Man vs. Blackflies: A VT Campout

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by mmg781, May 25, 2009.

  1. mmg781

    mmg781 Been here awhile

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    Ok folks, I'm putting up a quick ride report about my Memorial Day '09 overnight camping trip to Vermont, don't expect a Tierra del Fuego and Back by Supper thread, or RTW on a Chopped 50cc Unicycle. (I'm not poking fun at those excellent threads on this page...believe me, those reports sustain me through my cubicle-bound weekdays:evil )

    Anyway, this was my first motorcycle camping trip, though by no means my first camping trip! I am fortunate enough to have a basement full of outdoor gear from years of hiking, backpacking, skiing, and general paycheck blowing. I've been dreaming of camping off the bike since I bought the Strom last year; it's the perfect machine for the task and I don't regret selling my cruiser for one instant!

    Well, a trip can't start without goodbyes. Bye doggers!
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    Another shot, because she's my puppy and this is my ride report!
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    Ok, moving on. The target for today's mission was Kelley Stand Road in southern Vermont, a brief 4-hour ride from home base in central Connecticut. It is a seasonal gravel road (closed in winter) that cuts through a large swath of the Green Mountain National Forest. After some GoogleEarth inspection, I picked out a few tentative campsites, but my general plan was to stay loose and just find an interesting place to camp. If all else failed, my backup was Jamaica State Park.

    Onwards. The Farmington River in (appropriately enough) Riverton, CT.
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    I'm not a fan of antique shops or anything, it just seems like appropriate photo material for a ride report.
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    Otis Reservoir in Massachusetts.
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    Otis Reservoir was an example of the serendipity of navigating by GPS. When I plan a route by maps, I subconsciously wind up picking roads I've been on. I just do. And rides get repetitive. With the GPS, I select just enough waypoints to keep Mapsource from routing me on the interstates or through cities, but other than that I just kind of trust it to get me there. It takes me places that I would never think of just by looking at a map. I used to be skeptical of the GPS, thinking it was for the navigationally-challenged or lazy, but the damned things work! Of course, my recollection of where I have been is somewhat hazy because instead of paying attention to route signs along the way, I just wait for the GPS to tell me to turn. (BTW, of course I keep paper maps on the bike in case the electronics fail...former Boy Scout and all, plus, I think maps are pieces of art and they're just fun to look at anyways).

    Lunch somewhere in MA. I suppose I was on Route 20!
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    A ride report is incomplete without the obligatory food shots. The turkey club was excellent.
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    Westfield River, somewhere in MA. I was generally winding north via Routes 112 and 8A.
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    My GPS is not afraid to bring me on some dirt roads!
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    Northern New Englanders will often refer to a stone wall as a stone fence. Makes more sense, at least from an agricultural perspective. One does not wall in cattle, one fences in cattle!
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    Motorcycle resplendent in foliage.
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    #1
  2. mmg781

    mmg781 Been here awhile

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    Moving north into Vermont on 8A
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    She's ready to tackle the best asphalt Vermont can throw at her!
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    I reached my turnoff onto Stratton-Arlington Road (and on to camp) around 3pm, but the sun was out and I was in no way ready to park the bike yet. I blasted north on Rt 100 into Jamaica for a cup of coffee at the local hippie coffee joint. It seems like all coffee shops I stop at in VT are run by hippies. I must be drawn to them. It might have something to do with the Phish sticker on the rear fender of the bike.
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    The beaver on the sign cracks me up. He loves his coffee. The coffee house was a chill scene; as I pulled in a guy on a Versys was pulling out. He was a local just out for a quick ripper on the bike. I got my coffee and sat in a rocking chair on the front porch, feet up on the railing, admiring the sunlight glinting off my bike and aimlessly watching weekend vacationers cruise by on Route 100, cars laden with tents, coolers, sleeping children, restless children, panting dogs, and proud parents hoping to show their kids that there is something beyond the wired world of iPod and text messages. Maybe get them a little dirty setting up the tent, bit by a few blackflies, and smelling of a little campfire smoke, and cleansed by the cold (!) lake water. Baptism by nature. Where is our modern day Thoreau to shake us loose from our technological shackles?

    Enough rant. I hopped back on my technological marvel and jetted south on 100 and found my way west onto Kelley Stand Road.
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    It must have been recently graded, as evidenced by the loose marbles on the road. It took me a little while to figure out how to ride the stuff; I eventually settled on fewer handlebar inputs and more throttle steering, and kept off the front brake. You dual-sport guys are probably saying, "Duh!" but hey, give me a break. I checked out Grout Pond Recreational Area thinking I had stumbled upon an unknown gem of a backwoods campsite, but to my dismay, it was a zoo of New York and New Jersey license plates. Well, I can't get angry, they all had their children with them, blackflies and all, and they were out there camping.

    Daniel Webster stood here in 1846. Along with, if you believe it, 15,000 other people. Um, that seems like an awfully large number of people for rural Vermont in 1846. Must have been a helluva Whig convention!
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    On to Branch Pond Road and my campsite for the evening. Another hidden gem that I was going to have all to myself. Except for, well, the other campers with the exact same plan!
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    The cool thing about this road was that there were nice grassy, level spots all along the road, and people just pulled over and set camp. I found just such a spot, completely out of sight and earshot of the other campers, and my haven in the woods was realized.
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    Within a few minutes...voila! Home sweet home.
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    A quick walk to Branch Pond.
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    Very moosy, but no such luck!
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    Painted Trillium, Trillium undulatum
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    Hobblebush, Viburnum latanoides
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    An invasive species, Aluminium americanae. Even out in the "pristine" woods, you can't avoid ignorance.
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    #2
  3. mmg781

    mmg781 Been here awhile

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    More pics to come; coffee, dog, and wife are beckoning. Happy Memorial Day, and my sincere gratitude and respect to all who made the supreme sacrifice for our country so I can enjoy a peaceful weekend on a motorcycle.
    #3
  4. teachnsurf

    teachnsurf Bonnie Adventurer

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    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    ME WANT MORE:gun1
    #4
  5. mmg781

    mmg781 Been here awhile

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    Time to make camp into a comfortable home. First, a low-impact fire. Campfires are just about the most high impact activity we can do in the woods, and burning one respectfully can go a long way to conserve the forest resources. That said, camping ain't camping without a fire. I prefer to use the leave-no-trace techniques developed by backpackers. Scrape the forest duff and topsoil down to bare mineral soil, and build your modest fire on that. I avoid creating a rock fire ring for two reasons, it forever stains the rocks and the rings just encourage more and more use of that area.
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    Kickin' back!
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    Dinner time. Black beans a rice with a package of precooked southwest flavored chicken breast, served in a flaxseed pita with hunks of Cabot chipotle cheddar. This is Vermont, after all!
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    Best enjoyed with pre-mixed margaritas, frozen until slushy at home, transported en moto in an insulated sleeve, and consumed cold at camp!
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    Blurry, I know, but I must've been hungry. Or maybe it was the margarita.
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    Good to know, in case the black beans and rice turn on me:huh
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    Note the veteran campfire technique...long sticks that I can push into the fire without leaving my seat, and which minimize the amount of sawing that needs to be done!

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    Reflective, for safety, of course.
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    I woke up Sunday morning to an absolute infestation of black flies once I stepped out of my tent. I mean it was terrible. I considered donning my full-face helmet just to break down the tent. I cooked a hurried breakfast of oatmel and instant coffee (sometimes, camping necessitates no luxury).
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    I ended up dumping the coffee and just tried to get the hell out as fast as possible. The flies were that bad.

    Another aspect of leave-no-trace is, well, leaving no trace. This is my fire pit before I left. I also scattered some twigs and rocks to make it look more forest-like.
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    #5
  6. mmg781

    mmg781 Been here awhile

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    Being Memorial Day weekend and all, I was anxious to hit the roads before the masses of motorists hit the road (and me). Up with the sun, and wheels rolling by 7am. Kelley Stand Road descends west towards Arlington, VT along a beautiful mountain stream, which, so I read, is prime whitewater kayaking during the spring melt.
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    As I cruised along, I noticed that this road, much like Branch Pond, had little unofficial campsites. True, you camp practically on the road, but you're right on the river. I'll file this away for the next trip!

    Classic Vermont scenery. View off the left side of the bike.
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    View of the right side of the bike.
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    Really, that is it for this ride report. I jammed the remainder of the 170 miles back to Connecticut through perfect mountain and farm scenery in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York. The riding was so damn good, and I was in such a groove, that I failed to stop and take photos. If you want to see what it looks like, I suggest you fire up your bike and go find out for yourself! All I can say is that Route 20 between New York and Massachusetts is an unbelievable ride. Twisties up the pass and down the other side!

    The tally for the weekend.
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    At least I exacted some revenge on those winged buggers!
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    Home sweet home!
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    #6
  7. MZcountryboy

    MZcountryboy Long timer

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    Northeast Kingdom, Vermont USA (close to Canada!)
    :thumb

    The black flies will switch-hit with the mosquitoes in about a week.
    #7
  8. mmg781

    mmg781 Been here awhile

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    At least the skeeters respond to DEET! I think black flies get high off the stuff, they just come back for more.:lol3
    #8
  9. OldAndBusted

    OldAndBusted Needs a little work...

    Joined:
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    as a vermonter, i appreciate you putting in that effort. i want to smack someone when i see beer cans lying around in the woods. sorry about the bugs though :D
    #9
  10. slacker1

    slacker1 n00b

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    I avoid creating a rock fire ring for two reasons, it forever stains the rocks


    Rock HUGGER :D
    #10
  11. kalispell365

    kalispell365 on the road to shambala..

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    is that a MONTANA sticker on your bottle???
    good for you,dont tell too many folks out there about montana!
    #11
  12. RPD1

    RPD1 We don't

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    Nicely done. I can't get enough of Vermont. I had planned on being up there this month but that hasn't happened. Maybe next month.
    #12
  13. Cutter

    Cutter Girivek

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    Eloquent ride report, nice photos and cool bike,,,,,,,,,Thanks for sharing.:freaky
    #13
  14. mmg781

    mmg781 Been here awhile

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    Glad to see your first post is on my thread! Welcome to ADV! :freaky
    #14
  15. mmg781

    mmg781 Been here awhile

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    It is a Montana sticker, good eye! I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't actually been to Montana...yet! My folks skied a week there this winter, and raved about the entire experience. But hey, it's a free water bottle:D
    #15
  16. wikit

    wikit Adventurer

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    rock garden CT
    Awesome stuff man. Knocked out a similar ride on Friday with a buddy of mine.

    We did, 91 N to 9 west then hooked north on 8A followed by 9W to Bennington VT for lunch.

    For the ride home, we rode 8 south to 2 east with a little 112 thrown in just for laughs.

    I'm riding a strom as well. If you ever want to go for a ride, let me know. I'm in CT as well.
    #16
  17. ghostryder

    ghostryder Long timer

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    Great report, and pics. Thanks for sharing.
    #17
  18. justforme

    justforme sandman

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    switch-hit? unfortunately they wont be going away until october.

    while there thick right now, they have been thicker.

    always bring a head net!

    at least the deer fly's weren't out yet.
    #18