Following my friend Duff's advice, I left Woodstock in the early morning (3:00 a.m.) to avoid the worst of Toronto's traffic. Besides it being a little chilly, there was a TERRIBLE fog on the road. It spooked me until I came up with the idea of letting a truck pass me and keeping up with it to guide my way. The first truck was CRAZY fast (speed limits evidently don't come into play on the 401... I was going 120 - 20 kph over the limit - to keep up with him, but this guy pulled away from me within a minute). Since that truck driver wasn't the only crazy fast one, my strategy became: keep up with a truck as long as you can, once he pulls away, let another truck pass and follow him.
The strategy was working fine until I was about a half hour outside Woodstock. A new truck passed me. The driver flashed his lights on and off once he was in front of me. I figured he might be trying to tell me something so at the next exit, I went off the 401 to check my bike. Sure enough, my rear tail light/brake light had blown out. Not a good thing in the dark, with a fog and BIG, crazy fast trucks on the road. So thanks very much to that unknown truck driver for warning me of my predicament! (I had checked my lights before leaving Woodstock so the light had blown somewhere along the way.)
Happily, a spare set of bulbs and tools were part of my emergency kit. The only problem was finding a safe place to change the bulb. The dark combined with the fog was the DARKEST dark I've ever experienced. I had my blinkers on, but the two cars that passed me (one coming towards me and one going the same way as me) startled me even though I heard them coming. I finally found a gravel driveway with a light on. I pulled in and brought out my spare bulb, my flashlight, and my screwdriver. It took about three quarters of an hour (total) before I was back on the road.
Result: I got into the greater Toronto area at about 5:30 a.m. (much later than I had planned on). I still avoided the worst of the traffic according to traffic reports on my radio. It was still the worst traffic *I* have ever driven through! AND my adventure on the 401 wasn't over!!
I was safely driving in the second lane from the right thinking "this is a good place... I can predict what people around me are going to do and I'm not in an exit lane so I can just drive right past Toronto". BUT... no one told me about "collector lanes"! When my safe second lane became the middle of three that veered to the right OFF the expressway, my stomach dropped! They certainly don't give you any warning (100 M) either! I scrambled to get into the lane to the immediate left but just couldn't make it into the "through" lane (one more over from that). A great big semi was there and I obviously didn't want to plaster myself against him!
I had thoughts of getting lost in the greater Toronto area... never to emmerge again! Now I was in the extreme left lane and, not knowing the collector lane concept, only HOPED for the chance to get back into the expressway. My hopes ran high for a while... the through lanes were on the other side of a concrete barrier (weird thoughts ran through my brain... "can I jump it?"). Then the lanes that I was following turned away to the right... "if I end up in Toronto, all I have to do is find the lake and go east... you can do it Barb!!" Finally the lanes turned towards the left again and "YEAHHHHHH! an exit back to the expressway!! I'll make it to Kingston after all... maybe...
Half way across Toronto, the traffic coming from the east began to pile up. I sure wouldn't have wanted to be stuck in that! The traffic was backed up all the way to Oshawa where I took a break at a Tim Horton's to congratulate myself on safely making it past the Toronto section of the 401!
I took another break close to Kingston to stretch my legs. This is the coffee shop I stopped in and behind the counter is my waitress, a very nice person that I chatted with for awhile.
As soon as I pulled into Kingston, I checked into the Days Inn which was right off the highway. As soon as I got organized, I called Jenn's (Bride) house. She wasn't home but I chatted with her Mom. Sharon suggested a few places I could visit in Kingston.
The first order of business was to wash my bike! Boy, was it ever filthy! BTW... if you're wondering why I included this picture of washing my bike, I wanted Darryl (see Day One) to know that sometimes *I* have a clean bike, too!
I also needed gas. There, I met a photographer who, along with me, admires German engineering when it comes to transportation!
When I took a photo of his Porsche and my BMW, we briefly chatted about the "pluses" of my new digital Nikon camera.
I drove down Division Road to Princess and that led me right into downtown Kingston which is on the lake.
One of the first things I saw was the clock tower of City Hall.
To the left of City Hall is the Prince George Hotel... a very old and beautiful building!
Across from City Hall, people were displaying their vintage cars.
Further down the street was Kingston's original Fire Hall which is now the Lone Star Restaurant.
Across the street from City Hall is the marina.
Here are two movies: one shows the Island Queen zipping into port the other shows the peaceful lakefront.
Click on the pictures to see the movies.
As I walked along the marina, I talked to Kim (worked for Lake Cruise) who gave me information on taking a cruise the next day as well as the trolley ride.
After driving around downtown Kingston for a while, I parked on King Street where I find the coolest old houses ever!
I really liked this house! Don't you love the flowers? Many of the houses had floral decorations. Neat!
Here's another house that I loved!
And now the strange part... later that evening I found out that I was admiring the house of Becky and Paul, good friends of Jennifer and Mike (the Bride & Groom).
I continued my walk back over to Ontario Street where I ran into this old ferry building which now houses the Maritime Museum.
At the Maritime Museum dock, you'll find this ship.
The Alexander Henry acts as a museum by day and a bed and breakfast by night. Maybe next time I'm in Kingston, I'll stay there.
I decided on a place called Frankie Pasta for dinner. YUM!
Here I am sitting on the patio waiting for dinner.
The view from my table down Ontario Street as the sun was setting was fantastic!
Across the street from dinner, someone had parked their Suzuki Hayabusa. If the person travels on the 401, maybe they can get this baby all the way up to its full speed of 189 MILES per hour (my my calculation, that's about 315 kph!)
After dinner, I drove over to Jennifer's house to perhaps visit. I called on my cell phone from outside to make sure it was OK to bother them (they had company earlier).
Only "the girls" remained at the house and they invited me in. From left to right: Becky (of King Street fame), Jane (Bridesmaid), Denise (Maid of Honour), Sharon (Mother of the Bride), and Jennifer (Bride!). We had a fun chat about the wedding and about my ride to Kingston.
Day Six: Kingston!
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