Massachusetts to Tennessee in 3 days on a KLR

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Liberia, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Mike, thank you for the kind offer of help. I will definitely contact you if I run into trouble.

    I'll try to give honest evaluations of the bike as we make the trip. Remember that this is an all pavement ride. I'm guessing since your 3 bike options are KLR, DR or GS that you plan to do some offroad riding as well. I have a V-Strom DL1000 as well and for highway and dirt roads in decent condition I promise you it's far better for 2 up travel. But it is pretty worthless once you get off compacted surfaces.

    Mrs. Liberia is a great photographer so we should get some nice pictures along the way that we can share.
    #21
  2. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Up at 6:30 this morning for a leisurely completion of packing and preparation. LiberiaSon is headed our way to deliver us to the airport. Our flight leaves at 12:50 CST and we arrive in Boston, via Baltimore, at 6:05 EST. Bill, the prior owner, is picking us up at the airport and will take us to his house which is about an hour south of the airport.

    I'm anxious to see the bike. I really love the Happy Trails panniers for some reason although I don't have enough experience with any of them to know what's best. Riders on this site debate metal vs. plastic vs. soft panniers. Since we don't do any significant off road riding I guess it doesn't matter so much.

    Breakfast was toast and eggs, prepared by yours truly, with Mrs. Liberia making the coffee and washing the dishes. Not a bad setup. Eating on the road is always a little of a challenge for us as we try to follow a healthy eating plan. We use a plan by Dr. Asa Andrew which works good for us. Little to no processed foods, stay away from sugar (use honey, etc instead), and eat organic as much as possible.

    Mrs. Liberia has read the thread and thinks that she is going to do fine on the ride. She keeps asking me if there's something that "she doesn't know." I assured her that the only thing she has to worry about is how sore her behind will be by the end of each day. My brother sent up a Butty Buddy for the trip so we'll try that out and see how it works out. My sister-in-law used it on the back of an Indian Scout all the way back from SE Utah to Tennessee and it helped a lot. Plus there will be a Pelican case and a bag on top of that directly behind Mrs. Liberia to give her something to lean against.

    It will be late tonight before we're into our hotel room in Westborough, MA so I might not have time to do an update. If not, I will try it on Sunday morning.

    Oh, by the way, Mrs. Liberia asked me how long we had been married. I knew that something was not good about the way she asked it. "Thirty-two years," I replied. "Thirty-three," she corrected. This could be a long trip.

    Thanks for reading.
    #22
  3. CaveDave

    CaveDave Underground

    Joined:
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    Congratulations to you and your wife!:clap I know this will turn out great. Keep us posted!!
    #23
  4. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Saturday - LiberiaSon dropped us off at the airport at 11:30am for our 12:50 flight to BWI and then on to Logan Field in Boston.

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    We had our baggage down to a minimum but knew that it was still likely too much. We checked 2 bags (free on Southwest!) and could have checked 2 more at no charge. One of the bags was a Rally Pack which is designed for motorcycles. The other was a small, thin “throw away” duffle bag used jut to get us to the panniers on the motorcycle. We had a backpack with my computer, Mrs. Liberia’s camera bag and 2 helmets as carry ons. Not too bad for 2 people on a fly n ride for a total of 6 days on the road.

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    We left Nashville a few minutes late but got to BWI right on time. With an hour before the next flight we decided to get a bite to eat a the Tex-Mex place in the airport. Mrs. Liberia had a great salad and I had a good bowl of tortilla soup (sorry I forgot to tell her that every meal must be photographed). We got to our gate just as people were lining up to board so the timing was perfect. Once on the plane however, we taxied out and then were informed of a delay due to bad weather in Boston. So we ended up leaving about 40 minutes late. The weather was gone by the time we arrived in Boston.


    Picking up our baggage we were met by Bill and began the hour long ride to his house. He was a very nice guy and provided several additional items for the bike that were not discussed as well as having moved the Pelican top case back so there would be more room for Mrs. Liberia. (I don&#8217;t know why we didn&#8217;t get a picture of him before we left.)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>

    It was completely dark before we left his house for the 1:15 ride to Westborough and the DoubleTree Hotel. (We got a smoking deal there through HotWire.com - $63 plus tax.)

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    Thankfully it was an easy set of directions from his house to I-495 (2 turns and we were on the Interstate). The 69 mile ride was a good one with the previous rain having cooled things down considerably.<o:p></o:p>

    The KLR was geared noticeably high which was good news for the time we would spend on interstates. At 70mph it showed 4,500 rpm. Even with 2 people and a lot of baggage the power was good. Bill used the bike to commute so the tires are 90% street oriented. Again, good for the trip home.



    Arriving at the DoubleTree we noticed 2 Harley&#8217;s parked on the side of the entranceway so we moved the KLR behind them allowing it to be within sight of the front desk personnel. Checking in we received the famous hot chocolate chip cookies that are the trademark of the hotel chain.


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    It was nearly 10:30pm when we checked in and we hurried to get our baggage up to the room so that we could make it to the hotel restaurant before it stopped serving at 11:00. We made it with 15 minutes to spare but the waiter was not happy to see us. &#8220;The kitchen closes in 10 minutes so you will have to hurry.&#8221; We excused ourselves rather than rush our meal and ordered a chicken parm pizza from a local pizza place. It was good but Dr. Asa would not have been happy with our food selection.

    Day 1 - 69.4 miles on the bike. 1,178 miles by car and plane.<o:p></o:p>

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    The room is very nice and we feel like a good night&#8217;s sleep is at hand.

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    There is free internet in the lobby but it&#8217;s $10 in the room. So I&#8217;m posting yesterday&#8217;s report this morning.
    #24
  5. prometheus rising

    prometheus rising Ghost In The Machine

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    834
    :thumb Looking forward to this , have a blast, be safe
    #25
  6. Uglyprimate

    Uglyprimate UglyPirate

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    6,949
    Location:
    Fort Whine Indiana
    Check the oil, check the oil, check the oil.

    Every KLR uses oil at interstate speeds, and especially if you are running harder (into a head wind, or heavily loaded) At 55-60, it's almost never a problem. Over 65-70, I add a couple drops at every stop. I stop every 50-75 miles, just for circulation.

    Make sure the rear shock is maxed out on the preload setting.

    I used to commute between offices in Massachusetts, Jersey and Harrisburg PA. I'd definately run the parkways instead of the interstates.

    Keep tire pressures UP, there's a lot of heat in the road, and overloaded really increases failure rates. More pressure=cooler tire temps.
    #26
  7. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Today started at 3:30am when I woke up after only 4 hours of sleep. Not sure whether it was excitement or something else. I fought it until 5:00am and then slipped out of the room for free internet access in the lobby to post yesterday's ride report.

    At around 6:00am I went back to the room, showered, shaved and dressed for the day. I ended up wearing the same clothes as yesterday for some reason. Mrs. Liberia later commented that I couldn't keep doing that or everyone would think that all the pictures were taken in the same day.

    I put off waking my wife as long as possible but finally had to wake her as LiberiaDaughter's boss, Mark, had comp'd us 2 tickets to Jacoby and Prock's (see a Dance Magazine article at www.jacobypronk.com/go/Dance_Magazine.html) final performance at Jacob's Pillow Dance Theater (www.Jacobspillow.org) where she is serving as an intern. She graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in May. The performance starts at 2:00pm and we have to be there by 1:30.

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    It's been a long time since we have missed church services on a Sunday morning but today would be an exception. As it turns out, I passed very few churches on the route we took.

    So as Mrs. Liberia got up we used the Wolfgang Puck coffee in the room to make a couple of cups. I didn't know at the time that this would be all we had until 4:00pm in the afternoon. After that we repacked the bags and headed down to the bike. The guys with the BMW 1200RT and Ultra Classic were down and we talked for a few minutes. They were 60 miles aways from completing a 2,800 mile trip. We are 60 miles into a 1,200 trip.

    After loading all the bags we mounted up and left for Lenox, MA via Highway 20. We could have taken I-90 almost the entire way and made it in 2 hours but we'll be on interstates too much on Tuesday and Friday so we choose to add an hour to the trip to stay on the more scenic backroads. The 50% increase in time turns out to be caused by the incredibly slow speed on most of Hwy 20. We experienced speed limits of 20 to, very rarely, 55mph. I'm sure we didn't average more than 40mph the entire way. However, the beautiful towns and country that we drove through were worth it.

    Our first stop was when Mrs. Liberia leaned forward and said, "I need to go to the bathroom." So we stopped at the very first gas station. I gassed up (3.5 gallons) while it was discovered that this station had no bathroom. It's been 25 years since I've seen one of those... until today. So we crossed the street to a CVS drug store instead. This was about 45 miles into the day.

    After that we continued west on 20. After another hour we stopped again along the roadway where a stream gurgled along.

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    We started again and made it to the Lenox Inn about 12:30pm. I used hotwire.com to book last night and tonight's rooms. Last night's was a tremendous deal but tonight's? Not so much. The Lenox Inn is a very old, motel that probably served travellers in the 50's and 60's. It's really a quaint little motel but the rooms are a little small and very poorly lit. But they are clean. My only requirements when travelling alone are clean and safe. When Mrs. Liberia is along however I like for the lodging to be a little nicer. But she's being a good sport about it.

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    We checked in, moved everything into the room, changed clothes and left to backtrack our way east on Hwy 20 to Jacob's Pillow. Soon after parking and changing shoes we saw the object of our joy. LiberiaDaughter was coming to meet us. We had not seen her in almost 3 months. She graduated from college and drove straight through to Becket to get there in time for her internship to start.

    She showed us around the grounds, described what happens in each area and talked about some of the work she was doing. Her degree is in theater lighting and she is very competent plus has a strong work ethic. She'll do well wherever she lands. We met several of her co-workers and bosses and soon it was time to leave for the Doris Duke Theater and our show and for her to return to the show she was supporting. Today following the shows they have "changeover" which is loading out the current performers shows and loading in next week's groups. She will likely work until midnight or after.

    She texted us that she would see us tonight as she is staying with us at the Lenox Inn. We left for Lenox and began running into drops of rain a few miles out. The drops increased and it looked like we should stop and put on the rainsuits but we were close so we made it back to a nice Chinese resturaunt a block from the motel and stopped for a meal (no pictures). A brief shower took place while we ate but it cleared up before we finished. Leaving we made a quick stop by a grocery store to pick up some fruit and other items. Then back to the motel for a nap and bath while waiting for our baby girl to arrive.

    Today we had another low mileage day but managed to make our timeline. 153 miles and 3 hours.

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    #27
  8. troutwhisperer

    troutwhisperer Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    Amherst, VA
    Looks like a great ride so far. You are in for some great riding weather this week in Virginia. Glad you was not coming thru here this past weekend. It was 98 - 100 degrees.

    Mike
    #28
  9. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I drifted off to sleep last night a little after midnight but Mrs. Liberia and LiberiaDaughter stayed up talking until 3:00am. I just can't hang with them that late.

    At 7:00am it's time to get up and do something without waking the ladies. So I dressed, brushed my teeth and slipped out to try to find the October Mountain State Forest which looks like it has some nice roads. I use the gps and have also looked at Google maps. But the park roads are not on the gps and I have no luck finding my way. I end up about 8 miles south back on Highway 20. So I bail on that idea and decide to drive back up to Pittsfield, MA where I understand a Wal-Mart resides. I've decided to pick up a small, digital camera so that we can take pictures while moving with the KLR. Mrs. Liberia's camera/lens is too large to keep out while travelling and we're missing too many shots. So, with the help of a couple of shop owners, I locate Wal-Mart, decide on a Nikon CoolPix S3000 which is small and takes 12megapixel pictures. My sister-in-law will be proud. She never goes on vacation without spending time at the local Wal-Mart (even in Alaska).

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    Now back to the motel room to see if anyone is up. It's close to 10:00am and Mrs. Liberia is awake but LiberiaDaughter is still sleeping. Monday's are her only day off and Jacobs Pillow Dance Theater works its interns pretty hard.

    Mrs. Liberia helps me test the new camera for movement pictures.
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    LiberiaDaughter has to do some hair work before we can leave.
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    Finally everyone is awake and we decide to go to the historic downtown area of Lenox. What a surprise to find duch a beautiful area to explore.

    First we park and look at a small park that was created by the local citizens.

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    Some great artwork:
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    Then it's time for some coffee:
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    Then some general bonding and touring:

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    Isn't she beautiful?
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    Some flowers along the way:
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    Then it's on to Lee, MA for lunch, laundry and ice cream.

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    Joe's Diner is a favorite spot that has entertained presidents and provided inpiration for Norman Rockwell.
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    There is nothing healthy about a burger, seasoned fries and milkshake.
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    We even had our own pay phone at the table.
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    Now to do once a week laundry.
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    Finally, ice cream at Lucky's.
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    Then back to the room for a little rest before, can you believe it, dinner. We had discovered a Greek resturaunt in Lenox that we wanted to visit.

    Mousaka and 2 Calzones provide way too much food.
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    We waddle back out to the car and head back for the motel. The weather is wonderful at about 70 degrees. It looks like we'll enjoy good temperatures all the way home rather than the 95-100 degrees we were seeing last week. Now if we can avoid the showers.

    Today was a very low mileage day on the bike as most of the day was spent in a cage. The odometer reading includes yesterday's miles as well. So today was only 34 miles.

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    Tomorrow's a big day. We have to make it all the way to Winchester, VA which is 415 miles of mostly Interstate driving. Mrs. Liberia is a little apprehensive and I'm not really looking forward to it either. But at least it's on a bike.
    #29
  10. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I got tired last night and frustrated loading pictures into Photobucket so I didn't record the last thing we did before dinner. Here's some pictures from a tour of Jacob's Pillow that we did on a quick run back by there so our daughter could drop off the clothes that she washed. Monday is the day everyone is off and most leave for the day.

    The front entrance on Highway 20, Becket MA
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    One of the early clues that you're entering a dance theater campus
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    Where is everything?
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    The actual rock from which Jacob's Pillow get's its name
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    The Administration Building including the Stone Cafe and "the Nook"
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    The Inside Out theater where free concerts are given. From the right angle it looks as though the dancers are floating in the air.
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    The cottage LiberiaDaughter shares with 5 other girls who are interning.
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    Sommers Studio
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    The Avnet House for eductional activites
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    St. Denis studio. Where the dancers warm up.
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    The Doris Duke Theater where we watched Jacoby and Pronk perform
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    Blake's Barn where the archive of prior shows is maintained
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    The Ted Shawn Theater. Shawn was the founder of Jacob's Pillow
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    A "shot in the dark" inside The Ted Shawn Theater
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    Some flower pictures I took while wondering around the grounds
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    A final picture to reinforce the weirdness of artists
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    Goodbye to a relaxing day. Tomorrow will be 400+ miles of steady riding.
    #30
  11. CaveDave

    CaveDave Underground

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,509
    Location:
    Underground
    Nioce pictures! :clap

    Hope you and the missus have a great day! Looks like a good one for riding!
    #31
  12. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Well, KLR Katie was up to no good last night. We left in LiberiaDaughter's car for a late dinner and when we returned to the motel room here's what we found... and an Army bike at that! You know what they say about soldier bikes. At least he's a rich one. Mrs. Liberia's only comment was about the large size of the passenger seat. I think she broke one of the 10 Commandments in her mind.

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    This morning I met the Army bike's owner. They are from Wisconsin and he's on a 5,500 mile trip. I'm not sure where all he's been but he is heading to Boston, then a round-about way back home. He camps but grabs a hotel room every 3 - 4 nights. He seemed to almost apologize for the size of his tent/pad/sleeping bag pad by saying he liked to be comfortable when he camped. Anyone who can ride 5,500 miles camping 75% of the time is welcome to take whatever he wants as far as I'm concerned.

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    LiberiaDaughter spent the night with us again last night and had to be up and had to be up at 6:30 so she could make it back to work on time. Those of you with children can identify with the difficulty of moms to say goodbye to children when it's time to leave. We managed to part without tears (at least on the outside). She will be home September 3 or 4 so there's something to look forward to at least.

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    Today will be our hardest day of riding. We have a 415 mile trip that, with stops, will likely take us 10 hours. We'll be in 6 states today leaving Massachusetts and travelling through New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and ending up in Winchester, Virginia. Mrs. Liberia has begun to have second thoughts and keeps asking, "This will be okay, right?".

    Massachusetts-
    We left the Lenox Inn (I grew fonder of it as time went by) and headed east on Hwy 20 to Hwy 7 Alt which took us back through the historical downtown area of Lenox. Mrs. Liberia has mentioned several times that she could live here. She loves the arts (theater, dance, photography, sculpture, potter, etc.) and is a very skilled potter, a very good amateur photographer and not a bad metal sculptor. Lenox is very picturesque with nice sculptures scattered throughout the town.

    Exiting Lenox we hang a right on Hwy 183 for about 5 miles and then turn onto Hwy 102 which crosses back and forth under I-90 a couple of times.
    New York-
    We come to Highway 22 which takes us into New York State and through the Harvey Mountain and Beebe Hill state forests. These are beautiful, low traffic back highways that are tree covered with beautiful scenery, slow speeds and gentle sweeping curves with mild elevation changes as you wind through the Berkshires.

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    7 miles later we get on the Taconic State Parkway for a 62 mile ride down to I-84. I can't say enough about the Taconic. For the first 40 miles or so we almost had the entire road to ourselves. Maybe seeing 10 cars on our side and, with trees obscuring the northbound lanes, hardly realizing that there were lanes there at all. What a wonderful, beautiful highway. The speed was limited to 55mph which was perfect to cruise along enjoying the sights.

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    I want to point out something in the preceding photo beside the fact that Mrs. Liberia is playing with the new compact camera (all pictures today were taken with the small camera). What you should notice is how much taller I am than she is. I'm 6'2" and she's 5'4" (on a good day). But most of my height is from the waist up. Thus she sees nothing in front of us as we move along.

    We've travelled 80+ miles so we stop for a bottle of water and to rest for a few minutes before getting onto i-84. Mrs. Liberia begins to discuss the discomforts that she's experiencing. I knew the stock seat would be a challenge and it is for me as well. Riding 2 up provides minimal space for shifting around. The challenge will become greater as we go along.

    Then we're on I-84 for where we quickly take an exit for fuel and breakfast at a Cracker Barrel. Their corporate headquarters are in Lebanon, TN which is about 30 miles from our home. We've enjoyed their food and reasonable prices for well over 30 years.

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    We both had the same thing for breakfast, 2 eggs with grits and biscuits. Mrs. Liberia commented on the fact that they serve grits in "the North." I respond that Cracker Barrel is wonderful isn't it. Makes me think of a time when LiberiaSon and I were in Wisconsin and stopped at a Cracker Barrel. I ordered a breakfast for dinner and asked for country ham. The little girl that was waiting on us hesitated for a moment and then said, "You know, that meat is really salty." I assured her that I knew and still wanted it.

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    We also gassed up at this stop and I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were almost exactly on 53 mpg since filling up between Westborough and Lenox, MA. Two up, fully loaded travel really shouldn't give that good of mileage. But the very tall gearing due to a larger front sproket and smaller rear sprocket is apparently working well for highway travel. I do believe that it is hard on the clutch as I have to slip it to get started most times.

    Riding along I-84 isn't too bad but it's certainly not the Taconic State Parkway. The large tractor/trailer trucks provide a lot of buffeting and it's hard to maintain a distance that is comfortable. Gayla says my head shakes like I have palsy. At times it even rocks my chest back and forth from the roiled air that comes off the back of these large trucks.

    Soon we cross the Hudson River. I had never realized how large it was as this is my first time driving across it.

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    Pennsylvania-

    Near the end of our I-84 experience we enter Pennsylvania.

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    In Milford, PA we leave I-84 for Hwy 209. We'll be on 209 for about 42 miles (even more given all the trouble I had staying on the right road). It changes names, shares itself with other roads and generally is difficult to stay on. But it's an interesting road nevertheless.

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    Along the way we came up behind a motor home with a bike carrier on the back. Typically you see scooters on these. This guy obviously wanted a little more power when he was in an RV park.

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    It took me a while to figure out that Hwy 22, 33 and I-78 were all sort of the same thing. So I tried 2 times to ignore the fact that Hwy 22 becomes I-78 West. I knew we were in trouble when I pulled into an office park during one of these misfires, stopped the bike to read the map/gps and Mrs. Liberia went missing. I finally found her laying out on a grassy slope by the parking lot. She was hurting in every possible place. Mainly she had developed a terrible case of the monkey butt but having to have her legs sticking out around me for so long was causing some knee problems. She asked me more than once why people liked to do this. I knew I was in trouble with 3 more hours to go.

    We finally made it to I-81 and headed south. As everyone on here had warned me, the truck traffic was heaving. So trying to stay out of the buffeting was really difficult. In Tennessee the Interstates allow 70mph which typically translate into 80mph. But it seems that every Interstate north of us much limit you to 65mph (I was on one that was 55mph!). In our case it helped that the speeds were lower. Most people were driving 70mph or less and Katie runs well at 70mph using 4,500 rpm to do so. Again, the tall gearing works good for highway use.

    Quickly after getting onto I-81 we stop for gas. This tank was about 53.5mpg which was mostly higher speed driving. I'm still impressed.

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    Notice that Mrs. Liberia is not smiling in the above picture. We stop again exactly 60 miles later just to prevent a potential rebellion.

    Maryland-
    Soon we're in Maryland (state #4 for today)

    You can't see it very well but that's the Maryland welcome sign. Mrs. Liberia wants to see the Hampton Inn, Winchester, VA sign.

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    We're in Maryland for a very short time and then it's on to West Virginia.

    West Virginia-

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    We're not in West Virginia all that long either and then we see Virginia. Almost there.

    Virginia

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    And here's what we both have been looking for (Mrs. Liberia a little longer than me).

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    It's been a long, uncomfortable day but we've seen some beautiful country and I'd like to visit this part of the U.S. again when there is more time to stop and visit the rich natural, historical and artistic sites.

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    After carting our luggage up to the room we made the decision to order in some Chinese food. Mrs. Liberia immediately drew a tub of hot water and disappeared until after the food arrived. Feeling a little better we ate way too much food and settled in for the night. I was soon asleep in a wonderfully comfortable bed. But before going to sleep I mentioned to Mrs. Liberia that we could skip the Skyline and upper Blue Ridge Parkway route and drive straight to Roanoke which would cut the travel time from 6 hours to 3 if that would make it better. She's going to sleep on it and see how she feels about it in the morning.
    #32
  13. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    Yesterday was not a good one for Mrs. Liberia. She was so tired and in so much pain by the time we stopped for the night that I really didn't think she could continue on. So I was up at 5:00am thinking about potential solutions.

    There are not airports nearby that Southwest (where I have Rapid Rewards coupons) flies out of. So I began looking for car rental locations that would do a one-way rental to Nashville. Unfortunately Winchester did not have any who would do so. But Roanoke did which means that we have to drive another couple of hundred miles to get there.

    The question is should we take I-81 south to Roanoke which would be about 3 hours of riding or take Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway as originally planned.

    Probably the smartest thing I've done recently is to let Mrs. Liberia sleep as long as possible. Part of the problem is that she had stayed up very late for the past 2 nights visiting with LiberiaDaughter. Thus she was already very tired before our biggest day of riding. So I grabbed the computer and went down to the lobby of the Hampton Inn for coffee and to update the ride report.

    I like Hampton Inns for a number of reasons and one is the good breakfast bar that they have for guests. This morning I didn't really want anything to eat but did enjoy some of their coffee. Finally at about 9:00am I went back up to the room and Mrs. Liberia was just waking up. We continued the lazy morning by not rushing to get on the road.

    Mrs. Liberia says that she wants to put the Butty Buddy on the bike and see if that helps. You can Google "Butty Buddy" to see one (and I'll try to get a photo of it uploaded as well) but it's essentially a seat that goes on top of the regular seat and provides a wider and more comfortable place to sit. We didn't use it yesterday because Mrs. Liberia was a little concerned that it would be unstable. She also chooses to take the scenic route rather than the faster one.

    So it's about 11:00am when we finally get off with Butty Buddy in place.

    The first leg is 20 miles on Hwy 522/Royal Avenue which runs from Winchester to Front Royal where Skyline Drive begins. We stop a couple of miles before getting on Skyline Drive to top off with gas. By filing up now we should be able to ride all day without having to get gas again until we stop for the night in Roanoke. Total miles should be around 250 for the day. Mrs. Liberia is already singing the praises of the Butty Buddy. We'll see what it's like by day's end.

    Jumping onto Skyline Drive one of the first things we notice is that the top speed for the road is 35mph and it's about 105 miles to the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Wow, 3 hours to go 105 miles plus any stops we make.

    [​IMG]

    It's immediately evident why people love to make this drive. Civilization disappears and you're transported into a world of forests and outstanding vistas at every turn. For motorcycle riders it's especially fun as you are constantly winding, climbing and decending through a never ending series of sweepers and tight curves. It's both relaxing and challenging all at the same time. It's also free of commercial traffic and, today, there are very few other vehicles to share the road with. I guess weekdays are much lighter in visitors even in the summer.

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    Our first stop. Doing better at stopping more often.
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    A shot for our future daughter-in-law whose 2 favorite things are BBQ and Smores
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    Although not long, the tunnels were really strange on a motorcycle.
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    The "backside"
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    Nice curves make the drive fun
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    Helmet hair causes some people more trouble than others.
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    [​IMG]

    At each stop (and I'm stopping more often) Mrs. Liberia continues to say that she's very comfortable and is enjoying the ride. So it sounds like the combination of a good night's sleep and a new seat are making a real difference.

    Finally in late afternoon we reach the end of Skyline Drive and the beginning of the Blueridge Parkway. This happens near the town of Waynesborough, VA where we decide to stop for lunch. After about 5 miles into town we see a small, local Mexican restaurant. The food there is good. Mrs. Liberia has Chicken Poblano and I have Enchiladas Poblano which both have a Mole sauce that is good. While we're eating Mrs. Liberia talks to LiberiaDaugher1 (our other daughter who lives in St. Paul, MN). Finally we're off to start down the Blue Ridge Parkway. We'll start at the northern end but get off in Roanoke for the night and then back on to Boone, NC where we will leave it for good.

    [​IMG]

    Lunch in Waynesborough
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The speed limit on the Blue Ridge Parkway is 45 mph. The road is actually better on Skyline Drive but there seems to be fewer extreme curves in the early portion of BRP than on the Skyline. So we're making better time (not the objective but it's starting to look like we may be pushing 7:30pm before we reach our exit in Roanoke and I really don't want to be here when it starts getting dark due to the curves, dropoffs and wildlife.

    Speaking of wildlife, we saw one deer on Skyline Drive but several deer (including a doe with 2 small fawns) on the BRP. We also saw one turkey, a hen trying hard to get to the other side of the road without being seen. The deer that we saw were standing right on the edge of the road and didn't seem bothered by cars passing within a few feet of them.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So far on the 2 parkways we have seen at least as many motorcycles as cars and have seen surprisingly few motorhomes. People had warned us against the problem of getting stuck behind motorhomes on the parkways but we didn't have that problem. The few times we did get behind someone they were soon pulling off into one of the many overlooks along the way.

    [​IMG]

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    The James River
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    A small model of how boat locks worked on the James
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    Above the clouds
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    Skyline Drive has more vistas while the BRP seems to have more forest type driving. Both are beautiful and this is my first time on either except for a short drive out of Asheville, NC about 30 years ago. I recommend the drive if you have the opportunity and the time.

    Finally we reach the exit for Roanoke. We're staying at the Hampton Inn near the airport. While not a regular gps user I will say that the simple Tom Tom One that is on Katie has been helpful. I can't justify the cost of motorcycle specific gps units but it would be nice.

    The Hampton Inn shows up rght on time and our room there is the largest, non-suite hotel room I've ever stayed in. Not sure if this is an exception or if every room is this size. I do know that these are all outside accessable rooms rather than the normal internally accessable rooms. Regardless, it's a nice room.

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    Towel art
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    Since we ate so late we decide just to have some some popcorn and apples for dinner and not go out.

    Wow, what a comfortable bed.

    [​IMG]
    #33
  14. CaveDave

    CaveDave Underground

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,509
    Location:
    Underground
    I was wondering whether you folks would end up on 81 or the parkways. The nice thing about the parkways is the beauty is a distraction from the monkey butt and the saddle time. I'm glad you guys chose them, as they will make the trip more memorable, and especially glad the Butty Buddy helped the Mrs.!:clap

    I just gooled it, I've never seen one before, but that thing looks amazingly comfortable!

    Hope today is a great ride!
    #34
  15. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    This morning I tried the same thing that seemed to work yesterday. Letting Mrs. Liberia sleep as late as she wants. So I slipped out to update yesterday's ride report at around 5:45am.

    By the way, here's a picture of the Butty Buddy that has been a lifesaver.
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    My bride got breakfast in bed again this morning. I know I didn't have to cook it but I did have to walk all the way up to the room with the plate and coffee.:D

    Soon (like at about 10:30am) we were ready to go.
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    As we're leaving Roanoke Gayla notices a "different" building. See if you see it in the photo.
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    Soon we're back on the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoying the wonderful vistas.
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    The BRP has more sweeping curves rather than the descending circles that are the rule on Skyline Drive. So I'm able to take almost all the curves at the 45mph speed limit. Fun without being scary.

    Mrs. Liberia finally caught some of the wildlife still long enough to get a picture. A doe deer with a fawn in tow. We only saw one even though most have twins at birth.
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    The BRP seems to have a lot of privately owned property along it while thee were no privated farms/homes/etc. along Skyline Drive.
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    Nice sweeping curves and a lot more open and flat land along the way.
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    We stopped a lot more than on Tuesday (I may be a slow learner but I do learn). Mrs. Liberia wanted to make sure that everyone knew her shirt was a special sun blocker model and that she washes it out every night and dries it. Of course I'm saying that she keeps wearing the same shirt every day without washing it.
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    We even took time to rest some during our stops.
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    The BRP offers a lot of educational opportunities along the way. One of the best is a small farm village that included a working mill, blacksmith's shop, weaver's loom, etc. Here are some pictures from our stop there.
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    My sweetheart
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    The water flume taking water to the mill to turn the large wheel.
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    A flower just because
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    A peek in the blacksmith's shop
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    A cage that my son-in-law could use to catch squirrels
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    An employee carving some items for the farm.
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    A whiskey still for the Harley Riders
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    A close up of the mill
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    A final vista for you
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    A late lunch in Sparta, NC at Brown's Resturant. It was fabulous. You should eat there. The fried squash was the best.
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    Even the overpasses were attractive
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    Another comfortable room at Hampton Inn - Boone, NC
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    A late dinner from a Greek resturant. Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, hummus with pita bread and spanakopita.
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    Tomorrow we're back to regular roads. Not looking forward to that.

    By the way, here's the mileage figures by fill up:

    Tank 1 52.8
    Tank 2 53.6
    Tank 3 49.4 (Interstate only)
    Tank 4 56.92 (Skyline and first half of BRP)
    #35
  16. pgboyd

    pgboyd Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    26
    I'm loving following your RR. I live in VA and need to get down there to cruise the BRP and especially see that farm village museum. Hope you enjoy the rest of your ride!

    Phil
    #36
  17. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    PGBoyd,

    Mabry Mill is a really nice stopping point. It is probably the best spot that we stopped at along the BRP. There were several volunteers there providing information and demonstrating various crafts and everyday farm tasks from 100+ years ago. I'm not quite 100 years old but noticed a few things from my early childhood. One was the sorghum mill and evaporator that is used to make molasses. As a child growing up in rural northern Florida our families would get together at Thanksgiving for a "cane grinding." Rather than sorghum we used sugar cane that we grew and instead of the evaporator we used a large, cast iron kettle to boil the cane juice until it finally turned into syrup. What wonderful memories that the mill brought back.

    Here's a link to the Mabry Mill website:

    http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/v.php?pg=105
    #37
  18. CaveDave

    CaveDave Underground

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,509
    Location:
    Underground
    Rodney, it sounds like you and your wife are having a great time. Getting the small point an shoot camera for her to snap action photos along the way is working out great! You guys have some great shots.
    So one more day to go?
    #38
  19. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    I didn't wake up until 7:30 this morning. I guess the trip is catching up with me as well. Although we have decided to make it all the way home today, I'm letting Mrs. Liberia sleep in again. So off with the computer to the breakfast buffet. Nothing there that I need to eat but the coffee is good.

    About 9:00 I decide to take lunch, I mean breakfast, up to sleeping beauty. I wake her up and provide some toast, fruit, etc. plus the coffee and then leave to gas up while she gets ready. The bed has been incredibly comfortable. Hampton Inns are always good.

    So we leave Boone on US-321 for Johnson City, TN where we will pick up I-26 West and pick up I-81 South near Bristol, TN. I-81 will take us to I-40 West which will go through Knoxville, TN and finally to Hwy 96 which will eventually get us close to home. 340 miles and we'll be home. Unfortunately most of it is on Interstates.

    The nice thing about the first 50+ miles is that it will look a lot like the BRP as we travel through the Cherokee National Forest. Perhaps more traffic, including trucks, but still a nice ride.

    Curves, curves and more curves
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    One of the creeks along US 321 feeding into Watauga Lake
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    Watauga Lake in the Cherokee National Forest
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    Now that's a fun sign
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    Reminds me of Georgia
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    Another picture of the lake
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    A nice marina
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    This trips turning into a blur
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    For you coffee drinkers
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    Can't stay for the movie
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    Trucks for the first time in 3 days
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    A good Cracker Barrel lunch just west of Knoxville
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    Within an hour or so of home we cross the Center Hill Dam
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    Caney Fork River on the right
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    Center Hill Lake on the left
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    Highway 96, getting closer to home
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    Three's a crowd
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    We continue on the last 45 minutes through Woodbury, TN and then to Murfreesboro. After a quick stop by the church to make sure a band that's using the facilities are okay, we make the final 18 miles home. Wow is it good to be home.
    [​IMG]

    I'll post a summary of the trip including how the bike handled, recommendations for others taking this trip, gas mileage, etc. either later tonight or tomorrow.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for going along on the trip with us.
    #39
  20. Liberia

    Liberia Fortunate

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    561
    Location:
    Murfreesboro, TN
    If you have specific questions that you'd like to ask please do a reply to this thread and I'll try my best to get you an answer.

    Travel Segments:
    Saturday - 69 miles - East Wareham, MA to Westborough, MA for the night
    Sunday - 153 miles - To Lenox, MA, see a show
    Monday - 35 miles - Early morning ride, visit with LiberiaDaughter
    Tuesday - 436 miles - To Winchester, VA for the night
    Wednesday - 256 miles - Skyline Drive and part of Blue Ridge Parkway
    Thursday - 199 miles - Blue Ridge Parkway to Boone, NC for the night
    Friday - 356 miles - Home to Mufreesboro, TN
    Total mileage for the trip 1,504

    Weather:
    It would have been hard to pick a better week to make this trip. The week before was upper 90's along the entire route but we seldom
    experienced more than the mid 80's until the final day when it got warm from around Knoxville until we arrived home where it was 95 degrees.
    The real problem was being cold on numerous occassions as our clothing was selected for hot weather not cool.

    We put our rain suits on twice for about 30 minutes each time and avoided small sprinkles each time. So we enjoyed a practially rainfree week.

    The Route:
    We were amazed by the beauty of Western Massachusetts. I can't say enough about the town of Lenox, MA. It's truly an amazing small town and worth spending time in. Jacob's Pillow Dance Theater is high quality and we understand there are other nearby towns which have other performing arts
    theaters.

    The Taconic Parkway is a really nice way to move south in New York without being on an interstate or busy thoroughfare. We enjoyed it a lot.
    Interstates are not enjoyable but are sometimes necessary to make time. The speed and trucks make it more stressful. The buffeting from the trucks tires you out more than you would think.

    Skyline Drive is breathtaking and challenging. Take the time to stop often (we didn't) at the numerous overlooks. The speed limit is 35mph and 40mph is about all I was comfortable with. You'll do a lot slower on most of the plentiful curves.

    Blue Ridge Parkway is more relaxed and faster. More like driving through a forest with occassional stunning vistas. Much more to stop and see
    along the way. Mabry Mill is an especially interesting place. Mid-week seems to be a low traffic time. I'm sure that you can't stir the RV's
    with a stick when the colors are changing. I'm also sure it would be quite chilly then as well. The BRP is easier to get on and off as you go
    along. There are several towns that are close by for food and gas as well as the occassional fuel/food stop on the BRP itself.

    US-321 is a fun drive with lots of hills and curves. Not as good as Skyline or BRP but still a good drive.

    The KLR650:
    Asethics-
    The bike was clean and in good condition when I picked it up. There were some scuffs/scratches to the handguards, front right tank plastic/decal and rear plastic from the prior owner's tipovers. No dents or significant damage.

    Enhancements-
    The numerous enhancements and accessories were a real plus. It would have been nice if there had been front crash bars with footpegs. Having footpegs would have allowed Mrs. Liberia to use my pegs for a changeup in position. Although the 2008 and up models have the one piece "doohicky," the spring is still a weak point. So it would have been nice if the cam chain tensioner (doohickey) had been done. The bash plate is a plus but not necessary for this trip as we never left the pavement.

    The included mount allowed me to put a cheap Tom Tom One gps on the bike. It's not a motorcycle specific gps but still proved quite helpful. I would want one on any bike used for longer trips. It washes out in the sunshine but still was readable most of the time.

    Panniers/Pelican Case-
    I love the Happy Trails panniers. They are simple, top loading and hold a ton of stuff. Much of the left pannier contained stuff provided by the
    prior owner such as 2 quarts of Havoline 20w50 motorcycle oil, 2 partial cans of chain lube, the stock front/rear sprockets, manual, tire changing
    stuff (small tire irons/electric air pump/etc.) plus a slip on KLR650.com muffler and jet kit (Prior owner said it was louder than he liked). We
    used a Whole Foods grocery bag to act as the liner for the right pannier which held all our clothes. This left enough room at one end for the
    toiletries bag plus a couple of other items. The one thing that was a pain is that the panniers have an internal lip. So when you put any soft sided
    bag inside them the contents would expand the bag to the size of the pannier and make it very hard to get the bag back out past the inside lip.

    The Pelican case is hard mounted (removable only with a wrench) but a great item never-the-less. It is a 1520 (I think) which held the Hippo Hands the owner included plus my backpack with laptop, paperwork, paperbacks, etc. I like some of the Givi top cases better as you can put a full helmet inside plus have a built in back rest. But the Pelican is tough, waterproof and allows a standard lock to be used. The prior owner threw in 4 Master locks keyed to a single key for the panniers and 1 Master lock on a separate key for the Pelican. I put 2 of the locks inside one pannier and used 3 of the similarly keyed locks, 1 for each bag. Built in locks would be nice but being able to use padlocks made things simpler.

    We also used a separate, motorcycle specific bag which we mounted on top of the Pelican case using 3 bungee cords (I can hear some of you groaning now but they worked just fine and this served as a backrest for Mrs. Liberia. It was very simple to put on and remove.

    Due to lack of space we mounted Mrs. Liberia's camera case on top of the right pannier using a cargo net plus the bag's shoulder strap as a safety strap. It turned out that we used the little Nikon point and shoot camera for most pictures due to ease of use and her nice Nikon w/lens only on occassions when we were going to be somewhere for a while. If you look back through the previous posts you will find pictures of everything mentioned above including the Whole Foods liner bag.

    Miles Per Gallon by tank-

    Sun - Tank avg = 52.84, Cumm avg = 52.84, Average speed = 45mph
    Tue - Tank avg = 53.57, Cumm avg = 53.23, Average speed = 55mph
    Tue - Tank avg = 49.45, Cumm avg = 52.27, Average speed = 65mph
    Wed -Tank avg = 56.92, Cumm avg = 53.52, Average speed = 40mph
    Thu - Tank avg = 55.34, Cumm avg = 54.13, Average speed = 45mph
    Fri - Tank avg = 57.51, Cumm avg = 54.54, Average speed = 60mph

    As you can see, the cummulative fuel mileage for the entire trip was over 54mpg. Given that we were riding 2 up with a ton of luggage, I thought this was outstanding. The only time we dipped below 50mpg was the stretch of Interstate driving when we were running 65 to 70mph. This is also the only time the KLR used any oil. I added almost a pint after that run. No oil used during the entire rest of the trip! So I would say that there is a point at which it will use oil if extended, highspeed travel is performed. Being loaded down likely adds to this problem. Still, 1,500 miles and 1 pint of oil used is not bad.

    Note that these mpg figures could be a little high as, at 60 mph on the speedometer the gps shows 57 (a 5.3% overstatement). However, I did one quick mileage test of the odometer which showed only a 1.6% difference. I'm not sure whether the speedometer and odometer can have different error rates or not but my simple test seems to indicate that it's possible.

    Comfort-
    The stock seat is uncomfortable for both the rider and passenger. I can definitely see why people move to aftermarket seats like the Sargent. I toyed with the idea of picking up a used Sargent (all good reviews) or Corbin (mixed reviews) for the trip but that would have meant shipping home the original seat. Hindsight says I should have done it. For any of the days where I rode over 100 miles it was uncomfortable. With 2 up you just don't have the room to shift around very much.

    The Butty Buddy is all that saved the day for Mrs. Liberia. Without that I would likely have had to find another way home for her. The stock seat just isn't up to extended 200 - 400 mile travel days. If you do anything more than day trips get an aftermarket seat.

    The bike had been lowered which helped. The peg placement was good for me. They are wide and will catch the bottom of your pants legs when manuevering if you're not careful. The panniers restrict your legs when in parking lots but it was not a problem for me. Because the bike had been lowered, the kickstand was too long. On a level surface I was always scared the bike would fall over with the slightest bump. So we always looked for a sloped area when stopping and put the kickstand on the down hill side. I will likely cut off the kickstand to correct this.

    Power-
    The bike had good power and was set up for highway travel as the prior owner used it to make a 120 mile roundtrip commute each day. That's how he got 7,000 miles on a 2009 so quickly. The setup was 1 tooth up on the front and 3 teeth down on the back (I think this is right). This results in very high gearing. So starting out from a standing stop, especially fully loaded and 2 up, was quite a strain. Lightly loaded with only one person and it would be fine. But I would change it back to original if I were doing 2 up travel with it.

    Getting On/Off-
    With the panniers and top case, getting on and off the bike was somewhat of a challenge and required a modified "step over" type action. Having the camera bag on the right pannier and the large add-on bag over the Pelican case didn't help the situation. But I think this would be true of any bike. The KLR is a tall bike to begin with which adds to the effort.

    Camping vs Hotels:
    I've yet to do motorcycle camping but would like to in the future. That said, if Mrs. Liberia and I were camping I would limit the miles per day to no more than 200. The added time to setup/tear down, cook, etc. would likely result in less time to travel each day. I think, with the proper camping equipment, that we could camp 2 up on the KLR. Almost the entire left pannier was filled with things we would not normally take. I was surprised by how much room the 2 rainsuits take up as well.

    Hotels are expensive even if you're staying in the lower end of the chains. I shopped pretty hard and we still averaged about $75 per night or more. Given the way the trip turned out, it was worth every penny. We ended up eating every meal in a resturant which is also expensive. Again, this trip made eating out a necessity.

    Summary Summary :-)
    You can definitely travel 2 up on a KLR650. But you need to make as little of it on interstates as possible. I would also limit my daily mileage to 250 except on the odd day when you had to do more. It's a good bike that I enjoyed very much, very fuel efficent and enough power to do what you need it to.
    #40