"I've Been Everywhere, Man" Living the song on two wheels.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by swedstal, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    With the Buffalo detour complete, it was time to head back across the Empire State.

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    I moved fairly briskly, but there is one detour that is absolutely necessary in the Finger Lakes area: The Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen.

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    This is where the word "gorgeous" comes from.
  2. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    Realtime update: For the first time on my trip I'm being hosted by an ADV member. The one and only @vicmitch in Brooklyn. I'll be taking care of Haverstraw and Hackensack, then will head south for Baltimore and Washington DC.
  3. Babbitt

    Babbitt Vermin wannabe

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    Great ride report! Thank you for taking the time to bring us along.

    You seem to be a master at finding free campsites. If you have a free moment I would love to read your tips and tricks for free camping. I always worry I am going to be asked to move in the middle of the night.
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  4. MickeyDee

    MickeyDee Been here awhile

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    I was at Watkins glen back in August, beautiful place.
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  5. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    Great update. I had no idea how Buffalo got its name.. Seems like you are re-energized. Good to see. Have fun in the big cities. Go Chiefs!
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  6. Mountain_Vrodder

    Mountain_Vrodder Been here awhile

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    Canadian Side. This was about 8:30am on a Friday morning. Did a road trip from NYC to Chicago/Milwaukee. On the way home, rode through Detroit into Canada to see family that lives about 20 minutes away from Niagara (in Canada that is). Rode to Niagara falls, found this opening, stopped ran off to snap the photo, checked that it was legible and hopped back on and crossed the border, and hauled ass home.
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  7. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    Hooo boy. That could be a long answer....

    First of all https://freecampsites.net/ is a great resource. It is not always accurate and not very helpful around metro areas, but it is a great starting point. In the western US and mountainous northeast, there are tons of "legitimate" free campsites. No services usually, but well worth the price.

    But stealth camping....that's another beast entirely.

    I wouldn't call myself a master, but I have not yet been ousted from a spot on this trip. I try to be both respectful and resourceful when finding a spot.

    I have only twice disobeyed a "no trespassing" or "no camping" sign so far (only once on purpose because the spot was just TOO beautiful). I try to respect the areas where these signs are posted. There's probably a reason they are there and also indicate the area may be at least occasionally patrolled. I try to camp on public lands, or those which are unspecified.

    Scouting spots in the daylight is a good habit, especially in highly populated areas. I am always on the lookout for a place that could conceal a motorcycle and a tent. (even when I don't need to be!) If you wait until it is dark, it is very difficult to judge the surroundings.

    When I see a potential spot I will usually scout it on foot, making sure a bike can get in and out. I'll also consider the path that potential headlights will take and pull up a satellite image so I know my surroundings. If it is very well concealed, I may set up in the daylight. Otherwise I will wait until dusk and use the final light of day for setting up.

    This is getting really long.....but I'm not done yet....

    Maybe I'll just give an example of my most recent spot. I was travelling on I-95 in Connecticut and pulled off about an hour before sunset. The area along the interstate is lined with trees, so I went to see it there was a way in. A busy road ran parallel to I-95. I dropped off Annie at a truck stop and walked along the line of trees. I found a gap wide enough for a bike and cleared away some dead branches to ensure I could get in and out.

    I began riding back and forth along the street until there was not much traffic. I probably waited about 10 minutes for the right opportunity. I hopped the curb and darted into the trees. Since all traffic was running parallel to my spot, no lights would see me. I was about 15 yards away from I-95. It was a noisy night, but I got enough sleep for the next day.


    I don't know why I wrote all of that. It's maybe not the right thing to encourage this. If there were reasonable tent camping rates or an "every man's right" law like in Sweden, I would never need to sleep by an interstate or on a soccer field. But I do recognize that my lifestyle is by no means typical.

    I would also encourage anyone who camps like this to do it in a way that benefits the surroundings. Don't just pack your trash out. Pack out a sack full of other rubbish lying around. Leave the site better than you found it.

    I think camping areas may be making a mistake by not offering a cheaper "gateway drug" to outdoor recreation. I'm sure many RV owners learned to love camping by taking cheap tent camping trips. Is the price of tent camping nowadays high enough that it will discourage my generation from learning to love outdoor recreation? Time will tell.

    I'll step off of my little soapbox now. :-)
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  8. Babbitt

    Babbitt Vermin wannabe

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    Great example, thanks!
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  9. SOLOKLR

    SOLOKLR Back to work

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    When the local camp ground doesn't allow tents, or they charge more than the local motel6, it's tough to justify sleeping in the tent. My last 2 trips I've left all the camping gear home. The trip just doesn't have the same feel. Like something's missing.
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  10. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    Well to qualify as a campsite these days, you need to have full hookups, pull through sites, wifi, a playground, concierge service, a nail salon, movie theater, waterpark, opera house....

    ....wait, how did I get back up on this soapbox. :dhorse
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  11. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    Ok....let's get back to the story. Pittsfield, MA is place 29 of 92.


    Wednesday, October 4th

    I was rolling at sunrise from my secluded spot in the Catskill Mountains. No other vehicle had passed on the road the entire time I was there. The morning was chilly, perhaps my coldest one of the trip, but I did not have a cell signal to check the temperature. Sometimes ignorance is bliss!

    I began down the mountain and passed a farm place with cattle. Due to a navigational error the previous evening, this was the third time I was riding by. Each time I passed, a certain hereford heifer was outside of the gate, eating hay while standing on the road. She would see me coming, then quickly duck back into her pasture. It made me smile each time.

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    I chose a scenic route to get to the next place on my list: Pittsfield, Massachessetts. However, I was unable to glimpse much scenery. Thick fog had settled in and showed no sign of clearing out.

    Is this the bridge to heaven?

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    I had basically no plan for Pittsfield, but fate did. I met a guy on a BMW 650 named Prashad in a left turn lane. He said my bike looked like it belonged in Vietnam, referring to the trunk.

    He invited me to a coffee shop on the corner. Soon I had a shower, a place for the night and plans for the evening. I also met another guy, Brian, who became my guide and photographer for the day. It was a good turn lane.
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    Don't worry, I put my flashers on before riding up there. Apparently, that allows one to park a vehicle anywhere in the northeast. :thumb

    Pittsfield was the home to Herman Mellville when he wrote Moby Dick. It is said that Mt. Greylock, to the north, resembled a whale breaking above the waters. I knew the exact picture I wanted. I channeled my inner Ahab and shouted, "From Hell's heart I stab at thee!"
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    Brian was a ton of help. (Mt. Greylock in the background)
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    I met up with Prashad and some friends for some Vietnamese food. Next stop was a dancing birthday party. Sounds awkward and awesome!

    Somebody came up with a spurious idea: Since nobody would know me there, it would be funny if we pretended like I was a stripper.

    Now let me say this: Regular readers of this quality publication will know a bit about my character. I am a man of God. I am a man of integrity. I am a person who is constantly striving to become more Christ-like.

    …I’m also a man who kind of likes a good joke.

    As I weighed the moral and spiritual implications of this strangest of propositions, I had difficulty parsing out exactly where on the scale “impersonating a stripper” falls. Is that one of those actions that is automatic damnation (like not signaling your lane change)? But it is my hope and my belief that our God has a sense of humor. Have you ever seen a platypus?

    Right or wrong, here we go….

    I donned my helmet, deciding to incorporate it into my “act.” The music began and I pranced into the room. The birthday girl, Brittney, was seated in a chair in the middle of the room.

    Poor, poor Brittney.

    Poor, sweet, innocent Brittney.

    The expressions across the room ran the full gamut. Some were laughing. Some looked absolutely mortified. What had Prashad done!

    My act ended quickly. I only removed my helmet and unbuttoned my jacket, before I actually told her who I was (The standard: “My name is Brett, I’m from Nebraska, I have no idea what I’m doing.”) There was a palpable sense of relief from many in the room.

    The night was a lot of fun. This whole group dances together regularly (Latin styles….as far as I could tell). It was fun to see how the whole group interacted with each other. As a song would start, there would be a bit of meandering, before eventually bumping into a random partner. They all seemed to trust and enjoy one another.

    I got out there for a few numbers. I didn’t break anyone’s toes, so I’m calling it a win!

    Not quite the whole crew, but some of my new friends:

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    The night was the first time in 17 nights that I had a roof over my head. I've decided that this is probably too long a period. :-)
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  12. sweins

    sweins n00b

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    "Poor, poor Brittney.", totally made my day! Now for a little "Long Way Down" with Ewen McGregor. I keep enjoying reading about your travels. Look forward to the next one!
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  13. WYO George

    WYO George Long timer

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    This is way better than "Long Way Down/Round". Not that they were bad, but this is just better. Maybe it's because I've been fortunate enough to spend some time with our intrepid traveler, but I think it's because of his writing style and the way he has a general plan, but no support staff and lives nicely from the generosity of strangers that he turns into friends in a matter of seconds by being the great person he is.

    Keep riding my friend, when things warm up I may have to hunt you down on the road and join you for a section :)
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  14. Aces 6

    Aces 6 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

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    Used that technique in my 20's in Europe (and into my 50's...shhhhh! wife would frown on it). Scout it out during the day, right before dusk ride in so lights aren't as noticeable and BAM! Settled for the night; now time to find a pub. Worked in Baja as well. Didn't want taillight giving away location so set up before night fall. Cheap...err, frugality transcends generations....:lol3
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  15. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    Wow! Who is this guy you're talking about? I hope I can meet him sometime! :-)

    Thanks so much, George. These are very kind words. I've actually started watching Long Way Round for the first time when I have internet at night.

    You are welcome on my adventure anytime. I'll try to give you plenty of notice before I go through Colorado. That's just a short ride from you.

    The only problem is how we will carry our Tubas for our Tuba duet. You're a mechanic so I'm sure you'll think of something.

    This is the main reason why I wired in a headlight cutoff switch. It's like putting Annie into "Sneak" mode.
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  16. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    For those of you who are just here for the dancing, you can skip this post. Let's get back on the road.

    I took a very scenic way to get from Pittsfield, MA to Chicopee, MA. I rode up to Mount Greylock then across on the Mohawk Trail. It was a great day of riding.



    I almost don’t want to post this picture since it pales in comparison to the actual view…but here it is.

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    I found a little spot for my tent along the Connecticut River near Northampton. I didn’t love the spot, but it seemed safe enough.

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    Yeah….not so much.

    First came the teenagers. Just after dusk, a loud truck pulled up, then eventually two more. A group was congregating “above me” (hard to explain the layout). They weren’t being especially loud or obnoxious, but I was unsure of how to proceed. Though I like to remain hidden, I didn’t want to surprise them (or vice-versa). I decided to walk over and let them know that I was camping nearby.

    None of them seemed particularly interested nor particularly nervous. This was the ideal reaction. They dispersed around a half hour later.

    Then the gun shots started.

    I had seen some shotgun shells along the sandy road I had been riding, so I wasn’t too surprised. Apparently rednecks are looking to expand their territory into the northeast. I was in no danger because of where I set up, so I wasn’t too concerned. Gunshots do make it a bit difficult to sleep though. :-)


    I woke up without any bullet holes in the tent. Another great night! I had coffee while watching the sun rise over the river.

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    Let's get Chicopee, place 30 of 92!

    I've already seen a sign for Chicopee, way back on page 3 of this RR. It was at the sign post forest in Watson Lake, Yukon.

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    I did a lot of preparation for this one, mostly concentrated on seeing if I could get a picture with a C-5 transport plane that flies out of Westover Air Force Base. Alas, all my efforts were for naught.

    I was able to set up an appointment with the town historian and had a wonderful chat about Chicopee history.

    Chicopee has manufactured a dizzying array of products over its history. Bed sheets, guns, basketballs, bicycles, swords, knitting machines, statues, tires…..and those are just the notable things. The Duryea, made in Chicopee, was America’s first gasoline powered vehicle. The bronze doors for the east wing of the capitol building in Washington DC were cast in Chicopee.
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    I met Steve (the historian) at the Edward Bellamy house. He wrote the novel "Looking Backward" while residing here.
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    One of the main things we talked about was how Westover Air Force Base ended up in Chicopee. It was built in the late 30s and was a major boon to Chicopee’s post-depression economy. The story is a wild one, unfortunately too long for the blog.

    Post WWII, the base played a large part in the Berlin Airlift. This operation was focused on providing supplies to West Berlin after all ground routes were closed off by the Soviets. Part of this was “Operation Little Vittles”, in which an American Pilot, Gail Halvorsen, began dropping candies and sweets for the children of West Berlin.

    Steve was in elementary school when this took place and even took part in it. They would tie little parachutes to the candies before they were taken aboard the airplanes. Over 23 tons of candy were dropped during the airlift period. I’m assuming it was lucrative time to be a dentist in West Berlin.

    He spent over three hours with me. I think he deserves this honor:
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    Other Chicopee images:
    At the Bellamy House:
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    Some free swag (Steve wrote the one in the middle)
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    My best C-5 picture:
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    Town hall:
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    Chicopee was good to me. I found a perfect place to camp in some unutilized woods in an industrial area. Perfect.

    Oh...and Sonic made another buddy.
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  17. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    Boston is place 31 of 92. Perhaps you've heard of it?

    My new friends in Pittsfield had hooked me up with a rider named Chris who lives on the north side of the city. We rode around and took some pics.

    Boston Commons
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    Tall building:
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    Church reflected in tall building:
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    (sorry, is this report getting a little low effort?)

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    Fenway:
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    My guide:
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    Name that book!


    He made me a great supper and I enjoyed getting to know him. I probably should have done more in Boston. I know there's so much to see. I was getting a little eager to head south. I took off the following morning, but snapped one more photo on my way out of town.

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    42-27.

    :-)
  18. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

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    Perfect pic! Ha! I'm surprised you didn't see Tom Brady's house. My wife and I were in Boston two summers ago. It seems like every Uber driver, hotel concierge, cop, etc. would point to a house, on just about every block and say, "that's Tom Brady's house". I guess he owns a lot of property around Boston. :jack
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  19. swedstal

    swedstal Been here awhile

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    There is probably some sort of imminent domain policy in Boston, whereby Tom Brady can just request any property and own it instantly. :thumb
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  20. Bikey

    Bikey Jeff in Fairfax

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    Just look at the cars in the driveway - if the tires are under inflated, it’s probably Brady’s