Monday, February 18, 2019

Thunder by the Bay, Sarasota - new friends, new roads

I always seem to answer all those “Location posts” in the women’s motorcycle groups that I belong to on Facebook. I sometimes get a few “likes” or the odd “Hey, that’s near to me” but nothing ever seems to come from it, until now. This is one of those times…

I just happened to answer a post Elaine put up on the Open Road Girls group stating if anyone was in Southwest Florida. She was on the hunt for people to ride with from her area. Within a few moments of posting that I was in Lehigh Acres, Elaine was messaging me that she was too. We started planning a ride for the following weekend to Thunder by the Bay in Sarasota. (Feb 16)

I admit that I was a little nervous, okay a lot nervous about meeting Elaine and her boyfriend James. Especially since we had only briefly messaged through FB a handful of times.  This was so out of character for me to crawl out from behind my computer.  Since hitting my 50’s I have been trying really hard to break away from my almost hermit like existence. So what the hell, take a chance and meet people, I am not getting any younger.

Elaine also mentioned that two more were going to join us, TJ and Lynn. Our group would consist of a total of six, (myself and BF included) - on 5 bikes. I haven’t been on many group rides in my 10 years of riding, in fact most of my rides consist of myself or going with my BF and on occasion one other. (Hmmm… Does 3 count as a group?) Anyway, my very first group ride was back in 2014. (There were 5 other bikers, with us it made 7). Wow, 5 years since I was riding with more than two other bikers, no wonder I had a few butterflies. But really what is 3 more bikes, especially as it turned out, we all seemed to have the same riding style which naturally made it so much easier.

The Ride
We set out to meet everyone at the 711 gas station on Joel Blvd. Immediately upon meeting Elaine, James, TJ and Lynn it felt like we had already known them for awhile. After the introductions we organized our ride positions. We all agreed we didn’t care much for highway riding and opted to take 31 to Acardia and along 70.  (James held the lead position, then Elaine, TJ & Lynn, Me and my BF in the back. Elaine pointed out that it was us girls sandwiched between the guys LOL. My BF added he would make sure to pick up any pieces along the way, little did I know that he really would be. Then we were off to Sarasota. 

We were about halfway up 31 when I heard something clang onto the road, I wasn’t sure at first what had happened but then looked in my mirror and seen my BF turn around. It was then that I realized something must have fallen off. I pulled over and noticed it was my battery cover and my BF had backtracked to retrieve it. He literally had to “pick up the pieces” LOL. James had noticed we had disappeared and had ridden back to make sure we were okay. We decided to leave my battery cover off for the rest of the ride. We caught up with the others who had stopped and then carried on. BTW, not to fear, my battery cover managed to survive the slide across the highway, only a minor scratch at the bottom of it. Lucky it won’t be noticeable.

My little Sporty needed to be gassed up again just past Arcadia. I am sure that everyone welcomed the pit stop to stretch their legs. All in good fun James insisted that my bike was now too ugly with it's missing battery cover to park near the other bikes. I laughed and said I would try to keep my distance. Every group needs a little Sporty to keep things interesting.  My bike managed to reach Thunder by the Bay without further incident.

We have arrived

This was one of the largest festivals we had ever attended. We all stayed together and wandered around, had a bite to eat and browsed the wares and of course admired the bikes.

Even the dogs got in on the action

Now that is one giant Jenga game!

The sparkle on a pair of jeans caught my eye at one of the vendors tents and I decided to try them on. After making sure the jeans fit, I spent the next five minutes trying to get out the changing room!

In my defense, the guy did warn me that the door might stick a little… umm maybe he should have said, you may need a crowbar to get out! 

BTW, I bought them and they match my Sparkle Rider Bell that Lisa from gave me!

After my narrow escape from the change room we made our way over to watch some BMX bikes doing jumps. With my mediocre picture taking skills I even managed to get a few shots in mid jump. 

The journey home

On the way back we decided to make a stop at a biker bar on 70, The Open Road.

Disclaimer: all those beers on the table are NOT ours! 

The band was cool, but it sure made it hard to have a conversation!
(Age could be a factor, at least for me LOL)

Of course, we made another gas stop for my Sporty on the way back, but hey, those big bikes needed a little drink too! When we got into Lehigh we parted ways and headed home. It was awesome to meet some new people who share a common love of biking. I hope to go on many more road trips with them soon. 

As for me, it was a full day with another 200 miles round trip under my belt. Not to mention all the walking around I did. After a couple of glasses of wine, purely medicinal (wink) and a little bite to eat, by 8 pm I was snug in my bed dreaming of new adventures to come. 

Route to Thunder by the Bay Sarasota
(Aside from 31, which is a boring straight road the rest of the way was awesome)

Until next time...

Cruising Through Life & Enjoying The Ride...

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Vintage Motorcycle Show and a new watering hole

We took a ride today (Saturday Feb 9) a nice tour close to the homestead. I found it a little on the windy side at times and have the stiff neck to prove it this morning. But of course, worth it, time to break out the Voltaran! 

Despite the windy day the temperature was perfect, warm and sunny. We headed out towards LaBelle and took the meandering River Road along the Caloosahatchee River.

One of our favorite roads when wanting a ride that is close to home. We stopped at the Bob Mason Park, which has been nicely revamped and is a great spot to rest and stretch the legs. There was a nice little gazebo that has been recently put up and plenty of picnic tables to enjoy the view.

We continued on our way and followed North River Rd to 31. We headed towards Palm Beach Blvd to the Publix Shopping Center where there was a Vintage Motorcycle Show going on. 

It wasn’t a large show, but found it interesting to see some of the old 2-stroke motorcycles of years gone by. There was a bit of everything, from old Harleys to Kawasaki’s. I had never heard of one of the bikes we saw,  Husqvarma. My BF informed me he had a chainsaw made by them LOL.

When we were on 31 heading to the Vintage Motorcycle show we passed by the Boat House Tiki Bar and Grill. The Tiki Bar was still under construction last year and decided to stop in and check it out after we left the show.

Upon pulling in I was already impressed. Any place that caters to motorcyclists can’t be all that bad.

Mind you we just sat at the Tiki Bar for a drink. The atmosphere was awesome, and staff was very friendly. The place was packed for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. Checking out the menu there was of course plenty of fish dishes offered, but for people like me who despise fish of any kind it also had burgers and wings. We certainly have plans to go for supper in the near future and test out the food. I will let you know.

On the way home we took a leisurely ride along Buckingham Road. This is always a nice ride with its meandering treed road. You can follow our route below

River Road Route / Buckingham Rd.

I must add a shout out to Lisa from (As you may know, I occasionally write for her Bling blog on her women's motorcycle gear shopping website). 

She recently sent me a beautiful gift, a Sparkle Rider Gremlin Bell . This was my first ride with my sparkly bell. Thank You Lisa, you are so generous and sweet.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Do Resolutions ever turn out, maybe

So far 2019 has started off as a slow riding season for me. My New Year’s Resolution to ride more isn’t going exactly as planned. I have been in Florida since December 27th and believe it or not I have only been on ONE ride! It certainly wasn’t from lack of trying.

We had company as soon as we got to Florida just after Christmas. Our friend and his wife from Germany stayed with us for the first fourteen days. At least they rented a motorcycle on Sunday Jan 6th  so that we could get in some riding. 

I highly recommend Haus of Trikes in Fort Myers. (Our friends rented a Harley for the day and it was much cheaper than anywhere else). When they brought the bike back, I was browsing around the store when I came across a leather vest. Wow, super soft leather and it was $79.99. I even picked up a sweet leather pouch for $20 (I had recently purchased a material Harley vest for the same price, ya always pay for the name) Suffice to say, my shopping spree is maxed out for the season now. 

Anyway, we had a wonderful ride down to Goodland Florida. 
Gassing up for the ride, the morning started off chilly but warmed up nicely.
(At least I thought it was chilly – note the additional hoodie under my jacket) 

We stopped at Gator’s Crossroads Bar & Grill. They had a live band playing outside. We stayed for a drink, and listened to a few sets. Don’t worry, I don’t drink alcohol and ride, but when I get home I certainly indulge in a glass of wine or two or three…

I don’t know what the name of the band was, but they were good. Our friends were enjoying the place too.

Then we made our way to Stan’s Idle Hour. That is one hoping place with live music and it seems to always be packed when we go there. They always give bikers the best spots to park too (and bike parking is free). We even managed to find a table to sit at and enjoyed an afternoon of music and good times. 

The guys goofing around at Stan’s Idle Hour

We made it back home just as the sun was setting, I was glad, my night vision isn’t as good as it used to be.  

I had the biggest smile on my face that day, even our friends said that was the first time they seen me smile so much the entire week. 
The saying is true, “I am a just happier person when I ride”. 

Our friends left to go back to Germany on Jan 9th.  It was awesome to have them here but having the house to ourselves again… do I really need to say more. 

The first few weeks after getting here the weather had been into the mid 80’s (26+C), but now we keep getting cold fronts and it is barley getting to 70 (21C) by late afternoon. The nights are really cold too, most hovering around the 40s (about 6-10C). It just has been a weather rollercoaster lately. I know, I shouldn’t complain, but I will anyway. I have to admit, it is still way better than the negative digits and mounds of snow back home. Even with the cooler temperatures we still could have gotten out on the bikes, but then my BF got sick with one of those “man colds”. I just don’t have the heart to take off on my motorcycle without him, at least not yet. Today is Saturday Jan 19 and it is going to be the nicest day before the weather turns to crap again. It is predicted to be that way into the middle of next week. The BF is still not well and with my luck by the time he feels better I will probably catch whatever the hell he has. Although I have it on good authority that the “female cold” is not as severe.

And yet I am optimistic, it is still early in the new year, so maybe I will be able to stick to my resolution after all. At least I sure will make that extra effort to. 

This was the route we took to get there. Went through Immokalee, along Corkscrew to Collier Rd, then onto 41. It is a fairly nice ride, although it can get busy on Collier through Naples.


Cruising through Life & Enjoying the Ride...

Monday, December 24, 2018

Hello Sunshine, Goodbye Snow!

Believe it or not, winter started in October for us. With all that white stuff that has been hanging around for that last two and a half months I am anxious to feel the sun on my face and the warmer air currents caress my skin. 

I am all packed and after Christmas we will be on our way to our home away from home in Florida, where I will also be reunited with my two-wheel therapy machine. It has been one hell of year and I will certainly need that wind therapy.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and look forward to sharing my riding adventures with you in the new year from the sunny south.

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! 

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.