Viva Las Vegas

Am presently in Las Vegas , NV attending the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Leadership Conference.  Saturday the 14th was up at the crack of dawn to catch a flight out of Boston.  Connected with fellow Union members at the airport, on the flight, and once we arrived in Vegas.  Checked into the Aria Resort & Casino, where we’d be staying for the next 5 days – Have nothing but praise for the efficiency and friendliness of the Staff.  Since it was our 17th Anniversary, I took Ann out to dinner and then she took me out to a show – Cirque Du Soleil’s Zarkana.  What an awesome show!   Sunday was filled with Conference Registration & making Union connections.  Always nice seeing Union Brothers & Sisters you haven’t seen in a while, as well as meeting new friends.  Monday consisted of lots of informative meetings.  Being Business Manager & Secretary-Treasurer of Local 1249, I also attended the Secretary-Treasurer training session.  That evening was the Welcome Reception, which was very well attended and an awesome way to connect with fellow members.  And today it’s more meetings and workshops.  Here’s a few pics from the trip thus far…..     🙂

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H-D Road Trip – Day 16 – Heading Home

Sunday, September 8th, marked my 16th day on the road.  51F & sunny was a heck of a lot better than the 37F & damp that had been forecast the day before.  Got up bright & early, loaded up the bikes, then headed to breakfast at 7 AM with Ann, Rachel & Renee.  Chatted with other Blue Knights & said our good-byes, then it was time to hit the road.  The girls were headed back in the car & doing their own thing; so it would just be Uncle Joe & I, at least for a while…..  Left the hotel at 8 AM, went & topped off with gas, and were on the highway at 8:10.  West on Route 20 then South on Route 55 – By the time we hit Sherbrooke, QC we’d caught up with the wet front that had blown through that night; at first just a drizzle; but then getting heavier; but then breaking out of it.  Made it to Magog, QC, around the 160-something mile mark, where we pulled off at Exit 29 and made our way into a market parking lot.

This is where we were to meet up with John “Boots” Bouchard, Sheli Aldrich & Kathy Lockwood, who were coming up from NH to meet with us & ride back into the States.  The rain caught up with us again, so we started putting our rain gear on – Just was we did we heard motorcycles coming up the highway.  As they appeared one by one off the exit ramp, there was an extra bike – In addition to those we were expecting, Patrick & Joyce Gorman had also come!  It was great seeing everyone, and we ended up having coffee at the market and chatting a while before hitting the road.  About 20 miles later were were at the US border – Boy, THAT took a while to cross!  Two gates open; but they were moving fairly slow, one of them especially so.  When I finally got up there, chatted with the Officer for a bit and when I mentioned the Blue Knights, he knew who we were and we chatted a bit more.  Boots had gotten through before me, and the Officer in the adjacent gate told me the message to pass along was that we’d all meet at the first rest area in VT, about a 1/2 a mile up the road, which is where I headed.  A bathroom break was definitely in order, and they had fresh coffee, too!  We ended up taking another break there, as it took a while for all to arrive, then it started raining again, then we debated about a game plane for the rest of the ride, then we talked about who was hungry, then….    You get the point.

Finally decided we should get gas, so a short ways down the road we made yet another stop.  Topped off with gas, chatted for a bit more, and then essentially said our good-byes, as we’d be heading in our own directions as we continued South.  Didn’t really want to leave everyone; but it was time for Uncle Joe & I to head home.  We left each other knowing that we’d be connecting again in October, as we’re planning a long Columbus Day Weekend get together – Something like a Great White North Foliage Run…..  Even though it looked like it was clearing up, knowing how quickly the weather can change in the mountains, Uncle Joe & I left our rain gear on.  Onward we continued down I-91 South through VT, where Boots, Sheli, Patrick, Joyce & Kathy eventually got off on old US-2 to head for lunch somewhere, while Uncle Joe & I kept going and connected with I-93 South into NH.  Then Uncle Joe decided to take Route 302 across the back side of the mountains to get home – It was looking kind of dismal in that direction, and I later found out he ran dab smack into a wall of water up the road, which, thankfully, didn’t last that long.  We waved & beeped our horns at each other as he took the exit, and then it was just I continuing South.  Well, myself AND a bunch of traffic; but it wasn’t too bad….     😉     I originally thought of stopping in Concord for gas, then pushed on to Manchester, then finally stopped in Londonderry, which was the limit of my bladder (reference copious amounts of coffee during the morning).   Off with the rain gear, hit the bathroom, topped off with gas, then it was on to the home stretch!   I-93 to I-95 (which us Locals still the Route 128 Loop), then back on I-93 (NORTH, believe it or not!) for a very short stretch to connect with Route 24 South.  Once I connected with I-495 South, I suddenly felt like I was going in slow motion – The bike seemed to be running the same; but I just wasn’t getting HOME.  All an optical illusion, though, because at 5 PM I rolled into Buzzards Bay, MA, having covered 477.1 miles, the longest of the entire trip, on the last leg of my journey.

My first order of business was to swing by my Mom’s house and let her know I was home.  I showed her Dad’s memorial dog tag I’d been wearing for the whole trip and announced, “Cape Cod to Milwaukee to Quebec City and back – 3,321.4 miles and it was with me the whole way!”, at which point we both got a little teary eyed.  Chatted with her & Rachel, who had gotten back a bit after 4 PM, then headed home, officially ending my road trip.  And on that note, I have one thing to say about it……

AWESOME!     🙂

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H-D Road Trip – Day 15 – BK Activities & Hanging Out

Saturday was pretty much a kick back day; but also when most of the Blue Knights activities of the weekend were happening.  In the morning, it was breakfast followed by a 3+ hour (!) Northeast Conference meeting.  Rachel & Renee went to the Aquarium for the day.  After the meeting Ann, Uncle Joe & I had a fantastic light lunch at the hotel restaurant – I had a seafood stew done up in a “shell bowl” (which turned out to be a combination of mashed potatoes & cheese) that was probably one of the best I’d ever had.  In the afternoon I played catch-up online and sorting through the tons of pictures I’d taken, then at 5:00 the social hour before the banquet began.  At 6:00 it was time for the banquet, which was VERY nicely done and had more fantastic food.  I was given a very nice plaque for all my years of dedication & service to the Blue Knights Northeast Conference, including two terms as United States Vice Chairman and two terms and Chairman.  and by 9:45 it was all over and we were winding down for the night.  No problem with that, as it’s been one heck of a road trip & a great weekend.     😉

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H-D Road Trip – Day 14 – Old Quebec City

Today was our day to do what we wanted; so after a great breakfast we headed down to Old Quebec City, what is arguably the oldest city in North America, founded in 1608.  It is very European in design & beauty, with old style buildings, cobblestone streets, narrow alleys with artists & vendors, and a joy to walk around in & experience.  We spent the 1st half of the day finding a parking spot.  Just kidding….  After we found our parking spot, which did take a while and turned out to be one of the best spots in the city, we spent the first half of the day walking around an taking in the architecture, statues, monuments, fountains and little parks along the way, making our way all the way up to the stone wall/archway on Rue Saint Louis, along with the beautiful Fountain de Tourny & Parliament Building, then made our way back toward the car, doing a bit of window shopping along the way and enjoying the works of many artists along the alleys.

After feeding the parking meter again, we decided to hop on one of the horse drawn buggies for a tour that didn’t involve walking.  Unfortunately, by law, the buggy could only hold 4 people and there were 5 of us.  I was going to let everyone else go and hang out at the main square; but Rachel & Renee decided to do some more walking and check out booking a guided, nighttime, ghost tour, which Ann had done before; so it was Ann, Uncle Joe & I on the buggy.  It was supposed to be at least 35 minutes long and give us a tour of the area; but once we got talking with the driver about Harleys (yes, he owns one), the 110th Anniversary in Milwaukee, and our past 2 week trip, it turned into an almost 1.5 hour ride.  After he used my camera to take come pictures of us in the buggy, we went around some of the local side streets, as he spoke of the history of Old Quebec City, the buildings, monuments, etc.  Then when we got to the top of the hill just outside the old walls to the Fort by Rue Dauphine, we stopped so he could switch horses (he uses 3 during the day).  There was a truck & very large horse trailer parked in the lot, and it was interesting to see the majestic horses being switched, and one could imagine something similar being done in the old days of horse drawn travel.  Soon enough, we were on our way again and continued past the Parliament Building, along a row of gorgeous, old style houses, past the ancient, round stone prison, and then along the Plains of Abraham, which is a beautiful park that adjoins The Citadel, also known as the Ramparts of Quebec City, an old Fort that is still active.  Eventually we ended up back where we started, coincidentally passing Rachel & Renee on our way in, and we all agreed it was a fantastic way to tour the city, take in the beauty & history, and just plain enjoy ourselves.  He took some more pictures of us, we chatted for a bit, then we were on our way.  By now we were all hungry, so we stopped at the Auberge Place d’Armes for an awesome late lunch – By the time we got through and got back to the car, it was almost 3:30 and we’d had a full day of doing the touristy stuff; so it was time to leave.  Easier said than done – Traffic going out of the city was HORRENDOUS!   I’m pretty sure it took us more than a half hour to even make it to the highway, so we could get to our hotel; plus things were pretty congested on the highway, too.

Once back to the hotel, Rachel & Renee caught a nap so they could head back to the city for their ghost tour, while Ann, Uncle Joe & I went to the Hospitality Room for socializing with other Blue Knights.  Did I say Hospitality Room?  I meant Hospitality Trailer, as it was a tractor trailer out in the parking lot.  Good food, good drinks & good people; need I say more?  We stayed there for a few hours before coming inside, where the socializing, drinking & music continued – Probably for FAR longer than it should have; but it was a really great day and we all were guaranteed to sleep VERY soundly……     🙂

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H-D Road Trip – Day 13 – Quebec City, QC

Today was supposed to be a laid back day, with no real rush to get anywhere.  Had noticed that Uncle Joe’s headlight was out yesterday, and upon inspection turned out to be his headlight AND spot lights – So there was a problem, somewhere.  Took our time drinking coffee & chatting, then headed over to the bikes and proceeded to spend about 45 minutes trying to track down the problem, with no luck.  Kind of tough to do a thorough check without a test light or volt meter.    😉   Upon Guy’s recommendation, I drove the bike to the local Harley shop (Boutin’s) & they had the problem nailed down within 10 minutes.  Turned out to be a bad spot light switch, which had blown one of the main fuses.  Had to laugh when one of the girls there said she knew Uncle Joe & I, even though we’d never been there – Turns out she’d been following our adventures on Facebook!  And, to top it off, they wouldn’t charge us for the repair, though Uncle Joe did tip the mechanic.  Got the bike back to the garage, put things back together, loaded up the bikes, and hit the road at 11:48 AM.  Guy brought us to the highway where we could catch Route 30 around Montreal, and we parted ways (though will see him in Quebec City again on Friday).  Route 30 eventually connected us with Route 20, and that was our journey for the rest of the afternoon.  Stopped about 50 miles from the City for gas & a break, then pulled into Quebec City around 3 PM, having covered 200.3 miles.  Fairly shortly after arriving, met up with my wife, Ann, who had come up with my two daughters, Rachel & Renee.  Had a GREAT supper in the hotel restaurant, followed by drinks with fellow Blue Knights, who had also arrived here early for the Northeast Conference Weekend.  A very nice day…..     🙂

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H-D Road Trip – Day 12 – Sallaberry-de-Valleyfield, QC

September 4th – Left Brantford, ON about 9:20 AM and headed up Route 403 to 401, then took the “new ” Route 407 AROUND Toronto.  Saved us at least 30 minutes worth of downtown traffic, if not more.  Dropped down on Brock Road and reconnected with Route 401 on the other side of Toronto – It was a wonderful experience.  Continued on 401 forever, or what seemed like it.  Stopped at the Trenton rest area for gas and coffee, calling Guy Poirier so that we could connect with him, then continued on.  Stopped at the first rest area after crossing into Quebec at 3:30 PM and Guy was there waiting for us.  The first thing he said after greeting us is, “You’re right on time!”    🙂    Followed him to the garage where we dropped off our bikes (total distance today, 386.5 miles), then went to his house.  After socializing a bit, went out to supper and had an enjoyable evening out.  Back out the house, drank some more beers and kicked back watching Fender Guitar’s 50th Anniversary show.  Slept very well afterwards….      🙂

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H-D Road Trip – Day 11 – Brantford, ON

September 3rd – Left Okemos, MI (nice area) and made our way back up to I-69.  Stopped at Port Huron for gas, then crossed the border into Ontario, Canada.     Border crossing went well, Officer was very sociable & he knew guys who were Blue Knights (should have asked for soem names to see if I knew any of them).  I-69 turns into Route 402 across ON, then connected with Routes 401 & 403 to Brantford, ON, where we ended up calling it a day at Paul & Maureen Croteau’s house, having covered 242.6 miles.  What great hosts, taking care of us with clean beds, cold  drinks and an awesome barbecue supper.  And GREAT conversation, too.  Would have liked to have spent more time with them; but needed to press on the next day…..

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