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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GAS GUY, Mar 28, 2014.
You just never know what you'll stumble upon while out exploring. More on this later.
My diet today basically consisted of fish tacos. On Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands. I'm not complaining. Blackened for lunch. Fried for dinner.
Strange riding partners there Jeff!
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Lookey here. Found a poker chip for Fang. Should hold out and tease him with it - since he was invited on the ride ... and declined.
Hope he doesn't read this.
Another incredible day. A nice ocean breeze and less humidity today. For the most part, the campground and beach is still mostly empty.
Scott and Kenny ran around the island visiting lighthouses and collecting stamps.
Since I'd already been that route, Glenn and I took the day off while relaxing around the campsite and spending some time on the beach. It didn't take long for the both of us to get burnt - forcing us to retreat back to camp. Then the pizza parlor and Buxton Books.
At any rate, it was enjoyable, as I'm rarely idle for that long - while on the road. The REI Flex-Lite came in handy. But, I'm ready to ride tomorrow !
We swapped the ocean for the mountains.
Broke camp. Then ran mostly backroads to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Was heading for Floyd, but the rain and lightning set in. It looked like night at 6:30 and we needed dinner.
So, we are holed up in the Buena Vista Motel. It has the nicest porch I've seen on a motel. Wide, covered, and elevated. Plus, it has a wood bench to hang out and watch the rain.
Had a discussion with some Appalachian Trail through-hikers who are also staying here. A young man (27) and his girlfriend. They are on day 80 ! Not quite half way. The halfway point is somewhere on Skyline Drive.
Battled the rain yesterday, across most of West Virginia and half of Ohio, on the final run home. The last couple of hundred miles, the skies cleared and the weather became pleasant.
Arrived home around 6:30 pm. Just in time for dinner and to walk one of the dogs. Back to the grind in the shop today.
Rode approximately 600 miles in 11 hours yesterday. The GSA averaged right around 41 mpg all day; running a sane - but brisk pace, on the interstates with wind and rain.
Glenn and I split just south of Toledo, as he had to route home to Grand Rapids. So, he had another 150 miles or so.
The night before, I'd mentioned we spent the night in Buena Vista, Virginia. Initially, we fueled up there in the rain, and was going to push on for another 100 miles or so, since it was only around 6:30.
As we continued up the road, the mountains off in the distance were shrouded in all kinds of gray and black. Lightning was doing it's best to illuminate the eerily dark skies. My "road sense" started tingling. Things looked bleak.
That's when I wheeled around and suggested to Glenn, "We better just hunker down in Buena Vista for the night."
Anyway, that decision ended up being the right one. This was confirmed the next day; up the road, at a service plaza in West Virginia, the lady working there said, "The weather was absolutely horrendous the evening before." She said, "There was so much water on the roads, the cars were having trouble making forward progress. I almost pulled over .... and I was in a SUV !"
Scott and Kenny did spend the night in Floyd, Virginia. The fact that Glenn and I did not make it to Floyd that night also worked out; Scott reported that they had to call 5 places before finally finding a room ... and it was the last one.
They also made it home last night. When departing the Outer Banks, Scott and Ken left out before us and rode their own route home.
The U.F.O. -
This bizarre vessel is situated along North Carolina Highway 12 - on the barrier island of Hatteras; which is really just a large sandbar. Supposedly, this saucer like structure had found residence in the Outer Banks, ever since a Finnish architect breathed life into it, around 1968-69. It is actually called a Futuro. It was intended as a minimalist home. This particular unit had initially been used as a vacation home by the original owners.
A few years ago I'd passed by it on a previous foray into the Outer Banks. It wasn't open and I planned on stopping back before heading north. Somehow it was forgotten.
This time after zooming past it, I wheeled back around, making sure not to overlook the unidentified flying object once again. The door was open this time. Along with the presence of the owner - Leroy.
This cat Leroy ... now he is a character. He hangs out at the ship in the afternoons selling shirts and talking to visitors. Sometimes he even dons the space suit and mask sitting in front of the space ship and messes with people.
Somehow we arrived at a conversation of our wild days in the military. We were in similar eras. He went on about how crazy things always happened in the service, especially those of us who abused substances. He was incredibly humorous, how he went on about situations while half laughing and talking simultaneously with a hippyish demeanor.
The best story he told me was about his days in the South American jungles blowing up cocaine factories. He emphatically described to me how they screwed up the first time; they were down-wind of the factory when it blew up ! Leroy exclaimed, " Dude, we were freebasing ! No one remembered anything from the subsequent four hours."
NAGS HEAD, OBX -
SKYLINE DRIVE -
It was another gloomy day while en route towards the east coast. Gloomy days are tough on me. I'm somewhat of a slow starter anyway; a rainy and gloomy day at the outset of a journey can send my emotions spiraling. Mental warfare within - as darkness and negativity fight to have their way. It can almost turn me around. Cannot succumb. Keep the wheels turning. It will not last. Things will change soon, and you will marvel at the previous despair. It's always that way. But, why is it so believable when the low sets in ? After so many years, you intellectually know better. You've figured it out. Yet, the battle with mind and soul rages on. The loneliness you so crave and long for - sometimes haunts.
It was Mothers Day weekend. What's a man to do who has no mother ? Go see his father, of course.
How many different routes can I take from Detroit to the Virginia coast ? How many times can I make this run, before going insane ? How many different bikes have I rode there ? Creativity is your friend, in keeping things interesting; engaging. Next time I'll have to ride the old Road King. This time the GSA gets the call.
After quickly covering some ground on the turnpike, I slip off into the Maryland countryside - looking for a spark. Still not finding it, the swollen Potomac River was crossed as I popped into West Virginia. Must be getting a lot of rain down here too. Some kind of rain epidemic going on this year.
After fiddling around for awhile across the Mountain State I punched in a "GO TO" destination on the Zumo - Front Royal.
Front Royal, Virginia is the northern terminus of "Skyline Drive". I'll make my $20.00 donation to the National Parks system and head south along the sky high ridgeline of the Appalachian Mountains. Quite possibly, this could be the spark I need to elevate my tempestuous mood.
Now, logic would say, why in the world would you ride up into the mountains on a stormy and overcast day ? What would you possibly see ? Well, logic is not always so logical. You never know what you may find in the mountains. They are magical. They are always different. A stormy day is sometimes the best. Every mile in the mountains can be different. Every turn reveals a different incredulous vision. A unique landscape or cloud formation. Especially when a storm is rolling in - or on it's way out.
Early in, as I was peaking across various ridges - some eerie fog strewn roads were emerging.
Clouds were shifting and moving fast. Dark ominous clouds were making way for whiter fluffy ones of radical shapes. Anything could have happened. You just have to keep the wheels turning - patiently seeing how things play out in the mountains. Accepting what is handed to you. Nature is king here.
As I continued on the skies were at war. But a slow and gradual transformation was taking place. Light was replacing the darkness. I'd found that spark. It was all worth it. My spirit was once again soaring. Soaring in the clouds !
It was incredible traversing the drive while watching the various patterns of weather unfold. I'd say that the twenty dollars was recouped in pictures alone. It was a blissfull ride. Recharged, and after taking one last longing glance down upon the Shenandoah Valley, the versatile GSA and I dropped down onto the Piedmont side of the mountains - making our descent towards sea-level.
Wild Freedom -
".... where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
- The Wilderness Act of 1964.
Hope these weather patterns straighten up!
I'm like 3 weeks behind! On Erie my dock has been under water more times than not, my boat is clogging my driveway and each weekend brings east winds and storms......
While running around the coastal Virginia countryside, one eye is always looking out for some small interesting detail. Having nailed down most of the bigger points-of-interest over the years, now I'm often spending my time looking for off the beaten path type curiosities.
One such place that I stumbled upon is a miniscule road-side cemetery. As quaint as you'll find. What drew me in, were the remnant brick walls - still proudly but struggling to stand. I'm a sucker for any form of ruins. They light up aglow my imagination.
I'll walk up to old structures like this, dragging my hand over the bricks and crumbling mortar, inhaling the unique smells associated with the location - allowing myself to be catapulted back in time. Envisioning the men as they erected these masonry walls. Peeking in on a Sunday service within the small confines of this Lawns Creek Parish - Lower Surry Church of 1639.
It burned in 1868. Yet, some of the structure still stands. Connecting us to another realm.
I've been so busy lately that it's been hard to post much. Between work and home and vehicles, in this modern day hectic life, it seems like it's always one step forward and two back. There is always something to do. I guess that is an indication of a full and successful life. Time flies on by. That's okay. I can remember the days of being bored ... and having nothing.
Earlier in the week, I dug out the Road King. It's time to give it some attention. As much as I love the fishtail exhaust and look of the configuration it has assumed, I'd like a more tour-friendly set-up for awhile.
So, after removing the sharper-toned fishtails, a set of more traditional slip-on's with a deeper and mellower sound were procured. I've decided to give Jone's Exhaust a shot. They are a 3.5" muffler body with a 2" internal baffle. Smaller or larger removable baffles are available to dial in your decibel and flow characteristics. Went with the reverse-slash cut ends; they basically share the same angle as the back of the hard bags which I feel is appealing. So far so good.
Then, the passenger seat pad and quick-detachable backrest went back on. Now I can situate a duffel bag on the passenger seat while securing it to the backrest; then the bag can be used as my backrest.
There are some other things I'll do over time. Will probably run the Road King for the next trip to Virginia. We will see. When ? I don't know.
Yesterday, a large improvement was made concerning some existing vibration, that I've always suspected was abnormal. My engine seemed too rigid in the frame; it didn't dance like I felt it should. This transferred excessive noise, vibration, and harshness into the frame and body. So, following procedure in the factory service manual, I went through all of the alignment checks. Tires, swingarm, and engine position. It was all just about perfect. This led me to suspecting the front rubber motor mount as the culprit.
It just so happens, I'd still had a brand new, in the wrapper, factory motor mount laying around from when I had a 2003 Ultra-Classic. They are interchangeable. Jacked the motor up and swapped it out, ensuring its proper alignment as well.
Incredible !!! Smooooother by a long shot. Went for a ride and was absolutely ecstatic at the vast improvement. The old mount appeared to be in perfect shape, but being 23 years old and probably original, it had likely hardened due to age and oil spilling onto it, which is pretty much inevitable during every filter swap. This coming winter I'll swap out the two transmission rubber mounts at the back of the bike; possibly some more improvement to be had.
While rifling through an old notebook in search of some service records for the bike, I came across this enlightening excerpt that I'd jotted down many years ago.
"They taught me that no man could be their leader except he who ate the ranks food, wore their clothes, lived level with them, and yet appeared better in himself." - T.E Lawrence in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Somewhere near Tonalea, Arizona -
Yesterday's powerful wind gusts dislodged our resident robin's nest from a birch tree, leaving a pair of babies sprawled out in the front yard while baking in the sun.
As my gloved hands scooped them up, they instinctively opened their mouths wide, in hopes of a tasty morsel.
After gently placing them back in the nest side by side, I'd decided to situate the nest at the base of the birch tree, in the shade; hoping their mother would still care for them.
Slowly and cautiously she started to make her way back to them. Maybe they will still make it. Their survival rate is not so succesful even under normal circumstances. This morning they were still hanging tough.
Belcher Mountain Road -
While sitting around the crackling campfire one evening at the Willville Motorcycle campground near the Meadows of Dan, one of the guys who had been staying there all summer long, mentioned Belcher Mountain Road.
He informed me, "It is definately a worthwhile ride, full of steep gravel switchbacks, first ascending and then descending." He rode Belcher Mountain Road on his DR650 and exclaimed, "The loose gravel descent down into the valley, which is overlooked from Lovers Leap, was so steep that I was white knuckling it all the way down."
So, he had my attention. My GSA is much bigger than his DR though, which had me a little apprehensive. The next morning, I'd leave the hard panniers in camp - then seek out those blissful roads I'd heard about.
Maybe the roads through the pastoral landscapes leading back to Belcher Mountain Road were better than the destination itself - as is often the case.
Belcher Mountain Road did prove to be a worthwhile pursuit, although it didn't seem quite as precarious as was described to me. The hairiest times were while ascending a hairpin turn, where the gravel was exceptionaly loose and corrugated from other vehicles breaking traction over time; this would occasionally get the back-end of the big GSA hopping - if exacting throttle control wasn't practiced. It crossed my mind that traction may have been better, under these circumstances, had I left the panniers on, weighting the back and planting the rear tire.
Since departing out that morning, nary a vehicle, nor soul, had been passed. Solitude at it's best in an idyllic setting. Then, as I'm descending down the other side of the rugged mountain, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, a guy comes jogging up towards the peak, while dripping sweat, and sucking from a water bladder tube.
This scene evoked old memories of jogging along the remote and peaceful Ohio countryside with a special companion; a German Shepard by the name of Lady. I'd run 6-8 miles a day while preparing for Infantry School at Fort Benning Georgia. I was only 16 years old and counting the days till my 17th birthday - when I'd ship out. Lady would trot along with me, step for step, without a leash. That dog could read your soul.
These are the types of thoughts of the past .... that come and go, in-between relishing the present moment, and also thinking of the future, as I wander around exploring. There are various arguments as to where a man's mind should focus, but I'm continuously moving between all three of these levels of consciousness; all three are important to me - so long as I don't linger too long in one or the other.
My bond and meditative runs with Lady were timely, having just returned from many chaotic years on the road with my father. We'd just returned from Los Angeles and my best friend had tipped off my mother that I was in town. He set me up. As I sat in the grass of his front yard, my mother pulled up and remarked, "You have two choices. Come live with me, or I'll call the cops, and then you will come live with me anyway." It was illegal for me to even see my dad - so I got in the car. My mother and friend knew what was best.
But, the story of my mothers acquisition of Lady, the mature German Shepard, is incredible. Her and her second husband were driving down a desolate country road on the way home when they came upon a line of cars stopped. This was surreal. Out there in the country - you don't get traffic jams. Your lucky to see a car.
So, my mother quickly saw what was going on, and sat there in disbelief. She watched Lady step in front of a car and stop it. Then Lady would walk around the car peering inside looking for something; her owner perhaps, or maybe a kindred spirit.
Then on to the next car - repeating the sequence.
When she arrived at my mothers car, her demeanor changed, as if she had found what she was looking for. My mother opened the door and Lady jumped in. She lived at the horse farm with mom and the other dogs who resided there.
Not too long after, I show up and we become inseperable. Even though she was an outside dog she would cry at night until allowed to sleep at the base of my bed. She must have had extensive training in her prior life because you could talk to her like a human and she knew .... she listened. She was perfectly mannered. You never put a leash on Lady.
As I shifted back to the present, I came across a shoulder area of the gnarly gravel road with an impressive vista of the valley below. Spent some time relaxing and gazing out at the world below from this vantage point.
After reversing my route, I worked my back to the Meadows of Dan, and then proceeded up Jeb Stuart Highway (everytime I'm on this road I think about a comic book I'd often read as a kid about a haunted tank - which appeared in the G.I. Combat anthology) to Lovers Leap.
The same guy back at camp had filled me in on this location also. It pays to listen. The paved and windy road to Lovers Leap was invigorating. There is a pull off there to park and overlook the valley below, which is where Belcher Mountain Road had delivered me to, before I reversed my route back out and over. The GPS screeen shows the proximity of the associated locations.
Again another brilliant write up as you ponder the times of life, some good some bad. But it seems at least for me the good times still outweighs the bad or negative times. Lady sounds like she was a gem at the right time for where you were in life. I have an Akita 11 years old now and I really cherish him and him me. I truly understand the "Dog is a man's best friend" their loyalty is unmatched and always there to make you happy.
Gas Guy Kudos to you for sharing your time, pics your inner self and humor. Hopefully, you will publish your journey for a larger audience. From some of the books (motorcycle experiences) I have purchased, none have been a journey as vivid with the high and low ebbs of life (reality) it's as If I was there silently and unseen.
Continue to share the journey!