Monday, May 25

London, Ontario to Erie, PA & a very drunk man (Rough draft)

(Note: Sorry for the off the top note and unedited pics. I'm far more exhausted than usual but I plan to write a full ride report at a later time. Here, I'm just letting you know I'm okay).

I am behind schedule but "Johnny crack corn and I don't care." Why did I think of that...the brain is an amazing matter.  

 Sunday was special on so many levels! Even this confirmed solo rider spent a part of the day riding with a great friend. My pal Lucas, who lives in Niagara on the Lake, rode down to Port Dover, Ontario to meet with me and ride. We made no concrete plans except to "try" to meet.

Port Dover is the motorcycle mecca of Ontario--at least in this part of the universe.  Every Friday the 13th hundreds and hundreds of motorcyclists converge on this motorcycle-friendly little port town. Although it was not the 13th, a plethora of bikes, many of them loud and shiny--if you get my picture--filled the small, picturesque lakeside village. Quaint shops and quirky characters are omnipresent.

Lucas said we were each about an hour from Port Dover and should get there around the same time. I tried to stick to the GPS but didn't and it cost me probably 30 minutes. But as I pulled into town, I made a turn that put me a block away from the action. When I rode around the block, I spotted the backside of a hi-viz yellow jacket out of the corner of my eyes. I decided to follow it because Lucas wears one. As he pulled into a parking space, I pulled right behind him. It was Lucas! We arrived at the exact same moment! 

Lucas rides a Kawasake Versys, a beautiful bike that reminds me of my beloved Suzuki SV650. Lucas has farkeled that bike beautifully. 
I'd love that bike but it is as we say in Chicago, "A tall drink of water." I would be on my tippy-toes.  It's a "do it all bike,"--made motorcycle of the year in '08. It's a standard yet able to handle off road. It was so great seeing Lucas. He's a skilled rider and I love learning from him. We talked bikes and riding for a while and then had a wonderful perch dinner. I was hungrier than I thought and didn't think to take a "food picture." When people are around, I enjoy eating a meal, when they are not, I don't always think about eating--my proof that eating is a social event to me more than a survival issue. The meal was like a drug. I felt great afterwards and it lasted a very long time.

We had a great gathering.  But the ride together back to the states was the best! Lucas knows some amazing backroad stretches. Everything was perfect. Let's just say, he's a spirited rider, who loves curves and loves a little pep in his step--his wheels roll! Lucas is an American living in Canada and will soon be a Canadian citizen--Yay!!

Lucas rode with me all the way to a very nice park from which we watched the Peace Bridge and we stared across the way to Buffalo, New York. Lucas gave me some ride instructions and we parted company way too soon.  I made the border crossing and toured a bit of Buffalo, which struck me as  sad. Very sad, which I'll write more about at another time.  I got to Lackawanna, which is also economically depressed on many levels too. Yet, people find joy no matter where--even if that joy is artificially stimulated.

I wanted to go to the building on Wasson Street in Lackawanna. It's the setting of a movie called Lackawanna Blues. I reached it, thanks to Lucas knowing the address (he went there and I've wanted to go there since). A overtly drunk man was sitting outside. I stopped the bike a ways down (not wanting to deal with the man) and tried to get a decent picture. He was yelling to someone across the street to give him money. I snapped a picture and he turned and waved to me. I nodded. He spotted the camera (I had the G10--something small). He motioned for me to take his picture and I said to myself, "Dang, I was hoping to avoid this."

From there I took the picture and he motioned for me to come over. Reluctantly, I dismounted the bike and walked toward him. I knew that some drama would ensue. I just knew it. I'm for drama. I'm just not for dealing with drunks. He was not just inebriated, he was sloppy, sloppy, walking sideways two steps then forward one step and backways several steps, drunk! He had the tubescent(sp?) features of a drunk-- that puffy "hyper" look to one's pores that always makes the person's face look swollen. When I did my dissertation work, I became an expert in spotting such characters and many of them had more than their share of drama. 

He said, "I'm Sunny Hall" (which was his street name) and I'm the one who kicked the devil's ass and sent him on his way." I nodded and smiled. "Take my picture beautiful." I took his picture. "Come here, talk to me. I'm looking for a nice girlfriend, I need somebody." I smiled and said I was married. "I don't give a damn 'bout that--where he at now?"  I didn't answer. He motioned with his hands as if to say, "Where is he?"  He posed for me to take another picture. I did. I said, "Isn't this the place they made a movie." He smile at recalling it. "Yes, I was the one who kicked the devil's ass." I tried to recall if that was a scene in the movie or only in the movie playing in this guy's head. I couldn't remember...

I took a few pictures of the building. And, finally Sunny asked me for money. I reached in my pocket and had four coins--all Canadian. I gave him the seven dollars and asked if he could use that. "Sure, I can, I'm trying to get money to get home." (This is the same line I hear in Chicago all the time, and there too, I try to keep coins in my pocket and give a bit here and there). He proceeded to ask me, no press me, for my number. I told him I wasn't from around there. When he learned where I was from it seemed to attract him more. "Damn, from Chicago, all the way on that bike, damn, see you're the kind of woman I need in my life. I want to get to know you. You could help me...I want to get next to you. What's you name?"

I was deliberately vague and only gave my first name. He then gave me his real name. He felt that any man deserving of me would not "let" me out. I thanked him for the pictures. "Will you call me? When you gone let me get to know you?" It amazes me that he would even think he's be love-worthy. I admired his confidence!  I stressed being unavailable but thanked him again for the pictures. He then asked for some American money. I told him I couldn't really help him I had no small bills, which I didn't hesitate not to say to him.  Men like him are not violent; they are typically harmless. They're just drunks. Often talkative and friendly.  I could tell this was alcohol not any of the shooting up, sniffing or smoking drugs.  I told him I might have a dollar, which he said would help him "a lot." 

He followed me to the bike and as we walked there I hoped that the large bills I had placed inside were not showing. I told him I had no small bills and he eagerly said he could get anything changed in the store. I gave him the $1 I had and with the Canadian coins I told him he had more than enough to get home. He smiled and said, "You're smart too. See I need someone body like you in my life--I could love you. God sent you. You could help me straighten out" He went on and could forever. He insisted I take down his number. "I want you to call me. I stay with my mother. Now she's particular about people calling her house but she'll be okay with you. I don't really live there, but I stay there." Translation: His mother's house is the place he receives mail, messages and can occasionally get a meal or two. I took his address and promised to mail him a picture, which he thought made him look handsome. I will do that. We parted and he tried to kiss me a couple of times and thank God for helmets. Each time he tried, I lowered my head and blocked him with my helmet. "Please, I'm married and don't..." He responded each time, "I don't care about that, I want to get to know you." Another good reason to ALWAYS wear a helmet.

The ride to Erie, PA was beautiful. I followed 5 southwesterly all the way, catching glimpses and full views of Lake Erie. I made a stop or two to take it all in but mostly I rode.  The smooth ride put me in a nice zone  where everything seemed on auto pilot. For miles and miles of curvy, sweeping roads on relatively lightly traveled ground, I reached Erie, PA way too soon. I had an urge to moto on to Cleveland, but Lucas said there was a Panera's in Erie right on 5 and when I saw that, I stopped and had dinner. The hotel, which I selected just because it was a Comfort Inn downtown, was a couple of blocks from the Panera's. I got in around 9pm, belly full, tired and ready for my Memorial Day outing. Memorial Day...uh oh, parades. It might be slow going...

I'll ride in honor of what the day really means and thank those who risked and gave their lives for others...

Hope your day has meaning...