Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 14 - Matamoras, PA to Port, errr...Front Royal, VA

The day dawned beautiful. Today was going to get us to the top (north end) of Shenandoah National Park. A place we had been near, but not able to visit, so many times. We had looked at the maps, found a mixture of side roads along Delaware Water Gap, and highways through quiet country to reach Front Royal, VA.

We meandered along the Delaware River for a ways. It was mostly quiet, on high alert for deer. Stopping briefly to see the river and pirate canoes docking. The scene was beautiful and I could see the attraction of being on the water.

It's time to start our day in earnest though, realizing all of the miles we have to go. I put the destination into the single working GPS, zooming out a little to verify direction. Quick glance showed it looked fine. Right...

We didn't miss the fact that we seemed to be hitting too many toll roads. We just figured the GPS is taking us along some smaller roads before getting to the big interstate. We didn't miss it, we just didn't think too much on it. We didn't miss the fact that even for toll roads, these lanes had lots of potholes, weeds, and litter. Again, we didn't overlook it, we just didn't think of the importance of it.

It finally intruded into the forefront of our brains when we saw huge bridges crossing large bodies of water, a few pushes of the zoom out button, on the working GPS, showed us on the outskirts of Philadelphia.



We were supposed to be going through Harrisburg, PA. No. Where. Near. Philadelphia!!
I've been fighting with the temperamental "I'll work when I want to GPS." I'm starting to have my own temper tantrum to match its. And I realize that I had set Oilburner's GPS to Port Royal, VA for our destination. Not Front Royal, VA.

Port Royal...

Front Royal...

Port Royal...

Front Royal...



Port Royal, VA IS NOT Front Royal, VA

Oh...this isn't good. We stop at a Subway to reassess the situation and determine our options from here.

I'm beside myself wondering how in the world I could have made this mistake. Oilburner is trying to calm me down, because he had also looked at the statistics for the route and felt they were good too. From Matamoras, PA it is 291 highway miles to Front Royal, and 317 miles to Port Royal. Not enough distance or time difference to raise any red flags, especially adding our time on the back roads.

It doesn't make me feel any better though...

Now we have to decide where we go. Do we continue on with the original plan of Shenandoah? Or regroup and head somewhere else? Discussing over lunch and feeling calmer, Oilburner still thinks Front Royal is feasible. We both still want to see Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The kink in the plan is that to get there we have to skirt Philadelphia, Baltimore, AND Washington D.C. During rush hour times. I won't ride in Atlanta during rush hour if I can help it. Why the heck would I want to hit Philadelphia, Baltimore, AND D.C. all in ONE day??


We tighten our belts (OK, maybe Oilburner loosened his since we had just eaten), steel our nerves, and ready ourselves for battle.

Not too far down the road I have the pleasure of watching accident occur in the lane next to me. I've left a decent space between me and Oilburner since I don't want people losing me in the "blind" assessment of seeing a "single" rider. If people want to suddenly dive in between us, I'm going to give them the room. All this means is that Oilburner didn't see or hear a thing.

Of the two lanes to my right, the far one is being coned off for construction. A big semi-truck was merging into the lane on my right (his left) without seeing the very low profile vehicle hauling trailer. The semi-truck smacked into the last three feet of the trailer, skipping the trailer into my lane about a foot. Luckily nothing else occurred, the truck and trailer recovered quickly and the semi slowed down rapidly. I had a second to survey the damage to the trailer. Wow! Imagine thick steel beams, like a car frame, bent up into a pretty wing shape.

Thankfully that was only the second worst thing to happen today. (I still maintain the Port Royal fiasco was the worst.) The rest of the day only held heavy traffic and a few backups. McDonald's ice cream and Frappes cooled off those slights.

It wasn't a much longer day than expected, we just traveled the sides of the triangle rather than the hypotenuse. But it all worked out. And bonus, we did see the outskirts of towns I never expected to even be near on a motorbike. The hotel was new and luxurious. The attached restaurant was a Houlihan's serving alcohol. But most importantly, I can put West Virginia on my map of states ridden in. :) It wasn't on our radar to be there. Score!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

If Only It Was This Easy

Too funny not to share. If only it was this easy for us motorcyclists...Please Move the Deer Crossing Signs

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 13 - Portland, ME to Matamoras, PA

The day dawned brightly, and we dreaded it. Who wants to acknowledge, nay face, the end of a wonderful vacation. Pointing the bikes south meant that it was real and we were heading towards home. Sure we had a few more things to see on the way down. But the excitement is always tempered by the weight in the back of my mind that real life will soon be intruding. (Not to mention that I also get a little paranoid of heading towards home after this great an excursion, knowing how many accidents occur on the way home. I don't want to end up a statistic in that table.)

Today was going to be a long day. Best just to get it started.

Of course, the quickest way out of Dodge (Portland) is by toll charged Interstate 95. Taking any other road would have meant traffic and stoplights. You are kinda stuck paying that toll. Sigh. To boot, we paid that toll for 10+ miles of "dangerous to motorcycle" grooves. What fun!! (Not!)

All too soon we crossed the Maine border once again and traipsed into New Hampshire. We have officially entered New Hampshire more times than Maine on this trip. Were you aware that I-95 is only in New Hampshire for 15.38 miles? In the blink of an eye we are into a completely new state, a state that we haven't ridden in! We are now traveling along in Massachusetts. Many times on this trip we have had people warn us about drivers from Massachusetts. They have been non-affectionately called "MASSholes". Our experiences luckily did not reveal any to us (on this trip). But with as much as we wanted to spend time in Boston, neither of us wanted to ride our motorbikes in that city. ;)

Soon enough we reached another border and another first state: Connecticut.

In all, this was a rather humdrum kind of day. We managed about 335 miles (540 km) of boring interstates to get us well on our way towards Shenandoah National Park. The GPS made a couple great recommendations around some cities. Seemed to save us some downtown construction zones that I didn't mind missing.

Our only excitement came in the form of an older gentleman that joined our riding party. He was returning to his wife in Florida after visiting his brother in New Hampshire. He came with crutches and a handicap plate on his motorbike. We probably rode together about 150 miles, he even called it a day it Matamoras with us. However, he wasn't inclined to spend the money on the Best Western that we had chosen. We said our good byes and good lucks and discussed the possibility of running into each other on the morrow. However, given that we were thinking if taking some backroads in the morning, we didn't think it was likely.

Statisics-wise this was a most interesting day. We rode in 6 states today, and two of them were for the first time: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania.  (Yes, we were only 1 mile into Pennsylvania, but it was a border crossing!) We wished we could have found the time and excuse to hit Rhode Island. I think it will be a long time before I can cross that state off the list that have been under my two wheels.

View Larger Map

Please zoom the map out. I can't seem to figure out how to have it show a larger area!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Yeah I'm shouting. I had an horrible day at work. Absolutely dreadful. I had to get home right quick and figure out how I was getting towards the airport. Given the day I figured just drive. But the weather has been great, I haven't been on the bike in three weeks. What the hay, let's go in the bikes.

So how did my horrible day turn into a great evening?

3. Rode my bike...

2. To a great restaurant we have been meaning to try for years!

1. ...with great new friends!!

Meet Pam and her bestest hubby sidekick. This is the one and only Pam from Helmet or Heels fame, that gave me my 15 minutes of fame. :)

This restaurant is cool. We've been talking of going to the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant for over 10 years. It sits on the runway of Peachtree Dekalb Airport. You can watch the planes land/launch about 100 feet from your table. Closer if you are sitting on the patio.

The restaurant was great, but the company was better. We had a difficult time ordering because Pam and I kept talking and forgot to look at the menu. We went with the waitress' recommendation and three of us had the Salmon Soufflé while one lone standout ordered the Stuffed Trout. (And boy was it stuffed!!)

I don't think we paused for breathe throughout dinner, we had so much to talk about. And no, it didn't all revolve around motorbikes. Thank you both for taking time out from visiting with your family to come spend the evening with us. It totally made my day better.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Brown Baggin' It

Do you ever feel a little naughty walking out of the package store with your little plain brown paper bag wrapped bottle of happiness?

I unwrapped my little package of goodness today. Have you ordered yours?

If you haven't yet, now is the time to contact Jack Riepe over at Twisted Roads.

(Package stores are liquor stores for states that still don't have complete separation of church and state, with the laws still regulating who can sell liquor, and when. You can purchase beer and wine in the supermarket, but all hard liquor has to be acquired from a package store. Hey, still better than Utah where you can only purchase near-beer, or "three-two beer", in the supermarket. Otherwise everything has to go through state run liquor stores.)