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#510588 - 08/20/09 02:47 AM Head East: My Unrally Tour
Joe Frickin' Friday Offline

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Member

Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 17552
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI (USA)


OK, so here's Day 1 of my ride tale for the 2009 UnRally in Lancaster, New Hampshire. Don't worry, this won't be as long or introspective as My Torrey Odyssey was. grin

================================
Day 1: Sunday, August 9
Route: Ann Arbor, MI to Canandaigua, NY
Distance: 414 miles




It was a dark and stormy night.

No, wait:

It was a hot, dry afternoon.

Crap, let me think for a minute…

OK.

Our story begins in the quaint little village of Ann Arbor.

I tell a lie. Ann Arbor is neither quaint, nor little, nor a village; it’s a bustling city, home to a famous Big-10 school that features a stinky-ass weasel for a mascot. Not that any of that really matters, since at noon on Sunday I was about to leave this quaint little village, not to return for six days. The weather had been great for the previous week, dry with highs around 80; today, the forecast high was in the mid-90’s, not the most comfortable riding weather. Still, I was happy to be heading out:



Instead of launching off into the sparsely-populated countryside to the west or south, my first task was to wade eastward, toward <gulp> Detroit. After braving 60 miles of eight-lane highways with dense, angry traffic and road construction, I finally squirted out of the northeast corner of the Detroit metro area and headed up I-94 to Port Huron. Little did I know that The Fates (or maybe it was just the Canadians) had conspired against me: on this hottest of days in recent memory, I had ended up – no exaggeration – in the slowest goddam customs line at the entire port of entry:



While cars all around me idled for minute after minute, keeping their occupants comfortably cool via the miracle of thermodynamics, I sat roasting in my riding gear in the early afternoon sun. I pulled my helmet off briefly, but had to put it back on eventually for fear of sunburn. The last car to be interrogated before me took a full five minutes before being permitted to enter the sovereign nation of Canadia. Maybe they were worried he might be smuggling in artificial maple syrup or counterfeit hockey pucks, I dunno. Part of my rationale for going through the frozen tundra that is Canada was to cut 50 miles off of my day, but this border crossing had waylaid me for at least a half-hour. Interestingly enough, the officious Canuck in the booth ended his shift right before I pulled up, and I was left dealing with a new fellow who was much quicker; after less than a minute of questioning, I was finally through customs and motoring along the expressways toward Niagara Falls.

Having only owned the 1200RT for a few months, cruising the frigid, ice-encrusted highways of Canada was the first opportunity I’d had for using the cruise control, something I didn’t have on the 1100. It was a blessing from the gods of Bavaria: finally I could give my right hand a break from constantly tugging on the throttle. It did take a bit of learning, though. I soon figured out that if I was going to leave my right hand on the handlebar, I had to rest it very lightly on the grip, or else move it further out onto the bar-end weight; more than once I found my hand inadvertently applying excess throttle, slowly accelerating the bike up to a faster-than-expected speed.

After a few hours I was closing in on the world-famous waterfall that joins Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. It was there in the city of Niagara Falls that I arrived at my other reason for going through Canada:



Two years ago Masako and I were in Niagara Falls, and she had tracked down this little hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant. They had served us great food back then – their chicken teriyaki was better than any I had had before – and now I was back for more. If you like Japanese food, next time you’re in Niagara Falls you should look this place up. thumbsup

After another fantastic meal, I saddled up and waded through the tourist district to get to the border crossing. Not only did the line move much faster than at Port Huron, but while I waited, the view was far, far better:




Before departing on this trip, I had visited the Roadside America website and made a list of all the entertaining and amusing sites that I thought I might visit on my way to and from the UnRally. Now that I was back in the US, I made a beeline for my first stop, described on the website as simply “a large Victorian head:”




As you can see from the photo, it was indeed large; the lady’s pearls, if not properly secured, could give visitors a concussion. The building is home to the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society; in 1901 Buffalo had been host to the Pan American Exposition, and the text to the left of the door explained that this sculpture was a replica of one that had appeared at the “Dreamland” feature on the Expo’s midway. They did a pretty good job – here’s the original:



Heading east out of Buffalo, out of shear habit I had jumped onto the I-90 tollway. 50 miles later I was gratified when my next destination forced me to leave the tollway and start traveling on country roads. A few miles down NY19, I was in Le Roy, standing next to a miniature Statue of Liberty:



As I later learned, this statue was not at all unique; quite the contrary, over 200 of them were erected in towns all across the country in the early 1950’s, courtesy of the Boy Scouts.

Instead of going back north to the tollway, I headed south out of Le Roy to US20. It was just a two-lane country highway, but with less traffic and more scenery than the tollway. I made it another 50 miles down the road, finally stopping just after sunset in Canandaigua for the night.
============================

Day 2 will be posted tomorrow...lurk

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#510615 - 08/20/09 03:54 AM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Kathy R Offline
PaperButt
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Registered: 09/29/01
Posts: 9968
Canandaigua is my HOMETOWN. Gosh, I can't believe you were here and I wasn't. Nice seeing you at the UN. Thanks for making the effort to take the oddball photos. I love them.

I think I'll try the Japanese place in Niagra. Thanks!

Oh, and I thought that Head East title rang a bell...


_________________________




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#510639 - 08/20/09 08:56 AM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Paul In Australia Offline
Member

Registered: 09/09/08
Posts: 678
Loc: Brisbane Australia
Hi
Great Photos. I am enjoying this story already. I went through Niagra in 199 and 2000, but unfortunately in a car. Had the same issue with customs. In all my trips to Canada I have yet to have a quick, humorise or pleasant customs chat.
USA exactly the opposite. Can't figure.

Anyway looking forward to the rest of the ride. Do you like the new 1200rt ?
regards
PCH
_________________________
PCH
Australia
2015 R1200GS, 2013 R1200 RTSE 90th Anniversary , 2008 R1200RTSE, 1999 R1100RT ( gone), Yamaha 1100 ( gone), Yamaha 650 ( gone), Yamaha250 ( long time ago)

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#510648 - 08/20/09 10:15 AM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
RodB Offline
Member

Registered: 07/14/05
Posts: 538
Loc: New Brunswick, Canada
We didn't officially meet at the UN but we did talk a bit. It's nice to be able to put a face to these stories.
Good story so far Mitch. I'm sorry about the delay at the border, but counterfeit hockey pucks are definitely not a laughing matter for us Canucks.
_________________________
Rod

2005 R1200RT
2001 F650GS
2009 Ski-doo GTX SE 1200
2011 Ski-doo Expedition Sport-600 ACE
2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R

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#510669 - 08/20/09 11:59 AM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Kathy R]
Joe Frickin' Friday Offline

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Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 17552
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI (USA)
Originally Posted By: Kathy R
Oh, and I thought that Head East title rang a bell...


grin

The first pic in my OP is the cover of a Head East album my brother had when I was a pup.

Paul in Australia spake thus:
Originally Posted By: Paul in Australia

In all my trips to Canada I have yet to have a quick, humorise or pleasant customs chat.
USA exactly the opposite. Can't figure.


It's funny, the Canadian fellow at Sarnia/Port Huron was all business, but the American guy at Niagara Falls was asking about where I went for dinner, and was curious about my GPS and bracket, and so on. So my experience was consistent with what you describe.

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#510693 - 08/20/09 01:11 PM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Albert Offline
Member

Registered: 07/27/00
Posts: 4508
Loc: Southwestern, PA, USA
Always love your ride reports Mitch. Can't wait for more. thumbsup
_________________________
Al (that's not my picture!)
06 RT

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."
Ernest Hemingway

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#510708 - 08/20/09 02:00 PM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Kathy R Offline
PaperButt
Member

Registered: 09/29/01
Posts: 9968
Quote:
It's funny, the Canadian fellow at Sarnia/Port Huron was all business, but the American guy at Niagara Falls was asking about where I went for dinner, and was curious about my GPS and bracket, and so on. So my experience was consistent with what you describe.


Perhaps these are just different styles accomplishing the same thing? Asking about where you ate establishes evidence. Inspection of your GPS insures it's an operational piece of equipment. Just a thought.

Mitch, your brother and I are a bit dated grin
_________________________




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#510718 - 08/20/09 02:34 PM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Whip Offline
Member

Registered: 07/14/05
Posts: 10434
Loc: San Antonio, TX
Nice!!!

lurk
_________________________
I am their leader, which way did they go?

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#510757 - 08/20/09 04:24 PM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Kathy R]
DavidEBSmith Offline
Eebie
Member

Registered: 03/19/01
Posts: 6143
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
Originally Posted By: Kathy R
Quote:
It's funny, the Canadian fellow at Sarnia/Port Huron was all business, but the American guy at Niagara Falls was asking about where I went for dinner, and was curious about my GPS and bracket, and so on. So my experience was consistent with what you describe.


Perhaps these are just different styles accomplishing the same thing? Asking about where you ate establishes evidence. Inspection of your GPS insures it's an operational piece of equipment. Just a thought.



Heading home from the Un, I made the mistake of crossing into Canada at the north end of I-87 in New York. That was a half-hour backup with traffic so messed up that people were getting out of their cars and almost coming to blows. Once I got to the booth, it was all business questions - where are you coming from, why were you there, where are you going, any weapons or alcohol or tobacco - and I was through in about 2 minutes.

The interesting thing was when I got to US Customs at Port Huron at about 4 am. They only had 2 booths open, so there was about a 5 minute wait. The US guy was real cheery and chatty, but there was this (approximate) conversation:

- Why were you there?
- Taking the short cut across Canada from New Hampshire
- Why?
- The GPS said it was the quickest route
- Why were you there?
- Vacation
- Why were you there?
- Riding around in New Hampshire and Vermont
- No, why were you there?
- At a motorcycle rally?
- Right. Thank you.

I don't remember if I told the Canadian guy that I was at a motorcycle rally, or if it was in some database that I was at a motorcycle rally, but that was clearly the answer the US guy was looking for.
_________________________
David E.B. Smith * Chicago IL * Chi-Town Crew
01, 03 smile 05 frown Iron Butt Rally
1999 R11RT Night Black * 1997 R11RT Sine(us) Blue * 1999 F650
www.davidebsmith.org

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#510937 - 08/21/09 02:15 AM Day 2 of My Unrally Tour [Re: DavidEBSmith]
Joe Frickin' Friday Offline

Administrator
Member

Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 17552
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI (USA)
Day 2: Monday, August 10
Route: Canandaigua, NY to Lancaster, NH
Distance: 491 miles





Having chosen a Super 8 motel, breakfast was not exactly a magnificent affair (but hey, the price was right…grin). With no real breakfast area to speak of, I grabbed some cereal, a muffin, and some coffee, and stumbled back up to my room to munch while I checked out The Weather Channel. The radar showed some nastiness in the vicinity, but given my route and the trajectory of the storm clouds, it looked like I’d probably be able to dodge it.

Packing up the bike, I had to wipe a lot of water off of the saddle. Although the forecast looked good, it had absolutely poured rain last night, a massive deluge; not only was the new Corbin saddle nicely cupped to retain water, but the leather and stitching meant that it actually soaked up a fair amount of it as well. Even after wiping off as much as I could, the saddle still had hidden stores of moisture that would not come to the surface until I sat down on it. frown



After only a couple of miles on US20, I turned south, headed for my first stop of the day. The riding was just great: farmlands, rolling hills and valleys, blue skies, lush greenery everywhere, and nice, cool temperatures. Cruise control enabled an action photo, though unfortunately it doesn’t quite capture the vista of the whole countryside:




The riding that morning has forever changed my impression of the state of New York, much for the better. In the past, every time I had heard mention of New York, it was always about politics, New York city, 9/11, or some combination of the three. Instead, for the first time I was seeing mile after mile of farmland and forest, reminiscent of a ride through rural Wisconsin or Iowa. Very nice stuff, and I was happy knowing there would be much more of it before trip’s end.

Oh yeah, my first stop of the day? The world’s largest pancake griddle in Penn Yan:




The griddle is owned and exhibited by The Birkett Mills, who have been cranking out buckwheat products for over 200 years.




No, not THAT buckwheat, the other one.


After 80 more miles of scenic riding through rural New York, I arrived at the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park. As their website explains, this is a big ol’ patch of land with numerous trails bringing visitors past an array of sculptures. If I’d had a cheeseburger with me, it would have been a nice spot for a picnic. As it was, I just walked down a few of the trails and browsed some of the strange offerings:






In the above photo, the books to the right are real books, but the books to the left are actually blocks of wood.

More sculptures:












Another 20 miles down the road, I reached the quaint little village (no, really this time) of Oneida, home of the world’s smallest church:




I had just parked the bike and was figuring out how to compose a photo when a local resident walked by. She took my picture for me, and mentioned that a couple had actually gotten married in that church last year. In case you’re confused by the greenery, yes, the church is actually in the middle of a pond. It’s expected that you’d take a rowboat to get out to it, but from the density of the duckweed, it looks like it might have actually been possible to walk on water…rofl

The roadside attractions to this point had eaten up a lot of time. There were many more I wanted to see, but I also wanted to arrive in Lancaster at a decent time, so I decided to save most of them for the return trip. After a quick, greasy lunch at McDonald’s in Palatine Bridge, I continued east to Saratoga Springs and then north to Burlington, Vermont. And there, I saw it – the world’s largest filing cabinet:






It’s so incredibly immense, you can see it (and its shadow) from outer space. Here’s a screen capture of it from Google Earth:




The cabinet is a local artist’s attempt to satirize the glacial pace of a local highway project that had been conceived of in 1965, but as of 2001 (the date the super-cabinet was erected) had yet to begin construction.

After leaving the file cabinet, I skipped a few other oddities in Burlington, instead opting to make haste toward Lancaster. On the way out of town I did pass by something Roadside America referred to as “the Whale Tails,” a sculpture of two large whale tails protruding from the earth right next to the interstate. I only caught a glimpse, and was not able to take a photo as I sped on by. After a little digging later on I found out more about this sculpture, titled Reverence.

Oh yeah, I did pass by one other waypoint, a barn with a weather vane shaped like a hammer. More on that later…lurk

Finally at about 6:30, I arrived at the UnRally, where virtually everyone had already arrived and was in the process of a casual cookout on a big communal grill. After briefly chatting with a few people, I finally tracked down Shawn, who had thoughtfully bought a couple of steaks and some potato salad (and some beer) and was waiting for me to show up so we could start cooking. That’s us, front/center and second row/center:



It had been a long hot day, but the cookout with all these people around was a perfect reward. thumbsup

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