Archive for July, 2012

Colorado

Posted in Uncategorized on July 25, 2012 by Pat Regan

I made it to Colorado a beaten and disheveled man. I had ridden 3 full days in blistering 100 plus degree heat through unmerciful open plains. Now in Colorado with the Rocky Mountains soaring high before me, it was time to rest. I found a cheap room at the Stagecoach Motel in Colorado Springs. It’s a real nice place where each room comes with it’s own carport, which is nice because I treat my bike as if it has feelings like a pet. I’ll give her a pat on the side of the tank once in a while and tell her she’s a good girl. It comforted me to provide her with shelter as well. We’ve been through a lot. Outside my room is a huge old apple tree. The lady who runs the motel told me the place was built in 1949 on a former apple orchard. This was the last of the apple trees. It is over 100 years old with a trunk larger than I have ever seen on a fruit bearing tree. The rooms are large with one of the most powerful showers I’ve ever had. I rested well here.

I went to visit a place in town called Garden of the Gods. It’s a nice enough place, but knowing what lies ahead on the trip, it doesn’t compare.

While riding slowly through the park my foot pedal came loose. Not cool! Last year my other foot pedal snapped right off. A park ranger lent me his knock off Leatherman tool to tighten it a little. I left my real Leatherman tool back at the hotel (a gift from my brother and his wife, thanks!). It is very difficult to get to this nut with anything but a thin fixed wrench. Of course I didn’t have one. Back at the motel I borrowed a tool from Rick, a neighbor with a Harley. He and his wife Debbie were touring around from Texas. He had a 1/2 inch wrench which was enough to tighten it a bit further, but I would have stripped it had I continued further. Bonnie is a British bike. I needed metric tools. I wasn’t going to sweat it for now. Today was a day of rest. I would deal with it tomorrow and start a new chapter of the journey as I traverse the great Rocky Mountains.

In the morning I headed to Pikes Peak. It is high in the sky. Notice the mountain goat.

Up at Pikes Peak there was this old fella sitting in the passenger seat of the SUV I pulled up next to. His name is Don. He used to ride until he pulled his hip out. That is also the reason he sat in his car as his family walked about Pikes Peak. Don said he has an old BSA in his basement. He can’t ride anymore, but just like Roy Rogers had Trigger stuffed to keep him around, Don can’t part with his old bike. So it sits. It’s funny we were having a great conversation about bikes, travel and survival. But as soon as I mentioned I was from New York City the conversation changed to politics. This happens a lot when I talk to old timers. It sucks, cause I don’t enjoy talking politics. It’s a dead end to otherwise interesting conversation.

After Pikes Peak I stopped at a Walmart to get a 12 mm wrench for my foot peg. Walmart only sold wrenches in sets. When I walked out there were two trikes parked next to me. One of the guys with the trike had the wrench I needed. That was the ticket. I tightened her up and was confidently on my way.

I spent a lot of time at Pikes Peak. It takes a while just to get up there and back. I planned on riding north toward Aspen and find a place to camp out in the mountains, but something drew me to turn around and check out a town I had just passed. I was so glad I did. Welcome to Buena Vista, CO.

I was hungry and it was getting late in the day. I still had no idea where I would stay the night. I rode passed this restaurant trailer. It just looked like the right spot. A billboard outside said Baja Shrimp Tacos was the special of the day. Mmmmmm! As I approached the place I could hear Sugar Magnolia playing inside. Groovy good! Sadly they were wrapping it up for the evening and closed the grill. No shrimp tacos. Boooo. But they said they could make me a chicken curry wrap. OK!

The folks running this trailer restaurant are Amy and Dave. Sincerely, two of the nicest people I could hope to meet. Real good people! I asked if they knew a place I could camp. Dave told me of a great place. A primitive site down a dirt road. Perfect. He said follow the dirt road along the river, then when I see the tunnels turn right and head up that road for about a 3/4 of a mile and I should see a BLM campsite. It started to rain and I flew down the dirt road staying ahead of the storm.

I don’t know what type of predators roam these parts, but apparently they don’t have a taste for hoof.

The next morning I bathed in the local river along side those tunnels Dave mentioned.

Then I returned to that restaurant and sat down with Dave and Amy. AND I had yummy shrimp tacos and something called jicama. It’s a type of root that tastes like a combination of apple and potato. Amy added a tasty citrus dressing to it and it was delicious. They told me about some sites to look out for on my way to Aspen which was great because I probably would have missed them. I really owed Amy and Dave a lot for making my stay pleasurable. And how did I repay them. I walked out forgetting to pay for my lunch! Ahhhh! Amy and Dave, please get in touch with me and tell me what I owe you! Text me, call me or leave your address in a comment here. You guys were super cool and I feel bad! Didn’t realize I walked out on you guys until I was on Independence Pass. So sorry!

Independence Pass is the road leading to Aspen from the south and it is beautiful.

One of the sites Dave mentioned was the old ghost town of Independence. This one I would have seen from the road anyway. I totally dig ghost towns.

This next place I would have definitely passed by if Dave hadn’t told me about it. He said to turn off at the sign for the grottos. It’s really cool and there is an ice cave there. Man was he right! Here are the cascades at the grotto.

And then I climbed down into the ice cave. It was surreal.

It may be difficult to tell from the pictures but the ground is all ice. And it was as if the cave was air conditioned. Excellent!

There was this brand new Mustang riding my ass in the mountains. I hate that. He ended up passing me on a blind curve. I screamed “Asshole!”, like Otto in A Fish Called Wanda. He then continued whipping around other vehicles after following them dangerously close. After a few more miles. The Mustang was holding up traffic, because Asshole ran into a large branch sticking out on a tight curve. Karma’s a bitch. Glad you met her asshole.

I stopped in Aspen for gas, but didn’t stick around. A long haired drunk dwarf was babbling to me about needing to get to the dispensary and asking if I had a cigarette. I told him I didn’t know what he meant. “What’s a dispensary?” He screamed, “What are you fucking kidding me man? WEED man!” Oh! I knew they had those in California. Didn’t know about Colorado.

I went to another ghost town outside Aspen called Ashcroft. It was a booming town during the silver rush of the 1880’s.

My plan from Ashcroft was to head to Route 133. I rode there a few years ago but the weather was awful. It was pouring and I couldn’t take any pictures. As I approached it this year it looked like more of the same. So I altered my route and headed toward Lake Ruell to camp for the night. On my way there I saw one of the saddest things. At first I was excited. A young fox was up ahead. My camera was packed away because of rain. Then I realized why this fox cub was in the road. It’s mother had been hit by a car. It was confused and didn’t understand why mom wasn’t getting up. As I rode by another pup was just sitting there totally staring at me as I went by. I nearly cried. These poor pups didn’t stand a chance. I made it to the lake for a night’s stay.

In the morning I rode by where the mother fox had been hit. You can see the stain. She had beed dragged away by either another animal or someone keeping the road clean (it was an affluent area). I stopped and looked for the cubs, but there were none to be found.

So I carried on past the red rocky terrain to resume my original path. And now the weather was perfect.

I stopped at the Redstone coke stoves. I don’t really understand the process or purpose for them but it had something to do with cooking coal to extremely high temperatures to produce coke.

While here I met a couple dudes on bikes, one of whom, Dylan shared my last name and another who shared the first name of my old buddy in Arkansas, Grady.

The rest of  route 133 was a great ride through the mountains.

The environment here in Colorado is ever changing. From the chilly mountain air above the tree line to the hot desert climates in the valleys below, I moved up and down nature’s roller coaster. I turned north on to route 65 and headed into another mountain range. This one gave a spectacular panoramic view of the storms that often gather over the mountains in the afternoon.

As I descended the mountain it heated up fast. My chin got scorched! Maybe I should have kept those whiskers. They are slowly growing back.

This road winded through a canyon along a river for many a mile. Eventually it met up with Interstate 70 which I jumped on to take me into Utah. This was one part of a glorious day of riding.

This day wasn’t over. I ended up at my favorite spot to camp along the Colorado River in Utah, but Utah is a post for another day.

Oklahoma and Kansas

Posted in Uncategorized on July 20, 2012 by Pat Regan

I crossed into the Northeastern part of Oklahoma. In fact, the easternmost town in Oklahoma (the way I went) is called Westville. Go figure! There must be a story there? There turned out to be a story with the photo below as well. I pulled over to take a picture of this old service station in Westville. While taking the shot, a woman in a car stopped behind me and called out, “You know what that is?” I told her I did not. She told me that this was the very first Citco gas station in the United States. She said, “It is a damn shame. It has been sitting there falling apart for the last 30 years and the town won’t do anything to preserve it.”  That is a damn shame.

From Westville I headed further north to Honey Creek State Park for the night. It was getting mighty hot now that I was out of the mountains, but finally there were fewer mosquitos.

I continued west through northern Oklahoma passing through more towns with abandoned places.

This was a strange assortment of buildings right by the railroad tracks.

The square building was a weigh station. Inside the small round building was a couple bicycles and some old washing machines.

I then rode through many miles of flat farmland.

Well, it was probably only farmland for many generations previous to this day. Now it was oil and natural gas land. The poor farmers probably never expected the onslaught of trucks and intrusion of equipment right on their property. But if you don’t own the mineral rights and a discovery is made, kiss your peaceful kingdom goodbye.

Unlike Westville’s misplaced name, Jet, Oklahoma seems to understand where their name comes from.

I went to have a look at The Great Salt Plains Lake just north of Jet. On the way I could see vast areas of salt beds from afar before it turned to water, but the road leads to get there leads you to the actual lake. I would have preferred the salt flats.

The only evidence of the salt at this location were small layers along the shore.

I came across another former service station near the lake.

I went to examine the pump to try to figure how much gas cost when this place closed, when I found a guest living within. A Black Widow! I had never seen one before. The abdomen is about the size of a fingernail. So cool! I wish she had stuck around for more photos, but my lens hit the web and she scurried off.

The last photo I took in Oklahoma may help you understand that the ride is not always pleasurable. In fact, I can probably expect a brutal ride from here to the Rockies.

I plowed through the heat and the churned up rocks from many a passing semi truck and made my way into Kansas. Kiowa is the first town I passed through. I later found out a historical fact about Kiowa that I’ll get back to in a bit.

I saw a sign for the Stockade Museum in Medicine Lodge, KS. When you enter the museum there are various artifacts from dinosaur bones to items from the pioneer days. Within the walls of the museum was an old stockade taken from the basement of the local courthouse. And there is this old homestead moved from a nearby location.

What the sign directing me here did not mention was that the museum was adjacent to the former home of Carry Nation who sparked the temperance movement to ban alcohol before prohibition.

This petite woman began her campaign by smashing up bars with rocks before she moved to her trademark hatchet. The first bar she smashed up was in Kiowa, KS.

From Medicine Lodge it was a straight shot west toward Dodge City some in extreme heat.

I stopped for gas and lunch in a town called Greensburg. I asked if there was a place to sit inside. The woman behind the counter said, “Not since the tornado.” Hmmm. There was a strange looking storm on the horizon. I could tell I was clear of it, but it was a bit disconcerting knowing this was tornado alley. I’ll have a slice of that good weather please!

While sitting outside the gas station and having some chicken, a large woman and her friend pulled up in a golf cart. Her friend went inside and the large woman stayed put. She said hi. I said that’s a strange looking storm over there. Which way do they usually head? She said you never can tell with the storms around here. “Ever see the inside of an F5?” I knew then, she had a story to tell. I said, “I don’t think many have seen one and lived to tell about it.” She said “You’re looking at one!” In 2007 Greensburg was wiped out by an F5 tornado. That’s as big as they come. She told me she was in her bedroom when it hit. It sounded like a train ripping through her apartment. She crouched down and grabbed on to her bedroom door handle. The tornado ripped the roof right off and lifted and lifted this 300lb. woman from the ground. With her feet pointed up, she said she turned to see her ceiling taking off into the sky. Then she said it ripped her pants right off and she could see into the center of this monster where it was calm and you could see the sky in it’s center. How she survived is amazing. When it was done she said her knuckles were black from holding on to the doorknob so tight. Amazing!

Those two boxes on the right are shelters to lock yourself in, in case another tornado comes for a visit.

From there it was a straight shot to Dodge City where Wyatt Earp began his tenure as a lawman.

There isn’t really much left from the days of the Earp’s here in Dodge City. It was long ago. They have a re-creation of Front Street on Boot Hill that you can pay to visit, but that’s about it.

What this area is now known for is cattle and beef. And if your eyes don’t let you know about it, your nose certainly will.

Enough of the smelly hot plains. It is time to get some fresh Rocky Mountain air. Colorado here I come.

Arkansas

Posted in Uncategorized on July 19, 2012 by Pat Regan

Of all the states I’ve been to the language of Arkansanese may be the most difficult to understand.

My grandpa (Papa) used to collect cypress knees from the bayou outside of New Orleans. These knees and trees however are adjacent to a golf course in Arkansas.

I rode North a bit. I wanted to head toward the Ozark Mountains. I ended up staying in Jacksonport State Park along the White River.

It sure looked like a nice spot, but damn the mosquitos here are numerous and aggressive. The vestibule of my tent that I had been so proud of in previous posts turned out to be a refuge for these evil winged blood suckers. Live and learn. The extra tarp is not always a good thing.

In the morning I met Tony, the park caretaker. He is a burly fella with one of my favorite words tattooed on his forearm, integrity. I find it amazing how so many bikers don’t know Triumph has been back in business for over a decade. They all think my bike is an old classic. Not complaining, it makes for many a conversation starter. Anyway, Tony told me he could sneak me up into the tower of the old courthouse if I could pack up and be there before 11:30 when he takes lunch. I was late, but thanks for the offer.

So I crossed the river and moved on.

I had a peak at some abandoned old building. I can’t help myself.

Now I was getting into the Ozark Mountains where the roads are rolling and twisty. It’s a fun ride. Every once in a while you come across and old forgotten town like this one. I really dig these places with the elevated sidewalks which I assume date back to the time when Main Street was a dirt road and the town was bustling. Not anymore. Not one of the business were open. It’s pretty much a ghost town.

I continued zipping along these curvy roads of the Ozarks. I must have ridden 50 miles without catching up to another car. That’s the big difference between here and the east coast mountains. Inevitably you catch up with a big ass camper that takes the fun out of the ride. Not here. It’s clean sailing. As I finally entered another town, I saw this old diner on someone’s property.

As I was taking the photo and old man popped out of his trailer. He waved and said, “Why don’t you come over for a talk?” I said, “Sure, why not.” Meet Grady.

His family has been here since 1956. They used to own 12 acres, but between his siblings he is left with an acre and a half and now he is the only one still living. Grady offered me a beer and we sat a talked about all sorts of things for a while. He’s a real nice old guy. So if you ever pass through Dover, AR on route 14 and you see this diner form the 30’s, stop by and tell Grady Pat from NYC sent you. I am sure he’d appreciate the company.

I rode north into Jasper, AR.

From there I rode down a 5 mile dirt road to camp out for the night.

It was here that I saw my first live armadillo. I have seen many dead ones on the side of the road but never a live on. They are one of the most peculiar looking creatures. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my camera out before he scrurried off into the woods. So here is a shot off the internet just to give you a look.

The last time I was in Arkansas I was waiting in a line for something when I asked if it was uncommon to see a live armadillo. I said I only see dead ones on the side of the road. A guy behind my said, “Why did the chicken cross the road….to show the armadillo how it’s done.”

Then that night I was able to see a clear starry sky. After so many cloudy days it was a magnificent sight. And, I finally figured out how to get a picture of it. I am still learning about manual setting and such. But here is what I got.

Another neat thing down this 5 mile dirt road was an old homestead. Usually the ones you see have been moved to a more convenient location. This one sits as it was.

The walls inside were lined with old newspaper. I have seen this before in old ghost towns.

It’s cool to check out the details of these papers dating back to the turn of the century.

Here is one with the date. October 1907.

Dirt roads scare me a little. It’s just that I am concerned about my tires. A flat would be a huge problem for me as I am not prepared to fix it myself. But I made it out OK.

I decided to shave my whiskers off for the first time in 5 years. I’ll be growing them right back I think.

I was surprised to find this beautiful Norton Commando parked in this small old town.

I’ll leave you with a few more shots along the way to Oklahoma. I have to make more miles.

Tennessee

Posted in Uncategorized on July 18, 2012 by Pat Regan

After leaving Wheels Through Time, I rolled through the twisty roads of the Smokey Mountains to Tennessee. I am getting used to the rain and luckily, today it was sporadic. Although this is my fifth cross country adventure there are some matters of preparation that have become instinctive and others that I have to learn or relearn through continued experience. The battle with rain falls into both of those categories. Rain is a bitch and the battle is endless. I decided to escape the rain by visiting a site I had marked on my map last year, but instead opted for a more southern route. I went to Chattanooga and stayed on the Delta Queen.

The Delta Queen is old steamboat that once traversed the waters of the Mississippi and now resides on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga. Some of the magical allure was was lost for me when I was told my room was on the top level. I explained how awkward and heavy my bag was and they graciously set me up on the main level in the Maryland State Room. Nice !

Had I gotten the room on the top level I would have dragged my bags up and addition flight of stairs and entered from the wet deck outside.

But with the aforementioned change, I entered from a luxurious lounge area filled with antique furniture and crystal lamps.

In the morning I left Chattanooga and headed west acrossRoute 64. I continued down the road for a while when I realized it was getting increasingly smaller. I must have missed a turn. I ended up riding into the town of Pulaski. While making my way back to 64, I came upon this grand old bus.

As I was taking pictures, a pick up truck stopped beside me and the bearded driver asked me if I would like to look inside the bus. “Sure!”, I said. “Let me shut off my bike.” By the time I turned off the engine, another bearded fella was there. And then another! I didn’t feel threatened. They were very friendly. Maybe too friendly?  But I was amused and carried on. Then I saw a brochure in one of the guy’s hands. Turns out the are involved in some religious community all about community living. Whatever, I still wanted to see the inside of the bus. We went inside and they showed me a photo album of how the bus was built out of numerous old busses. It was bad ass!

These dudes weren’t preachy at all. More hippyish if anything. They just said that they were into peace and love and their group had communities all over. They invited me to have lunch. I declined. Then this guy handed me the brochure and showed me the many locations they had and I was welcome to stop by  any of them anytime. Thank you and adios my bearded brothers.

I stopped in Pa’s Barbeque for a bite. Inside were 3 old fellas sitting at one of the two tables. I guess the one who got up to get my grub was Pa. We started talking and Pa sang the praises of those deer whistles you put on vehicles and said he was getting some for his car. After lunch I stopped by a WalMart and got some for Bonnie.

As I continued westward I saw this old attack helicopter in front of the police station in a town called Crumb.

Then in the next town of Adamsville I saw a sign directing me to the former home of Buford Pusser. The man made famous by the “Walking Tall” movies.  His home is now a museum that closed at 5:00. I arrived at 5:25.

As I stood there staring at the home of the man who cleaned up a corrupt town with a big stick instead of a gun, I saw and old man approaching with two young girls riding an electric wheelchair. The younger of the two starting waving as they approached. I noticed the old man had no teeth up top as we got to talking. He used to ride. He said his dad was a military man. He was raised on a base. His dad rode a Norton Commando. The old man said he like to ride it around the base because everyone who saw him would salute thinking it was his dad. Then his dad got him a Honda. There was one rule. He could only ride on the base. One day the old man said he tested the boundaries of that single rule. He knew his dad was leaving the base for the day, so he figured he would too. He rode off on his Honda. He did not however count on his dad having to come back to base early. He knew he was busted and there would be consequences. He did not know how severe. He found out shortly thereafter when his dad showed up in a big ‘ol halftrack and crushed that Honda before his eyes. Dad giveth and dad taketh away! Damn! I mean…Damn, Sir!

I hit more rain. When it stopped, I saw another rainbow. But unlike in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on this occasion I pulled over and took some pictures.

That night I camped in Chikasaw State Park overlooking a lake.

This little guy (I almost stepped on) was a  member of nature’s orchestra I was listening to during the night. It’s common to think the sound you hear are crickets, but there are numerous species playing their individual parts to make up the evenings symphony. (That comes from more hammock observations.)

An old Tennessee homestead, moved to Chikasaw State Park.

I continued along toward Memphis and stopped to look at a few small towns.

I debated back and forth on whether to stop in Memphis. With all my exposed gear it’s difficult to comfortably stop in cities and leave everything unattended. I was thinking I’d grab a Po Boy on Beale Street and soak in some bluesy flavor, but as I approached Memphis a huge black cloud hovered above it. So I opted for a Chinese/Japanese buffet outside of town. I let the storm pass. This year I have an iPhone so I can keep close tabs on impending weather, provided I can get a phone signal.

After eating, with the skies cleared ahead, I decided I would skip Memphis. As I whipped around Route 240 with the intentions of crossing the Mississippi River into Arkansas, I saw this sign: STAX RECORDS MUSEUM EXIT 27A. So I made one stop last stop in Tennessee.

Wheels Through Time

Posted in Uncategorized on July 13, 2012 by Pat Regan

I have been a little bummed as I can’t take a whole lot of photos of some of the outdoor sites I have seen because of constant rain. But I found something phenomenal indoors! If you appreciate vintage bikes, then Wheels Through Time is motorcycle heaven! In most museums one might expect velvet ropes or glass showcases to prevent you from getting too close to their displays. Not at this place. You can get up close and personal with some of the finest machines ever built over the last 100 years. Not only that, don’t be startled by the banging sounds of one of these beautiful old vintage classics getting fired up before your eyes. They call it the “museum that runs”, as all these bikes are in working condition. The staff here is super friendly and occasionally crank a bike over and you can hear their thunder! The staff here are all happy to talk about their vintage beauties.

Dale Walksler the museum’s curator is very friendly and approachable. In fact he and the people here will approach you and ask if you have questions or ask about what you are up to.? Below is Dale’s son Matt. He is working on this old Indian. He is just about to get this thing to turn over. Right now he can only get one good pop out of her. He told me something interesting. If you have watched the show American Pickers you may already know Wheels Through Time. They have sold a thing or two to the museum. Matt is working on an old bike to bring to Sturgis and deliver it to the fellas on American Pickers. The thing is, the show American Restoration will get the credit. Makes me wonder how much of those shows on the History Channel are contrived.

They have some classic cars here as well. I was grinning with excitement the whole time I was there as I walked around this magical place.

The Crocker, one of the most collectable of all motorcycles.

As I was sitting outside trying to plan my route west with the least amount of thunderstorms possible, Dale rode up the ramp one handed in the rain, while holding a tray of melon in the other hand to give to his guests. This is a fantastic museum where Dale and his staff make you feel right at home. Go experience Wheels Through Time in Maggie Valley, NC. You won’t regret it.

The 2012 journey begins!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 12, 2012 by Pat Regan

As is almost always the case, I got a late start. July 7, 2012, I headed out. Because of the late start, I changed my itinerary. Instead of stopping at my friend Marc’s BBQ in Jersey I was headed straight for MD to visit my brother. As I rode down the Jersey Turnpike the vision ahead changed my plans again. Due south there was a huge ugly storm. So I headed to the BBQ after all. I was only a couple miles away from Marc’s when I hit that mean mother of a storm. The sky turned green and purple. The street lights on Route 9 were swaying to and fro like a freshly wacked piñata. And then the rain! Hard rain beating me down. I pulled over under a big tree to cover my tank bag. A guy in the house across the street waved me over. I ran over to the house and this friendly stranger named Mike offered me a towel and some water. I had enough water from the evil skies but I happily accepted the towel. His wife called out that the local Chinese restaurant had their power knocked out. From Mike’s I made it to Marc’s where a bunch of my friends were hanging. While the wives and kids were in the house, the rest of us escaped to the garage a la man cave. Say hello to the Knuckleheads.

A towel draped on the stair’s rail in front of some blue flowers struck me as patriotic.

Once everyone left, Marc and I sat outside for a few more beers. While talking and having my lower extremities chewed up by Jersey mosquitos, I decided to change my plans again. I was still headed to my brother’s place, but I scrapped my idea to go to Key West before heading to the Pacific. The east coast traffic is too much. I needed some mountain air! But first a visit to my brother’s. where he showed me some of his new toys.

After a night at my brother’s house it was time for some camping and a chance to try out my new tent. Below is my tent with a tarp draped over it to create a sizable vestibule. Beneath that camo tarp is the Eureka Backcountry 2 tent, and to the right of the bike a grazing deer.

As I chilled in my hammock, I took some notes:

It’s my first night camping on this, my 5th cross country trip since my motorcycle adventures began. I returned to Loft Mountain in Virginia. This is the place where a bear was prowling around outside my tent last year. My old tent left me with no way to see outside once I had put the top layer on, so I could only hear that beast moving about and snorting. My new tent has windows on both sides with the option to zip ’em up if needed. I am very pleased with my new tent. I’ve got my fire started and a 6 pack of Sierra Nevada on ice. Make that a 5 pack since one of them rests with me as I sway back and forth in my hammock. When I first arrived at Loft Mountain there were bunnies all around. Everywhere you looked bunnies of various sizes bounced about in the corners of my eyes. Now they have completely disappeared and I am left with the sounds of at least 7 species of bird in every direction except for the sound of a lone crow off in the distance to my right. Then the sun drops and the bird stops. It’s time for the nocturnal beast. Damn it’s good to be on the road again.

In the morning I casually continued down the Blue Ridge Parkway. I stopped at Mabry Mill as I have done before.

Want to talk politics? Does this guy lean to the right or the left.? In this case, my right is your left. A ha!

My next stop was another return visit. I stayed the night at Willville Bike Camp. It’s a great secluded spot just off the Blue Ridge on Route 58. A good place with good people. I highly recommend staying there!

When I woke up the next morning it was drizzling. I stalled about talking to Mike and Margie (with a hard G). They are a brother and sister  (#10 and 11) who tour about. We have seen a lot of the same places. As a biker from NYC my story may be unique, but when I stay at a motorcycle campground I find out there are many of us wandering nomads about.

As I rose into the mountains the skies began to darken and the rain began to fall. I got soaked. I always put my rain gear on a little too late. After a few hours of downpour I headed for gas. I sat and rehumanized myself under that umbrella as the rain let up a little. While sitting there I saw what I thought was a woman hosing her car down. Then I realized that was no water hose. She was dousing her SUV with gasoline. She must have sprayed out a gallon and a half before getting it into her tank.

Then it was back to the rain. The rain let up after another 80 miles. By then I was high into the mountains. You get above 5000 feet as you pass Mt. Mitchell and the clouds are above and below.

At times the visibility was only between 50 and 100 feet. It’s both intimidating and exhilarating as you zip around those tight turns.

At one point I saw a remarkable rainbow above the clouds. Unfortunately there was nowhere to pull over in those conditions. Had someone turned the corner that may have been the last photo I ever took. It killed me to pass it by, but due to weather conditions my cameras stayed locked up tight today. As I declined through the fog down the mountain I saw movement ahead. It was a bear. When he heard me coming he ran from one side of the road to the other and disappeared into the thick brush. I saw a bear! Yay!

I made it to Asheville and shacked up at a Days Inn to let everything dry out. Goodnight folks!

It’s that time of year again!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2012 by Pat Regan

And where he stops, nobody knows! Cross Country 2012 begins!