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Old 05-13-2011   #1 (permalink)
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Southern Tour 2011

4/26/11 Day 1


Breakfast at my house this AM at 8:00ish. We left Berlin headed to Rte 14 south to rte 4 . We then headed to Pittsford and the Nickwackett garage to say bye to Buffalo Bud. From there, we headed to Whitehall NY, crossed the southern end of lake Champlain. The best weather we had all day was in VT. It started out so sunny and nice, with definite possibilities, but alas, such was not to be the case.*

We decided to head for Binghampton rather than Scranton, mainly because I liked the word Binghamton more than Scranton. Clouds disappeared, little showers ceased and we drove into the sun and blue sky - for about 30 mins, at which time it commenced to rain hard.

On went the rain gear, which also provided the added benefit of wind blockage and, therefore, much better warmth from the heated jacket liner. Yes, we old BMW and Aprilla riders really do like to rough it. It rained on and off all the rest of the day, so we booked it down 81 to Carlisle, PA where we are spending the night at a Quality Inn. It was cheap, so we won't mention just how high the quality is.
*
Tomorrow is the Carlisle Spring Auto *Show, which is the largest in the US. Tomorrow Am, we’ll figure out how long we want to stay at the show and let my son Matt know so he can meet us in Martinsburg,WV on his new (for him) BMW R1100RT.*

Only opne real idiot today - a pretty good starting record. A woman in a Subaru tried to run JA off the highway, but she chickened out and swerved back at the last second. She then swerved back into our lane and cut me off in the process. I made my irritation show in the form of 132 decibel horn noise and sign language.

Final Preperations.



The hacking around begins already.



As Usual, JVD is ready to roll first.





2011 tour, day 2 *

We blew off the Carlisle car show when we saw the mile long traffic jam and called Matt. The meeting in Martinsburg conversations have been long and involved, but we agreed on a time and we were off.

The morning is cool and sunny - far better than the cold rain of yesterday. Back roads to Martinsburg gave us a much needed relief from semis and high speed traffic, and the country side is all waking up spring like.*

We arrived at about 10:15, and pulled into a gas station where Matt had just arrived to gas up. So much for the meeting angst.

The afternoon was spent going nowhere through two tanks of gas. JA, the navigator, finds twisty after twisty, some of which require u turns when they end prematurely. At one point, a rather large bald eagle flew up right in front of JA and sort of raced him down the road for a little bit. They look much bigger when you are trying to avoid hitting them.

We end up at Marlinton, WV for the night. The motel has a “restaurant”, which served barely edible food, but we were hungry. There were about 30 other bikers here on their 30th annual cruise, so we are in the majority for once.

Comfy beds, good shower, early start tomorrow.

The ever present GPS, and the new guitar with custom rack.



Matt and the new ride



Heading into the greenery

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Old 05-13-2011   #2 (permalink)
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Tour *2011 *May 1,2011

Last night’s evening repast was such an overwhelming delight that we couldn’t stand the thought of a repeat this morning, so we decided to ride to eat instead of more of the hotel fare.

The first place we stopped we discarded for some reason - I think it was raining - and thus we didn’t eat until 10:00 or so. We did get one of the sourest waitresses yet, but we had our own syrup for the French toast and pancakes so all was not lost.

It seems to have decided to rain on and off again all day, and this proves true. Matt has a marmot rain jacket but that’s all for rain protection. Fortunately, it never rained real hard, at least until we parted ways. I don’t know what happened to him after that.

For us, it didn’t really rain again after lunch. We decided on lunch in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia. Matt said he knew of a couple of places. He didn’t mention that he needed to start from *UV to find them nor that he didn’t know where the campus was. After several attempts, I asked a guy working on a car, and he knew. Then, the places Matt knew about were closed. The third place turned off their open sign while we were shedding helmets in the parking lot. JA spied a place across the street, which was open and had pretty good food. Nice for a change.

After lunch, we headed south and Matt headed north east. I hope to stop at their house on the way back.

The afternoon was a little warmer and drier than the AM and we found lots of nice twisty roads, and one guy who gave us the finger as he went by after we turned into a closed gas station. We pulled in behind him and he really took off. Our turns were the same, so we followed quite a ways until he stopped and waved us by. I think he was a little nervous about us seeing where he turned in to home.

We decided to go to Peaks of Otter for the night - always a good choice.



Tour 2011, day 4

The night spent at the Peaks of Otter hotel was once again very worth it. The setting was, as usual, beautiful and the beds comfortable.

I had a very good omelet for breakfast, but I forgot the maple syrup so JVD had a chance to whine about having none for his oatmeal.

By the time we left, any fog residue had lifted an there was promise for a beautiful day (this turned out to be true). We started off down the Blue Ridge Parkway and it just got nicer and nicer. We did a combination of blue ridge and non blue ridge riding all day. Found a lot of both tight twisties and long sweepers.

I took a few videos from my bike while Matthew was in front of me on Sunday. Today, I got one going into, through and out of a tunnel. It’s pretty interesting. Here it all is, made into one feature length movie. There is a segment of some tornado damage we saw in Tupelo, MS. Pretty sobering.




Had lunch in Blowing Rock and headed more towards Etowah, arriving in the late afternoon. Carl and Janice served a great spaghetti and clam sauce on the porch. Tomorrow, JVD wants to get new tires for the Italian bitch.

Removing the front wheel



JA shows him how to do it



Dressed for success

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Old 05-13-2011   #3 (permalink)
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Old 05-13-2011   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks roni. Applause is always cool.
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Old 05-13-2011   #5 (permalink)
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Looking forward to the next installment !
Any chance you will be passing thru Louisiana ?
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Old 05-13-2011   #6 (permalink)
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Looking forward to the next installment !
Any chance you will be passing thru Louisiana ?
We actually talked about this, but we didn't get there. I'm back home now, painting vacant apartments. This is nowhere nearly as much fun. More of the story to follow.
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Old 05-14-2011   #7 (permalink)
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Day 5

Turns out this will be a maintenance day, with new tires for JVD and a wiring extension for my heated jacket liner.

We had breakfast and JVD removed his wheels. Into the truck we went, and off to the local Aprilia dealer. We dropped the wheels off and went on a short tour of *the Asheville River Arts District. It was pretty interesting. The rubber chicken shooter was particularly inventive, made with a motorcycle engine and rear wheel as the shooting mechanism. Unfortunately, I was too slow and stupid to think about taking a picture of it.

Lunch was had at the 12 Bones BBQ, the same place that Obama has been to twice on surprise visits. It was obvious why - the ribs were excellent, slathered with a blueberry chipotle sauce. I got a bottle of the sauce to bring home.

Carl’s new project bike frame was done at the powder coating place, so we picked that up and headed to the Honda dealer for the Gerbings jacket liner cords. They were on sale at 40% off. Yay!!

We brought the frame home, and I installed the new cord on my bike. By the time I was done, the tires were ready and Carl and JVD went off to get them. JA and I went to Ingals for Bisquick (strawberry shortcake for supper). JA went on for a ride while I returned to make the shortcakes. At just about supper time, after Carl and JVD had returned with new tires and JVD had installed them, There was a horrendous thunder storm that went through the valley. JA, who was at the top of *Pisgah Mountain at the time, got caught in the middle of it without any raingear. He says it rained so hard that he could see nothing for about 5 mins. He couldn’t stop because he was concerned that other motorists wouldn’t see him, so he went on and managed to ride through it, and the attendant lightning strikes. Guess it was pretty hairy.

Fish tacos and strawberry shortcakes for supper - mmmmmmmm.

JVD washes wheels while JA once again provides instruction.



Suddenly, JA's bike need help too.



The truck needed cleaning before we could all fit in. Carl has a novel way of doing this.





The J's try out new rides at the Honda shop







Tour 2011, Day 6

This Am it was decided that we would ride out towards Birmingham AL and the Barber Motorcycle Museum. We’ve been about 4 times before, but it’s always an amazing experience. At Barber’s, there’s a large and varied collection which is displayed in a unique and effective manner. Barber was (is?) a large dairy operation in the south and Mr B used some of his riches to build a first class museum and race track.*

Anyway, it was a beautiful day for a ride. Full sunshine all day, with temps in the low 60’s at most. With ventilated jackets, we had heated jacket liners turned on all day. Those things are the best biker investment ever. Toasty warm all day. Much better than macho.

We went by what was TWO (Two Wheels Only Campground) in Suches GA this afternoon, just to prove to ourselves that it is gone. It is. It was a little sad to peer in the windows an see an empty room with junk lying around instead of the life’s worth of memorabilia that was there when I last saw it.

The Savannah Street Café was recommended to us by the counter lady at a local gas station, so we went for lunch. Pretty much a hamburger and fried food joint. I had a BLT. Generally, we didn’t think the quality was quite as great as the gas lady did.

In the PM, on to Trion GA where we found the Express Inn and Suites right across from a Mexican Grille. The Inn is clean, and the Mexican food was passable but far from great.

We’re hoping that the optimistic weather reports we’ve been hearing bear out to be true.

TWO - A dumpster where the flowers were.





Just down the road was a new bike shop and restaurant. We went in and there was an 82 year old guy with a cane eating lunch. His ride was a Stallion. Never seen one before. It took him about 5 mins to get into it as his left leg was pretty much inoperable. I don't think I want to ride as his passenger.



Carl is famous for finding shortcuts. Just turn down some innocuous lane that looks like it's going in the right direction and see where it goes. He found this 12 mile washed out dirt track with the help of his GPS. We started somewhere and wound up nowhere.





Biker Boys take over the Circle M



These are the coolest stoves ever. I want one! They're restored 1950 era Chambers in a store across from the Savannah Street Café



These 4 guys headed home to start supper were a real class act.

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Old 05-14-2011   #8 (permalink)
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Tour 2011, day 7

Reached the normal 6:30 awakening time this morning in record time, or so it seemed. The plan is to go to Birmingham and see if we can get s sneak peek at the new Motus motorcycle prototype. Since breakfast at the express inn is not an option, (the hotel owner’s idea of a continental breakfast is a box of dry cereal and a few creamers) we ride off to find better options. We found a home town diner and I had a very good western omelet. The drive to Birmingham was pretty much a slab ride, although it was a beautiful day. We found Motus, but not the bikes which were in Michigan being tweaked, or iterated. Lee, the marketing guy for Motus, spent about 45 mins discussing the bike and was really quite nice. He managed to use "iteration" in every possible iteration one could imagine - verb, adjective, noun, they were all there.

We had lunch at a café in the building that was part of a local culinary school and actually had good food. From there, we started for Sturgis, MS, home of Craig Vechorik’s motorcycle museum and restoration shop, Bench Mark Works. It was pretty interesting, and Craig very informative. He is one of the premier experts on pre 1970 BMWs in the US, maybe the world. He has a nice variety of old BMWs on site.

He also has a hand made Auburn replica, and a 1939 Ford pickup. Actually, the Ford is a Nissan frame and engine with Ford body parts. It looks very real, but sounds like a Nissan and gets 32 MPG.

Tonight, we’re staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Starkville MS, Home of the University of MS.

Dinner was with a local bbq guy who has a shack across the street. It was excellent.


First, we need to consult Mr. GPS. Easier to get lost that way.



We found Motorcycle Bob's gas station along the way. BBQ and used bikes all in one stop. What could be better?





This is where Motus was. A large incubator building with 10 or 15 small businesses within.



The road to Craig Vechorik is fraught with danger. Earls Fork is the term for the front fork suspension on early BMWs.



The 1923 R32, one of about 5 in the world.



Craig shows off a few other gems.





"Where's that triceratops?"



The "Auburn" and the "Ford"




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Old 05-14-2011   #9 (permalink)
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Tour 2011, day 8

This morning, after a pretty good hotel breakfast, including a sausage biscuit and yogurt, we rode from one hotel *to another. A Holiday Inn Express to a *Best Western in Winchester TN.

Most of the day was spent on the Naches Trace but we did go through Montpelier MS where a pretty good sized tornado set down.

It’s pretty amazing about what gets destroyed and what doesn’t. There were trees down everywhere, but buildings and a few signs were ok. A gas station about fifty feet from the path suffered virtually no damage at all.*When you see this on the news, and then in person, it becomes immediately evident how ineffective the news is in such situations. I can't imagine what must be going on in the minds of folks who are stuck in the middle of a tornado, it's such a total horror show.

The trace is a very pretty and uncluttered road. No commercial vehicles, 50mph speed limit, virtually no other vehicles in attendance. Only thing is that it’s kind of boring, with no real corners or hills. We were all falling asleep by lunchtime. We went bye about 3 more tornado touch downs, but mostly just trees, not houses.

The afternoon included a short visit to the Jack Daniels distillery. We didn’t take the tour, but we wandered around the visitors center and such. *It would have been interesting to see more.

We finally found a pretty good Mexican grille. God food and service, and flan. Sat around this pm, played, talked, went to sleep.

Welcome to the trace.



Montpelier MS



The Jack Daniels Experience.



All we need is Whiskey.



JD's Pecan trees



JD's Redwood



JA awaits a Mexican feast



JVD and Carl blog and pod the night away

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Old 05-15-2011   #10 (permalink)
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Tour 2011, day 9

Today was yet another nearly perfect riding day. We have had amazingly good luck this year - far different from last year when it rained constantly.

We rode from Winchester TN to Etowah NC via Tellico Plains and the Cherahola skyway. The skyway is about 43 miles long and full of great views, nice road and lots of empty space. There were a lot of bikes out today, it being a sunny Saturday and all. We had lunch at the Tellico Grains bakery before attacking the skyway.

Saw a boat named Sea Signor today.

The end of the ride was on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Rte 217, which is a very twisty road down the mountain where we stopped at Dolly’s dairy for a little ice cream before heading to Etowah. I bought a bucket of strawberries from a lady across the street and Janice and I made shortcake for dessert.

Found these



Here



I didn't buy any Deep Fried Peanuts, but in hindsight, I probably should have.

Riding into early spring on the Blue Ridge





This photo has begun to be an annual tradition. Top of the parkway.



JA wanted an artsy fartsy shot of his bike.



Going the other way.



Seven or eight years ago, there was a particularly bad ice storm. These trees, or what's left of them, show the results. They have never really recovered.



Tour 2011, day 10

We rode from Etowah NC to Bluefield WV, or VA, depending on the side of town you happen to be in, today. We ate supper in WV but we’re sleeping in VA.

Got up at 6:30 and showered. Breakfast was pancakes and bacon with home fries. Then we all procrastinated for awhile and didn’t actually leave until after 10:00.

The late departure did not, however, offer any ill effects on the day’s riding. It was a beautiful day - lots of sun and up to about 81 degrees in places. JA found road after road with endless twists and jags. By lunchtime, we were getting tired and tonight we all seem to be in favor of an early bedtime.

We found the Backbone Rock, and Backbone Rock Tunnel in TN this morning, Backbone Rock is a 15 foot wide piece of ledge, some 50 feet high and about 500 feet long that was in the way of the lumber railroad, so the train company cut a hole big enough for it’s trains to go through. The rails are long gone, now replaced by pavement. There is no bracing or reinforcement in the “tunnel”, just rock cut away.

After lunch, and a few minutes for relaxing, we hit the asphalt snakes again. It only got better and better, with the last stretch from Marion VA to Tazewell an eye opening bonus to the riding day. Overall, the countryside and roads here in the Virginias are very nice.

We’re staying at the Comfort Inn in Bluefueld. Supper was at “Ryans”, which we thought was a steak house but turned out to be a buffet in the grandest southern style. Lots of meats, canned green beans ,Kraft mac and cheese and creemee for dessert. A fat lovers paradise. Admittedly, they did have e pretty good salad bar.

JVD’s turn for the rollaway tonight.

Saw quite a few buildings and houses in this condition.



Yet another of many "Where the hell are we. " moments.



It gets very green here



The backbone rock tunnel.



Blue ridge ridges.


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Old 05-15-2011   #11 (permalink)
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Beautiful trip!...Asheville, NC and Etowah, NC are both about 20 minutes away from our place in Flat Rock, NC...stop in next time!

Last edited by Jacko; 05-15-2011 at 11:38 AM..
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Old 05-15-2011   #12 (permalink)
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Beautiful pictures, leeds! Thanks for sharing
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Old 05-15-2011   #13 (permalink)
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Tour 2011, day 11

From Bluefield to Seneca Rocks . The day started out at the normal time. I feel like I got about 10 mins. sleep last night. Apparently I snored and JA threw a pillow at me and then kicked my bed. After that I couldn’t sleep at all. This after not being able to light out until 1:30 AM. Don’t like laying in bed with my eyes closed trying to go to sleep for hours.

Anyway, got up this morning and decided to ride to breakfast. We rode to Hinton, where we found a buzzard sitting atop a fake bear on the roof of *a taxidermy place. Directly after, we found breakfast at a local diner type place, where we met our first fellow motorcyclist of the day (who asked me if we did a lot of adventure cycling) and an old local who, for reasons I’ll never understand, felt impelled to come over to us and tell a racially bigoted joke about black robots.

We left, in search of more perfect riding roads, but this mornings fare was decidedly different from yesterdays. We did find the - - Coal Company, whose trucks apparently *own the road, and have joyfully destroyed it. It was the worst road surface I’ve seen in a long time, including the pot holed roads of home. Stripes of shade from leafless trees disguised the bad pavement so well, you could not see it coming. We also went about 9 miles down a particularly horrid piece, to find a guy with a weed whacker who confirmed the road’s dead end status. Well, it did keep getting smaller and smaller after all, finally turning to dirt before we figured it out. Oh, The private property, no trespassing signs at the end were a clue too.

We got back to civilization eventually, and had lunch at the Hometown Diner with a few really local folks. It was great. Everyone wanted to know where we were from and going, offered advice, told good old days stories about the area. One guy Wanted to know what we were riding, and JA told him, in a voice loud enough for all to hear, “Two BMWs and an Italian Bitch” *Concerned looks from everyone in the place, and the guy actually came out to see what was happening. We all got a chuckle out of JVD’s bike. I had one of the best turkey club sandwiches ever, made by a local lady. It had turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, American cheese, pickle, and a fried egg that was scrambled up

The roads improved considerably in the afternoon. We started taking the ones that forbid trucks. Good *move. Rte 76 turned out to be barely a vehicle width, no middle line, for about a half hour to 45 mins. What a neat road. It reminded me of the Passaconaway Rd in Conway, NH. I took some video.
*
We got to Seneca Rocks around 7:00, and we’re spending the night at Yokum’s. It’s a big room with a great view of Seneca Rocks from the swing on the second floor veranda. Supper was a chef’s salad from next door, with an apple dumpling for desert.

The Bluestone WV flood control dam in Hinton. There must have been massive floods to require a dam of this size.



I just had to turn around and go back for this. The bear was fake, the turkey buzzard was real.



Coal Roads


JVD found another 9 mile u-turn, It got smaller and smaller until there was nothing but a fence across the road.



Everyone thought this was Hiawatha. I thought it looked more like Hiawathette.



Seneca Rocks

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Old 05-15-2011   #14 (permalink)
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Beautiful trip!...Asheville, NC and Etowah, NC are both about 20 minutes away from our place in Flat Rock, NC...stop in next time!
Flat Rock - we've been there many times. It sure is nice countryside.

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Beautiful pictures, leeds! Thanks for sharing
Thanks Sara, and your welcome.
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Old 05-15-2011   #15 (permalink)
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Up and away from Yokum’s Resort by about 7:30.

Last night, we soon realized that there were a large number of flies in the room. Like 50 or 60 of them. Apparently this is not a new problem, since there was also a fly swatter in the room. I walked around and swatted them off the ceiling until they were mostly gone, but the ceiling was of the textured variety and this morning, there were lots of tiny white sandy specks all over the rug, mingled with dried out fly husks. No barefoot here!

We decided to go toward Franklin for breakfast and soon came upon a family style place where we got good eggs and stuff. The rest of the morning was devoted to what turned out to be a last twisty fling . This was because when I finally got a hold of Matt (no reception last night), he was not going to be home with Cate until about 10:00 (past our bedtime), so we decided to head north on 81. We also managed one last 9 mile u-turn.

T’was a slab afternoon, complete with lots of semis, cars, flying sandy dirt and stones from the leaking state dump truck, and everything else normal on the 81 route. We did run across an older Japanese, or Chinese, man who was quite interested in the bikes, the trip, the clothing, everything. He was 78. His wife (I presume here) sat and talked on a cell phone in the BMW 625i, smiling whenever we looked over but not getting out.

We arrived in Binghampton, NY by about 7:30 pm and found a room at the Hampton Inn. It’s big, with a little alcove/roomette in which JA can set up the roll away. That way he doesn’t have to hear the snoring duet quite so well. I asked him if he also still sat at the little peoples table at Thanksgiving, but he was humorless.

Applebees for supper, It was actually quite good.

Last leg tomorrow - home a little early, but we all have stuff…

Pictures from the last u-turn.







I just happened to look down at the exact moment of 167000 miles, so I immortalized it, sort of--

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