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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GAS GUY, Mar 14, 2020.
Just-WOW. Amazing pics. Yes, please more of this.....
Twin-Cam Chronicles: (17-18 July 2020) Ohio
After lunch, Jamie asked if I'd mind if we stopped by the cemetery at the edge of town - so that he could pay respects to his high-school girlfriend (Holly Peters) who died in a car crash at 17-years-old. Her 41-year-old mother (who died drunk in her own vomit) was buried next to her. Of course. So we did.
We then ran down US-33 to the Hocking Hills (narrowly missing a traffic jam while transitioning from the Columbus bypass to US-33), turning off on OH-374. We followed the curvy 374/664 loop around, stopping at Cantwell Cliffs, the Rock House, and Conkle’s Hollow. This time we hiked up the center of the gorge at Conkle’s Hollow. I've done the longer hike along the upper “Rim Trail” of the gorge, but never hiked up the center. While we had planned to cap off this loop with Old Man's Cave, we simply didn't have time because I promised Jamie that I'd get him over to see the Big Muskie Bucket - and then we still had to get down to Marietta before calling it a day.
So, it will take a few posts to cover the activity of the first day. Along with some pictures I’m going to be including quite a bit of history in this report. All of the information I’ll be sharing has been consolidated from the multitude of signs at the various locations that we visited. Some Civil War history will be involved on the second day. The faster our post-modern world changes and charges forward - the more fascinating I find the things and ways of the past.
Down through the "Fat Womens Squeeze"
Cantwell Cliffs - Hocking Hills Region - Ohio. This location has multiple narrow passageways caused by large slump blocks that have fallen away from the main cliff.
One can choose to follow the trails of the valley floor or the rim. A commanding view of the cliff and rock shelter is offered at Lookout Point on the East Rim Trail. They had a rope blocking off the rim around the cliff. The rope caused me to hesitate for a moment, but after a quick glimpse around, I shuffled around the ledge anyway. The rope was not much of a deterrent and I figured it was probably just put in place because of liability concerns. That way if I fell to my death - they would not be sued. We will go with that - besides I felt overwhelmingly compelled to traverse the ledge to the other side.
Looking back at Jamie from my vantage point. That is as far as you are supposed to proceed.
Back when we were actually experiencing this ride, I'd posted this picture at the end of the day, and I believe it was B10Dave that asked if I had a picture looking out into the gorge and forest from where I was sitting on the cliff ledge. While I couldn't produce the desired picture, it had also escaped my mind that I'd taken a short video clip from the ledge. It's short and choppy as I'm no video guy, but hopefully it displays clearly and gives a better understanding of the surroundings.
I am reminded of the time I went through what was called "Fat Man's Misery" down in Mammoth Cave, KY.
Not a good place if you were claustrophobic.
Twin-Cam Chronicles: (17-18 July 2020) Ohio
Even the Amish come out of their fields and leave their farms to visit this natural Ohio wonder called - The Rock House.
The History of the Rock House
Rock House is the only true cave in Hocking Hills State Park. Over time, water slowly eroded away the Black Hand Sandstone, creating a cave. This cave has been home to many throughout history.
The cave at Rock House is approximately 25-feet high, 200-feet long and 20 to 30-feet wide. There are seven different window-like openings allowing sunlight into the cave, and several sandstone columns support the roof.
Various groups have inhabited the cave over thousands of years. Native Americans took shelter here, constructing small ovens in the rock walls to cook food. The man-made troughs in the cave’s floor collected water and provided cave-dwellers with a protected water supply. It’s alleged that in the 1800’s, robbers and bandits used the Rock House as a hideaway, which led to it’s nickname as the “Robber’s Roost.”
The Mad Gypsy Monk
The Mad Gypsy Monk found a home. One of many alter egos. I'm a lot of things.
Ice Age Remnants of Rock House
The profound effects of time, weather and the historic ice age have made the Hocking Hills region a unique and diverse place.
Many plants found deep in the gorges surrounding the Rock House are northern species pushed south when glaciers moved across the continent. The glaciers never reached the Hocking Hills, but seeds, rocks, soil, and vegetation pushed ahead of the glaciers, called till, was present at the foot of the glaciers.
Once the glaciers started to recede, runoff carried till into the region’s ravines. Certain plants thrived as they originated from the same type of cool, wet environment. Over time these plants took root and established in the southeast region of Ohio. Once a plant community was established, animals soon followed. The white-winged crossbill, the golden-crowned kinglet and northern red-backed vole are all species that traveled with the glaciers and made the Hocking Hills their home.
These unique species are usually only found within the confines of the deep gorges and ravines where the eastern hemlock grow in abundance. When several unique species are located in a specific habitat - it’s called a microclimate.
Most of the large evergreen trees in the gorge below Rock House are eastern hemlock, frequently referred to as Canada hemlock. This ice age transplant remains green and vibrant all year, even when the native hardwoods drop their foliage in the fall. The rugged beauty of the lower gorge is enhanced by the majestic stands of hemlock.
Wow, awesome ! I had no idea those cave features were there.. might have to visit!
Twin-Cam Chronicles (17-18 July 2020) Ohio
Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve
Once past the rich bottomland of the gorge opening, one notices the valley beginning to narrow. Towering sandstone cliffs become increasingly visible through the hemlocks and hardwoods of the hillsides. Waterfalls cascade over moss covered rocks in the side valleys during the seasonal wet periods. Wildflowers carpet the gorge floor in April and May of each year.
Those seeking a greater challenge will discover the Rim Trail to be a memorable experience. This two-mile loop trail winds along the high cliffs overlooking the gorge valley.
Here is a shot from the upper "Rim Trail" (mentioned above) from back in the fall of 2014:
The stately evergreen hemlocks of Conkle’s Hollow gorge are relics of a time when massive ice sheets halted their approach just miles from this preserve. In the Hocking Hills region, the eastern hemlock grows primarily in the cool, moist hollows. Easily identified by the two white stripes on the bottom of each needle, the hemlock creates an atmosphere similar to the boreal forests of Canada.
Although capable of living 900 years, most old growth hemlocks in this area were harvested soon after settlement. The bark, high in tannic acid, was used for tanning leather, and the needles, which are high in vitamin C, helped prevent scurvy among settlers.
On this day, we would be hiking up the center - and into the gorge.
The massive blocks of sandstone, which litter the valley floor of Conkle’s Hollow, are called “slump blocks.” At one time, these blocks were firmly attached to the bedrock walls of the hollow, but gradual erosion and the hand of time have caused the blocks to fall from their original lofty positions. Because these blocks slide imperceptibly down the hillside on which they lie, they are also known as “float blocks.”
Forest flora: Another appealing aspect of this gorge is the abundance of lush green ferns; just about everywhere you look, the forest floor is carpeted with a profusion of ferns. There is something about wild ferns; perhaps it's the intricate leaf detail that is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
As we walked through this gorge, to my surprise, my favorite song bird, the Hermit Thrush, was calling out in it's unmistakable and surreal flute-like song. When I pointed this out to Jamie, he said he couldn't hear it. His hearing has been compromised for some time now. I was amazed that he couldn't hear the birds as they distinctly echoed through the hollow.
Black Hand Sandstone
The rock outcrops, which can be seen throughout Conkle’s Hollow, are comprised entirely of Black Hand sandstone; a sandstone formation extending in a narrow band from the Ohio River, northward nearly to Lake Erie in eastern Ohio. The Black Hand sandstone is divided into three layers. The top and bottom layers are strongly cemented together while the middle layer is much softer and erodes much easier. It is in this softer portion of the Black Hand sandstone that recesses or re-entrant caves often form. The yellow, orange and red colors on the rock are evidence of the iron oxide which binds the sand grains together.
This rock layer was named after a “black hand” that had been carved by Native Americans in similar rock along the Licking River in what is now Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve east of Newark, Ohio. The carving is now gone, but this bedrock layer continues to provide the striking features common to the Hocking Hills.
A grotto is a small cave, usually with attractive features.
We passed a few waterfalls on the hike, but they were dry. It'd be nice to hike back in here during the rainy season.
Deep into the hollow, the gorge narrows and then transitions from the smooth concrete path to a rugged trail consisting primarily of dirt and rocks. This rugged trail delivers you to an abrupt and cavernous end with a waterfall and plunge pool, although it wasn't much more than a trickle at this time of year. While I attempted to photograph the very end of the trail, the lighting wasn't adequate and the pictures are not worth posting. The picture below is getting close to the end.
Twin-Cam Chronicles (17-18 July 2020) Ohio
So, we departed the Hocking Hills and enjoyed the ride along OH-93 to New Straightsville, passing the Boozefighters Appalachia Chapter before entering town (was surprised to see them in these parts); they are an interesting old club with a tumultuous history in California. I'd hoped to take Jamie through Shawnee also, but we had to stay focused. We followed OH-216 to Glouster where we picked up OH-78; this roller coaster would carry us along the top-of-the-world and deposit us at the Big Muskie. All of these roads that I'm rattling off are tremendous and a destination by their own right!
When we would come to a stop, after each session of powering through continuous curves and climbing over hills, Jamie would comment on how fantastic my Electra Glide sounded with the 2-into-1 Supertrapp exhaust system. Not obnoxious … but authoritative and full of character. He couldn’t hear the Hermit Thrush sing their flute-like melody in Conkle’s Hollow, but he could hear my exhaust note while following me in a full-face helmet; interesting how hearing loss may only affect certain frequencies.
The Big Muskie Bucket at Miner’s Memorial Park. The highlight of Jamie’s day. Probably the trip. He was fascinated by it and the specifications and history that was entailed on the descriptive placards displayed at the park.
Big Muskie Facts
Big Muskie was a Bucyrus-Erie 4250W walking dragline, the only one of its kind. It cost $25 million.
340 railcars and 260 trucks hauled parts from Milwaukee to Central Ohio Coal.
Big Muskie took 300,000 hours and nearly two years to build on-site.
It was staffed by a seven-member crew.
Big Muskie weighted 27 million pounds, as much as 13,500 cars.
From the back of its housing to the tip of its boom, Big Muskie is 487 feet long, one and a half times longer than a football field.
Big Muskie’s boom could lift a load the equivalent of 33 stories.
The buckets swing time - from filling, lifting, swinging and dumping - was approximately 60 seconds.
Big Muskie could move 39-million pounds of material per hour or about one bucket bite per minute.
Each bucket tooth was 3-feet-long and weighed 1,000 pounds.
Big Muskie “walked” from site to site on four hydraulic-driven size 20-by-65-foot “shoes.”
Big Muskie was powered by electricity delivered by a 13,000-volt “extension cord,” or enough power to serve 27,500 homes.
During its operating years, Big Muskie moved more than 483 million cubic yards of Earth - nearly twice that moved to create the 40-mile Panama Canal.
Nearly 10,000 acres of land mined by Big Muskie were donated to the International Center for the Preservation of Wild Animals in 1986 to create the Wilds, North America’s largest open-range-preserve for threatened and endangered species.
Miner's Memorial Park
Agriculture dominated the economy of southeastern Ohio’s Morgan County until the 1940’s when harvests dwindled, the population declined, and land values dropped. Surface mining the area’s rich underground coal deposits replaced agriculture as the major industry and revitalized the declining local economy. As the nation’s demand for electricity grew over the next half-century, so did the demand for coal as fuel for nearby power generation plants. During mining’s heyday in the 1960’s to the late 1980’s, American Electric Power’s former Central Ohio Coal Company subsidiary employed nearly 1,000 people. Nearby communities — such as Cumberland, Caldwell and Chandlersville — thrived. As time passed, however, the robust coal industry was hit hard by environmental regulations that reduced the market for the area’s high-sulfur coal. In turn, mine work forces shrank considerably and local businesses closed.
While the future of southeastern Ohio’s coal industry may be unknown, there is no doubt about the legacy and industry left behind in ReCreation Land. Mined and reclaimed by Central Ohio Coal, ReCreation Land is a 30,000-acre wooded wonderland and an outstanding example of environmental stewardship. AEP began reclaiming lands it mined in the early 1940’s—long before laws requiring reclamation were passed. ReCreation Land not only captures the area’s surface mining history, it is an outdoor recreational area that features campsites and stocked lakes and ponds. Miner’s Memorial Park is AEP’s tribute to the area’s mining industry. Because of the long-term economic effects and the lasting legacy left behind by this industry, it is fitting that ReCreation Land is recognized for its historical significance to the coal industry and to southeastern Ohio.
Twin-Cam Chronicles (17-18 July 2020) Ohio
Upon leaving the park, we followed another ridge on OH-83. My kind of quaint road - passing through patches of forest and elevated above small farms and farmland.
Finally, we hooked up with OH-60 - as it meandered along the Muskingum River and the many historic locks - until it delivered us into the old Ohio River town of Marietta.
The riverboat era bar and grill inside the haunted Lafayette Hotel that I'm partial to was just closing - so we walked down to the Marietta Brewery.
It's not too often that I post pictures of signs, as too much of that seems to clutter up a post and detract from the aesthetics, unless it adds something in addition to the information. These two give a glimpse of Historic Marietta's buildings in the backdrop, so have been deemed worthy. Especially the second one with the old IOOF Lodge that dates back to 1846! And this interesting Hildebrand fellow was an member.
Guys like this inspire me immensely. This guy was fighting in the Civil War, riding on horseback while rallying his troops and holding the line for three hours. He was in his 60's! And here we act like life is over after 50. We've become so soft.
This report contains a lot of history, I know. Hopefully you find it as intriguing as I do. Today I read a quote from Danish Philosopher Kierkegaard that I found especially moving: "Life must be lived forwards, but understood backwards."
The Marietta Brewery
In 1898, three German immigrants, bought the old Union Brewery at the corner of Second and St. Clair streets. They refitted the facility with a bottling house, an ice plant, and other modern machinery. It was renamed the Marietta Brewery and with a crew of twenty workers, the owners successfully produced 8,000 to 12,000 barrels of beer a year. In 1903, the name was changed to the Marietta Brewing Company.
The Temperance Movement was sweeping the country at the turn of the century. In 1908, a local law passed that “outlawed the saloon” in Washington County. Until the prohibition lifted in 1912, the brewery continued to bottle beer and sold it in nearby West Virginia. The Marietta Brewing Company closed its doors with the advent of National Prohibition in 1919.
Inside the brewery. Jamie looks over the menu and beer list:
The last couple of times in town I've been impressed with their wings, celery, and blue cheese. The wings, a side salad, and a pint of Cooper's Copper Ale would put me straight. The copper ale is a medium bodied amber ale with malty notes and a mild bitterness. I'd also sample their Estella's Raspberry Wheat. The raspberry was different, but I really enjoyed the Cooper's.
Twin-Cam Chronicles (17-18 July 2020) Ohio
Saturday morning we grabbed some quick breakfast food at McDonald’s; first time I'd resorted to McDonald's all year. Maybe two-years. Back when I did eat McDonald’s more often, I always felt the food from that Marietta location was a cut above others.
We then proceeded to work our way down along the mighty Ohio River. We followed OH-124 down and back out of a landmass that seemingly juts into West Virginia, although you never leave Ohio or cross the river. This is an area that I've never experienced - and were we ever rewarded. Especially the western side of OH-124. Just beautiful! We stopped into a small gas station store in Reedsville called Reeds Country Store. As I entered the store, I was instantly catapulted back into the 70's or 80's. I've got to stop back in there for lunch sometime and sample their deli. As we were leaving I noticed the old time candy cigarettes on the counter. That got me to reminiscing about how accepted that smoking cigarettes was back in those days. And there were even candy cigarettes for us kids, so we could aspire to be like the old man. And we accepted that. Bizarre. Smoking real tobacco cigarettes started at an early age for me. Actually, I started smoking years before my dad. There were only a couple of us boys that lived on my road out in the country, and my best friend was a few years older than me and he had sisters much older than him who happened to smoke. So, he would steal their Virginia Slims and True Blues (with the plastic filter). We would smoke them throughout the day in between playing sports and exploring; often under the big weeping willow tree (I shot him under that tree too; with my .22 caliber high-powered pellet gun; just a superficial grazing wound; but that’s another story) I probably started smoking at around ten-years-old. Chewing tobacco also: Red Man, Beech Nut, Skoal, or Copenhagen; whatever we could get our hands on. My dad, on the other hand, didn't start smoking, drinking, or doing drugs until he was thirty-years-old. He sure did make up for lost time though; he went on a thirty-year tear!
At a remote overlook, Jamie was admiring his dream farm, across the river, in West Virginia. Breaking his gaze from the farm, he glanced my way and paid me a huge compliment. "You know ... I’m from Columbus and have been riding all of my life with a lot of different riders - but you are the ‘Roadmaster.’ Besides knowing so many great roads - you really know how to stitch together the whole experience.”
Twin-Cam Chronicles (17-18 July 2020) Ohio
The road served up yet another location filled with history. The Buffington Island Battlefield Memorial Park was another unique place along the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail. Besides the peaceful roadside setting, there was an ancient Indian effigy mound on site, some plaques commemorating a few stand-out individuals, this also just so happened to be the day that the “Sons of Union Veterans of The Civil War” were there for a re-enactment, complete with cannons and period-correct uniforms. We didn’t stick around for the re-enactment though - as I had to keep Jamie moving. We still had ground to cover.
The Moundbuilders date back to before Christ! I’ve come across these mounds all over Ohio in my travels; Serpent Mound being the most famous, and perhaps intricate. There is an interesting mound inside the old Mound Cemetery in Marietta; within that mound has been buried a time-capsule to be opened at a particular date. This mound at the Buffington Island Battlefield Park has a series of small embedded stone steps leading you to the top of the mound which overlooks the park.
One such plaque (or monument) that stood out to me was the one honoring Major Daniel McCook. He was the eldest of the “Fighting McCooks” and lost his life at the age of 65, in the Battle of Buffington Island, while engaged with an advance force of the Union troops. He fell, mortally wounded, at a point about one mile south of this monument and park and died the next day on a gunboat bound for Cincinnati, where he was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.
Imagine that. To die in combat at 65-years-old! These days we are wanting to retire at 65, while not so long ago our ancestors were farming and fighting wars at 65.
My paternal 2nd great-grandfather, John Smith, and his father, Solomon Smith - both served simultaneously in the 6th Illinois Cavalry with the Union forces; that would put Solomon in his mid-40’s at the time.
There was also a plethora of information vividly portraying the Civil War battle as it played out then … and now again - in your mind’s eye:
The Battle of Buffington Island did not take place on the island in the Ohio River. Rather, Confederate and Union troops fought in this area. Much of the battlefield has not changed and continues to be used for farming.
The Ohio River has changed over time. In the 19th century, there were fords, including just upstream of Buffington Island, where the river could be crossed on foot or horseback. Heavy rains just days before Morgan’s arrival raised the river, making it difficult for the raiders to cross but easier for Union gunboats to navigate. The Ohio River is much higher and wider now than it was the day of the battle due to the creation of dams in the 20th century to maintain the river depth for shipping purposes and flood control. In addition, there used to be a road alongside the river on which Morgan traveled north to escape the battle.
First Invasion of Ohio
On September 3rd of 1862, 350 Confederate cavalrymen crossed the Ohio River near this point (Buffington Island) and advanced to Racine. After seizing a dozen horses and occupying the town for a few hours, the troops re-crossed the river at Wolf’s Bar. This was the first invasion of Ohio soil by Confederate troops during the Civil War.
Morgan’s Raid In Ohio
By 1863, the Civil War, which most thought would be over quickly, had bogged down into a long fight between the states. On the heels of the great Battle of Gettysburg and the surrender at Vicksburg, Morgan brought the war into Ohio. Racing through Indiana, he crossed into southwestern Ohio on July 13th, bringing over 2,000 veteran raiders with him. Morgan’s objective was to divert the attention of Union troops away from their normal duties and strike fear into the civilian population.
War Reaches Ohio
After thirty-eight days of raiding for supplies, damaging bridges and rail lines, and drawing the pursuit of Union troops, Morgan’s men arrived here (the area of Buffington Island) on the evening of July 18, 1863. His objective was to reach the Buffington Island ford where his troops could safely cross the Ohio River into West Virginia.
As a dense fog and darkness settled in, Morgan received word from his scouts that the crossing was blocked by an undetermined force hidden in trenches. Not wanting to attempt a crossing at night or leave behind the wounded, Morgan decided to camp for the night. They would wait until dawn to confront the forces before crossing onto friendlier soil. Morgan did not realize that Union forces were closing in on him from all directions.
The next morning the Battle of Buffington Island began. This was the only Civil War battle in Ohio and the most significant battle fought north of the Ohio River. It was here that 3,000 Union artillery, infantry, and cavalry, accompanied by U.S. Navy gunboats, caught up with Morgan’s 1,800 Confederate troops.
Union Troops Withdraw
In the early morning of July 19th, Union forces, dispatched the day before from Pomeroy, surprised both themselves and the raiders by virtually running right into Confederates hidden by the morning’s dense fog. Rather than attempt to cross the Buffington Island ford at night, Morgan had decided to rest his troops in a nearby valley.
Startled, Morgan’s men quickly fired upon the blue-clad soldiers. Union forces had little room to maneuver in the narrow valley where they met the raiders and soon came under heavy fire. Barely able to defend themselves, Union troops were forced to retreat.
Meanwhile, Union reinforcements, were on their way to attack from the west, and Union gunboats were traveling up the Buffington Island channel to protect the ford.
End of the Longest Raid
Under fire from three directions, Morgan and his troops scrambled for cover by following the River Road upriver in hopes that they could cross at another ford. The beleaguered Confederate troops were low on ammunition. Caught in the crossfire, Confederate soldiers were scattered across the fields and the River Road became blocked by overturned wagons. Seeing an opportunity to end the battle, the Union cavalry attacked the Confederate’s greatly outnumbered troops and forced them to surrender.
Morgan continued to ride north through numerous eastern Ohio counties, his force reduced to about 600 men, until Union troops and Ohio militia captured him near West Point in Columbiana County on July 26th.
Believing that he would be exchanged or paroled, Morgan was surprised to find out that he would be a prisoner at the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus. Governor David Tod ordered his confinement at the prison to prevent escape and, perhaps, to punish the marauding general as a horse thief.
Escape from the Ohio Penitentiary
The Ohio Penitentiary was well known by the public as a place of horrific crimes. Newspapers published stories about bloodcurdling screams echoing throughout the prison, inmates attacking one another with shovels and axes, and corrupt guards torturing prisoners. While Morgan and his men were confined at the prison, they complained about their treatment as common criminals. They did not realize, nor perhaps care, that they were given preferential treatment and were expected to follow certain rules for the safety of all prisoners.
Entering the prison gates, the captured Confederate officers were immediately stripped, washed, shaved, and taken to their section of the prison. The men were treated much like the other inmates rather than prisoners of war, and were even subjected to solitary confinement in “the hole” when caught with contraband or badmouthing the guards. They were, however, allowed many amenities such as outbound mail, visitor privileges, and packages of food and clothing sent by friends and relatives.
Complaining of indecent, unlawful treatment, the Confederates continued to antagonize the guards and prison warden. The prisoners did not know when they would be released so they began to plot a desperate escape. On the night of November 27, 1863, after four months in prison, Morgan and several of his officers tunneled out of their cells, scaled the prison walls, changed into civilian clothes, and boarded a train for Cincinnati. From there, Morgan crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky. Inside help with the escape has always been suspected.
Twin-Cam Chronicles (17-18 July 2020) Ohio
On Saturday, Jamie never drank even a teaspoon of water. The day was hot as hell too. First break was a slurpee and a Dolly Madison cherry pie. Next break was a roadside BBQ in Minford - along OH-139; he had a steak and a sugary soda. After using the Porta-John across the street he tried to slide over to the dairy queen, but I spotted him and yelled across the road that we weren't spending the night in that town and had to get a move-on; the good-ole’-boy at the BBQ chuckled.
One thing about Jamie: he is tough as nails! It’s a good thing too, because he never learns. He rides these small naked bikes with no accoutrements or bags. No windshield. He has a backpack slung across his back like a college kid commuting to school or around the city. The tank is tiny with an absolutely frightening range; the threat of running out of gas is always real; on a ride years ago he did just that, so I had to find a gas station in the middle of the boonies and fill a water bottle with gasoline and run it back to him; the water bottle gave him half a tank (just kidding).
He has been threatening to buy that new H.D. Electra Glide Standard that was released a few years ago. That would be perfect for him. While he loves his Ducati, he needs a low-maintenance touring bike. He is always having issues with his chain or rear cush-drive on the Ducati. Plus he is a guy who neglects things until the last minute because he is always so far behind due to taking on too many tasks.
I’ve seen him come into work on a cold fall morning and sit at his bay shivering for a half an hour after his commute without the proper gear. We’ve stopped for ice cream while on a ride (in cold weather) as I incredulously witnessed his almost inability to hold the ice cream due to numb hands for lack of proper riding gear and then the inability to mitigate the same mistakes on subsequent rides. I just can’t wrap my head around it. I’ve been out to his house on a Saturday afternoon, where he doesn’t have time to talk, let alone ride, and was literally running around the property trying to weed whack and mow the lawn and fix things all at the same time. Then he is always trying to be a hay farmer with part of his property, while he often ends up loosing the hay or producing inferior hay due to the inability to harvest it in a timely manner and getting nailed with rain. My God, I’ve asked him numerous times, “Is it all really worth it?” More days than not, he walks around the shop at work looking like death warmed over. Pound-for-pound, he must be the toughest guy I know, even if he brings the misery on himself.
Along this stretch I'd be presented with a rare photograph opportunity concerning the Amish while hanging out and taking a break at a gas station. While I see them often in my travels throughout Ohio, it's not too often that I get a distinct shot of these elusive people.
So, a middle-aged father and his young daughter come riding in on the horse-drawn buggy, parking it along the back-side of the building. They walked around to the pump and filled a plastic gas can. What does this Amish need with gasoline? Groups of them are slowly evolving and using some limited gasoline-powered equipment. There are still the stringent old-order sects who remain stoic, in spite of the others. But, I'd imagine it's just a matter of time.
The cute, little, dirty, bare-footed girl kept looking back at me and the bikes - as I watched her:
Then they went inside. She came out holding a bottle of orange Body Armor sports drink. That happens to be my favorite. She continued around to the horse and buggy as the old man stopped to get ice:
That was my opportunity. Walking up to the Amish man, I politely asked him, "Would you mind if I photographed your horse and buggy?"
"I don't care, go ahead," he mumbled.
As I walked to the buggy and saw the little Amish girl perched up on the bench, I was nervous with excitement for this opportunity to snap such a close-up picture. Multiple shots were taken in quick succession to insure at least one came out satisfactory.
Which brings me to what I consider the epic shot of the ride, due to the rarity of the scene. Attaining this picture made my weekend:
Moments later ... the clippity-clop of the horse's hooves striking the asphalt filled our ears as they sped away:
Twin-Cam Chronicles (17-18 July 2020) Ohio
Part Ten (Final)
The next stop was in Aberdeen, along the river on US-52, which is also known as “The Ohio River Scenic Byway.” Jamie had a strawberry milk and an ice cream bar (really?) while I slammed a bottle of water and an orange mango Body Armor. After my initial gulp of the orange mango, I'd gather a sack from my saddlebag and sprinkle some powdery-potion into the container, similar to the way Kwai Chang Caine always did, while crossing the desert. I've been using this vitamin/mineral mix for years now, and have not experienced any lower back pain since. One of the ingredients is Ginkgo Biloba (maidenhair tree); maybe that was Grasshopper's secret.
It's sad to see the lost or defeated souls coming and going from the gas station store in this poor part of the Ohio River Valley, as I loiter near the door, guzzling fluids in order to stay hydrated in the humid 95-degree heat.
One guy about 60, eases out of the passenger seat, looks at my bike and me, says, "Nice bike," as he gingerly walks inside to buy a bottle of liquor. He reminded me of Christopher Walken, with his demeanor and dress. White, wavy hair pulled back into a short ponytail, button-up shirt and slacks. Wide-eyes and dead-serious. Could pass for the local small-time drug dealer. This brought with it recollections of Buzzy, our older, local dealer (and friend) back in the day; but that’s another story.
A couple of middle-aged women were standing nearby while discussing the struggles of keeping a car running and maintaining transportation, even as they lived at a parents house and were given the car. Life can be so rough. My heart goes out to struggling people, especially women who have no man or father that they can count on. I know the pain, therefore have empathy.
Grant Park - Point Pleasant, Ohio
Another happenstance opportunity presented itself. Despite the scorching heat, my caffeine withdrawals demanded that I ride no further until the fix was satisfied. After crossing the decorative Grant Memorial Bridge (heading west on US-52), I'd turn abruptly into the small Grant Park to my left (at the time I was unaware of their designations).
As soon as the kickstand was extended - out came the coffee kit. Within minutes, boiling hot coffee was soothing my senses on this steaming hot day. Then I'd start exploring this quaint corner of the world. Whether it would qualify as such I doubt it, but this little town still retained some of that old world feel of a hamlet. That is when I noticed the historic signs indicating this was Grant's birthplace and that his original home was just across the street.
U.S. GRANT BIRTHPLACE
Hiriam Ulysses Grant was born in this one-story, timber frame home on April 27, 1822 to Jesse and Hannah Simpson Grant. The Grants settled in Point Pleasant the previous year, and Jesse took charge of the tannery located near the cottage,. Now restored, the building remained in relatively good condition through the 1880’s. In 1823, the family moved to Georgetown, Ohio, where Hiriam lived until his appointment to West Point at age 17. Although reluctant to attend the Academy, Grant, now known as Ulysses Simpson Grant due to an error on the application, graduated where he courted his future wife Julia Dent, with whom he had four children.
Grant served as quartermaster in the Mexican War (1846-1848), but resigned from the army in 1854. He was living in Galena, Illinois, and working in the family leather store at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. He volunteered for military service. Known as “Unconditional Surrender,” Grant was appointed general-in-chief of Union forces by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. His name recognition and lack of political ties made him the ideal candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency. Grant was elected to two terms in 1868 and 1872. Despite Grant’s character, his choice of cabinet appointments led to corruption in his administration. On July 23, 1885 at Mount McGregor. New York, Grant died just days after completing his acclaimed memoirs.
- Visitors to the house during it's tour, following Grant's death:
After checking out the bridge and Grant's old home, I followed the well-worn path behind the park, leading down to the shore of the Ohio River, to look around (as my curiosity pulls me in so many directions) - before heading back to the bikes.
Wait a minute ... where the hell is Jamie? I lost Jamie. Oh ... there he is. The heat and the days activities are starting to wear on him. A siesta is obviously more important to him than all of this history.
Upon my return to the park, I yelled, "Wake up! Let's roll."
He became conscious and started stammering, "Huh ... where have you been ... what is this place?"
"C'mon let's go ... I'll show you later ... we gotta ride! We still have three-hundred miles to cover before we sleep."
The "Project Rushmore" bike passed the heat test on this ride. It was 95° most of Saturday, and even soared to 98° between Cincinnati and Dayton. And that is east-of-the-Mississippi humid heat! Never did the bike feel like it was emitting intrusive heat to the rider. And I even had the lower fairings in place. Of course the vents were flipped to the open position. So nice is that feature; my 2003 Ultra (without vents) would cook you in those temperatures - so you had to remove the lower fairings in extreme heat.
We rode about 1,000-miles over the two-days. Over half of that was on slow, meandering, two-lane roads, in 90+ degree temperatures.
Good ole Aberdeen home of the cold water motel, and the hot water motel, I was still barely a teenager in 1976 and we were setting up Steel yards for a 765kv power line that went from Hanging Rock OH. To Carrollton KY so when in that area if the hot water motel had no vacancy we had to schlep to the CWM. I once got caught in snow near there in May on my GT750 not fun. I did enjoy my time living in that area from Ashland KY to Cincinnati oHIo
This is the time of year to address any nagging issues on the bikes. Not just nagging issues, but also alterations and adjustments. Improvements or experiments of all sorts. I say experiments because sometimes things don't meet your lofty expectations and reversions are necessary.
One such reversal is being undertaken on the old Road King. I'm removing the Andrews overdrive front sprocket (that I'd installed a couple years ago) on the (belt-driven) final drive and restoring the factory gearing. It's a decision that I've been struggling with for some time.
There are times and places that I love the overdrive pulley, but others where it suffers. Sometimes in the hills, especially when the air is cold and dense, the bike struggles or becomes more vibey due to the lower RPM's. And then even on the flat stretches, at certain speeds, I will find myself searching for a sweet spot that is non-existent or "between gears" with the overdrive pulley. Ultimately, I've come to the conclusion that this Evolution motor simply wants or needs to be run in the higher RPM range - to be happier and smoother. The Evo is a different animal than the newer Twin-Cam. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. The Evolution motor is still the favorite of many, and I understand why. It possesses a particular a charm, by inching up as close as possible to modernity, while simultaneously retaining that nostalgic feel that certain older gear-heads appreciate. The end of an era.
After that is sorted, I'm going to reseal the intake manifold and go up one size on the pilot jet - to help alleviate some cold-bloodedness.
And finally, I've found the solution to my rear suspension conundrum: Bitubo twin-adjustable shocks. Bee-two-buh. Almost certain that's how it's pronounced. Made in Italy and affordable ... comparatively. Put a set on the Ultra and went for a short and cold "New Years" ride around my neighborhood. My, beyond atrocious, streets are a fine indicator of a shocks abilities. The Bitubo shocks proved much better than the JRI shocks that I removed - and that liked to break my back while hustling through the broken streets of Chicago at 80-MPH, at night, during my return from the Black Hills last year (another report I vow to finish ... eventually). The main concern being the sharp-edged (ledges) bumps which translate into "high-speed" compression events. Michigan roads are full of these undesirable events. So (feeling confident in their abilities) another set was procured for the King. The forks are already perfect, as I've addressed those years ago.
On another note: I've not pressed the issue, of late, to sell any of my motorcycles ... ever since the startling epiphany ... of sending the wife to work part-time. Hell ... sooner or later we had to rise out of the stone age and evolve. At least a little. Even some of the Amish are budging ... and purchasing gasoline these days. Hopefully inflation and my restless spirit doesn't sink the ship. I've been bailing water my whole life.
Those Bitubo’s where a popular group buy on ZRX fourum, and well received, I’m thinking of putting some on the Valk, glad to here they work on a heavier mochine
Dreaming of Summer
Patience Jeff; summer's coming....eventually.
Wednesday - 20 May 2020 - Huron National Forest/Hubbard Lake
Jim and I met at the rest stop on US-23 - just north of Flint. We skirted around Saginaw, so as to avoid any traffic congestion, due to the two dams breaking and flooding Midland. This was another ride during the height of the initial covid panic, so I was laid off from work.
We ran up through Rose City and then Mio. In Mio, we stopped at the Ranger Station and grabbed a couple of Huron National Forest maps. They are an invaluable asset for adventure riding because they show all of the four-letter designated forest roads; can't go wrong with those roads, which, more often than not, resemble trails. The Huron National Forest map is divided into two areas: the Mio Area and the Huron Shores Area. We would be heading east and focusing on the Huron Shores Area over the next few days. From there we followed the Au Sable for a spell before connecting a series of back roads to Jim's sister's cabin - just north of Hubbard Lake.
The Au Sable River
One of a few worthy overlooks on the north side of the river - east of Mio and the Mio Ranger District Office.
After dropping off some food and gear at the cabin, we went back out and rode Hubbard Lake Trail. That is an interesting dirt/gravel/sand, curvy trail through some slightly hilly terrain. Many days earlier, while studying the Hubbard Lake area in a Michigan Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer, the contours indicating elevation changes - through a somewhat undeveloped area - caught my eye. So we went and rode it.
Hubbard Lake Trail
A stand-out section of this road or trail: Unique in how the road is cut through the slight hills, exposing banks of sandy loam earth, the trees are tall, straight, and growing so close together, the soft, sandy surface conditions of the trail, and then the lighting and shadows being cast from the days late rays of sun - squeezing their way between the narrow trees. It felt gratifying to be absorbing all of this natural energy.
Devils Lake - Alpena Township (21 May 2020)
Just inland from the shores of Lake Huron and south of Alpena is this shallow, sliver of a lake that was carved out by a glacier.
At our waterside rest-stop we could hear sandhill cranes calling out.
Devils Lake Trail
Turbo Jim tooling south on the trail. This trail was fantastic.
Occasionally the trail would gain elevation while the trees simultaneously thinned, allowing for a glimpse of the lake.
The temperature plummeted 20 degrees, from 75 (where I removed my long sleeve shirt at Devils Lake) to 55, within minutes - as we rolled into Alpena. Amazing what a big body of water can do to the temperature. We were heading for the cement plant. I’d been wanting to explore the coast, north of the plant, to see if I could detect any potential locations where my grandfather may have set up his easel and painted his 31st watercolor in 1941, of the cement plant. I've already scoured locations to the south. Of course, the landscape and plant has drastically changed since then, but it was exciting to explore and consider potential angles.
Lafarge North America
Cement plant in Alpena - situated along the shores of Lake Huron.
There was a sign in front of the cement plant that was barely discernible due to being weather-worn and faded but I prevailed in pulling the words from the surface by blowing up my photograph and scrutinizing every letter.
World's Largest Cement Plant
Portland cement, so-called because it resembles in color stone from the Isle of Portland in the British Isles, it was first produced in the United States in 1671, in Michigan in 1896. Because of Alpena's location in the midst of immense limestone deposits, the Huron Portland Cement company, founded at Detroit in 1907, chose this site for it's plant. Cement production began here in 1908. Able management and skilled workers made this the worlds largest cement plant. From Thunder Bay, ships of the Huron fleet deliver cement to all parts of the Great Lakes region.
The road (Ford Avenue) practically runs through the cement factory in Alpena as it closely follows the Lake Huron shoreline:
It’s not one of his most remarkable or striking paintings, as it’s just a cement plant and obviously much simpler in 1941 than today, as it has evolved. Nonetheless, this painting is one that I’d saved due to sentimental reasons; at the time of discovering this archived painting, I was still a young cement finisher, so I had to have it. And now it's making for another adventure!
What motivated him to paint it, I’m not sure, but he did have watercolors exhibited in the Flint Institute of Art and was also a stylist for the Buick Motor Division of General Motors Corporation in Flint, so perhaps those Michigan connections drew him to the cement plant for some reason. I’ve another Michigan painting of his depicting a Lake Charlevoix sunset - from the other side of the state. Although he did travel the whole country pursuing scenes to paint.
Wide-Open Adventure (21 May 2020)
You don't find them too often - but I love the feel of a road that has no definitive boundary with an adjacent field; when the road and field flow into each other. This is Carriveau Road and it's surface consistency is such that allows for immense speed as your big bike subtly dances - simultaneously sending stimulating feedback to the rider. Naturally, the dense, lush forest is appealing, but wide-open spaces call to me as well. Contrasts define each other.
After Alpena, we'd decided to hustle back down through farmland to Huron National Forest and seek out some forest roads.
A Backlit Cluster of Delicate Trees
This was a peaceful place, that we stopped to enjoy for a few moments while negotiating Forest Service Road 2627 and heading south.
Forest Service Road 2627 - Huron National Forest
Traversing a low and muddy section of trail.
End of the Trail
We could have rode around this fallen obstacle, but after a short recon by foot, it was discovered that the trail ended just on the other side.
A Slight Rutted Ascent
Time to backtrack.
Back Through the Wet Land
Keeping things interesting by taking a different line back across this section of waterlogged trail. The front end got a little squirrelly after dropping into a hole. Had to make an instinctive correction while powering out of the mud hole.
Huron National Forest Road 2048
At the east end of 2048, where it intersects with Sand Lake Road (4436).
To my right is a plot of forested land dedicated to the Kirtland's Warbler, which is a special bird unique to this area of Michigan.
A Special Bird
Kirtland's warblers are among the rarest warblers in the world, and they live right here in the jack pine plains of northern lower Michigan.
The plant and animal species that live here all have special adaptations for living in the environment and historically relied on periodic wildfires to reproduce and thrive. Wildfires are currently suppressed to protect people and their property, so approximately 95% of the habitat occupied by Kirtland's warblers is the result of jack pine reforestation projects like this one.
Huron National Forest Road 4005
A unique effect by shooting into the partially obscured sun as it filters through the shadowy forest.