Friday, September 14, 2012

2012 Rendez-Vous Rally – prelude and the ride north

The rally staff sent the bonii list via email on Saturday (9/1/2012) evening – I downloaded the list as soon as Connie and I got back from Parris Island / Charleston, and started to look for a good route. While I’ve driven thousands of miles in Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland), and a few motorcycle miles in British Columbia in my youth, those miles have mostly been in a cage -- this was to be my first long motorcycle ride in Canada. I didn’t know exactly what to expect in Quebec or Ontario, either from the roads or the likely bonus locations, so I wanted to be a bit more conservative in my route planning. I plotted out several likely candidates, trying to avoid border crossings “on the clock”.

I fussed around with routes a bit more between Saturday and Thursday, looking at alternatives, knowing that I’d likely replot everything once the rally book was provided on Friday evening.

Connie and I got underway from Alexandria around 0900 on Thursday. The weather was very pleasant. We had anticipated rain over the weekend, so we had rain gear with us, and both of us brought our heated jackets and gloves.

I had planned a route that would keep us off the slab as much as possible (and offer scenery and geocaching).

We rode north, up the Baltimore Washington Parkway to I-695. I wanted to grab a few geocaches on the way north, which was an incentive to get off the slab and visit some places that we wouldn’t have otherwise visited.

Our first cache was pretty routine, but it did involve getting off the slab. We started off with Tall Cold One!

From there, we continued north to Still Framed….. This one was pretty interesting, and well worth the stop. On the way to this one, we saw the Shoe House again.

Connie and I had a great lunch at McCleary’s Public House in Marietta, PA -- what an interesting river town.

After lunch, we continued north to A LIFE GIVEN FOR FREEDOM to take a picture. 

We stopped in Pottsville, PA to snag a really interesting virtual cache, Standing Tall. This one was really tough  to navigate to on a motorcycle. After the cache, it was time to refuel, where we had some interesting conversations with one of the locals. While there, we also learned that Pottsville in the headquarters for Yuengling (and got to see a very little of the facility itself). As interesting as Pottsville is, it won’t be on our “gotta see again” list.

We were running a bit behind as we crossed into NY, so we skipped the virtual geocaches in Binghamton.

Connie and I overnighted in Norwich, NY (staying at the Howard Johnson’s, which is just about the only place in town, other than a Super 8 – we’d had a discussion about the suitability of any place whose name included a numeral, and so we wound up selecting HoJo’s). Dinner at Nina’s Pizzeria & Restaurant, a local Italian place, was great (and wow, was there a lot of it). We got up reasonably early in the morning, had a quick bite to eat and a coffee at Garf’s Deli, and hit the road heading north.

Our first cache of the day, Harvey the Troll, was in a beautiful creek-through-a-park setting.

We stopped in Utica to visit Through the Eyes of an Eagle, on our way through the Adirondacks.
Our last cache of the day was Walkin’ Fourth on Water, in Inlet, NY. Continuing through the Adirondacks, we got to see Old Forge, Saranac, and loads of other places.

We learned a bit about administrative divisions in New York – counties, cities, towns, villages, and hamlets.

The leaves were already turning in the Adirondacks – the ride was very nice. The roads were reasonably well-maintained.

We got back on the slab in Plattsburgh, NY and rode north to the border crossing, where the wait was minimal. From the border, we headed north to the rally hotel, Auberge Harris in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This was a great rally hotel – any place that welcomes about 40 long distance motorcycle riders for a weekend is GREAT.

We arrived at Auberge Harris about 1700 – the middle of the check-in window. We didn’t have an odometer check, so all we needed to do was get our paperwork in order and have our camera checked (i.e., is the resolution set correctly, is the time set, does the camera actually WORK). After check-in, we got ready for the 1900 rider’s dinner, which was a great opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. After dinner was over, the rally book was distributed, and the next round of fun began.

I went back to our room, and checked the rally book for bonii time restrictions and to see what combo bonii were identified. The rally book didn’t have details on wild card bonii – we had to wait for the 0500 Saturday rider’s meeting for those.

I took a hard look at the bonii again, and plotted a northern loop that I thought we could get through okay, and one that I hoped would provide some really nice scenery. After fussing around, programming the primary and backup GPS receivers, I turned in for about six hours of really solid sleep, and managed to second-guess myself on the route only once.

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