Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mountainfest starts

my lonely motorcycle getting washed by Mother Nature
I started this journey on Thursday morning, July 20th, sharing breakfast with my friend,
Crazy Larry, with the scooter packed as I was heading out of town. We shared some food and a short ride together before parting way. I had some time to kill before hooking up with my riding partner for the weekend, so I spent a good part of Thursday carving some two lane black top
through Ohio, taking a very long way to Weirton, WV.  Well, a two hour ride turned in to about 240 miles... On the way, I discovered Ohio route 83, a beautiful scenic ride out of Millersburg down to Route 22, which was a nice two lane ride most of the way. Unfortunately, I made my way to Weirton sooner than our hook up time. I messaged my friend to let her know I was at our meeting place and she said she would be there as soon as possible. I had been racing the weather all day, surrounded by dark gray clouds and shrouded in heavy humidity. As I headed to an overhang at our meeting place, the sky opened up and for the next hour, a torrential downpour ensued! My timing couldn't have been more fortuitous!!

So my riding partner for the weekend is Shelly but we will call her Bean! I followed her home, we parked the scooter, threw some of my stuff in her drier (go figure) and went out for a bite to eat. After drying more of my clothes, a good night's sleep, and packing up our scoots the next morning, we headed out to Mountainfest in Morgantown, WV. Bean had done some recon a couple of weeks before and her
choice of two lane black top for the ride down was nothing less than spectacular! Incredible vistas and views of West Virginia and Pennsylvania rolling hills, she even scoped out a special place for a photo op on my behalf. Good thing because by the time we got there, she had managed to pick up a bee hitch hiking in her shirt and it stung her not once, but three times before she pulled her shirt open and asked me to get it out of there!(And just so you know, I took the picture AFTER I got the bee out ... I am not that wicked of a person!)

Being the trooper she is, we continued on. Fortunately no allergies here because we were pretty darned remote at that time!
Bean at Triple S Harley Davidson, Morgantown

Eighty miles later, we pulled into Morgantown and found our way to Triple S Harley Davidson to register and get the scoop on the happenings for the weekend. Bean had already spent a fair amount of time checking out the schedule and scoping out the different locations. Plus, she was familiar with Morgantown and, being more of a real GPS person (as opposed to an "old school" GPS, aka map person such as myself) Bean has a cell phone mount on her handle bars and was able to navigate us through a very confusing maze of a town. As with many coal and steel mill towns in this part of the country, Morgantown is sort of buried in a valley and the roads are very confusing if you're not a local. I would have never found half the places we went if I hadn't been following her.

After registering, we found our way to Sabraton with every intention of riding in the Cycle Source run to the hills. But the weather appeared threatening and we still had our gear on our bikes. Bean doesn't have a windshield and isn't real comfortable with riding in the rain. Truth is, nobody really is, but she has less than two years riding experience and I get that. She told me she really didn't want to go but that I should go. And that was when I told her what every old school biker knows... you NEVER leave your riding partner. I don't care if you are at a run. If you go to the event together, you hang together. That's what partner means. It means you are there for each other. I knew when we scheduled this run together than she was less experienced than I when I comes to length of riding. But she can sure as hell handle that Sporty of hers. And realizing where your comfort level and your riding skills
are is a very real and important part of maturing as you continue the journey in motorcycling. And I applaud that and fully support it. So we passed on the run. But not before I was able to stop and hook up with Chris Callen, Editor and owner of Cycle Source Magazine who gave me a bit piece on one of his live feed videos. If you go to their Facebook page you will see me in it. Then the next video, you get to hear him and crew make fun of the people who didn't ride because they were afraid of the rain. That's ok, my friend. Like I said, you don't leave a partner behind.

After a couple of hours, we made our way out to Mylan Park, the happening place for the event, where we did some shopping, listened to some tunes and hung out for the rest of the day. Bean got to see her very first Wall of Death show and motorcycle stunt show.  I will see if I can post the videos of the Wall of Death when I get home... my little travel notebook can't view the videos so I don't know if they will post right.

Here's a few more pics from the day on Friday. Enjoy.
Old School Rock cover band at the Coal Bucket Saloon

Fire eater dancing on the bar at the Coal Bucket Saloon
Me and Bean hanging
Nice flat head in Sabrotan
Hanging with the security forces at the Coal Bucket Saloon

Monday, July 17, 2017

It's My Time Of Year

Yes, it is my time of year. That time when everybody is running to this run or that run, this concert or that street scene, and all I want to do is escape. I want to hop on my two wheel chariot and race the sun and dance with the wind from sunrise to sunset. I want to be free from the responsibilities of being an adult for a couple of weeks, and become the wild child I am at heart. I want to explore and meet new people and see new things. But mostly, I want to express my thanks to the opportunity life has afforded me by living it to the fullest.

And so, on Thursday, July 20th, a new endeavor, a new adventure is ahead of me. I would be honored if you would come along for the ride, or, at least, check in once in awhile. I love sharing these adventures and I am always honored by the company I have along the way. Keeping the rubber side down and the smiles up and living the dream, baby, living the dream. Peace to all. See you On The Road!


It's M

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Not So Many Miles, But OH! So Many Smiles!

Sometimes for motorcycle journeys, the destination is only a small distraction along the way of some fantastic riding experiences. This journey, my friends, was one of those situations. I shall not bore my friends and family who do not live the love of two wheels beating between their legs with my narrative of the fantastic roads I encountered right here. I will later on, but first, I would like to share my destinations with all...

Well, alas, I fib a bit, because part of my adventure involved an unanticipated situation that left me flustered and quite unprepared!! You see, I had no intentions of traveling any interstate highways, much less any toll roads. Yet my poor cartographic skills caused me to fail to notice that part of my intended path would take me on a short portion of Pennsylvania State toll road. Just a little section of PA route 66 approximately five miles... how much could that cost? And many toll roads now accommodate credit card swipes. Ha! Not this one!! Not only that, the only bills it would accept were singles and fives and all I had was twenties! I stood at the gate, perplexed. I had the ability to pay but the system did not have the ability to accept my payment methods... what do I do? Run the gate and get the ticket? As I stood there talking to myself, a gentleman pulled up and asked about my dilemma. Turns out he was on a 24 plus hour nightmare of his wife's hospitalization (to which he chose not to detail except to share his lack of sleep) and then this man fished through his wallet to change a twenty for me. And he insisted I wait until he had all twenty. I told him, give me ten or fifteen and I am good, but no, he gave me all twenty. Then waited patiently for me to deposit my $1.95 (two $1.00 bills with a nickel change), pass through the toll, then followed me through. Prayers for this angel, his wife and his family.  

If you have never been to the Flight 93 Memorial of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks on the United States of America, I would recommend a visit. I have been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the mountains above Taos, NM and it about ripped my heart out, and this was no different. You walk in and there are videos from news channel feeds playing in a loop on a screen. You think you have hardened your heart to the horror of what happened and then, suddenly, the second plane in the video hits the World Trade Center, and you are back to that day, where ever you were, whatever you were doing, reliving the entire event in your mind.

On the way to the visitor's center, there are pull outs and placards to tell you the story of what happened here. The one I stopped at one tells of the locals, going about their normal day, when an airplane flies over head... click on the photo above to read the accounts. I stood speechless as I turned to follow the ridge mentioned in the placard...  The plane just barely cleared this ridge before going down. A sobering moment when you think about it. That you are there... You look at the valley floor below and wonder what went through the locals' minds as a full size jet grazed over so low that it shook their homes and rattled their windows.

There is a small building prior to the visitor's center where rangers are there to answer questions about how the area is recovering and the natural beauty that the memorial attempted to capture in the memorial. But there are also type written transcripts from that day that you can sit down and read, and just looking at them made me choke up. I had to skip that part of the visit this time. I just wasn't ready...

And then you take the walk towards the viewing platform and the visitor's center. And there, in the walk way, are the exact moments, captured in stone, of when each plane hit it's target...

I am not sure how many people walked over these and noticed them but they stopped me in my tracks.

This was such a defining moment in the history of our country, at least in my life time and seeing the exact second when each of these happened and where, etched in stone, so we shall never forget...

 The visitor's center is a very comprehensive compilation of the day and the investigation and the sheer tragedy of the events and how they shaped so many lives from then on. The photos of the passengers and crew of  Flight 93 are there for you to see at the visitors center and in the valley below, their names are etched in marble.

Another feature of the display that I could not bear to listen to was the recordings of last phone calls from passengers that you can listen to on phones on the wall. I knew that I couldn't do that without breaking down completely. Others did, mostly younger individuals. Possibly a generational
difference, I am not sure.

 There was a lot on display from the evidence collected, which was actually fascinating. And there was information on the size and breadth of the investigation. There was a mining operation near the crash site that became ground zero for the investigative teams, which numbered over 1,000 ... the buildings are no longer there but you can see where the teams assembled to deal with the tragedy.

Sometimes these things are not easy to see or to acknowledge, but it is necessary so we do not forget those who perished and those who worked tirelessly to deal with the events of that day. They were our fellow Americans and they deserve that respect. The rest of my photos from this portion of the trip are at the end of the post...

My next stop on the trip was the spectacular Frank Lloyd Wright Falling Waters home. If you work
construction or love architecture, this is one place I would say you need to make time to visit. This place is incredible. Commissioned by the Kaufmann family (founders of a large chain of department stores which would later become Macy's) in 1935, the house was constructed between 1936 and 1938. Total square footage is 5,330, with about half of that being terraces. The cantilevered design was construction using reinforced poured-in-place concrete, with no steel beams at all ... at least that's what our guide said. I am still skeptical but can't prove otherwise right now!

My set up for the tour introduced me to a stout gentleman named Henry, who was our greeter. Seated on a bench, holding a cane, Henry was full of history and information on the property. Prior to starting his dissertation, Henry noticed my key chain hanging from my side and asked if I could put it away. I gladly did and shared that they were my motorcycle keys. And thus started and lengthy conversation between Henry and I about our history of motorcycling and our many machines we have been blessed with. Unfortunately, Henry's last ride ended sadly, when he swung his leg over a bike to mount and ruptured a disc in his neck, ending his riding! His knowledge of motorcycles left me no doubt that
Henry had shared our love of the two wheel life style and he pondered his lifestyle changes as our tour group gathered... Sometimes such encounters on a motorcyclists' journeys defines the meaning of why we do what we do. The moment may come, when we least expect it, that our time is up on the ride. Thank you Henry, for reminding me of why I do what I do...

The tour lasts about 45 minutes and is worth it, and afterwards you can walk the grounds and take photos. I just wished so much that Buffalo had been able to do this tour with me as he would have had so many more questions than I did. I was in complete awe of this structure! If you are interested in more information on this most incredible structure and how it was built, the web is full of information. One link I found that I really liked is as follows

I spent the evening in Donagol, PA, a small ski resort kind of place. The next morning I headed out to
Hocking Hills, OH to check out the State Park, which I had heard so much about.  As with the previous day, I spent much of my time touring from PA through West Virginia to my stop in OH on twisting two lane roads, through the small towns that make up so much of this beautiful country of ours. There is nothing like motorcycling on two lane highways through the little map dots that so many call home. Seeing these places remind me that there is so much more to our world than what we know. The little general stores. The houses right along the road with porches decorated with flags and flowers. Places where kids can still go ride their bicycles without parents worrying about them. Places where people wave to each other as they go by. And you
see it so much clearer on a motorcycle. You can smell the fresh cut grass and hay and the wildflowers and, yes, the cows. But you experience it. It isn't like passing by on the Interstate. You are there, in the middle of our country. It is a deep and enriching experience that draws so many to the motorcycle culture.

So I ventured into the Hocking Hills State Park area with trepidation, because the web site pretty much sucks. You can give them your money and reserve and spot and kinda ... sorta... figure out where the heck you are going but, well, it sucks. I have
traveled all over this country and have gotten very good at scouting out locations, mostly from web
sites. Theirs sucks. I reserved a cabin (based on a trusted travel companion's suggestions) and couldn't find the office to check in. Literally, the lodge had
burnt down a year ago and there were no signs, not one, telling me where the office was to check in. And being on a motorcycle, I don't just go down any road because some of them become pretty darn treacherous at some point as far as the possibility of turning around! Finally I find (I kid you not...) cleaning crews working the cabins who tell me, just go the cabin, they will tell management I checked in! Really??? What kind of organization is that? Whatever...

I got to my cabin... really nice! I mean, really, nice. Should be for the price. And I felt secure being there alone. The neighbors were probably scared of me but, hey, so are my
friends. hahaha.

The part of the park I got to hike was INCREDIBLE!!! If you have never been there, you must go. OMG. It was one of the most
amazing geological places I have ever been. Just breathtaking. Unfortunately, there were a lot of people there, which diminished the experience. The site is open sun rise to sunset and I would recommend an early morning visit to this location...

I can't say enough about this trip. I traveled all two lane black top as much as possible, touring the country side and small towns, through stop lights and waving at the local smokies sitting along the side of the roads waiting for their next meal ticket. I have done this long enough to know that those little towns are meal tickets for the the municipalities and you respect their speed laws or you will be pulled over. And that's ok. That part of our country needs to be experienced for what it is. A small part of Americana that we can't afford to lose. It is, after all, what makes this place so special. You all can travel to Europe or the Caribbean or the many places around the world, but there is so much, so very very much, about our country that many people will never see. We are blessed with what we have. Learn to enjoy and appreciate and cherish this great place. I do every time I swing my leg over that piece of American iron and take off to new adventures. Peace my friends. Enjoy the rest of the pictures. Thanks, again, for sharing my adventure.

That stone is placed at the Flight 93 Memorial where the plane crashed. Families pay their respects there.  

Walk way from the memorial wall back up to the museum at the Flight 93 Memorial... a time to reflect ...

Who would have thought to structure the structure around a growing tree? This struck me as odd ...

The stone ledges at the Hocking Hills site were beyond words. I was in total awe.

Several tunnels lead you into the unknown, but don't be afraid, they are short and totally amazing!!!

 Wow, if this is what my tax dollars pay for, I am totally down with this. What an incredible experience!!!

 I have so many more pictures but I will leave you with these. Please, visit these national treasures and support the parks and national efforts that maintain them. They are a gift to us and those who follow. We are so blessed that somebody thought to do this!!!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Something to say how I often feel about being a biker

Cycle Source Editorial

Thanks to Chris Callen, aka Wildman, Editor and chief janitor of Cycle Source Magazine for this.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cruising with Robin 2016

The Wrap Up to the Ride

Yup... just my luck
Wet pants, despite rain pants!
I would like to quickly post a wrap up to my ride home from the UP and my visit with Don and Theresa. I had decided to run two lane black top home and found my way to Michigan Route 66. It was a great ride for most of the day, rolling hills surrounded by lush fields of hay, corn, soy bean and other farmed goodies. I couldn't help but smile to myself, thinking how fortunate I am to live in such a fantastic country that is blessed with such bounty. We all really are and so often we take for granted what a really good place this is to live.

Of course, my nostalgic thoughts were eventually rinsed away by the rain that managed to drench my thoroughly that same afternoon. By the time I made it to Battle Creek, Michigan, the storm was seriously upon me, so much so that I was forced to pull over to a gas station, leave my bike under the awning between pumps and slosh my way into the convenience store where, once again, my faith in the kindness of humanity was rekindled. I asked the middle eastern clerk if he had coffee and he said, yes, and pointed to the back of the store. When I had poured me a cup and approached him to pay, he said, no, that was fine, enjoy it. So often we have certain stereotypes that we cast individuals into, and this guy, in one sentence, broke the mold for me. We visited for awhile as I drank my coffee and waited to the rain to lighten up. Radar indicated there was another wave coming, so I didn't dawdle. I eventually cleaned my glasses off, bundled back up and headed out.
Last stop before home

I must not have had my rain pants fully secured in the front because I could feel that my jeans were wet. When I finally settled on lodging for the evening, my feelings were confirmed.

The next day, I had decided I was done with the idea of the two lane, as the weather channel indicated another good chance for rain. I hit the interstate and booked it home, but still didn't quite make it and got hit again with rain a half hour from home! Friends from home informed me it had not rained but once here all the time I was gone and I was accused of bringing it with me!

Following are a few pictures from the trip I don't think I posted previously. Enjoy and thanks for sharing the trip. It has been a pleasure and truly an honor to have you along for the ride. I love my life. I am truly blessed. I just with my best friend was still here to share it with me. Miss you, Buffalo.


 Old motels never have enough power!

These are from two different places I
stayed on this trip! hahaha!!!
On my way from Thunder Bay

See the railroad tracks in the background?

Getting ready to pull out with the Canadians!

Old School GPS - I think I posted this once, but I love this picture!!

Another one of Don and Theresa! Awesome Hosts!!
Stormy cold day on my way back south from Thunder Bay

The day I got to the UP in Michigan