wheel. It seems that no matter how many times I tell her I do not like heights, she just does not hear it !!
As the sun went down, the town came to life. Oh NO, Karaoke.....

The night atmosphere was very lively and friendly.

Finally, a view of the falls at night.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

149 Toronto City

Thursday 25th April Mileage Today Nil Total 1083
Today was a rest day - completely. Karen has a niggling shoulder pain that we tried to cure before leaving the UK, to no avail apparently. So, we decided to just rest today and watched TV all day.

Friday 26th April 2013 Mileage Today Nil Total 1083
We caught the bus towards town and finished the journey via a tube train. We got off about 2 miles from our intended destination, the CN Tower. WE walked down the street that divides the city into East and West, Yonge St, it is the oldest street in Toronto and has all the old shops and cafes along it along with the theater land part. As we approached the "Downtown" area we meandered past city hall and the oldest part of town.  It was a very odd mix of old and new.

Yonge Street looking South. Old and new mixed together.

We found an Indian buffet. It was good enough for the Indians too.

Th inside of the Easton Mall

The old City Hall

..and the new City Hall,

...with a statue of one of my personal heroes outside.

St Andrew's Church with CN Tower (the thin thing with the bulge in the middle) in the background.

We made it to the CN Tower and my bum was starting to pucker up. I have an illogical fear of heights, despite my sky diving/ parachuting past. Oh my God it was high. The tallest building in the Western World. Only beaten recently by a new building in Dubai.

Toronto airport from outer space (ish).

Mrs H. Not phased at all.

Looking down onto the roofs of sky scrapers was just weird.

 The CN Tower is actually a TV aerial that they decided to let people go up. About 2 million a year. The whole thing is just a big concrete post with a bulge near the top to walk on. Unlike the Empire State building. There is only air under the viewing deck as can be seen through this glass floor looking straight down.
A Glass floor. Oh my God.

The smile is through gritted teeth and hides the fear.

Just when I thought it was all over. Even the lift has a glass floor.

I was glad to be back on terra firma.

 We then went looking for a chemist for Karen's aching shoulder and went into an area of underground tunnels that the locals use during the winter when it is too cold and the summer when it is too hot. The tunnels, called "PATH", are about 28km long in total and the tunnels link all the main office blocks and retail centers.

The "PATH" as it is called.

The theater district.
Our journey finished with a tube and bus journey home.  Compared to London it was very painless.  We got back to the hotel at about 8pm and after dinner, packed up ready for an early start to Niagara Falls tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

148 On to Toronto.

Wednesday 24th April 2013  Miles Today 143 Total 1083

What a horrible day. We decide to take the Interstate (motorway) into Toronto and this transpired to be a good idea.
We set off a bit later than usual as the motel had a cosy and popular restaurant that we had brunch in it. The weather was fine for a quick blast of highway.
The harbour outside our Motel room. Bathed in glorious sunshine.

The first 30 miles of normal, A type road were fine but just after we hit the interstate spots of rain started to hit my visor. Then it rained, and rained and rained. Once the rain finished, it pored, then the cats and dogs turned up.
We had a particularly bad down pour that was so heavy that the noise set off the microphones in our helmets. Then the song "Take the Weather with you" by Crowded House came through the headphones and we started laughing. It seems that since we retired we have always had bad weather regardless of what the norm is wherever we go. It is our curse.
There are now floods in the Lake Ontario region and more is forecast along with wintry showers tonight.  This is the reason we have no more photos today.

Instead I thought it would be a good time to show the route that we have covered so far. The red and Yellow are alternate days and the green was/is our intended route.

1083 miles so far....It's all South from here on in.
 We had pre-booked a budget hotel just West of Toronto for 2 nights to allow us a day touring the city.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

147 Entering Canada

Tuesday 23rd April 2013   Miles today 125 Total 940

Today we set off for Canada but via the slow route. A couple had told us of a ferry that would cut about 50 miles off our journey. Fortunately it was along our intended route. Unfortunately, when we arrived we had a wait for the boat. About 7 days. It was not due to start running till the 1st of May.
Wot, no boat...

We then started on the 50 mile detour. It included this bridge.

Canada here we come...

The Canadian customs officer was funny. He was reading our number plate via a camera. He asked where the bike was registered (US and Canadian ones have the state above the number) and his face was a picture when we told him England.

Then we were in Ontario Canada.
Canada here we are..

We followed the top of lake Ontario along until we had had enough. This was at a place called Picton. We found a motel and went for a walk to get something to eat. We also popped into a bank to use the ATM and guess what, the banknotes have the queen on them.

Add caption
Tomorrow it is Toronto. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

146 To Lake Placid and beyond

Monday 22nd April 2013   Miles Today 184 Total 815

Delights of the Rip Van Winkle Motel.

Overnight the toilet started to back up so in the morning I popped over to reception to tell them with the hope that they would let us use the room next door if possible. I kinda got my wish, the receptionist/owner disappeared for a minute and came back with this.......and a set of keys.

Would you trust this man to do your plumbing ?

I sorted the problem in a minute but it did make me laugh. The simplest solutions are always the best.

We popped into a diner next door for a spot of breakfast and then set off for Lake Placid, a ski resort where the 1936 and 1980 winter Olympics were held. Despite the weather overnight being even colder and well below freezing, the wind had dropped and the sun was shining and the day was shaping up to be a lot warmer than yesterday.  Heated jackets were not deployed.

There were waterfalls and fast flowing rivers everywhere

One of the ski resorts in the area. Clearly, it has snowed fairly recently.

Lake Placid was a bit disappointing. Basically it is a ski resort, that charges ski resort prices. It was just like any other small town on the long winding road through the Adironach mountains. Despite that it was a very picturesque ride and with the warmer weather, it was bliss.
Hard to believe that within these waters, (according to Hollywood) lives Giant Anaconda, Killer Croc and some kind of mutant shark.!!!!

The riding was joy. Empty, dry tarmac.
The lakes were only just thawing and ice was everywhere.

Parked next to one of the many lakes in the area.
We'd stopped here so Ray could play with another one of his toys, the  GoPro camera.  I wandered about this area which had been a pumping station.  There was a WW11 memorial and an area teaming with wildlife.  Whilst Ray tinkered, he didn't even notice I was missing for about an hour.
So off we set again and having passed about 10 petrol stations, without stopping, Ray told me we were on reserve.  Garmin told us we had a long way to go until the next petrol station and so when informed of this latest calamity, I just accepted it as part of the adventure and looked forward to pushing the heavy beast the last 3 miles, I was quite happy to  push the bike too. Ray decided to panic for both of us, so I was very happy to see the petrol station, eventually.
We were heading for Watertown and on reaching there, with very tired and saddle sore bottoms, we found a hotel, and settled down for the night