2012 Coast to Coast
My 5th journey across this country is repreesented by the red line in the map below.
Since the trip I gave Bonnie a good cleaning. I cleaned her real good, right down to dipping a shoelace in soapy water and wrapping it around each filthy spoke. She’s shiny again.
The following is a compilation of the 2012 adventure displayed chronologically. Click any photo to see it enlarged in another page.
The 2012 cross country journey begins!
I stopped by my mom’s place on the way out of town. That window with the tape on it was my bedroom growing up.
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! Bikes only.
When I woke up the next morning it was drizzling. I stalled while 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 bugged me to pass it by, but due to weather conditions my cameras stayed locked up tight today. It’s tough to get to them on the fly. 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!
Wheels Through Time
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.
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.
Spiderman and Ice Age brings us back to 2002. I hope the Lincoln Theater makes a comeback.
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.
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.
Oklahoma and Kansas
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.
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!
Looking down on the road leading up to Independence Pass that cuts through 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. I asked, “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.
Sometimes you have to stop for construction. To be able to take a break, stretch the legs and maybe talk to some fellow travelers is often welcome relief after many miles of travel. This couple ahead were from Canada.
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.
So, yes I have neglected my posting responsibilities. And now I have so much to upload, it’s overwhelming. So let me take the time to post a little bit at a time and get caught up eventually. When I left off I was having a most excellent day. I was riding the last bit of the rockies and headed west into Utah. I hopped on the Interstate for a moment (no choice) and then cut into a small road that leads to the canyons along the Colorado River. The road starts off through the desert. There were storms all around me this day though I stayed dry. However in these parts when there are storms, flash floods soon follow.
Even roughing it in these parts looks to me like a great way to live.
The desert climate soon becomes rocky as the Colorado river begins to parallel the road.
Here is an old suspension bridge crossing the Colorado.
Soon thereafter the canyon becomes deeper and the views are magnificent! I was getting close to my home for the next couple days.
When I arrived at this small primitive campsite along the Colorado, I was afraid the riverside sites were full. But there was one available and it was the largest one of all at the end. And because it was on the end technically my site was boundless to the south. Just after I set up the tent a family of wild turkeys strolled by.
And to top off the end of this glorious day, mother nature dropped an impressive stripe of color across the sky.
The night was equally spectacular. I love staring at an open sky without the pollution of light. In this shot however the canyons are lit temporarily by a truck that shines a spotlight across the rocks as a boat tour passes in the river.
This is Bob and his wife in their big rig. Bob is a tough as nails retired guy from Texas. In the back of that rig is a bad ass decked out Jeep that he takes out on the 4×4 roads. They were camping across from outside of Moab
It may be a primitive campsite, but it comes with a very large bathtub!
Another great thing about this site is it’s location to Moab and Arches National Park. In fact Arches is just beyond the cliffs you see in the picture above. I realize you ladies probably didn’t even notice the cliffs with that hunk of man in the water. But let’s go have a look at some of Arches without the distractions.
I have been to Arches a number of times before. Once with a girlfriend who just hated it! Hated it! Never could figure that one. This time I didn’t explore the whole park, I just wanted to capture a little of that golden hour.
The following day I went to a park I had wanted to go to in past travels but never had enough gas. This time I fueled up and headed to Goblin State Park. A jackal ran past me just before I got my camera out for this shot.
Then I went to the heart of Goblin State Park. There you encounter a strange, surreal almost extraterrestrial landscape.
A Boy Scout troop invited me to go spelunking with them in a cave they found here. Unfortunately I didn’t get food for the night and wasn’t prepared to stay and camp there.
Well, I’d love to get all caught up on the adventures, but there is still much to see. I will try to post more often. There is more of Utah to come.
I left Goblins State Park in hurry. It was getting dark fast and I had a way to go before getting to the place I wanted to camp for the night. Of course, if it is getting dark that means it’s the golden hour when everything is aglow. So I had to stop for at least one photo.
I stopped for gas in Hanksville at the Hollow Mountain station. I wanted to camp in Capital Reef National Park. The sun had dropped, but it was still light out. I asked the girl working at the station how long it would take to get there. “19 minutes.” she says with conviction! I figure, damn, she is local, she must know what she is talking about. But 19 minutes? What a strange definitive number. Why not 20? As it turns out this girl must drive 130 miles per hour, maybe slowing to 95 around the canyon curves. 19 minutes…right!
It took well over a half hour to get there only to find out that the campsite was completely full. FULL! On a Wednesday night! I was not expecting that. At that point I could have gotten some food and ridden up into the mountains on route 12 where I saw a mountain lion 4 years ago, but I decided a motel was the better choice for this night. Wise. That photo of me bathing in the Colorado in the last post was from day one at that location. Day two would have looked a lot different. The river had changed color as if Moses had been sparring with Ramses turning the river to blood as the red sediment from the north had made it’s way downstream from the previous day’s storms. My morning bath may have gotten rid of that sweaty aroma but technically made me filthier then I was. It turned my yellow washcloth orange. So having a shower was a good thing.
And though I had been to Capital Reef before, I was unable to take the scenic road because of bad weather. So staying close instead of heading south into the mountains was a win win!
I wasn’t expecting the scenic drive to turn to dirt, but I was undeterred.
My original plan was to camp at Capital Reef then head down Route 12 before shooting out to Vegas. This however has been the trip of alternate plans. I have changed routes this year more than ever before. And it always seems…it’s for the best. I instead returned eastward. Realizing this could possibly have been a trip without seeing any ancient native ruins, I made my way to a place that had been pegged on my map since my maiden voyage. And on the way I saw a few other unexpected sites.
I rode south on route 95 in Utah. I had ridden this road in the opposite direction a few years back. It is amazing how the same place can look so different depending on which direction you are looking, or depending on the time of day. I was pleased as if I had never been there before.
I love contrasts, whether it be with lights and darks or new and old.
I rode through Glen Canyon, a magnificent area at the north end of Lake Powell.
Below those three vultures is Hite, a place I camped in 2009 right along the lake. The water was noticeably lower this year.
Here is where the Colorado River feeds Lake Powell which was created in the late 50’s by building a dam in Page, Arizona.
After passing the road which led me to route 95 in 2009, I was experiencing uncharted territory for myself. I came across Mule Canyon Ruins. It is a small ruin consisting of partial walls but also has a well preserved kiva.
I was very pleased to have stumbled upon these ruins. Bonnie on the other hand was having issues. She wouldn’t start. This has happened time and time again on these trips. I am beginning to believe it’s a personality disorder more than a mechanical issue. I think she doesn’t trust me when I hoof it. Jealous women tend to behave poorly. So I chalk it up to that. Eventually she started and we vroooooomed away.
When I then came upon Bulter Wash Ruins I was left with a dilemma. The ruins were a mile walk round trip. I was far from civilization and beyond a phone signal. Do I turn off the engine and hope Bonnie doesn’t get act up? Or…do I just leave her running and take the hike. I chose the latter.
It turns out that Butler Wash Ruins are cliff dwellings. The thing about cliff dwellings is you never know whether the sun will be lighting them or not. This is important when taking photos. Turns out photos of Butler ruins would be better served in the AM. Besides it was freaking me out a bit that I left Bonnie running a half mile away. So I hightailed it back and moved on to the place I had been wanting to visit for years. Hovenweep National Monument.
Hovenweep consists of numerous ruins in and around the canyon at this particular location. And there are more ruins scattered about in other locations both here in Eastern Utah and in Western Colorado. I arrived at a great time of day with the sun hanging low.
These phenomenal structures were built between 1200 and 1300 and yet when you go to school and learn about American History, it begins in 1492. Bullshit! At the same time Kings and Queens were having castles built in Europe the Ancient Puebloans were building these beautiful structures.
I didn’t expect to find the opportunity to take reflection shots here in the high desert of Utah, but in the puddles formed in craters surrounding these ruins I got a couple shots. Reflections are my thing. Have a look if you like:
OK. Now I am a little worried. I let time pass in order to take some photos with this great lighting. But, I had a long way to go if I was going to camp in Bluff where I planned. I knew there was a store there where I could get supplies. Darkness was going to be upon me soon and the road to Bluff was somewhat treacherous and still a good 40+ miles. What to do? I felt I had no choice so I started back down the path to return to the bike and go.
On the way I bumped into a man walking on a converging path. His name was Bruce. He also taught kids with special needs and he told me there was a real nice campground right here at Hovenweep. I was struck with the same feelings as in Goblin. I had to leave, I had no supplies for food. As a result, I told Bruce I had to split. He told me he had some apples he could share, (very nice of him) but still I parted ways. But once I got back to the parking lot and hopped on Bonnie, I realized I had some jerky, a bag of almonds and some beer! That with a couple of apples could get me through the night. I headed for the campsite. Then, as I was getting my tent set up I realized I had been carrying a can of soup with me since I left NYC. Woo Hoo! A feast!
Once I set up and had my bowl of Progresso Chicken Gumbo (that I highly recommend), I stopped by Bruce’s site. We were the only people at the whole campsite. The winds were gusting and stars beaming as Bruce and I began gabbing away. Bruce, like myself is a history buff and takes road trips all around the Four Corners area. Not only that, he is a vivacious reader and is quite knowledgeable about a great many things. We talked well into the night and he gave me ideas for yet another route change across Nevada on the way back east. This could give me an interesting path I have never tread and make up for some time, possibly enabling me to enjoy the last days of Sturgis! Bruce shared his apples that he picked from Capital Reef that morning. The juicy tart kind. Yum! He also had some kick ass salsa a chips. Bruce likes to try different beers. He says he likes to do it seasonally. Summer Ales this time of year and darker beers in the winter. He told me that in Utah there are certain Mormon holidays when the Non-Mormons have a beer fest! I like to try local beers too. In fact he pointed out the beer I was carrying was from a micro brewery that puts anti Mormon messages on the label. Ha! I hadn’t even noticed. I just knew it was tasty!
We got up from sitting once the winds died down to check the speckled sky. Bruce likes to stare upward too and in fact is the only other person I have met that likes to find satellites traversing the night skies. It was getting late. We figured about 12:30 and I was tired. I had a real long day, so I went back to my site. It turns out it was already 2:00 am. Oh boy!
The next morning I heard a raven call. I usually put the ear plugs in upon the first sounds of the morning birds announcing the sunrise. This time as the sun broke across the horizon, I decided to go have a look at the ruins in a different light.
Then I packed up and headed to Bluff, UT to fuel up and eat breakfast. A guy I had met back at the site along the Colorado told me about some petroglyphs in Bluff that I didn’t know about.
Back at that motel in Capital Reef I made another decision that I am very pleased with. I sent a message to someone I had met back in 2009. During that trip 3 years ago I met Lloyd and Sarah at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. They were there with J.B., Christina and their daughter Maude, a family from France who was staying with Lloyd and Sarah at their home in Page, Arizona. I kept bumping into this group at various pull offs along the canyon and then one more fortuitous time at a scenic pull off before the Vermillion Cliffs well outside of the Grand Canyon. While we all stood there admiring the last moments of sun as it bounced off the Vermillions, Lloyd asked me where I was staying that night? I said I was just going to try to find National Forest road and set up somewhere. He seemed amused and said I could easily ride off the side of a cliff in the dark. He suggested I come back to Page with them. The family from France was traveling around the States in a camper and they were staying at Lloyd’s place in Page. They decided I could come there and stay in the camper. Wow! How amazing!
Well once I realized I would be passing through Page since changing direction, I wrote Lloyd to say it would be great to say hi! He replied that they were soon leaving for a road trip as well but if I was rolling through in the next 2 or 3 days I was welcome to stay for some R&R. Lloyd and Sarah’s house is beautiful. I was completely enamoured by it in 2009. The house rests n the edge of the mesa and the view is spectacular!
OK, I know this was supposed to be a Utah post. But we make an exception in this case.
Also behind the house is a fancy golf course preventing any future development.
Besides the house being so wonderful, Lloyd and Sarah are super nice, kind people. They moved here from Tuscon and have made this their home. In 2009 the area you see before the windows (in the picture above) was still under construction. The work they have done to the house is remarkable. The entire surroundings are spellbinding, changing constantly with the light, weather and seasons. And now, the front porch had been enhanced as well.
Lloyd and Sarah were gracious hosts. We had fine meals and then after dinner they always go for a nice walk on the path that goes around the edge of the mesa. I joined them. This was also the weekend. I found out that hotels in Las Vegas cost over 4 times the price on the weekend. They offered to have me stay a second night and we went to a different spot after dinner. The winds were blaring to the point where we were giggling at the absurdity of it. There was a storm to the north, the sun setting to the west, Lake Powell (the beginning part) to the south and the Navajo Power Plant to the east. Even the power plant with it’s 3 towering smoke stacks looked remarkable making for 360 degrees of visual splendor.
Thank you so much Lloyd and Sarah. I enjoyed my time with the two of you immensely!
And Bonnie made a friend n Page as well.
On Sunday morning it was time to move on and head to las Vegas.
Before reentering Utah and then getting to Nevada, I stopped at Pipe Spring National Monument. If you look it up online they talk about it being rich in the history of the Kaibab Paiute Indians. But once you get there the guide only talks about a Mormon colony set up there initially by Brigham Young to hide from the recent conviction of polygamists. The home and fortress they built was pretty cool, but I liked these longhorns best.
Then on toward Vegas!
Oh Vegas! I am not a gambling man. For me Vegas generally means rest in a nice place at the right price. Of course it offers a decent photo op as well. Thank you ladies!
One thing I like to do in Vegas is go to the pool and put suntan lotion on my face except where my goggles have left me with that raccoon tan. Gotta balance out.
I bumped into De Niro while walking about as well. He was looking dapper. After snapping this shot, he asked to see it. Then he responded, “Good fucking picture!”
I had to go check out the place where they film Pawn Stars.
None of the characters were at the pawn shop, but they obviously recognize the commercial appeal of Chum.
I never had found the classic Vegas sign until this visit. It’s right down the street from the pawn shop.
I stayed at the Imperial Palace. Where else can you stay right on the strip for $29 a night! Above their garage they have an ongoing car show. There are some really beautiful automobiles up there. Many of them are for sale.
They even had a three wheel car with a two wheel engine.
I walked around the strip a bit, but not too much. The crowds exhaust me. I’ll get enough of that when I return home to NYC. Later Vegas!
I made it coast to coast again! New York to California. That’s #9 if we count both directions, or half way through #5 of the round trip. Riding here in Los Angeles takes some getting used to. Generally the motorcycle rides between those vehicles down there. At speeds well into the 80’s bike fly between the cars and trucks. Plus you have to watch out for the speed bike guys that rip between those lines at speeds that I am totally not comfortable with.
I regret not taking a few more pictures while hanging with friends here. I did however take a photo of my friend Matt and his dog Ricky.
Ricky is a BIG puppy. 75 pounds of monstrous enthusiasm! He’ll grow out of it. At least I am sure Matt hopes so. I am proud of Matt. He is one of my college buddies. Matt packed it up moved to LA and became and actor. It sounds cliche, but he really did it and is doing it successfully. Many try, few succeed. He is also a great writer. He keeps a blog of his experiences in Los Angeles packing a sometimes humorous and often harsh NY wit. In fact he recently posted about me and my adventures. Fortunately for me he had only kind words.
Have a look:
Unlike me, Matt writes daily and it’s always a good read. I highly recommend it. Especially that post above. Also on his blog you can see Ricky grow up. When he was just a small little pup, Matt bought Ricky a Michael Vick chew toy. As you continue to read his blog you will see that Ricky tore Michael Vick to shreds! On the occasion of my visit, Ricky was happy to substitute Mr. Vick with yours truly.
When I first arrived in LA I made good use of Facebook. Many folks have differing opinions about Facebook, but I think one thing that is undeniably cool is how it gives you the ability to contact people from your past who you would otherwise never be in touch with again. So through Facebook I knew one of my first NY friends from the 4th grade also lived in LA, so I gave him a shout! I went out and met my old friend Dan Freyer from Ms.Solomondo’s class at PS 41. This is the lost opportunity where I should have taken a photo. I didn’t, but it was great catching up and talking about old times. Memories darted back about school and other friends and how we used to draw American Indians and make things related to their culture. Good times. Great to see Dan again.
I also didn’t take a picture when I went to meet my friends Tim and Diana for dinner. And I must admit, Diana takes a mighty fine photo. No photos, but again it was great hanging out.
It’s always kind of tough hanging with friends on these kind of trips I take. I mean it’s great to see people, but it really throws my road head off. It’s easy to get comfortable which makes getting back on the road difficult. I was talking to this guy Harry who I met. He has been riding around the world on a diesel powered Royal Enfield. I grabbed this shot of his bike “Batty” from his site: http://www.vegibike.com/
He has been staying with friends in San Francisco and is feeling the same way as I was. Too comfortable. Strange to have to force yourself to a level of discomfort, but that’s how this type of travel works. This guy has already been through 4 engines and he keeps going. Remarkable!
So back to the journey.
Hitler’s LA Pad
What? Really? Yes really! And yes, that Hitler!
Known as Murphy’s Ranch, this 55 acre piece of land high in the Santa Monica mountains was to be the future pad of Adolph Hitler once he took over the world! Nazi sympathizers had purchased the land and began building a self sufficient compound from which Hitler could rule the United States. Obviously these plans never came to fruition, but there remains some of the ruins from those days. So, after riding through a labyrinth of roads in the Santa Monica hills, I reached the dirt road which led me to the gates of Hiltler’s would be home.
I passed through the gates and came across the 400,000 gallon water tank that would supply the compound.
Then I continued my decent into the canyon along the decaying driveway.
As I continued to wander along in a strange state of disbelief at the possibility of such a place existing, I almost stepped on this stick.
But as you can see my friends, that is no stick. It was my very first encounter with a rattlesnake! I have been to many desert climates hoping, yearning to see a rattlesnake. Places with warning signs all around, “Beware of Rattlesnakes”! But nothing. Then here, in Los Angeles, on Hitler’s driveway no less is this beautiful and deadly creature. He made no sound. No warning of his presence. If I hadn’t realized this was no stick before taking that extra step, I would have been in seriously sad shape because there was no one else around. Of course I wasn’t satisfied with this snake lying there in stick position. That’s not how a rattlesnake is supposed to look. And what about that rattle big guy. I want to hear it! Let’s have some fun!
That’s better! The classic pose.
After having my fun playing with the snake I continued down the driveway looking for the stairs that descend to the old generator station.
The solid cement housing for the generator has since been colorfully decorated by the locals.
It truly is bizarre that such a place exists. There were plans to build a huge mansion here as well, but government authorities were monitoring the activities here at Murphy”s Ranch and the day after the attacks on Pearl Harbor the nazi sympathizers were rounded up and arrested.
On my way out, a pick up truck pulled up to me and a lady told me I was trespassing. Apparently you can walk here but usually the 3 1/2 mile dirt road is gated. I was lucky the gate wasn’t working this day. Ha Ha! See ya later Los Angeles!
So I flew out of Los Angeles after visiting Mr. Hitler’s home and headed north. It gets damn hot once you get “over the hill”. That’s LA talk for the hill between the city and the valley. I really pushed it and the hot winds were kicking my ass. Pushing it in LA is rough. You can be riding 85MPH and people will fly past you. Not on this route. Traffic was tight, therefor it was cutting the lane time. This is a freaky California experience. In Cali if the traffic gets tight, bikers ride between the cars. It is a frightening thrill ride. That’s just what I did for many a mile. The further I went the hotter and windier it got. I was headed up the road that goes between the Sierra Mountains and Death Valley. Hot stuff! I decided I would stay at a campsite in a town called Bishop. I knew the place. I stayed there before.
The reason for this route was two fold. One, I was going to take that western route across Nevada that Bruce at Hovenweep told me about, and two, there was a ghost town where I wanted to spend some time. Bodie!
On the way to Bodie is Mono Lake. I was planning to pass it right by but the light was attracting me. There were holes of sunlight hitting Mono Lake as multiple storms surrounded it. I had to have a look. I am glad I did!
Pretty freaky huh? Mono Lake is a shallow saline soda lake. It’s one of the oldest lakes in North America. In certain parts where freshwater springs and the alkaline lake water mix these calcium-carbonate spires and knobs called tufa appear.
But my real reason for being up this way was to see Bodie. I had tried to see it once before, but I showed up after 5pm and they are very serious about having everyone out by 6pm. Being that the day was getting late and I would have put myself in that same situation, plus there were these storms to the north, I decided to stay in the nearest town Lee Vining.
Staying in Lee Vining allowed me to return to the lake and take a few more shots. A number of people were trying to capture the lightning coming from the storms in the background. I was not successful with the lightning, but the place still looked super cool.
I had hoped to do some work on this blog while I was in Lee Vining, but a storm knocked out the internet. In fact, it knocked out all the power for a short time. In the morning I had a delicious breakfast sandwich at the motel next door as I sat in their garden. Then it was off to the ghost town.
Bodie is actually named after a guy named Bodey who discovered gold there. No one is exactly sure why the spelling was changed. They say a sign painter wrote it that way and it stuck. Unfortunately for Bodey, he couldn’t correct them as he froze to death the first winter after discovering the gold.
Once word was out about the discovery of gold, Bodie soon grew to a town of about 10,000.
Bodie became one of the most notorious wild west towns. It didn’t have the iconic names and legends of the wild west, but it did have 65 saloons at one point. Murders, shootouts, bar room brawls and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences. It had a Chinatown with many opium dens as well.
Only about a fifth of Bodie’s original buildings exist, but they are left pristine. Everything has been maintained as it was after the people left. It would have been more expensive to ship things out of Bodie than for people to buy new things, so much was left behind.
I was fortunate to be able to take a tour of the old refinery. They only give tours to 20 at a time and when I had shown up there were 19 names on the list.
This guy Mike was real knowledgeable about Bodie’s history and he is passionate about it’s preservation. That’s a giant cam shaft he is leaning on.
So that’s it for California. I would have love to stay longer, but I really wanted to catch the end of Sturgis. It was time to head east!
Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Headed East!
That was the least amount of time I spent in California in all my trips. Once Sturgis was firmly planted on my mind, I really didn’t want to miss it. My goal was to get there at least by the Thursday before it ended. So sacrifices had to be made. Now I was going to follow that route that Bruce recommended. I should have taken a picture of him too. He’s a big guy with long hair. Very friendly, peaceful kind of guy. A teen of the Vietnam era. It comes up in conversation.
So into Nevada I went. I spent the whole day in Bodie, California so I had lots of riding to do to. I decided to get a room in Reno. Like in Vegas, I could get a nice room for $29. Nicer in fact than the $29 room in Vegas. I stayed at the Sands.
This was the view from my room when I arrived.
I was tired and I wanted to check my photos now that I had some electricity and a desk to sit at, but I figured I should check the town out, at least a little bit. Reno ain’t Vegas! But it has it’s share of glitz and neon.
This Thunderbird Motel sign was great. Unfortunately many of the old hotels with those clever old neon signs remained unlit.
I saw this mint Nash Metropolitan sitting shiny in a parking lot next to a tattoo parlor.
I am thinking…so fix it, right? Reno.
Now it was time to make that last right turn and head east on the loneliest road in america. That is it’s given name. Route 50, the Loneliest Road in America.
I figured lonely certainly meant I did not have to worry about speed limits. I’ve bust 100 before, but not one handed while taking a photo.
On the lonely road are occasionally lonely towns. I was worried about the availability of gas on this road. In fact I had been warned, “Make sure you carry an extra container of fuel”. The guy who runs the Triumph sales department where I got a rear tire for my bike in LA told me I should worry. He said in one town the lady only sells gas from 10am – 3pm. So I checked my maps and saw the town he spoke of. The only way that was going to be a problem was if I hadn’t filled up in the previous town. I learned long ago that out west you fill up regardless of whether your tank is low or not, so it turned out not to be a problem after all.
As is often the case, I think I am going to get a lot farther than I actually do. My plan was to make it to Great Basin National Park and camp. Nope. The sun was going down. Fortunately at my favorite hour to take pictures a subject showed up to my left. A ghost town! Right there as the sun was breaking through some clouds. Yay!
It got dark and I could see rain ahead, so I stopped in Ely and got a room for the night instead.
Great Basin National Park itself was not as spectacular as I expected. I was pleased to see big beautiful mountains with lush forest around in Nevada. My perception of Nevada was that of one big desert predominantly occupied by US military bases, flying drones and experimental aircraft along with regions of nuclear wasteland. Not so. This was a nice ride. Once I got in the park, I ditched my helmet and headed up the mountain. Sometimes when you go from state to state it’s easy to forget the rules. In Nevada wearing a helmet is mandatory.
If you do forget however, they have folks who stop to remind you.
I suppose the reason I wasn’t massively impressed with the Great Basin was because of my exposure to the Colorado Rockies. This place didn’t compare. At least not on the outside…
…On the inside, that’s another story. Lehman Cave is also located in this park, and it is spectacular.
A bacon strip. I had seen one of these somewhere before. It could have been in a Kentucky cave I saw when my friend Marc and I planned to drive to Graceland and ended up in Los Angeles.
The last stop for gas in Nevada on the loneliest road happens to be right on the border of Utah. So I lost a couple dollars in Nevada…
…then I took this photo at the same location. Notice the old lonely dog to the left of my front tire. He was just roaming around looking for scraps.
Now I was on the lonely road Utah style.
As you approach a more fertile area before the town of Delta you will find a shoe tree. Got to love a shoe tree!
I camped by the Sevier Bridge Reservoir in Utah for the night.
That night I was looking at the stars when I thought I was witnessing something apocalyptic. The upper crest of a crescent moon was just rising above the horizon. At first I had no idea what it was. Because the point first showed itself as a pointed orange glow, I thought it was some crazy volcanic activity or maybe an oil well ablaze. It quickly showed itself to be the moon and it was beautiful.
As I rode south from the campsite I passed a group of cows sitting on either side of the road just before going under this overpass. As I look at this photo it seems like a Hollywood painted backdrop. Right? Weird huh? Click it as you can all the photos to see them larger.
I continued along through a small town with numerous old former service stations.
I usually avoid Interstates, but the only choices in this part of Utah would have put me way out of my way to the upper Rockies in Colorado where I wanted to be. Besides, for an Interstate this one happens to go through some very scenic areas.
On to Colorado. I made a left upon entering the state and headed north. I wanted to ride route 14 above Rocky Mountain National Park. When I was staying at Willsville Biker Camp in Virginia a guy mentioned this road. So I camped out in the mountains outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
The stars were incredible.
I had a Rocky Mountain fun night night under the stars playing with some lighting effects.
As I moved on there were nice views but it was hazy from forest fires in the area.
There had been forest fires along route 14 not too long ago as well. The mountains along the last part of the highway were completely burnt.
One finds fewer and fewer shiny chrome tankers to take self portraits in these days. Many of them now have a candy striped sticker to prevent one from seeing their reflection. I am always happy when I find a clean one.
From here it’s a straight shot to Sturgis.
I rode like mad from the Colorado Rockies to Sturgis, South Dakota and made it for Thursday night’s show at the Buffalo Chip. I pitched my tent, cracked a beer and began wandering about. That is the cool thing about the Chip. It’s self contained. You can have a great time, have some beers, see class act live music and not have to worry about riding home. It’s all there in one place. I am not even sure who the opening band was. All I knew is I made it there and the weather was perfect. Weather can be a serious issue in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
While taking this shot, I heard the following behind me: “You getting a tattoo?” ” Nah, just a touch up.”
There was lots of performers with fire this year. This chick gave the blow job a whole new meaning.
The schoolgirl look never gets old.
A simple, yet effective use of paint.
Next I came across another new event at the Buffalo Chip. Midget Bowling! They were advertising a lubrication called Biker Lube. They would pour it all over the lane and then someone would toss that midget into the pins. Excellent!
Next up was the headlining band of the evening. Lynyrd Skynyrd. Or at least what’s left of ’em. That amounts to one out of the original seven members. Gary Rossington is all that is left. Ronnie Van Zant’s brother Johnnie has replaced Ronnie. A fine choice, though I always thought he could have taken that role a lot sooner. I remember wanting him to join as soon as heard his first solo album back in 1980. He’s put on some weight and lost some locks making him look more like his departed bro. But if you were to close your eyes and listen, this band rocks out the anthem Skynyrd tunes like they were fresh off the vinyl and the crowd showed their appreciation with the roaring sound of twisted throttles.
After Skynyrd left the stage it was time for the Buffalo Chip girls. That’s my girl on the left making the final three.
And one of the greatest things about concerts at the Chip is the fact that you can bring your bike with you.
There are various other stages with live music around the Buffalo Chip as well. This one had a great bluesy band and more girls playing with fire.
As I was taking these photos I noticed an old friend sitting on the perimeter of the crowd. It was my favorite Sturgis buddy Randy from Wheeler, Texas.
I hung with Randy the rest of the night. I could listen to him talk all day! I wish I had a tape recorder going when he is talking. Besides his awesome Texas accent, he says some amazing things. He a simple man and a great philosopher of life. So many times throughout the night, I would say to myself, “I have to remember that, I have to remember that!” Come the next day…I didn’t remember that. Below is Randy chillin’ with his new bike. When I first met Randy in 2010, I remember him telling me about the birth of his premature little girl. He said they rested her in his hands, and it was just like holding a hot steamy potato. It’s those kind of descriptions that makes Randy remarkable. I don’t think he even realizes how clever and funny he is. He is a humble man who has lived through a lot of hard knocks. But he told me, “Pat, life’s been real good to me this year.” I’m very pleased for him.
In the morning I woke up kind of early. I thought they stopped serving breakfast at 10. Found out, it’s 11. They make a mean breakfast at this one place. A family from North Dakota comes down and has been running it since 2007. I like to go there, get breakfast and ask the cook if I can plug in to recharge all my electronics. He always says yes. This time though, we got to talking. Once he mentioned he was from North Dakota, I told him I was headed that way after Sturgis. So he gave me some good advice about where to go. And where not to go. “Lots of Oil and Fracking going on above Williston. Better stay clear of there!” He also told me if I came back for dinner, he’d pick me out a special prime rib.
Randy and I talked about heading into town. In my 3 visits to Sturgis, I never went to town at night. There were always great concerts going at the Chip and I don’t want to ride if I’m drinking. We decided we’d leave just before sundown, stay a few hours then come back to catch Slash and Skid Row. We headed on out. Just as we were about to hit the highway I noticed little things bouncing of the ground. It was hail. And then, BOOM! Rain like you can’t believe! A white out! We quickly turned around. It was raining so hard, I couldn’t even make it back to my tent. I pulled over at the ticket booth and waited it out. I lost Randy.
The rain slowed down and eventually stopped, but the cool air came flowing in and it stayed. This is bad! One of the great things about this place is the dress code and that involves a lack of dress code. Once it gets cold, that’s it. Changes everything. I’ve seen it before. It sucks. When I was in Colorado I bumped into a guy who told me he was up at Sturgis earlier in the weak and it was 105 degrees. Imagine those outfits!
Well I roamed around a bit then saw the opening band while having that delicious hand picked prime rib dinner. Afterward I went back to my tent with every intention of grabbing a beer and continuing the evening, but I closed my eyes. That was it. I didn’t mean to but I fell asleep hard. Between the rain, the cold, and the prime rib, I was out. I woke up at about one in the morning. I walked around and there were still some things happening, but I was wiped out. As was Santa.
Originally I was going to stay until Sunday, but the weather cleared the place out. I really have to try getting here sooner in the week, but my insane cross country agenda just won’t allow it. So I said goodbye to Randy. Or a see ya next year. He gave me sound advice like, always wear eye protection and (as he held up his holster) that I should really carry a handgun with me when I travel. Thanks Randy. As I was packing up my gear, I bumped into Brian, the guy with all the shade tents from last year. I had also bumped into Jim earlier in the day at the Full Throttle Saloon. Jim was psyched because an oil company was using his land and he doesn’t have to work anymore.
Although this was the least eventful of my three visits to Sturgis it occurred to me that it’s this comradery that really makes this a special place. The more you come back, you meet these people. And you meet them again and it’s like seeing an old long lost friend. I really like Sturgis.
On my way out of the Buffalo Chip I stopped by the Triumph tent. I’d really like something like this. Broken down to it’s most simple form.
While there I met Todd the Regional Manager for New England Triumph stores. He recommended some of the other shops in the tri-state area for me. Might check out the Bridgeport shop when I get back.
I headed north up route 79 toward North Dakota. I made one last stop at the Broken Spoke on my way out of town.
At the Spoke was a map on which people had posted their origins. Pretty neat!
So on down 79 I went. I chose this route because I thought there was a storm to my south. There was. What I didn’t anticipate was it’s distance and trajectory. We were headed right toward each other. Oh boy. A story for the next post.
And on this, the eve of the the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ death, I bid you farewell. Funny, I was in South Dakota when that happened. Baltic not Sturgis.
I left the Buffalo Chip and headed north. It was difficult. As big ‘ol Randy said, “There is something about this place. It’s like an old friend.”
The weather in the Black Hills is so deceptive. I could see this storm to the west on my left. Why I didn’t check the radar, I don’t know? Sturgis will make you forget things. I tried to predict it. Knowing what Randy and I rode into the previous day, I should have known. Even when you are looking dead at a storm, you don’t know how it’s going to behave. Regardless, I saw a storm to my left so I took the road to the right. In the wild, wild west that’s how it works. One can easily forget how quickly one has moved on to a completely different environment. Needless to say, I took the wrong road. That storm to the left was moving to the right as I went straight on to meet it full force. I got slammed.
When I crossed the border into North Dakota the rain let up. I stopped at a gas station and asked some fellow travelers from Sturgis how that road to the left was. They said, “Not bad, a little windy.”
Oh well. I was a little beat up, but I survived. I carried on to stay at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This is the Badlands of the north. I was cold. I was wet. I stayed up to look at the stars, then went to bed.
At sunrise the next morning something fantastic happened. I heard sounds like one would hear in Jurassic Park. Loud snorts and groans. I could hear actual chomping on the foliage just outside my tent. It was the buffalo!
I had seen them from afar the day before, but this was tremendous! Even a wild horse roamed past.
They were all around me! It was the most exhilarating feeling. I got out and walked amongst them.
I immediately figured out the pecking order and quickly picked up on their behaviors. There was definitely an alpha to this herd. They all took his lead in the direction of their grazing.
Below is the look you don’t want to see. This is how he looked at the other bulls just before he charged at them.
The alpha bull’s main concern was his girl. Every once in a while another bull would get a little too close and he would let him know who is boss by taking a quick charge at him. Then he was quick to return to his babe before another bull went for a mount.
I was tired after a late night with the stars followed by a break of dawn rendezvous with the great buffalo herd. I deeded I would stay a second night. As I was sting my hammock up between the picnic table and a tree the camp host came by. Sorry no hanging anything form the trees she told me. Hmmmm. I was not satisfied with not hanging my hammock, so I made my own trees.
The next morning I headed out to ride the loop around the park.
A group of wild horses grazed about near the side of the road.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park did not offer the variety of color and formations that the it’s South Dakota Badland brother does, but the wildlife more than makes up for it. Running with the buffalo was an overwhelming experience I will not soon forget.
Just outside the park are the remnants of an old slaughter house.
I traveled a route recommended my the cook at Sturgis. There was lot of lush farmland along the way.
I rode past a sign. It said Knife River Indian Villages. I knew the site of Fort Mandan was nearby. Fort Mandan was where Louis and Clark had set up camp. (If you have kept up with this blog, you will know I am a big Louis and Clark head). So I turned around. What was this Knife River site?
The village at Knife River was only the home of Sakagawea herself. Well, it became her home once she was kidnapped by the Hidatsas from her people. I was in awe of the fact that I stumbled upon this.
The parks department has recreated an earth-lodge dwelling as would have been see here in the scores. It’s a phenomenal structure. Unassuming on a the outside. and spacious and cool on the inside.
The village once sat here by the edge of the Knife River. And Louis and Clark once walked amongst these people right here.
I spoke to the ranger for a while. He told me that the Fort Mandan site is not only a recreation of the old fort, but many miles from where the actual fort would have rested. He said the actual fort site is long gone and believed to be where the present power plant lies. How fortunate to have come here. This is sacred historical ground.
It is difficult to see the texture of the ground from eye level. But from an aerial view you can see the circumference of the form earth dwellings.
The Ranger snapped a shot of me holding a buffalo skull.
I camped out at Lake Sakakawea State Park. The spelling and pronunciation of this amazing woman who probably is soley responsible for Louis and Clark’s survival on numerous occasions is varied. The park and nearby town use the “k” version. I had a peninsula on the lake all to myself. I placed the tent with in some all day shade on a bed of soft grass. Real comfy.
In the morning Keith the Park Ranger stopped by my neck of the woods. He was on a mission to kill a pesky badger who has been burrowing in the sides of the cliffs compounding an already bad erosion problem.
Keith used to ride. He said he quit after his 3rd near death experience. Flat front blow out at 75MPH, a wipe out from some gravel of a twisty curve, and something else I don’t remember.
We talked about this and that. Freaking fracking and whatnot. He tells me this lake is the best fishing spot in the United States. The best fish around with the lowest mercury content. He said if I ever pass by this way again, I should look him up and he will take me out on his boat to do some fishing.
This was a real nice park. They even had a kid come around before I left just to dust off the signs.
That cook at Sturgis told me I should check out the National Fishery while in the area by the dam. So I did.
The fish start out in these jars before being introduce to tubs, then large beds, then ponds outside before being released.
I moved on east. I am going to leave you with some photos of the rest of my journey across North Dakota. Later!
Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan
The feeling began in the Eastern part of North Dakota. It’s a feeling I get every year. A feeling of loss and let down. Pat, you are no longer in the west. That euphoria from the anticipation of exploring strange surroundings is gone and the melancholy sets in. The physical environment has changed dramatically and folks just seem less friendly. And there is a lot more folks. Also the scenery doesn’t change much. It’s a nice green color, but either in the form of forest or farm. Not much variety. And if it’s not green, chances are you are in a town. There’s a lot more of those as well.
I rode into Bemidji, Minnesota for 2 reasons. One was to see this silly Paul Bunyon and Babe sculpture.
Many towns that once thrived on the lumber industry have a Paul Bunyon reference. He represents all lumberjacks. There is a visitor center right next to this kitchy monstrosity. In there I would get the answer to my second reason for being here and directions on how to find it.
About 30 miles southwest of Bemidji is the birthplace of the Mississippi River. My birthplace is New Orleans, Louisiana where the Great Mississippi makes it’s final turns before emptying out into the Gulf of Mexico. It seemed only fitting that I would visit it’s origin. On the left in the photo is a sign that says Mississippi River, on the right is my Bonnie and the small crossing in the center is the first Mississippi River Bridge.
The river is a mere creek at this point and it is traveling northward. The Mississippi eventually curves eastward then down all the way south pretty much physically cutting this country in half.
As I continued east I passed this giant fish building. My guess is a pickerel. Maybe a Northern Pike as seen in a fish tank from the previous post at the hatchery.
I rode many miles. Storms were in the air. I decided to get a room this night just outside Duluth. In the town just before my hotel, I noticed some event going on. The girl at the hotel counter had no idea what it might be. She only knew of the big train engine expo that was to begin in a couple days. Despite the possibility of rain, I went back to investigate. On the way it was obvious that it was some sort of car show as numerous classic automobiles passed me on the way, trying to escape the impending storm. When I arrived there were still a few cars about. With older cars it’s in the details. It must have been pretty awesome earlier in the day.
In the morning I needed to make one stop before crossing into Wisconsin and then Michigan. I passed by the boyhood home of Bob Dylan at 519 North 3rd Avenue East in Duluth. A real nice woman came out with a guestbook and kindly took a couple shots of me at the location.
Across the bridge and into Wisconsin I went. Would you like to see some photos of Wisconsin? Google it. I flew threw that state quickly in protest with feelings of disgust. Fuck you Wisconsin. Treat your teachers with respect!
And on to Michigan. This was the northernmost part of Michigan, not the glove shaped part.
First it just felt good to be out of Wisconsin. But also, Michigan gave a different vibe. It’s the people. They are proudly a little kooky. They call themselves Yoopers. They are like Canadiens with American bravado.
That’s Lake Superior in the background.
The scowl I wore while wandering Wisconsin was withered when I whipped into a town called Christmas.
It’s hard not to feel happy when you are the corner of Christmas and St. Nicholas Avenues.
The road up here became arched with lush forest and twisty roads, making for an exciting tunnel like riding experience.
Lake Superior is beautiful. Ocean like in many respects. It has quite a tide flowing in. There is an area along the coast called the Pictured Rocks. Theses cliffs here are layered in shades of red, orange and yellow earth. It goes on for miles, but only this one point is accessible by vehicles. The next closest vantage point is a 3 1/2 mile walk each way. You can also catch a boat and see it from the lake.
Michigan also seems proud of their waterfalls. I saw a couple. They were OK. But I also saw one they called a waterfall and it was hardly a rapid. Not a fall at all.
I crossed Mackinaw Bridge on to the mainland of Michigan (the glove). Yoopers call everyone who lives on the other side of this bridge, Trolls.
The sun was getting low and I passed a state park on Lake Huron. The sign said camping. Great!
I rode passed, 5 or so miles to the next town Rogers City for supplies, then returned to the state park. I went into the office at the opening gate (not just a drive thru). I said I’d like a campsite. I was told to ride through, choose the one I liked and return. Before I did that, I asked, “How much is this site?” 22 bucks plus an 8 dollar out of state fee. What the…..? I said no way, that’s not camping. She told me of a place 14 miles away in the woods. That’s just where I went.
In the morning I stopped for gas. I talked for a while with a guy named Frank. He rides, but not on his present trip. He was visiting Michigan from Arizona as I recall. He asked if I had been to any of the lighthouses? Hmmmm. Maybe that was something one does when in Michigan. So I went to see one. This one is on Presque Isle.
Apparently there are Paul Bunyon’s in numerous locations.
This road I rode also had interesting traffic and street lights. Sometimes just a single little streetlight on a wire hangs alone to light a street. But traffic lights hang like this too. And there are the written signs as well. If there is a left only lane, it won’t have a light with an arrow. It will have a red or green light with a hanging sign to let you know it’s left only, dangling next to the light.
Throughout Northern Michigan I saw warning signs for moose crossings. Oh, how I’d love to see a moose. I have seen one twice before. The first time in Yellowstone in 2002. I have that on video. The second time was in Idaho in 2008. A big mama moose and her youngin’ jumped up on the road before me. It had been raining and I couldn’t get to my camera before the moose ran off. When I told a guy at a bar about how it freaked me out and I was lucky to be able to stop in time on that wet pavement, he said, “You don’t slow down for moose, you just ride underneath ’em!”
Anyway, the only moose I got to see were stuffed at Cabela’s.
This Cabela’s in Dundee, Michigan is also host to the largest bronze wildlife sculpture in the world.
As I crossed the state line into Ohio I saw a hot air balloon.
I then shacked up in perhaps the worst hotel I have ever stayed in. Not the worst in the sense of dirtiest. That was last year in Tucson. But the worst because it claims to be better than it is. The place in Tucson made no secret of the fact that it was a shit hole. This place in Perrysburg, Ohio said they had WIFI, breakfast, blah blah. There was no WIFI. There was no soap, no shampoo, no bath towels. Just two tiny little towels both of which needed to be used to dry yourself off after a shower. And then at 8 in the morning, the cleaning lady walked right in. No knock. No nothing. Just used her pass key and walked right in. I screamed, “Fuck!” She said “Sorry, sorry!!” and ran off. I was too pissed to bother and see if it actually included breakfast.
The next day Bonnie turned 50,000 miles. It happened in a town called Sandusky, which really bothered me. But some things you have no control over.
My Bonnie has been very, very good to me.
Going East! OH, PA, NY, VT, NH and ME
Going East! Which direction was the question? In years past around this point, I would have said the trip was over and it would end with me riding a fairly straight line back to NYC. I was ready to to that again, but I stayed north to give myself options. I was tired. I decided I’d go to Erie, PA where I had been before. I figured I’d visit a place called the Quaker Steak & Lube where I dunked a girl in one of those baseball throwing booths back in 2008. I thought maybe this place could spark my desire to continue. I ended up missing the exit. I took this as a sign and felt I was ready to go home. I pulled off at the next exit and stopped for gas.
I got to talking to a couple guys at the gas station. These were cool seventies era guys. I knew it when we saw a car go by with fancy new style large mag wheels and one the dudes said, “I’m still a Cragar man myself.” Cragar‘s, the classic 70’s hot rod mag wheel. I told them I had been riding on the Interstate all day and I was sick of it. One of the guys said, “Hey, you should take route 5. It goes all the way to Buffalo and it rolls through the wine country along the lake.” The other dude, jumped in, “Oh yeah man, that’s a nice road!” I said, “Thank you gentlemen, you may have just rejuvenated my journey.” And that’s just what they did!
I followed their directions and was suddenly rolling through miles of vineyards with views of Lake Erie to my left as I moved east. It was just what I needed to stay motivated.
I felt renewed as I zipped along the vineyards of green and purple grapes. I am not sure what this 17th century ship recreation was for, but it looked cool.
I stopped at Lake Erie State Park. I was a bit weary of state parks after the $30 Michigan fiasco. When I entered, the booth to register was closed. They didn’t have a self registration kiosk either. So I went in to investigate the campsite anyway.
I was seeking a primitive site, but then noticed a place right on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the lake. This site had electricity. I decided I would pay the extra for the view. Plus, I could get everything charged up. Once I pulled in, I asked my neighbor campers if there was a camp host or someone I could speak to about the site I wanted. They said their site was paid for through tomorrow and they were leaving. They gave me their pass and said I could have it for free. Really? This was terrific! Thank you!
The sun setting on the lake was tremendous. I was very happy to feel like I could keep this adventure going when I was ready to pack it in only hours before.
A room with a view.
Those are the lights of the Canadian shore on the horizon.
Clouds rolled in adding another effect.
The beach below the campsite by day.
I saw a sign for a Frank Lloyd Wright house called Greycliff Estate. I went to have a look. The only building of his I had visited up to this point was the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. Greycliff Manor was pretty cool. They have been restoring it slowly for years now. It’s a work in progress. They don’t allow photos on the inside.
I went to Niagra Falls. This was one of those situations where I couldn’t comfortably linger because I fell uncomfortable leaving my bags open in such a populated area. But I still abandoned them to go have a look.
I came here once when I was a kid. Back then you could travel to Canada without a passport. The view from Canada is better due to the angle of the falls.
After the falls I continued my eastern path, but now I was riding along Lake Ontario and the vineyards had turned to orchards.
I stopped for the night at another NY State Park along Lake Ontario. My site wasn’t along the lake this time, but I ran over and caught the sunset just after the sun dropped.
That night I heard some scurrying about off in the dark and went to have a look where I found this little stinker.
From here I decided I was going further east and north. I was headed for Maine.
Seemed like people were living in this old church. In fact, I saw another church for sale along the way. Considering the population isn’t that great here, it does seem that there are a lot of churches.
This 1953 Ford tractor pulled up behind me at the gas station.
This Ford Econoline was for sale. I may call to inquire.
Because of the fire bans throughout many of the states I had been to, I hadn’t been able to cook a steak until now.
That night at the lake I think my camera picked up something that I couldn’t see with the naked eye. I do believe that green haze is aurora borealis! While I was taking some star shots I had a raccoon visit the campsite. He grabbed a bag with 3 peaches and ran off.
This is the Hudson River in the Adirondacks.
There was an old train sitting still on the tracks along the Hudson. I stopped to investigate.
This one rock has been enhanced with paint for a startling effect as you round the corner.
Fort Ticonderoga. I was going to visit, but they wanted $17.50. Considering the price and the time it would take, I skipped it.
A falls in the town of Ticonderoga.
I like when when states are separated by a bridge. It defines the crossing into a new environment.
In Vermont things looked noticeably different. Cleaner, more manicured.
Texas Falls, VT.
I crossed into New Hampshire and camped out in the White Mountains. I have no idea what these anomalies are in my photos.
Then I got a visitor. This sucker was bold. He would have taken the food from my hands.
I’d chase him off and he’d just hide behind a tree before making another advance. This guy was way too comfortable and relentless. He was down right rude. With the assistance of nice size pebble and a good arm I taught him some courtesy. He did not return.
In the morning I took a dip in the cold waters of the Pemigewasset River.
I noticed many different mushrooms in the woods.
This seemed to be the along the path for the annual monarch migration.
I made it into Maine. Soon I would be along the Atlantic to complete the coast to coast.
My plan was to stay in Acadia National Park. When I arrived at the visitor center I heard what I expected to hear. Campsites full!
At first I was discouraged by the news of the park’s campsites being full, but then I arrived at the Bass Harbor Campground. It was a comfortable place.
They had many conveniences yet they separated the RV’s and such from the tent camping. So You have the solitude of camping under the stars with the conveniences of a pool, WIFI, laundry, a rec room, and a small store right across the road.
Also the staff is very friendly. They directed me to Sawyer’s Lobster Pound for my dinner.
I ordered my grub then went for a beer run. I got a local micro brew and returned for my feast. The lady inside said, “Pat, we have a problem”. “Lay it on me”, I said. She said she had run out of 1 1/2 pound lobsters, so she had to give me two 1 pounders instead. Yes!
Mount Desert Island was a great place to wind down from a long journey.
Acadia National Park is spread out across the island. It’s not just one big park. In fact it’s campsites are not “in” the park and they are not on the water either. I made the right choice with the private campsite.
I pulled over and explored a bit by foot.
A ride up Cadillac Mountain will give you a view of the entire island and it’s surroundings. This is the view of Bar Harbor.
This is my campsite aglow with a blazing fire.
I have really enjoyed the night sky this trip. Besides photographing it, I have gotten to know it better. Not the names that have been given to them, but where they are. Where I can expect them to be at different times of the night. I am able to get my sense of direction just by looking up now. I like that.
This peach tree and mushrooms are all on the campsite.
These berries were growing along the road at Seal Cove. Yum.
I saw these guys zipping around town earlier in the day. I did not notice the little guy in the front until I stopped to take a photo.
There is an auto museum at Seal Cove. The Bel Air is parked outside. It’s not really part of the museum.
The museum caters to the brass age of autos. The very early days of automobiles.
They had some motorcycles of the era as well.
Maine was serene and calming. I did not expect to spend three days here, but it was the perfect place to chill after another epic ride.
Maine’s soothing atmosphere also offered opportunity for self reflection. CLICK HERE
When I woke up that third morning in Bass Harbor, I knew the journey was complete. I just had to make it back to NYC. I did it in one shot. Over 520 miles I rode. From Maine, through New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut I went, bringing me back home to New York City. In doing so I achieved another milestone in my motorcycle journey. I have now ridden in all of the lower 48 states.
I parked Bonnie, unloaded her and headed upstairs. Bonnie deserved some rest and I needed some. When I awoke the next day, I looked out my window and saw this. Bonnie sandwiched. Welcome home baby!