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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Big Ride - Day One

Friday, June 15th - getting ready to start the 558 miles of the first leg from Hillsborough, NC to Port Jervis NY

The trip odometer set to "zero" as we head out.

This trip started back at Christmas, when I finally decided to make the long talked of "father and sons" ride happen after we've casually mentioned it as something we "should" do for years, the chief players being my Dad, my brother and I, all avid motorcyclists.

As I've mentioned before, after kicking around several more "traditional" venues like Grand Canyon, Gulf Coast and California, we settled on Caribou Maine as the raison d'etre for the trip.
After over 500 miles, the only bad thing that has happened today is that my card reader won't work so I have no photos to share. Hopefully its just the card reader and not the laptop - I'll update with photos if I procure a Card reader tomorrow enroute.

Now that I have a working card reader, you now have photos. The above photos show the tank bag I'm using for ready access to my camera as I travel. Its a "Chase Harper 750 Compact Tank Bag". It features magnetic attachment to the tank, so it just stick on like a big refrigerator magnet, and a foam block in the base, that I cut out in the shape of the camera to cradle it at freeway warp speeds. Tho a bit awkward with gloves on, I can pull a zipper and extract he camera while still on the bike, and hope I can shove it back in place before the traffic light changes

We left this morning at o'dark thirty: 2 Harleys and my FJR1300 heading north on hwy 86 towards 29 north in Virginia. Ultimate destination was a little place called Port Jervis NY, as it would place us in a good position for crossing New England on Day 2.

It was a little foggy this morning, with a low cloud deck, and looked to threaten rain. But it was cool, so I was loving it, no hot sweaty ride, at least not for now.

The route would be easy, albeit long, today - 86 to 29 to 15 would get us to Gettysburg, where I hoped we'd have enough time for at least a quick looksee. From Gettysburg, we'd take a slightly convoluted route to Harrisburg, on 581E to 83 to 81 to 78, and 22 to 33 to 209. Try keeping track of all those road changes from a small 6x8 inch map, in heavy traffic! The reason? to get from North Carolina to Maine without going up the usual northeast corridor, thereby bypassing Baltimore, DC and NYC.

All in all it worked out great, except for some pretty hellish stop-and-go stuff around Harrisburg, and some heavy and downright dangerous feeling congestion in and around Allentown. I believe now more than ever that everyone needs to be made to ride a motorcycle for a year before they can even apply for their license to operate a car. It really does feel sometimes that people WANT to kill you.

The ride up 29 and 15 through Virginia and Maryland was great and proved yet again why its my favorite way to wend north from NC - traffic was light and sane, partly cloudy skies kept the sun at bay after the morning fog burned off, and the rural countryside offered varying views of misty mountains, rolling hills, pastural farms, and some horse country up north along 15 going into Frederick Maryland.

As we were going right thru Gettysburg, I'm glad we made time to stop by the Battlefield Memorial and site of Lincoln's Address. Though my brother and Dad have been several times before, as my brother is a civil war aficionado, it was purely introductory for me as I had never been, and as the visit was necessarily short if we are to make Maine comfortably by tomorrow.

Scenes from Gettysburg...

Dad using his new camera

Bro explaining some battle detail

Dad, Bro, and someone who looks a lot like my grandma

Honest Abe is now a "all the gear all the time" Abe

Hanging with the 16th President

While the 2 other bikes are full-on touring bikes, replete with stereos, CB radios, cup holders, and probably dilithium powered flux capacitors and microwave ovens for all I know, my little rig is a "sport" tourer, with the emphasis on sport. So no stereo radio or other entertaining doo-dads for me, which is how I'd have it. I do get to play a lot with my electronically adjustable windshield. A lot. This is a new feature for me, as I've never had this capability before the FJ before. And its a good thing too. Because after 500 miles I can honestly say this is by far the saddest, lamest, noisiest, turbulent, pain in the *ss P.O.S. windscreen I have ever sat behind. I mean, it would be great if it simply didn't work at this point. I cannot say enough bad things about it. Suffice to say, a new screen is in order on my return as soon as I get the scratch saved up.

But other than playing with the windscreen (up, down, up a bit more, no - down a bit..) I amuse myself as I've always done on long bike rides (uh - no not that), by singing loudly inside my helmet.

(down now, no, up a bit)

Turns out, I really only know about 2 or 3 lines to any song I think know, and either make up the rest, or repeat the same lines over and over until I move on to another song out of delirium.

...crazy, but thats how it goes, millions of people, living as foe-oh-oh-ohs...

HWY 29 takes us through Lynchburg soon after we got started, still early and we blend in with some of the rush hour traffic of folks going to work.

..and I'm going off the rails on a crazy tray-ay-ay-ain...

My family lived in Lynchburg from when I was a few months old, till I was about 4 , way before my brother was born (he and I were both born in New York, while my sister was born while we were in Lynchburg, cementing her as my Dad's favorite as she and he are the non-yankees in the family). I thought of swinging by our old house there, but the new bypass made it too easy to keep heading north and away from old memories.

...pie jesu, qui tollis peccata mundi... (hey, I sing in a choir, its not all metal)

I was only 3 or 4, but I do remember some things from living in Lynchburg: My Mom's capri pants while she dropped her keys, my Dad's Corvair Monza Spyder, it raining on one side of the house while it was still sunny on the other side, and our dog being killed by a car on the highway nearby.

...I know some day you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be the sun...

We stopped for breakfast and fuel just past Nelson county Virginia, outside Charlottesville, where Bro' got a champion breakfast of a cheese and egg BLT with a Red Bull (uh - yummmm). I skipped the Red Bull for a plain old cup o' joe which ended up being pretty lousy. A real shame as I went off my imposed decaf regimen for some of the real stuff as a treat, so I was doubly dissapointed. Sadder still, I ordered the same sandwich. somebody else's sky, but why, whyyyyyyy can't it be-ee-ee miiiiiine...

Fuel and Food stop on 29 outside Charlottesville

Bro' contemplating the surroundings

Breakfast of champions

Dad explaining the finer points of his new luggage

As we got into Charlottesville and a bit of stop-and-go, we got into some of the deepest, darkest, heaviest stink any of us have ever stunk. I mean, this stench was from the bowels of Mordor, evil from time immemorial, dregs of the was bad. None of us had ever smelled anything like this and had no idea what it could be. We eventually made it up to the offending vehicle - some garbage truck from hades' deepest corridors, discoloring the air behind and spewing liquid gunk on the roadway (windscreen all the way UP now). This was a physical as well as olfactory menace, as the gunk was slick. It was wayyy too long before we were able to get around this pig and push through clean air once again. I may not feel really clean again for a long time. I don't know what he was haulin - and even though I'm curious as to what could have been so very raucous, I'm probably better off not knowing.

..oooooh that smell...can't you smell that smell....

From Charlottesville, it was a pretty nice ride up to Warrenton and up to Gettysburg. As I said, the visit was sobering, as the site of over 50,000 casualties in three days of battle. Truly senseless and brutal.

...crawl on me, sink into me, die for me, living dead girl...

getting into Gettysburg

Speaking of truly senseless and brutal, there was the traffic from here across Pennsylvania to Allentown on 78 and 22. Not exactly white-knuckle, and certainly better than if we had spent hours slabbing I-95 instead of the winding, bucolic way we came. But I am thankful this evening that we arrived safely and with nerves easily settled.

...and our mothers in the USO, askin' to da-ance, dancin' real slow-o...

Once we broke free of 22E and got on 209 up to the Poconos around Bushkill Falls, things got bucolic again, with slightly twistie roads and long sweepers with nice views of the Delaware Valley - up until the detour off 209 that took us like 40 miles out of the way. The riding was still bucolic and the roads great, but it was disconcerting to be so far afield and not truly know where you really are or where you'll turn up, and where the heck Port Jervis went, as we should have passed it 50 miles ago, and the sun's going down, and Bro's bike needs fuel. close, no matter how far...couldn't be much more from the heart...forever trusting who we are...and nothing else matters...

We pull over as 209 abuts I-84, feeling a bit lost looking for Port Jervis and to get much needed fuel, when we were informed "we're here!" A hotel right next door - perfect. Perkins right next door (okay, not perfect, but I'll take it) and bar with seasonal brew on draught in the lobby (again, perfect).

We'll get up and cross New England tomorrow - destination Kittery, Maine.

...I tuck you in, warm within, keep you free from sin, till the sandman he comes...


  1. I loved hearing about your fist day along with the ride "music"! I can't wait to hear how the rest of the ride goes! Travel safely!

  2. Great writing! Can't wait to read more! (Happy Fathers Day-left a voicemail on your phone-many in fact- I lost signal too man times!)