Aug 2, 2008

Geezer on the Road East

First Day Blues

I left home for Nova Scotia on Friday. I spent all of Thursday and most of Wednesday doing last minute bike and trip preparations. My parts, that were supposed to come on Monday, didn’t arrive until late Wednesday. So, I had left my bike balanced on the centerstand and a floor jack, waiting for the new sprocket, shock hub, and other drive bits. I didn’t have the guts to pull the front end off with the back end off and, each day, I held off hoping the parts would arrive until it was too late to start a different approach. Bad planning, poor tactics, lazy attitude.

Wednesday evening, the parts appeared and I began a panic repair procedure on the drive line of the V-Strom so that I could get the back end on the bike and tear off the forks to fix the mess I'd made trying a non-Suzuki procedure for replacing the fork fluid. I wish I could promise this is the last time I will ever take this kind of short cut, but I'd probably be lying.

After getting through the mechanicals, while being whined at by my two grandkids and my wife because both days were miserably hot and they all wanted to go to the lake and swim, I started on packing and getting my gear arranged late Thursday. At 8PM, I gave in and took the crowd to the lake. I don't know why they (especially my wife) needed me to be part of the process, but they did. Apparently. Supposedly. An hour's swim, a fast shopping trip to get RAM for the helmet cam, and back to work on the gear pile. In the end, I did a fair job of organizing myself, but a lousy job of avoiding distractions in the morning.

My wife, upset or something about being left alone for most of a month, did a song-and-dance with noon's fried chicken, pulling it out of the frig for the kids, leaving it out until I found it and put it back, and doing it all over again at least three times, finally managed to poison me. She decided to "cook" dinner for me about two hours before I finished putting the bike together. When she handed me the plate of potatoes and chicken, with my hands covered in oil and grease, I told her "Not now, I can't stop now." She put the plate on a chair in the basement and went back to working on an art project. I discovered the plate and, exhausted and distracted, sat down to shove it down my gullet. About 3AM, I woke up with my stomach boiling and chills. I spent the rest of the morning evacuating my innards and cursing my garbage disposal eating habits.

Friday, at 6:30AM, I’m loaded and ready to go, mentally if not physically. Scott shows up in his Toyota about 15 minutes later. We get on the road about 7AM and make it to Duluth about 11AM, via I35. We didn’t slow down for the big city and stayed on the gas all the way to the Canada boarder.

About a mile past the boarder, the sky fell and even dropped some marble-sized hail. I was wearing as little cover as possible, under my Darien suit, and it felt like being smacked by a zillion BB-guns. After the hail-beating, it poured for another 20 miles. All the while, I’m shivering from food poisoning, my joints ache like I have the flu, and I’m even a little nauseous (something that never happens to me). We kept going to a little short of White River, Ontario, and found a cheap cabin for the night. I was past freezing and exhaustion. Scott wanted to talk a little before giving up the day, but I passed out on him about 20 minutes after getting my gear into the room, taking a scalding shower, downing a pair of pain meds and a beer, and lying down on my bed.

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