It rained for most of the day and into the envying my extra day in Toronto, and as I said, I spent it preparing for my presentation and lining up places to stay in the future.
I was up and out on the road the next morning before the sun was up. My boots were still wet but I got the bright idea to put my socked foot into a grocery bag before I put my boots on so the water wouldn't saturate my feet the entire day. The rain had subsided. There was no traffic. The city lights were beautiful and it felt serene to have the road all to myself. There was quite a difference between this and the stressful traffic/torrential downpour on my way out the day prior.
One I left the city it was the most boring ride so far to the US border. Occasional farms, mostly nothing though, along the countryside. I had a few gas scares when some rest stops I’d counted on ended up being closed or under renovation, but I ended up being fine.
The border crossing was one experience I will never forget. My path took me through the crossing just north of Detroit. As I approached, I picked a lane and rolled up to the guard station. It was a short woman there to welcome me back to my motherland with open arms. Not! I handed her my passport and was immediately asked for my license plate number in a stern, accusatory voice.
“What’s your tag number?”
“Umm, well, I don’t have it memorized, sorry.” Didn't know that was necessary.
“Sir, turn the bike off and take off your helmet.”
Uh oh. As I followed her instructions I had a feeling this may not turn out well, even though I had absolutely nothing to hide. She called over another border agent for assistance, which happened to be have an equally abysmal attitude. passport in hand, they began to question me.
“What were you doing in Canada for such a short time?” the woman asked.
“I was visiting some friends in Toronto for a few days, now I’m on my way to Lima, Ohio to see some more and continue touring around the country,” I responded.
“What’s all this stuff on your bike? What’s in all these cases,” she asked.
“Just clothes and supplies I need for the trip, that’s about it.” I responded. I felt a search coming.
“What’s the extra helmet for?” she asked suspiciously.
“Well, I use this one (the full face in my hand I had just removed) for cold day, and the other (half face strapped to the back) for warm days.” I responded.
“It’s not cold today.” She retorted.
“Well, it was when I left Toronto this morning.”
“Do you have a passenger sir?” she asked.
I was dumbfounded. A passenger? Inside my luggage maybe? I subdued my instinct to give a smart alleck response and simply said, “No ma’am.”
Then the man she’d asked to come over started in on me.
“Sir, how many felonies have you been convicted of?” he asked.
That was the most shocking one so far. Must be the beard. Bearded men on motorcycles must typically be felons.
“None, sir,” I responded.
“Really? Alright…. (He sounded surprised) …how many have you been charged with?”
“I’ve never been charged with a crime, sir.”
More typing and looking at the computer.
“Alright sir, go on through.”
That was the most unexpected interaction I had with other human beings on the trip so far. I fully expected them to search my cases, but they didn't. Just harassed me a bit. Maybe they were bored and just wanted to screw with somebody? Maybe me not knowing my plate number was a red flag? No idea. I've experience some real weird crap in Central America but this is my returning to the U.S. Thought it would be pretty different here but I can't say it was, except for not needing to bribe anyone. I've read on the forum that people have had similar experience returning to their home country, so maybe that’s just how business is done. I kept my cool and was respectful, quite pleasant if I may say so myself, but they continued on. Beats me.
Nevertheless, I continued on toward Lima. I remember noting how dead Detroit looked as I went by. Maybe it’s just what I saw, but I imagined it was not so great after the economy tanked and what I saw lined up with what I’d imagined.
I filled up with gas one more time after I’d crossed into Ohio and continued following directions from my Navigation app until I arrived at Rudolph Foods.
I gave my presentation about New Song to the Rudolph Foods staff. They were all astounded i'd rode from Toronto before lunch. I felt like a badass, to be honest.
After the presentation I got a private tour of the factory with John, the CEO's son I mentored back at NC during the school year, and his cute redhead nanny for the summer. Oh wait, I was engaged, she wasn't cute.
Putting sanitary covers over my riding boots.
Ever seen a beard net?
I spent a couple days in Lima with them. Probably the most expensive house I've ever been inside. We went and shot shotguns at the local gun club one afternoon, and spent another afternoon enjoying Indian Lake CEO-style with their boat and seadoo at their lake house.
We went to KewPee, a local legend, apparently the predecessor to Wendy's (identical "frosty").
Tried this soda John had always talked about "Big Red". Thought it was awful.
We went to a sporting goods store one day to buy a replacement knife and I noticed a pair of Oakley sunglasses sitting out on a rack. I took them to the front desk and they told me to keep them. I said I wanted to turn them in to the lost and found, but they insisted that they'd been there for days and I could just keep them. Sweet.
After a couple days of life in Lima, I checked the weather closely and left mid-morning for Chicago...