WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: Wanderlust 9 - Port Colborne, Ontario
Date: Mon, 09 Jun 1997 21:43:15 -0700

Wanderlust 9 - Port Colborne, Ontario

Like a Klingon cruiser under full cloak, the K-bird ... I mean the K-bike Katie cruised quickly and quietly through the central city of the home planet Romulus (Michigan). Romulans in native dress went about their business unaware of the timeless traveler from the future home of Starfleet Headquarters who observed them. I silently whispered the only Klingon phrase I remember (phonetically): Luke tak louk cha-pole. (Where do you keep the chocolate.) After a single sweep of the civic surface for memorable activity, the whine of the K engine built steadily as the matter/doesn't-matter thoughts mixed together. Engage! the transmission, and warp speed for exit was achieved with a flash of light. (Translation: The traffic light changed to green and I accelerated onto the Interstate. :) It is apparent why the Enterprise avoids Romulan space - it is only 20 miles from Detroit.

Before leaving Michigan I heard from a number of people about its uniqueness. I agree. It is the only Michigan we have. Nonetheless, there are some interesting geographical trivia items to pass along. What state of the US has the most number of lighthouses? Not Maine. Certainly not California where most have become Bed & Breakfasts. You guessed it. And what three states have a greater percentage of their linear borders bounded by water than by land? You guessed one, I'll tell the other two later.

Well, I did have to pass through Detroit. I'll try to not upset any Detroit readers, but some cities excite me. Detroit doesn't. Every time I look at the city, I get the mental image of the back of an old truck with the letters "wash me" scrawled in the grime.

Crossing the bridge, a feeling of warm friendship came over me. Katie has gone from being a bi- to a tri-. The K75 has now carried me from Mexico to Canada in the same year. It may be a minor achievement to the those who ride the Three Flags race every year in a single weekend, but I feel good about it. (By the way, I wrote a two part report of my week-long trip to Mexico and back. It is stored on the http://www.ibmwr.org web pages, or I can mail it privately if you are interested.)

"To be sure that your friend is a friend,
You must go with him on a journey,
Travel with him day and night,
Go with him near and far."
- Angolan Proverb

Recently there was a mailing list discussion about border crossings. This one was simple and pleasant. Where do you live? What is your purpose in Canada? Do you have any material items that will remain in Canada? Have a safe ride. That's all.

Just across the river, in comparatively clean Windsor, the speed limits get both higher and slower (and ignored) at the same time. Of course Canada uses metric measurement. The speed sign said 60 (kph) which is 38 (mph) whereas a similar street in the US would be 45 (mph). Higher/slower, and ignored. I tried riding at the limit, but was getting passed by trucks, so I went with the flow. Even in the country later, the limit was 80, which is 50 where it would have been 55, but flow was 105 which is 65. Got it? Good.

In English, every sentence has a subject, a verb, and an object (which may be implied). So a simple, yet succinct descriptive sentence might be: Ontario is flat. In Canadian, I'm not sure. Canadians seem to use nouns and adjectives as verbs, ending with a common modifier. So, going with the flow of the dialect, I guess I'd have to say: Ontario flats, eh? :)

Yes, it is flat, but once again when you get off the four-lane divided road (Interstate equivalent), it is an amazing different view of the same area. The 'old road' from London to Buffalo is the two-lane Provincial 3. It is not straight-and-boring because it wends back and forth to connect all the larger small towns just inland from the coast. Where you only see field, field, overpass, field on the freeway, the simple road shows simple pleasures. Going slow and close past the fields, I could see how deep the furrows really are, and identify the pattern each farmer prefers for encompassing his field. (Dragging a tractor around the contours is like drawing a maze. You don't want to cross your tracks and you do want to cover it all. Ain't easy in an irregular field.)

There are so many things invisible from the freeway because they take time to look at. Like the greater thickness of the bark on the north side of the trees. That winter wind must quite convincing if it can cause the woodies to grow an extra coat. You can see the things that people do on this 'old road'. Like children without shirts rolling in the grass under a lawn sprinkler in the still thick heat of a late afternoon. Like the 'putterers' planting flowers in artistic arrangements beside the house - and you see what the flowers are (not that *I* know them). You can see merchants flipping the closed sign and locking the front door, only to sit on the stoop with a passerby and talk and laugh. Ah, Canadiana (well, it's not America, you know :) !

I suppose there are many reasons for success or failure of a business, but traveling the old roads I wonder why some are closed and abandoned between certain towns and not closed between others. What is the dynamic that causes people to stop or not. Is it only that the fickle finger of fate flinched and fortune followed or forced a failure from where it finally fell?

There were three especially amusing items. First, there are 'drying barns' of some crop that are build in rows of 6 or 7 together. The barns are precisely alike, and cubic shaped, about 30 feet high with a pointed roof and exactly two boarded windows on each side. The trim and the roof are painted different from the walls. I kept looking and saying 'they remind me of something, but what?'. Then it hit - think rows of Monopoly houses. Had to suppress the urge to look up and see if there was a biiiig hand about to move the parked cement truck that looked like a game piece. :)

Second amusement was in the town of Simcoe. At the edge of town is a company that hand manufactures dog houses. Riding past the front lawn, I quickly counted a segment of the lot and estimated there were over 200 dog houses lined up - several different sizes, and every imaginable color. The business was closed. But ... there was one unattended dog casually jaunting from dog house to dog house, looking in some, sniffing others, and inspecting the lot. What fun! What confusion! Was it a) building inspector, b) a potential customer checking the lot for a business visit tomorrow, c) an itinerant selecting a home for the evening ... wish I could speak dog.

Last, I passed a meticulously manicured golf course which came right to the edge of the road. There was also a little country church at the corner of a road bordering the golf course. You know how sometimes you pass a sign and read it but don't really pay attention? I passed the beautifully carved sign with gilded letters right in front of the church and saw in my mind: Hagersville Golf Church. Whoa. I know some people practice it like a religion - but I gotta see that again! So I turned around. Alas, my brain must have burped. It did say Course. Ah, well. (Interesting, though. There are no stained glass windows on the Course side.) This, by the way, is right near the town of Cheapside. Somehow I doubt that name was chosen by a developer.

Oh, yes, the coastline: the other two are Florida and Delaware. After the morning visiting, I got the latest travel start yet (3:00 pm) but I still managed to get in a reasonable distance riding right to sunset.

FuelPlus statistics: 287 miles, 5:24 engine run, 54 mph average
Sam Lepore, San Francisco, 1988 R100RT and 1995 K75RTA

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