I had a plan.
Every few years nature blesses us with an incredible Indian summer - warm, dry, and spectacularly colourful. This has been such a year. So on this Thanksgiving weekend, with nothing but sunshine in the forecast and the temperature projected to hit a high of 27C (81F), possibly breaking a record set in 1949 (appropriately, my birth year), it seemed like a good idea to go for a nice, long ride.
Where to go? Well Merrickville has always been a favourite destination, and if I remembered correctly, there was an ice cream stand on the main drag. Merrickville for an ice cream. Perfect. It’s about a 2-hour ride from here so 4 hours there and back would be a great way to spend the day.
Then I looked at the map. Going through Calabogie wouldn’t be that much out of the way and I’d get to ride one of my favourite roads, Highway 511. I could cut across to Perth, then up to Smith’s Falls, and across to Merrickville. Yep, I had a plan.
First stop – a little pull off beside the Mississippi River (yes, we have one too) just outside Calabogie. A popular spot to picnic, launch a canoe or kayak, or just toss in a line to see if anything is biting. I did none of those, just a quick stop to stretch the legs and take a couple of snaps.
And then on to Perth. Lots and lots of bikes on the road today, everyone getting those last rides in before the nasty weather arrives and holds us hostage for 5 long, dreary months. This group I caught up to included a bike that sported one of those convertible trike getups. I followed them for a while hoping they’d stop so I could get a closer look and talk to the rider about what it was like but they turned off on a side road before I had the chance.
In Perth I stopped at (where else?) Timmy’s for lunch and parked among probably 20 other motorcycles in the parking lot – not a large group, just a whole bunch of 2’s and 3’s out for the day. (Sorry Bobskoot, no pictures of my BLT.)
After a slow drive in heavy traffic through downtown Perth (need to make it a destination trip one day – lots of cool little shops to check out) I swung south to loop down to Westport and over to Portland, where I managed to gas up a full 8 cents a litre cheaper than in the city – about 40 cents a gallon difference. And they say the gas companies aren’t gouging us. Right!
Then I got lost. I didn’t have a map and was working from what is becoming an increasingly unreliable memory. So I wandered the back roads for a while finding some that I didn’t even know existed, and a few I’d be happy to never see again. It wasn’t until after I’d traversed a few kilometers of gravel, a couple of dead-ends, and passed through Forfar for the second time (albeit from a different direction) that I realized I had no clue where I was exactly. I knew the general area, so I just headed roughly north until I came to something I recognized. Which turned out to be North Gower.
Now that I had my bearings once again I headed north-east and crossed the Rideau Canal (thank you, War of 1812) where I took these shots of boaters out enjoying their bonus day on the water. Normally most would have put their boats up for the winter by now, so I expect there were more than a few happy procrastinators out there today.
But by this time I had missed Merrickville and my ice cream. I debated backtracking but decided instead to press on. A quick little detour through Osgoode (No ice cream there either. Also got lost again.) and I headed into the city. I stopped at the Chapters where the spousal unit was working today and got an iced latte from the attached Starbucks. It wasn’t ice cream, but it sure hit the spot on a hot day. Checked out the books, bought a couple of videos on sale (Bonnie and Clyde and The Last Picture Show) and headed out into the setting sun on the last lap homeward.
So as Robbie Burns so poetically mused in his 1785 poem, To A Mouse:
“The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley”
I didn’t get my Merrickville ice cream, but I did have a great day in the saddle and logged another 370 kilometers (230 miles) riding some great local roads on a truly beautiful day.