A New England Weekend – Day 2

Posted: July 29, 2012 in Destinations, Food, General Musings, Maintenance, Photos, Travel
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Rain, rain, go away. Come again another… ah whatever. Rain all you want, we have rain gear.

Last night was definitely a late night. And by the nature of it being a late night, we had a feeling this morning would not be an early start. We finally made our way to the bikes around 11am. The forecast called for rain throughout the day; again, not a problem, we just had to prepare for it. The plan was to head west into New Hampshire and ride the Kancamagus Highway, then work ourselves further west into Vermont where we would spend the night in Waterbury to enjoy their fine craft beer scene and enjoy what we would hope to be remarkably good eats. But before we set out west, we had a stop to make… Big Moose Harley Davidson in Portland. We still needed to pick up one more set of rain gear, and in addition, who wouldn’t want a shirt that says Big Moose on it! [As an aside, if I were female I would probably ride my bike, albeit unsafely, in yoga pants all the time. Kim looked way too comfortable riding in them!] With our uber-sexy rain gear donned, the road called our name.

We navigated the city streets of Portland for a whopping 4.5 miles before it happened. My 2012 Street Glide, 3 months brand new with less than 2500 miles on it, decided to show the dreaded check engine light. With it, my battery light was also illuminated. Fortunately Big Moose was less than 2 miles away. The rain started to come down a little harder but we made it safely. We parked under a tent that was set up for a party the night before, but much to our dismay, the dealership was closed on Sundays. Who knew… [with hindsight I knew, but I didn’t remember at the time. It is illegal to sell vehicles on a Sunday in Maine, therefore very few dealerships bother to open.]

6 miles of riding on a rainy Sunday and there I was… stuck at a closed Harley dealer… in Maine… in the rain. After checking the forums and making a few phone calls (Laconia Harley and Seacoast Harley), it seemed apparent that my problem was the voltage regulator – a known problem on 2012’s, but the MoCo hadn’t issued a recall. Instead it was a “Program” that offered replacement on a need-to-replace basis. Both dealers were able to help me if I was able to get them my bike. Seacoast was a little closer and they were open later. That was my best bet.

We debated, and by we I mean the 4 of us, attempting to ride the bike to Portsmouth – I was still able to start her up and ride her (the bike sicko!), but it was only a matter of time before the voltage regulator would die completely and leave me stranded on the highway. It seemed worth the risk and if I needed a tow, we would be that much closer. But it didn’t hurt to call and inquire about a tow.

My first call was to HOG towing. A few weeks earlier I had upgraded my membership to the Ultra package to guarantee unlimited miles. I called HOG. Much to my dismay I was on hold for 26 minutes, yes, 26 minutes, before an operator picked up the phone. To make a long story short, HOG would only tow me to the closest dealer… a dealer they were saying was in Lewiston, ME. This pissed me off and baffled me at the same time. It pissed me off because I knew the dealer in Lewiston was closed. It baffled me because Lewiston wasn’t the closest dealership, in fact, Big Moose was the closest dealer to me… I was parked in their parking lot! I pushed as hard as possible to get a tow to New Hampshire but they insisted Lewiston was the closest dealer to me. I offered to pay for the extra mileage and I was told that needed to be approved first… the operator told me she would call back and hung up the phone. [Note: She did call back, more than two hours later to tell me she still hadn’t gotten hold of the towing company.]

Something occurred to me while waiting for the return call. I have AAA RV Plus for this very purpose! Within 5 minutes I was on and off the phone with AAA and a tow was scheduled. I was given a 45 minute window of time. An hour and fifteen minutes later the truck pulled into the Big Moose lot… the driver didn’t leave his vehicle and AAA called me back: “I’m sorry sir, I made a mistake. We can’t tow your bike off the lot without the dealership being open to verify the bike is yours.” But I could verify it was mine. But they didn’t care. The next hour was a battle back and forth between me and AAA. Although the driver was willing to help me, and he knew the bike was mine, his hands were tied. I called and requested a new tow from the same driver and claimed I had moved the bike to the parking lot next door… the call came through from dispatch and right as we were about to load the bike, they called back to cancel. My claim had already been denied so I couldn’t make a claim for the same vehicle on the same day. If worse came to worse, I would spend the night in Portland, get drunk again, and let Big Moose fix the voltage regulator in the morning.

More time passed. The driver’s hands were still tied. He understood my problem, but there was nothing he could do. I kept looking at my phone for the time. Seacoast closed at 5 and we were still more than an hour away. It seemed all hope was lost. And at the last moment, just as he was getting ready to drive away, the call came through from a supervisor that said “Just tow it.” We don’t know why, and we don’t know what changed their mind, but we were thrilled.

It took about 45 minutes to load the bike. There were ratchet straps holding ratchet straps. This bike was going nowhere. At 3:00 Melisa and I squeezed into the cab with our gear and Todd and Kim went their separate way. The plan was to meet them in Conway New Hampshire that night assuming of course everything would be fixed in time. Time was not on our side. We were an hour away without traffic in the rain… and of course, there was traffic! I had already come to grips with the fact that my bike wouldn’t be ready and we’d be spending the night in Portsmouth. Heck, I was already planning where I would eat dinner!

Much to my surprise we arrived at Seacoast at 4:15. Tim in service was aware of our location the whole time and they were waiting for us! With surgical precision their service team pulled my bike off the truck and brought it immediately into service where a tech was waiting to get to work. They were like a team of ER doctors waiting for an ambulance to arrive with the injured from a nasty crash site. I can’t say enough about Seacoast HD – they were phenomenal. The work was completed faster than I could buy a T Shirt (the same one I wanted the day before) and complete my paperwork in service. And not only did Tim remember me from our visit to Seacoast the day before, but so did the woman working in motor clothes; and she remembered I never came back to buy my shirt. Well, I was back now!

Officially the bike was ready at 4:50. We loaded our gear, debated dressing for the rain (the sun was trying to poke through), and set on our way. It was 5:05. Melisa and I were thrilled that we would be meeting up with Todd and Kim once again, without losing too much time on our trip. Route 16 toward Conway was a great ride… two lanes most of the way with very little traffic. About a half hour into our trip the mist started to fall, but we made no thought of stopping. Then a light rain. Eh, we can persevere. And a steadier rain. We were wet, but it wasn’t too bad. Then the deluge. Yup, that sucked. And we were soaked. So we did what any smart person would do. We stopped to put on the rain gear after we were already soaked. Of course, once dressed properly, we completed the jaunt to Conway, albeit very wet. Thank the Maker for the hotel pool and hot tub!!!

Lost in the woes of the day was the desire to eat… in fact, we ate nothing after breakfast. And it caught up to us. We decided on a local brew house called Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Company in North Conway. The last time I visited Conway my riding partner and I couldn’t decide on dinner at Moat or dinner at The Scarecrow Pub & Grill – we chose the latter and it was very good so I was happy to be checking out Moat this time around. Of course, that happiness lasted minutes at best once we walked through the door. The beer was average brew house quality at best, and the food was very disappointing. I ordered the blackened peppercorn burger cooked medium rare. It was overcooked. It wasn’t very blackened. And it wasn’t very peppercorny. How’s that for a review?  The bacon however, was a nice thick cut bacon. We stayed until about 11 to get our drink on and made our way back home.

Melisa wanted to go for a gondola ride outside Moat.

 

The trip to and from the restaurant required a cab (and a cab ride when Kim forgot her ID) as we expected to drink more than we actually did and didn’t want to bring the bikes. The highlight of dinner came on the way home when we decided to play reverse-cash cab with the driver. He answered our questions, but he didn’t make any money off us. We actually thought we would stump a Granite Boy (that’s the same as a New Hampshirite in case you were wondering) by asking him what the capital of Vermont was. Yeah, that didn’t go so well.

Lessons learned today:

1. AAA, although great when it works, is a total failure when it doesn’t.

2. Enterprise “We’ll pick you up.” Yeah, not on weekends.

3. HOG Towing = horrible!

4. Put on rain gear before it starts to rain!

5. French Canadians love to vacation in New Hampshire.

6. Seacoast Harley Davidson… sure it’s the equivalent of a big box store, but in name only. Personalized service at its best.

7. Dealerships don’t open in Maine on Sundays.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

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