KIMbits and KATtales

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” - John Steinbeck

I’m excited. 

And nervous.

It’s a big step that I’m taking, and I’m not naive enough to believe that if I plan ahead as much as possible, take a deep breath and cross my fingers that everything is going to go according to plan.

It may not seem like such a big deal to those of you who are a more seasoned motorcyclist. After all, travelling outside of your neighbourhood, your community, your comfort zone? It’s all par for the course for those on two wheels.

But this is me you’re talking about.


With the bravest of faces and the best of intentions, I’m still kind of a scaredy KAT.

But, it’s going to happen. My very first road trip. Three glorious days travelling Ontario. The scents and sights and sensations of everything that makes a Canadian autumn weekend the envy of adventurers around the world.

The Adventures of KAT n’ Ruby are about to get a whole lot more adventurous…

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Bala Cranberry Festival, and yours truly is in the process of making plans and preparations to attend, and to place a checkmark next to this event on my Bucket List.

Adventurous KAT loves the idea of throwing a change of clothes in Ruby’s saddlebags, pointing the bike north, and heading out on the back roads and secondary highways all the way to Bala. 

Practical KAT is much more….well, practical. Although I’m getting better at understanding and embracing my ‘wild side’, I’m not quite ready to surrender this particular process to the wind, literally and figuratively.

That’s where you come in. 

Yes, you

If you’re reading this, you probably fall into one of three categories: Novice rider, ‘Seasoned’ rider, or Rider-who-falls-somewhere-in-between.

Chances are you’ve either ‘been there, done that’, know someone who’s ‘been there, done that’, or are planning to ‘do that’ someday. 

Perfect! You’re the one I want to talk to, and any advice, suggestions, or tales of your own very first road trip would be very much appreciated.  

Where to Start?

Food. Shelter. Clothing.

The basic necessities. 

The perfect place to start my planning process.

Food: Until I’m actually on the road and travelling, I can’t really plan stops for anything except for a cup of tea and a short conversation with fellow riders. As for what I plan to pack as far as food goes? Not much, actually. Some of the best advice I’ve received so far when it comes to this topic is to pack light; granola bars, juice boxes, dried fruit, a bottle or two of water, and Halloween-sized candy bars don’t take up much of the coveted room in the saddlebags, and there’s always the opportunity to stop in small towns along the way to grab a quick bite to eat. From great little mom-and-pop restaurants to gas stations to rest stops, the options are as varied as the colours on the trees that line the roads along the route.

YOU: Got a favourite stop for a biker’s breakfast or some good home-cooking? From bakeries to rest stops, let me know what to look for as I travel from the Hamilton area all the way up to Bala. What are your favourite dishes? Where can I grab a great piece of pie and cup of coffee?

Shelter: I know that one of the best things about this kind of journey is in the ‘getting there’, but having a destination and a plan in place as to where I would be spending my nights was one of my first priorities. Enter…Cleveland’s House Resort.

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Established in 1869, Clevelands House is located on the shores of Lake Rosseau and is one of the oldest operating resorts in Ontario (celebrating its 145th anniversary this year). I was looking for a great combination of comfort, amenities, and motorcycle-friendly accommodations in the area, and although the resort has a charming assortment of rooms & suites, I decided on one of their small cottages. I have a difficult enough time letting Ruby out of my sight when I’m out on day trips; the idea that I can tuck her in for the night and have her close enough to remain in sight was great for my peace of mind. After a long day of taking in the Festival and spending time exploring the area, I like the idea of returning to my own private abode, and maybe even taking a walk along the beach, enjoying a bonfire, or simply relaxing in their on-site restaurant, c.j. minett’s kitchen and tavern.

YOU: Know of a great little Bed & Breakfast up in the area I will be travelling through? What about a motorcyclist-friendly motel? Got any great stories about your first time staying overnight while travelling on your bike? Funny anecdotes? I’m sure that after my upcoming trip, I’m going to have plenty to share; in the meantime, I’d love to hear your stories.

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The staff at Cleveland’s House was wonderful in answering all of my ‘This-is-going-to-be-my-first-time-travelling-on-my-motorcycle-and-I-hope-I’m-not-being-too-much-of-a-pain’ questions, and even gave some ‘motorcyclist tidbits’ to make my stay in the area even that much more of a true ‘biker’s adventure’.

From roads and routes that offer fantastic views and plenty of curves, to suggestions about everything from waterfall tours to making sure to visit the area’s two cranberry marshes (Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Iroquois Cranberry Growers—two of the province’s largest commercial producers of the spectacular berries), the suggestions are all written in my newly-acquired ‘Adventures of KAT n’ Ruby’ Travel Diary, and I intend on taking full advantage of the time I am going to be spending in the area and exploring as much as I can…

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Clothing: I have to admit that although I am much more of a cool weather rider, the prospect of KAT versus the elements in northern Ontario in the middle of October has me more than a little concerned. I’m not worried about the cold or even the rain; I have ridden in both and am completely comfortable in the rider’s seat when it comes to those two particular challenges. 

My questions regarding clothing for this first long distance / overnight trip have two very different areas of concern: Rain gear versus winter gear, gloves, etc…and…the  “What the heck do I pack and how?” kind of musings. 

YOU: For the ride up to Bala, I find myself most concerned about keeping my hands warm. My last ride of the 2013 season was Grey Cup Sunday, and although I enjoyed the briskness in the air and on my cheeks, my fingers were not so enamoured with that particular aspect of the adventure. Since changing out Ruby’s good, old-fashioned regular grips with heated ones isn’t an option for me right now, I’m looking for some help when it comes to brands of winter or cold-weather riding gloves or ‘biker tricks’ for keeping your hands warm.

When it comes to packing for my upcoming excursion, Practical KAT is very much aware that I will only have two saddlebags and a large duffel bag to store everything in and transport up north. What do I make sure to bring? What should I leave behind? Are there any special packing tips or helpful hints you can pass along?  

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OK…enough of Practical Kat...

Adventurous KAT has really been enjoying the fun part of the planning process and the motivating factor for my whole trip: The 30th Annual Bala Cranberry Festival! 

I don’t know about you, but the most vivid picture that pops into my brain when I think of cranberries is one of those two gentlemen in hip waders standing in the middle of a cranberry marsh and discussing a certain cranberry drink.

When I chose the Cranberry Festival as the destination for my autumn adventure, I really didn’t have a clue about all of the wonderful little surprises that will be waiting for me that weekend.

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From a special performance by the OPP Golden Helmets on Saturday afternoon to a concert by The Stampeders on Saturday night…. 

A full slate of musical performers including Sean Cotton, Small Town Road, Valley of Kings, Leah Barley and Jenn Morin to some great family entertainment like magicians, a live DJ, pig races, a snowmobile watercross and more…  

There will also be a fantastic selection of vendors, and plenty of opportunities to sample all things cranberry.

It’s an event that is embraced and promoted by the entire town from end to end, and an $8 passport button gets you into all festival areas, use of the shuttle service, and a discount on other attractions for the entire weekend. 

Rain or shine, approximately 20,000 people will converge on the little town of Bala to take in this little festival with a giant heart, and I fully intend to make the most of every minute I am there.

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YOU: Have you ever been to the Bala Cranberry Festival? Did you find some little treasure that you absolutely adore? Is there an area of road that you could ride over and over again? Any little hidden gem of a local business that specializes in deals as well as smiles? I’ve got all kinds of general information about the area, and the folks from the Tourism Centre, the Cranberry Festival Board of Directors, Cleveland’s House Resort, and members of the festival’s facebook fan page have all been more than helpful in guiding me through the process of laying the foundation for a ‘most excellent adventure’. You’re the missing piece to the puzzle, and I’d really appreciate any riders’ wisdom you could send my way…

If you’re planning on attending this year’s event, leave a comment below or send me a message at; maybe we’ll get the chance to toast the weekend or hit an event together. The more, the…berrier! 

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Some links to help you plan your trip to the 30th Annual Bala Cranberry Festival:

KAT (aka KimberleeAnna) will be contributing to this site on a regular basis, and is looking forward to sharing her adventures with you. KAT’s next piece will be a report on her trip to Bala and the Cranberry Festival; it will go live on this site on Friday, October 24th. To reach KAT by email, send your questions, comments or questions to

About KimberleeAnna "KAT" Taplay

KimberleeAnna Taplay (more widely known as "KAT") is an empty-nester and newly-minted class M rider who has a game plan, a "BikeIt" list, and a VStar with a full tank of gas. KAT is happiest when she and her ride —Ruby— are exploring country roads and wandering from event to event and destinations throughout Ontario. Whether travelling alone, alongside her mentor, or joining small groups along the way, KAT will be chronicling her travels and sharing both her adventures on the road and her moments of quiet reflection about everything it means to be a part of the motorcycling world.

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