Archive for April, 2014

George Washington Slept Here…No Really!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2014 by Pat Regan

When I took Bonnie in for service in NYC, the guy at the shop really wanted to clean her. They said it would be a mere 85 bucks. I said I got it. I cleaned poor dirty Bonnie for the first time in months once I got to Maryland. Mother nature decided she needed a second rinse.

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On Wednesday I visited a long time neglected gem in history. In the photo below is an aerial view of the College Park airport. This tiny strip is the oldest continuously used airport IN THE WORLD!

That section within the circle is one of my old stomping grounds. When I was younger me and my crew used to hang there. It was a fun spot. There was an old bridge for the B&O railroad that crossed a creek at the end of the runway. We would bring some brews, watch planes land and take off, and wait for the trains to come by. There were these 5×5 wooden platforms that extended from the sides of the bridge. It was a huge thrill to run out to the platform and stay there as these long, large, loud, clamoring trains raged by. Or, if the trains were traveling slow enough we would run along side, grab a ladder and climb to the roof, jumping from car to car like in the Wild Wild West! Nowadays the DC Metro runs through there. A great many things have changed down here in Maryland.

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One positive change is that they built a museum to recognize this airport which has given so much to aviation history.

The College Park Airport was established in 1909 for the Wright Brothers to train members of the United States Army Signal Corps to fly their biplane. Below is the Wright Brothers plane in College Park being prepared for flight using a launching rail.

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A diorama in the museum of the airport as it looked in the early 1900’s with that same B&O railroad passing by. Civilian aviation began with Rex Smith Aeroplane Company as seen below.

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The museum houses a number of planes that have flown from the airport over the years.

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Below is another photo of the Wright Brothers plane flying over College Park.

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The first machine gun ever fired from a plane occurred here in College Park.

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An old ticket for a motorcycle/air show. When is the next one?

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There were many notable firsts that took place at the College Park Airport. I mentioned a couple already, but there are more. The first woman to fly in an airplane in 1909 with Wilbur Wright. In 1911 the first Army flying school was established here. The first bombs using bomb sites were dropped here in 1912. In 1918 the first regular air mail service was established here. The first successful flight of a helicopter took place here in 1922.

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For more about the airport, CLICK HERE.

After the airport I headed back to my dad’s. After looking at some childhood photos I asked dad to take a photo in the same place with my motorcycle in place of my tricycle.

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I took a walk down by the creek beyond my dad’s neighborhood. Along the way is the Adelphi Mill. It’s the oldest mill in the DC area built in 1796.

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Another old hang out for me and my friends were these rocks. It was a great lookout high above a curve so you could see anyone coming from either direction (which is important for a good hangout). Notice the carved heart in the center of the rock. It was there since I was a young boy.

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Here’s looking up at those same rocks.

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When I was little we would catch frogs and toads in this swamp.

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On the way back to the house I stopped to take this photo in order to say Happy Wednesday to some friends. This is more of the change I mentioned. The street near my dad’s is full of humps now. The road is only about a mile long and has 6 or 7 humps.

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Mount Vernon

They say George Washington slept in many places, but this is the place he called home. Welcome to Mount Vernon. When I arrived, the guy at the ticket booth told me it was the busiest time of the year because of the DC cherry blossoms. In order to go inside the home you have to get a timed ticket. He seemed surprised that I got a slot for the 4:10 admission. I think riding solo helped me slip in early because I heard a group next to me get a ticket for after 5:00.

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I had about an hour and a half to walk around the grounds before having to get in line for the main house.

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As you look across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon you can see Fort Washington in the background.

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For any fans of the National Treasure movies…I think this is the entrance to those vaults where Nicholas Cage kidnaps the President.

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Or maybe it was this one. This is actually the family vault where George Washington was originally buried.

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In his will however he gave orders and plans to have the family vault moved. Below is his final resting place.

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There are many buildings surrounding the estate of Mount Vernon. This is a basement to store linseed oil and mixed paint.

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Recognizing the possible consequences of losing trade with England, George Washington raised quality sheep and was prepared to make his own wool fabrics as well as other necessary produced items like hemp for rope.

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Washington even had a smokehouse for his plastic meats.

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When I saw the sign for the Spinning Room, I raised an eyebrow. No it was not a place George would go to wait it out after a night on the town. It had something to do with those sheep.

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Mount Vernon keeps a live blacksmith in the shop.

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The men’s slave quarters. The original building burned down in the 1800’s. This is a recreation.

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Now I got in line to go inside. Unfortunately they don’t allow photography on the inside.

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Since they have a NO PHOTO policy, I cannot show you the inside. You will have to visit the Mount Vernon website to show you.

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After visiting the house I went to the museum and education center. Like the house, no photos in the museum. But you could take photos in the education center. Here is young George the surveyor.

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My dear Jillian’s father is a collector of many items of historical importance. He donated this Indian Peace Medal to Mount Vernon.

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It was a good visit. I don’t think I had been to Mount Vernon since a class trip in Elementary School.

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I saw a patriotic potpourri of American flags in the store on my way out.

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As I rode down the road away from Mount Vernon I exited when I saw a sign for Fort Hunt Park. In the park were the cement ruins of some old gun turrets.

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Across the river from Fort Hunt one can get a direct look at Fort Washington which was also visible from Mount Vernon.

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On my way home I rode through Arlington Virginia. I thought the cemetery might be open, but it wasn’t. So I went to the memorial for the USMC, the Iwo Jima sculpture.

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And lastly, on the other side of the great cemetery is the memorial dedicated to the Air Force. An appropriate end to this post having started with the very beginnings of the US military in the air at College Park.

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Spring Break 2014

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2014 by Pat Regan

I got a week off of work and headed to Maryland.

It’s April 15 – Happy tax day!

I just racked my brain with TurboTax and sent it off electronically. Now I can enjoy the rest of this rainy day. Definitely not a riding day, but it gives me time to share my journey thus far.

I packed my bags, ready for any scenario. I wasn’t sure where I would end up. I figured I would head down to Maryland to visit family then take it from there.

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Due to a late start, I was forced to make my trek toward Maryland via I-95. As much as I hate the interstate, I wanted to get to my dad’s before dark. As I flew along the Jersey Turnpike, I noticed a guy entering from a rest area on a Speed Triple Triumph. I realized my Triumph riding brother had noticed me as well as he joyfully pulled along side and waved. We zipped through traffic taking turns in the lead position until I had to stop for gas. He followed me to the rest stop. Meet Matt. He was headed down to Baltimore. He rides this Speed Triple and also has a decked out Bonnie at home. He is from Albania and spoke of the joys of riding around in Eastern Europe. He was saying he had a Harley over in Albania. I mentioned my desire to ride around Europe. He recommended buying a Harley and shipping it over. They are so desirable that you can’t go wrong. It can almost certainly be sold for a profit when you are done with it. Europeans love Harleys!

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Matt is also a member of the NYC Triumph and Brit Bike Riders. I have heard of this group. He said it is fun to get together and ride around the tristate area. I may have to check that out, but I generally like to ride solo.

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I made it down to dad’s. In the morning we had brunch with my brother and his wife at the place where my bro works. That’s him on the left.

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After brunch I took off for some reminiscing. That red circle marks the spot where I lived for 3 fun filled years during my college days.  My god did I have a good time up there!

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I went looking unsuccessfully for my old friend Brian. I dropped a note on a door that I deduced was his. Then I went down the road to a place called Savage Mill. Approaching Savage Mill is an old truss bridge built in 1868. It is now the only bridge left of it’s kind.

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The train tracks from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad then turn and lead to Savage Mill. It is a part decrepit and part renovated cotton mill that dates back to the 1800’s like the bridge.

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I of course was focused on the part of the mill that is beyond renovation.

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It began as a mill powered by the dammed up section of the Little Patuxent River and later was powered by steam generators which still lay rusting away.

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It turned out that the note I left earlier was on the correct door and I’ll hang with Brian tonight.

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The following day I headed to D.C. After taking journeys all over this nation it seems fitting that I should visit the nations capitol.

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The bubble shield on my new helmet has multi purposes.

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Below is one of the recent monuments on the mall in D.C. This is the WWII memorial. One side is dedicated to the veterans that crossed the Atlantic and the other side commemorates those brave souls in the Pacific. It is still unfinished.

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From there I walked to the Lincoln Memorial. It was so crowded you would think Forrest Gump or some other memorable character was giving a speech there.

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Despite the crowds it is an awe inspiring site.

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This is how it looks from the top of the stairs facing the Washington Monument.

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The Korean War Memorial is another relatively new addition to the mall.

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Next I went to visit the new kid in town. On the way to the Jefferson Memorial is the new Martin Luther King memorial.

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The cherry blossoms that surround the area had peaked on Thursday. By Monday many of the trees had already released their petals to blanket the grounds in a speckled carpet of pink and white.

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From Dr.King’s I moved with the masses to see T.J.

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Afterward I wasn’t surprised to see Thomas Jefferson’s greatest accomplishment resting with the rubbish along side this fence. It seems the Constitution is treated with even less respect these days. Even Rolling stone magazine got it wrong when they recently had Julia Louise Dreyfus sporting a Constitution tattooed to her backside signed by John Hanncock. C’mon! Really?

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This young man was having a blast trying to get his homemade kite airborne. It really was an impressive piece of work made entirely from newspaper draped around a 2 foot ring. Good job kid!

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I stopped by the White House before returning to the bike. That is one big front yard! There are members of the Secret Service all over the place. You used to be able to drive right up to this fence. Since 9/11 many of the former access roads around DC buildings are off limits.

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Even as a child I admired this sculpture in front of the American History Museum. Though it doesn’t move, it has that kinesthetic feel.

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I hopped back on Bonnie and said farewell to the Capitol. Later D.C.

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On Capitol Hill I passed this old beauty of an Oldsmobile parked 8th Street.

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Down the block was this home turned shrine to Michael Jackson.

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And finally before heading back to dad’s I stopped by my last residence in college. As much as I loved living in that big dormitory I showed you before, they didn’t like having me. I was kindly asked to leave. OK maybe forced to leave is a more accurate term. What can I say, “There’s a whole lot of things that I ain’t done, but I never had too much fun!”

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Happy 6th Anniversary Bonnie

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2014 by Pat Regan

On April 5th, 2008 I got my first bike. A 2007 Triumph Bonneville. I nervously rode her from the showroom back to my place. I had only ridden a 250cc Suzuki in a Bronx parking lot before that day. We made it home safely and I was hooked. This is Bonnie the day I brought her home.triumph30th

I started this blog after my first cross country trip on that 07 Bonnie in 2008. Sadly that bike was stolen on Labor Day the following year. The guy who stole it wrecked it that same night and was arrested while lying in his hospital bed. The bike was declared totaled and I quickly settled the insurance and got on the road again with the ’09 Triumph Bonneville T100 that I presently ride. Since that day 6 years ago, I’ve ridden over 75,000 miles. Below is a map of my journeys to date.

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It was a long brutal winter. As soon as one snow thawed another quickly replaced it. It was the longest period of time in these past 6 years when there were no windows of pleasant riding weather. I took this shot from the elevated subway in Queens on one of the many non-riding days.

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Despite the fact that sunny turned to cloudy and it was 10 degrees cooler than originally predicted, I went for a ride to celebrate my 6th year on 2 wheels. I figured it was warm enough. I packed an extra fleece and a scarf just in case. Good thing. In no time I was getting cold. Real cold. So I stopped for some coffee and a light breakfast at Burger De Luxe on Route 17 in New Jersey. Then I bundled up with the extra layers and continued the journey.

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This would also be the debut of my new helmet. It’s a Biltwell Bonanza helmet with a mirror bubble shield. There are no vents in the helmet but a lot of air gets through. The shield is good day or night. It’s reflective but not too dark. So, after one healthy ride I have to say I like this helmet.

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My first destination was New City Road. I had read about a ghost town there. Unfortunately what I had read was old news. This town had been razed and sealed off. Nothing to see here but these cement blockades.

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Fortunately my plan didn’t end there. I headed north back across the NY border.

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The lake beyond is still frozen over just past the shore.

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Smokey.

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The next stop was a place called Letchworth Village.

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Letchworth Village was an old institution for people with disabilities.

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It was built in 1911 and after a sordid history finally closed in 1996.

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Letchworth had reports of rampant abuse of it’s residents. This was the case in many of these types of institutions throughout the United States until only a few decades ago.

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These grand stone structures have fallen into disrepair.

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The ground in this basement was solid ice.

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There are many buildings on the Letchworth grounds.

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I first heard about Letchworth Village on the TV show Ghost Adventures. I think they were exploring this building in photo below. I experienced no paranormal activity during my visit.

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From Letchworth I hopped on the Palisades Parkway and headed back to the city. It felt good to be on the road again but it is still a bit cold to stay out here all day.

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