Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Happy Frideday

Posted: August 10, 2018 in Frideday, General Musings, Maps, Rides, Travel
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Yesterday I enjoyed some open road and during my two-wheeled alone time I realized it wasn’t just a regular Friday. It was the first day with no rain; the first day with little to no humidity; it was the first day I was out in a while. Friday wasn’t Friday at all. It was a Frideday. And with that, a new feature was born in my mind. Of course, this might be a bit ambitious on my part as every Friday I will not be able to make it out for a ride, but let’s see how well it goes. If anything, maybe it can be a simple collection of enjoyable rides.

The Players: My friend Mike joined me on his 2016 Triumph American LT. We had no passengers, no time constraints, and no expectations.

The Plan: Ride to Newport, RI for lunch. Spoiler alert: it never happened. The morning was rather leisurely, and Mike and I spent some time putting the highway pegs back on my bike, which I took off a few years ago when I was unimpressed by their feel. We had one thought on our minds when we finally donned our gear and twisted the throttle. We wanted food. We were hungry and there was no way we were making it to Newport without filling our gullets first. A quick change of plans for a few of our favorite B’s: barbecue and beers.

The route: We departed Enfield, Connecticut about noon. We worked our way into Massachusetts and north on route 83 into Hampden, then to route 20 east and finally on to B.T.’s Smokehouse (previously reviewed here). The trip was approximately 45 minutes and included back roads, some smaller twists and sweeps, and a touch of two lane highway. After a little more than an hour at lunch we again headed east on 20 to Treehouse Brewery in Charlton. The lot was full and the lines were long. The brewery was just an add-on to the trip so we did not mind skipping out on can sales. We left almost immediately, continuing east on 20 until we hit 169 South and followed it into Connecticut.  Mike lives in Norwich and this was a route that would take him south and hook me up with a road west to head home. I decided not to turn away. “Go west, young man” was not in my cards for today – and this has little to do with the my age. I was enjoying my ride and other than my dog, I had no reason to get home early.

Route 169 is packed with gorgeous scenery. The only downfall of 169 is that the route is a little straight, but a nice canopy protects riders from most of the sun on hot days. The cool part about this impromptu ride is that it covered the main portion of our original planned trip to Newport. We stopped for a quick 5 in Putnam to figure out the remainder of the plan. We were only 45+ minutes from Mohegan Sun Casino. So… why not? We swapped bikes for the next leg. We eventually hit Route 12 in Norwich and continued on to Mohegan Sun.

Mike made a comment to me after we parked, but I’m not sure if it was a compliment. It was something along the lines of “you worked that bike harder in 45 minutes than I ever have.” In my mind it was a compliment. Who knows though. One beer and a leisurely stroll through the casino later it was time to head back. For Mike, the commute was no more than 10 minutes. For me, just a tad longer.

I was dedicated to the back roads home, including route 87 in CT, however major traffic delays in the middle of nowhere altered my plan slightly. No one really knows this, but sometimes I refer to Garmin as Chewbacca because of its ability to get me out of, and sometimes into, trouble. I took a random left and let my electronic Wookie-for-a-first-mate figure out the best way home. I was back on track. When I hit Route 6 and 44 in Coventry I made the choice to jump on 384, and enjoy the pace and peace of empty highways.

The ride was a great way to reconnect with both myself and with my bike. I would be remiss if I said riding with Mike wasn’t too shabby either.

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Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

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9 Days, 2603 miles: The Blue Ridge Parkway twice (south to north in one day), The Dragon’s Tail, The Devil’s Whip and Diamondback, Hellbender, The Cherohala Skyway… and I am ready for more.

Three

Photo Credit: Sheila Chudik

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Yesterday was supposed to be a beautiful day of riding around the Quabbin Reservoir in Mass. I met Jim in Sturbridge for breakfast at Annie’s Country Kitchen (much to my amazement, I was a few minutes late and he was about 40 minutes early so I didn’t have to wait for a table). Over a few cups of coffee and and egg sandwich we decided rather than ride the Quabbin, we would head south into CT, then head west across CT-20, north up 8, and scoot over the Pike so he could be home for a dinner reservation.

The ride south and west was uneventful, but after we passed through Granby and were headed toward Winsted, it occurred to me we had the New England Air Museum nearby at Bradley Airport. I hadn’t been since I was a kid, and I knew from previous conversations it was something Jim would enjoy. And so we turned around and headed to the museum.

As much as I am fascinated by airplanes, I don’t know anything about them and their history. Walking through the NEAM was great, and having it basically in my backyard makes me wonder why I haven’t been there in the 13 years I’ve lived in the area. We didn’t do a ton of riding, but that was OK.  It was more exciting to see and do something new…

Here is a gallery of Jim’s photos from the NEAM:

More Information:

New England Air Museum

38 Perimeter Rd., Bradley International Airport (Windsor Locks, CT)

Phone: 860-623-3305

Web: http://www.neam.org/

Admission: $12/adults (12 and up), $6.50 (ages 4-11), Free (3 and under), $11 Senior Citizens 65 and up

 

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

 

August 16-18 were the dates for the 2nd Annual Weekend Motorcycle Trip. We (Melisa, Todd, Kim, and I) settled on Burlington, VT as our home base and rode up Lake Champlain and through the Adirondacks on Saturday. Sunday would be our long return trip home. Over the three-day span, we clocked almost 800 miles on the odometers, drank some decent (and some better than decent, and some not-so decent) beers, ate both good and disappointing food, saw some unexpected sights and places, experienced a ferry ride with the bikes, got crabs, cherished great company, and enjoyed every mile of the trip.

The one thing missing from this trip is a photo of the four of us. It really bums me out to realize we missed the opportunity to take one.

The Good

Asiana House (191 Pearl St. Burlington, VT) – This was great sushi. No complaints could be heard at our table. After a disappointing plate of chicken sate the night before, the sate here was the exclamation point on an eating experience filled with tasty rolls, and tuna and salmon sushi.

Fiddlehead IPA – This beer was consumed at Asiana House, not in the Fiddlehead taproom. It proved to be the best non-Hill Farmstead or Lawson’s beer I had all weekend. It was hoppy and citrusy with just the right bite! A close second was the Lompoc LSD at The Farmhouse.

Blackback Pub (Interesection of Main and Stowe, Waterbury, VT) – I couldn’t imagine being within 20 minutes of this place without stopping by. Faithful readers know this is a favorite location of ours, and the hour stop on Sunday early-afternoon was well worth it. Lawson’s Double Sunshine was my draft of choice.

The Could Have Been Much Better Than It Was

The Vermont Pub & Brewery (144 College St. Burlington, VT) – I am hoping we were the victim of the late night menu. The food was sub par at best (in fact, my rare burger was probably the best offering at the table and that’s probably because it was unintentionally undercooked), and worse, the beer was not memorable.

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill (160 Bank St. Burlington, VT) – I don’t feel right putting this in the “The Could Have Been Much Better Than It Was” category, but it’s primarily because of the beer selection. For a 24 beer tap list, I expected so much more. The aforementioned Lompoc LSD and the Hill Farmstead Edward were the best offerings on Friday night. And both kegs were killed by Saturday night (fortunately the Edward was followed by HF’s Society and Solitude 7). Clearly this is the hip and happening place in Burlington. Another drawback in my book.

The Scenery – We’ve done some great riding over the last few years, and unfortunately we all agreed that the scenery on this route was a bit disappointing. All roads are not created equal, and it’s ok. We still had a blast.

The Unexpected

Lake Placid – Never thought I would ride through this town on this trip. I had seen a few shots of the ski jumps some friends took on a June trip, and I at that point I wanted to eventually get to Placid. The town was packed with tourists, and riding down the main street reminded me of riding through Freeport, Maine. Long story short, I would like to spend at least a day exploring Placid in the near future. Of course, riding through the town wasn’t enough to make me want to sit through the movie of the same name.

Fort Ticonderoga – It is difficult to ignore pieces of American history, and it seemed a no brainer to take the short road up and try to see the fort. It just wasn’t in the cards for that day. Unfortunately we pulled in minutes after the gates closed to the last tour. I think the $17.50 price tag per person to visit is rather steep, but it really punctuates the point that nothing is cheap nowadays – including history! When I visit Placid again, I will be sure to visit Fort Ticonderoga.

Breathe Right – Thanks to these wonders of modern medicine, Todd really didn’t snore. Of course, he supposedly woke up looking like he played the role of punching bag to Mike Tyson (1980’s vintage Mike, not the Mike we’ve been subject to in later years) – again, one of those photos that unfortunately was never taken on this trip.

780 miles later, here is a map of the route, with the letters representing our various stops along the way:

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A: Starting and end points (Enfield, CT)

B: Hotel (Burlington, VT)

C: Jon’s Family Restaurant (Malone, NY) – A very enjoyable lunch stop. Food was very good with no complaints.

D: Lake Placid (Lake Placid, NY)

E: Essex – Charlotte Ferry (Essex, NY)

F: Hotel (Burlington, VT)

G: Blackback Pub (Waterbury, VT)

H: Start of Route 17 (Waitsfield, VT) – See below.

I: Fort Ticonderoga (Ticonderoga, NY)

J: Joe’s Crab Shack (Latham, NY) – First time eating at a Joe’s, and probably my second or third time eating crabs. Very enjoyable. And costly. But enjoyable and worth it.

Road highlights: Route 73 in New York, and Route 17 in Vermont. The recommendation is to ride all of route 17. The Mad River portion of 17 is very twisty with ascents, descents, and hairpins. Unfortunately, the road is in horrible condition.  In my opinion, riding the Mad River portion of 17 is best done west to east ending in Waitsfield rather than east to west. But of course, it’s all subjective. Route 73 was the best stretch of road on Saturday’s Adirondack ride. It meets with Route 86 south of Placid and meets up with 9N (N apparently does not mean north) which took us to the Ferry.

Although we didn’t stop, we passed a bbq joint called Tail O’ The Pup in Raybrook, NY. The place was packed tighter than a can of sardines (I think that’s a decent cliche). This is a definite must stop in the future. Further research shows it to be lobster and bbq. This may just be food Heaven, but I won’t know until we go back.

And finally, a gallery of our trip:

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[Note: Purposely omitted was our stop at Green Mountain Harley Davidson where Kim fell in love with a Wide Glide. I chose to leave it out so this post does not pour salt in the wounds of her aching heart.]

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Ride Date: August 8, 2013

I started looking into motorcycle availability and rental options 5 minutes after my Alaskan vacation was booked last October. And each time I said the same thing, “I can’t fathom spending $250/day to rent a bike.” Then the vacation came. I almost rented a 2002 Goldwing in Ketchikan but still refused to part with $125 for the first hour and $25 for each additional hour. And after that bug bit, stung, and drew blood, I inquired about renting a BMW or Goldwing in Fairbanks. It too would cost $250 for the day, with an additional $100 fee to ride the Haul Road – or Dalton Highway as it is known.

When I arrived in Anchorage I decided to make one last call to check availability at House of Harley. They had two bikes available and both had to be back by 4:00 pm. The rental rate was $25/hour (plus I would receive 20% off because of my HOG membership). How can I pass this up? I went to bed hoping for the weather to cooperate.

Waking up to rain is not a good sign when you want to ride. And it’s even worse when a dream ride is ahead of you. Melisa and I made it very clear to ourselves: unless the weather is horrible, we are going through with the rental and riding from Anchorage to Hope, Alaska – Hope was the site of the first gold strike… read about it here.

As luck would have it, the skies cleared. We set ourselves up with the rental of a 2013 Ultra Classic, spoke with Jolain at the rental desk about our route, and we were on our way. The journey wouldn’t be long, about 90 miles each way down the Seward Highway, but it was a perfect jaunt to fit into our 5 hour rental time frame.

Hopping on an unfamiliar scoot, or worse, one that doesn’t belong to you, is always nerve racking. A few feet into the trip the jitters go away and it’s time to enjoy the ride. After a few turns we were on the Seward Highway and heading south.

There is no sight like it in the United States – or at least none that I know of. While riding the highway, you are at sea level with the water on one side and the mountains immediately on the opposite side of the road. Train tracks run parallel the majority of the route as signs declaring avalanche dangers garnish the roadside. The water is known as the Turnagain Arm and it is part of the Cook Inlet. Apparently it was aptly named because of the glaciers that blocked safe passage through the water, and while Captain Cook steered the ship, it was always necessary to “turn again.”

We hit some rain for a 10 mile stretch. In fact, I think the rain stayed there all day. The cloud cover was low and the rain fell. And eventually we rode out of the rain. And it wasn’t until our return trip that we hit the rain again… for the same stretch of road.

Continuing down the Seward Highway, we passed the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and rolled by the Whittier turn off – we were now heading into the Kenai Peninsula. Water was no longer on our side, and instead, we cut through stretches of lavish greenery, snow-capped peaks, and valleys filled with lush vegetation. Occasionally rushing streams (or more like rivers) cut through the landscape.

Within time we hit the right turn off to Hope, Alaska – a sign promised Hope to be 15 miles away. As we rode toward Hope, we were on the opposite side of Seward Highway, once again with water separating us from the Seward Highway. We knew a city wouldn’t simply “pop up out of nowhere,” and it didn’t. But sure enough, at the 15 mile marker, we started to see signs of civilization; albeit, small signs of civilization. A motel, a grocery store, and a gift shop all in one. A café and camping ground. A sign welcoming you to Hope. And suddenly the sign I jokingly thought I would see. “Road ends in 1 mile.” Then “Road ends in 1000 feet.” Finally, “End.” If you chose not to turn around, you could continue into the Porcupine camp ground, but we weren’t camping.

Turning the bike around, we tried to find more of the city of Hope. Turning left at the Welcome sign, the half circle road took us to 4th street, 3rd street, 2nd street, and back to Main St (apparently Main St. is the unnamed stretch of road into Hope). Although the town with a population of 200 was sparse at best, it boasted a free museum touting Hope’s integral history during the gold rush.

We had two hours to make it back so we quickly hit the road. And we hit the road quickly. Making it back by 4:15 – we had a half hour window we could take advantage of and we opted to use it.

The only regrets of the trip would be time. In hindsight, seeing and exploring Hope’s history would have been fascinating, and stopping for a bite to eat at a barbecue joint called “Turnagain Arm Pit” would have been, if not tasty, a great photo opportunity.

Chalk this up as a great ride all around. I enjoyed it. Melisa enjoyed it. We experienced the wide sweeps of the Seward Highway, the vast Alaskan scenery, the ever-changing climate, the modern of Anchorage and the old in Hope.  Riding a rental wasn’t bad, but I can’t help to think how much better the roads would be on my Bea.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

After a week of rain, we got to spend Memorial Day on the bikes. And the destination was a quick decision.

If you’re into beer, Moe’s rules the roost in the Western Massachusetts area – and dare I say the Northern and Western Connecticut area as well!  With a great selection of craft beer and many awesome routes to ride there, Moe’s has established itself as one of our favorite “quick” destinations. I say quick because while we all (Melisa, Todd, Kim, and myself) would love to stay all day, it just doesn’t make too much sense to drink and ride – whether in moderation or excess!  There is just something about Moe’s, I guess you need to go to know what it is. It is ambiance. It is friendliness. It is the tap list. It is the fact that when it’s crowded it still feels quaint. It is that we recognize everyone that stops in for a drink, yet we know none of them. It is the realization that on a bright sunny day when you should be riding, you are instead inside Moe’s drinking, and yet it all just feels right.

Photo by Todd M.

Sorry Cheers, but not everyone needs to know your name.

Memorial Day 2013

Website: www.nocoorslight.com

Address: 10 Railroad St., Lee, MA

Phone: 413-243-6637

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

When does 43 MPG equal 0 MPG? When she can’t roll on her own. There is nothing fun about grabbing clutch to downshift and having no clutch. I case you’re counting, this is two flatbed trips in less than a year. Is it time to invest in my own Condor Loader?

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.