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Challenged Mechanic
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'd had an unusually rough year with all the work and pressures from both my publishing company, the magazine, and dealing with kids and needed a break to get my head back together. I sent the final version of the new issue of Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Magazine to the printer on May 15 and had until June 4th, when the kids got out of school for the summer, to get on the road, ride somewhere and forget about all those pressures for a while. I'd never been to New England before, even by car, so in the end I decided that would be my destination. I'd had a fellow ADVRider forum "inmate" from Altoona, PA, camp out in my backyard for what turned out to be two months this past winter, so decided the route would take me by his place for a day or two to catch up.

The day after the magazine went to press, on the 16th about 3 in the morning, I took off. The first day took me up US 27 to US 301 in Ocala, then off through the Florida countryside to FL121 into Georgia. I followed familiar roads through east Georgia, then skirted Augusta, entering South Carolina on GA 28 just north of the city.

The first day I stopped at this park on Strom Thurmond Lake to rest, have a snack, and do a little sketching.


From there it was on to Waterloo, SC, and a fellow VJMC member's place on Lake Greenwood. We took a ride on his pontoon boat and had dinner at a restaurant on the lake before heading back to call it a night.

The next morning I was up and out by about 7 am (I generally aimed to be on the road each morning between 7 and 7:30). I headed east and north and crossed NC and VA, finally stopping to camp for the night at Camp Creek, West Virginia.



The next day as I headed north through WV and then MD these appeared everywhere.



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Challenged Mechanic
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I arrived in Altoona and met up with my frind, Steve, who took me around the rest of the day and the next to show me Altoona. He took me to Texas Hot Dog, an Altoona landmark since the 19010s where we had lunch.



The next day Steve got out one of his GSs and we went riding. We were in great riding territory within five minutes of his house. We rode up to the inclined railway, where canal boats used to be broken into three parts, loaded onto rail cars, and hauled over the Alleghenies to be deposited in a canal on the western side.





Steve's "garage" where he stores his two GSs and a dirt bike.



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Challenged Mechanic
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I left Altoona heading north then east through Sproul State Forest PA 144 and on PA 44, 87, and 92 eventually leaving the state on PA 370 in the northeastern corner into NY and the Catskills.

A place I stopped to rest and take a short hike in Sproul State Forest.



A train bridge spanning a creek and valley in eastern PA.



Approaching the Catskills.



When I had left Florida it had been in the 90s but now the temperature was falling. I arrived at Pleasant Valley Campground and upon pitching my tent discovered my dry bag with my sleeping bag and pad and knock around camp shoes was missing. The straps were all still attached and tight but the gear was gone. It was going to be about 40 degrees that night and did not look forward to sleeping on the ground in all my clothes in the tent. I went back to the check-in station and asked if they had seen the bag, hoping maybe I had somehow kicked it off the bike when I had dismounted earlier. Nope, no one had seen it. The campground was pretty empty that early in the season so they offered me a mini-cabin at no extra charge. I thanked them and went off to search for dinner which I had at the restaurant at Beaver Del RV campground just up the road, where I threw myself a pity-party and dined on a bleau cheese burger, onion rings, and good locally brewed IPA. (Up to this time my on-the-road meals consisted of instant oatmeal or handfuls of peanuts.) When I got back to camp, I found not only the cabin but a blanket a pillow had been provided. When on the road I have found someone always steps up to help when rider has had trouble and Pleasant Vally Campground did just that! I left them a note when I rolled out at 7 am the next morning thanking them for their generosity.

A river in the Adirondacks.





You know you are in the North when....



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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,730 Posts
Great travelogue!

The one thing the Internet truly excels at is photojournalism, since there's no limit on the # of pictures that can accompany a piece, no additional printing costs, (unlike print media) which are pretty much "locked into" (1/3 ads, 1/3 text, 1/3 photos).

And nothing makes a better piece than a motorcycle travel story with pictures taken en route. imho...

I wage this endless battle between "Just Riding" and U-turning, going back and snapping a picture I know readers would enjoy.

I always want to GET THERE, but, without the pictures, a great ride fades into distant memory rather quickly. Blends in with all the other rides in the back of my increasingly jumbled memory.

With all the stops, u-turns, taking the camera out, setting up the tripod if necessary...you end up with something you can relive over and over, years later.

Bottom line is I only regret the photos I didn't stop and take. Like the sign for the **** Dog Cemetery near Iuka MS. Or a certain little country grocery store south of Corinth, just covered with old metal signs.

If viewers could simply click and contribute a nickle, a dime, to reward the authors of entertaining travel pieces like yours, I'm sure the Internet would be covered in them. There are lots of folks, with and without motorcycles who will never get the chance to motor around this beautiful country of ours. Shut-ins. The elderly.

I've daydreamed of streaming real-time video from a GoPro up to a cloud, which riders of stationary bikes in gyms could watch as they burned calories. Flip the channel till you find a rider/road you enjoy.

Or even a MTV-like channel, (which we used to call the adult video babysitter), always on in the background, largely ignored, where you could watch some arbitrary biker's GoPro in real time, occasionally hear commentary when they speak, narrate, maybe goes to ads when they're off the bike, eating lunch, ... (or gets compressed with the gaps erased before re-broadcast)

Anyway, thanks again for vicariously getting me out of my office this morning!

I'm sitting here NOT KNOWING what my next XC ride is going to be or where to. That's unusual. I think it's good to always have an upcoming ride to look forward to.

Cheers!





My apologies for interrupting your travelogue. Didn't realize you were still in the process of posting it. Please DONT STOP!!!! :) Wade
p.s. Fantastic photography. What camera/gear? Handheld?
 

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Challenged Mechanic
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2,771 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I had headed north-northeast on NY 30, to NY8 in the Adirondacks,to NY 22 north along the Hudson River and Lake Champlain.

On the way I passed this pond dotted with beaver lodges.



And surrounded by beautiful birch trees.



As I approached the ferry I was going to use to cross Lake Champlain, I stopped for gas in Crown Point and asked if there was any way I could get on top of one of the western mountains to get some good shots of the lake below. I was sent up to Lang Road to Lang Cemetery, a good couple miles up a dirt and rock road, where I dismounted and walked up the short, boulder-strewn remainder to the top.

Parked up at Lang Cemetery.



The view to the northeast.



The view to the southeast.

http://i1158.photobucket.com/albums/p618/mgeditor/IMG_6574_zpsqaad16k8.jpg


Then it was across and on into Vermont and scenes like this.



I stopped in Fairfax, VT, just northeast of Burlington and stayed with Terry and Loretta, fellow ADVRider inmates. Both were motorcycle instructors and avid moto-adventurers. Loretta was slated to be leaving soon for her own multi-week road trip. They were fantastic hosts. They fed me dinner and breakfast (pancakes with, what else Maple syrup!), provided me with a warm bed for the night, and were great company. Terry even supplied me with a Sleeping bag a dry bag to use for the rest of the trip. He went even further than that, but more about that later.



...continued
 

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Challenged Mechanic
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The next morning it was on to Quebec and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Finally—Quebec!



On QC 132 heading northeast toward Rimouski, my planned evening stop.



I don't think it ever got up to 40 degrees that day and I was in the saddle for 14 hours. Now I can tent camp in the cold and I can ride in the cold, but after all those hours I thought better about combining the two and wimped out for a motel room and hot meal in Riviere-du-Loup, just southeast of Rimouski.

I was told at the border it was forecast to be 0 C (32 F) and possible snow. Sure enough on the TV the next morning in my room, snow was forecast in northern Maine.




I continued on along the St. Lawrence and turned inland at Rimouski, as planned, heading south and southwest toward the Main border at Lac Baker (Fort Kent on the US side) and ME 11.

The countryside along Qc 232 which went on forever, only passing through little villages once in a while.





US Customs was a little bit of a PIA. The officer, apparently lacking for something to do on this lonely outpost, decided to inspect my entire kit. After given a clean bill of health I moved out onto ME 11 and points south.

You know when you are in the heart of the great north woods when you see these all over the place.



And it wasn't long before I stopped on the road where a couple other vehicles had paused and looked over to see a moose walking around a clearing on the right. I had also spotted a porcupine that day and later another moose.

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MODERATOR
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Absolutely beautiful pictures and excellent narrative. Thanks for sharing.

Sam:biggrin:
 

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Challenged Mechanic
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
During the day I passed near Mount Katahdin, the peak where the Appalachian Trail ends its long journey from Georgia.

Mount Katahdin.



So, here's where Terry helped me out again. Terry had grown up in north central Maine and his family still had a homestead there near a little town called Sangerville. He told me how to find it and where the keys and the breakers for the lights and heat were and offered me the use of it for the night. He also told me to make sure I stopped by "Sally's" just before I got there and introduce myself to her and her sons he grew up with. I talked to a farmer down the road (so much for the rumor than Mainers are standoffish; we talked for twenty minutes!) and he told me where Sally's was (he was in fact related). I pulled into Sally's and how I learned was George walekd up and said, "You must be Mike on a bike!" Sally walked up behind him and before I knew it I was swept into the house and fed a traditional Saturday night meal of homemade baked beans, with farm made sausage and bread, followed up with rhubarb sauce over ice cream and the rest of the family came in. Warren lived with his mom Sally and the grandson, Chris, came in with his girlfriend, Kelsy—all north wood Maine farmers. After dinner, Warren took me to the basement to see his bikes, among which were a KZ1000, CL175, Honda XL, and a Honda 500 four, along with others. I was given a bed and an omelette for breakfast. I can't say enough about these great folks who took me in without knowing me beyond a mention in a phone call from Terry.

Sally and her son, George.



I continued on ME 16 towards New Hampshire and past this river.



Soon I was in NH and at Mount Washington. I failed to mention earlier that it had been blowing stink ever since Quebec. So strong it was often hard to control the bike when the gust hit sidways. I arrived at Mount Washington, thinking the Auto Road to the top would surely be closed because of wind, as I had heard before often happens. Cars were queued up surprisingly, and I asked the attendant about the wind. "It is just under the threshold that we stop vehicles from going up. You want to go?" "Hell yes!"

The ride up was not for the feint of heart and I'll admit it was a bit scary to me. You could only go very slow and not pass, and as we all know going very slow on a bike is one of the harder things to do. Often traffic stopped completely to let a wider vehicle pass. The gravel worried me a bit, but I was glad I had ridden that path up to Lang Cemetery earlier and had tried out the dual sport tires already and had a good handle on riding the Bonnie on gravel.

From the top of Mount Washington, where the world's highest ever wind speed was recorded, 235 mph! It was howling up here. My bike is parked below and has the yellow dry bag on it.



I was a bit more worried about going down, but it turned out to be much easier and I finally found my way to the bottom and on Highway 16 again.

I had planned to detour to northern VT that day to stay with a high school friend and her husband of my wife's, Suzanne and Ron, who lived in Newport, on the Canadian border, but it turned out they had a camper parked down in Conway and were there for the weekend so that where I headed. This turne dout much better as it was on my way anyway.

I stayed in their camper, had fun catching up, and was fed steaks for dinner and left early the next morning for the Kankamagus Highway and southern VT.



I took the Kankamagus west to US 3 south, then NH 104 to US 4 out of NH.

Vermont mountains.



I had planned to head west in VT to the Hudson River and then ride south along it, but the thought of traffic made me change plans and I headed south on a route my frined from Altoona had suggested (VT 100) to southern VT where I took VT 9 out of the state and into New York. I aimed to work my way around Albany and shoot for the middle of the Catkills, but something went horribly wrong and I neded up in Schenectady. I don't know how I did it but finally I found my way back to a highway I recognized (NY32) and headed toward the mountains again. I was planning to stay with another fellow ADVRider and fan of my book in Goshen, NY, so I had meant to cut through the middle of the Catskills from northeast to southwest then jog over to Goshen, but becasue of my earlier "detours" it was getting late when I got into the mountains. So, halfway through I bailed and headed southeast onNY 28 toward Goshen and out of the Catskills. I had seen numerous deer and did not want to be riding after dark up there.

Catskill scene.



By the time I arrived at Kevin and Amy's it was after 11. Amy stayed home to work on a paper she had due by midnight and Kevin took me out to a diner for dinner (of course, he refused to let me pay!). By the time we left they locked the doors behind us. I hit the shower early the next morning and Kevin, a motorcycle racer by the way, led me out of town on one of his bikes, a Honda 400 Automatic. I was able to keep up, barely, and we shared a breakfast before he zoomed back for a meeting while I headed out toward Pennsylvania.

Kevin had got me well on my way and had worked out a nice route for me. I sped along US 209 entering eastern Pennsylvania and followed the Delaware River for a while.

Delaware River.



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Challenged Mechanic
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
US 209 connected with PA 443 that took me all the way west to Harrisburg, where I jogged around the city and on the far side picked up PA 34 into Gettysburg, where I had planned to stay the night.

Pennsylvania countryside and Poconos.



My Dad had a cousin who had a farm in Fairfield, adjacent to the Gettysburg battlefield where I was going to stay the night. As I approached I entered their address into the GPS and dutifully followed its directions. It led me here, to water crossing on a gravel road across Middle Creek. And, yes, I went on through. It turned out to be about 2 foot deep but the rocks were slippery and I ended up plunging my boot in and riding with wet boots for the next couple days. I didn't get a photo that day, but went back the next morning to the same spot for this shot.

Middle Creek.



Our cousins, Bonnie and Bill, lived in a very old farmhouse. There was a "summer kitchen" next to the main house that was probably built in the 1760s and probably lived in while the big house was built. They also had an old traditional "bank barn" and the oldest structure was a blacksmith shop across the road, built in 1757 and converted for use as Bonnie's office.

The house(s) and barn.



The blacksmith shop.



A Better view of the barn, which was being re-pointed and in which my bike stayed the night.



During the rest of the afternoon, Bill and Bonnie took me around town helping me research the area for a possible venue for a new VJMC event there. AFter that we went up town and had dinner in an old tavern. I had a stupendous burger with cheddar, onion rings, and apples! (Of course, I was once again told to keep my money in my pocket!) Back at the farm I hit the bed early and in the morning an omelette was waiting for me. I said my goodbyes and thank yous and headed south toward Front Royal, Virginia and Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

...continued
 

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Challenged Mechanic
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I ran through Harper's Ferry on US 340 which took me all the way in to Front Royal where I hopped off and onto Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park. Doing this and the next section of the Blue Ridge Parkway would mean I had ridden by motorcycle the entire length of both.

Plein Air painters on Skyline Drive, Shenandoah Vally in the distance.



I transitioned to the BRP and continued south until past Roanoke. Along the way I saw several big black snakes stretched across the road, apparently warming themselves on the tarmac. I stopped to look at one that was different and it turned out to be a six foot diamondback rattler with distinctive rattles.

I started looking for a campground, using the GPS for the task. It sent me off on a small side road to the southeast and, as usual, I followed. The road quickly turned to gravel and became a twisting, steep grade descent to the valley. I rode the gravel for miles on what could aptly be described as a "Tail of the Dragon, without the pavement"! Eventually, however, the tarmac returned and I continued on twisty roads until, sure enough, I found the promised campground, Deer Run Campground, on what else Deer Run Road, near Ferrum, VA.

I pulled into my spot right next to a fellow moto-traveler, Bill Clarke, who was a couple days out on a five week trip to the US Southwest on his GS. We had a lot to talk about and had both spent time the day before up in Gettysburg. It was great meeting up with another fellow rider.

Bill and his GS the next moring as we were packing up to head out.



I headed on south on the BRP until NC 80, a wild ride down out of the mountain just east of Mt.Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. I had been up there before, so felt no need to return and headed south past Chimney Rock and Lake Lure, now in familiar territory where i had ridden a few times before.

Just before the Linville Falls Viaduct on the BRP with Grandfather Mountain in the background.



When I got to South Carolina I took SC 11, also known as Cherokee Scenic Highway, west until US 25 which I took south past Greenville and back to Waterloo, SC, for another stay at my friend Bryan's place on Lake Greenwood.

In the morning I headed back into Georgia via the Strom Thurmond Dam adn then south-southwest toward my old high school frined, Julie's, place on GA 133 west of Valdosta for my final night's stay.

Strom Thurmond Dam.



From Valdosta, I took US 41 south into Florida, cutting across east at Floral City to the Green Swamp and then familiar back roads to Haines City, hen FL 17 south to Lake Wales and home.

Trip Statisitics
15 Days
Total Mileage 5,142 miles
12 States and 2 Provinces
Fuel Cost $330

Oh yeah! Forgot! After all that as I parked my bike in the driveway after getting home I dropped it! (No damage) LOL

Cheers,

Mike
 

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Challenged Mechanic
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sorry. Obviously that last photo is not Strom Thurmond Dam, but Grandfather Mountain. Here's the dam.



I forgot to mention, too, that while heading south through Quebec toward Maine I actually had it snow on me for a couple minutes!

Wade, most of the photos are from a Canon Rebel XS DSLR, while a few are from my Samsung Galaxy 3.

I also took a lot of video on my GoPro3 Black Edition on the ride and have compiled it into one file. That file is too big, but if I can get one of my kids to help me upload to YouTube maybe I can post back here a link at least to the ride up the Mount Washington Auto Road.

Cheers,

Mike
 

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Challenged Mechanic
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Thanks, All. Glad you enjoyed the tale. As I looked back over I saw numerous mistakes resulting from the seat of the pants way I quickly posted it, so I hope you get the general idea. And it was Larry and Loretta, not Terry. Sorry, I would never release a book looking like that!

Also, Wade, you had asked about taking the photos and I didn't answer it fully. I hand held all of them. The kind of cloudy ones are from the phone and the rest the DSLR.

Cheers,

Mike
 

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Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
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WOW! What a great ride. Thank you for sharing it.
 
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Female Rider
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Fantastic trip report!! Thanks for posting all of the photos, they are great. I love that part of our country and am ready to go back.
 

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Pegasus trapped in a human body on a motorcycle
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YOU [BLEEP]!
Why the hell was I not told you was gonna be in Maine. I bet you went through Waterville on Rt 201. If you did, you rode right past my FREAKIN HOUSE! (Did you ride past a tank in an American Legion parking lot?)

Wait... that was the southbound trip where you went through Maine. Still, I would have loved to have meet up with you for coffee somewhere.

i r saddest
 

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Challenged Mechanic
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
YOU [BLEEP]!
Why the hell was I not told you was gonna be in Maine. I bet you went through Waterville on Rt 201. If you did, you rode right past my FREAKIN HOUSE! (Did you ride past a tank in an American Legion parking lot?)

Wait... that was the southbound trip where you went through Maine. Still, I would have loved to have meet up with you for coffee somewhere.

i r saddest
I actually thought about it, but thought you were much closer to the coast. I just looked and you were not far off my route! Dammit! Sorry; would have loved to meet up with you. I rode south on 11 and across on 16 into NH. You have a lovely state and I think it may have been my favorite of the entire trip!

Cheers,

Mike
 

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Pegasus trapped in a human body on a motorcycle
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So, you went through Bingham, Concord and Embden.
Tell you what... last I knew, that road was a DEATH TRAP for any bike that was not set up to handle bumpy conditions. And then there is that one corner that catches you by surprise, making sure you never realize just how tight it is until you're in the corner...

Yeah, unless they have completely redone that road, I do not wanna ride it again.
 
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