Thursday, December 31, 2015

Greetings for Christmas 2015, and New Years 2016


Just when I thought the dust had settled on this year's Christmas celebrations, yesterday the postman delivered the ModernVespa.com 2015 gift exchange present. I got to the door as the driver was climbing into his truck and we exchanged enthusiastic waves in a scene reminiscent of a Saturday Evening Post Norman Rockwell Christmas cover.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

With the help of the Empire, I strike back

I slid onto my perch and looked Kitchen Mac straight in the screen. I was focused. Reestablishing order and control over whatever was slowly going wrong among the wayward applications in my digital domain was mission critical. Keeping my collection of music and art out of harm's way was an objective I would reach.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Music and images

I believe that art, in all its forms, is the essence of our humanity. I will go further, and argue that the arts drive our evolution more than any other aspect of our being.

Long before the Motorola flip phone became a consumer product, there was the Star Trek communicator. Jules Verne explored ocean depths long before Jacques Cousteau did. Man walked on the moon in July 1969, but Jules Verne wrote about it more than one hundred years earlier, and Tintin made it there in 1954. Leonardo da Vinci explored human winged flight five centuries before the Wright brothers broke the bonds of gravity at Kitty Hawk.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The laws of nature vs the nature of laws

Sometimes humour, even dark humour, accomplishes more, in a single sound bite or hastily drawn cartoon, than reams of newsprint, gallons of ink, and endless 'breaking news' segments can manage.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Rider profile: Mike Fritz

Name: Michael Fritz
Find me on Earth: Cornwall, Ontario
Find me Online: http://vstromamericas.com
Interview Date: Saturday, December 12, 2015
Interview Location: Cornwall, Ontario

Life on two wheels: When did you start riding, how old were you?

Mike: I was 5 years old when my father bought my brother and I a blue plastic battery operated bike. It was only meant for indoor use and surely I drove my folks batty driving it all the time. I was 8 or 9 when my friend bought his first dirt bike and I rode it as much as he did. I was hooked for life. At 16 got my first street bike and only went back to a dirt bike in 2014.

Life on two wheels: How many motorbikes have you owned?

Mike: 7 bikes.

Life on two wheels: What is your current bike, and is the current bike your favorite?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Lunch with Peter and Mike

I had to be in Ottawa yesterday for a meeting at four o'clock. It made sense to seize the opportunity to drop in on Peter Sanderson.

Peter had some business to look after in the morning and suggested we get together for lunch. He was already meeting Mike Fritz to celebrate Mike's birthday and asked me to tag along.

That meant three bloggers getting together to celebrate a birthday, what could be finer?

Allow me to introduce Mike Fritz.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

Winter ride

I was seriously remiss.

I borrowed camping equipment for my July trek to the Adirondacks, and hadn't yet returned it to Marlene.

The weather gods are holding off the snow, at least for the time being. So today I made good.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Comfort food: Heirloom spaghetti and meatballs


Do you know why humans achieved so much more, in the course of evolution, than any other animal on the planet?

The proximate cause, of course, is that we are the smartest.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Life and death at the crossroads

Events continue to cascade in my life. It's been unremitting since May. The pace of change is something to behold.

Most recently I lost my Dad, on the twelfth of November. Out of the blue.

It's not a sad story, it truly isn't. Denis led a very happy full life. For the last six or seven years he was afflicted with progressive memory loss. He was in remarkably good spirits for the most part. That much hadn't changed. I believe his failing memory served to insulate him, to a degree, from his growing frailty and the ever-shrinking sphere of his existence. Then, in a matter of minutes or hours, a stroke took his life. He was eighty-six.

I've had this post on the subject of happiness simmering gently on the back burner for a little over a month. It's high time to publish it before something else happens, like the barbaric,

Monday, November 23, 2015

Remembering

On November 11th I went to the Last Post military cemetery in Pointe Claire.

I have written about this place once or twice before. Here time stands still. Twenty thousand servicewomen and servicemen have been laid to rest in the cemetery. My grandfather Georges Terroux, who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War I, is one of them.

It was a privilege to be here on Remembrance Day. The cemetery was well attended.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Been fiddlin'

Today I managed to implement about ninety percent of the changes to this journal that have been rattling around in my brain for many, many, months.

I have to say that translating the thoughts in my head into reasonably well-behaved pixels on the screen has been as painful as I thought it would be.

Authoring any digital media, whether it's software programming, graphic content like photos, or the look and feel of a blog, is fairly obsessive work. Trial and error, error and trial, trial and error. That, and the occasional epiphany when, on the very cusp of total frustration, something finally works. There are far too many moving parts between what this blog looked like for the past five years, and where it is now. I won't bore you with the details.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Runnin' errands

I haven't posted much lately. We bloggers come, and we go.

Some of the going is voluntary, some is imposed.

I have come to the end of some roads. Other roads beckon.

If I was a commuter, now I run errands. Like a run to Costco last week, to buy new cordless phones.

Monday, September 28, 2015

2015 Blogger to Blogger Tour - Epilogue, and lessons learned

It's been a long time between posts. The main reason is that the past two months have been, by some measures, the best and busiest of our lives. There was the annual conference of the national organization I chair that was, for the first time ever, held in Montreal. As soon as that ended we celebrated the marriage of our eldest son. Sonja and Roland came to visit, then Susan and I went on an amazing trip that took us to Edmonton, Jasper Park, Vancouver, and Maui. Phew.

Along the way, I worked on this post, mostly during our flights. I hope you will find it was worth the long wait. 

I'm getting slightly more experienced with touring. That means I still have a lot to learn.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Toying with Templates; Flirting with Failure

I've dropped hints about wanting to make changes to the way this ongoing story is presented.

The choices are unfortunately unlimited.

It's like shopping for a BMW vehicle with an unlimited budget. Sedan? SUV? Limousine? No problem. Suede headliner? 100,000 LED mood-lit interior? Built-in cigar humidor in the console? No problem. No kidding. I was chatting with Billy at Canbec BMW just the other day. Got millions to piss away to annoy your siblings and leave your heirs breathless and nervous? No better place to start than by ordering a custom seven series sedan with oodles and oodles of options and doo-dads.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Project report - Installing heated grips on a Honda Shadow VT750 ACE

The Honda Shadow is a shared bike. One day I'll get around to explaining in detail how Sonja and I came to co-own the Honda Shadow, which we now call Thunderbird.

Thunderbird is new to us, it's a gently used 2003 motorcycle. True to its roots, Thunderbird was fitted with a bunch of aftermarket accessories installed with thoughts of cruising down the boulevard with the sun glinting off as much chrome as possible, to the tune of very loud aftermarket Cobra exhaust pipes.

Monday, September 7, 2015

2015 Blogger to Blogger Tour: Safe travels

Sonja and Roland returned this past Thursday from their Ontario trip with Sonja under the weather.  Apparently traveling makes Sonja sick. Her love of travel is so deep, that she considers a predictable head cold to be a small price to pay for adventure.

On Friday I resumed my tour guide duties and took the traveling dynamic duo to see the remaining must-see sights of Montreal.

We had seen the southern and eastern sides of the city from the three drive-to lookouts on Mount Royal.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The ScootCommute on CITY TV

Today was the day I got about three and a half minutes of the fifteen minutes of fame that Andy Warhol kindly alotted to me.

Some time a few weeks back, I got an e-mail asking if I would mind being interviewed on Montreal CITY TV's morning show Breakfast Television. I was both surprised and genuinely honoured.

When I mentioned to Susan that the show's managing producer told me that it would be a three-minute interview, Susan burst out laughing "You can't even introduce yourself in three minutes!" she teased.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

2015 Blogger to Blogger Tour - The Magers are here (no, not baseball)

I was going to title this post "Thunderbird, meet Sonja. Sonja, meet Thunderbird", but really, it's a continuing post in the amazing 2015 Blogger to Blogger Tour series.

They came, they saw, and... Whoosh!... they are on their way.

Sonja and Roland, that is.

They are hearty and hale folks, that's for sure. They barely look the worse for that tiresome east to west jet lag.

That said, Susan and I did our best to squeeze in the quintessential must see, and must do experiences for our out of town guests.

Yesterday we did Mount Royal (all three lookouts)...
... the Plateau (grabbing some iconic snacks along the way)...
... downtown (a coffee break at Myriad steps away from Concordia's campus)...
... Old Montreal and the old port...
... dinner at Wellington (in Verdun, with a decent Merlot/Syrrah blend we picked up steps from Notre Dame, appropriately labeled C'est la vie!)...
... and winding down with a leisurely cruise home along the Lachine Canal and the shores of Lake St-Louis.

Before they went their merry way headed to their rendez-vous with Karen in Morrisburg, Sonja hopped on Thunderbird for a quick spin.
They'll be back in a few days' time to complete the tour of Montreal's remaining must see and must do wonders.

Keep an eye on Sonja's blog, on Karen's blog, and on Dave's blog and you'll be able to follow their progress in Eastern Canada!

Friday, August 21, 2015

I knocked; the universe answered

I was born in the year of the Dragon: 1952.

In August of 2009 I was in St-Johns Newfoundland. 2009 was a tough year. We almost cancelled the 2009 CSCS conference in St-Johns.  I insisted we march into the financial storm and carry on, to send a strong message that CSCS would not be deterred by mere financial chaos.

No good deed goes unpunished, so the universe sent hurricane Bill to cheer us up. Bwahhh hah hah! We laughed in the face of adversity!

When I saw a black baseball hat in the tower gift shop high atop Signal Hill I couldn't resist. It fit the bill perfectly. I wore it resolutely at the conference. Adorned with a menacing skull and crossbones it said "The beatings will continue, until morale improves".
A few years later, in the year of the dragon, the winter of 2012, I was visiting my brother-in-law in Florida. I was wearing my pirate hat.

Chuck saw it and flipped. Florida was still firmly in the death grip of the 2009 financial crisis. Chuck had to have the hat. I understood. I gave it to him without a moment's hesitation.

Chuck was so pleased, he enthusiastically led me to his closet where he had his considerable collection of baseball caps. For the most part, the collection was investment dealer and mutual fund swag, along with sports memorabilia. Chuck gave me the pick of his collection.

I went through the hats without much enthusiasm, until I found my dragon hat. I had to have it. It meant so much. My mother had given me many, many years before, a Chinese chop, my Chinese signature stamp, with my name in Chinese characters carved out of a solid block of jade. A beautifully carved dragon decorated the stamp. My mother explained to me that I was born in the year of the dragon.
I sometimes feel like a dragon, peculiar, strange, proud, sometimes fierce, courageous when it matters, somewhat mystical and a little bit mythical.

This summer, three years later, my dragon hat has suffered from constant use. The black is sunwashed. The dragon is still boldly golden, but that won't last forever. Then again, neither will I.

A few weeks ago, on a whim, I searched for the website of the Matthews Funds.  I used the 'contact us' page to ask for a new dragon hat as a hedge against future decay. I forgot about it. It was a message in a bottle.

Today, as we are deep in readiness preparations for our son Jonathan's wedding tomorrow, my son Andrew called out to me as I was wrapping up pool cleaning. "A package came for you!" he said, brandishing a square Fedex box.

I wasn't expecting anything.

I tore into the box eagerly. Leah's kind note fell into my hands.
H-A-T-S?!?!

And there they were!!!! I've got spares! An everyday, workin' around the house hat, a new goin' out on the town hat, and a dress hat!!!

Oh boy!
To you I say: "Is there something you need? Is there something you want? Knock on the universe's door! You never know what will happen. I started knocking a little too late in life. But it's never too late. Knock my friends, knock!"

To Leah Harold, Vice-President, U.S. Marketing, for Matthews International Capital Management LLC, thank you so very much, now you know how much it means to me. I will continue to wear the hats proudly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rider profile: Stephanie Yue

Name: Stephanie Yue
Find me on Earth: Nominally, Providence Rhode Island
Find me Online: 250ccSuperhero, JellyCity.comModernVespa.com, ADVrider.com, Motorcycle Men Podcast Interview
Interview Date: July 23, 2015
Interview Location: Lubec, Maine
Scootcommute: When did you start riding, how old were you?

Stephanie: I started riding in spring 2010, and I was 25 years old.

Scootcommute: How many motorbikes have you owned?

Stephanie: I owned two scooters (2009 Genuine Buddy 50, 2009 Vespa GTS 250) and one motorcycle (1983 Kawasaki 550 LTD).

Scootcommute: What is your current bike, and is the current bike your favorite?

Stephanie: My current bike is the Vespa GTS 250. It’s my favorite so far, which probably explains all the miles on it.

Scootcommute: Talk to me about the most challenging riding skill you learned.

Stephanie: That’s a tough one, everything new is challenging in the beginning. Switching from asphalt to sand or gravel freaked me out at first, but it was less about challenge and more just inexperience and nerves. I’ve grown more comfortable proportional to exposure.

There’s a certain degree of hyper-awareness necessary when sharing the road that I feel took a long time (and a few falls and close calls) to develop. That one is an ever present challenge if you’re planning to ride on streets.

Scootcommute: Are you a moto-commuter, a tourer, or a fair weather rider?

Stephanie: Of the three I’m probably a tourer, though I also use my bike to commute and certainly enjoy fair weather!

Scootcommute: Are you a solitary rider? How about riding in a group?

Stephanie: Most of my miles are solitary, but that’s just because I picked up riding before meeting other riders. I remember the sheer thrill of my first group ride with about 100 other scooters (Ski’s Shrimp Run 2013), just seeing so many other bikes and riders making a big amorphous organism! I’m a little more wary of group rides now from a safety standpoint, but I still enjoy them. Also, touring with a small party can be an absolute blast, and I wouldn’t mind more of that.

Scootcommute: I dare you to share an awkward or embarrassing riding moment.

Stephanie: Oh boy, how to choose. I had an embarrassing moment just recently as I was leaving West Quoddy Head Light. I pulled over to take a photo of a rainbow, but because it was a narrow and somewhat traveled road I decided to leave the engine on should I need a quick getaway. I stepped back for the photo, and went to adjust the handlebars… and accidentally tapped the throttle rocker. I had left my bike on its side stand instead of the center stand (again, quick getaway), which meant the rear wheel was still on the ground. The scoot took off under me and landed on its left side a few feet away (guess it got away). 34k and nearly 15 months on this trip, and mere minutes after reaching my final goal of the easternmost point in the contiguous US, I dumped the bike. It scraped my left side bag, bent the brake lever, and knocked my mirror out of whack. No serious damage though, just a bruised ego. I hear those grow back.

There’s also another incident involving food poisoning, but I don’t think it’s strictly riding related?

Scootcommute: What is the best place your bike has taken you?

Stephanie: Right here, Lubec, ME. We have 45k total together, have set wheels in all 48 contiguous states; Baja, Mexico; and some Canadian provinces as well. It’s my stalwart companion, even when I bitch and moan.

Scootcommute: Tell me why you ride.

Stephanie: Originally I picked up riding as a practical thing – I wanted more than a bicycle but less than a car. I like the ideal of fuel efficiency and minimalism, bonus it had style. Once I actually got my license and began putting in miles, I realized I’d stumbled onto much more. Riding keeps me engaged, both physically and mentally. The act of riding is like a meditation, much like some of the martial arts I do. There’s also a social component of meeting other addicts – I mean, riders. I ride to get out of my shell, explore the world, and connect with others. To be dramatic, it reminds me why I’m alive.

Scootcommute: If I could grant you one riding wish, what would it be?

Stephanie: I don’t even know where to begin with that! For now I’ll just go with a seemingly modest yet impossible request for perfect riding pants.

_____________________________

Sunday, August 16, 2015

2015 Blogger to Blogger Tour - the Kilner Interlude

Ed Kilner swung through Montreal on his way to a grand tour of the Maritimes, and spent a night with us.

I made room in the garage for his BMW R1200RT.  It was the second time there were two Beemers and three bikes in the Masse garage.
We caught up on a bunch of topics including all types of things we discovered we had in common professionnally that you would never suspect.  Mostly boring change management stuff and the role of information technologies, or at least boring to most people, but endlessly fascinating to Ed and I.

I barbequed some steaks, Susan made a salad, and I cooked some market fresh new potatoes, all of which went nicely with an organic cabernet sauvigon blend.

Ed was up at the crack of dawn gearing up for a ride up to the Gaspé.
At Ed's suggestion I threw a modest breakfast together.
Ed asked for the best route to take to the south shore route to Quebec City. It took me fifteen seconds to let Susan know that I was going to ride with Ed to the South Shore via the Champlain bridge.
The ride was uneventful, though the morning rush hour was in high gear.  Fortunately the route I took was flowing nicely and we made it over the bridge and off the island in very good time.
We pulled off route 132 on the South Shore, onto a side street in Longueuil where Ed programmed his GPS for the road to the GaspĂ© Peninsula.  We said our goodbyes, I wished Ed safe travels, made a U-turn, honked a goodbye blast of Thunderbird's air horn, and headed back home.

Around supper time Ed sent me an e-mail message saying that he had arrrived safely in Rimouski. You can read about that leg of his travels here.

PS: Ed's Beemer cracked its oil pan on a misplaced brick, ending his Maritime tour, and ending his Beemer too.  Ed's fine, back home, but for the time being, bikeless.  Read all about it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

2015 Blogger to Blogger Tour - Steve, Tom, Craig and Ron

It was a restless night.
The sleeping bag and mattress pad are just too confining, and the camp pillow is just too damn small. I slowly woke to the apprehension that I may have snored so badly that poor Stephanie was left wishing for bears, raccoons, or anything other than sharing a campsite with the likes of me.

If that was the case, she refused to fess up.

I tried to be quiet. I crawled out of my insect-free cocoon and stood in the cool damp morning air. I walked to a secluded spot and peed to my heart's content.  I walked out to the road to stretch my legs, and then crawled back into the tent and waited for Stephanie to stir.

Once we were both officially awake, I offered to make coffee or tea.  My ultra-light butane stove boiled the water in a jiffy.
Stephanie opted for tea, I had coffee.  There was no milk so both were served black. As I lay awake that morning before having ventured out, I had fantasized that there would be no bugs buzzing in the morning. There were fewer bugs, but not so few that lingering over hot beverages and pondering the meaning of life on the shores of picture-perfect Horseshoe Lake was ever an appealing option.

We did the only rational thing. We pulled on the armour, struck camp, and hit the road again.

Now, I have a hard time passing up a decent breakfast, so finding one became the first order of business. Fortunately Stephanie didn't object to the agenda. We saw a few prospects here and there as we rode north on route 30, but on inspection, nothing panned out. When we rode into the village of Tupper Lake, at the top end of Tupper Lake, we had some options, and settled on the Swiss Kitchen restaurant.
It was a suitably homey place, with booths, locals enjoying breakfasts and chatter, and the kind of friendly waitress you expect when you imagine a small-town place like this. We ordered coffee, bacon and eggs, and enjoyed the meal down to the last bite.  Did I mention there were no bugs? We picked up our conversation pretty much where we had left off when sleep got the better of us the night before.

I promised at the outset to report every intimate detail of our two-day adventure. If you've been following along, you may have noticed that, aside from riding, sleeping, and swatting armies of bugs, we yacked, blabbed, chatted, jabbered, gabbed, yada-yada-yada'd, and otherwise spent considerable time chewing the fat. And yet, promises aside, I haven't said boo about the actual content of our conversations. I'll eventually make good on the undertaking to reveal all, I swear. But not quite yet.

At one point during our feast, Steve, Tom, Craig and Ron walked in for breakfast. Bikers. The tip offs were armour and some hi-viz bits. But we didn't know who they were until quite a bit later.

Stephanie picked up the tab for breakfast because the Swiss Kitchen didn't take plastic, and I hadn't managed to find an ATM yet. Fear not, I made it up to her later on.

With our tummies full, we got back on the Vespas and made tracks.  Our major destination was Lake Placid. Without doubt Lake Placid is the crown jewel of the Adirondacks. Its claim to fame is without question the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympics, but it's also just a really, really pretty little country town.

Along the way we stopped to stretch our legs in Saranac Lake, another pretty little Adirondack town.
Copyright - Stephanie Yue
In the fullness of time, we came to Lake Placid. On the way downtown we passed a spot where we were fairly compelled to stop for obligatory snapshots.
We cruised slowly through the centre of town in the same fashion as cruising down A1A in Fort Lauderdale, past the five corners intersection in Ogunquit, along the main road in North Conway, the outlet mall strip in Kittery, Pike Place in Seattle, or St-Paul street in Montreal. The laid back pace, the throng of strolling tourists, and the rubbernecking motorists, all conspire to create that langorous slow crawl I just love.
We parked the Vespas towards the end of the main strip and set off on foot to visit the town.  I also needed to find an ATM.  We would eventually need to grab a bite to eat as well.

Enter Steve, Tom, Craig and Ron.
As we strolled and talked (I know, I know, how much could possibly be left to say?), and checked out the sights and a few boutiques, and read menus, and Stephanie checked the schedule for the Port Kent, New York to Burlington, Vermont ferry, we were pulled from our blissful stroll by Craig. "Hi there! are those your scooters parked down the street?" "Yes they are" one of us politely replied.  Craig couldn't quite understand (who could blame him) how two Vespa scooters, one with Quebec plates, one with Rhode Island plates, and clearly part of a team just because of the similar ways they were equipped for an expedition, came to be parked in Lake Placid.  Imagine his surprise when he heard Stephanie's story. Imagine our surprise when Craig introduced his buddies Steve, Tom and Ron.  Once we saw Steve and Tom we understood not only that they were fellow riders, but they were the same crew who walked into the Swiss Kitchen in Tupper Lake. Adding to the element of surprise we learned that they all hailed from Toronto. Canadians are the nicest people, don't you know?

It turned out that we were headed the same way, to the Port Kent ferry terminal on Lake Champlain.  They suggested Stephanie and I ride up Whiteface Mountain to visit the place called the Castle.  Great views and a coffee shop where we could grab that bite we were planning.  After our encounter with the boys, we wished them safe travels, and Stephanie looked forward to seeing them on the ferry later in the day, if the timing aligned.

As all this was happening the skies were turning gray. Not storm gray, not rain gray, just gray-ish.

We rolled out of Lake Placid on Route 86 with an eye out for the road leading to the Castle on Whiteface. We never got there. Fate intervened.

Not long after leaving Lake Placid, Stephanie pulled over on a gravel turnout. When I rode up next to her, she had a very focused and concerned look about her. It clearly spelled trouble. Before I could manage much more than "What's up?" Stephanie was off her bike and rummaging through a saddlebag. She was terse. "Get your rain gear on, we're about to get dumped on... my riding pants aren't waterproof... I need to find shelter... catch up with me a mile or so down the road..." and with that intensely brief admonition barely past her lips, she hopped on her Vespa and sped off down the highway.

All right then... I popped the seat and got my rain jacket out. By the time I had one arm in a sleeve, huge drops began to fall.  No sooner had I zipped up, and it was pouring.  By the time I got rolling, a major squall was well underway.  Visibility was so low due to the volume of water raining down, that the traffic had slowed to a crawl with four-ways flashing.

Now motorcycle travel done well is a queer thing. With brand new Revit Enterprise armoured pants, Icon Patrol waterproof boots, a Teknic rain overjacket, and my trusty Nolan N104 helmet, aside from my nice Tucano Urbano mesh gloves and the ocasional drop that invaded my visor, I was dry in the deluge.  A couple of miles downstream, at another turnout, I spied Stephanie sheltering on the edge of the woods under her tarp rigged over the bike as best she could.
There were a couple of cars and a truck in the turnout as well.  The drivers had judged it better to pull over to wait out the storm.  I made a cautious U-turn, entered the turnout and parked next to Stephanie where we waited out the worst of the storm.  We couldn't easily communicate, so I took pictures and a brief video to relieve the boredom, and record our plight for posterity.

All the while, there was one question burning in my brain. "How the heck... by what black art... did Stephanie learn of impending cataclysm? I mean within minutes of the onslaugth, literally! Holy cow!"

Storms like that can't last that long.  When the flood turned to normal-ish rainfall, Stephanie stowed her tarp and off we went.  A couple of miles further down the road we stumbled on the Hungry Trout restaurant.
We pulled into the parking lot.  Stephanie wanted to make the 4:30 ferry, and given the time, suggested that we grab a bite to eat at this serendipitous spot, and forego the Castle.  It was a reasonable suggestion, I was hungry, and it meant that we could maintain a leisurely pace without worrying about Stephanie making her date with the ferry.
When I pulled off my Tucano Urbano summer riding gloves (a gift to myself I purchased in Rome a few years back) my hands were... BLUE!!! I mean seriously blue. Stephanie thought it was a hoot (mainly because her hands weren't blue). No amount of scrubbing with mud and sand did more than exfoliate my blue hands.  The liquid soap in the Hungry Trout's restroom left my hands soft, supple, fragrant... and BLUE! I felt like a bank robber ambushed by a bandit-pack bundle of booby-trapped hundred dollar bills.  Thankfully the Hungry Trout doesn't discriminate against aliens or bank robbers, and we were seated in the restaurant, and served no less. Guess what we did then? Yup, more chatter.

"How in heaven's name did you know that was going to happen?" I stammered. "Noah" Stephanie said rather matter-of-factly. "You're related to Noah??" (which I suppose most of us are, in a Darwinian way). "No silly... NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA.gov. I have the NOAA app on my iPhone, I was tracking the weather system, I knew the intensity, and pretty much when we were going to get hit."

Wow. That's how smart and connected you have to be to survive fourteen months on the road solo on a Vespa, visiting all forty-eight of the contiguous states in America. Stephanie learned a lot about life in her thirty young years, and had much to share. Hence all the jaw flapping and chin-wagging we had been up to at every opportunity.

My only regret of my two day adventure is that I didn't spend $20 in the Hungry Trout's gift shop on a tree-face.  How short-sighted. The big pine tree on our front lawn so deserves a creepy smirk.
By far the very best section of motorcycle touring road was still to come.  The combination of Route 86 and Route 9N from Lake Placid to Port Kent was nothing short of wondrous. It's a long sinuous downhill run, often following the picturesque Ausable river, with a section toward the end of Route 9N where the bridge takes the road over Ausable Chasm.

Far too soon, my little tiny slice of Stephanie's incredible America-wide journey came to an end on the shores of Lake Champlain.

I set her free and on her way, left only with incredible memories that money simply won't buy.
Set yourself free! Hit the road Jack!

Stay-tuned. There's still a little more to come.
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.