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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Big Ride - Day 2 (yes, we have photos!)

The Taconic Valley along NY 9
Now that's better...

We awoke leisurely this morning - no loading the bikes up in the dark and stumbling around incoherently (I'm terrible at lack of sleep, or at getting up early, or at staying up late, or having to think too early, or too late also for that matter. Maybe I'm just a cat - sleep unless I'm eating, doing my business or aggravating someone). Had a nice comped breakfast at the hotel, and decided to stay the course on taking the road less travelled for the long haul. And that really payed off today.

The basic route was to continue on rt209 north to pick up a series of "nines" (rts 9G, to 9N, to 9, to 9H). You'd think they be a bit more inventive with the road names, its not like we're in Georgia (Peach st, Peach Ave, Peach way - yeah, they're geniuses down there too). This would hook us up to 23 east entering Massachusetts, then on to 20E to Sturbridge Mass, for a lunch stop and to visit Old Sturbridge Village, in order to keep us away from I-84 or I-90.

209 and 23 were great roads for the most part: little traffic, curvy sections, decent speed, and totally rural even though we were just an hour north of NYC and west of Boston.

roadside for a photo op on NY23E

It was unfortunate that the latter end of 23 just before it joined 20 degraded in condition inversely proportional to the amount of twisties it offered up. The more twisty, hilly, and interesting the road became, the more potholes and tar strips appeared as well. By the last 2 miles or so I became solely interested in keeping all three of us shiny side up (tar strips are pretty slippery) so our pace became much more muted.

20 East toward Boston had some good sections as well, but was marred at times by congested stop-and-go through several towns (namely Westfield and West Springfield). As we rolled through the quaint town of Brimfield (seems every town in Massachusetts used to be in a field), we were inundated by great food smells, as they were having a town celebration on the center square. We were reminded it was well past lunch, and almost tempted to stop and partake of the festivities there.

When we dropped into Sturbridge shortly thereafter, our senses already primed for food, we smelled out some BBQ just as we passed the joint. After pulling into the entrance for Old Sturbridge Village, we decided that aroma was too good to pass up, and made a U-turn back to find its source; BT's Smokehouse, roadside right along Hwy 20.

Unlike yesterday, this was the source of some good aromas. Literally pulled us in off the road.

Since the sign also claimed that they offered Southern Style BBQ, being as we rode up from North Carolina, we figured it was our duty to check out this brazen claim (southern "style" BBQ in Mass?).

The goods, in this case a brisket - don't know or care if its really southern. It was good.
We ate outside at one of their picnic tables under an umbrella for shade, as the smallish place was packed out. Sitting there, I saw more Can-Am Spyders, both in their lot and driving by on Hwy20.

You know, you should always use someone's facilities, as you never know what you might find. In this case it was a great idea: walls covered in slate, and a box of sidewalk chalk to actually encourage you to write on the walls. Funny, historically when bathroom writing is permanent and destructive, the writings are pretty R-rated. But when you give permission, its pretty tame. All-in-all, a nice colorful effect when you walk in, and a great reminder that, yes, everything in the room has been touched by others.

Full of slowly roasted and smoked carcinogenic goodness, we went back over to Old Sturbridge Village for a look-see. I only know of this place from PBS's New Yankee Workshop hosted by Norm Abram. He'll occasionally visit, find some period furniture piece there for inspiration, and attempt to recreate its intricacies back in his shop. Which is amusing, as the original was crafted either by a master craftsman, or yeoman farmer, without use of Norms many laser-guided, unobtanium, bazillion dollar shop tools.

Anyways, I'm really glad we stopped in, even though it was a bit expensive at $24 per person, as this was a special "Music and Art" weekend, which meant that there were a lot of hands on demonstrations of 18th century music, art, and other aspects of daily like in the late 1700 and early 1800's:

A flag display, part of supporting active US Military

As men, we need directions to everything, cause we ain't askin' no one

Small part of the farms at Sturbridge Village

Crazy Chicken World...

Dying wool yarn

What we did for entertainment before the internet...or tv...or electricity

Pastural pasture scene at Old Sturbridge

I could make a comment on the size of this rack, but its not a deer, and they're not antlers, and its sexist, and not worthy of intelligent commentary.

Taking it all in, and glad we don't have to work anywhere near as hard as our ancestors had to.
This was unanimously our favorite demo - a water powered sawmill. This thing was steadily ripping thru this log and had already sawn many boards through this log - its making the last pass now.
Since we spent several hours at the Village, and it was now past 4pm, we decided to jump on the I-90 as it was right next door and slab the relative short distance to Kittery Maine via 90 to 290 to 495. We jumped off of 495 just short of Maine at exit 55 to cut over to US-1 on 110, keeping us off of I-95 still, as I swore I'd stay off that if we could. As we approached the exit on 495, the cloud cover increased quickly, and the temp dropped precipitously from 81 degrees to 61 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Creeping up US-1 in New Hampshire now, we whipped into a fortuitous Wal-Mart so I could try to score a new memory card reader. This also gave us the opportunity to put some more gear to ward off the chill.

Approaching the US-1 bridge crossing from New Hampshire over to Maine, we were greeted with clearing weather and a detour notice that the bridge was out. It looked like the detour was going to put us onto I-95 after all to get over to Maine, but it just moved us over to US-1 bypass 1 exit shy of having to jump on 95, so we were able to cross I-95 free after all:

The way life should be indeed

After crossing into Maine, we took the obligatory photo at the State line, which necessitated each of us taking turns stepping out into the fairly busy roadway between traffic to get a photo of the others. This was actually the 2nd "Welcome to..." sign, the first being small and semi-attached to the bridge where we crossed. Disappointed at seeing that we couldn't get to that one, we were happy to see this one shortly thereafter, which was thoughtfully designed with a bit of a small pullover spot (as you can see above, it was barely big enough for the three bikes, but we'll take it).

I know Maine's not to terribly far to accomplish in just 2 days, but I think it felt pretty good to each of us to have made it this far this quickly on the bikes at the fairly easy going pace we set today.

We rode up into Kittery to spend the night to find hotel after hotel with no vacancy. The very nice and helpful desk clerk at the York, Maine Best Western excitedly found us a room - at the Best Western back in Portsmouth New Hampshire. It was really only 15 minutes away, but back in the wrong direction. Determined not to back track, we used Bro's smartphone, Dad's AAA books, and me driving to a few more hotels to realize we'd spent a really long time striking out on vacancies when we could have back in the room in Portsmouth already.

So, a bit disappointed, and now feeling frayed from the days ride, we chucked our euphoria and turned back to Portsmouth. On our crossing into Maine via the detour, we were sent around this 4-lane fright of a roundabout that actually funnels folks on and off of I-95. Not quite the roundabout from Hell, but perhaps from sysiphus' purgatory. Now we had to go back through this yet again. An the hotel wasn't accessible from the south US-1 part of the roundabout, so we had to go 'round till we were facing north again on the NORTH US-1 roundabout. Meanwhile, several lanes of wide-eyed cagers (car drivers) are diving into and out of the roundabout. It was clear no one really knew where they were going:

This is the actual sysiphean roundabout. We had to get to where you see "roundabout diner and lounge". Coming North to South, you can see you can't get there from the roundabout, but must go round, leave it headed south, make a u-turn, head back north but get off at the 454 street at the bottom of the photo to get to the hotel complex.
This makes sense now, but it was by no means logical from the ground, especially with all three of us trying to navigate this multi-lane monster with Dad and Bro trying to follow me as I'm just trying to figure out where we're going.

Anyways, we're here safe and sound if a bit testy. We ate at the small diner attached to the hotel (the aforementioned "Roundabout Diner" cause we were all done riding today.

With "No Vacancies" and roundabouts behind us, the waitress shares our exuberance to have food and drinks on the way.


  1. Wow! It sounds like you had another adventurous day! I am having a great time reading the updates!

  2. Keep them coming! Glad you guys are having fun!