New Title - Plans Change: Georgia to Maine

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by thereal_od, Sep 13, 2021.

  1. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    210
    Location:
    Ringgold, GA
    It is almost here.

    Some background: What is it? At 42 years old, it is my first multi day, cross country, motorcycle tour. Solo I might add. I've ridden on the street since I was 19, but for various reasons I have never been able to tour via motorcycle. I'm also a big history buff, so that will guide some of my destinations along the way. I hope to update this ride report nightly.

    The Trip has been in the making since around March of this year. My wife's company has a corporate office in Portland Maine. She had a work trip planned for next week. Her flight and the hotel room would be on the company's dime. My initial plan was to ride up, meet up with her, hang around Portland for the week while she worked, then ride back. Well that meeting was canceled due to updated corporate COVID-related travel restrictions. I'll not get into the politics of COVID, but we talked it over and decided; we're vaccinated, we've had enough travel plans canceled over the past year and half, we are going.

    The Bike - 2015 Kawasaki Concours aka The Fat Ninja

    The Plan - Nothing below is in stone, just a general guideline I've made for myself. I will camp each night on the way up and back.
    • Day .5 - I leave the afternoon of the Tuesday the 21st. I plan to super slab it through Tennessee and stay the night around Bristol.
    • Day 1 - I will head up through WV, ending the day in Harpers Ferry, bypassing along the way through the small town of Bartow WV. Abrose Bierce's piece "A Bivouac of the Dead" is written about an early battle of the Civil War which took place in the area. I simply want to say I've been there, and on the map at least, the roads in the region look great.
    • Day 2 - I'll leave out of Harpers Ferry before dawn and ride through Gettysburg. I fully understand I could spend a week in the area and probably not see all that I want to see. But like Bartow, I want to say I've been there. The rest of the day, I'll mostly super slab it through Pennsylvania, into NY, Connecticut, into Mass, and end the day around Monadnock State Park New Hampshire. I'm taking a westerly route to avoid the metro areas of Baltimore, Philly, and NYC. This will be my highest mileage day at just over 500 miles.
    • Day 3 - My wife flies into Bangor International, where I'll pick her up and make the short jaunt over to Mount Desert Island/Acadia. We will be 'glamping' at an interesting resort there for four nights. I plan to eat my weight in lobster rolls and drink copious amounts of beer around the campfire each night.
    • Next, we'll leave MDI and ride down the coast to Portland, where we'll spend two nights.
    • She flies back home from there, and I ride back home. I haven't decided my exact route home yet.
    This week I will be servicing the bike, packing, testing my load plan, and finalizing my routes. I purchased the new Garmin ZUMO XT a month ago, so I'll be getting more familiar with its features as well. I'm anxious, excited, and admittedly a bit nervous. I suppose, starting this thread is a way to burn off some of that nervous energy and get my thoughts straight.

    So that's IT, as it's planned now a week and a day from beginning. Not the epic RTW, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Siberia, or other Long Way Round-like reports we've read here. But this one is mine.

    Here's a first, obligatory pic of the bike. This is Mrs. Real_OD and I last week on the Cherohala.

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    #1
  2. Sidney

    Sidney Been here awhile

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    Bloomington, IL/Manasota Key, FL
    Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway would be my first choice for an on-highway ride back towards Georgia.
    #2
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  3. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

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    Yeah I've been thinking along those lines. I have a good friend in Charlottesville VA who'd let me spend a night.
    #3
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  4. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

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    Plans change. I decided to leave this morning in a failed attempt to out run Mother Nature. I had a good run through the state of Tennessee but near Bristol the rain caught me. Visibility quickly deteriorated on the interstate. After stopping to check the radar I decided to not go into West Virginia as originally planned. It looked like that route would take me into heavier rain. I abandoned I-81 and got on US 11. I ran 11 until almost dark and decided to find a cheap hotel rather than camp. So I’m here in a Super 8 near Troutville VA. Not a bad first day by any means. I think I’ll be in the rain again for most of tomorrow, but hopefully by afternoon I’ll be past it. Only one pic today, the Concours all packed up in the driveway this morning.
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    #4
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  5. msahern5

    msahern5 Jumping at Shadows

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Route 11 is a good escape from 81. If you plan it right you can usually jump back on 81 to bypass the towns and easily return to 11 for the countryside. 11 parallels 81 all the way through Va. Have a good trip.
    #5
  6. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
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    Location:
    Ringgold, GA
    I’m laying in bed, sipping a beer, at a Microtel near Allentown PA. I did see Gettysburg today, but only briefly. Today’s storm and I swapped the lead many times. I was looking over the infamous Devils Den at the great battlefield when the storm caught me once again. The storm was obviously not pleased with me, as it unleashed wind and rain like I haven’t seen on this trip. Hastily, I dawned my gear and headed out of town. I made a run up to Harrisonburg, to visit Cycle Gear in hopes of upgrading my waterlogged gloves. I also prayed to the motorcycle gods that the store might have just one pin lock insert for an Arai Regent X. Both prayers were answered and I was soon, back on the road, headed due East.

    Pennsylvania Monument
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    Sharpshooter’s view of the Connie
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    Looking back at Devils Den
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    Yours Truly
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    Some folks from Tennessee parked behind me. Anybody know ‘em?
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    #6
  7. Klinc207

    Klinc207 To PERU!

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2015
    Oddometer:
    359
    Location:
    Up here or down there.
    Following from midcoast Maine, lots of fun twisty roads down the peninsulas if you have time to get off RT1.

    Sneaking in between RT1 and RT3 from Belfast has some nice roads. (West of Camden) Down through Appelton, Union, Washington. Rt 105, 131, 220, 218, 215.

    Depending on the day I would try to avoid Wiscasset. Traffic is better now but weekends can still back up.
    #7
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  8. FireDog45

    FireDog45 Squirrels get enraged when they see me naked Supporter

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    Location:
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    Sounds like a fun trip! Gettysburg is a humbling place to visit isn’t it?

    I’d suggest skipping Skyline Dr though. 35mph speed limit and the scenery isn’t all that plus I think it’s a toll road as well (it’s been a long time since I was there so I could be wrong). Jump on the BRP at Front Royal and enjoy that for as long as you can, it keeps getting better the farther west you go.
    #8
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  9. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    210
    Location:
    Ringgold, GA
    Yesterday was a long day in the saddle. I’m in South Portland ME. I put Bangor in my Garmin Zumo and it gave me a couple options. Neither were great. One route would take me to Scranton PA, into Connecticut, and across Mass to the outskirts of Boston. Then all the way up 95, with an arrival time of just after 5 PM. Initially I took that route. Being a fan of the office, I wanted to take a pic of the Penn Paper tower from the opening credits scene. All of that worked as planned, and soon I was headed out of Scranton I-84. I hit some light rain, but nothing terrible.

    I soon became bored with the interstate, plus the wind was really gusty in the area. I decided I’d had enough of that. I pulled off the interstate at Port Jervis and got on US 109. I saw some lovely countryside. The town of Marbletown looked especially interesting. I picked up I-87 for a quick run into Albany NY. I’d set my Zumo on ‘mildly adventurous’ routing. I picked up Route 7 out of Troy to VT Route 9 across the bottom of the state. Wilmington looked like another great town. In NH I hit a couple pieces of super slab and ended up on I-95 into Maine. About 8 PM I was getting pretty tired and decided to call it a day. I was going to camp at a KOA in Saco but the office was closed and nobody answered the phone. I rode around looking for one of those cheap, coastal Maine, cottages but there seemed to be no vacancy anywhere. I ended up in a nice Double Tree for a decent price.

    In a few minutes I’ll load back up and ride the two plus hours up to Bangor to pick up Mrs. OD. She’s boarded the plane for the first leg of her trip already, Chattanooga to Bangor, by way of Charlotte.

    I stopped very little yesterday, so I don’t have many pics. I probably ran it a bit hard, I never stopped to eat and for some reason didn’t even eat any of the snacks I have packed. I got in a rhythm and just didn’t want to stop.
    Edit: Soreness has finally caught up with me. Tomorrow will be a zero day!

    I live in the town of Ringgold in Northwest Georgia. I had to take a pic of the New Ringgold PA sign.
    A7E3720B-4860-4188-A95F-825EBABD737B.jpeg

    The Penn Paper Tower as seen on The Office. If you’re familiar with the show, the guys at work say I’m a mix of the characters Darryl and Creed. And I admit, that’s accurate.
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    #9
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  10. Samspade

    Samspade Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    342
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    Enjoying your report. We're considering the same trip next year (from Chattanooga) so this is a great resource for routing.
    #10
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  11. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
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    210
    Location:
    Ringgold, GA
    Uneventful ride up I-295 and I-95 to Bangor airport. Mrs OD’s flight got delayed, it should be here in about 40 minutes. Then it’s an hour ride go our ‘glamping’ resort. Sorry, I have trouble with the term ‘glamping’...:lol3

    I’m looking forward to relaxing, drinks around the fire tonight, and of course the lobster.

    Edit: @Samspade I’d be glad to talk to you anytime with my take on the trip. Especially being that we’re from the same area.
    #11
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  12. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
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    Currently, we’re at a joint called Dog and Pony Tavern in Bar Harbor. I’m sipping on a beer, awaiting that first lobster roll.

    Mrs. OD arrived at Bangor International just before 1 PM, with her helmet in my old tanker CVC bag. After a quick change into her moto gear we went to load up the Fat Ninja. As luck would have it, the rain moved in yet again. We sought shelter until it passed. Soon her dry bag was strapped on and we were off.

    We made a quick stop for pics at Stephen King’s house (conveniently located about 5 minutes from the airport). From there we fought school zone traffic on our way out of Bangor. But soon, we were cruising down 1A toward the coast. I could smell the lobster cooking as we passed numerous roadside cook shacks.

    Soon enough, we were on Mt Desert island. Our ‘glamping’ resort is, top notch. Tomorrow is a zero mile day. So, I’ll pick this report back up Sunday.


    Now for some pics:

    Stephen King’s place:

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    The ‘tent’
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    The ‘tent’ again
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    The ODs
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    Putting the Connie down to rest for a day or so
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    #12
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  13. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Today has been a relaxing zero mile day. At the moment, we are enjoying a prime rib dinner at the lodge in our glamping resort. I’ve been informed that I’m the talk of the staff for riding here from Georgia. We Uber’ed into Bar Harbor this afternoon, had some great food and drink, and some shopping. The only pic I have is of Addie, the scooter riding dog:

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    #13
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  14. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    210
    Location:
    Ringgold, GA
    The rain hung around for the remainder of Saturday and into Sunday. Sunday afternoon it moved out and conditions couldn’t have been more perfect! We’ve spent the last few days riding around MDI and Acadia. We’ve really seen some sites! We actually extended a night here at Terramor Outdoor Resort; we’ve really enjoyed the top notch staff and the atmosphere here so much. I’ve not met every goal I intended for this trip but one I’ve exceeded is, lobster! I’ve eaten so much lobster and seafood and have not had a bad meal here.
    Today, I had a 1:30 reservation to ride up Cadillac Mountain. About noon, we went through the area and bicycle tours had traffic at a gridlock. At 1:30 we were on the far end (one way) of the Park Loop Road. So we missed our window. If traffic up the mountain was as bad as it was near the turn off, I guess it was a blessing. Cadillac will have to wait until the next time. Otherwise, the scenery has been absolutely breathtaking. Tomorrow we head down route 1 to Portland.
    Some pics:

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    #14
  15. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    My epic ride is now complete and I'm back in the real world. I'll take a few moments to fill in the last of the details.

    Wednesday Sept 29th:
    Mount Desert Island to Portland via Route 1. We enjoyed a leisurely ride down the coast. Our only stop was at a random lobster shack for lunch. We arrived in Portland early in the afternoon and walked around the Old Port area for dinner and drinks.

    Thursday September 30th:
    4 AM wakeup for Mrs OD to catch an Uber to the airport for her flight home. I laid back down at around 4:45 in hopes of catching another couple hours of sleep. No luck, I tossed and turned. A bit of light rain had moved into Portland, after checking the radar I could see it wouldn't last long so I decided to wait for it move out. I mainly super slabbed into Mass, keeping a wide berth around Boston and cut southwest across Mass, into Connecticut, New York, and finally PA. I ended up in the foot of the Poconos at a KOA cabin for the evening. I was pretty tired from my early wakeup and all day in the saddle. But, for some reason I couldn't shut my mind off and had a rather restless night. Anyone else experience this on the road?

    Friday October 1st:
    I woke up to a cold foggy morning, low 40s. I packed up and hit the road. I was beginning to reconsider my swing into West Virginia. I decided to just ride, and when I got to Northern Virginia I'd make the call. Again, I super slabbed it. I made excellent progress and really covered some miles. When I got into Northern VA I decided to just take the most direct route toward home. When I stopped for a quick lunch break, my GPS indicated I could be home by about 9:45 PM. I knew that time would get later as I made fuel and rest stops but I decided I'd go for it. I crossed into Tennessee just before dark. Both the Kawi and I needed fuel so I stopped off at one of the Bristol exits. I thought, "I'll eat some dinner, get energized a bit and be ready to slab it the remaining 3 hours home." Well my Chick-Fil-A nuggs and fries didn't give me that energy boost I had hoped for. I got back on the interstate, with the more realistic hope of just getting down the road a bit. After about the third fresh deer carcass on the side of the freeway, I decided it best to find a place to bed down for the night. The Baileytown KOA was just down the road so I pulled in. I got my tent setup, and I was sacked out by 10. I had covered about 650 miles, and I slept remarkably well that night.

    Saturday October 2nd:
    I slept a bit longer than I intended. It was about 7:15 before I shook myself awake. I broke camp and was still on the road by 8. Traffic through Knoxville was heavier than I would've expected for a Saturday morning, but it was fast moving and no trouble. I made a quick bathroom and coffee stop south of K'ville. Pretty soon I was at my exit. I'll admit, as I pulled off the interstate for the final time, I was a bit emotional. Only a few minutes of this trip was left. All of the planning, the rain filled slog of the first two days, the beautiful and picture perfect third day of the trip up, the time on Mount Desert Island, the new friends Mrs OD and I made, the whole experience; it was coming to an end. I turned off my Sena, no music, no podcast, no notifications from my Garmin, I just wanted to soak in the last few moments. I just wanted to listen to the road noise, the wind, and to engine rev as I made the short run through the countryside on the final leg home. I pulled up the driveway shortly after 10 AM, put the side stand down, and set my feet on familiar ground. Mrs OD greeted me and snapped the final photo of the trip for me.


    Interesting building in Old Port, Portland
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    Old Port waterfront
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    My cabin in the foot of the Poconos
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    And the final photo of the trip, me after arriving safely back home.
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    #15
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  16. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Ringgold, GA
    So there you have it. My completed ride report. I will close out with some final thoughts and lessons I learned:

    • Don't over plan the route, the ride is gonna take ya where it's gonna take ya
    • I see the purpose of a 1 piece rain suit. Water gets in around the waist band of a cheap jacket/pants combo
    • I think using a dedicated GPS over a phone is a good move. Really glad I invested in my Zumo XT
      • Until recently I didn't think there was a need for stand alone GPS units
    • A pinlock is a critical piece of equipment!
    • Cheap waterproof gloves may indeed not be waterproof
      • When combined with the purchase price of a better pair, they aren't cheap either
    • Emergency stopping procedures and scanning!
      • The only scary moment of the entire trip occurred on the freeway in Albany New York. On I-787, I saw brake lights and cars swerving left and right ahead of me. I let off the gas, applied the brakes, and scanned to the front and in my mirrors. As the car ahead of me swerved, I saw the culprit of this momentary chaos. The hood of a battered old Dodge pickup had flown open and was all the way against the windshield of the truck. Driver was stopped in the middle of the freeway, out of the truck, trying to get the hood closed! I had plenty of time to stop, but cars were flying by me in each adjacent lane. In the mirror, I saw an opening, and gunned it. I got around safely, but damn! What a moment!
    This will be the first of many long distance runs. When my son is home on Christmas break, we hope to do a big loop into West Virginia to hit some of the sites I originally planned. So that makes missing them this time around well worth it. If weather doesn't permit, we may ride the Natchez Trace and loop down to the Gulf and back up through Alabama. In closing: life is short, let's ride!
    #16
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  17. Unwtrmy

    Unwtrmy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
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    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    Great report. Hope to do my first solo in a few days. Great pointers on planning and prep.
    #17
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  18. thereal_od

    thereal_od Been here awhile

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    #18
  19. AngusMcL

    AngusMcL Been here awhile

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    Feb 12, 2009
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    Location:
    HRM, NS, Canada
    Great report! I did my first 'big' trip like yours in 2019 (at age 42) but the opposite direction (Nova Scotia to North Carolina). I did more slabbing than you did due to time constraints (and I do regret that), but overall I'd say I learned the same lessons and went through the same emotions. Thanks for taking the time to type out a report!

    A.
    #19
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  20. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    Great RR, gidday from NZ :wave
    #20