Saturday, September 25, 2010

From Dryden to Brandon.

We headed out to Brandon - it was cool and over cast but it made for pleasant riding.

We stopped in Kenora for mid morning snack at the Timmy's but on the way in we saw this really cool bug.
As you can see the dark clouds were looming...we didn't stay long, just long enough to get a few pictures and then it was off to Brandon..
Hubby posing with the bug
Hubby posing with the bug...
Towards Manitoba
On we go towards Manitoba...Brandon and Cycle Boyz Shop, here we come.

Until later, ride safe.....

Dryden and the Comfort Inn

After leaving the Thunder Bay area we headed off to our next stop - Dryden. It was to be a reasonably leisurely ride as it is only  about 4 and a half hours. Mark and I both had Busters BBQ on the brain.

Problem was, neither of us could remember exactly where on the highway it was.
We road through the cool mid morning air and enjoyed the varied scenery. From small lakes to rock faces and trees it is very different from Grande Prairie AB and we were drinking in the differences.

We got into the pulp mill town of Dryden and were both seriously disappointed as we had not seen the BBQ place that we had both fallen so much in love with.

We checked in to the Comfort Inn and asked the young gal at the desk for information on laundry facilities and where we would find Buster's BBQ - she was off a wee bit as she told us that Vermillion Bay was 25 KM or so away when it really is 40 but none the less both hubby and I were salivating at the thought of some of that incredible blueberry BBQ sauce.
Young Gal at Comfort Inn
Lady at Comfort Inn

We rode down town to the laundromat and got some clothes cleaned and hubby did a bit of banking. The smell from the Domtar pulp mill was something I am not sure I could get used to.
City of Dryden
City of Dryden is located on the Wabigoon Lake
The City of Dryden is located on the Wabigoon Lake which feeds the Wabigoon River. The lake is world renowned for its fishing (Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskie and Smallmouth Bass) and Dryden was also home to the Canadian Masters Windsurfing Association Championships in August! The region is comprise of some 9 lakes covering 56,000 acres!
Max the Moose stands watch over his domain - Dryden!

OK - Clothes clean, bellies now need to be fed. It was cool with a pretty good wind.
I chose to ride on the back of hubby's bike - I wear braces on both feet and my ankles were bleeding from the chaffing that happens from the braces rubbing up and down on the ankle as you walk so I wanted to give them a break by not having to wear them for a few hours. As we got to west side of Vermillion Bay we caught a whiff of the good food that was awaiting us. I could tell that I was not alone in my desire to tie in to some good BBQ - Hubby was giving me the thumbs up sign!
I love this Inukshuk - I think it honors the history of the area peoples beautifully.
Buster's is filled with a ton of humorous signs and pictures to take in while you wait for your food.
Buster's BBQ

Buster's BBQ sauce is an award winning blueberry sauce that plays on the palette! I had the 1/4 chicken and hubby had the wrap - we both came away stuffed and there was even enough left overs for a snack at the room. We picked up some sauce and rub for thank you gifts (and ourselves) and headed back to the hotel.

I want to say how pleased I was with the Dryden Comfort Inn. Like the rest before it, the amenities were consistent - the 24 hour coffee with real cream was appreciated by both hubby and I as was the continental breakfast. The hotel was clean and comfortable and the staff were helpful and friendly.

If you find yourself in the Dryden area remember that besides beautiful riding and scenery, if you are into other recreations this area has some world renowned fishing and is known for its wind surfing.

The Comfort Inn can be your home away from home while you are in the region and make sure you tell them that you want their Rider Friendly Discount and that Belt Drive Betty sent you...

Comfort Inn Dryden
522 Government Rd
Dryden ON P8N 2P5
Fax: 807-223-5627

Until later - ride safe..........

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Road between North Bay & Sault Ste Marie...

The trip across Canada that we recently under took to promote the Foundation for Injured Riders, Rights & Education was accomplished in 34 days - round trip (We took in 8 provinces out of the 10 provinces and 3 territories that comprise Canada). Hardly gives one the time to truly take in all that this magnificent country we call Canada has to offer the touring rider....

Each province and I do mean each province of this magnificent country could use a month for exploration to do them any kind of justice.

North Bay & Sault Ste Marie
The road between North Bay & Sault Ste Marie offer up some incredible sights - the Great Lake - Superior ensures it!
So many incredible adventures await you in Ontario and one of them takes place between North Bay and the "Soo". A member of Belt Drive Betty dot Com had posted one of his favourite day rides as being the one called the Deer Trail Touring Loop.

He described so many attractions that are possible to visit in this loop and while I did not get the chance to actually experience it, I did get to know a lot more about the loop and the various attractions within the loop. We stopped in at the visitor centre to learn more - I WILL be doing this loop and sooner than later!

Deer Statues at Visitor area
One of the many Deer Statues that adore the Visitor Centre Area
Deer Trail Touring Route
The sign at the Centre that shows you all of the attractions and points of interest along the Deer Trail Touring Route
In all this one route contains 16 attractions and points of interest. As I said, we did not have the time to do all that we wanted but we sure identified things we are coming back to do!

We stopped in at Bruce Mines Marina - I really wanted to know why TJ recommended this place and why so many riders stop there. It didn't take much to figure that out once there.

view from the deck is fabulous
View from the deck is fabulous
view from the deck is fabulous
View from the deck is fabulous
The restaurant there has a great menu, the service is decent and the view from the deck is fabulous. I took a walk down to the Marina as you can see from these pictures - the place is beautiful!

Canada Geese and Seagulls seem to love the place...
It also appears that punch buggies like to come here!

Yes - our Canada has a lot to offer folks and if you haven't experienced it then may I highly recommend it - the diversity, the magnificence and splendour - they are bountiful!
There are so many places in Ontario that are on my bucket list - and I intend to visit as many of them as possible in the years to come...

Until later - ride safe..............

canadian riders | rider friendly  | motorcycle tourism | motorcycle tourism canada

Thunder Bay - the Comfort Inn and Thunder Bay Harley-Davidson a study in Customer Service

Mark and I had the opportunity to stay at the Comfort Inn in Thunder Bay twice - once on the way to Digby and once on the way home.

The first time was kind of a blur for me - my brother had just died and I was in an emotional hell. Thunder Bay is a black hole of communication where many cell phones do not work. You see TBay Tel is the last privately held phone company in North America and so communication by cell phone is virtually impossible for those from outside of the TBay Tel network. That is going to be changing coming in October as TBay Tel has finally signed some service agreements with companies like Bell, Rogers and Telus.

Anyway - I did not do a review of the hotel and it's services or amenities as I really didn't remember a whole lot about my stay there. But the second time around is a different story.

The Comfort Inns - part of the Choice Hotels Family - offer a lot of very appreciated ammenities.
One of the most important ingredients in any hospitality industry service is Customer Service.

I am unsure of where this particular hotel chain finds its staff or what it's hiring policies and HR policies might be but as a whole this company seems to attract really good quality people.

In this day and age that is an amazing thing to me because here in Alberta and in Saskatchewan we seem to have a hard time attracting quality people to customer service jobs.

The Thunder Bay Comfort Inn has some stellar people like Natalie working for them - they work really hard to ensure that every customer feels cared for and looked after. It's a tough job too when you think of the variety of people who come in the door. Business people, families, construction workers, sales people and riders - and we all have different needs.

The patio doors of the Comfort Inns have won my heart - sure makes packing and unpacking a ton easier!
A nice touch - a BBQ area complete with the BBQ and picnic table

If you find yourself wanting a good breakfast, a great nights sleep knowing that your ride is right out your bedroom door - and find yourself in the Thunder Bay area - consider checking out this p[property and giving them the chance to earn your business. You will be pleased with the result - of that I am fairly certain - I know I was.

Comfort Inn Thunder Bay
660 Arthur St West
Thunder Bay ON P7E 5R8
(807) 475-3155

Now on to Thunder Bay Harley-Davidson. My husband's Road king was producing some primary chain slapping noise. Upon inspection it needed to be tightened as did a few other things like the kick stand - it needed a new spring.  The gang at Thunder Bay Harley-Davidson took him in on short notice - first thing in the morning and had him in and out the door in under an hour for under $100 - hubby and I both appreciated the courtesy and efficiency of the shop! So thanks Thunder Bay Harley-Davidson for the fast and efficient service!

Until later, ride safe!..

North Bay and the Dionne Quintuplets

In a little town called Corbeil ON, on May 28th of 1934, 5 identical girls were born to Oliva and Elzire Dionne. With a combined weight of only 13 pounds and 5 ounces these little miracles who were born 2 months premature, faced the incredible odds of 57 million to one for survival.

Born during the great depression these children were taken away from their parents at about 4 months old. The government of Ontario decided to take control of the girls with the Quintuplets Act. The primary reason for this was the Dionne's had 5 other children to feed and had sold the name of the girls to the Chicago Fair with a promise of appearances  - the goal of the parents was to be able to feed their children during this most trying of times - the Great Depression.

There was a huge outrage over this decision by the Dionne's and so the government of the day stepped in. Instead of the family exploiting the quints the Ontario Government did and an industry that supported thousands of people was born. At the peak of their popularity the Quints represented a 500 million dollar asset to the Ontario Government.

In 1998 the provincial government finally admitted some wrong doing in the removal of the quints from their parents and the quints who were still alive at the time each got a $1 million dollar settlement.

The Tourism Information centre at North Bay now houses the original home that the quints were born in - here are the photos that I took during our visit...
The North Bay Tourism Centre

The house the Dionne Quints were born in

The clothing the quints wore all preserved for us to see...

The home the quints were born is is preserved much as it was before the quints were taken away from their parents.
Home where the quints were born
Home where the quints were bornHome where the quints were born

Inside the Visitor Centre there is another room devoted to Quint Memorabilia including an old film that was taken of the Quints

Ironic display of the Charter of Freedoms
An ironic display of the Charter of Freedoms
carousel figurine of the Quints
carousel figurine of the Quints
It was an interesting time visiting the museum - - it also made my blood boil at the thought of these children being removed from their parents home because they might exploit them only to have the provincial government of the day turn around and exploit them. To me it was kind of like the Catholic Church thinking they had the right to take the "savage" out of the Indians - Inuit - Aboriginals etc...

Although we have come a long way in protecting human rights we still have a lot of work to least that is my personal feeling...

Until later, ride safe...!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

North Bay and a childhood fantasy

I have, since I was a small girl been enthralled with carousels. Who would have ever thought that in North Bay ON I would see a world class example...actually make that 2 and VERY fine examples they would be.

The very helpful young gal (Nicole) at the Comfort Inn in North Bay at Lakeside gave hubby and I a list of must do's...She was able to give us really great suggestions and directions. This little lady is a very dedicated employee (she worked two shifts back to back to cover for a gal whose child came down with small pox) and she is very cheerful and helpful - a real customer service super star and I want to thank her publicly for helping to make my day so enjoyable.

Any way - list and map courtesy of Nicole, in we went.
Down at the wharf we toured the original Chief Commanda ship that is now a restaurant/pub you see below...

  The marina and area around the old Chief Commanda are beautiful and I can see that during the peak of the tourism/summer season would be a hopping place.

We were not certain that we were going to get the chance to see the hand carved carousel's at the Heritage Railway & Carousel across the street...but "Auntie Gail" make sure that we did!

Heritage Railway & Carousel
The caboose that acts as a boarding station for the miniature railway...
The master plan for the rail road to join the Museum to the water front area - the museum is located across the railroad tracks. The day we visited North Bay the museum was closed but I am told it is very worth going to.

Auntie Gail getting one of three trains ready for the day. Gail is one of many volunteers who works on the Heritage Railway & Carousel. The trains each cost about $100K each.
North Bay is a rail way town with a rich rail way history and has a devoted and dedicated volunteer community that works hard to preserve the memories.

In all - 180 artists and carvers along with 50 carpenters to put it all together were involved with the creation of two very different but equally stunning carousels.

The craftsmanship and artistry in these carousels is something to behold. These are fantastic examples of the local artisans...that's right, the carousels you see here are all made by local artists.

There is a plaque beside every horse or seating piece that tells you which family/business adopted the piece and it's name.
carved horses
Carved horses

art work and the memories
The music, the exquisitely carved horses ...the art work and the memories....what a delight this carousel was -  but this was not all that Auntie Gail had to show us....

A second carousel - VERY different from the first was waiting under the tent you see below...
Winter - Santa and all things childhood fantasy awaited! It was just as gorgeous and stunning as the first one...
The seahorse was so pretty...

Santa's sleigh was a hoot.

The hare and the wolf were so intricately done....
The beaver was a bit of whimsy...
The raccoon and her baby sat next to the lynx...
Auntie Gail and mee
Gail explained to us that the entire Heritage Railway & Carousel is funded by local sponsors and through some  grants. The money that they make from giving rides and selling souvenirs takes care of much of the operational expenses. So, hubby and I went to the gift shop and tried to just donate some money because this place is so amazing but nope - they don't take donations so we bought the smallest keepsakes they had, some train key chains and off we went to our next adventure...

Until later...ride safe....