Throwing darts at maps.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Amphib, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    So I basically closed my eyes and pointed at a map of the southeast. The nearest feature to my finger was new river gorge west virginia. With very little preparation, expectations, or any idea of any real details, I wiped my schedule for a week, loaded the bike, and set off for a 3 day ramble. By the first gas stop I texted my wife that I was going to be gone 4 days.

    20190806_072352.jpg


    More to come......
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  2. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    I was packed up ready to leave Asheville NC by 7am but unpredicted rain was coming through, so after checking out the radar I decided to wait it out. Finally by 10 all was clear. Losing those few precious hours meant an adjustment to my route. I initially planned on heading east, and shoot north from Marion NC.... I aborted this plan and jumped on the slab i-26, i-81and ran it till Marion VA, and picked up route 16 north.

    I'm blessed to live where I do as I have incredible roads for motorcycling minutes away. This route did not disappoint, but it wasn't until north of Tazewell that I feel transported to another time and space. In my mind's eye, I imagined old model T's and A's putt-putting along this tightly twisted road. Other than time beating up on the old buildings, satellite dishes, and more modern cars, there's not alot to yank you back to the present. Yes most of the commercial buildings had long since gone out of business, but peering in a few windows showed more glimpses into the past. I can't remember ever feeling so transported in time.

    The narrative running through my mind this stretch is too much to go through here. I don't want to get political or judgemental in any way. I'm merely a traveler... an observer. I did feel sadness. This is a culture hanging by a thread to the past. It's entire existence is tied to a dying industry. I was surprised to see many mines still pumping out the coal tho machines have replaced many of the men who inhabited these towns.

    I have a few regrets this trip. One was not taking more pictures through here. I was ethically conflicted about being seen on a nice motorcycle taking pictures of these people's condition. I enjoy taking pictures and this was one of the most inspiring subject matter I've seen in years. It was difficult to pass on by, but at the time, I couldn't bring myself to stop.

    Folks through here drove really fast. They obviously knew the roads and it was nice for a change for me to be the guy to pull over and let the cars pass. The road was heavily traveled that day by trucks hauling timber and coal. It was frightening at first, by these guys know those roads like the back of their hands. Word to anyone who's never ridden in these areas..... Don't hug that center line. It's a suggestion, and just an indicator where the center is. More than a few trucks I got behind flashed lights, slowed down and waved me around in areas I wouldn't have attempted to pass, but there's no way for these guys to do their jobs without using that much road. Watching, I could see everyone seemed to know this and drove accordingly. There was enough room for other cars if they got far enough over to the right..... 2 trucks? I'm not so sure about that.

    I only took a couple of pictures though here.

    The old Itmann company store.


    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itmann_Company_Store_and_Office


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    I think this was in Welch. There was a confusing downtown area where I lost the route briefly.

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    #2
  3. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    Somewhere around Sophia route 16 merged with route 97. I pulled over to make 2 calls. I expected there to be outdoor gear stores and outfitters. In my haste to leave, I didn't have time to source any good maps of my intended areas other than my gazetteers. I use gazetteers religiously, but for the kind of riding I wanted to do, I really like the national geographic hiking trail maps. I spend a lot of time in the national forests and these are an excellent resource. I fold them up and use them in the map pocket of my tank bag. I'm still old school I guess and haven't made the jump to use GPS on the bike yet. I do check it though when planning routes. The trouble I've had though with national geographic (I've already cleaned out all my local options of every available semi regional map rei, etc) is they want an exorbitant amount of money for shipping and my last order took 3 weeks. I didn't have time so figured I get some along the way. Unbeknownst me at the time this would be kind of trip changing to a degree.

    A quick search from Google, I called Water Stone Outdoors.

    https://waterstoneoutdoors.com/

    They assured me that they carried all maps of the region including Monongahela and George Washington Jefferson national forests. Score!

    Second call after a quick search was to Babcock state park. https://wvstateparks.com/park/babcock-state-park/

    The lady I talked to giggled when I asked if there was any availability.... "just come on in and pick a spot." Sweet.

    The rest of the ride to fayetteville was uneventful and congested.

    The outdoor store had no maps that I needed. The kid working there apologized for not checking. I wasn't upset. It was a cool store. The kid was telling me that at that precise moment, his newly retired dad was on a greyhound bus bound for FL to pick up a newly purchased motorcycle to tour on.....really nice kid. He suggested I hit the visitor center in the morning that they would have those maps.

    (parking lot of Water Stone)
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    Fayetteville was a nice little gentrified city. Tourism is definitely the major player here. Plenty to do it seemed. It actually reminded me of a little asheville with its vibe. I don't drink, but there seemed to be some watering holes and breweries if anyone is interested.

    The main attraction on my ride to the campground is the bridge over the gorge. It was windy with traffic so I didn't get any good looks. :lol3

    I rolled into Babcock around 7ish beat.....dehydrated, low blood sugar and looking forward to getting settled. Beautiful campground and I was recommended to just find a site that suited me and report back.

    I made a fire, set up my hammock and preceeded to cook dinner. I chopped up some bell peppers, garlic, and onion and froze them with some andoullie sausage the night before. It was still cold when I dumped it my pot. I added packaged zatarain's red beans and rice....was done in a few minutes and feasted. I thought about doing some journaling but was just content as could be listening to night sounds and watching the fire. Somewhere close to 10pm I climbed into my hammock and quickly fell asleep.

    Day 1 mileage: 352 miles
    #3
  4. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    At 4:30 my eyes popped open wide and with a full bladder rose to meet the day. I'm generally an early riser. It doesn't matter if I go to bed at 9pm or 1am, I'm up before the birds.

    I'm 47 and it hasn't always been this way. I noticed my sleeping habits started changing a few years ago. It's taken some adjustment, but I've grown to really cherish my mornings. My wife and 1 1/2 years old son don't usually wake up till closer to 8, so it's nice to get some solitude in before the days routine and toddler mayhem.

    I guess I'm pretty introverted. I've never done well in crowds or groups......they exhaust me. It's not that I don't like people, but it's like I'm physically allergic or something and can only handle it in small doses. My motorcycle trips are tied into self care. Since going adv, most of my trips revolve around national parks and forests. I enjoy plotting out loops or routes to places bdr style and the plotting itself is part of the fun. I love the solitude. I love that I can stop anywhere at any time. I love that I can camp almost anywhere at any time. Being out in these places is medicinal in ways that I haven't found otherwise.

    So I made some coffee. In the past I would staple grounds into paper filters and just boil it. Then I started filling large tea bags and doing it this way, but the trouble with that method is the paper would rip easily as a trip progressed. This has worked well for me. I don't like instant coffee, but this is tolerable and it's ready in 2 minutes flat from the firing of the flame.

    Coffee is important. Like the bike needs gas, I need coffee.

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    First order of business is where do I go today. I did have a new river gorge map, so I spread it out, opened the topo and quickly lost interest in the new river gorge area once I saw what lay ahead to the north and east. My wife used to be in guiding river and climbing trips and ran a few camps, she suggested I check out Cranberry Glades which I never heard of, but sounded extremely interesting.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cranberry_Glades

    So my plan at sun up was to pack the bike and back to the New River Gorge visitor center and see about some maps and I'd sort out a route after the Glades.

    Getting ready to head out. 20190806_090445.jpg

    New river gorge bridge

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    #4
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  5. Cameleer

    Cameleer Europe, three days at a time.

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    Love the pics and the narrative, thanks for sharing.
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  6. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Enjoying this and waiting for more...:lurk
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  7. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    The route to Cranberry Glades was beautiful country winding roads that progressively took me into more rugged country. I allowed cars and trucks to pass several times through here as I was content with the speed limit, slowing myself to check out all the old farm houses, barns, structures, old cars, trucks, tractors, wild flowers, deer everywhere, and in the shady sections the road would actually be green with moss.

    As I approached Richwood I noticed a shop that I thought may have maps or any information. I made a u-turn and went inside. There was a few locals inside and a woman running the place. While no maps other than touristy ones and a harley sponsored ride map, everyone was incredibly friendly and I literally could not get out of there till over an hour passed.......some guy pulled up as I was getting back on the bike and seemed very jealous that the proprietor was talking with me. (it was obvious to me that she preferred women) and I couldn't help notice his pink shirt with kittens all over it. I heard her reassure him I was just a customer passing through.

    Anyway it got me thinking about some of the issues folks might have living in these isolated backwoods towns. Here's a pic of the store. Most businesses seem to handle multiple things, but if you need fishing tackle, ammunition, your bicycle fixed, potting soil, firewood, or just to hang out, this is a good place.

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    An ocean of Black Eye Susan's along the way. 20190806_113321.jpg 20190806_113322.jpg


    A few miles later I entered monongahela national forest and wound my way to the Glades.

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    This was a great stop for me. The temps were cool, I had a nice hike, and while not a botanist, could appreciate the diversity and was awestruck at the uniqueness of this place. I wondered what the Native Americans thought of this area along with the early settlers. It obviously stands out compared to the rest of the area.

    After my hike I found a spot to have some lunch..... Beef jerky, mixed nuts, and an apple.
    #7
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  8. Cameleer

    Cameleer Europe, three days at a time.

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    [QUOTE="Amphib, post: 38175705, member: 424654"

    ...Anyway it got me thinking about some of issues folks might have living in these isolated backwoods towns.
    [/QUOTE]

    Just loved the episode in the General Store... still laughing an hour later.
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  9. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    Haha, yeah. I was briefly concerned it was going to get heated there for a minute. As they say in these parts...... "bless his heart".


    After eating some lunch I started trying to figure out what my next plan would be. In the back of my mind, with proper maps I was thinking I'd stick to gravel and make a clockwise loop through the national forests and finish where I started at New River Gorge, but after trying 2 shops, 2 visitor centers, and 1 ranger station, I gave up and was just going to wing it and whatever happens happens.

    I brought enough supplies for a few days. I had a full rotopax and would just need to make sure I kept replenishing water. I didn't know it at the time, but I was not going to have any cell signal for the next 2 1/2 days.

    I started taking pictures of my gazateers to more easily navigate so I didn't have to flip back and forth through various pages, especially when I dipped in and out of the Virginia /West Virginia line flipping through 2 books.

    So I jumped on 150 and was going to run it till 219 then head north. At some point I'd try to get east to enter Washington Jefferson national forest and try to get on the one map I did have.

    150 was incredibly beautiful. It runs the ridge of Black Mountain.

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    I had the road entirely to myself except for 1 of 2 adv bikes I saw on the trip. I passed a loaded ktm 990 going the opposite way who gave me the heartiest of waves.


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  10. c1skout

    c1skout Long timer

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    I appreciate how you feel about photographing the decay of these towns, I often have the same thoughts, but never realized quite why I wasn't taking more pictures........thanks for making me realize something about myself.

    Quite a journey.
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  11. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

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    Interesting observations on route 16. I have ridden through there a couple of times Last time I did it from Marion all the way to the end near the Ohio River. I did a ride report and got several comments about the depressing economy. After living a while in Alabama I guess I'm used to poverty and run down places. My thoughts when going through was that it was a pretty area with some real tourist potential but there weren't any tourist facilities.

    Some time before riding through there I had seen the movie "October Sky". It was about some boys living in the poor coal town of Coalwood and how they managed to escape the area by building rockets and winning a science fair. One of them ended up working for NASA. I highly recommend watching it if you haven't seen it.

    [​IMG]

    I don't want to hijack your thread any more but my pics and thoughts of that area are here: https://advrider.com/f/threads/the-...leveland-on-a-250.803404/page-2#post-19032665
    #11
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  12. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    Hijacks welcome! I did see that movie and I look forward to checking out your report.

    The prevailing thought I had through there is what else is there but coal or tourism for those folks. Chatting with some locals later on in the trip I guess there's some quarries that have started up, followed by complaints about the truck traffic, "but at least those boys are workin"

    But this isn't unique. I've witnessed this in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, all the dying towns along the Rock River in Illinois after the foundaries and fastener companies closed down..... Northern Indiana after the steel left. Every state has its areas.

    Back To WV, War and Mullens really stood out to me. There were quite a few shot out looking folks loitering about. Most buildings boarded up, while still giving off a glimpse of better times when things were bustling with activity.

    I have a remodeling /home improvement business and I didn't see any indication that there would be work for anyone in the trades there. I imagine that other than working in the mines or truck driving, that working for the road crews, or utilities is most likely the best opportunity.
    #12
  13. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    219 is where I found some real zen. Traffic was sparse but moved fast. I would key into a precieved trustworthy driver moving fast and smooth and follow 1/4 mile behind. I don't remember much here.....beautiful road, fast sweepers, farms, some old barns with chew mail pouch tobacco painted on but fading away.

    The second day of a trip is usually when I hit my stride and I was free from reality and also my own ideas of how the trip should go. All there was is the growl of the engine, my eyes moving about, right foot-back brake, left foot-shifting, left hand-clutching, right hand - braking. This is another thing I love about motorcycling in how it utilizes your whole brain......everything seemlessly connects into a dance with the road epitomizing the whole concept of living in moment.....there is no other reality at that moment in time.

    I had jotted down a few roads to scout out but was completely lost in the ride and thoughts of turning, stopping, taking pictures never even entered my mind.

    Eventually 219 met up with 250. There was an intersection there with a gas station so I decided to pull in, top off the tank, hydrate and make a decision where to go next.

    Snapping back to reality I was a bit self conscious feeling very gawked at. Though I did receive a couple of what I call cowboy nods..... the minor tip of the head, brief eye contact, stoic face. I appreciate those small acts of what I take as a friendly hello without the fuss of a conversation.

    On the other side is the spit. This is the stoic face, no eye contact, look past you, then open upper lip scowl face spit on the ground. I take this as inhospitable and passive aggressive. I rarely encounter this, but saw it quite frequently on my last trip up through Daniel boone national forest and big south fork. Traveling solo I do try to be aware and find clues as to what the pulse of area might be.

    So looking at the map heading south on 250 was a no brainer......and was another fantastic ride. I eventually came to a historical marker for camp Allegany at a gravel road. Without much thought I turned and followed it as it quickly deteriorated.

    I was stunned by the beauty here and wish my camera phone picked it up better.

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    #13
  14. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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    WV is a gem to explore. Great folks with a lot of interesting History that I've enjoyed learning about. I hope Politics and Gentrification don't make for another extinct Culture.
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  15. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    Amen. Yeah on so many levels.... I got pretty smitten with the place from my experience so far. I barely scratched the surface here, but it really left me passionate about getting back. From the people I encountered they were very reserved initially, but break the ice with them and they would open up. More cagers waved at me then any trip I can remember.
    #15
  16. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    After I had hung out for a while, had a snack, I really wanted to camp for the night here, but it was only around 3-330pm. The other thing in my mind was I wasn't sure what was happening with the weather. When I left there was a system moving southeast from up north and the forcast was severe thunderstorms and rain for Wed....the next day. With no cell I had no way of checking. I'm not bothered by rain except getting to this location was muddy, rough, and off-camber already...... and continuing along this road while temping, long, and fun looking, I just didn't want to chance anything with no cell or spot tracking. I also didn't have as much water as I wanted.

    So I made the difficult choice to go back the way I came and see where things would go.

    Coming out of the twisty green tunnel my breath was literally taken away. I had that stuttery inhale when I saw the landscape open up before me.


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  17. JB2

    JB2 Dirt Of The Earth

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    I didn't know of anyone else who used this method for a destination. Good to know I'm not alone. :*sip*

    Great photos and great places!
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  18. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    In from NZ! :wave
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  19. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    I stayed on 250 enjoying the scenery. I made my way through Monterey and McDowell VA. As I started twisting my way up the next mountain, I entered George Washington Jefferson national forest and had finding a campsite on my mind. It was about 5:30 and I was ready to relax. According to the nat geo map there should be a camp at Shaws fork. I thought I'd try there first and if it wasn't suitable, I'd find a forest service road and find a spot.

    Shaws fork was beautiful. It was a meadow surrounded by forest. It looked to be set up for horse camping with hitching posts and a corral. I quickly found a spot with appropriate trees for my hammock and set up camp. I also gathered up some firewood though it was all pretty wet.

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    The fire was a bit difficult to get started since everything was so wet, but with the help of a stack of unused tourist maps I picked up along the way, I got it started.

    Next order of business was figuring out getting more water. I had enough to survive, but not for my usual morning pot of goodness so I hopped back on the bike and headed back to McDowell where there was a gas station.

    The lady working there was really nice and friendly. They sold beer, guns, ammo, a few groceries, tobacco, gas, kerosene, and diesel. I asked where there might be a more of a grocery store and she said about a block away but they didn't have much more.

    I bought a gallon of water and headed over to the grocery store. It was sparce and gave me the feeling I was back in the 1940s. They had a few more things, I found some precooked smoked sausage which I'd mix in with rice I still had.... No fruit or veggies here. Very nice grandma type woman running the place.

    Both places didn't know there was a camp nearby and always sent visitors on their way.

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    I enjoyed my dinner, set up camp like rain was a coming and was horizontal by 930 with thunder rumbling in the distance.

    Day 2 mileage: 247 miles
    #19
  20. Amphib

    Amphib A mind is like a parachute....

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    I woke up at around 6:30 which is really sleeping in for me. Being used to waking up before dawn, it's a bit strange seeing light first thing. My first thought was how rested I felt and second thought was it's not raining and didn't appear to over night.

    About 2 years ago I purchased an Eno double nest hammock. I got it for day trips with my wife or just to be lazy in the yard. I had never thought about using it for camping. But as I'm getting older I just don't sleep well on the ground anymore. I haven't tried anything beyond a thermarest, but old sports injuries, wrecks, and a life in construction make sleep pretty painful under the wrong conditions. It was getting so bad that I was debating no longer camping and only sticking to places where I could get a bed.

    A few months ago I went on an overnight trip and brought the hammock along, the weather was supposed to be nice, I also brought the tent just in case. I slept great in the hammock! No pain! I love Eno. It's a local company to me and I love that you can buy their stuff ala carte. I purchased the largest rain fly they make prior to this trip. I can set it up in multiple ways and could even fit the bike under it if I tried. I had also hoped to get the bug net but none were available locally and with no time to wait for it. The net wasn't needed because I encountered absolutely zero mosquitoes. My bug spray also went unused.

    Also, I love how Eno stuff packs. Each item has its own sack. Having these 3 small pieces make packing so much easier then dealing with a tent and worrying about bending poles. I'm a total convert here and will have to figure out something when I get out west eventually.

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    I made coffee and spread out the maps. To my north and northeast lay a vast network of forest roads. It looked to me like that one section of the map could be several days of exploration all by itself. I got butterflies just thinking about it, but with my wife at home with the little guy, I was having to fight off trying to rationalize extending the trip into Friday or the weekend..... And quite possibly a long hard ride on the slab home.

    About this time the already cloudy skies were getting darker. Thunder off in the distance was getting closer so I started packing up as quickly as I could. The wind picked up and I started hearing the freightrain sound of a downpour approaching.

    Well there's my answer, this was going to be my point to start heading southerly. This is when I knew I would be coming back sooner than later.

    Just as everything was in the panniers and drybags, the sky fell in a downpour. I got my rain gear on, strapped everything tight and just figured I'd wander for a awhile staying on county roads.

    Attached Files:

    #20