The Natchez Trace

The Trace is 440 miles long! I had no idea these roads were so long, From the top of the Shenandoah Skyline to the bottom of the Natchez Trace is over 1000 miles.

Better git to it, then!

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It’s just gets hotter, and hotter, and hotter.

the Old Trace

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Cotton shows up in Alabama

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Indian Burial mounds. A Harley rider says “The Trace gets pretty boring” I think not.

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Old Trace,

New Steed

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Grab breakfast with the Good Old Boys

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This was lunch, an Amish market. Nice. I had a ham sammich. The ladies liked my stickers! I read the little sayings posted everywhere…over the hand made spices..”Our customers say they’re even better than WalMart!”, and my favorite “The undeveloped property with the greatest potential is that which resides between your ears”

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I am not in California, am I? Glad I didn’t tag this little fella…

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GPS weather shows storms ahead, Natchez is only 40 more miles, and getting pounded for days now with lightning storms. I decline to attend, and exit the Trace, heading to Vicksburg, MS.

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bugs everywhere at this stop, couldn’t sit long.

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Vicksburg Battlefield

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Ironclad

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I am finding battlefields to be depressing. This one started it, 18 years ago, when I last came through on the K75s. Lots of ghosts at Vicksburg….Here is the Mississippi at Vicksburg. It was an exciting place to be in July, 1863. Look it up on Wikipedia. Look up the Natchez Trace too. The Mississippi was a hot ticket item back then.

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aaaaaannnnd…..dodging storms, I blast across Louisianna via Interstate 20, but drop south when the GPS shows trouble, only 15 minutes or so of hard rain, not bad.

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I went south of one batch and north of these…love that radar!

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I am comfortably ensconced at Declan and Missy’s place in Athens, TX. Route out of here undecided, but I am leaning towards GTF outa this heat! 100 degrees right now, 52% humidity. No, I am not outside on the deck writing this! My ass is on the AC, bubba!

The Tail of the Dragon

The Dragon is a world famous section of a highway, Hwy 129, starts in North Carolina. Very hyped. Of course, I needed the sticker.

Mad Dog said “don’t go out of your way for it”

good advice, Dave! But it isn’t out of my way, it is right on the way from the bottom of the Blue Ridge to the top of the Natchez Trace, so I go get the sticker(s)…but some photos of the ride there…

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really pretty, but getting gahdamn warm…

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Yeah, it’s got some curves, but so did that babe from DC…oh wait, where did she come from? 😉

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I guess the chain represents the rider taming the turns? huh?

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lots of bikes, and bits of old bikes

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It was curvy, alright. There was one nasty drop-twist turn, if y’all have ever done Laguna Seca you know what I mean. That is where most of these were found, I bet. I damn near got air on the Beast, and I was not going fast. I let a squid wiggle by, but passed 5 Harley’s. Not going slow, either!

Still, Hwy 1 is curvy, Leggett road is curvy, etc.

I got two badass reflective red dragons that now reside on my hand guards, and a Dragon Hwy sticker.

Next!

 

The Blue Ridge Parkway

Ever heard of it? Yeah, me too.

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469 miles long. I guess I didn’t do much of it last time, joined north of Atlanta, I think near New Switzerland, and got off here to go to Baltimore.

That’s a long road. The limit on the Ridge (BRP) is 45mph, much better. I plonk it at about 50, as are most others, and it is a good speed, lots of corners!

There are some fall colors appearing. I am wondering if these are first due to drought stress, or is this normal?

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A gorgeous apparition appears at a pull out, a BMW GS800, the new twin, parked with a BeeeUtiful woman walking to the edge. Gosh, says I…nice clouds, I need a photo. I did not see the gentleman taking her photo. Dammit. They are from Washington D.C. She apparently does not speak English. I get their photo, they get mine. I wish I got a better photo of her, wow.

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Stickers are accumulating…

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A lot of the fall colors I skipped photos of, bad traffic, telephone/power lines or other obstructions, etc. This was pretty good.

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Blue Ridge Morning

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Cool fences everywhere

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and graveyards

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AcckkkkkkKK!

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another day on the ridge…bummer.

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these are everywhere…as are butterflies and caterpillars…coincidence?

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Mabry Mill. Mabry was a blacksmith, wheelwright, and ran a sawmill and gristmill out of his place. Nice. I would have fit in perfectly…with a fat internet connection for those long winters. oh, and that babe from DC.

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Gorgeous.

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Blacksmith shop

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Ma Mabry’s loom

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Beer ‘n’ bud butt break

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sidetracked to try to find a motorcycle campground, found it, but nobody home.

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Sunset on the Ridge. I barely made it here, Roanoke, VA. Coasting down the hills, 378 miles on the clock, both reserves wide open, I don’t want to push this beeyatch. whew!

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Tupelo Honey Cafe

yummy grits!

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And that basically was the Blue Ridge Parkway. VERY nice, not too much traffic, Maxfield Parrish clouds, no rain, win-win!

Shenandoah Skyline Drive

WooooooHOOOOOOO!

Here we go…after hacking my way south through the forests of roads…AND seeing a bear! WTF is that, a dog? NOPE. As soon as it starts running, I know it is a black bear. It exits stage right up a hill, blink, gone.

There are also some interesting structures this way…

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I get to the start of Skyline Drive. Some hoser in a nice Corvette was taking photos at the sign, so I blast past, and think “fuck that”, pull a U-turn (I’m getting very good at those) and go back. I get shots of him and his wife, and he returns the favor

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Speed limit is 35mph, jeeebus. Baby won’t go 55, how can I do this?

sure enough, I get a warning for 48 in a 35. The nice officer said to try to keep it about 40, aaaiiiight?

It is Gorgeous! However, fall isn’t fully here yet.  I will have to live with the ordinary beauty…

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Skyline Drive leads us south to…the 469 mile long

Blue Ridge Parkway

Outbound

I don’t stop as much when touring with company, too complicated. They worry that I broke down, I don’t want to slow them down, etc.

K&E’s daughter Kasey is flying in Sunday, 9/11, so they have to be back, Karyn’s flight out is Tuesday, so she has to be back in PA too.

I tag along for a few days for the company, but no stopping for photos…we get a bit sidetracked, Ken’s maps don’t show us where we are, and one turn takes us on a nice little hill, dirt, rutted and washboarded, with a sign that says 4WD only! Karyn is not in love with riding in the dirt, K&E and I are quite enamored of it. Karyn motors up that hill like Evel Knievel, but Ken and I both know we’re gonna hear about this. Ken has me route the shortest distance to our KOA destination, and I manage to take us down a dirt road too. Dodge Hollow Road. I can’t pass it up. It takes us all over the place, at one point right through a farmyard, where two women holding babies just break out in smiles to see us, but the little girl holding one’s skirt was the prize winner, she smiled so brightly it made my day.

This KOA cabin is tiny, expensive, and hot. Oh well. The onsite vendor made us so damn fine burgers tho, and we crash…long damn day,.

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check out the cool trailer!

The next day, bringing us current on this blog, was just brilliant. Empty roads, Ken routed us just north of the Catskill Mountains, glorious sweepers, fresh pavement, it doesn’t get better than this.

Ken has a pucker factor 9 experience, as do I, since I am right behind him. Instant rear flat. His rear end starts whipping around, I thought he hit oil, but see that the rear tire is flat. He gets it under control for a moment, and then it starts whipping about again. We end up stopped in a PA State Parks driveway, where the ranger comes out and offers us an air compressor. Ken and I get the wheel off and repaired in record time. Looks like a valve stem failure, and in a brand new tube too. Scary.

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sidewalk mechanics

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I do stop and get SOME photos…

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very cool lions

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We decide to go 20 miles out of our way to tag Connecticut

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check out the horns on those bad boys!

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The Inn at Starlight Lake

What a find this place is.

We were hot, tired, sweaty and ready for a drink when we stopped in Hancock, NY. A new hotel on Main Street caught our eye and we pull over. They are brand spanking new and are not renting rooms yet. Bar and restaurant are open and booming, dammit. I ask the front desk woman where a nice place was where we could sit and watch life go by and she said “Starlight”.

Off we go….from the moment we got to the lake, then saw the Inn, I was captivated.

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Off the bikes, sigh…..

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there are two rooms big enough, one had mattresses on the floor and one was a two room suite…d’uh. There was a bit of a hike to get up to the suite, but we grunt all our shite up there and head to the lake, Karyn declines a swim and jumps in the shower. Ken, Elaine and I get in the lake, wonderfully cool. We swim out to the diving raft, Ken and I dive back in…it’s been a looooong time since I have done that…summer camp?

R&P ride back to PA the next morning, sniff, sniff…

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I go back to bed. 🙂

after that, though, it is time for a hike around the lake…

at some points, it is a path…

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and No Trespassing signs…I ignore those.

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after awhile…no path. Inlet end of lake is a swamp, I turn back

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cool rock/moss formation

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this lily was in deep! Half mud, half water, balls deep. Glad I didn’t drop the phone!

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A tour of the Inn…

Entry Hall

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Main dining room

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Back into entry hall

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Rec room with TV room behind. A small library is to my left.

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Third floor

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SO much art work, what to photo?

THIS…copper light switch plate.

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The Bar. The owner, Sari Schwartz there, was so impressed with my riding from California she bought me a drink the first night, and took $100 off the bill for the following night. Room, dinner, 3 glasses of wine…$79.80. She liked me… 🙂 Obviously an intelligent woman.

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Drizzzly morning, so I wake slowly…but the lake gradually emerges

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“I’ll be back”

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aaaaannnnnnd…heading off solo, towards the Shenandoah Mountains where the Shenandoah Skyline Drive starts. This is a 105 mile drive through the…yes, Shenandoah Mts.

Bah Hahbuh

We got unpacked into the KOA cabin and went exploring…

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that is not a lake. That is the Atlantic Ocean.

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Karyn

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K&E

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Yes, I went in! Got right back out too, there is a crab right in front of my foot!

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apples mixed in the drifted grasses and seaweed…

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seaweed is different over here….

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As are the tides…9′ difference. That is low tide the next morning above, high tide in the other photos.

Time for dinner! We had our first lobster!

I had a lobster roll, which sounds more impressive than it is. It’s basically a whole lobster (tail and claws) cut up, mixed with mayo, and put on a toasted hot dog bun. $18. Everything is expensive here, tourist land. The whole damn East Coast is touristy. I am glad I am a country boy!

The lobster roll was fookin’ awesome, however.

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Karyn had one too, and Ken and Elaine had a bug each. Elaine gave me a claw….

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and I ate it!

I must say, Ken is a wonderful, talented man, and I am honored to be his friend. I have never seen that man smile as much as on this trip, and I have known him 28 years.

Thanks, Buddy. That was fun. Let’s do it again!

Sunset was lovely…

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we had a lovely fire and retired. Norm, it takes a quarter of a bottle of hand sanitizer to start the fire, that seems excessive…Karyn gets us Fritos to try the next night….but we eat them.

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We have the KOA cabin for three nights, so we get to exploring. First, shopping!

We saddle up, two up for economy, we can get into the park cheaper that way. Off the 8 miles to town we go, zipping straight into a nice downtown parking spot. Gotta love the bikes! Ooo, look! A corner bar! Elaine says “I could go for a Bloody Mary at some point” Ken and I look at each other, and “No time like the present!”

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Ride and Party go to Maine!

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Cool campers drive by as we sit and sip.

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Love that VeeDub!

off for shopping…one good thing about touring on motorcycles, it does cut down on purchases.  I HAVE to get this T-shirt…

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that is a perfect tour poem…

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Fall is coming…but I am about 2 weeks early

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Town is pretty damn gorgeous, as is the day.

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two separate worlds there….

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Down town

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Town square

We saddle up and head off on the easy loop of the island, saving the longer one for tomorrow.

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the fog layers are really pretty

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We stop and hike down to Sand Beach and take off our shoes and walk in the ocean again, sooooooo nice to see, smell and hear the ocean.

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back to the cabin for cocktails and….you guessed it

LOBSTER!

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Mine’s name is Dinner!

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hmmmm, mmmmmm, good!

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Boiled Bug. That plate was $23.

Last day

foggy as hell today, glad we got out yesterday. Today we loop the other half of the island, the southern and western sides

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nice lighthouse

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Cap’t Dave

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lighthouse keepers abode

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nice tangle

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next was a old car and motorcycle museum

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that is a childs car made by Bugatti…$7k in the depression. Priorities, eh?

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check out the horn on that bad boy.

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Henry Ford’s personal car on the Island. Hood ornament hand made by Henri Cartier himself.

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’34 Ford runabout…

the amount of money on this island is insane, it makes Mendocino Money look like monopoly money.

back to the cabin, gotta pack up.

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The Journey

Well then!

that was a heck of a ride, thanks goes out to Ken and Elaine Bone and Karyn McNabb for making the time to join me, and especially to Karyn’s family, Jose and Kevyn, for holding down the fort while Karyn went to play. THANKS!

this will be a long post. It is now Sept 11, 2016. I am holed up in a SWEET Inn on a lake, appropriately named, The Inn at Starlight Lake.

Let me start at the beginning.

We left Friday the 2nd. I was apprehensive about riding in the NE on Labor Day weekend, but it all turned out pretty well. The first day was a long grunt to get into NY. We stayed at the 3 Bears Inn, which had delightful food and deplorable beds, and was right next to the freeway. Oh well, 1 out of 2 isn’t bad.

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I can’t remember much about the day, Ken was lead mostly, but it worked out better if K&E went together and Karyn and I rode together, we met up for gas and food, and major intersections. One rule on this tour is minimal interstates, so this Bar Harbor trip was 3 days each way. We took 4 days getting there, nice and easy. Lots of small (and smaller!) roads. K&E are paper map people, I am a GPS person, so there was a little adjustment period while we figure out what worked.

Day 2 was into the Adirondack Mountains! This was very fun, but the traffic got thicker and thicker.

We met for breakfast in Bouckville, great little spot Ken found.

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Loved the dog sign.

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more and more color!

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some lake, some where. dang lot of lakes up there. One day I am going to be a float plane pilot.

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Saranac Lake. We got a motel room here and stayed the night, going out for NY Mexican food was an experience, the food was good, but that ain’t Mexican.

Day 3

dammit, you guys get up too early! Coffee in the room, and vamanos! We Ride! Its nice to get an hour or so under your belt (and tires) before having breakfast. This place was awesome, and the coffee was great.

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not the restaurant, silly. you may have noticed by now, the motorcycles will be a continuing theme….

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View from our table!

Passed lots of Amish horse carts this morning, you’re warned by the steaming turds…the cuteness winner was the Amish family walking to church, Sunday morning best on, the boys just beaming at the bikes. Nice.

Ken and Elaine are very experienced long distance riders, I can learn a lot from them. One of the tips is to stay in KOA campgrounds. I have always been very skeptical of them, but out here in the east they’re pretty good. We stayed in a sweet cabin with kitchen, fireplace, BBQ, lawn swing, and all the amenities. Ken grilled us up some sirloin tips, Elaine made a salad, we dined sumptuously!

Day 4

Into Maine! Before, tho, we cross out of NY into and past New Hampshire and Vermont. No, I didn’t stop for any maple products. One VERY cool thing was crossing Lake Champlain by ferry, Elaine likes ferrys, as do we all.

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Lining up….

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Woo HOOO! This is a big lake, full of history, lots of battles in the Revolution on this lake.

We intended to ride up Mt. Washington, but the one way road, not through, and 1 mile of dirt, no railings, and $17 fee made the others bail, I didn’t though, so up I went. Yes, it is steep. No, there are no railings. The dirt section was not too bad, but they watered it to keep the dust down, which didn’t help.

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going up….

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and up…

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Highest recorded wind speeds experienced by man were here, 231 MPH. Note the chains on the building….

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be an exciting drive in winter, eh?

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going down. Spooky stopping, one lane road, not much forgiveness here.

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the gang were down the hill a ways, enjoying a snack and dip in this…

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We Have Arrived!

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K&E booked a KOA just across the bridge on Mt. Desert Island, which is the island that Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park reside upon.

Ride & ParTAY!

loading up the cycles…and here they are…

Ken’s, very modified. Ken’s done all our bikes.
I ‘think’ this started out as an R80ST, but now has a 1000cc engine and old skool airbox. You’ll note other modifications…🙂

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Next is Elaines, AKA 2Lane. This started out as a monolever R65, but now also has a 1000cc engine with the stock R65 rear end, for that jet assist takeoff feeling. Ken also put in a taller 5th gear. Pelican bags, by Ken.

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Karyn’s R80. This is a basically stock monolever R80, but now has the windscreen, EnduraLast charging system (we’ve all got that)and the ladies and I also have an LED headlight bulb from an ADVrider.com vendor. Schweeeeet!

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You already are familiar with The Beast. It is much dirtier than these…so I will leave the photo out. 😉

Lift off, 8am tomorrow.
First leg; Boneyard East to Marathon, NY
Second leg; Marathon, NY to Lake Saranac, NY
Third? TBD

Pennsylvania

Not much to say about getting here, except…Cool! I tagged West Virginia too!

lots of interstates today, booooooooooRING…skirting Ann Arbor and Toledo, I am on the way to Ride & Party Ken & Elaine’s place in PA near Pittsburgh. Ken sends me the route, typically, just a paragraph with highway numbers in it. I do get out in the boonies eventually, though, and in Woodville, on Hwy 20…there appears The Speed Trap Diner. Can’t pass that up! Great spot!

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Biker Babe Avenue…

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Due to the fact I was dodging thunderstorms all day, not many photos. I didn’t miss them all, either. My Roadcrafter got rewashed, and the bike got the bugs blasted off of it. Still, Hwy 250 avoided a lot of it, and the thunderstorms followed me all the way to McDonald, PA. The GPS was awesome, it showed the rain very accurately. Green means water, yellow means buckets of water. I don’t want to know about any other colors.

This fixer-upper was in Germane, PA. That is some old stuff there.

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Floated into the smiling arms of Elaine, dancing the green hills of Pennsylvania with the rhythm of the road accompanied by Peter Green’s “A Fool No More”….perfect.

R&P Karyn flies in tonight from LA, her bike is here getting worked on, Ken & Elaine have a place here and in Phoenix, so Karyn rode it over to Phoenix and Ken trucked it out here when they came out for summer. Karyn has flown out several times this summer for rides. We all leave Saturday morning for Maine, heading to a cool tavern/motel in Marathon, NY first, then someplace near Lake Placid, NY, then Bar Harbor….and LOBSTER!

Those 3 will come back here the following weekend, I might, but I might head south from there too. All depends on the weather. Right now it is wonderfully cool, low humidity, and awesome.