The Adventures of the New England VRCC
2003 Trip Reports

Gaspe Trip Summary by Tony C.
Back Home and at Work Now by dalai-lama
What will you do for a hamburger? by Holmes
2003 Munson BBQ – Ride Report by Rabbai
Skyline Drive Report - by Rabbai   
Sturgis, SD and beyond - by V-MAN                

Gaspe Trip Summary - Very Long

Posted By: Tony C. (Weatherman) <TColella@aol.com>
Date: 7/26/2003 at 23:00:16

 

Here's a summary of Scottie's and my trip to Gaspe. Without rain, the trip would have been spectacular, but we made the best of it. My wish for the Sturgis riders is for no rain if possible. Be careful guys and have fun!

Now if you have a couple of minutes, feel free to read about our trip. Martin as you can see, it would have been great to have you along, because you speak French! We got by, however, including getting directions after getting lost.

Ride Safe...
Tony C. :C) Cool

Day 1, Sunday July 20 - Left Ashland, MA around 7:00. I-95 north to Maine. Got off at Route 201 north to Jackman, Maine. Had a late lunch and continued on 201 to Quebec where the road becomes 173. Once past St. Georges, 173 becomes very beautiful as it winds it way through
farmland along the Chaudiere River. This was may favorite part of the ride for the day.

We got to the motel in St. Henri by 5 PM. The manager spoke very good English and cashed American Express Travelers Checks for us, which was very helpful. The weather was good all
day with no rain for the ride. After we checked in T-Storms moved through and we walked to a
restaurant about 150 yards down the road in the rain. This was a harbinger of things to come.

Day 2, Monday July 21 - We took 173 north to Levis where we then took the ferry across the St. Lawrence River to Old Quebec City. There’s a pay parking lot at the ferry terminal. $5 to park the bikes and $5 round trip for the ferry. Not bad. We walked around Old Quebec City during the morning. We were in and out of rain showers all morning.

We were back on the bikes and heading up the Peninsula on Route 132 by 12:15. We stopped for
lunch at a bike friendly place. They had parking spots for bikes and a place to hang your gear and
place your helmet. There were a bunch of riders from Quebec there. We only saw bikes from
Quebec the entire trip, including a couple of Valkryies. At one gas station, a guy on an I/S pulled in back of me and came over to chat. I said, "Ne parle pas Francais. Etat Unis." He nodded, smiled, check my license plate and walked away. I guess he didn't speak English. ;) Wink

We stayed on 132 until Bic where we got on Route 20 (highway) because it was raining by then
we wanted to make time. The ride up 132 before it started to rain was spectacular. Again we
road through beautiful farmland through wide sweeping turns along the River to the left and
highlands off in the distance to the right. I was grinning from ear to ear.

We stopped for the night in Mantane at a very nice B&B. The owner’s English wasn’t much
better than my French but we got by. We went out to dinner at an Italian place. It was right
along the water with large windows looking out over the river, which is so wide at this point, you can’t see the other side. While we were eating dinner we watched a beautiful sunset.

Day 3, Tuesday July 22 - This was supposed to be the best day for scenic riding. But alas it was the worst because the weather was bad. It rained all the way from Mantane to we almost reached Gaspe. The rain was only part of the problem. Along this part of the ride, Route 132 runs through some significant highlands, just west of Grandee-Vallee. In these highland the fog was very thick, about as thick as I’ve ever ridden or driven through. Plus there was a fire somewhere along the road and we road through some thick smoke. I was in the lead. There were not any cars in front of me so I was following the lines on the road and taking it very slow. There was traffic coming the other way including tractor-trailers. It was not fun. These highland roads were not wide and very twisty and hilly. Not the type or roads you want to ride in heavy fog.

When we came out of the highlands back to sea level, I pulled over for moment to calm down and
clean my glasses, which were covered with water spots. Scottie suggested that we stop for lunch.
I agreed. I was not looking forward to getting back on the bike after lunch, but it turned out that stretch of road and fog would be the worst part of the ride for the day.

We had planned to take 132 all the way to Gaspe through Forillon National Park, but because it was raining we bypassed it using Roue 197 and saved time. We continued Gaspe where we stopped for pictures at a park - it was not raining then. Then we continued to Perce where we stopped for the night. Although the weather was lousy, you could tell that on a good day, that this ride would be spectacular. The
terrain was extremely varied and beautiful.

It wasn’t raining in Perce so we walked around the
waterfront and took some pictures of Perce Rock. Perce is at the extreme eastern edge of the
Gaspe peninsula.

Day 4, Wednesday July 23 - From Perce we continued on 132 which turns from east to west as it heads towards New Brunswick. It wasn’t raining and the sun was even out sporadically so the ride towards New Brunswick was good. The scenery wasn’t bad. The terrain along the south
coast isn’t as extreme as the north coast. We met some riders from Ontario at a gas stop. They were riding the wrong way, east(they wanted to go to New Brunswick), so we got them turned around.

There are two bridges to cross from Quebec into New Brunswick. I was looking for the bridge
marked as Route 134. Well we kept riding and riding and were in a deep river valley and I knew
we had missed it. In the meantime, Scottie had a tractor-trailer riding his bumper. So I pulled
over for gas and to ask directions. The attendant, a very cute young lady did not speak English. But there was an old timer there with booze on is breadth who could speak a little and we got some help from him. We turned around and I took the first bridge I came to. Problem is, it
wasn’t the right one. By now it had started to rain again and I just knew we were not on the right road. I stopped at a little convenience store to ask directions again. One of the customers spoke English and he set me straight. We back-tracked over the wrong bridge onto 132 east. It was the next bridge that went into New Brunswick. There was no Route 134 sign on the Quebec side but there was on the New Brunswick side. That’s why I missed it. We went about 70 miles out of our way. Scottie didn’t seem to mind but I was upset that I had screwed up because I could have taken a previous well marked bride, but I was looking for Route 134.

The signs were very well marked in New Brunswick. We got on Route 17 south to Saint
Leonard. It was about 150 miles but we made very good time considering the rain. 17 is a very
lonely road until St. Quentin, were we stopped for gas. Again on a good day, this would be a
very pretty road but we did it in the rain.

We crossed into the U.S. at Van Buren, Maine and took Route 1 south to Caribou where we spent the night.

Day 5, Thursday July 24 - We had originally planned to ride Route 1 south to 190 to Eastport and then Route 1 down to Bar Harbor. But it was raining, once again in the morning and we decided to ride 1 south to 95 south to Bangor and from there to Bar Harbor where we were staying for the night. On thing that was cool about the ride down on Route 1, even in the rain is that the potato plants were in bloom and you could smell the sweet aroma every time you went by a potato field.

Before leaving we had called Terry (SIXBALLZ) and arranged to meet him on Route 1A just off
of I-395 in Bangor. We followed him into to Bar Harbor (thanks Terry!). It wasn’t raining in Bar
Harbor. Terry left and we walked around, had some Chowdah and other goodies and played
tourist. We met Terry at 6 for dinner and he recommended a pub style place where the food was
simple but very good. After dinner we walked around some more and talked with Terry.

Day 6, Friday July 25 - Of course the weather for the last day of the trip was beautiful. Terry met us at 8:30 at our B&B and we followed him to Dysarts Truck Stop south of Bangor for breakfast. We then followed him to Augusta where we said goodbye.

From Augusta we took highway all the way home. I was home by 4 PM. It was good to get home.

Total trip mileage was about 1,730, including getting lost. With good weather (no rain or fog)
the trip would have been spectacular as the roads selected were beautiful. But we made the best
of weather and did have some good half days. If nothing else, we increased our confidence about
riding in the rain.

Our bikes were filthy. Even the tank tops had mud on them. Lots of dirt on some of the back roads in Canada from logging trucks. These spray from truck passing the other way puked dirt all over the bikes. Plus we road through the mud on Route 1 just north of Mar Hills in Maine. Route 1 is being re-done and it's completely torn up.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading this post!


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Back home and at work now (really long)

Posted By: dalai-lama <brett@thebergquistfamily.com>
Date: 7/28/2003 at 16:01:44

 

What a vacation. Simply awesome. As you probably saw, it started a little sour with TC getting a blow out, but with the best people around, the Rabbai came through with a lift and a tire (even when that tire was going on his bike the next day :) Smile. Thanks Randy it was much appreciated.

TC and I changed the tire that night but with too little sleep and too many beers, we could not get it to balance, so we called it a night. In the morning the tire balanced out OK after rotating it on the rim but then TC had an Avon wobble when we tested it. It felt like a steering head bearing wobble to me, so we tore down the fairing and the upper triple tree and tightened the bearing but probably not enough. We decided that it would have to stay that way and blasted off about 12:30pm which was about 5 hours later than planned.

We made our way down through PA via the Delaware Water gap and then dodged thunderstorms until one finally caught us in Harrisburg. We called it a night and consumed some brew and made tracks in the morning.

We hit the Skyline drive in VA at about 9am and then proceeded with a leisurely pace for the next 120 or so miles. What awesome views this road has and some pretty scary wild life. A deer took a few years of TC's life I imagine and one followed along running along side of me for about 100 yards before heading back into the woods.

We then made tracks over to TC's sister's place in Flat Top, WV. We were greeted with a fine steak dinner that night and had simply the best hospitality that could be asked for the entire stay. Much thanks TC and your sisters family.

We spent the next day checking out the New River bridge which is the longest arched bridge in the world and pretty damn far up as well with a 900 foot drop to the river below. Then we made track to the mountains in eastern WV but realized we did not have enough time and head back to the ranch. Along the way we hit some of the most twisted roads that I have ever seen. You got to love it when you see the snake road sign that says this this is going to go on for the next 7 miles. Rt. 60 in WV is fabulous.

We were planning on heading down the Blue Ridge and do Deal's Gap but the weather was not looking promising so we decided to bag that and just stay in WV for the next 3 days. Smart move in that there was rain to the north and south of us but the storms seemed to part and leave WV dry. For the next 3 days we scraped more pegs than I can count and drank more liquids than I can count too :) SmileEvery road that we were on in WV was fantastic.

On Thursday, we did manage to get over to the north eastern side of WV and hit a road that I had seen in an AMA article called the Highland Scenic Highway. This is 48 miles of road that rides the ridges of the mountains. One minute your at 2000 feet in elevation and the next at 4800. During this whole 48 mile ride on this road, we saw exactly 7 parked cars and 3 moving vehicles, one of which was a dirt bike. Not another soul and in fact it was a little scary to pull off into an overlook, complete with bathrooms and pic knick tables and not see anyone. We hit a little rain at the end of the day, but it was still fantastic.

All I can say is if you want somewhere within a day or two ride that is simply the best, WV has my vote.

On Friday, we took all back roads over to Parkersburg WV. Much of the ride was in rain and twisties and mountains and rain are quite challenging! We passed through Palestine WV where Jessica Lynch was from. One blink and you missed the mobile homes with the chickens outside. There was remnants of the parade that for her the day before in Elizabeth, the next town over, however. With the rain and we decided not to do Ohio 555 to Zanesville and took the I-77/I-70 instead.

Good thing too, since the sky opened up on us. Since I cut my windshield down and can see over it, I was okay but TC has the Tulsa and visibility was nonexistent. I had him lead so that if he could set the pace that he was comfortable with. About 20 miles from Zanesville cars and trucks were pulled over to the side of the road because they could not see. We marched on, however and made it to ground zero about 4:30pm wet and tired but still in good spirits. We unpacked and then got some spirits :) SmileIt was "beer thirty pm" which was a constant of the next couple of days after much riding.

The next day, we did the State Reps lunch and then decided we would hit Rt. 555 down back towards WV and make a loop back home. Holy crap was that road tough. Never mind that its twisted beyond belief and you would have trouble on a good day but throw in hills where the top is beyond vision and throw in 90 degree corners as soon as you pop over. You don't know where the road is going to be until you finally crest the hill (and maybe land after catching some air). Then throw in some nice loose gravel and maybe even some freshly oiled tar patch and loose tar. After about 75 miles of that, I was shot! Soon, however we were back at the hotel and it was "beer thirty" again.

After consuming much refreshments that night, we decided to bag the 1000 valk march and sleep in to at least 8am. I got up in the morning and looked out and there were probably 3 or 4 valks in the lot. Everyone else was gone. What if they had 998 valks at the march and we were the two missing? I felt a little bad for a minute or two but got over it. We took a nice long ride up to the Amish up north and spent the day trying the cheeses and candies (hey, I did not have to buy lunch :) Smile) and then to the shops. Later that night, they had a band playing outside and it was "beer thirty" once again. The next thing I know, it's 2am and Trudy and TC and I and OZ are about the only ones outside partying and yakking up a storm. Finally we got OZ to end a story and were able to hit the rack.

Clue and Holmes had called us and said they needed air filters. We thought that the need was immediate, so the next day along doing a poker run, we spend time tracking down air filters. One was in Zanesville but those Ohio people sure do know how to hide road signs. It took us 4 attempts to find where Rt. 22 disappeared to! They had one filter so one down and one to go. We piled back on the valks and made a quick 120 mile round trip to New Philadelphia for another. It was hot and we were tired and had not eaten all day so we were looking forward to the BBQ at 5pm. Unfortunately it was scheduled for 7pm. Doh! At least it was "beer thirty" and our thirst was quenched.

So we did the BBQ thing and while there Clue and Holmes called and said they were 5 miles out. We went out to wait for them in the parking lot. Sure enough, a couple of minute later in they ride like two warriors coming back from a long battle, but with the smiles of the victors all over there faces. I myself could not have smiled any more seeing them and hugs and congratulations were all around. TC went and found OZ and let him know that these clowns had made InZane. It was announced by Crash, OZ's PR main on a bull horn, and the crowed gave our two friends quite a round of applause! They had traveled the farthest to InZane, by about 2000 miles!

Soon it was yakking and drinking in TC's room with them, TC, OZ, myself and Trudy. I even remember a tequila bottle going around. Trudy made quite a face when she did a shot :) SmileFortunately Trudy and I still had our wits and hit the hay about 11:30 since we were trying to blast off at 7am yesterday and it's really no fun trying to ride 600 miles or so when you are a hurtin' unit. So I guess Clue took it upon himself to make up for our absence. Orca, another shirt could have been printed up if you saw Joe yesterday morning.

We blasted off around 7:30 or so and after about 120 miles, Clue said he need some coffee so we stopped for breakfast. He needed coffee but also a nap! Since I had to get to NH last night, napping was not an option so Holmes and he stayed behind and napped on the lawn of the Bob Evans restaurant and we and TC made our way home.

It was a pretty hot and long ride to my house where I dropped Trudy and my gear off and then TC and I headed to his place. I needed to pick up Steven up in NH at my sisters house and be back to work here in the morning. TC and I parted company in Ringe NH and I continued on up to Hillsboro. I got there around 9:30 or so and it was just starting to sprinkle. Unfortunately, I forgot my regular glasses and had only my prescription sunglasses, so it was a little challenging to see. I figured with the rain, the glasses, the tiredness and riding back with Steven, it would be better to call it a night so I crashed and we got up at 4am this morning and road home where I dropped Steven off an headed here to take care of the multitude of problems that had cropped up while gone.

Nearly did an iron butt yesterday. 925 miles in under 24 hours!

Man what a vacation. I'm glad to be back at work so now I can rest!

The dalai

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What will you do for a hamburger?
By Holmes

"1:29 AM: I’m riding through the Great Smoky Mountains, the sun is shining and the wind is warm on my face. As I lean into the corners I realize that this is the best ride of my life. Suddenly…

1:30 AM: My alarm begins to blare. 880 AM out of New York is talking about the rain that is blanketing the city and how it’s expected to last the entire day. Damn! Not exactly the way I wanted to wake up before a big trip.

2:00 AM: The garage door opens and I ease my Valkyrie out the door. It’s not raining at my house but from the weather report earlier I expect it to start soon. I suddenly realize that it’s strange leaving the house at 2:00 AM when I’m used to coming HOME at 2:00 AM.

From here on out the time schedule all becomes a blur so please bear with me.

I hit rain in Westport, CT, which is about 15 miles down the Merritt Parkway. Great! I wonder how long this crap is going to last? I continued my route until I eventually started down the Henry Hudson Parkway. For those of you who don’t know, the Henry Hudson Parkway is notorious for flooding and when it does it isn’t exactly the best place to be on a motorcycle.

I just passed through the tool booth that takes me over the river when suddenly I come upon it…a HUGE flooded area of the parkway. I was traveling about 60 MPH and only had time to hug the tank with my knees and steady my grip on the handlebars. Amazingly, the bike plowed through the water with ease however the blast that erupted down both sides of the bike washed my feet of the pegs and back into my saddlebags. The water also shed about 20 MPH of speed in just a nanosecond…definitely a strange experience.

Once I picked my shorts out of my backside I continued over the GWB and eventually through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and down through Virginia. At one point the rain was falling so hard that a car vanished only 60 feet in front of me. I immediately thought; “If I can’t see that car then certainly no one can see me!” I had a notion to pull off the highway and find a safe spot on the side of the road but didn’t want anyone to follow my taillights (not that they could actually see them) and run into me while I was pulling over! I continued…

The rain finally stopped just north of Roanoke, VA. There’s nothing like 500 miles of rain to start off a trip, eh? In Roanoke the sun broke free of the clouds and the heat was on. I quickly pulled over and shed my raingear so I could absorb some of the warmth and fresh air that I so desperately needed. The rest of the ride down to Knoxville, TN was totally uneventful but I managed to make quick work of it.

1:30 PM: Arrive Knoxville, TN…YIPPEE!!!!!!!!

I grabbed a quick burger at one of the local choke and pukes, made a phone call to Laura so she would quit worrying and then headed south on RT 129 on my way to Deals Gap. Well, I managed to stray off my intended path and ended up going south on RT. 411 for a while. Once I realized the err of my ways I took RT 72 back over to RT 129 and quickly entered one of the best roads I’ve ever traveled in my lifetime. The road runs along the Little Tennessee River and provides a rider with some spectacular scenery.

I eventually made my way into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and began my experience of Deals Gap. I would love to rant and rave about the Gap but quite honestly I can’t. The road is AWESOME but I had about 5000 bikes all trying to ride the Gap at the same time. I did manage to erase every last bit of metal from the bottom of my pegs, only leaving the center post (which is severely damaged too). At the Tail of the Dragon I noticed that at least 1000 bikes were all parked and wandering around so I passed up the opportunity to stop and snag a t-shirt. After all, this was all about a hamburger…remember?

I quickly entered North Carolina and made my way through Bearpen Gap, Brooks Gap and Highland Gap. At Red Marble Gap I turned and headed north on RT 74/19 heading towards the Cherokee Indian Reservation. I stopped in Bryson City at a little package store on the river and purchased one single, longneck Bud. I took it out back and sat on the creek, staring wide-eyed at the clear water that flowed in front of me. Man did that beer go down smooth. I called Brett and told him that I was alive and quickly got back on the road. I was beginning to get hungry…mmmmmm…burger!

I made my way through Cherokee and eventually hit RT 441 north, which took me back through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a wonderful road that travels 30 miles through the park and eventually comes to an end in Gatlinburg. Gatlinburg was an ant mound of activity with tourists out the ying-yang so I quickly made my way out of town and headed north on RT 321 towards Lamont’s house.

7:00 PM: Arrive at Lamont’s in Mosheim, TN!!!! WOW, what a place he’s got! The house is situated on a large hill that overlooks the pastures and rolling hills of Tennessee. Off in the distance you can see the mountains of the Cherokee National Forest. To wake up every morning to this sight…awesome. Total mileage for the day was 986. Total driving hours, 17.

I made my way through the crowd and introduced myself to a few people. I met Jeff K, TNT, Cattman, Dragbars, Sarge, Ragnar and many others. Off in the distance I spotted Mosa whom I haven’t seen since Shftr’s PA Reunion ride last year. We exchanged pleasantries and I quickly made my way to snarf down a burger and quench my thirst with a cold Dr. Pepper.

Later in the evening Lamont and Mosa started shooting off fireworks in the front yard. We’re not talking sparklers and Tiger Cats here. These guys were shooting off BIG fireworks that had to be launched out of a mortar and exploded 1000+ feet up in the air. Suddenly I realized just how much of a pyro Mosa really is! LOL. The fireworks blasting up in the sky with the mountains in the background was really quite a sight to behold. I suddenly realized at that very moment that I was as relaxed as I have ever been. I lay back on the grass and stared up into the sky and thanked God for such a fantastic day.

About 10:30, just when everyone was gathering around the campfire, I snuck off to the barn in the front yard (Lamont’s wife’s sewing room) and spread out my bedroll. Sarge was already in there getting ready to crash too. We bull$hitted for about 30 minutes and then I slept…HARD!

I woke up at 6:00 AM Saturday and quietly rolled up my sleeping pad and sleeping bag. It seems that during the night 3 other people snuck in to the barn and crashed out on the floor. I stepped outside into the cool Tennessee air and gawked at the beauty of the morning. The deer were grazing in the fields and there was a thin layer of fog that hugged the ground. Man, this is absolutely beautiful! I just about had the bike packed and ready to go when I hear Lamont’s Boss Hoss fire up in the garage up at the house. It seems that he had to meet someone up at I-81 so I took the opportunity to let him lead me out of the country and back to the dreaded interstate.

We both stopped for fuel and I thanked him once again for his hospitality and the fact that he called me personally last week and told me that I could crash in the sewing room. As I was leaving another Valk roared into the gas station parking lot. I suspect that this was the person that Lamont was supposed to meet up with. I honked and blasted out across I-81 on my way home…the time was 6:45 AM.

I finally ran into rain in Harrisburg, PA where I-81 and I-78 come together. It rained all the way home…215 miles. As I traveled across I-78 in New Jersey the rain got heavier and the thunder and lightning increased greatly. As I came across the George Washington Bridge in New York, traffic on the upper deck was stopped. As I slowly made my way across the bridge lightning struck one of the upper bridge sections. I was quickly blinded by the light and all the hair on my arms stood straight out. Instantly, the crack of the thunder shook the bridge and damn near pierced my eardrums. The woman in the car next to me looked out her windshield in amazement at the evil sky above us. She then looked over at me and mouthed something but I was unable to make it out as the rain cascaded down her windshield. I’m sure she was wondering who the idiot on the motorcycle was.

6:00 PM Saturday: I finally arrived home. Wet, tired and grinning ear to ear! Total mileage for the trip was 1711. Total driving time was 28.25 hours. When I filled up my auxiliary tank and my main fuel tank I managed to get 250 miles between fill ups when I ran a steady 4K RPM (about 85-90MPH).

Sunday afternoon Brett, Bernie and Curly drove down to the house and we rebuilt Bernie’s leaking forks with new oil seals and progressive springs. We also changed out Luis’s springs with progressives and new fluid. They both had 3 hours home in…YES…You guessed it…the pouring rain. Thanks guys, I had a blast tearing into the bikes.

What a weekend, eh! "

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2003 Munson BBQ – Ride Report (long)

Posted By: Rabbai
Date: 8/31/2003 at 14:51:15



I’ve been sitting here talking with Chris telling her about all the interesting things I had the opportunity to think about and see, on this weekends ride to the Munson BBQ.
Hence, my ride report.
Starting out at 08:00 hrs Friday morning, I meandered thru Connecticut basically taking all the back roads I knew to Hartford/Springfield airport (Bradley International) to escape the traffic jams created by the construction on I-84 here in CT. It was a cool, crisp, “clear as a bell” morning that was to follow me all the way to my destination in Waterville, Maine. Up I-91 into Vermont to Route 9 where just before the New Hampshire state line I found out Connecticut isn’t immune to clogged roadways created by the growing pains of construction traffic. We sat here for 45 minutes waiting for that small bridge to have a detour roads surface compressed by an asphalt roller. Up and around Keene over to I-93 and up to Lincoln. I chose this route because just a few weeks ago Brett had led a ride up to Mt Washington and I was already familiar with it as well as that it afforded me the opportunity to ride “helmet free” for the longest distance. In Lincoln I picked up the Kancamagus Highway, something our “Weatherman” has been trying to get me to see for two years. Well Tony, I’ve done it and was nice ! The “hairpin turn was cute, and the “three” places you had to stop and see the view were beautiful, but it was like riding in a canyon. For the most part, the trees lined the side of the road so thickly you couldn’t see thru them and that limited your view to the car ahead. Once the river joined the scenery it got a little better but for the most part .. I wasn’t impressed. I think Rt 2 (The Mohawk Trail) in Mass is much, MUCH BETTER. From almost the time it leaves Greenfield to Rt 7 over by Williamstown, the views and the scenery are spectacular ! In my opinion .. much more worth the time. Over and around Conway, up to Norway, Maine. Down thru Minot, Auburn, Lewiston and Augusta finally stopping in Waterville for the evening. I’ve heard concerns from “us southerners” about places to stay while traveling to some of Maine’s VRCC rides. Let me assure all of us, if the meeting place remains Exit 36 off I-95, there are places galore all the way to Exit 35 for both sleeping and eating. I stopped at the Econo-Lodge off exit 33. The rates are “comparable” for the area, it’s clean with good sized rooms, secure and has good eateries within walking distance.
I’d talked to JackBail twice today and we’d arraigned that he was going to call me when he left Minot for the BBQ tomorrow, but he never called and he didn’t make it to the BBQ … hope all is well John.
Saturday morning and I’m up and out headed for the Fairfield Irving Mainway. On the way I stop for breakfast and run into Shorty and his fiancÚ. The rest of the group is starting to assemble about 800 feet up the road. 09:31 hrs and we’re starting out on a meandering ride thru Maine countryside headed to … “The BBQ”. This was my first trip to “The BBQ” and my first impression is ….. WOW ! The food is great and I recommend going to anyone who has the time to wait around and enjoy the food. The reason it’s a $10.00 “all you can eat – all day” affair is because it’s 20 minutes or so before each platter comes out the door. With the group we had plus the people already there .. platters emptied pretty quickly. The food was good and it “could” turn out to be an “all day affair”. Unfortunately, sticking around, waiting for tray after tray of BBQ to come out wasn’t on my agenda. I was within 100 miles of Canada and I had a destination. After the goodbyes and the handshakes, I was off to Greenville and Rockwood and a stop in Jackman for some fresh local Maine wild blueberry pie at the Four Seasons Restaurant. Then up to Canada for some new GPS coordinates in my Garmin, a bottle of “Thank You”, sometimes more commonly referred to as “Trip Insurance” for the Mrs and a wait to get back into the good old US of A. As I sat and waited to be scrutinized by the Boarder Patrol, I watched every car in front of me have their ID’s inspected and their belongings (trunk included) searched. As it was my turn, the inspector asked who I was, where I had been, how long I had been there and why. Then he asked if I had bought or had anything to declare …. Well I knew he already knew about the bottle of Crown so I gave it up only to (for the very first time) have to pay the “Duty”, all $2.15 of it. He asked where I was headed and when told CT, he laughed, asking if I was planning on getting there today ….. I guess he never met one of us “Valkyrie Drivers” before.
After putting all the clothes on I had with me (it was 45 degrees with heavy overcast), gloves and my helmet, I started out for home. It’s 15:15 (3:15) and I was going to be in my own bed snuggled up to the Mrs before I slept again. I rode Rt 201, following the Kennebec River back to Skowhegan and Waterville (where I’d started out from at 08:30 this morning), jumped on I-95 and blew back to Connecticut. In the process I stopped at the NH Liquor Store where I stocked up on some more beverages, stopped for gas on a couple of occasions and managed to dodge some four wheelers hell bent on running down a Valkyrie. Still somehow I managed to get home in one piece, tired as hell. It had been roughly a 600 mile day with the major part of it averaging 50 miles an hour. I believe that north western Maine, northern New Hampshire, northern Vermont and northern Massachusetts and the Adirondacks of NY are the most scenic parts of our country. You must give me a consideration here, as I have never ridden the Sky Line Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway. That comes soon (the week after this). Riding home with the mountains of Maine and Canada in view, the sweet smell of Balsams forests, the grace of the Kennebec River at my side, the hum of a six cylinder Valkyrie motor purring beneath me ….. life is good … and to each of you who shared it with me today … Thank you .. :) Smile

and Thank You Chris

 

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Skyline Drive Ride Report – (long)

Posted By: Rabbai
Date: 9/12/2003 at 11:33:45



Since hearing the stories of the beautiful Skyline Drive from other members of the New England VRCC family (Boz and Judy for one) who had already ridden it, I’ve had this yearning for riding it for myself. Everyone coming back with descriptions beyond belief. How can anything be as beautiful as they’ve describe ? It is ! And more …..
Ed and I left Monday morning just as soon as Chris pulled out the driveway. Deciding to ride to George’s (Scout) house by way of Scranton and York, PA., we were off. It was a cool, heavy overcast morning that made coats and helmets necessary. Locked in at 75 we covered a lot of ground pretty fast. Traffic was heavy as we hit the Scranton-Wilkes Barre area and it to stayed with us pretty much all the way into the back roads of Maryland where Scouts house was just a few miles away. At one point I made a right-hand turn and Ed couldn’t quite make it because of both the “amount” and “speed” of the traffic, I ended up pulling off and waiting for him to back up .. and catch up. Following the GPS, we had the opportunity to tour some parts of North-West Baltimore (no fun at all). There’s a lesson here .. sometimes the GPS decides that it’s easier to follow a route “thru” a town rather than go the “by-pass” route. You’ve got to know the difference .. or get ready to tour. George had dinner in the making and after a dip in the pool and after hot tub, dinner tasted good. After dinner George and I got our butt spanked by the pool hustler I’d unknowingly brought along in the billiard room. A word of advice here … “DON”T” .. play Ed for money .. he’s good, real good. He knows his english and he’s excellent at placing himself for the next shot. You don’t beat him .. if your lucky, he may beat himself.
Tuesday morning, after about a 90 mile trip, we hit Skyline Drive about 10:30 in the morning, it is still heavy overcast and cold (55-60 ish). We pay our $5.00 entry fee (good for 7 days) and head up the mountain. In a mile or two we see our first deer. Picture (in your mind) a rock wall on the right side of the road, on the side of a down slope. The deer is on the opposite side on it’s hind legs, front legs propped against the wall and over the top, all you see is .. neck and head with these two huge ears staring straight at you. The deer stayed for a few seconds then took off .. down hill leaving Ed and I in awe of the picture ”it could have made”. Next stop was the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center at mile marker (MM) 5. This is the first of countless opportunities for “jaw dropping”, visually inspirational views that just take your breath away. If you don’t believe in God, this place may change your mind. The view of the Shenandoah Valley is breathless. You’re at about 2000 feet with a view of about 120 degrees and visibility about 20-50 miles. In the distance (about 10 miles away) is the beginning of Massanutten Mountain (a 40 mile mountain that is the western edge of the Shenandoah Valley). It rises up to about the level of the Skyline Drive which creates the beginning of the Shenandoah Valley.
I think the first 50 miles of the drive is the most exciting. You’re continually climbing skyward to Hawksbill Peak (about 4000 feet), the highest level of the drive. At this point you’ve already passed thru Mary’s Tunnel, seen Pinnacles Overlook (with it’s view of the Piedmont Range, just one mountain after another for 30, maybe 40 miles to the east) and you’ve looked at “Stony Man”, (Virginias answer to “Old Man of the Mountain”) and your just absolutely in awe of the wonders your seeing. Picture in your mind a carpet of a heavily wooded pine forest, rolling hills and mountain after mountain with jagged peaks mixed in as far as the eye can see. Mixed with the pines are Oaks, Hickory, Birch and Tulip trees with a heavy underbrush of fern, trillium, mountain laurel and azalea. At every turn, the view just gets better and better. The views turn wider, longer, the elevation higher, the deer more visible. All the while, crisscrossing a 101 mile section of the Appalachian Trail that runs thru the park. Did I say, “I think this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen”.
There’s an overlook (or gap) every couple of miles, some on the east, some on the west side, each one picked I’m sure for it’s visual and scenic uniqueness. Every one has a plaque with information about, or some interesting facts about what your looking at. It could be regarding the people, the animals, the history, the vegetation or the famous visitors of, or to the area. One I remember, mentioned that Stonewall Jackson regularly used his knowledge of the areas mountains and passes to elude the Unions troops all the while inflecting damage/casualties to the northern forces (many times outnumbering his troops hundreds to one).
The next real biggie is “Big Meadows”. Originally a lodge (now a visitors center), it overlooks a huge clearing (of maybe a couple thousand acres) originally made for gathering and a meeting place for visiting dignitaries within the park. After having seen forests, hills and mountain peaks for the last 55 miles Big Meadows … is a big treat.
If I were to describe the rest of the ride it would be very repetitive. The scenery remains the same till you reach the Blue Ridge Parkway (near Waynesboro) 105 miles after entering the park. Think about it … 105 miles at 35 miles an hour or less, scenery as spectacular as you’ve ever seen, how does it get better than this ?
I think all the people who live within a short driving distance of the four entrances of the park … they know the answer.
That night we stayed at the Waynesboro, Days Inn ($65.00 for a double – nice place – nice rooms – I’d recommend it) and ate at a Western Sizzler (OK food but not “great”).
The next morning we were up about 7:00. It was cold (about 50), foggy, and didn’t look like it was going to be a nice day. Well the fog cleared, the temperature rose and we were off to make another run .. this time in reverse. Yesterday I had seen a bear (in a tree – at least till he saw me heading toward him and dropped 30 feet out of that tree like a rock and headed off to the woods quicker than any race horse I’d ever seen get out of a gate) and a whole bunch of deer. Today we would see raccoon, more deer and another bear, this one standing around long enough for us to actually look at him, before he ran off into the woods – no pictures though. The sky was more clear today. There wasn’t the haze that lingered yesterday, consequently we could see farther, the views had more depth, more expanse, all in all .. a much better day. The pictures will show the difference.
I think of all the vehicles we saw, motorcycles outnumbered cars at least two to one. There were some campers, a few pick-ups and thankfully, almost everyone respected the 35 mile an hour speed limit. Park Rangers told us that they loose about 100 deer a year to vehicle/deer collisions. Here’s a good one …. In 1930 when the CCC started building the Skyline Drive there were no deer in the park. In 1934 (when the construction was over), they introduced and released 13 deer. Today the herd numbers about 5000 and I’m sure it’s growing. There is no hunting allowed in the park but on occasion they find (catch) illegal hunters taking deer. It’s one of the reasons they ask you “not to feed the deer”. For one, it makes them easy prey as they just walk up to hunters with no fear. For another, it is (reportedly) “the cause” of any disease among the deer population as it introduces foreign substances unnatural to their diet.
After we finished Skyline Drive we headed up to Harpers Ferry and I introduced Ed to a little more American history. We saw a film on John Brown, walked around the town and saw a few of the historical sights. It turns out that John Brown was born and raised (till a young man and before moving to Kansas) in Torrington, Connecticut and his hanging after the raid on the Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, was the beginning of the Civil War (not that he was the cause .. more over, just part of the fuse). We didn’t stay very long but we also had the opportunity to walk out over the Potomac River and travel some against the backdrop of the Shenandoah River as well. We got back to the “Mader Resort” in time to take them out to eat (thank you Ed) at Ruby Tuesday. After a movie (Hudson Hawk – YUK), it was lights out for me.
We left around 8:00 the next morning and headed back for Connecticut the same way we came (minus the tour of NW Baltimore). The traffic was heavy and uncomfortable. Trucks in the area seem to have an overabundance of horsepower and no problem using it. We played “dodge the truck” all the way home.
I used to think that Maine, with it’s diverse mountain/ocean scenario and it’s visual buffet of sights was Gods gift to the human spirit (at least mine).. I’ve had a change of heart.
I don’t think anyone, from anywhere, can see Skyline Drive and not want to live there. I feel so sorry for the hundreds of families who were either “talked” into selling or “relocated” from their homes and property to create the Shenandoah National Park. And yet so grateful that someone had the foresight to protect and save this vast wilderness. It has got to be the first time I could agree with the medaling of the US government versus the individuals right, where the end result was actually good for the benefit of all mankind.
I can’t wait to share the wonder of this place with Chris.
Go see it .. feel it .. breathe it. I wonder if you’ll agree with me …
It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen .. and someday .. I’m gonna live there.

Randy “Rabbai” Govertsen
September 12, 2003

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Sturgis, SD and beyond

Trip Breakdown at A Glance: 

27 States, 2 Countries, 5 Great Lakes, 7,600 Miles Countless National And State Parks/Monuments       


Day 1   Day 2   Day 3   Day 4   Day 5   Day 6   Day 7   Day 8   Day 9   Day 10   Day 11   Day 12   Day 13   Day 14   Day 15   Day 16   Day 17


 

See All The Trip Pictures Here

Sign Guestbook Here

Day 1     

The 'Wing was packed the day before so I could get an early start on day one.  I left my house at 4AM with Brattleboro, VT as my first destination.  I was to meet up with Rich, known from here on as "Guppy" and Ron, known from here on as "Gazelle".  The bike was ready, the gear was ready and I was ready - unfortunately the weather did not want to cooperate because it rained and it rained hard! 

I decided to take all back roads to our meeting spot in Brattleboro, after all that's what this trip was about - actually seeing this great country and not just hammering out miles on the interstate.

I arrived at the designated spot a little early so I took the time to have a nice hot coffee and warm up a bit from the cold early morning rain.  Guppy and Gazelle arrived on time.  We fueled our bikes and asked the attendant about some breakfast.  We chose to grab some food at Bickfords.

After a hot breakfast and yes some more very welcomed coffee we headed west on Route 9.  Vermont has been working on Rt 9 for a longtime.  I have traveled this road many times in the past and it has been under construction for years.  This morning the roads were in very bad shape.  The asphalt was all torn up and we rode on loosely packed dirt roads for countless miles. The thought "I wish I had the Caponord on these roads" crossed my mind more then once! 

Eventually the roads got better and so did the weather.  We continued west on VT 9 / NY 7 to Schenectady, NY where we picked up Interstate 90 to make up some lost time.  We took 90W to Rochester, NY.  From Rochester we picked up 18W (Lake Ontario State Parkway) all the way into Niagara Falls.  We stopped at Ft Niagara and got some pictures but decided to get some food and find the hotel - Niagara Falls, Ontario would wait till morning.

We found our hotel with ease.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn, Grand Island.  Gazelle had made these reservations and he did good!  The hotel was a little "off the beaten path" but it was quiet and comfortable.  The bartender was a jerk so we had one drink, took hot showers and went to sleep.

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Day 2     

The day did not start out wet but soon came the heavy rains once again!  We all managed to stay pretty dry ... except for the feet.  Having wet feet for hundreds of miles really suck, I have to get some good rain covers for my feet.

While packing the bikes in the morning Gazelle and I met a guy named Herman.  Herman was impressed that we had traveled "this far on bikes".  We explained to him what we were doing and where we planned to be riding - now he was really impressed!  He told us that he would like to do the same thing except in a van.  Both Ron and I told him that if he really wanted to do it then he should and not to procrastinate. 

We chose a Canadian route for day two.  The Canadian route would bypass cities like Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee.  I have heard horror stories of the traffic and road conditions in these areas.  The Canadian route would also allow us to see all five Great Lakes! So instead of traffic, potholes and Interstate we chose scenic roads that were in excellent repair.  Some things we did not expect were: 1) we found out that the first weekend of every month in Canada is a "holiday weekend" (May - Sept) - in Ontario - lots of traffic headed the same way we were! 2) never imagined it would take 4 hours to travel 100 miles!  Heavy rains hurt the travel time; heavy traffic and we stopped to get some food.

We learned a few things while in Canada.  They don't put lettuce on chicken sandwiches ... even if it's not their sandwich!  They serve a "quad mac" sandwich at McDonald’s; Rich was in heaven - four patties on one roll!  A Canadian $2 coin is a "toonie" and a $1 coin is a "loonie".  According to Reed in Andrews Lake, Ontario ... told Ron after he made a purchase with US monies that "there is no exchange rate on coins - just bills" BAHAHAHAHA "coin rate is the same in US and Canada" BAHAHAHAHA and poor Gazelle believed her! This was the start of Ron's new handle/tag! 

This was a long day mainly because of the traffic and rain delays.  We got some pictures at Niagara Falls (Rich had never been here before) and I led them through some of the streets so he could see some of the tourist sights!  After we saw the Falls we picked up Highway 401 toward Toronto.  We traveled 401 to Highway 400 North to Highway 69 North (scenic route along the Georgian Bay and North Channel).  From Highway 69 we picked up Highway 17 in Sudbury, Ontario and traveled west.  Highway 17 is a beautiful route and very scenic (part of the Trans Canadian Highway).  We wanted to stop but we wanted to make the US border first.  We pushed on till we crossed back into the US at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Sue Saint Marie) is located on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  The Upper Peninsula is surrounded by Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan ... very cool! 

We found a little hotel where we literally crashed for the night!

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Day 3

This morning started off like day 2.  There was no rain but after seeing the weather forecast we knew we were in for yet more wet riding.  I don't know about the others but my boots were still wet!  We grabbed some breakfast at a local restaurant where they served a buffet ... again Rich aka Guppy was in heaven! 

We left town on Highway 28 W.  Highway 28 is a nice scenic, open secondary road.  I guess the Hooligan in me needed to get out for awhile.  I got impatient (in a joking way) with Ron leading the group at 85MPH so I blasted by at about 115.  I held it at 115 till my fuel light lit and started to flash.  When we left Sault Ste. Marie we decided to fill up out of town ... almost a mistake, not many chances for gas here!  We found a gas stop and we all filled up and were happy once again. 

From Highway 28 we picked up Highway 35 S.  By this time the sky had really opened up BIG. We met an old biker, "Harry", riding an old Shovelhead.  He was headed to Sturgis and sort or hinted around to riding with us.  We never invited him to ride along because we knew that there would be no way in hell he could or would be able to keep up to our pace in either speed or miles. Harry did give us some advice on routing around Green Bay and after looking at our maps and GPS it was the same route we had already chosen!  When we hit north of Green Bay the lightening was like no lightening any of us had ever seen before.  There were "strikes" all around us - a big circle.  There was white lightening and blue lightening and it was constant!  We decided to pull over under an overpass - none of us could see anything because of the rain.   We knew we needed more miles for the day.  We were already getting behind because of the rain so we pushed on.  By the time we made the Minnesota / Wisconsin state line we were pretty wasted.  We all decided to find the next exit get some gas, some food and find a place to crash.  BIG MISTAKE - the next exit listed gas and food but we got off and followed the signs to "gas/food".  We traveled a very small, extremely dark tiny road for about 10 miles or so.  We never did find gas but we saw a little Tavern called Bergees Place so we pulled in.  We figured to at least get some bar food, inquire about gas and hotel.  Bergees Place was very strange - they serve alcohol to minors (kid may have been 15 at best) and the patrons were all toothless, scary freaks!  We saddled back up as quickly as possible to avoid any confrontations and headed back to the highway.  We got back on the highway and within 30 minutes were in a much larger town.  We found something to eat and checked into the Quality Inn.  We all decided to get gas in the morning and we also decided that none of us would ever return to visit Minnesota!  Maybe MN is not so bad but what we saw and what we experienced was terrible...

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Day 4

After the past three days we decided to rest a little longer especially knowing we had a rather short distance to travel for the day.  We got up, packed the bikes and ate breakfast at the hotels' restaurant.  After breakfast we fueled up and were back on the highway leaving Minnesota!

The view at the Minnesota/South Dakota State line is absolutely indescribable!  Even though it was not possible to get any pictures it will always remain one of my personal favorite views of the trip. 

Once we crossed into South Dakota it seemed bike traffic really picked up.  I was surprised by the number of riders we came across ... I was not surprised by the number of trailers.  The three of us had a little fun.  The roads were dry (for a change) and open - it appeared you could almost see forever!  We did some cruising through South Dakota!  We passed a State Trooper at 95 MPH and to all our surprised he never even "lit the lights"!  We stopped in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and had a couple buffalo BBQ sandwiches ... they were awesome by the way. 

The traffic really got thick within 50 miles or so of Sturgis.  Unfortunately we needed to go through Sturgis traffic in order to get to our campsite.  We choose to stay a Bear Butte State Park while in the area.  When we arrived at the park we met a young park attendant.  I asked him if he had a place we could pitch our tents away from the masses after all we did want to get some sleep.  Tom (Park Attendant) said he had a place he was sure we would like ... he was a cool kid! We followed him down a dirt road for about 1.5 miles - give or take.  He led us to an area that a few others already set up but there was lots of space in between and it seemed rather quiet.  We had a mountain to one side, a beautiful lake to another side and a pasture full of buffalo on a third side!  What an incredible place to call home for a couple days!  The only downfall if that's what you want to call it is there are no showers in the park.  Tom told us that Bear Butte has arrangements with a private campground down the road where we could shower ... so that is what we did.  We paid $6 a piece to camp for two nights each, add $4 for a shower ($8 for two days) and our camp 8 miles north of Sturgis Rally cost $14 for three days/two nights!  There were residents of Sturgis charging $60 per night/per person to camp in their yards!  We did good - we did better then good!

After we set up camp we decided to head into town.  We only planned for a short visit for the Rally.  We were in South Dakota for the riding and the sites - Sturgis Rally was icing on the cake.  Sturgis made the BIG Three for me this year ... yea!  We had a buddy from Massachusetts that was staying in Sturgis for the week (Tom S).  Thanks to the wonderful technology that exists today I was able to reach him by cell phone.  We set a place to meet and we were on our way.  We hooked up with Tom and acted as our "guide" since he had been there for a couple days already.  I've got to tell you, I've been to many motorcycle rallies and I've been to many of the big rallies, Sturgis is probably the least impressive for me.  I have never seen a crowd of "riders" (I use this term very loosely) that were this reckless anyplace before.  Walking through the crowds weather it be day or night the comments on drinking and bars was never far off.  I kept thinking to myself and sometimes out loud to the others "why not enjoy the roads and sights that abound out here", "don't they have bars and liquor where you are from". 

It was a long day and night so we bought some shirts and other tokens, ate some supper, said good night to Tom and headed back to camp.  We found our way back to camp in the pitch dark without any problems.  We all decided on the plan for the next day and we headed off to our tents.  I had just gotten to sleep when I hear an unfamiliar voice say "I'm cold ... I need some more clothes" ... the voice was coming from Rich's tent.  I was extremely tired and I had taken some medicine for my leg when I turned in.  I laid there thinking maybe I was dreaming or hearing things?  All of the sudden I hear Rich's voice holler "BUDDY ... YOU HAVE TO LEAVE ...NOW"!  I hear a tent door unzip and feet walking away - what the hell just happened! Rich filled us in on the entire episode the next morning ... this was 2 - 3 AM when the "buddy" incident occurred! 

The "Buddy" story went like this: Rich said he heard his tent unzip.  He was tired and did not think much about it at the time.  He figured it was Ron or I goofing and maybe playing a trick on him.  When the guy spoke Rich knew it was not one of us!  He fumbled around for his glasses in the dark and got hem on.  When he looked up this guy - "Buddy" - was sitting Indian style staring down at him!  Whoa ... talk about freaky!  It's funny to laugh at now and we laughed about it the rest of our trip but think about it ... that is too weird!  I think the guy was more stoned then drunk - after all he unzipped a tent door, crawled into the tent and zipped himself in. 

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Day 5

We woke up and heard the story of Rich's "buddy" ... we all laughed hysterically.  We packed up a set of clean clothes and shower items and headed out to the private campground to use their showers.  I thought I had everything but I forgot my friggen towel back at camp!  I ended up drying off using paper towels from the bathroom ... note to self ... remember towel next time!  We ate breakfast at the campground too and planned our route for the day.  While having breakfast we met a group of riders from Denmark!  They had a total of 90 members from their H.O.G. group that made the 5 week journey for Sturgis and HD Milwaukee, WI 100th Anniversary Party!  You should have seen some of their bikes ... very cool classic rides!  One guy had a 2003 Ultra Classic, get this ... he told me the cost on that bike in Denmark was $90K!  Between tariffs and supply and demand that was the going rate ... I thought to myself "NO WAY" I would ever justify a price tag like that.

Our route for the day included Custer State Park, Needles Highway, Wildlife Road and Mt Rushmore for the "big" sights.  Custer State Park was one of my favorite places too.  There are just so many things to see that words and pictures can not do the Park justice.  Be sure to look at all the photos and you will get an idea of what I mean.  Mt Rushmore was cool to see but at the same time it was a little disappointing.  I always had an idea of the monument being this huge and massive carving.  I am glad I saw it with my own eye but I would not go back to Rushmore unless I had my wife or children with me.  I think everyone should take the time and see it personally for themselves.   South Dakota has awesome roads and incredible views.  I would love to do this trip again but earlier in the year before the Sturgis Rally.  The Rally made the roads too congested and we saw too many bikes go down ... and hard.  We saw four bikes in Custer State Park alone go down.  Grant it there are some nice twisties and great sweeper turns BUT nothing that was very difficult to maneuver.  Sturgis brings in inexperienced riders and a bunch of drunks in my personal opinion.

After grabbing a bit to eat and hitting downtown one last time for souvenirs we headed back to our campground.

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Day 6

We got early and headed for the shower and breakfast up the road.  We wanted the dew to dry on our tents before we packed them away.  After our shower and breakfast we returned to camp and pack the bikes for the day's journey.  We all wanted to see Devils Tower so we planned our route so that would be a stop across the State line in WY.

We got a late start out of Sturgis because our bikes were filthy!  We could not stand the dirt anymore so we wanted to wash them before we hit the road.  I don't think any of our bikes have ever been this dirty before EVER and it bothered us all.  We stopped in downtown Sturgis where I mailed a couple packages back home.  Rich and Ron were holding a spot in line at the local carwash.  When I got back from the PO they were still in line and hadn't moved very far! 

By the time we finished washing the bikes and visiting Devils Tower it was getting late in the day.  We had laundry that was really starting to stack up too.  We looked at the map and decided to stop over in Sheridan, WY for the night.  We figured we could get a good meal, do our laundry, have a drink and get some rest.  None of us knew anything about doing laundry - we're all married!  That is not an insult in anyway to our wives.  We appreciate (especially after this trip) everything they do for us including our laundry and good home cooked meals! For some reason my socks and a couple shirts now have an orange/pink tinge to them!  I hope to never have to do laundry again ... if I am away I will pay to have my clothes laundered.

We ate dinner at a small sport bar type restaurant "Pony Bar & Grill".  The food was good but service was a little slow.  We had a waitress that we dubbed "Oh Shit Girl".  Her name was Tanya and she must have been new. A couple things we asked her and her response was "oh shit".  There was a family dining behind us that she slipped at least 4 times that we heard ... wonder if she still works there ... probably not!

We stayed at the "Parkway Motel" in Sheridan for the night.  The room was clean and comfortable but management needs to do some updating.  The calendar in our room was turned to August 2002 ... only one year behind schedule!  We learned a few other things while in WY. A soda is pop, a bag is a sack and a restaurant check is a ticket.  We also learned there are some smart-ass people in WY.  There was a woman gas attendant that called Ron "Suzy Chapstick" because he purchased a tube of cherry lip balm - she was actually a very nice lady but it sure took us all by surprise with her comment!

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Day 7

My leg was really giving me trouble this morning.  I took some extra medicine in hopes that it would help get me through the day.  I talked to Ron and Rich and explained that I did not want to lead this morning the way I was feeling.  We had been swapping about the lead position anyway so it was not a problem for either one of them.  We wanted to get on the road so we decided to find some food on the road someplace along the way.  We left Sheridan, WY and headed out for Yellowstone National Park via Route 14.  Route 14 is an awesome road! 

When we arrived at Yellowstone Park via the East entrance.  We wanted to get a picture at the "welcome" sign just outside the park so we stopped.  There were others waiting for pictures also - they came in cars, trucks, campers, motorcycle and trailers!  Throughout the trip we have taken pictures for other groups and others have taken group pictures for us ... no big deal, right?  It was a big deal here!  A woman asked me if I would take a picture for her and her boyfriend/husband of course I answered "no problem" and I took two pictures for them with her camera.  When I handed her back the camera I asked if she would mind getting a shot for us as a group.  She huffed and puffed about it and agreed to do it.  She actually had the nerve to bitch about taking a freakin picture for us!  Some people are just plain unbelievable ... they must have been from Minnesota (just a joke now).

After we gained entrance to the Yellowstone we headed for our campground.  It was beginning to get late in the afternoon and we wanted to set up camp before dark.  On our way to the campground we passed our first herd of buffalo wandering through the fields and across the road! Rich was leaving for Las Vegas tonight but we wanted him to see Old Faithful before he left.  Once our tents were set we headed out on Park Loop Rd for Old Faithful.  En-route to the famous geyser we crossed the Continental Divide twice ... cool.

We barely arrived at Old Faithful when the geyser lived up to its namesake!  I think we waited 20 to 30 minutes before hot water was being spit high into the air.  We decided to fill our gas tanks and our bellies.  Rich decided after fueling he was going to head out.  We said our good byes and gave him strict instructions to call when he arrived in Vegas.  We all had traveled across Canada and the United States as a group and I did not like the idea of Rich being alone on the road ... but I certainly understood. 

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Day 8

WOW ... day eight started off a brisk 37 degrees!  I knew the chance of cold weather was a very good possibility.  I had talked with other riders that have been to Sturgis in the past that have actually encountered SNOW - in August!  The cold air was welcomed as far as I was concerned after the heat we had endured earlier in the week.  The air was cold, crisp and clean, it was refreshing.  Ron and I packed our gear we thought we would need for the day and headed out to find some coffee!

We were on a time schedule and we only had two days to see everything Yellowstone had to offer.  It was a challenge but hey ... somebody had to do it!  Ron and I had breakfast at the Lake Lodge restaurant then headed out.  We traveled 98% of the roads in Yellowstone that day, it was incredible!  We saw numerous waterfalls, canyons, rivers and lakes ...absolutely beautiful and one of my favorite National Parks.  Throughout the day we passed by and rode through many buffalo herds.  We saw elk, moose, osprey and tons of "other" wildlife in the Park. It was a great day.  While traveling on one of the many back roads in Yellowstone we met two riders from Manitoba, Canada.  They were both pretty serious riders and we talked at a scenic overlook along with a Park Ranger for a long time.  It was good to see others getting out and enjoying my favorite sport ... motorcycling! 

While in the northernmost section of Yellowstone we stopped at a Post Office to send another package home.  There was a small herd of elk on the back lawn of the post office!  This is a town and there are elk just laying in the shade relaxing with people walking about.  Ron and I decided since we were on the Montana/Wyoming State lines we would cross over into Montana, after all it gave us one more State we were in!  We took Route 212 into Montana and Gallatin National Forrest.  Route 212 was another great motorcycle road.  If it were not for the impending rainstorm we would have spent a little more time exploring the area.  I was able to stop in the middle of the road and get a picture of the "original" entrance to Yellowstone.  At one time there was only one entrance and it was on the most northern tip of the park.

As we headed back to our campsite I thought about everything we had seen so far.  I wondered to myself how many people realize what is out here to see and how many people will take the time to see it themselves.  This trip that I billed as "once in a lifetime" was NOT going to be that ... I will come back and see it all again!  I will take the time, expense and the energy and bring my family to all these beautiful places. 

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Day 9

We broke camp early today.  We had a lot to see and miles that needed covered!  Good thing for us it was a little warmer morning.  The temperature was 42 degrees!  We loaded the bikes and headed for the Park Loop Road south.

We stopped in the Grand Teton National Park for breakfast.  We ate at the Signal Mountain Lodge.  The hot coffee (Ron and I are both addicted) was more welcomed then the huge bacon and egg breakfast we wolfed down.  We had an incredible view from our table. The entire back wall of the restaurant was a glass window with an overlook of Jackson Lake. It was an impressive view and incredible meal!  Ron and I both decided that Carol and Kim would have to see this place!

We left the Grand Tetons and traveled South on our way to Bryce Canyon.  We met many very nice people on this portion of the trip.  We were stopped on Highway 89 south of Jackson, WY in a construction zone.  They were clearing the "pass" through the mountain in preparation for winter.  We talked with the flag girl (Lindsey) for the twenty-five minutes we were delayed.  We arrived in Panguitch, Utah where we decided to find a hotel to crash.  We stayed at Bryce Canyon Motel, the price was cheap, the room was large (two bedrooms) and clean and the service was excellent!  The manager was really a nice guy.  He was a lonely person and he talked a lot.  We found out that he had cancer and was going through treatments.  His wife left him when he got cancer ... what an evil person ... what happened to "in sickness and in health".  Despite his cancer he kept the grounds of the hotel clean and he waited on any lucky traveler that happened through Panguitch!  He was out gathering firewood for some Israeli guests that wanted to have a bon fire.  We eventually joined the bon fire and had a couple beers.  It turned out the Israeli guests were all pilots in Israel Air Force.  Our government invited them for a training program dubbed "Red Sky".  Apparently the United States does this training program on a yearly basis ... little do we know huh. 

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Day 10

We got up early, checked tire pressures, wiped off the bikes and loaded our gear.  As I was dropping off the room key I decided to ask the manager for suggestion on where we could get some good breakfast.  He directed me to a local truck stop where he assured me they served the BEST breakfast around.  Since Panguitch is a small town and personal experience tells me truck stops do in fact have excellent food we headed out.  He was right, the food was GREAT.  There was an older lady at the grill and she could sling some grub!  The service on the other hand was pretty lousy.  We practically had to beg for a re-fill on our coffee, remember we are addicts!

After filling our stomachs we filled our tanks ... one stop shopping ... and we were on our way to Bryce Canyon!  The trip into Bryce via Dixie National Forrest was beautiful.  We ran into a small amount of weather but it was no big deal - not yet and not now!

After passing through the gates at Bryce Canyon we collectively decided that the best course of action would be to travel to the most inner portion of the canyon and stop for pictures on the way out.  We cruised into the canyon at a slow pace so we could see it all!  When we got to the end of the line we dismounted and stood in awe at the view.  I have no words to describe the beauty we encountered.  The colors, the formations the entire scene has to be seen to be believed!  I am not able to describe the grand nature of it all. Sitting on the edge looking out at the beauty surrounding me caused my mind to "start and wander".  After what seemed a very short time the sky started to darken and we knew a storm was imminent. We wanted to capture as many views on film as we could before the rain hit so we started the descent down the road.  The problem with Bryce Canyon is there are too many areas you want to get a picture of!  We stopped along the edge of the road and soaked in the memories both digital and spiritually.  We were halfway back to the entrance when the rain started to fall.  We didn't really mind getting wet or the bikes getting dirty ... the splendor of Bryce Canyon was worth it all!  As we rounded one of the many corners a rider in the other direction was flagging us to slow down.  I thought to myself "jeez how much slower can I possibly go".  We turned another corner and I saw why they were so frantic for us to slow down ... another rider was down in the road.  I quickly motioned with my throttle hand for Ron to SLOW down.  We were entering road construction where the road was torn up and instead of gravel or mud we were on clay type soil (calechi).  I'll tell you what, add water to clay and you get GREASE.  This was the slickest most difficult riding I had ever done and I've been riding for many years.  I consider myself an excellent rider and it took all I could do to keep that fully loaded Goldwing on two wheels!  The front and rear both went different directions at the same time.  I looked in my mirror and unfortunately Ron was sliding one way and his bike another ... SHIT!  I stopped my bike as quickly as possible and ran back to where Ron was.  By the time I got back Ron was on his feet and at his bike.  We were only moving 1 or 2 MPH but to see my friend off his bike made my stomach sink.  He was OK just muddy ... the bike was OK but muddy too.  We quickly got his bike upright and him mounted.  I walked alongside trying to give the best direction I could to help him.  I told him I was going to move my bike farther down to the asphalt and would be back.  By the time I moved my bike and got back to Ron his 'Wing was stuck on the "shoulder" area sinking in this heavy clay material.  We tried to push, pull and ride it out ... nothing!  A multiple of rangers drove past us headed to the accident area.  Eventually we were able to flag down a family in a Ford 250.  He had four wheel drive so we asked if he could pull Ron's bike out.  What a great local family, he dug around in his truck and came back with a couple straps.  We tied the straps to the crash bars and to the hooks on the front of his rig.  With a little effort of me pushing sideways, the truck pulling straight out and Ron sitting on the bike to steer we got the 'Wing back on the road without hitting the boulders on the side of the road!  We were both pretty shaken by the experience so we continued to the Ranger Station without anymore photo stops.  We went into the bathroom and cleaned ourselves up the best we could. 

On the way out the park had decided to close the road to traffic!  They should have closed it earlier and it would have avoided injury to the motorcyclist that was taken away in an ambulance. This accident and the trouble Ron had could have been avoided if they just threw some gravel on the road!  A couple hundred dollars in gravel ... that's all.  We had planned a visit to Zion National but I found out there was road construction there too.  We chose to pass on Zion and instead found a car wash where we could hose off that nasty mud!

We headed out with Las Vegas being the destination for the night.  We encountered the most god-awful heat in Utah, AZ and Nevada that day.  The temperature gauges on the Goldwings were showing 118 degrees!  Needless to say we stopped as often as possible and re-hydrated ourselves with water, Gatorade and PowerAde.  Rich met us in the parking area of the hotel and helped us carry our bags up to the room.  After unpacking, showers and dinner we spent sometime downstairs in the casino but we really just wanted to sit in the AC and cool off!

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Day 11

Ron and I needed to be up early for an appointment we had with a local Honda shop.  Along the way our Goldwings were falling apart and we were loosing pieces across the country!  Thanks to Kim who coordinated the entire effort with Honda of America, Desert Motorsports and us.  Honda America had all the parts shipped to the Las Vegas dealer, Desert Motorsports had the service bay ready and we got our bikes there in a little less then one piece!  I lost the right side engine cover, right lower cowl vent and right headlight.  Ron lost the right side engine cover (he looses his headlight in TX a few days later) and also had an oil change done. 

After our appointment we decided to do laundry again.  This time I had learned a little lesson and there were no more instances of anything changing colors! 

So now with the bikes back together, our clothes all clean we could relax and enjoy Vegas.  We did a tour of the "strip" at night with all the lights and typical hustle and bussle.  We all ended up leaving some money there but had a good time doing it!

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Day 12

We left Las Vegas later then I had planned.  I wanted to be on the road before it got too hot.  It did not matter too much because we had a short day ahead of us.  Our destination was to see the Grand Canyon and then on to Flagstaff for the night.

We left Las Vegas by way of Rt 93 because there was not much choice but highway.  After passing through the Hoover Dam and getting some pictures we continued south on 93.  We stopped in Kingman, AZ for lunch and fuel.  From Kingman we now had plenty of choice as to highway or back roads for the remainder of the ride.  Any motorcyclist will choose back roads as long as time permits so this was an easy choice for us!  We left Kingman on Rt 66 ... yep old Route 66.  It had been awhile since I was here but it all looked the same and I appreciated the scenery much more this time!  We took Route 66 to Williams, AZ where we picked up Route 64 north to the Grand Canyon.  Route 64 is a great open highway and gave us plenty of time to race each other and play a little.  We traveled all through the Grand Canyon and got a ton of really GREAT pictures!  It was late afternoon so we decided we better get moving to Flagstaff.  We headed south on 64 to Rt 180.  All these roads are scenic byways and really worth the time if you find yourself in the area.  We arrived in Flagstaff and found a hotel for the night.

Flagstaff, AZ used to be one of my favorite places when I lived in Phoenix.  I have not been here for about 8 years and things sure changed a lot in that time!  Flagstaff is where Ron's new handle "Gazelle" was solidified!  He had two fags on two occasions hitting on him in Flagstaff, a very small town!  One fag was from Radio Shack and invited him to have a drink (he had a token at the local VFW) and the other fag was trying to get him to go to a place called "Bun Huggers" to have a drink!  Poor Ron - good thing we were around to look after him!  I did unload a Canadian $10.00 bill!  I had been trying to pass this money off as a joke since we crossed into Michigan!  The lady at the Flagstaff Mall where we stopped and bought pins took the bill - she must have wanted it for a souvenir or something :) !

We were turned away from Ruby Tuesdays.  They obviously had something against "bikers" and they gave us direction to another place for a steak dinner!  Rich was going to write a letter to corporate and let them know the way we were treated ... very poorly.  I hope you sent that letter off Rich. 

We stopped for fuel after dinner (no we did not eat at Ruby Tuesdays) and met a British family that was on vacation in the States.  The family consisted of the father, mother and daughter.  The father approached us while we were fueling the bikes.  He asked if we were on holiday and he told us they had seen us three times that day!  They saw us in Vegas, again in Kingman and finally in Flagstaff ... pretty cool folk.  They told us they were headed to CA in the morning to spend what was left of their vacation there.  I told him that if they see us again somebody was headed the wrong way!  I explained that Amarillo, TX was our next stop.  We said good night and headed to our rooms.

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Day 13

We got up the next morning early and wiped down the bikes quickly.  We had a long day ahead of us and we all knew it.  We needed to make Amarillo, TX so Rich could pay visit to the Big Texan - "home of the free 72 oz steak dinner".  We jumped on I-40 and headed east at a pretty stepped up pace!  We stopped to see the Petrified Forrest and also the Painted Desert, after all they were on the way.  We all agreed the Petrified Forrest was a waste but the Painted Desert was pretty cool and worth the stop.  We had a light lunch at the park visitor center and were back on the highway. 

Coming from west to east we were now loosing time zones!  We did not figure this into our plans when we calculated the arrival time in Amarillo.  We did somewhere around 700-mile +/- and found the Big Texan all before 9:00PM.  By the time we parked the bikes, washed up in the restroom and sat down at our table it was 8:45PM.  The waitress (she was a nasty pig) told Rich he could not have the 72-oz steak because it was too late!  What ... get your manager.  I explained that we have been on the road for two weeks traveled over 5,000 miles, planned for 6 months and the Big Texan was part of our trip!  It did not matter and they said Rich could come back for breakfast and try the 72-oz out. 

On the way to the hotel Rich wanted to "try" the 'Wing once again.  First time was stoplight to stoplight ... he got his ass kicked!  Next he wanted to try a roll on ... again his ass was handed to him!  Rich was now ready for a Goldwing - BAHAHAHAHA.  For good measure I whipped him again from stoplight to stoplight!

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Day 14

We headed over to the Big Texan in the morning and Rich ordered up the 72-oz FREE dinner. The hitch behind being free is if you can eat it all in one-hour time limit.  We all thought he would easily devour the dinner and want more!  The BIG steak beat him (see pictures) and his new handle instead of Orca is now "Guppy"!  I mean if you can't eat that little steak you don't deserve the handle of Orca ... right!  Rich is a good sport and he took it all in stride.  He made a good dent in the dinner but it is a lot of food.

We left the Big Texan and decided we would go as far as possible before finding a room.  Unfortunately we could only make it to Little Rock, AR.  I have had very bad experiences in Arkansas before and this was the last place on earth I wanted to stay!  Anywhere but Arkansas would have been fine with me. 

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Day 15

Morning came and our bikes and things were still here!  I did a quick inspection on the bikes and we headed out.  The only plan for the day was to make Tennessee and possibly hook up with Dragbars (Christian) and later Lamontster (Lamont).  I called Christians cell phone but unfortunately we played phone tag!  Christian, thanks for the offers and wish we were able to get together ... next time.  I reached Lamont by phone just outside of Nashville and we agreed I would call when we got closer to his house.

Between traffic and idiot drivers it took a little longer then I had expected but we finally made it to Mosheim, TN.  When we got off the exit we stopped and I called Lamont.  He said he would be right down.  When he arrived at the gas station we all talked and laughed for a long time. It was getting late and Lamont offered for us to stay over his place.  We were all tired as hell and graciously accepted his offer!  We followed him back to his house on a bunch of tiny little back roads.  It would not have been so bad but I kept expecting deer or other critters to run in front of us, lucky that did not happen.  When we got there we set up our bags and gear the headed to the garage to talk BIKES!  Lamont has a supercharged Valkyrie with many custom one off parts installed ... nice bike.  His new baby is a 1999 Boss 350 ... very nice bike!

I had been looking at V8 bikes for a couple years.  I even rode one in Daytona and loved it.  When Lamont offered me a ride on his machine I quickly accepted!  After talking more and thinking about it I told him I would pass on the ride for another time.  I was very tired and sore from the trip and I wanted to be 100% before I took somebody else's bike out for a ride - especially a bike that heavy and that much power ... 355HP!  We said good night and headed off to sleep.  We decided we would have breakfast in the morning before hitting the road.

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Day 16

Morning came and Rich was CRASHED!  Rich is more a night person then early morning we found out.  Ron, Lamont and I spent some time looking at bikes on the computer, talking bikes in the yard and getting a tour of his "spread".  He has a beautiful spot in the middle of nowhere ... and the view ... WOW.  The smell of apples and pears from the trees was so strong ... what a great place!  We all appreciated the hospitality you showed us ... THANKS.

Rich finally rolled off his air mattress and we had the bikes loaded in no time.  We were getting really good at packing and unpacking our rides by this time.  Lamont led us out from his place to a local restaurant were we all had some coffee (YES) and a great breakfast.  Before we knew what had happened the check was paid and we were being shuffled out the door ... thanks again Lamont but breakfast was going to be on us! 

In the parking lot Lamont offered up his keys again!  Oh it's killing me but again I declined to ride.  We left the parking lot and headed for a shortcut and gas.  When we arrived at the gas station and filling my tank Lamont pulled alongside me and told me I have to take it for a ride! He must have known!  I took the keys to the Boss and gave him some cash to pay for my gas ... he got stuck moving the 'Wing from the pump too.  I took a left and headed the direction we just came from.  There were some straight road and also some twisties.  The Boss was unbelievable for a bike that size it handles the twisties very well.  The power was also very manageable to my surprise.  I came back to the station with a HUGE grin on my face!  I wanted one of these really bad ... really bad!  Lamont told me he knew I was a power junkie and would really appreciate the ride the Boss offers ... he was right!  Thanks for the test ride Lamont and all the information you gave me on the Boss!

We said our goodbyes again and were on our way!

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Day 17

We left Mosheim, TN north on Rt 81.  I was over 1,000 miles from home still and the others were close to a 1,000 miles.  We had no intentions of driving straight through but that is in fact what happened!

After we left TN once again we hit some heavy thunderstorms.  The radio was talking about flooding in our direction and closed roads.  We limped along in the rain and dark until I just had to stop.  I could not see anything!  We holed up at a gas station/convenient store and hung around in hopes the weather would clear enough to ride.  The weather was not clearing, much anyway so we all called home and said we would be staying overnight in Hershey, PA.  Unfortunately the hotels did not see things our way ... they told us they were booked!  I've run into this situation on the road in the past and I am sure they had rooms but none available to "bikers". 

Instead of arguing and wasting more time we got back on the highway and took our frustrations out in the form of just RIDING!  Before long we had covered some serious miles and we left the rain south of us.  We were way too close to home to stop!  So what the hell I've done Iron Butts before ... just not after a 7,000-mile trip is all. 

We plotted our last course for the trip after re-fueling somewhere in CT.  Ron would part our company at Rt 91 I believe while Rich and I continued on Rt 84 to the MA Turnpike.  When Ron's turn approached and he veered off the horns were blasting!  I knew the trip was just about to end.  Rich and I continued until we reached the MA Pike and stopped for a coffee (told you I was addicted).  Rich and I said goodbye as he was going to be taking the next exit toward his house.  We got back on the highway and Rich's exit came and he now left the group ... yep the ride was surely over now I said to myself.  I had about 2.5 hours left till I got home. 

I was a little tired of the highways so when I came upon Rt 125 in Haverhill I decided to take the back roads to my house.  Out of MA and into NH ... I had to stop and loose the helmet!  I guess cruising at speeds from 80 - 100 + MPH almost got me.  I was not looking at my speedo; after all I was tired.  Coming into Plaistow, NH around a bend ... oops there's them blue lights.  All these miles and no traffic stops being this close to home I was going to get nailed! I immediately pulled over and turned the bike off.  The cruiser pulled in behind me and I figured OK I deserve this one; he got me fair and square.  The officer walks up and sees my bike loaded like the Beverly Hillbillies.  He asks me why I am in such a hurry.  I explain to him that I am returning from a very long trip and I am so close to home I guess I was anxious to see my family.  It was an honest answer and I think he appreciated the honesty.  He told me that he was not going to ruin my trip.  He told me to slow it down so I would make it home in one piece to enjoy the family!  I said yes sir, thank him for giving me a break and was on my way ... doing the speed limit!

I finally pulled into my driveway and the entire family including the dog was outside to greet me!  What a welcome home I got.  The trip was incredible; the return home was just as incredible for me! 

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THE END

 

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my trip as much as I enjoyed writing about it.  Once I load this onto my website the trip is officially over.  I want to thank Kim and my three girls for being understanding.  I want to thank them all for picking up the slack around the house while I was away.  I want to thank Ron and Rich, Gazelle and Guppy respectfully for sharing the road and days with me … it was a blast my brothers!  Thanks to Lamont for the place to crash. Thanks to all the people I met along the way that made this trip what it was. 


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