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Old 11-01-2012, 09:05 PM   #241
jdrocks OP
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Well, the day had arrived, sunrise, and I heard the starter pistol, man, I was out of the freakin’ blocks like Usain Bolt. Ya see, after much consternation and delay, I was finally departing for Paris. The details and logistics were a little fuzzy, but Monsieur Nix, my traveling companion, riding under the nom de guerre of dljocky, assured me that he not only knew the way, but was also fluent in French. I know a little French myself, but prefer not to use it since fistfights usually are quick to develop. When encountering linguistic difficulties, I’ve found it best to start speaking Spanglish, heck, just about everyone knows that language, so if ya don’t, it ain’t my problemo, amigo, whatever. See what I mean.

Figured I better let dljocky know I was leaving, Paris in my sights, and I caught him on the cell.

“Got the boat all set, see ya there”.

“Huh…boat?”

“Yeah, boat, ya know, Paris, gonna meet the captain and load the bike on the boat in 30 minutes”.

“WTF you talkin’ about?”…and the connection was dropped, oh well.

The captain was on time, and I met him in the parking lot, young feller, didn’t look too salty, and I said…

“Where’s the big ass boat you said you had ready to go?”

“Tied to the pier right over there.”

“How’s that boat supposed to get me and the bike to Paris, it’s the size of a freakin’ dingy.”

“Paris, like Paris, France?”

“Is there any other?”

“How the heck do I know, except you be wastin’ my time”, and that’s when dljocky called back, turned out I didn’t need the boat after all. At least I got the captain to take a photo. He made a motion like he was going to chuck my camera out into the saltwater, lucky he was mostly just kidding around.



I had the camera zipped into the tank bag when I said “You sure that ain’t a dingy?”, kicked it gear, got the heck gone. As for the captain, he must be native Italian, at least he was communicating in Italian sign language. I was watching in the mirrors, paying close attention, now I’m multilingual, easy, didn’t have to pay for those expensive tutorial CDs either.

All news to me, but instead of heading east, now dljocky has me riding northwest to Paris. Hope it all works out, I’d like to try some of them snails, sample the foy grass.

(to be continued…)
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:15 AM   #242
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With the route and schedule all topsy-turvy, I was on the road to Paris, Monsieur Nix to follow in a day, camping along the way somewhere, and we were to meet in front of that famous Paris church first thing Friday morning, can’t miss it. Say what, had to be a bunch of churches, and that was my final thought as I drifted off to sleep, wondering where dljocky was camped, heavy rain and hail pounding on the roof.

Friday dawned misty after an inch of rain, sun just might break through any minute, and I expected the arrival of a very soggy dljocky in front of the church at 8AM, but no, he was dry and chipper, camped out on the floor of a flea bag motel just up the road instead. He would have used the bed, but his aversion to bugs prevented it. Dljocky was riding a DR650, yeah, I know, he done switched koolaid flavors and didn’t change the name.

My first thought was, man, this Paris place is way smaller than I thought, and where the heck are all the Parisians?




Dljocky was admiring the church “Gosh darn, Notre Dame de Paris, never thought I’d get a chance to see it”.



Something wasn’t right, the damn sign on the church said Trinity United Methodist Church, and I don’t think there are supposed to be any Methodists in Paris, ‘cause I think they’re all still loyal to the old guy with the beanie, ya know, the Pope.

Got to clear this up, and dljocky flagged down this Parisian dude, our first encounter in Paris, and launched into his very best French to no effect, the guy was goofing around like he couldn’t make out a single word.



I yelled over something in Spanglish, the goto language, and surprise surprise, the man didn’t understand the “Span” part, but was fluent in the “glish” part. Ok, now I got it, the guy had to be an American ex-pat living in Paris, although I have to admit that my interest sort of waned when he said he was a Cowboys fan.

After a short conversation in “glish”, he explained in somewhat terse language where our plans had gone wrong, all the time looking like he would like to exit our company on a dead run, dog in tow. He was a little fidgety when we asked him to take our photo, and thank God for image stabilization, the camera was shaking all over the place, don’t know whether he was scared to death or laughing. By that time, he was lookin’ at us like we were 100% freakin’ nuts.

I put my helmet back on real quick to conceal my identity, we were near Washington, DC and well within the blame-game boundary, yup, I intended to blame dljocky for this entire Paris fiasco. It was all his fault, I had nuthin’ to do with it.




Thank goodness we were nothing less than resilient, and although disappointed with Paris, the weather was improving, the bikes were fueled, and we were headed into the mountains, three states included. On the bikes and we were gone down the road, a first taste of gravel only minutes away. Vroooom, vroooom, that was my bike, Monsieur Nix’s DR sounded a little more like putt-putt.

Trouble was, we were about to vroooom and putt-putt right off the freakin’ maps.

(to be continued…)
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:44 AM   #243
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Great read!

Looking forward to the next installment!
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:11 AM   #244
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Gosh, oh golly . . . I've never been to Paris, France (only a short, rather inebriated port call in Touloun in about 1986 or so . . . .) but them there furrin' street scenes are almost familiar . . . . .

But I'm really glad you were able to locate some dirt roads overseas so quickly . . . . .
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:21 PM   #245
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Looking forward to the next installment!
stay tuned, more on the way.

i probably shouldn't let the cat outta the bag, but Monsieur Nix forgot to pack a shirt with one of those little ponies or something embroidered on the pocket, and we missed out on a big damn opportunity. i was good, had a shirt with one of them alligators.
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:34 PM   #246
jdrocks OP
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Gosh, oh golly . . . I've never been to Paris, France (only a short, rather inebriated port call in Touloun in about 1986 or so . . . .) but them there furrin' street scenes are almost familiar . . . . .

But I'm really glad you were able to locate some dirt roads overseas so quickly . . . . .
i'd skip the whole Paris thing, take it from us, it's way overrated. no foy grass either...and forget wasting all your time learning a foreign language, they speak English there, but with a Connecticut Yankee accent. all in all, the experience was quite bizarre, just ask Monsieur Nix, he was the tour coordinator.

yeah, we located some roads, some of which we were actually looking for. found some other stuff too, oh brother.
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:43 PM   #247
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awh.. crap. Sorry that part didn't work out.
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:30 PM   #248
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awh.. crap. Sorry that part didn't work out.
hey, it was ok, i got to practice Spanglish in Paris. it's been a wild ride so far, and we're just gettin' going.

think it's been crazy so far, just wait.
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Old 11-03-2012, 04:10 PM   #249
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I was all wound up, kinda like the mainspring in one of those old grandpappy clocks, man, we had some roads ahead of us, conditions uncertain, a flat out long way to go and no positive place to stop. It was an example of my flying circus methodology in the realm of routing, a few unplanned Immelmanns, snap roles, and tail slides, acrobatic maneuvers although unchoreographed, optimistic of a safe landing, at least as much as could be guaranteed in these endeavors.

Monsieur Nix was the one thing I’d needn’t worry about, a very experienced rider, likely unfazed by the 101 different road conditions we would encounter, smart and safe on the moto, important ingredients for back roads travel. We had ridden together before, he knew the protocols, no additional words on the subject were necessary. If there was a guy more anxious to get started on a trip than Monsieur Nix, I’d like to meet him. Geeez, between the cartwheels, backflips, hand springs, and such, it looked like an Olympic gymnastics floor exercise. Had to hold him down, or he would have jumped clean out of them riding boots. “Calm down there, buddy, we got places to go”.

We had to get around Winchester, first on the list, don’t want to ride through that city in rush hour, or any city for that matter, and we were speeding west on VA17/50, hoping the popo were into the donuts and wouldn’t pay any attention to a blur of HIVIZ. I wanted to cut through to VA7 along the Shenandoah River, so when I saw the turn onto Mt. Carmel coming up, I downshifted a few times, letting the revs build to 9000, then let the return spring snap the throttle bodies closed. The sound was ZZTop on roids, flames like a freakin’ rocket exhaust and the last little pieces of the cat converter shot out of the pipe and over the road. Man, it was like hitting the “zero” button on a calibrated instrument, the underpinning of the day, sinuses cleared out, body buzzing, stone freakin’ deaf…might have singed dljocky a little, he was right on my tail. Face it, ya got places to go, heck, might as well sound like ya mean it.

Mt. Carmal is paved, although somewhat narrow, and a good twisty warmup to start, but with loose gravel on the surface from the previous night’s rain. Man, it was good to be underway, hearty fall aroma in the air from the hardwood forest. This road takes you past Mountain Lake Campground, commercial, beautiful setting, but so poorly maintained that you could easily mistake it for permanently closed. As dljocky reported, don’t bother.

We had be riding parallel to, but out of sight of the Shenandoah, and the turn onto the Frogtown gravel would take us north where we would eventually intersect with the river.

Two signs, and I’m positive we’ll like this little section of road, unless the meaning is someone’s sinister joke, and that does happen too.





Once through the creek bottom to the east, the road climbs the mountain before dropping back into the river valley beyond. The road in the lower section was in good shape, but washed and rutted on the up and down grades.



Feltner, then a turn onto River, and we’re at the Shenandoah. I’d seen the river a day or two earlier and it was low and bony, now up several feet and running muddy and fast. Private camping spots along the river, some well maintained, others not at all. This guy wanted to make sure his candidate’s signs were safe from Barack Hussein backer vandalism, so he hung them 15’ in the air.



This fella had an armed guard behind iron gates hefty enough to be installed at Camp David, so if ya mess with his signs, ya might hear gunfire. We didn’t linger, or at least I didn’t. When I saw the guy flick the safety, dljocky was still foolin’ around with the camera. Sorry about the roost.



Obama/Biden signs were a little scarce out here, the whole allotment for Virginia must have been used inside the Beltway. If we had seen one, I might have talked dljocky into getting the shot. I’d woulda done it, but damn, don’t want to smoke my camera.

Winchester has become a bedroom community in the DC metro area, generally heavy traffic on the east/west roads, so it wasn’t surprising to find heavy traffic westbound on VA7, not insane, just annoying. We needed a scoot around the north side, and ran hard to the I81 intersection, a quick salute to all my friends at Starbucks, north on I81 for a few minutes, then off at the VA11/37 exit. That’s my idea of riding the superslab, you’re back off the stupid thing before ya kick it into sixth gear.

VA37 takes us to VA522, and northwest, clearing the traffic and sprawl quickly. VA522 to Gainesville, then north on Siler where we would climb up to the north/south mountain ridges, riding a combination of paved and gravel roads. Small creeks cross the road frequently, low water bridges everywhere.





We were into good leaf looking color now, maybe a few days off prime depending on elevation, but still gorgeous riding country. When we rode up on this sign, we would be transitioning back and forth between gravel and pavement for the next 25 miles.



The road followed a small creek, enough leaves still on the trees that the canopy was intact, now we were enveloped in color, pretty cool.



I like to try to capture a frame of these old buildings, dljocky was being patient with some stop and go riding.



Adams to Brush Creek, back on pavement, a little sun, then mist, partly cloudy, you choose, it was all good.



At Packhorse, we climbed up to the ridge on poorly patched pavement, a ragged looking job, and somewhere along here crossed into West Virginia. Many of these roads were still shown as gravel on the maps, the transition to chip and macadam moving forward at a furious pace in some areas.



We were riding a series of roads, mainly CR17, across the ridge with pasture and orchards, ok, there was some redneck hoohaw too. Pick your throne, watch the ballgame.



Down the road there was another junk TV with a coat hanger antenna bent into a very artistic rendition of rabbit ears, shoulda stopped, there had been a pretty literal translation when someone said “Pitcher’s all screwed up, y’all need some of them rabbit ears on that thang”.

Color across the pasture, you can’t just ride on by.



Up on top, middle of nowhere, we found the Troubadour, a combination café, beer joint, dance hall place. There is absolutely nothing else out there for miles in any direction, man, I can only imagine what it’s like around the place on Friday and Saturday nights. Dljocky wanted to hang around since it was Friday, dance the salsa with wild abandon, but I didn’t have all my tactical Kevlar with me…no espadrilles either. Mucho disappointment, I could have practiced Spanglish for the second time today, damn, we had to move on down the road.

Dljocky did get a photo out of the deal, now he can at least claim he’s been there, cross it off the bucket list.



Off the CR17 series, now onto the CR8 roads, and we transitioned to gravel at Posey Hollow, which runs generally north for miles, the first of dljocky’s several favorites.



Well graded, and also well used, although we saw just one vehicle, don’t get caught on the wrong side of the road.



An old riveted iron bridge at the bottom, straight approach from this side, but a curving downhill lefthander from the other, must be some interesting interactions at this one lane bridge from time to time.



We were on CR8 pavement and needed to make a little time riding down to Berkeley Springs. Dropping into the Potomac River valley, it got a little misty again in spots, the weather remained changeable.



CR8 intersected WV9, and we were riding a direct route back west towards WV522. A pair of old service stations at the top of the last hill on the grade down into Berkeley Springs, long in disuse, still some value in the sign in front of one.



Berkeley Springs always seems to have a crowd of visitors and shoppers, same today, and had that dysfunctional flash mob look, a desperate quest for the sublime artisinal foofoo. We could have come straight up 522 and reached this exact spot in less than 30 minutes. Our route was better, way better.

(to be continued…)
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Old 11-03-2012, 06:23 PM   #250
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Damn jdrocks! Reading this makes me want to head out again!
Looking forward to more.
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Old 11-03-2012, 06:49 PM   #251
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Amazing photos...and as always, a great story to boot. Would have paid good money to hear you recount your tales about hanging at the Troubadour :)
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Old 11-03-2012, 09:19 PM   #252
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Damn jdrocks! Reading this makes me want to head out again!
Looking forward to more.
buy me a snow machine, we'll go.

more report on the way, we hardly got started.
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Old 11-03-2012, 09:21 PM   #253
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Amazing photos...and as always, a great story to boot. Would have paid good money to hear you recount your tales about hanging at the Troubadour :)
i'd pay money to see Monsieur Nix salsa.
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Old 11-03-2012, 10:16 PM   #254
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Keep writing, I've got five more 12 hour night shifts to go...

Hope you find some pate' before it's over, I'm guessing they were plum out at the Troubadour.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:50 AM   #255
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Keep writing, I've got five more 12 hour night shifts to go...

Hope you find some pate' before it's over, I'm guessing they were plum out at the Troubadour.
the last time i had pate was at a UVA tailgate party, that can't be a surprise.

anyway, our next stop has Cajun written all over it, at least that's what the tour guide said.
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