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Friday, June 29, 2012

Big Ride - Day8

This actually figures into the story in a bit...

Blast the door, kid!...

There's an apocryphal story about St. Francis of Assisi that played in my head after we eventually headed out this morning: Francis, after traveling all night in a really bad storm, cold and drenched, reached the home of fellow friars and knocked on the door to gain entry and shelter. One of the friars, irate to be awakened at such a late hour and not knowing it was Francis, replied from an upstairs window something like "its late you fool, come back in the morning". Francis, feeling even colder and wetter, banged on the door again, announced who he was, and again asked for entry from the storm. The other friar, still sleepy and more irate than before, chided him for wakening him, and again told him to come back in the morning when both the hour and weather were better. Francis remarks that as little patience as he felt with that friar at that moment (which wasn't much) was probably all the real patience he ever really possessed, and vowed to work harder at being more patient and forgiving.

Me? I'd have forced entry and dragged the irate bastard out into the cold wet street.

And so begins our morning leaving fair Quebec City for Vermont.

I briefly mentioned the odd payment machine when we placed our bikes in the underground garage when reaching Quebec, and there they've stayed the past 2 nights. It allowed entry only upon swiping a credit card - no other payment was allowed, and it wouldn't let me swipe my card twice (for Dad, who didn't have his card out at the time). Fine, I just happened to have both my debit and credit cards available, so having swiped my debit to get me in, I swiped my credit card to get Dad in. Bro was on his own.
Now, 2 days later, we had to repeat the sequence to get out, the machine supposedly knowing who was whom, and allowing egress after the proper card being swiped. Instead of just an arm, like at the entry, the exit was blocked by a solid garage door, that would assumedly raise upon a successful swipe of the card. Now, with motorcycles and their low steel content, its always a bit of russian roulette to see if the exit sensors will read you long enough to let you get out completely. Any motorcyclist attempting to get in and out of a parking garage has had an arm or door close on them prematurely, or fail to open altogether. This was on all our minds, I'm sure, as we queued up tightly to get out.
Star Wars IV, Vader trapped behind the closing blast door...
Still having both cards on me, I swiped my debit card. The infernal machine read my card, dinged me the $20 fee for 2 nights parking ($10 a night, no maximum - meaning that if you stayed for a year, you'd be paying $10 x 365, or $3,650), the really solid door than raised, much like the blast doors from the Death Star in the first Star Wars, and let me out.
Intending to then walk back and swipe Dad out with the other card, not thinking how soon that door might be closing, I was surprised by Dad just blasting out of there. I mean, he saw daylight when I exited and he just took it, to hell with paying the machine.
Surprised by this move, while also thinking it was a good one, I continued to walk back inside to pay for Dad somehow. And the door held open just till I was able to get back in, there being no obvious pedestrian entrance on this side of the garage (which was underground by the way, so this exit was also  a bit of a steep ramp exiting the garage and up to street level). When the door closed behind me, I was reminded how dark, hot and stifling the garage had been. No worries, Bro was still queued up and waiting, probably trying to figure out what the heck just happened. I waited to try to pay for Dad as Bro swiped his way out. The pay machine locked on his card payment till the blast door closed again and cleared the machine for the next transaction, leaving me in the dark bathed in the soft glow of its display screen. Then the display and all the lights on the pay machine went completely dark. What the...?
Seems the machine (which I'll now call Hal) only comes on when it senses an approaching vehicle wanting to exit. As much as I stomped around, waved my arms, and wandered around looking for some sensor to trigger, I was left panting in the hot darkness, in full gear and helmet, unable to pay or get out, leaving Dad, Bro and my pilotless bike out in the street above.
Now, the infernal machine named Hal, that I was about to try to destroy, was attached to a little guard booth, which was kinda dark and seemingly unoccupied during all of this, until I spied a bookbag in a chair and figured some worker must be around here somewhere. So I found and pressed the "presser pour assistance"button. A lot. To no avail. Then comes a car wanting to exit - great, I'll see if I can get them to pull forward just enough to trigger Hal, I'll pay, run out when the door opens and ask the driver to wait till it all resets till they try exiting. I actually tried explaining this twice with 2 drivers, neither one of them wanting to try following the instructions of an english speaking, helmeted person dressed like a crossing guard. They just made quizzical faces, shrugged, and exited. When the second car exited, it was my chance to screw it all and escape, and I started heading for the door, still helmeted and just about made it there, when the blast door closed, trapping me inside again. Bro' said later it looked just like the scene from the 1977 Star Wars, after Vader kills Kenobi and Luke shoots the blast door controls, causing them to close on Vader as he's turned and striding toward Luke and Han Solo.
Just when Bro starts talking at me through the door with an idea to get out, a man does appear in the booth to answer the bell, which has been ringing constantly for like over 10 minutes now. I made the mistake of starting with "bonjour, assistance si vous plait..." so he launches into french about needing to go get my car first in order to pay to get out etc, while Bro is trying to talk to me loudly thru the blast door. I then, very impatiently, tell everyone to just shut up!
At this point, Hal's keeper (Dave?) switches into english and gets me to tell him all that has transpired to this point, and understands that my bike is outside the blast door up the hill. He clears Hal's memory of my card, charges me nothing, opens the blast door, and I exit hot, sweaty and a bit humbled by the experience.
I'm sure by now you're aghast at how I let all of this transpire this way, but you know how it is - you just get sucked deeper and deeper as you try to extricate yourself from the situation. And all I had to do was to have thought to have given Dad my credit card to begin with and let him swipe himself out.

"Gaz" and wipage in Quebec

Yes,  I desire to selectionner, but not exactly

Having poured over the maps late last night, our first order of business was to find gas on our way out of the city as we make a beeline for Barre, Vermont. Barre was originally going to be a mid-day stop on this part of the trip to explore Graniteville, the world's largest granite quarry, and site of a scene filmed for the last Star Trek movie, where a young James Kirk drives his stepdad's antique Chevy Corvette over this monstrous cliff. The quarry was used as the cliff, as its over 800 feet deep. Since Dad's throttle response problem, however, Barre is now the site of one of two Harley dealerships listed for Vermont, and the closest to us as we enter the states. Turns out the dealer is just across the street from the Graniteville access road, but we'd end up arriving too late to actually tour the quarry.
US border crossing into Vermont
As we pulled up to the US border about 3 hours later at Stanstead on CA5 and US91, the tripmeter I has set at the beginning of the trip turned over to exactly 2,000 miles so far. By the time we creeped thru the heavy traffic and it was safe to try to make a photo, the odo had tripped to 2,000.3.
Rolling over 2,000 miles right at the border crossing.
You can also see its reading 93 degrees
While there was no traffic at all at the Madawaska crossing into Canada, this crossing back into the US was very congested. It took as about 20 minutes of stop-and-go once we reached the gates to actually clear them. And it was hot. There was a group of Quebecois riders that we had run into earlier in the day that was making the crossing with us too, and they had long ago started pulling off their gear as we all waited sweatingly in line.

Waiting in line at the border - let us in!

Derby Line crossing

Still in all our gear, even though its over ninety degrees

After the border crossing, it was a nice and easy, albeit warm, ride down to Barre, VT straight down the 91 and up the 322. Typical for us at this point, we headed out the wrong way on Hwy14, through construction, looking for the the Wilkin's Harley dealership, when we should have gone the other way on 14. Having reached the end of 14, we knew we had to backtrack till we ran into the dealership, just SOUTH of Barre, not NORTH of Barre.
They were really busy, especially as they were getting ready for a bikini modeling night that very evening, with bikini-clad models showing off the new model of motorcycles. Supposedly, all the models were also HD owners as well, so I guess that made it less prurient. Sadly, we were already behing schedule, so we knew we'd be moving on that evening.
A photo advertising Wilkin's model night.
Er, I guess other bike manufacturer's are more progressive
Anyways, they took Dad's bike in the shop in short order, and I set about looking at maps on a picnic table looking at where we might end up tonite, as it was obvious it wouldn't be as far south as Bennington, my original target. Knowing that the dealer would close, bike fixed or not, at 6pm, we gathered we'd make it easily as far south as Rutland after that before it got too dark, as it was about 90 miles away, and would also allow us to ride a small bit of US4 and 100. So we called ahead and reserved a suite in Rutland via Bro's web-surfing smartphone (cracking device, that) for the evening and awaited news on Dad's bike. As no one wanted to ride "bitch" on the back of anyone else's bike to go anywhere in the meantime, we just hung around, looking through maps and hitting up the drink machine for drinks to go along with our clif bars.
In less than 2 hours, Dad's bike was done, the brass contact points in the throttle sensor being replaced with stainless ones (sounds like a known problem if the parts numbers have changed, but Harley didn't spring for the labor).
It was a great and picturesque ride down to Rutland, cutting through Quechee State Park, Quechee Gorge and Chittenden Forest. The air had cooled quite a bit, the roads were a little curvy, and we slowed to a nice pace just to enjoy the scenery. We had been warned by the desk clerk at the hotel in Rutland that the Sheriff in Woodstock on US4 would issue a speeding ticket for even one mph over the town's 25mph speed limit, so we took it especially slow thru woodstock. My sense of running behind all day, our layover at Wilkin's Harley Davidson, and the low sun creeping down behind the mountains all conspired to make me reticent to stop, so I made no photos during this ride since we crossed the border hundreds of miles ago. I regret this, as this short little stretch of 90 miles or so was actually quite picturesque and I would have likes to have made some photos along this stretch.
Here's a photo of Quechee Gorge, © Vermont geological survey website.
US4 is the bridge crossing above, we rode right over this.
Lesson - always make time to stop for photos, even if you're ride leader.
Making into Rutland, we found the Suites easily, as they were right on the main road into town. Rutland, like a lot of this area of Vermont, is primarily a ski resort town, and our rooms were appointed as such, and were more apartments than rooms.
Spacious apartment, and Bro's sleeping couch

Morning after shot of the large bedroom

Without unloading gear, we headed into town for supper at the "99 restaurant and pub", me snagging a  local ale right in the door, as to be alcohol free by the time we left.

 After dinner, Dad and I each got our own bed, and Bro decided to sleep on the pull out sofa. After watching a documentary on Judy Garland's life, we all slept well and right up till breakfast the next morning at 7:30. Tomorrow, we go check out some covered bridges in Vermont before making the burn to Pennsylvania.

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