Motobsession: A transcontinental ride fifty years in the making

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Oron, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. JoeFab

    JoeFab Been here awhile

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    niagara falls, canada eh!
    Bravo ! What a wonderful start to a ride report ! I'm positive everyone here will we following and rooting for you !...b.:clap
    #21
  2. C5dad

    C5dad Man on the Run!

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    Arizona, fer now
    A good start! Cant wait to read more.
    #22
  3. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Day 6

    I left early in the morning at 6:30, partly because I was not acclimated to Central Standard Time and also not to overstay my welcome. Jeff and I exchanged contact information; I hoped to be able to reciprocate someday. I rode in thick fog that soon gave way to beautiful blue sky, with ever increasing temperatures. I rode on Route 8 much of the morning, past Turtle Lake and then headed south to bypass the congestion of Minneapolis. I crossed the Mississippi River to picturesque Redwing, Minnesota. I had previously motorcycled through Red Wing on my /5 back in 1982. I jogged ‘step fashion’ through a series of county roads to Faribault, ate a late lunch in tiny Elysian at Fischer's Corner Bar, and then proceeded further on Route 60 to Kilen Woods State Park, just south of Windom.

    Epic Ride 073.JPG
    lunch stop

    The Minnesota state park at Kilen Woods was a beautiful oasis, with level, freshly cut grass-covered tent sites and a nearby immaculate modern bathroom with free hot shower. There wasn't much activity at the park, so several campers came by to check out the new guy on the motorcycle. A man named Mike from York, Pennsylvania offered to help me pitch my tent. He was traveling with his wife and two special needs kids in a massive Vengeance 5th wheel camper, with a “toy box” in the back that contained a Harley Ultra Glide. Their camper was their only home. I got the impression that this family was just making ends meet. He either took pity on my lack of planning, or welcomed the company, and invited me over to join his family for dinner. Single pot chicken stew was on the menu. I found it disheartening that he complained about the dinner to his wife in front of me and the children, but I made sure to compliment her effort. After dinner, Mike and I wandered the park with our beers and I asked him about living a permanent life on the road. He found the taxes and mortgage for his old home too high and now relied on meager savings and their social security to provide their income. We talked about the cost of living in the 5th wheel camper and where he would spend the winter. I wasn't convinced that life on the road was the solution to their financial squeeze, but they had already been at it for a few years and must have known what they were doing. Upon return to my tent, I enjoyed cool breezes and an early evening visit from two white tailed deer. Mileage 371.

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    Kilen Woods camp site


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    Mike's full time residence


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    The view from my tent; a fabulous campground
    #23
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  4. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Day 7

    I broke camp at 6:30 and decided to transverse the remainder of Minnesota and most of South Dakota via Interstate 90. I remembered being told that there wasn't that much to see in eastern and central South Dakota. It was a day of 80: speed limit, cruise control, and temperature. I passed a few massive aluminum trailers stuffed to the rafters with live pigs. Their snouts protruded through the slits. The porcine odor was noticeable 100 feet back from the truck’s draft. On the highway, big trucks were not my friend, as their wind blast and turbulence were always respected. I felt the best way to manage 18 wheelers was to stay on the offense and maintain my speed at least 10 miles an hour over their pace.

    Epic Ride 082.JPG
    early morning intersection



    Epic Ride 083.JPG welcome to S. Dakota...and we are going to pretend that we care how fast you drive


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    endless plains


    The Sturgis Rally started in just a few days and the highway was increasingly peppered with leather clad banditos astride American Iron. There were very few adventure riders to be seen. I rode for several hours with a like minded guy on a heavily laden V-Strom 650. We were the anomaly, as the traffic was about 98% Harley riders. We parted company at the Lewis and Clark tourist stop.

    Shortly thereafter, back on the interstate, I spotted a sight that brought real concern. On the immediate horizon, the sky turned black with embedded lightning strikes. I felt particularly vulnerable surrounded by an endless horizon and nowhere to seek refuge. It was obvious that a major squall was about to descend on me. As I pulled over to join two Harley riders, their compatriot backtracked slowly eastbound in the breakdown lane to retrieve his helmet, apparently blown off by the gusty winds. There was a twinge of inevitability against the rapidly unfolding events. I quickly zipped up my EnduroGuard and swapped gloves for my spare Gore-Tex ones. We checked the weather radar on our smart phones and grimly stared at an angry mass of orange and red about to pass over our exact position. Within seconds, the temperature dropped 20 degrees, the skies unloaded pelting rain, and the wind gusted to 50 knots. It was like an oil tanker running over a raft. I lowered my chin and braced against the wind. The wind shook Orcus. I strained to keep the stationary bike from toppling. I looked to my left and saw that the heavy rain spray trailing from the traffic on the eastbound side was jetting in a peculiar perpendicular manner. Those drivers were racing east to try to outrun the storm. I regretted not taking any photos or turning on my GoPro, but documenting the chaos had been the furthest thing from my mind.

    S Dakota storm.jpg
    This image recorded about an hour after the squall, because it took me a while to figure out how to capture a screen shot


    I was not willing to stay exposed in the breakdown lane and ride out the storm. I put my emergency flashers on, pushed ahead at 30 mph, and struggled to keep from dumping the bike. I was worried that a vehicle would take me out from the rear like a candlepin. I managed to descend from the elevated highway at the next exit, leading me directly to the 605 Restaurant & Bar in Kennebec. I parked against the building leeward to the wind. I rode out the squall in the comfort of the bar and had lunch. After the rain subsided, I suited up and rode up the on-ramp, but was forced to make a dangerous U turn and ride back down the ramp against the grain and again seek refuge in the bar. The winds were still too gusty to ride safely. I had been warned about South Dakota wind; now I knew firsthand. I waited in the bar another 40 minutes until I felt it was safe to proceed.
    #24
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  5. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    The rest of the day's ride was uneventful all the way to the Badlands. I passed by yet another fresh deer strike in the breakdown lane. After failing to find accommodations in a town named Interior, I traveled a bit further on Route 44 and came upon a ranch entryway inviting lodging. Access was tricky because the long and steep gravel drive had recently been freshened. I was greeted at the main house of the Circle View Guest Ranch by skittish spotted asses and free range chickens. The panoramic view at the top of the driveway seemed to reach to the horizon. They had a vacancy and I gratefully shared the luxury “bunkhouse’ (private bedroom) with a nice Clemson University professor and his wife and their two Clemson University daughters. We spent the evening swapping stories and contrasting life in South Carolina versus Massachusetts. Mileage 375.

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    I liked seeing the word "lodging"


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    Their driveway leading to the ranch


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    greeting party and main building


    Faceoff.jpg
    The faceoff
    #25
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  6. blacktruck

    blacktruck Shiftless

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    Not quite Arkansas but I can see it from here.
    More similarities than differences between us. Your journey looks like something I want to do one of these days when given hoped for time off for good behavior. Please let us all know how this turns out for you.
    #26
  7. ShineySideUp

    ShineySideUp Been here awhile

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    Great RR.

    The pic of the storm brought back memories of my bike trip to the Sturgis area a few years ago. I was in my tent and about 3 am the tent was shaking and it poured and poured for almost two hours. The next day at a gas station I happen to mention to a local getting gas about the huge amount of rain that came down. He said he was a pilot and was watching the aviation weather app and two storms had come together - that was why the rain was so bad. I was sooo glad I was not caught riding in that weather. Glad you were ok as well.

    Regaring your health challenge: FWIW - I would have gone on the ride as well :D
    #27
  8. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Here's to hoping you have a sympathetic parole board.
    I promise that this RR will conclude with a candid finale. If I reveal the ending prematurely, I'll diminish the narrative tension.
    #28
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  9. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Thanks.
    In New England, unless you are out at sea, there are trees and undulating landscape that dissipate approaching squalls. I was blown away (pun intended) by the sudden violence of the front.
    #29
  10. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Day 8

    It was a fortuitous decision to opt for the optional breakfast. The buffet was outstanding, with a variety of homemade delicacies. I shared my meal with Jim from Orlando. We were both single guys at a ranch full of families. He told me how his wife had grown up in Lowell, Massachusetts, and how they can't tolerate each other's driving style, so he takes his road trips alone. I wondered if a shared sleep mask could solve the problem. After breakfast, I walked around the ranch and tried to imagine what this property must be like during the other three seasons. I could easily have enjoyed the Circle View's laid back ambiance and outstanding cooking for many more days, but it was time to move on.

    Epic Ride 109.JPG
    Circle View breakfast


    I rode the few miles back to the Badlands Park entrance and began my forty mile loop through the Badland's unique landscape of layered rock and steep canyons. It reminded me of the Grand Canyon, but was different. I could appreciate how the Badlands got its name. There was not much you could do with this landscape other than admire it. I couldn't imagine trying to tame it, much less traverse it before the invention of the bulldozer and asphalt. An exhibit of ancient fossils suggested incomprehensible changes to the landscape. After witnessing such a geologic and archaeological treasure, it was hard to comprehend that there were people that still questioned the concept of evolution, but I suppose it is easier to believe simple explanations over complex theories. I rounded a bend and nearly ran into a bighorn sheep that was sunning himself in the middle of the road. After the loop, I exited the park and headed toward the town of Wall, South Dakota, making it my mission to purposefully avoid visiting the horribly over-advertised Wall Drug. The convenience store and gas station in town were swarming with motorcycle riders.

    Epic Ride 115.JPG
    Bighorn blocking the road



    Epic Ride 120.JPG
    Orcus not blocking the road


    Epic Ride 121.JPG
    Badlands
    #30
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  11. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Epic Ride 122.JPG
    amazing layers of color in the Badlands


    Jumping back on I-90, I made my way to the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, with scattered showers soaking my route. I saw lots of Harley bikers with their chicks perched on back, stabilizing their bandanas in the windy, rainy conditions. As the elevation ascended, the scent from pine trees became ever stronger. Even with my often cynical mindset, I found Mount Rushmore to be quite the spectacle and worth the detour. By sheer coincidence, as I was getting ready to leave Rushmore, I bumped into Circle View Jim and we took each other's photo in front of the monument.

    Epic Ride 128.JPG
    from this angle, it's a Teddy and Abe bromance


    Epic Ride 129.JPG
    Jim took this photo


    Epic Ride 131.JPG
    George's nose is 21 feet tall; only slightly larger than my own
    #31
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  12. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    I backtracked on Route 16, suffered another brief shower, and blasted into Sturgis to have a mushroom burger and fries at the infamous Knuckle Saloon. There was world class people watching; it was a place to see and be seen. Black leather and skull motif were de rigueur. There seemed to be a tattoo parlor on every corner. I was definitely the odd duck of this parade, in my Euro duds and odd looking dual sport. After an hour of walking Main Street and taking in the insanity, I made my way back to the Hot Leathers store where I had parked. I was ready to head further west. I was also aware that there would be no accommodations anywhere near Sturgis.

    The following photos need no commentary:

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    Epic Ride 139.JPG Epic Ride 140.JPG
    #32
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  13. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    More photos of Sturgis:

    Epic Ride 141.JPG
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    Epic Ride 143.JPG
    #33
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  14. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    I navigated to the on-ramp of my old friend, Interstate 90, and endured another massive crosswind coming from my right shoulder. I had to keep the bike in a perpetual right hand turn in order to track in a straight line. I exited onto serpentine Route 14 and made my way to Devil's Tower. The last time I saw this tower, Richard Dreyfuss, the actor, was running up the slope on the big screen. This massive geologic monolith was apparently our nation's first national monument. After only five minutes in the parking lot snapping photos, I was surprised by a tap on my shoulder from Jim of the Circle View. I couldn't fathom what the odds were of us bumping into each other twice in two states over an eight hour period. We agreed that if we ran into each other one more time, that someone was stalking the other. By then, I was tired and thinking about calling it a day.

    Epic Ride 145.JPG
    Wyoming!


    Epic Ride 149.JPG
    Circle View Jim...again


    The cool temperatures and high winds suggested a cheap motel rather than my tent. I continued back on Route 14, enjoying the undulating road, until I found the Moorcourt Motel in Moorcroft, Wyoming. Motorcycles in the parking lot was my invitation. The Motel was way past its prime, but without obvious bedbugs, served my needs. My neighbors in the adjoining room were a couple (Bones and Haley) from Rochester, New York, on two Harleys that were on their way back from a two-month road trip through much of the United States. We went out to dinner together at Donna's Diner in downtown Moorcroft and compared notes about riding in high winds and living on the road. I knew I was "not in Kansas" anymore because I had a very hard time understanding the waitstaff at the restaurant. Not completely sure if it was a regional accent or some individual malady. Based on the motel and the diner, no one would accuse me of living a lavish lifestyle. A note about food on the road: it was a challenge to find healthy ingredients. If you were trying to avoid burgers and fries, you would have few options from the menus. My cardiologist would not approve. Perhaps things would be different as I approached the West coast. And Jim did not show up for dinner. Mileage for the day was 285.

    Epic Ride 152.JPG
    Moorcourt: hot shower, no bedbugs, fun neighbors


    Epic Ride 151.JPG
    Orcus curled up overnight at the foot of my bed
    #34
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  15. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Day 9

    I awoke at 6:30 a.m. to a parking lot filled with even more motorcycles. There had been a major influx of bikes while I was resting in my room. Many businesses within 150 miles of the Sturgis Rally undoubtedly benefited from the economic value of this weeklong event. It hopefully made up for all the noise and traffic. After saying goodbye to my new friends at the motel, I jumped back on familiar I-90. A week on the road made me more deliberate in my pre-launch ritual. I now remembered to wipe the bugs off the visor, check the vents on the jacket and pants, turn on the Sena before firing up the ignition, apply lip balm, and insert earplugs before donning the helmet. Motel washcloths worked best to remove the bug film from my visor. It usually left a reddish brown residue. I wondered what the housekeeping staff assumed was the source of the stain.

    There was a cool sting to the air so I layered under the unvented EnduroGuard with a thin down jacket. I pointed west at seventy miles per hour. The plan was to arrive in Cody, Wyoming at approximately three in the afternoon to visit my friends Gurney and Kim, and there was no need to travel at the eighty mile-per-hour speed limit, as it would just get me there too early. Yet another "Watch for Deer" sign on the side of the road caught my attention. Other than paying close attention, there was not much that I could do to avoid an interloper, so I was pleased that much of the side of the highway was bordered by livestock fencing. My confidence was soon shattered when I noticed two mule deer on my side of the fence, both of which effortlessly jumped over the barbed wire with graceful leaps. Needless to say, they could come and go as they pleased. After passing over Crazy Woman River, I exited I-90 in Buffalo and filled about six gallons of high-test at the Exxon station. Before Orcus was conceived, there was internal debate about the need for the Adventure model (versus the standard GS) with the massive eight gallon fuel tank. Back in Boston it was hard to justify such a large tank, but on this trip I was very pleased to have the extra fuel capacity. Others have described this model as a fuel tanker, but I subscribe to the theory that you can never have too much horsepower or too much fuel capacity.

    I proceeded on Route 16 west a short distance to the McDonald's, for a predictably satisfying breakfast and hot chocolate. It was there that I met a retired couple on a K1600GT that were traveling from Austin, Texas, and had just bought land in Buffalo for their new retirement home. They were planning to escape the heat of Texas in their new year-round home and were excited about the prospect of winter snow.

    As I proceeded up the Bighorn Pass on the Cloud Peak Skyway Scenic Byway, the temperature plummeted. I was forced to pull over and put on my heated jacket liner. This time, I left the down jacket on underneath just to test out how well the combination worked. It actually worked quite well, and I was comfortable all the way down to the 43 degrees that were registered on the BMW’s dashboard. My ears popped for the first time of the trip. The road leading up to the summit was great fun, but my excitement was soon tempered by increasing wet fog. Eventually the fog got so thick that visibility was limited to less than fifty feet. All traffic proceeded at about thirty-five miles an hour with emergency flashers on. As could only be scripted, I broke out to bright sunshine at the Powder River Pass’ 9,666 foot summit.

    The route back down to the town of Ten Sleep was some of the most scenic and picturesque of my ride to date, with massive granite cliffs accompanied by the smell of burning brake pads from the drivers ahead of me.

    Epic Ride 154.JPG
    thickening fog while climbing up the Bighorn Pass


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    sunshine at the summit


    Epic Ride 161.JPG
    heading back down to Ten Sleep


    Epic Ride 162.JPG
    Rt 16 scenery
    #35
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  16. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Ten Sleep was a balmy 74 degrees (a thirty degree increase), so I unplugged and shed layers as quickly as possible. After lunch at the Ten Sleep Saloon, I then proceeded on the sparsely traveled Route 31 to Hyattsville and then took the 20 to Basin, followed by the 30 to Otto. The double-sided sign marking Otto listed a population of ten inhabitants. There were stretches of road when I didn't see another vehicle for a half hour at a time. This was followed by further high speed runs along vast agricultural plains to Burlington and then the Greybull Highway to Emblem and Cody. It had been four years since I had been back to Cody and the east side of town seemed to be considerably more developed than I had remembered. In addition, the sky was dulled from all the forest fires burning further to the west. My friend, Gurney, was waiting for me in his driveway, sporting his customary bowtie, and after tucking Orcus into a most sumptuous garage, we spent the next several hours catching up on the events of the last several years. Miles today 271.

    Epic Ride 163.JPG
    lunch stop in Ten Sleep


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    sparsely traveled roads on the way to Cody


    Epic Ride 165.JPG
    a hearty welcome to the garage / concert hall
    #36
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  17. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Day 10

    Today was a day off from the road. I was relieved to relax off the motorcycle and was surprised at the extent and nature of my fatigue. It was not physical fatigue, but mental stress from concentrating during long hours and days in the saddle. In the morning, Gurney and I walked his dogs in a remote section of wide open landscape outside Cody. We then brought "the girls" home and went out for breakfast. I followed up with a delicious, badly needed nap.

    Epic Ride 167.JPG
    it felt good to stretch the legs


    Later in the day, on a whim, I decided to pull Orcus out of the garage and hose her down. While cleaning the layer of bugs off the windshield, I discovered that one of two bolts that hold the windshield in place had been lost and that the remaining bolt was loose. The missing bolt was undoubtedly lying on the road somewhere in South Dakota. I can only imagine the calamity had I lost the second bolt and the windshield fully vibrated off the bike at highway speed. The problem was solved with a quick trip to the local AutoZone for the acquisition of a metric threaded bolt, along with Gurney's contribution of the perfect washer. We joked about how the German purity of the build components had now been tainted. My limited self-reliance and heavy tool kit had passed their first mini-tests. I guess this incident validates the value of doing a thorough inspection of the motorcycle every so often during a big trip. I also checked Orcus's oil level, which I did nearly every day, and was pleased to note that the engine was barely consuming oil, even after several thousand miles. This was so unlike my previous 2004 Oil Head RS, which burned oil at a significant rate.

    Epic Ride 173.JPG
    AutoZone replacement bolt


    I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out the best (scenic) way to get to the Seattle area. In the evening, Gurney, Kim, and I attended a cowboy-themed dinner and musical show, and then went next door to Stampede Park to the famous Cody Rodeo. During the rodeo, a twelve-year-old boy, dragged by his ankle from a bull calf, was taken off the field by stretcher to a summoned ambulance. Overall, it was an interesting show and I'm glad I went, but I don't think the animals had a very good time. Mileage today zero.


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    I would have ridden Mongo, BUT...(fill in your own excuse)


    Epic Ride 190.JPG
    aftermath of the kid's low side crash
    #37
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  18. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    Day 11

    Today was my second day in a row on hiatus from riding and was spent as a guest of “Camp Cody.” Gurney and I took the dogs for a nice long walk in the wilderness near the Twisted Sister Trail. Touring the country by motorcycle can be a fairly sedentary activity, so it felt good to get out and exercise. My only physical malady from extensive riding had been a tightening of my hamstrings. We spent a good part of our hike in philosophical discussion, trying to come to grips with our place in the world as aging men. We later picked up Kim at the house and the three of us went to the Cody Air Show, where we got a tour of the V-22 Osprey, a 1960s vintage Huey helicopter, and a bunch of private aircraft. We then drove about a half an hour toward Yellowstone Park and the three of us took the dogs on another extensive hike into the wilderness of Elk Fork. Although we each carried bear spray, there were fortunately no Grizzly encounters. Kim placed bells on the dogs to avoid any surprises. In the late afternoon, we went to see a movie and then came home and grilled some salmon.

    Bear with me. Tomorrow I get back on the saddle for more motorcycle adventure. Motorcycle mileage today was zero.

    Epic Ride 196.JPG
    this it what a lightening strike does to the ground


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    hiking with the dogs


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    the dogs enjoyed crossing the rushing water
    #38
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  19. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc Un Tigre del Norte

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    I’m really enjoying your very insightful ride report. I’m also retired, about the same age, though I’ve been riding only since 2005.

    I plan to ride across the continent this spring. I want to ride in New England, particularly Maine, which I’ve never visited. If you have any route tips for New England and the Maritime Provinces, I’d love to hear them.
    #39
  20. Oron

    Oron Adventurer

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    There are many great roads in New England and the Canadian Maritimes. Maine certainly offers some of New England's best. Mount Desert Island (Acadia National Park) is a great destination. It can get crowded in the peak summer months, but is quite beautiful. If you stay on Route 1 going further north ("Down East" as the sailors used to say), it gets a lot less crowded and is a personal favorite area. Explore south into the peninsulas such as Schoodic Point and Petit Manan for unspoiled coastal landscape. The further you ride "Down East," the more it seems you travel back in time. The northern coast of the Bay of Fundy is fabulous. Cape Breton is a worthy Maritime destination, but with occasional wet and foggy conditions. I have actually traveled as far as Newfoundland, but be prepared for an end of the earth experience with limited route options.
    #40