Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 17

This morning we wanted to get on the road early as we knew we had a long day ahead of us running down I-81S. As a last minute thing before we left I checked the Garmin for food along the route with “BBQ” in the name. I found one stop in each of the 4 states we would be passing through; Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. We managed to get on the road by 8am after having breakfast at the hotel. Today had my first waffle of the trip.

Riding the superslab isn’t usually exciting but the scenery along I-81 in New York state is very nice, and the temperatures stayed in the 70’s. In fact it was very comfortable until we got down into Pennsylvania and our altitude got lower. That’s when the heat started building.

Our first BBQ joint was at the southern end of PA in a little town called, Greencastle. When we rolled into town something big was going on in the center of town and they had the streets blocked off forcing people to follow detours that weren’t really intended for that amount of traffic. Finally after circling the entire town and coming in from the south we reached Bentley’s Old Mill Bakery & BBQ. The place met the objective of having “BBQ” in the name for the Smoke Chasin 2011 ride. They were closed for some local event and the hand written sign said they would be open “later”. Two things make me unlikely to ever try to go back to that place; 1. no bbq smoke smell outside (even if they were closed for business, the pit should have been smoking meats for Monday) 2. The place looked brand spanking new and lacked any authentic BBQ attitude about it. I’m really stuck on the lack of good smelling smoke…. UPDATE: Reagan did some investigating online and determined they have closed the place and it’s up for sale. That certainly explains the lack of smoke.

So we punched up the 2nd joint which was just down the road a few miles in Maryland. A short ride down I-81 and another drive through town took us to a shopping center in Hagerstown, MD. There we found Hempen Hill Bbq Bar & Grill which as luck would have it is closed on Sundays. OK, those of you who know me…. if I ever actually decide to open a BBQ joint, you have my permission to give me a “whoopin” if I don’t open on Sundays. I mean come on! BBQ joints should be open on the weekends, no excuses. Close down on Monday and Tuesdays if you want time off.

The rules of the Smoke Chase don’t require us to actually any Q so we got our pictures and moved on. The 3rd stop was a long shot in my mind. It didn’t show up on my Garmin and I had found it via google. So we headed down to Martinsburg, WV in search of JF Texas Brisket BBQ. The address led us to a little business center in the middle of no where. I guess they had gone out of business because there was no JF’s BBQ to be found. I should have checked it out a little more carefully online since it wasn’t in my Garmin. Oh well…

We returned to I-81S and went down the road a few exits until we found a Subway just across the Virginia state line. That gave us a chance to get out of the 100 degree heat and enjoy a late lunch. We opted to skip the BBQ in Virginia as we’ll be in the state for another 2 days and should be able to find a place along the way. We completed the last 45 miles of the day’s ride and found our hotel in Front Royal, Va. We are just a mile or so from the beginning of Skyline drive.

day 17

Today we travelled 440 miles and were on the road for 8 hours. This was certainly the hottest travel day we’ve had so far. Tomorrow we’ll be riding the Skyline drive in it’s entirety. The whole route is 111 miles and is supposed to take 3.5 hours plus stops along the way. It’s a work day so we’ll later but I expect to be in Waynesborro tomorrow afternoon in time for a nap.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 16

This morning the sky cleared and the air was crisp when we checked out of our hotel room. We took a leisurely ride up to the Mohawk Casino where the rally closing ceremonies were. There was lots of beautiful scenery along the way and the roads were free of traffic most of the time. We arrived at the casino 74 miles later. I was impressed with the organization of the casino staff to direct us to our designated area.

After the ceremonies were over we left the casino and headed west  on Hwy 37 along the inland seaway. We them caught I-81S down to Pulaski, NY. We planned the afternoon ride to be short just in case the ceremonies went long. As it turned out the 144 miles were done easily and we were checked into our hotel by 5pm.

Day 16

Total mileage today was 218 miles.

Tomorrow we are pushing down to Front Royal, VA which puts us at the top of Skyline Drive. We’ll ride it on Monday down to Waynesborro on Monday. Tuesday we’ll start riding the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 15

Today was all about the poker run. We got a late start due to some work issues.

Day 15

We had great weather until the last few miles. The rain finally caught us as we rode back into Lake Placid and went to the Lake Placid Pub & Grill for our final chip. We enjoyed a great late lunch before returning to the hotel.

Tomorrow we head up to the Mohawk Casino to turn in our chips and see what sort of poker hand we get. The 3 best hands win prizes.

Enjoying New York state locally brewed beer from our hotel room tonight.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 14

Attention followers of my SPOT tracker: I forgot to turn it on today. ooops!

We had such a great internet connection that we stayed at the hotel this morning until 11am. There was also a heavy fog in the area which didn’t start to burn off until after 9:30. The Cabott Inn in Lancaster will not be a place I return to. The town is nice and there are a few other places to stay in town, pick one of those. Stay away from the Cabott Inn, enough said.

We headed west out of Lancaster on Hwy 2.  We followed that over to St. Johnsbury where the Garmin took us on a detour around the town via interstate. Then it was west again on Hwy 2 to Montpilier, VT. We hopped on I-89N to Burlington. I checked the GPS and there was a place in town with BBQ in the name so we stopped in at Big Fatty’s BBQ for some pork spare ribs and pulled pork. That’s mighty good eating there. While we were eating, there were a group of college kids cheering on their friend who was trying the monster challenge. It’s 4lbs of food for $20 and you have 1 hour to eat it all and keep it down. Then it’s free. What you get is a 1lb bun, 2lbs of pulled pork and 1lb of french fries. The kid talked a good game while he was waiting for the order but 10 minutes into the challenge he abandoned the idea of eating it all in 15 minutes.

We left the bbq joint and followed the GPS to the Charlotte/Essex ferry. For $12 we were able to cut out about 1 hour of travel time and enjoy a fun ride across Lake Champlain. It was Reagan’s first ferry ride on the scooter. It went fine. While on the ferry we met a fellow rally attendee who was from Maine. He had all sorts of LED lights and stuff to make his Spyder glow at night. It was a good visit across the lake.

Once off the ferry we were in New York state and riding back roads. We stopped along the way for gas. Riding back roads in this part of the country I equate to riding in Yellow Stone national park. There’s lots of scenery and always someone in front of you going slower than the speed limit. The roads are in fair condition and there are some occasional curves to enjoy if you find yourself alone and unobstructed.

We rolled into Lake Placid and found our hotel with ease. Checking in was just a matter of patience. There were a few people in line ahead of us and the front desk clerk seemed to have a singe track mind. When it was our turn, she checked us in and pointed us to our room.

After unloading the bikes we head down the road to Tail 0’ the Pup BBQ where the rally registration was. We walked around looking at all the other spyders. Some folks have put a lot of effort into customizing their rides. I couldn’t believe all the led lights and painted stuff on the bikes. The few that did have auxiliary lighting installed didn’t seem to have them set up for actual night driving. And I only saw 1 license plate backer claiming to be an Iron Butt member. I happen to know she’s from Texas ;)

After browsing the bikes we sat down to eat some BBQ and check off our 3rd joint and our 3rd state for the Smoke Chasin ride that Reagan talked about last night. I wasn’t all the hungry and really didn’t want any more pork today, so I ordered the Texas BBQ Brisket and 2 sides. What I got looked like it was cooked in an oven and had been pulled, not sliced or chopped. There was no smoke flavor to speak of either. I tried the meat by itself and then with their sauce. DON’T USE THE SAUCE. It positively did not go with the beef. I think it was a poorly concocted ketchup/vinegar combination. The potato salad was bland. The baked beans though were top notch. Reagan ordered “Poo Tin” which is waffle fries with brown gravy and shredded cheese on top. Together we cleaned her plate. More than 1/2 of the brisket went back untouched.

I kept seeing these shirts saying “It’s the wood that makes it so good.” When I asked our waitress she said she couldn’t tell me what they cooked on. I was thinking there was no wood at all for a giant oven. So I went up and asked to see the pit. I lucked out because the pit master was standing right next to the person I asked. He was a little shocked I was asking to see the pit but then took me around back. They are running 3 large vertical electric pits. When he opened the doors to his rib smoker I instantly recognized the hickory smoke. When I asked what else he had in the smoke besides Hickory he recognized that I wasn’t just a chump wanting to do BBQ. He confessed they blend Apple and Hickory together. After the ribs stay on smoke for a pre-determined time (sorry I’m not saying how long) then he takes them off, puts them into large uncovered pans with a little apple juice in the bottom to make them “fall off the bone tender”.

The guy is passionate about his Q. He’s proud of his pits and he’s working to get some larger ones so he can cook even more BBQ. My first impression was to say “Pass the place by.” But he’s got the passion and he certainly knew what he was doing. I think he just missed the mark on the Brisket. The Texas AG’s office might just want to prosecute them for poorly representing Texas Brisket. The table next to us had the ribs and they didn’t quite look like they were “fall off the bone tender”. I think he might jut be rushing his cook times to keep up with demand. He needs to slow down and cook things a little longer. And fix that BBQ sauce.

Of the 2 places we went to today, I’d definitely recommend Big Fatty’s BBQ in Burlington, VT. If your up to it take him up on his $20 monster challenge.

Tomorrow we get to ride around the area and see the scenery while participating in a poker run. This will be the first poker run Reagan and I have ever done. The route looks simple but of course I’m going to program the locations into my GPS, I wouldn’t be me otherwise. I’ll make sure to turn on SPOT tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 13

Today we travelled from Bar Harbor, Me. to Lancaster, NH via Bangor, Me and and Augusta, Me. We only have about 72 miles of Interstate in the day’s route. The rest was on secondary roads through rural Maine and New Hampshire.

day 13

Today’s route was 233 miles long and we spent 6 hours traveling. I’ll let Reagan tell you about some of the things we saw and did along the way…

Along the way on this trip we are participating in Chasin’ Smoke 2011 which is a charity event that raises money for Eddie’s Road. We are working on 15 BBQ joints in 15 states. So far, 1 BBQ joint in Maine. – Maine-ly Meat BBQ in Bar Harbor. We had some pulled pork and sampled their baked beans. – Brian had to inspect their pit as well. All were deemed worthy.

The roads today were country roads with a good bit of traffic. The scenery more than made up for the delays. Thankfully no moose were observed along the route.

Today’s question is: What is “Chicken Pie”? We passed 2 places that had Chicken Pie (one is a church down the road that is having a social on Sunday). Our wait staff at dinner wasn’t sure either. We have concluded that it must be a pot pie of some sort.

Did Brian mention how great his lobster was last night, or how foggy it was in Bar Harbor? – The fog burned off by mid morning and we could actually see across the harbor. We took some time this morning to capitalize on the advantages of being an hour ahead of home and got some more work done. No whale watching, but I did get the aforementioned patch on our way out of town.

Tonight’s hotel is great! We have a room with a view and I can’t wait to get up in the morning to see the sun rise behind the mountains outside. Hopefully, my anticipation doesn’t exceed the outcome.

I had a brief problem with my helmet today, but other than that, bikes and gear are performing perfectly. Mid 70’s today. Great riding weather. For those of you in Texas reading this, please have the hot weather gone by the time we return. You wouldn’t want me to melt would you? :)

Tomorrow, it’s on to Lake Placid for the Spyders in the Adirondacks rally for me. We have become so accustomed to the BMW MOA rally schedule that this will be a definite eye opener for both of us. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 12

This morning we did something a little different. We stayed at the hotel and performed work related stuff until about 10:30. Reagan’s work is time sensitive and needed to be done by 8:30EDT while my work really does best if I start after 9AMEDT. So we compromised by staying at the hotel and getting a later start. The solution worked out well.

We hit the road around 10:20 and headed up I-95. When we got into New Hampshire we took a little detour on US 1 to swing by Max BMW to see if we could find Reagan some new gloves as her current gloves were now being held together with electrical tape. The sales lady was super helpful and found Reagan some gloves that fit. In fact they even had gloves a 1/2 size smaller which were too small. I was shocked, it’s rare that a shop has Reagan’s glove size but I’ve never seen a place that had even smaller glovers. Of course they were BMW gloves. So my impression of what the Germans think everyone in the world is like must be 6 1/2’ tall men with long legs and petite women with tiny hands who also have long legs. BMW engineers are just now starting to make bikes with lower suspension for us mere mortals.

As we were leaving the shop we noticed a bike outside with a Texas license plate. Almost instantly Reagan recognized the bike as belonging to Ardys, an 87 year old lady who is riding through all 48 states to sample their BBQ. Sounds like a perfectly good riding reason to me. And at 87 that’s awesome! Reagan went back inside while I checked on some things with my bike. When I went back inside they were chatting about all sorts of things and Reagan was helping her get a new set of gloves as well. We visited for a little while, Reagan was really excited about this chance encounter.

We left the dealership and proceeded north on US 1. I just followed it until I found a sign pointing me back to I-95N. We got back on the interstate at the Maine state line and proceeded up the road until we reached Brunswick. We did take one other detour from the planned route. When we got up to Portland we stayed on I-95 to exit 52 instead of taking exit 44 onto I-295. Signs indicated major construction delays on I-295 and I didn’t really want to sit in traffic.

When we got to Brunswick we followed the signs to US-1 east/north. We followed that road over to the coast and then north. We went by an old castle which belonged to one of our friend’s grandfather. Due to the street and traffic we were able to stop and take pictures. But just the thought of her running around in that castle as a little girl cracks me up. It was a cool place indeed.

Along the way we stopped for a light lunch where I enjoyed lobster stew (bisque is more like it) and Reagan had some crab cakes. It was a fun place called the Sea Basket. Definitely a place where the locals ate. A few miles down the road as we rolled into a little town there were 2 food stands near the water with very long lines of people waiting to place their orders, dining was on picnic tables outside. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to the school bus in Hyder, Alaska where I enjoyed some incredibly fresh seafood back in 2009.

Traffic along US 1 can be slow at times and it seemed we were never alone. But the ride was nice and the temperature was amazing, it never got above 78 degrees and most of the time in Maine it was in the low 70s steadily falling into the upper 60s.

We turned south on US 3 to head down to Bar Harbor and road into town just before 6pm. It was a great day of traveling at a leisurely pace.

day 12

Total mileage today, 254 miles. Total travel time was 7.5 hours putting our average speed at 34 mph. It definitely wasn’t a high speed day. Of course stopping at Max BMW accounts for 1 hour of the time but that was a fun, unexpected stop.

Cellular service is almost non-existent. Every call I tried to make kept getting dropped so I just turned off my phone. The internet at the hotel isn’t much better. Email works because it’s not critical to have a responsive connection but the bandwidth is minuscule and latency is extremely high so it’s not possible for me to do any server work. I’m hoping it’s just all the other guests getting on facebook and such and that it will improve in the morning. Otherwise we’ll be hitting the road early to try and find a wifi hotspot in Bangor or Augusta on our way over to Lancaster, NH.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 11

This morning we wanted to get an early start, so we set the alarm clock and got out of bed when it went off. By 7:10EDT we were on our way. The first part of the route was up I-95. Around 8:30 I started looking for a Panera Bread so we could stop for an hour or so and take care of some work related things. I never did find the Panera Bread but I did find an MGM Grand hotel and casino along highway 2. We proceeded down the road to a Subway which didn’t have any electrical outlets, we ended up in a Dunkin Donuts using my trusty Sprint Overdrive connection. We were really pushing the limits of that poor 3G connection.

Our stop lasted about 2 hours and then we proceeded south on CT-2 until we met up with I-95 again. We headed into Rhode Island and turned east on RI-102 and followed it over to Newport. Our friends from last night had recommended that we go to Newport, ride along Ocean Avenue and check out the “Old Money” mansions in the area. Well… Newport has to be one of the worst tourist traps ever! There are people crawling all over the place and traffic is insane. If it hadn’t been for the advice of our friends to check out Ocean Avenue I would have turned north and gotten the heck out of Dodge. We did make it all the way around Ocean Ave. and then cut back over to the visitor center to learn more about the tours. Navigating through the little city with it’s one way streets and rough roads exhausted me. By the time we made it back to the visitor center I was done. We found Reagan a patch and then got back on the bikes.

I pulled up tonight’s hotel in my “Favorites” in the GPS and let it do the routing. Thirty minutes later we were out of the area and back to freeways. We followed highway 24 north to I-93N which took us through Boston. Sure there was traffic through Boston but we were rewarded with a ride through the tunnel which goes under much of the city, then a beautiful suspension bridge followed by a “Double Decker” bridge. Boston is a pretty cool town freeway-wise.

On the way out of Boston we caught US-1N over to Danvers, Ma. We checked in without any problems and unloaded the bikes. Shortly after we were inside, the skies opened up and the rain started coming down. The temperature has dropped at least 10 degrees and the rain continues to come down.

For all of my readers in the hotter part of the US, we enjoyed comfortable temperatures in the 70’s today. We’ve finally reached the cool weather I’ve been expecting since coming to the Northeast.

Today we traveled 256 miles in 9 hours.

day 11

Tomorrow we are heading to Bar Harbor, ME. Right now the Garmin has us going up to Bangor and then cutting down. I may drop off the Interstate at Augusta and take 3 east. If I’m really feeling adventurous I might follow US-1 out of Brunswick. Right now I’m a little traffic adverse from the Newport experience of the day so I think I’ll load these 2 other choices and decide along the way…

Iron Butt fans: After I left Newport, I decided if a Rallymaster wanted a nice challenging bonus in Rhode Island, they could pick something in Newport. Just getting in and out of the town is a time challenge in itself. Then getting around to reach a well placed bonus could easily gobble up time and make routing a real challenge. Just a thought…..

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 10

I’m getting behind on my blogging….

The BMW rally was great! We met lots of new people and saw some folks from previous rallies. It was fun. I’m already looking forward to next year’s rally in Missouri.

Today we left the hotel by 7am and easily made our way east across Pennsylvania and around Philadelphia. While riding across PA, Reagan noticed that we could purchase EZ Passes at one of the service centers. Sure enough they are sold through vending machine-like units. So we are riding around with EZ passes and whizzing through the toll booths with ease. We jumped on I-95 south into Wilmington, Delaware and then headed north on the New Jersey turnpike.  With the EZ Pass we made our way north on the turnpike. We stopped at a service center south of NYC while still in New Jersey and decided to reroute a little to really avoid New York City. We followed the Garden State Parkway up and around to 287-east and crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge. It was a cake walk, traffic was light. In no time at all we found ourselves on I-95N and near our hotel. It was almost an hour before check-in so I decided to take a little detour to go down into old Greenwich and look around. The homes were beautiful but the flora was phenomenal. We couldn’t believe all the colorful plants we saw in people’s yards.

After a little scouting around we checked into our hotel and cleaned up. Then it was time to go see some friends just up the way a few miles. Bill cooked up some great ribs and his wife rounded out the meal with all the fixin’s. I was quite surprised to taste such good BBQ up this way. We swapped some cooking ideas, so I’m going to have to come back and see how his brisket tastes! The sun went down and we called it a night.

Today, we had braced ourselves for some tough traffic and I had added 2 hours to the travel time. As it turned out it was an easy ride traveling 336 miles in 7 hours. Considering the last 45 minutes were driving around Old Greenwich that’s really a nice travel time, especially for a day that was supposed to be plagued with traffic.

day 10

* the pink section of the route was what I had originally planned. As it turned out, going up the Garden State Parkway didn’t add any extra time to the trip.


Tomorrow we are going to Danvers, MA via New Port, RI. Our friends told us we have to ride around Ocean Avenue to see some amazing old money homes. It should be fun. Tuesday night we’ll be staying in Bar Harbor, ME. I have a free night from one of my rewards programs so we’ll be enjoying a room on the bay. Wednesday night we’ll be in Lancaster, NH at a resort hotel. I found the place by accident but it looks like a neat little town. And Thursday we’ll roll into Lake Placid for the meet & greet of the Spyder Rally. It’s definitely going to be fun exploring New England this week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 5

Yesterday was great! We enjoyed time with our friends whom we had not seen in many, many years. They were incredible hosts and I discovered I have yet another friend who has more hi-tech gadgets than me. I’m really falling behind the times in technology. We went to see part of the Hershey exhibits and then we headed over to Gettysburg. I was thankful we had an automobile and a fanatical tour guide for the trip. Dave made it a great experience with his incredible depth of knowledge on the subject.

Today we said goodbye to our friends and headed out of town. I’d like to tell you it was a cake walk getting out of town but some how I got myself so lost and frustrated. We finally had to stop at a Panera Bread in Camp Hill to catch our bearings. It turned out we were on the very road we needed to be on to go where we wanted. We made our way down to I-76 which is a turnpike. Then we headed west for 91 miles passing through 2 tunnels. We exited in Bedford and got on US 30W. That took us out to where Flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001. We visited the crash site and looked at the temporary memorial that is in place. Currently construction is under way to make a permanent memorial with the first phase of work to be completed by September 11th of this year. When everything is finished it will be a beautiful tribute to the heroes of that flight.

I was really impressed by the fact that gift shops and novelty shops had not popped up in the area. There really wasn’t much of anything nearby. I might be a little sensitive to this after walking around Gettysburg and seeing the shops selling everything from baseball paraphernalia to medieval weapons to witchcraft supplies. What any of that had to do with a battle in 1865 is beyond me, it just seemed to be about people making a buck off the tourist crowd. The Flight 93 Memorial isn’t like that at all, it’s a respectful place honoring the ordinary people on a flight that made an extraordinary sacrifice for others.

After leaving the memorial we continued west on US-30 until we caught 219N. That took us up to US-22 East which then took us to I-99N. When we reached the end of the road, we got onto I-80E toward Bloomsburg. We arrived just before 6pm. It was a longer day than we had expected due to routing challenges and stuff but it was a great day.

We’ll be at the BMW MOA Rally through Sunday morning and then we are departing for BBQ ribs at a friend’s house in Connecticut. Don’t expect much in the way of reports until Sunday evening. Have a great week!

Today’s mileage was 341 miles in 9 hours 32 minutes.

day 5

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 3

Today our route from Abingdon was pretty simple, head north to I-81 until we get to Harrisburg, PA. About 30 minutes on the road I realized we would arrive too early so I took a detour at Marion, Va and went east on Hwy 16. We found a great twisty road into the mountains. Then we picked up Hwy 58 north. We eventually found ourselves on I-77 west which returned us to I-81N about 30 minutes north of where we exited the interstate earlier. It was a great detour.

Riding through Virginia I found driving to be stressful. Traffic tended to run in large packs. We were either in a pack running 10+mph or driving below the posted speed limit. Virginia isn’t my favorite state to ride in, at least not on the interstate. The back roads are great though!

Today we travelled 466 miles over 8 hours 19 minutes. It was a great day. We arrived at our friends’ place without issue. We’ll be here until Tuesday when we leave for the rally.

day 3

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 2

Today we headed up to Abingdon, Virginia. The route was simple, I-59 up to I-20 east, then on up to Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. We continued to follow I-59 north. In Chatanooga we encountered construction which delayed us some. But once on the other side of town traffic flowed again and we caught I-75 north. Outside of Knoxville we joined I-40 east and followed that until the I-81 split to the north. As we merged onto I-81 I realized we would be on this road all the way up to Pennsylvania. We arrived in Abingdon without incident. Total mileage today was 620 miles, travel time was 10 hours 52 minutes from hotel to hotel.

The weather was great today, it was cloudy most of the way up with only the occasional patch of sunshine or rain. At one point in Tennessee I saw some really dark clouds with rain coming down ahead of us so I stopped and put on my frogg togg pants. 5 miles later we were riding out of the rain. I left them on since we only had a few hours left and I really didn’t want my boots to get wet on the inside again. The boots had actually dried out from yesterday. Temperatures were awesome, for the most part we in the 70’s all the way up. A few areas it was in the 80’s and during the traffic jam I think it actually got into the 90’s with the sunshine. Reagan and I are considering starting out tomorrow morning wearing our cold weather under jackets. It’s going to be in the 60’s at the start. I haven’t ridden in 60 degree temps since February!

day 2

No gear issues today. I had my sleeves zipped up most of the day and the rain was never really strong enough to penetrate the zippers.

UPDATE: For dinner we went across the street to a restaurant called Tuscon Italian Grill. Try the Douby rolls, they are to die for. And be sure to order the alfredo sauce.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Rallies 2011 – Day 1

Greetings! It’s been a year since I last posted. It certainly hasn’t been a year since I was last on a motorcycle. Frankly, my little weekend trips like the annual Big Bend Freeze Out or riding to Fredericksburg just hasn’t inspired me to record the events. Maybe it’s because those are short trips but none the less they deserve to be recorded.

As the title of this post indicates it’s time again to attend rallies. This year we are attending two, first the BMW MOA rally in Bloomsburg, PA and then a CanAm Spyder rally in Lake Placid, NY. But first, we have to get up to the north eastern part of the US. And that’s what we started on today.

The plan was simple, as in years past, we wanted to get out of town quickly and stack on some miles to get to parts of the country we don’t normally get to see. That meant the super-slab and today that meant I-10. We left the house at 7am, the route took us to downtown Houston where we picked up I-10 heading east. We were running 10 miles over the speed limit and doing our best not to get run over. We stopped for gas just outside of Winnie, TX.

We continued east on I-10 into Louisiana. We stopped again for gas in Lafayette. In Grosse Tete we found a BBQ joint for lunch. When we walked inside I realized this was more like a grill. Today’s special was a fried catfish or fried shrimp basket. I opted for the fried shrimp. It was a decent meal, I have no idea what their BBQ was like. For anyone who wants to check out their actually BBQ, it’s just north of the Shell/Subway station so take the Grosse Tete exit in Louisiana and turn north.

After lunch we resumed our eastern trek until we reached I-55 where Garmin decided we should head north. This turned out to be a divergence from my originally planned route of I-10 to I-59. We went up to McComb, MS where we stopped for gas. Then headed east on Hwy 98 into Hattisburg, MS. We found the Super 8 and checked in without any issues.

Once the bikes were unloaded I tried to get onto the Internet. No luck. I called the support number for the WiFi service. I found out they had the WiFi down for maintenance over the weekend and expected it to be back up around the first part of the week. Really????? Thankfully my Sprint Overdrive was able to pull a 4G connection. It was a real surprise to see 4G service up here, this isn’t a large market where you’d expect 4G service just yet. I was very thankful.

Today’s route certainly wasn’t complex and it wasn’t uncomfortably hot either. We road through rain all the way through Louisiana and had cloud cover in Texas. It wasn’t until we reached Mississippi that we saw the sun.  Here’s our route.



I need to talk about some riding gear issues….

I’ve been wearing an Olympia AST jacket for several years. I’m still wearing the same jacket I wore to Alaska back in 2009. Unfortunately, since I sent it in to have the zippers repaired the jacket just hasn’t been water proof like it used to be. And today proved that it may be time to retire the jacket. At first I stayed dry as we got into the light drizzle of rain. But when the rain started to intensify I felt the moisture creeping in through the zippers. Of course wearing mesh pants didn’t help but my upper torso got soaked because the jacket failed me. I still intend to wear this jacket into every state in the US (except Hawaii). After this trip I’ll only have Michigan left, I think I’ll have to make an iron butt ride to Michigan and back in September, and then retire the jacket. I have a brand new Olympia AST jacket in the closet just waiting for the old one to be retired.

Another gear failure issue I had today was with my HJC IS-MAX BT helmet. It seems to leak around the top seal of the face shield. When I was in the really heavy rain, I had enough water coming inside the helmet that it was pooling at the bottom of the shield. I had to keep opening the shield to let the water out. A new helmet is definitely in my future but it will have to wait. I’m not going to hassle with wiring up a new helmet while I’m on the road. A Schuberth C3 seems like a good possibility.


Tomorrow night we’ll be in Virginia and Sunday night we will catch up with some old college friends in Pennsylvania. This summer we are going to be on the road for 24 days. This is going to be a great vacation!