James’ “Freedom Day” was Saturday August 13th, 2016. We had spent the last 3 weeks at Margot’s sister’s place where we were very welcome, but we still wanted to go out and explore. So excited in fact, that we forgot to check the weather before we headed out to Geoff and Viv’s place in Hillsburgh, ON for their pool party.
Well it downpoured just after we left my sister Adrienne’s place and James being on the motorcycle got fully soaked, even down to his underwear! It turns out, there was also a tornado reported that day in York Region (where we used to live). He saw the line of rain ahead and said to himself, “It’s been a long time since I got this wet, so let’s do it!” It turns out getting soaked wasn’t all that bad and was even refreshing given the heatwave of the last 3 weeks!
Our friends Geoff and Viv have a lovely country property outside Hillsburgh with a spacious, level gravel driveway perfect for our rig.
The sun came out shortly after we arrived and we enjoyed catching up with good friends around the pool & hot tub, plus a potluck dinner, sharing date squares I baked at my sister’s house the evening before.
The next morning, Sunday, Geoff generously offered for us to use his tools and driveway to build the shelf we had been planning for the back of the van: yes please! A trip into Orangeville for supplies and we made progress right away by building a solid box 1’ by 3’ and 6” tall to hold our hitch equipment when not in use.
It took all of Monday to build the shelf itself: 4’ wide, 3’ deep and 13” tall with left and right partitions. We used the same building technique Taylor Coach uses for their lightweight but sturdy construction: pine strapping to support relatively thin plywood.
We customized a shelf to perfectly fit our folding solar panel, adding foam padding for extra protection. We put our tool chest on top of the shelf, creating cubbies on either side where we could put our zero gravity chairs and whatever else. Improved van organization: check!
Tuesday was a rain day. Viv drove us to St Jacob’s market in nearby Waterloo where we stocked up on maple syrup; we all enjoyed a games night together that evening. We headed out Wednesday morning to our rental property to drop off extra supplies, building materials and bins we no longer needed since we built the shelf. We also dropped off the F2 motorcycle and loaded up the Jazz scooter in the trailer. From there, we hit our old hometown of Markham to see the doctor for flu (Margot) and chiro (James). We also met up with two friends while in town – Jen Ng for an after work dog walk at the Richmond Green Park and Sheri-Lyn for an evening hang out at Angus Glen Community Centre.
What a great spot to overnight: Angus Glen has a quiet back parking lot next to a playing field and a corn field. They are also currently building a huge kids play area/splash pad.
The next morning we went lane swimming, enjoyed the showers and took advantage of the free wifi in the library. They even had compost collection – I love Markham! It is so easy to run errands in your old hometown: James took the scooter down to see his old barber while I went to my favorite boutique grocery store, The Village Grocer and walked Sadie at Milne Park. We met up again at the Beer Store of course to buy beer and load up the scooter once more.
Next stop: Canadian Tire MotorSport Park near Bowmanville for the Canadian SuperBike Races. They let us go right in and we set up at our usual spot for our annual weekend with friends at the race track! James had a media pass for all access and rented a special zoom lens from Henry’s in Oshawa to get the best shots.
Our good friend Ron Kierstead made the trip out from PEI for the second time this summer: Sadie was so excited when she heard her favorite Uncle Ron’s voice – she ran off the wrong way desperately trying to find him! We had a great time visiting with so many good friends, watching the races and zipping around the grounds 2 up with Sadie on our scooter. We even enjoyed some of the Olympics on our TV via antenna plus the Tragically Hip farewell concert snug inside as the rain started pouring down.
We had dropped off my F2 motorcycle to storage for a reason: we were picking up our new motorcycle! Our friend Kimberley had offered to sell us hers after getting her M license: she had found that her life was too busy to pursue motorcycling for now. Kimberley, had bought the exact motorcycle I posted on Instagram at the January motorcycle show and had generously allowed us to borrow it a couple times over the summer, knowing it was one of the bikes we were considering for our FTRV life. After trying out a few larger bikes (Honda VFR800, Kawasaki Ninja 1000, and Kawasaki Versys 650), we decided the Honda CB500X was the best choice for us: light-weight and nimble for maneuvering around campgrounds and back roads, comfortable for riding 2 up and, although less powerful, sufficient for long highways rides.
Monday was a crazy long day: we loaded the scooter in Nellie, hitched her up and drove from Mosport to a friend Nicole Pilkington’s family country property, just 10 minutes away in Enfield.
We were racing the clock to unhitch, leaving Emma behind in Nellie as we had to drop off the rented camera lens back to Henry’s in Oshawa by noon. Heading into Toronto, we had a few errands to run: drop off James’ dad’s old passport on the way to recharge at my sister Adrienne’s house in Brampton: laundry, showers and wifi! She had bought a whole kitchen of cabinets on kijiji for her rental renovation but didn’t need them all: we checked them out to confirm what would work for our rental. Adrienne made us a yummy pizza dinner: goat’s cheese and kale and John treated us to a gourmet tea tasting!
We left Adrienne’s house refreshed and clean to meet Kimberley in Vaughan and pick up the bike!
It was just getting dark as we rode and drove away back to Nellie with just enough time for a late night visit with the Pilkington family before a good night’s sleep.
Here are some photos James took of our new 2015 Honda CB500X at the Pilkington’s property, just before we left for the eastern edge of Ontario: