Friday, November 9, 2018

Lost mail services in small town of Emsdale, Ontario

Canada Post has dropped us!

I live in the small town of Emsdale, Ontario (Perry Township). We really don't have much here, not even a traffic light. The main road consists of a variety store, a take out pizza place and the bank/post office combo. There is also a community center, library and museum around the corner. That pretty much sums up my town. Despite the lack of businesses I love living here because it gives me room to breathe. 

I consider the post office in my community my life line. I use it regularly, not only to post letters (yes, people still post letters, or at least I do) but because I do a lot of online shopping. Most of my purchases are delivered through Canada Post and I pick them up at the post office. Other than grocery stores in the surrounding communities there just isn't a lot of stores close enough to shop at.  (In Huntsville there is a Walmart, but doesn't count and the specialty shops there are priced out of my reach and cater more to the tourists) Bottom line, in my opinion, the post office is important to a small community.

It is not unusual in rural areas for businesses to be combined. I use to live in Novar, another small town where there is a grocery store, post office and liquor store combo. Anyway, in Emsdale the bank is the Kawartha Credit Union which also houses the post office, and the post boxes where I get my mail. Funny, until recently I never knew that it was the bank tellers who also doubled as the postal clerks.  


Photo from Google Maps

In the spring we were told that the bank was closing it's branch and consequently the post office would be closing too. So over the summer I would periodically ask the bank tellers when picking up my parcels if they knew what the plan was for our mail delivery. The answer was always the same, "When we know, we will let you know". It really wasn't the bank tellers fault that everyone was being left in the dark.

Fast forward to October. Still, no one seemed to know what plans Canada Post had for the towns people of Emsdale to collect their mail and parcels. Near the end of October we were finally told that there would be mail boxes placed outside at the Emsdale Community Center. Our own Mayor didn't even know that was the plan. Apparently Canada Post is all powerful and does not have to answer to anyone. I guess our community doesn't rate a post office anymore. At least Canada Post doesn't seem to think we matter enough because there is only approx. 2,454 people that live here. Little towns like mine are being pushed to the wayside and forgotten. 

I spoke with the mayor of Emsdale, Norm Hoffstetter, and he said that the town was trying to negotiate with Canada Post. The town offered to take over the Post Office. When Canada Post finally got back to them (8 weeks later) Canada Post offered the town a pathetic $14,000 per year for rent and utilities on the postal space, which included wages for an employee. There is no way that would cover the cost of living here for the employee, let alone the rental space. It was obvious they do not want to give us our post office back.

A couple of days ago we were handed a letter saying that any parcels would now need to be picked up at the Katrine General Store. (Katrine, Ontario is just outside of Burk's Falls).  That is okay if there was some way to know if I actually had a parcel to pick up! It also stated that on November 8th (yesterday) we are to place our mail box key and clear out any remaining mail out of our post boxes.  However, it is unclear about the new boxes as there is still no sign of them at the community center. Let alone how we get a key or maybe we provide our own lock for the non-existent new boxes.


Actual letter  - inconvenience is putting it mildly...

As of today, November 9th, the bank and the post office will close its doors at 2 pm. 
Emsdale will have no mail services and it has nothing to do with the strike. There is still no mail boxes at the community center.

I thought the Canada Post strike was inconvenient, not having a place to get my mail is down right frustrating! 

UPDATE
We seen the post boxes finally going up on November 11th. Still had no idea how it was all going to work and how we would get keys. 

My BF took a drive over today (November 14th) and it was lucky that he seen a woman getting her mail out of the box. Before she left in her car he flagged her down and asked how she got her keys. The woman explained that you had to pick up the keys in Burks Falls. He then asked how she knew to do that. Apparently Canada Post figures that "word of mouth" will suffice. I guess people will just have to wait around those mail boxes until someone comes by to tell them how to get their mail again...

Oh, by the way, if we happen to get a large parcel we still will be picking it up at the Katrine General Store. The woman also told my BF that when she went in she couldn't breathe because they apparently smoke weed in there. She complained to Canada Post and was told to have someone else pick up her packages then. Picking up parcels comes with a new high here...
This came to mind when picking up a parcel....






Friday, September 21, 2018

Sunny thoughts on a dreary day

The days are getting shorter and the weather has taken on a damp cooler tone that signals fall.  The dreary atmosphere always has my thoughts quickly turning to going to Florida. 

Although it won’t be for a few months yet the thought at least brightens my day. Today is a dark, blustery day that is just the beginning of crappy weather to come. Sometimes it doesn’t even really have a chance to be fall around here and I have seen winter start as early as mid-October and then linger on until sometime near the end of April!

Last year it started on October 31 and didn't leave until the end of April.
Snowing: Oct 31 2017 

 Driveway still full: April 16, 2018



This will be our 10th season retreating to our vacation home to escape the inevitable Canadian winter.  I have gotten so used to running from the bulk of the white stuff that that I can’t imagine having to put up with it for the entire season. I sure hope that I won’t have to for many years to come. My heart goes out to you all that endure winters.

I had mentioned in one of my posts that we were thinking of selling our Florida house last year. Well that is still on the table for this year. I am torn though. I love our house in Florida, and as weird as this seems out of all the places I have ever lived (I always had a tendency to move quite a bit over the years) My vacation house will be the only one that will actually sadden me to leave. If it happens, at least I will still have the pleasure of enjoying one more winter in Florida, far away from the frigid air and the mountains of white stuff. That is not to say I won’t ever not go away in the winter again, we have plans to start seeing other warm climates during that time of the year.


Florida is also where my Harley lives. After weighing the cost to import my Harley to Canada, it just isn’t feasible and better to sell it there if we sell the house. You can bet that the moment I return I plan on going right out and buying a motorcycle again. I could just not picture myself without a motorcycle. I would cease to exist without one! Even though the season will be short having a bike here, I look forward to touring the cool places that are right in my own backyard.




I had fully intended to buy a motorcycle back in May this year, but a few health issues had delayed that plan, and by the time I got myself sorted out, well our riding season has pretty much ended now. 

Before I know it, I will be back in sunny Florida and reunited with my bike. I won’t worry about selling or leaving, I will focus on riding and enjoying the warmth while I can. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Skyline Boulevard - Guest Post by Happy Wrench

With my blog and myself being on a bit of a hiatus at the moment I opened up a spot on my blog for a guest blogger. I would like to introduce to you Christopher Pumo. He has an awesome site HappyWrench.com where you can find an abundance of information on doing DIY on your motorcycle. Today he shares an awesome road to ride, definitely one for my Bike-it list.


Skyline Boulevard

When I daydream about a motorcycle road from my past, it is always Skyline Boulevard in Northern California.


Also known as State Route 35, Skyline Boulevard runs from Santa Cruz to San Francisco.  If you consider yourself a connoisseur or aficionado of motorcycle roads, I cannot emphasize how important it is not to miss this one in your lifetime.  Seriously, your credibility is lacking if you consider yourself a motorcycle road expert and you haven't ridden this magical road.




The road name is not a misnomer.  In fact, the road runs along the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, which separate Silicon Valley from the Pacific Ocean.  In several spots, the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean can be seen simultaneously while cruising like a badass along the mountain ridge.

All roads to the east and west climb from lower elevations (Pacific Ocean to the west; Silicon Valley to the east) in order to reach Skyline Boulevard - each side tributary is a windy and wonderful experience on its own (only rivaled by the next road over).

Road Conditions

Each road had to be carved into the hillsides through a series of cuts and fills in order to create drivable roadway surfaces.  Road surface conditions are actually pretty good considering half of each road is built over fill (minimal potholes), probably due to the fact that it "generally" does not snow here.  I saw snow once, and I was told it was a once every 5-year phenomenon.

Road debris is also not bad despite bare rock surface on the upslope side.  Car drivers in the region understand that this is a very heavy motorcycle area.  They give bikes space and are hyper aware that a motorcycle could be around the next bend.




Favorite Section

My favorite and what I consider the more remarkable section of Skyline Boulevard is the section closest to Silicon Valley, bound by Big Basin Way to the south and Kings Mountain Road to the north.  If I had to rank the streets in this region in order of greatness (east/west sections), it would be:

1. Woodside Road/La Honda Road - literally a perfect road for everyone
2. Kings Mountain Road - just as good as above, but shorter
3. Big Basin Way - amazing, just like #1 (hidden restaurant here, go find it!)
4. Page Mill Road/Alpine Road - also beautiful, but a little "tighter" turns; a little challenging on a large cruiser.
Don't get me wrong, the next roads north and south along Skyline Boulevard (92 and 17, respectively) aren't bad - they may still be some of the best roads you have ever ridden - but they are surpassed by the roads listed above.

What Makes It All So Amazing

Growing up in the Northeast, it was hard for me to imagine someplace so scenic (Skyline Boulevard) in such close driving proximity to something so congested (Silicon Valley).
To be honest, I get caught up in the hustle and bustle sometimes of life, and Skyline Boulevard was the perfect reprieve.  Leaving my office in Palo Also, I could take Woodside Road out of the valley and be atop the ridge in less than 20 minutes.  Crossing over Skyline Boulevard and heading down the other side, I could make it to the ocean in another 20-30 minutes (while passing through Redwood trees and some of the most beautiful nature, Mother Earth can provide).

As a motorcycle tourist, you could spend weeks here, because you are going to want to ride each road more than once.  Think about it like the greatest ski resort in the world - when you find a great trail, are you satisfied taking it just once?  I lived in the region for 7 years and I never got tired of these roads.  They present the very best in riding for all style of riders.
And do not forget, there is the famous Alice's Restaurant for a quick bite or meeting spot with friends.

Conclusion

To those you are looking for a motorcycle vacation, I think Skyline Boulevard is often overlooked.  Blue Ridge Parkway and the Tail of the Dragon are famous for their 318 tight curves in just 11 miles, but I think Skyline Boulevard along with its immediate tributaries could give the Dragon a run for its money in terms of curves and scenery.  Look it up, do your research, and make an informed decision before planning that motorcycle vacation.  




Author Bio:

Chris is a DIY Motorcycle Repair nut (pun intended).  He advocates getting to know your motorcycle and experiencing the rewarding thrill of success that can only come through picking up a wrench and working on your machine.  He is an active blogger on his website HappyWrench.com and an active member of many social media websites.  He began wrenching out of necessity at a young age and has continued to teach himself and others through his research and writing.  He believes anything is possible with a little ambition and patience.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A day in a life…

... head in the clouds


I am on my own for the next six weeks, well at least I have Fred. The BF left for Germany May 8th and at the moment I am kind of laid up due to some health issues. I won’t bore you with the details. I made up my mind that this was the year that I finally buy a bike for here. I could just see it; spending every free moment that I had exploring the twisties that run rampant around these parts where I live. 

I planned to buy it this month, alas it just isn’t going to happen, hopefully the delay will be for only  a couple of months while I sort out why my body decided to rebel against me.

I never realized how hard it is to fill up an entire day until now, especially without riding. I am also not able to work at my seasonal job for the time being, so the days seem to stretch even longer. I find I am becoming addicted to posting quirky, even frivolous stuff not related to motorcycles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I normally keep to motorcycle related posts and a “Good Morning”. Maybe a few comments here and there when a post catches my eye, but lately not so much, I have become almost chatty…maybe it’s the meds. LOL 

This week I tried something completely different. I accomplished fixing a stool my Dad had made me quite some time ago. (I love that stool, thanks Dad) Over the years it had become wobbly and I had been asking my BF for several years now if he could fix it. Well, I obviously have the time at the moment and besides I am just tired of waiting. Quite possibly being bored played a role for my enthusiasm to tackle this project. I broke out the ole jigsaw and a screw driver and got to work. I tried using the drill but found that I didn’t have the strength to get the damn screw in all the way, you would think a drill would have made it quick and easy, weird I know.  I couldn’t find a small level; the BF’s organizational skills of his tools leaves me baffled. My light bulb clicked on and I downloaded a Level app, it never ceases to amaze me what a phone can do nowadays.   I am sure it is not even close to being perfect  and I admit I shot a couple of screws through the wood a couple of times. (Warning: object only appears perfect at a distance) But I think it is at least level. No matter, I did it myself and for that I am so proud of me! <pat on the back> I suppose at some point I will get around to staining it.












Now when Fred takes over my computer chair 
I will have something sturdy to sit on.











I also decided to focus on my picture taking skills to fill some of my day. I am far from being a photographer, but I love taking pictures. At least this is something I can do seeing I am somewhat housebound. (Between us, I guess you know I would rather be taking pictures of a new motorcycle at awesome locations)

So, for your viewing pleasure I have complied a few photos that I have taken recently and I call them my Skydeck Series

Enjoy…


May 12 – waiting for the leaves to come


May 14 – let the sprouting begin! What a difference a few days make.


I have become fascinated with clouds…


Well, really I have always enjoyed gazing at clouds. The abstract designs that frame the clear blue atmosphere; how the dark and light gives depth to the shapes that form, while the luminous rays of the sun bounces around above them making it’s own unique mark. The sheer fluffiness; wispy, translucent cotton candy in the sky has somehow always just given me a sense of calmness. Constant motion across the heavens where mystical creatures gradually appear and then along invisible currents leisurely transform into something else. Nature and life in perpetual change. 

I am just surprised that it never occurred to me until now to memorialize those magnificent creations.










I find all of this very therapeutic, the writing, the picture taking and even taking on a small project. My heart will always be with my motorcycle rides, but for now if you bear with me and you don’t mind my ramblings, I would like to share more of my mundane days of my life with you while being laid up. Yep, all this chattiness has to be the meds LOL


What do you see in the clouds?









Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride...

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Bigger is not always better

Observations of a rider:


I would say in the last year I have taken a more active role on Facebook and joined several motorcycle groups exclusively for women. I like these exclusive groups because they are extremely supportive and for the most part keep the ‘drama’ under strict control. 

One of the most common posts I notice regularly are women wanting to move up to a bigger motorcycle after a year or so of riding. Another theme posted along the same lines is how their current ride cannot “keep up” in large group rides and this also seems to be what is fueling their desire to get a bigger bike. So I thought I would give my two cents worth on this subject.

I admit that I do not ride in large groups, and probably never will, I have an aversion to crowds. Although the one time I did ride with six other bikers and the thought of “keeping up” didn’t even cross my mind. I had never met them before but they seemed to accept my somewhat newbie skills of a first time group rider at the time. At least they never said anything directly to me. I thought they were a great bunch and as far as I knew had accepted me for me. Even if they didn’t that would be okay with me too, I am not here to impress. I just firmly believe that you should be completely happy and comfortable with what you ride. Don't try to keep up with anyone, and always ride to your own abilities. If you do ride in a group that does not understand or accepts your abilities, then maybe you are with the wrong group.

As for wanting or even thinking you need a ‘bigger’ bike I have pretty much the same thoughts. I think sometimes the pressure of other riders might be the only influence that someone starts to think that they need to move up.  Peer pressure can happen at any age. Your decision shouldn’t be based on what others think you should be riding. You really should first decide if you are even ready to make the move by taking into consideration if your rider skills at this point in time can handle a larger bike.

Plain old common sense dictates that if you are comfortable and perfectly happy with your current ride then moving on to bigger just for the sake of having a “big bike” probably isn’t better. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you shouldn't if the time is right. I moved up from my first motorcycle that was a 250 Yamaha V-star, but I have to admit I was very content riding on her for four years before I did. Some might think that was too long to keep riding such a small bike. But for me I was content. Eventually I realized I did need and wanted something with a little more oomph. No external influences, just me surpassing the “newbie” stage at my own pace. The 250 was a perfect beginner bike, learning to ride on it was easy because of it being lightweight and small. Although when I started expanding my horizons and started riding on roads that I had to share with huge tractor trailers, I realized that having such a lightweight motorcycle impacted me greatly. I was at a huge disadvantage and it was downright terrifying having the feeling like I would literally fly off the bike when a truck passed by! 

When it was time for me to move up I considered my vertically challenged height at 5’ 1” and the fact that I am sort of a “lightweight”. The Harley Davidson Sportster 883 XL was quite a larger bike to the Yamaha and was definitely plenty of bike for me to handle. In fact, just having to adjust to the heavy weight of it at 579 lbs., in comparison to my 250 that was only 324 lbs. was a challenge. In retrospect if I had tried different motorcycles maybe I wouldn’t have went with a Harley at all. But alas I chose a Sportster. To be honest maybe I was unknowingly influenced by outside forces, given that Harleys are known as “the legend” in the biker world, but let’s be real, there are other motorcycles out there and maybe just another brand would have been a better fit for me.

I have no regrets about my choice and have been quite content with my Sportster 883 for the last 5 years. Maybe it is just me, but I have no desire to ‘move up’ or ‘go bigger’ and I am certainly not going to be influenced by anyone around me telling me to do so. 


Strangely, lately I am considering downsizing. Weird I know, but I am on the strange side so it is perfectly normal for me. I find as I am getting older my Harley is just getting too heavy, or maybe I am just getting weak. Last year I had the opportunity to sit on a Honda Rebel 500. Wow! I think I am in LOVE. Not to mention how DANG SEXY it looks. Now that bike is all I think about. (Sorry Sporty Blue) The seat height at 27” is perfect for my condensed size and it weighs in at 408 lbs. I haven’t test rode it yet, but I think it would be substantial enough to “hug” the road.  It felt like lifting a feather when I got on and positioned it in an upright position.  Okay, that was a little bit of an exaggeration, but it was truly much easier to lift upright than my Harley.

Yes, this ole gal is seriously considering the Rebel over a Harley. This of course is my personal preference and for all you die hard Harley fans I make no apologies for uttering those words. Although there will always be a special place in my heart for my Harley. Besides, my Harley lives in Florida so who is to say I can't have a Rebel here in Canada. <sly grin>

After all, we are all bikers no matter what we choose to ride and we all share that common bond that gets our hearts revving as we ride the open roads. 





Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride...


Monday, March 26, 2018

Twisted in Florida

(03-24-18)

After yet another cold spell the warmth finally came back to Southwest Florida. Today turned into a beauty day to get twisted. Our route was an old familiar one, not a long ride but it sure felt good to be on the bike again to clear the cobwebs that were starting to collect in my head.

I call this the Buckingham Route, original huh. There are a few twisties that keep it interesting and it is just a pleasant, relaxing ride. We have done rides like this many times before to varying degrees, hopefully this is one that I haven’t showed you, and if it is just scroll on by or pretend I haven't.


My Rambling thoughts…

I apologize that my blog this year has not been the motorcycle filled adventures of years past. Many factors have impeded on my ride time this year. 

First off, I was sick for almost the first month here. But at least a trip to the clinic got me on the road to recovery.  Getting company for a few weeks also put a kink into ride time. The BF also had an emergency trip to the dentist when his tooth broke and he too ended up on antibiotics. Then the weather, it has been a roller coaster of super sweaty highs and bone chilling lows. 

At least I managed to get in a couple of quick solo rides into town to the store back. They were enough to put a smile on my face and pacify me for a time. A short time, but I relished those rides none the less.

Last weekend (3-16-18) we did a neighbourhood ride where we explored some roads that are less travelled. I really enjoyed doing that. I took lead, which is rare, I just prefer following when we are together.  We putted along side streets that we have never been down before. The BF didn’t seem to mind, but I don’t think he would make it a habit of doing this kind of a ride. Me on the other hand, I loved it and would do rides like that more often. I just like taking my time and exploring when I ride.

Shortly after we left this rest spot at Naples Ave & Meadow Road,  a Sheriff pulled us over. No, it wasn’t anything we did, he was just looking for a couple of kids on dirt bikes who were terrorizing the neighbourhood and asked us if we had seen them. We barley seen any people, let alone anyone else on a bike. 

We have gotten in a few more rides here and there this season, but they were more of the same old routes that we have been down so many times before over the years. So instead of rehashing the same routes I opted not to repeat myself, for your sake and mine. Hence the lack of entries on my blog. I really hope to get at least one really long interesting ride in before heading back north. Just the thought of going home gives me a chill and there will probably still be snow when we get back to Canada this year, uggh! 

Until next time, keep... 






Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Beating The Heat Through The Devils Garden

(02-10-18)

I hate to say it, but it has been almost too hot to ride this week! (I did say, ‘almost’) Right about now those of you who are still buried under a mountain of snow are probably cursing me. 

It really has been unseasonably hot for this time of year for Southwest Florida.  According to the “weather experts” it is about 10 degrees warmer than it normally is. I can’t remember February being so hot before. Usually I am still freezing my you know what off, and I am certainly not even thinking about shorts let alone wearing them. I will try to keep my complaining to a minimum though, because after all that is why I am here in the first place.

So, with the humidity bordering on tropical rainforest and temperatures soaring into the high 80s (30s in Celsius) I tried to focus on a route where there would be as little traffic congestion as possible. 

This was the perfect day to go through the Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest and into the farmlands. Choosing this route, the most there is to see are the herds of cattle that are scattered throughout the countryside. But as I said time and again, any road with twisties is considered a very rare occurrence, maybe even a miracle. The closest I could get with this route was a few sweeping curves, but for the most part it was just straight riding over barren flatlands. The bonus was that there was little to no traffic and not one traffic light until we got back into civilization. Ideal for a day that I am convinced I could have cooked an egg on the pavement. 


Our ride totaled 156 miles (251 km) 
I had originally planned to turn on Hill Grade Rd. but apparently it is now a private road because there was a gate across it and it was closed. Or maybe the road had been washed out. That happens around here. Anyway, it was just as well, as we rode by I noticed that it was nothing more than a dirt road.


By this point we were also looking for a place to stop for a rest, ideally near some shade. Although now that we were in the area referred to as the Devils Garden I wasn’t so sure we would find any. I knew if we stopped without a little protection from the sun on a day like today we would feel exactly like we were sizzling in the fire pit of hell. Okay, maybe I am being a little dramatic, but it would be steamy. 



Finally, we caught a glimpse of some shade trees further down. There was a road but no street sign and the pavement abruptly stopped a few feet in. I later learned the road was called Dooley Grade Rd. and if we were adventurous we could have followed it through to connect to 835.

We were not that adventurous …
Dooley Grade Rd. might actually have been a fully paved road at one time. 
But now it looked more like a trail than a road, but there was shade!

After our break we continued on to find that the 833 did work its way around to the 835 and then we were back on track. It really didn’t matter that we were taken further out of our way, after all that is what riding a motorcycle is all about. As we neared Clewiston we did run into traffic again and a few lights, but before we knew it we were moving at a good speed along 27 and 80 and the heat of the day was just a warm breeze with our knees in the wind. 

At the end of the day, it was just a perfect ride to beat the heat. 

Map Directions







Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride...