Four Corners & a Stinger

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ikeya-Seki, May 30, 2019.

  1. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    233
    Location:
    Oro Valley, AZ near 77
    Will you be 54 this year...just wondering if your screen name references a comet. If I'm correct...here's a new avatar for you. :) Screen Shot 2019-06-13 at 10.44.52 AM.png
    #21
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  2. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Awsome!!!
    #22
  3. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    New Hampshire
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    Day 5 in the books.

    Quick update today as I’ve already encountered some course changes and today is looking good to trim the sails and get a full day of riding.

    After Maine, I pit-stopped back at my home and made a few packing adjustments and gear substitutions. One of them was swapping out air mattresses. I was trying out a smaller, lighter and more narrow Termarest and it just doesn’t cut it. It would be fine if I slept coffin style and just as dead, but I move and needed a bit more real-estate.

    I think it takes two or three days of riding for the load to settle, straps to reveal their wiggle room and how best to Jinga every little thing in its place. This is the case for me anyhow and I am glad I could stop, re-charge and tweak at my home. Nice to see family faces too.

    After meeting up and riding a bit with my cousin Paul, the weather finally got wet. That, and an issue with my rear drive shaft boot popping open and I decided to stop at a MAX BMW dealership close by. I’d purchased my bike from them in North Hampton so I figured they would be helpful and they were. Big thanks there. What it turned out being was a clip on the plastic retaining part that interfaces between the metal swing arm and rubber boot had worn down and wouldn’t stay put. Exposed drive shaft is bad. The Max team were able to scavenge a fresh part off a floor bike and get me on my way.

    So, while I had a long day and a number 3 lunch plate special, I did not make much linear progress. And with that, today is an opportunity to make a little back.

    Unless conditions dictate otherwise, I am aiming for Front Royal, VA, Skyline Drive and a easy ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Couple final observations for the day: for a few miles anyway, I rode along GPS Kevins TAT tracks (seems oddly similar to Google Maps) and also, the Michelin Adventure tires have been great so far.

    Ikeya-Seki, out.
    #23
  4. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    59B8E5C7-97F2-44C9-9E12-C0B6E13A5409.jpeg Day 6 & 7 in the books.

    Nuts & Bolts: Trip odometer 2322 miles. About 275 on Friday and 424 on Saturday. Averaged 48/52 mpg. Max mph; 78. Max elevation 5600 ft.

    After parting company with my cousin and getting a part at MAX BMW in Connecticut, I started southwest toward Front Royal. I got into a bit of a fight with my GPS which, for some Garmin-ass reason, wanted to send me back to Albany, NY......... so, I happened to notice I was a hop skip and a jump away from GPS Kevin’s northern TAT tracks so I jumped and and rode all day on paintless & gravel roads. The bike handled well and the Michelin Adventure tires performed well at road pressures (39/46). There was one bit where I needed to bypass a four wheel barrier and found about 4-5 inches of soft mud. I duck-walked through at abut a 10 and 4 o’clock angle. Nice.

    Highlights of the past two days include the Michaux Forest - an amazing track of winding road through mature trees and flanked by carpets of moss and ferns. And, the Blue Ridge Parkway was the best I’ve ever experienced. Full sun and blue skies meant comfortable temps and 60 mile plus views. Best of all for the entire ride, I managed to come upon fewer than a dozen cars. I made it from end to end on a single tank of fuel. Good day.

    I rented a motel room in Front Royal and pitched my tent in the Otter Peaks campground along the parkway. No rain. Today I find myself in the lodge room at Iron Horse motorcycle campground in Robbinsville, NC (35.5892 / -83.6779) If you have not had the pleasure to stop in, put it on your list. It’s a great facility.

    Today, I plan to ride to nothern Florida and find someplace to camp.

    Ikeya-Seki, out.
    #24
  5. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Happy Father’s Day.

    About to head south to Florida from Robinsville, NC and looking for Tent space in the general area of Gaineville, say a 100 mile radius.... headed toward Fort Myers day after. Thanks.
    #25
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  6. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    977
    Micheaux is a gem, glad you got to experience it and enjoy it!
    #26
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  7. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Oddometer:
    40
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    Day 8 in the books.


    Odometer: 519. Overall Ride: 2833 MPG: 40.6


    Sunday turned out to be kind of a push day. It didn’t start that way though.


    I left the Iron Horse at about 8, just after breakfast and made my way up the 28 to Deal’s Gap and the Dragon’s Tail / RT 129. Being a weekend, I was expecting a much bigger crowd but there were only a few in the parking lot. Maybe because it was a Sunday.


    Anyhow, I rode up and back. The first time, I was trapped behind a novice or extremely cautious rider. On the return I had a clear run top to bottom and enjoyed myself without breaking a sweat, mellow really. Oh, except for the asshole in the sapphire blue Porsche Boxter crossing doubles in a hairpin.


    Honesty, I find the Cherohala Skyway a more enjoyable ride. That is if you like quarter mile sweeping turns along a 5000 foot mountainside with incredible views. I recommend both for different reasons.


    Perhaps the best way to take in that section of North Carolina, Tennessee area is just to explore. I was swinging bars all morning and really getting into the rhythm. I especially enjoy the sensation of compressing the suspension going into one of the many tight, tight turns and then unloading with a quick throttle hammer. I swear it feels like skiing.


    After I got disentangled from the twisties in the Nantahala, I essentially made a B-line to Fargo, Florida just slicing trough the Chattahoochee then central Georgia on some arrow strait secondary roads with very few cars. Not my favorite kind of riding, but I got that damn reservation on the 19th, so I pushed a bit.


    I should note that I made an effort to cross the border in to South Carolina and wound up ridding through some of the Sumter National Forest as well as a few miles of gravel and one sketchy land pass marked as private - zealous land owner me thinks. I


    The bugs in Maine can be thick. The bugs in Montana, Alabama and Nebraska can be something, but the bugs in Florida along the Oconee Forrest at night time are a whole other story. By the time I got to the Holiday Inn, my face was covered in hatch.


    Ikeya-Seki, out.
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    #27
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  8. AdamChandler

    AdamChandler Ascending n00b Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Hanover, NH USA
    IN. holy crap this thread is exciting.
    #28
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  9. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    New Hampshire
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    Day 9 & 10 in the books

    Well, I forgot to turn on my tracker after I left the Iron Horse so the tracks are missing from my Garmin InReach (by the way, if you want to follow, message me for link & password), but I have the gpx file on my Nav V so once I can, I will fill in the blanks.

    After a day of hauling ass I was able to ease off some and make it to Estero, Fl to visit with my father in time for dinner.... imagine that? I was good to see him then and I’m sure as well on the re-pass in a few days. The big take away was that he commented (context: former defense atty. vehemently opposed to motorcycles) after talking with me and learning more about the motorcycle riding community, he has changed his opinion and perspective: he no longer considers us all outlaws. Nice.

    The ride down to Estero was unremarkable except for a few heavy downpours that did more to cool me off than deter my progress. They were brief and drying came fast. The humidity has set in.

    On Tuesday I set out for the Navy Lodge at Dredger’s Key via the 41 Tamiami Trail as well as a 27 mile mostly gravel loop to the Big Cypress National Preserve. It proved to be a fantastic detour. There, I came upon a handful of alligators resting along the edge of the road as well as several ponds or water crossings that were full of gar, bass, turtles and other small fish. The water was crystal clear with a bright sunny bottom. The dark silhouettes of the amphibians, reptiles and fish stood out well.

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    I had a back up booking for tent space at the Sigbee campground, but a room opened up at the Lodge and I took that. It’s muggy and I have a bit of gear to secure while I’m at the Dry Tortugas National Park today. Got kinda lucky owing to there being no elevator - the desk clerk put me in a fist floor mini suite with a fully stocked kitchen. Commissary is across the street.

    Day off today. Sightseeing.


    Ikey-Seki, out

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    #29
  10. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
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    Location:
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Great trip report so far. Thanks for taking us along. Take lots of pics in the Dry Tortugas. I will probably never get there and would like to see what the islands look like...Dave
    #30
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  11. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2005
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    Location:
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    In from NZ! :wave

    Shane
    #31
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  12. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
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    40
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    1C270806-CE49-46AB-8153-126F28F3860D.jpeg Dry Tortugas National Park. Highly recommended if you get the chance.

    The day off from the bike at the Dry Tortugas was a excellent respite and departure from the norm. The Yankee Freedom ferry leaves Key West early at about 8:00 and shuttles her passengers at a little over 24 knots to the National Park outpost in about three hours. Breakfast is served on board which consisted of cereals, fruits, breakfast meats, boiled eggs, bagels and OJ. A similarly style lunch is also included. The boat is well run, well staffed and organized. Passages are left to enjoy the ride in either air conditioned cabins or on breezy sun decks.

    Once there, guests can borrow snorkeling gear, join a guided tour or explore the island on their own. I picked two.

    I used a hand-held GoPro Session V (my helmet cam) for the snorkeling duty and a Sony RX1 for still shots.

    The island’s main structure is a six sided poured concrete and brick fortress with an interesting and integral place in US maritime history.

    I snorkeled mainly along the perimeter where a vibrant ecosystem of corals, sea grasses, fish and other creatures flourish. The brain coral, fans and some of the purple corals really stood out. Parrot fish can be seen and heard crunching at coral. I did not see any sharks, but barracuda are likely ( I didn’t spot any, but a couple I spoke with had.

    Camping is allowed on the island and I had considered it months ago when there were still spots unreserved, but opted out and lucky I did as my original departure date had slid down the calendar a bit.

    Below are a few picks from the day. If I can sort out how to load video (it’s probably easy), I have a sweet clip of some schooling chub panning for the camera.

    Next is an obligatory visit to the Southern Buoy, maybe a slice of key lime pie and then north and west,

    Ikeya-Seki, out.

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    #32
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  13. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Oh, and by the way..........



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    Corner No. 2 complete.

    Ikeya-Seki, out.
    #33
  14. 2hot2handle

    2hot2handle New to the biking scene!

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2019
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Idaho
    Safe traveling! Looks like an awesome adventure.
    #34
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  15. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Day 13 in the books.

    Nuts & Bolts: Trip Odometer: 271 Overall Ride: 3676. Mpg: 49 Min elevation: -24

    For the ride back from Key Werst to Estero I pretty much followed my tacks being sure to include the 27 mile loop road that dips into the Big Cypress National Preserve. From the west end of the loop the road begins as narrow pavement with homes on both sides for maybe three or four miles. After that It turns to hard packed gravel and the house plots are replace by Everglade swamp, Cypress trees, mangroves and other that at times form a tunnel of vegetation. At others it gives way to larger openings and a few campgrounds as well. Large locust sun themselves all over the road, some becoming unwitting speed bumps.

    The riding is slow and easy and there are plenty of opportunities to stop and spot wildlife. Yellow reflectors on the sides of the road mark water crossings and some are quite active. Be careful as alligators will and do rest in the vegetation at the edge of the roadway and can be well camouflaged (see June 18 post).

    A few patches of fresh gravel where here and there toward the middle and at the east end of the loop the road becomes somewhat potted. The surface was dry except for a few easily avoidable puddles. The few times I put a tiny twist in the throttle, the tires got more grip than slip. So far so good.

    Next I’ll follow the coastline toward Pensacola and go from there.

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    Ikeya-Seki, out

    Attached Files:

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  16. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    New Hampshire
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    Day 14 & 15 in the books.

    Nuts & Bolts: 75 miles on Friday and 397 on Saturday. Overall Trip: 4275. MPG about 39

    Friday was just a bump up from Estero to Venice / Nokomis to visit a friend and crash out for the night.

    From there I rode to the Colt Creek State Park near Zephyrhills near the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve and then out through Clay Sink. It was an enjoyable ride by Florida riding standards (lots straight & Flat) owing mainly to the dense vegetation and sparse traffic. Parts of Clay Sink gave off a classic southern gothic vibe with large, stately oaks draped in Spanish moss. The range of greens spanned deep dark and muddy to airy and contrasting yellows. Temps held fairly steady just over 90 and then dipped down in advance if a passing front. Lightening was cracking just to the north and I was just about to find a place to duck out when my course and the front both changed direction at the same time and I punched through a sun lit corridor. I had been thinking of that guy in Florida who was struck in the head on RT 95 a few weeks ago.


    On my way to the Ochlockonee State Park I washed through Sopchoppy to pick up a few supplies. I arrived with no reservation a little after 7 p.m. and managed to snag one of the few remaking first-come/first-serve tent spaces for the night. It cooled off to 77 or so and sleeping was easy with the tent fully ventilated. As it was a last spot, it was pretty sandy and most of my time packing up was dealing with that.


    I’m stopped now as I write this at St. George Island State Park. What a beautiful beach. It’s hard to imagine a horrific hurricane blasted through not long ago. There are still tell’s here and there - lots & lots of new, stilted buildings, some debris piles and a few building closures, but all in all, the healing here is going well. And it is beautiful here. Said that twice, cause it just is.

    Ikeya-Seki, out.

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    #36
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  17. YukonC

    YukonC Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2017
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    19
    Location:
    Tukwila, WA
    I would think that Cape Flattery near Neah Bay, WA would be a more appropriate NW corner destination than Blaine. There is very good riding there as well.
    #37
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  18. Ikeya-Seki

    Ikeya-Seki Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Oddometer:
    40
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Day 16 & 17 in the books.

    Almost 1000 miles in the last two days have pushed my tip odometer to just past 5000 miles. Texas is fast.

    Michelin Adventure tires with appx 4500 miles

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    Sunday’s 490 mile ride was long but rewarding with a few surprises along the way. The day started as I had mentioned earlier riding from Florida’s Ochlockonee River State Park to the Apalachicola National Forrest and then to St. George Island State Park. Fairs to say this was their first surprise. This strip of white sandy shoreline is laced with tall, airy grasses, short, spiky palms, and sculpted by modest windswept dunes with a scatter of birds chirping away every where you look. The sea air off gulf was refreshing against the inland heat and carried a hint of salt. It felt a little like Cape Cod, but more relaxed.

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    Next up was just how devastated Mexico Beach Florida was by Hurricane Michael. I spoke too soon when I had commented on how the effects of the hurricane appeared to be on the mend. The same cannot be said for the beach community of Mexico, Fl. From what I could tell, it was flattened. Homes, commercial buildings were pulverized and just about every tree was snapped or broken. It will be a while before that town gets back together. There is still a significant portion of costal RT 98 that is closed to all but local traffic.

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    After St. George, I stayed on small, relatively straight backroads which would otherwise be boring were they mostly car free and surrounded by thick rows of trees. A few short, unpacked detours caught my attention and I made some camping notes for another pass through maybe. I continued to push west to the De Soto National Forest in search of a place to camp. All I found were a couple 3-4 mile dead end dirt roads. A few softer patches of sand tested my front tire, but nothing to raise a heartbeat. It was however pitch dark ..... if not for my Clearwater illuminators...... so, okay it was like daytime. With little room for error I took it easy.

    The final surprise of the day was guess what? There are no campgrounds to be found in the De Soto National Forest and after a bunch of useless tracking and backtracking, I found myself under the office light at Mazalea’s Travel Park near Biloxi, Mississippi. After fumbling for a few minutes, Joe the owner’s son approached me to see if he could help out. And he could. With his mom Sandy’s blessing, I pitched my tent right there on the first spot of grass I found and spent the night. Joe and Sandy took good care of me while I killed a few hours to let a nasty front blow by.

    Monday I rode back up from the coast in a more or less straight line to the Davy Crockett National Forest where I knew the Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area had a decent sized campground. And I was right. It does. The ride was unremarkable except for the speed limit jumping to 75 on Texas roads and that temperatures hovered in the high 70’s low 80’s all day.

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    The campground at Ratcliff Lake is huge with several loops of sites for both RV’s and tenting. There is also a waterfront, amphitheater, and day use area. I was the only visitor and at first, I couldn’t figure out why? The place was a little shaggy in spots and recent heavy rains had shifted ground cover in places, but overall it is a fantastic little spot not crazy far from Dallas (in 4C&S terms anyhow). So what gives?

    Standard protocol for checking into a national park “after hours” is to find an empty, unreserved site and set up. Then you go back to the pay station, fill out the envelop and drop your payment in the box. Job done. Well, on my visit, camp hosts Alice & Michael rolled up in their friendly golf cart and promptly approached me, clipboard in hand. They seemed ready to challenge me, as camp hosts they should. I introduced myself, stated my intentions and they said I could pay in the morning since it was getting late and the pay station was so far off. I thanked them and inquired as to why the bathhouse was locked. They both insisted it was not locked. It was.

    After they went over to “check” I went over with my shower kit and lo and behold it was unlocked and except for the huge-ass spider, it was very clean for a campground bathhouse. In fact, Michael had just remarked how he’d been busy cleaning it. It was a good, hot shower. I needed it; my joints and things had begun to protest the ride.

    I thought it was odd - the door locked/not locked thing - but I didn’t really think much about it......... until the next morning.

    I woke up at just before 5 a.m. and the road food from yesterday had soured my belly. So, I set off to the bathhouse ( a very, very long, dark and slippery way away) only to discover, you guessed it: locked doors. Dead bolted. All of four of ‘em.

    Now I knew the host(s) had to have done it - no one, not a car, a truck, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian came in all night - what I couldn’t figure out was why? I was pretty irritated, aghast really and just had to do what bears do.

    After I took care of business, I fired up my bike and laid on my horn and blasted a few SOS signals and let the Clearwaters strobe for a while. No reaction. At 7:30 I saw Michael get in his pickup truck and head toward the bathhouse. I marched over there to try and intercept him, but he did not stop and circled the camp loop and drove past and away completely oblivious to my frantically waving a white rag and calling to him. I checked the bathhouse again anyway. Fort Knox.

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    They had said if I needed anything to ask and at 8:00 I mustered the nerve to knock on the camp host’s RV door (it is Texas remember). No answer. Not a peep. At 9:00 I decided enough was enough and I hoped on my bike and rode the ten million miles to the pay station and registered for TWO NIGHTS. Now I was getting a second shower, maybe a third shit too. I said my stomach was bad.

    Here’s the good part. As I was pulling back in to the camp loop, I espied Alice walking in the direction of her host RV site and away from the bathhouse. She had a key on a yellow tag in her hand. I took the opportunity to speak with her and relay my concern. After all, this is a 24 hour facility in a NATIONAL FOREST, belonging to us all. I mentioned to her that in all my travels, dozens and dozens of visits to national parks that I’d never been to one where the camp host keeps it all to themselves and locks registered visitors from the bathroom? I asked her if they do this to everyone or just disabled Vets? Alice seemed nervous and flatly denied locking the doors, even insinuation I was possibly mistaken, did I check them all? I assured her I had and that after my shower, I found them all dead bolted.

    Behind her knock-off aviators I could see her beginning to fidget as she flat-out denied locking the door. She admitted it had to be someone with a key, someone who had to have come to the park after 10:00 p.m. on a night so bewildering dark that I got lost for 35 minutes trying to find my tent (it’s got reflective crap like a Christmas tree if that tells you something), and she admitted it was someone with the express intent of locking the bathroom doors less it be vandalized, someone no once saw or heard, but that it wasn’t her. She was in full turtle mode.

    I wanted to argue, to prove her wrong and uncover that lie she was casting out, but I also just wanted to use the shower and I would let it remain a mystery. I did however promise her I’d be writing about it. She didn’t seem to like that and questioned again if I even knew what I was talking about, if I had checked all the doors because the last thing she knew was it was open last night when I took a shower. As if for something more than to satisfy me, as if she had a card up her sleeve, she insisted I accompany her to the bathhouse where she would unlock the door, if needed.

    She asked me which one? I told her any, a bit confused by the question. She checked door number one: locked. Door number two: locked. Three, locked. But when she came to door number 4 - the same I used the night before - you guessed it, unlocked.

    She tried to look at me like I was crazy, like I was off my rocker but right there and then I knew for certain she was lying, caught and embarrassed yet not one bit apologetic. She could not see past herself. I never knew I would find a socialist freeloader turned despot deep in the heart of Texas but if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck..... (tongue in cheek here).

    From that moment forward I knew what I was dealing with decided it better to let the pen do the talking. Being a camp host doesn’t mean you can keep it all to yourselves, Michael and Alice. I’d like to think they are really just everyday folks who too their duty just a little too far. I hope they reflect on this, but somehow I doubt it. I did my duty after all.

    As for me, I’m done with it. I got my second shower and I’ll have the last laugh.

    There is light at the end of the tunnel..............
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    Today, I am off to the Austin area before heading to Big Bend.

    Ikeya Seki, out.

    Attached Files:

    #38
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  19. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    233
    Location:
    Oro Valley, AZ near 77
    Time for new hosts!
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    #39
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  20. DaneDan

    DaneDan n00b

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2018
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Stoughton Wi
    Watching your progress. Have a great trip and watch out for socialist camp hosts.
    #40
    Ikeya-Seki likes this.