Saturday, May 20, 2017

It's About Time

Headed over to Giff's as I usually do, to hang out and shoot the shit. Expectations on my end is there will be a line of bikes trying to get their inspections before May 31st, as required in Massachusetts. No lines but a steady stream of bikes coming in. Bill closed the doors at 12:30 and we headed for lunch at a new place. At lunch I told him I was heading out to Dinosaur State Park to see if he wanted to go. He said he would follow for a while and would turn off someplace. That's one of the best things about being friends with Giff, we don't get upset, offended or take it personal when we do stuff like that.

Around 2:30, Bill shows up at my house and we head out toward Connecticut. When I plan my routes on Mapsource I let the mapping software pick the roads. If I don't lick it's selection, I then reroute it's choice to what I want. Makes things simple this way. Well I didn't really pay that much attention to how it decided to get to Eastford Post Office for the Americana Extreme tour, since we went straight thru Webster center to get to the intersection of Ct 197 and 12. There were much prettier ways to get to this spot. Eastford had the first Union general to be killed in the Civil War. It also has the village of Phoenixville, which makes me think of that movie about a plane crash in the Sahara Desert with a dozen people aboard. One of the passengers claims he is a plane designer and they begin to rebuild the wreck out of the pieces. They come to find out during the build process he is a model airplane designer. Maybe this village will rise from the ashes as well.

Riding along the very country road of Bassett Bridge Road and saw this farm, with the pile of bowling balls and cows having lunch at the picnic table under the pavilion. Just had to stop.

One has to question, why would someone put a neatly stacked set of bowling balls in a field, which are probably glued together so the cows don't know them over. Maybe there was a bowling alley on this farm and like most of the stone walls were built by clearing the land of the boulders.

And then there is the cow pavilion. What I did notice there is a cow skull hanging of the left side of the pavilion, I wonder if the cows noticed this as well.

Actually the Holy Cow Family Shelter is a real place in Willimantic.

Holy Family Home and Shelter, Inc. operates by the Sisters of Charity of our Lady Mother of the Church. The home endeavors to serve those families whose circumstances have deprived them of an adequate lifestyle and housing. Holy Family Home and Shelter does not seek to pass judgment on any person for their current or past lifestyle. The Home offers families a warm hearted environment while providing nourishment with shelter in a kind Christ - like manner. The Shelter's safe harbor allows for assistance in finding solutions to alleviate their own situation for those capable of living in harmony with others, while respecting their own mutual rights.

Grabbed Mansfield Hollow State Park for the second of two parks for the Americana tour which was right down the street from the farm. Did pull into the park and drive around, took a picture of the picnic area, which had people enjoying the afternoon, and moved along before I had to answer questions about why I was taking pictures of their family.

Found myself on US 6 in Columbia and caught this octagonal building and pulled into the Park and Ride lot to take a picture. Octagonal buildings are somewhat unusual, which is a Waymarking category. The building is known as "Lighthouse" and the area was renamed from Katzman’ Corners to Lighthouse Corners due to the building.

I had 2 ways to cross the Connecticut River. Either I could use RT 3 or take the Glastonbury - Rocky Hill Ferry for $6.00. I opted for the ferry since it is way cooler and the ferry is on the National Register of Historic Places. Well I got there and apparently it was not running today.

I ended up heading North on 17, picked up 3, crossed the Connecticut River and headed south on I-91 to get to Dinosaur State Park. I am here for the Americana Extreme Tour, but not for the state park, I need a picture of a "Dinosaur – statue, mural, or sign of a dinosaur". This was the whole purpose of the trip today and the turn around point to go back home, which is about 90 miles away. Get waste those miles of traveling without throwing some more stops in.

Crystal and I found ourselves here once before by happenstance and went into the building for a visit. A very neat play to visit. Kids should get a kick out of it too.

Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum is a state owned and operated natural history preserve occupying 80 acres (32 ha) in the town of Rocky Hill, Connecticut. The state park protects one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Its Jurassic-era sandstone-embedded fossil tracks date from about 200 million years ago. Source: Wikipedia

Getting late in the afternoon, I don't fell like riding thru Hartford or finding roads around Hartford, I head for Windsor via I-91. Windor has a RR staion I need for the Americana Extreme tour. Windsor is also home to Nat Hayden's BBQ. says this; Nat Hayden's isn't going to blow you away with barbecue to tell your grandchildren about, but it's an honest brand of 'cue in a cozy shop that does a lot of the peripheral things right.

The station was built in 1869 for Hartford & New Haven RR. Windsor became of large scale residential neighborhood because of the depot with folks commuting to Hartford form here. It is listed on the NRHP.

Heading back east I decided to pick up the Broad Brook school for the Americana Tour as one of the general sites, SCHOOLS. While I was parked here, I decided the trunk need to be straightened out, so I could find the 2 little green spring clamps for clipping the Love and Merci flag to the Spyder. Of course they made it to the bottom of the trunk and to see into it I had to take my helmet off, which I placed it on the seat. I pulled a bunch of stuff out, also placing this stuff on the seat. The sweat starts to break out on the forehead, which happens when I get aggravated. Finally found the clips, clipping to one of the plastic wings up front. As I was putting the stuff back in the trunk, my helmet decides to roll off the seat to the asphalt driveway. Yup, this caused the reaction of increasing the flow of fluid off my forehead. I just looked at the helmet as it roller around and then came to a stop. Put the rest of the stuff back in the trunk, picked up the helmet and put It on and left feeling a bit stupid.

Next stop is the Vernon Rockville PO for the V in LOVE, completing my first LOVE sequence for the Teamstrange Love and Merci Tour. After grabbing the pic, I seriously thought about heading for Rein's Deli for a Jersey Deluxe. This is one of my all time favorite delis and rivals some of the best delis in New Jersey. Crystal and I always seem to stop here after one of our mecca 5,000 mile tours as we head home on the last day. To me it is a reward for a well done trip and a way to prolong vacation just a wee bit longer.

Heading out of Rockville, passed the Hockanum Mill. This joint has a huge waterfall that comes out of the middle of it, which I am sure powered the mill at one time. The trees have grown up around the area I was parked in, so it was hard to get a decent shot.

A mill was first constructed at the site of the future Hockanum Mill on the Hockanum River in Rockville in Vernon in 1814 by Bingham & Nash. The mill produced satinet, a finely woven fabric that resembles satin but is made from wool. In 1881, the Hockanum Company built a three and a half story brick Romanesque Revival building, adjacent to the original wooden structure. Source: Historic Building of Connecticut

Of late I have been taking a lot of shots of barns. I have one handing in the main gallery of the Gifford Gallery of Upton and another in the annex called The Barn. Maybe a contender, since I got a LIKE of FB.

Riding along RT 44, also known as Pompey Hollow Rd. I stopped at the Mixer Tavern. The house was built in 1710 as a tavern to serve as a gathering place for local folks and a place to rest for travelers. It is also on the NRHP.

Last stop of the day is the Ashford Academy, listed on the NRHP, built in 1825. The Academy stands on what was once the village green where taverns and a Congregational Church once stood.

As I traveled along US 44, hanging a left onto 198 and a right onto 244 then I-395, I noticed how comfortable I have become with the Spyder. The turns and twisties have become effortless and now have to watch my speed so I don't have those ugly performance certificates to deal with. Rolled into the barn right around 7:30 with just under 200 miles for the day. Not bad for not getting a start until 2:30pm. All in all a great Saturday out on the road. Oh whats with the title. Well it's about time the weather changed to a day that was worth riding in.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Corning Nutmeg

This has been my slowest start for riding season for the last 10 years. Weather has been the greatest, but I find as I move along in years, I am less tolerant of bad or cold weather to hop on the bike and hit the roads. I am participating in 2 Grand Tours this season. The Americana Extreme Grand Tour is sponsored by GLMC and is pretty simple in concept. There are 7 categories; State / National Park, Train Stations, Schools, Dinosaurs, fire department, motorcycle shops and Drive-ins and Diners. For Team Strange it is Love & Merci Grand Tour, centering around the Merci Cars and the word LOVE used for various places to ride to.

Information on Merci Trains

"The Merci Train was a train of 49 French railroad box cars filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from at least that many individual French citizens. They were showing their appreciation for the more than 700 American box cars of relief goods sent to them by (primarily) individual Americans in 1948. The Merci Train arrived in New York harbor on February 3rd, 1949 and each of the 48 American states at that time received one of the gift laden box cars. The 49th box car was shared by Washington D.C. and the Territory of Hawaii. Parades and ceremonies of welcome were conducted in the state capitols and major cities of almost all the states. The largest and most attended was in New York City where more than 200,000 people turned out to welcome that state's assigned box car."

Up at 5am I planned 2 routes. One to take me out to the Hartford and Springfield area for Grand Tours spots and 1 more local, primarily centering around sites on the The National Register of Historic Places.. Still a bit cool out, I waited to afternoon, deciding to take the shorter of the 2 routes. Today's trip will be historic in nature.

First planned stopped was out in East Woodstock. I routed myself on the back roads to get there. As I was riding along and really don't have an agenda, I could stop along the way and just take some pictures for the picture sake. Saw this silo out of the corner of my eye and thought it could make an interesting picture.

Right across the street is the Tourtellot Cemetery. Nothing special about this other than it is a Waymark category. Oldest person I could find is Abraham Tourtelotte, died May 1779, age 54 yrs, Revolutionary War.

Couldn't resist this shot. Matter of fact I backed up the bike to get it

Just down the road is the Wilsonville Cemetery. This one is a bit odd, the land parcel is a rectangular with the short side facing the street, however there is a minor side street which the long end faces. Wilsonville was home to S.M. Wheelock and Co. a manufacturer of woolen goods. Eugene Wheelock born and raised in Uxbridge was put in charge of the mill in 1867, supervising 100 workers. Today Wilsonville is one of the villages of Thompson CT.

In the cemetery is a zinc tombstone. All zinc gravestones came from the same company in Connecticut, and were made from about 1870 to 1912 (when the company stopped producing them). Each stone was created individually for the person who ordered it, with a variety of personalizations available.

Usually I have all my destinations set for the day, however today I only have 3 destinations, not a lot of miles to do enabling me to take the time and just stop at some interesting sites. This site was known as Wilsonville Mill or Keegan Mill. It originally had a wooden grist mill on site with expansion to the store mill pictured. Keegan Mill, originally built by Smith Wilkinson, which was a major employer in the area for some 100 years. The mill itself seems to be abandoned however the other buildings have activity.

The first planned stop of the day is the Captain Seth Chandler House in East Woodstock, CT. The Chandler House is composed of two sections: a circa 1760 two-story main block with ell being added around 1780. The house was vacant from the 1950's to 1983. The house was built by Captain Set Chandler, a descendent of the early Woodstock settler family. Chandler served in the Revolutionary War, was a leader in the community. The house and land were sold to the Converse family who farmed the surrounding land until 1983. This house is on the National Register of Historic Places, one of my Waymark categories and just places I go and visit.

Heading into North Grosvenordale along Red Bridge Rd. I came across this field that was pure yellow. If it were summer time I would have thought it was the mustard field I came across in Maine. Time to pause and take a capture.

Coming down the hill turning onto Reardon Rd which joins Main St I was confronted by this building. It was so appealing I stopped for a pic. What little information I found was on the Thompson property tax data base. It was built in 1815, is a residential property with a total assessed value of 130K. To me I conjure up images of horses and carriages gathering around the entrance where the local blacksmith performs the invaluable service of shoeing horses. The blacksmith and his wife along with the 6 sons and daughters, with the oldest being 18 live on the second floor. The wife performs seamstress activities for the folks in the neighborhood, having a commercial Singer sewing machine.

A left onto Main St takes me to the second scheduled stop of the day, the North Grosvenordale Mill Historic District. I stop for my first picture of the mill a ways back to get a wide angle view of the mill.

I see 3 people (2 female and 1 male) a couple of hundred feet away, waving their hands. I walk toward them wincing at the pain from my right ankle. They are talking to me, however I point to my ears on the outside of the helmet, indicating I can't understand what they are saying. Of course a conversation strikes up and the guy is most interested in the Spyder. Since owing the Spyder I have had more conversations about this bike than any other bike I have owned. We have been talking for about 10 minutes and I ask if they mind if I take their picture. They were more than happy. I said give me a minute while I limp back to the bike and get a picture.

Meet Debbie and Running Something or Other. Not meaning any disrespect, I kick myself now not getting his name straight and meant to go back and get it. I got involved with taking more pictures and forget until I was too far away. Neat Newfoundland, very calm and friendly.

The North Grosvenordale Mill Historic District consists of over 100 houses and other mill-related structures surrounding a large former textile mill in North Grosvenordale, a village in the Town of Thompson. The center of activity in district was Mill #2. In 1862 the mill employed 850 people and became one of the largest, most productive and longest lasting mills in Connecticut. The mill was initially powered the dam nearby. With the mill came the mill housing, commercial activity and religious facilities along with the government and civic buildings. The French Canadians and Swedish immigrants provided the majority of labor.

The Mill Store - Empire style building built in 1872. This also served at the village's jail for a period of time. Looks more like a hotel than a jail.

"Three Rows" Mill Houses built in 1872 for the mill workers. Today they are one to four bedroom apartments. There must be 20 or so buildings in this neighborhood with all of them reconditioned.

Right next door to the above are the GREEK VILLAGE" Mill Houses. These were built in 1872 as well. These are in substantially worse shape than the Three Rows houses. I would hope the rent is much cheaper as well.

I took a bunch of other photos as further documentation of the historic district and then started to leave town when I caught this place out of the corner of my eye. It's about 2:30pm and realized that all I had this morning was coffee what better thing to have is a hot dog. Famous Franks has been in business for 9 years and is now expanding into the section right next door, where all the work is going on. Right now they specialize in hot dogs, but will expand the menu when open, expected to be within a month. The craftsmanship inside is unbelievable and there will be outside seating as well.

I headed to the other entrance for some dogs. This is the owners daughter and the chief chef of the day. I ordered the Great Dane with was the dog, with bacon, cheese. Russian dressing and Doritos. I passed on the Doritos because of the high calorie content. [cough cough]

No more scheduled stops charged up the GPS to head for home the shortest route to avoid highways and make the trip interesting. Part of the route was on Quaddick Road, coming across this very scenic covered pedestrian bridge over a dam.

Seeing signs for Quaddick State Park, figured I might as well pick up one of two state parks for the Americana Extreme Grand Tour, rerouted the GPS for the park. Did enter the park and drove around, ending up at the beach area of the park. Took a picture of the beach and lake and saw a person heading my way. I knew he was going to question me about the picture taking. He states, "Why are you taking pictures of my family". Reply, "I am not, taking pictures of the lake". He said, "Looks like you are taking pictures of us". I say, "I am in a scavenger hunt". With that said, he relaxes and the conversation becomes much more civil.

Last stop of the day is the border crossing between Connecticut and Massachusetts on East Thompson Rd. I have passed this many times and today I decided to get a picture for the Waymarking category, Border Crossings.

Not a lot of miles today, well under 100 miles, but still good to be out and about.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Time is right around 6:30am or so, stumble out of bed, wondering where I am and remember I am in Vermont. Walk to the window, pull back the curtain and all I see is what appeared to be rainy mist. Dang, I thought it was suppose to be nice today, matter of fact forecast has bright sunshine predicted. Get dressed, gather up the gear and take it out to the bike. The seats are soaked, so wet I don't dare put any bags down on them. Pop the front and rear trunks, stow the gear, mount the GPS, start the bike and head back to the room for a towel to wipe the seats down.

With the bike started, look at the on board temperature, 55. Brrrrrrrrrr. Seats wiped down, drive the bike over to the office where breakfast is. Watching the weather and it is confirmed it will be bright and sunny, this is just how the mornings in Montpelier start, cool, misty and damp.

First stop is the Vermont State Capitol, for the Teamstrange Strange Election Tour. It is a safe bet that Vermont will go Democratic in November so the Blue flag is used. The Capitol is the third structure to hold the Vermont legislature. This one was built in 1857-1858, and occupied in 1859. The dome was originally painted a dark terracotta red to suggest Tuscan tile. The dome is topped by a statue named Agriculture, a representation of Ceres, an ancient Roman goddess of agriculture.

10 miles south is Barre, VT where I have the Vermont Racetrack, Thunder Road to pick up for the Americana Tour. Yesterday I came across another racetrack, so I have 2 now and will decide which one to use when I submit my travels to the Rally guys.

Headed east on US2 towards St Johnsbury, VT passing this barn. Now there was nothing special about this barn, but traffic seemed light and I decided to pull over to take a picture of it. This thing was just so huge, still wondering why so big.

RT2 was a little more busy than I thought when I pulled over. Got honked at by one truck as he waited to go around me. Crossed the street to take a better picture without the lines in it and heard some more honking. When I turned around there were 3 semi stopped on the street waiting to go around me. I ran back to the Spyder, jumped on and turned off at the next available spot.

I am on quest to grab as many National Historic Landmarks as I can during my travels. Been doing this for at least 8 years of so. Just a way to pick places to visit and learn some history. In St Johnsbury is the St Johnsbury Athenaeum.

The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, is significant because of its construction, the American landscape paintings and books from its original role as a public library and free art gallery, and funding by Horace Fairbanks, manufacturer of the world's first platform scale. Wikipedia

On the outskirts of St. Johnsbury is the Sewin' in Vermont Store that has run out of 3 in 1 oil for sure. The building just grabbed my attention is of no real importance. Looks like an old boarding home, maybe for the candlepin factory.

Turning onto RT135 the Moose Reservoir and Dam comes into view. The dam was built in 1956, creating the reservoir. The dame is a hydroelectric plant producing 192 megawatts of power.

Turning off on Rt 116 just on the edge of the White Mountain National Forest is Bethlehem NH. The town was a Gilded Age resort for the rich and famous. Every year, people from all over the world send Christmas cards to the Bethlehem post office to have them postmarked. In 2000, it handled 56,000 Christmas cards.

Just as you are about to leave Bethlehem is the Indian Brook Trading Co. with some pretty neat sculptures out front.

Making my way up to my next destination this scenic view has Mt Washington off to the right hidden by the trees. Just a nice stop with the road following the curvature of the Ammonoosuc River.

Another scenic vista along RT 115 in Jefferson, NH

This motel, The Mount Jefferson View, just caught my eye with all of the colors. From a marketing standpoint the colors must work, it made me stop and turn in.

In Gorham hung a right onto RT 16, traveling south for about 9 miles, grabbed the entrance to the Mt. Washington Auto Road. I have traveled all over New England for the last 10 or so years and have yet to climb Mt Washington. Today I will make that still true. Being out west on the bike this seems like a hill, even if it is the highest peak in the Northeast at 6,288 feet.

Continued down RT 16 thru Intervale NH, stopping briefly to grab this vista. Intervales is just north of North Conway and Conway, where I picked up US 302 and headed east for Maine

US 302 crosses into Maine just outside of Fryeburg, home to Fryeburg Academy and the Fryeburg Fair. The fair attracts well over 300,000 visitors during its 8 days of being open. It also can cause massive traffic jams since US 302 is a 2 lane highway. I had the pleasure last year of taking 4 hours to go 5 miles.

Maine will go Democrat in November, hence the Blue flag.

In Fryeburg center US 302 heads south into Bridgton. Picked up the Civil War Memorial in Bridgton as a Veteran Memorial for the Americana Tour

As I traveled along US302 I passed signs "Men Working Ahead", "Reduce Speed" and finally the sign "PAVEMENT ENDS". Having traveled in Maine before, when they say pavement ends in Maine, it ends. For the next 10 miles I traveled at a reduced speed, weaving in and out of loose gravel and wet mud. While really not that bad, my rear tire was approaching 15,000 miles and didn't want to hit anything that make it worse. Really loved it when the water truck passed on the other side, nicely coating the lower half of the Spyder with a nice spray of stuff.

In Naples caught this mural out of the corner of my eye and needed one for the Americana Tour. While I had one waypointed in Portsmouth you never know if they paint over the wall and it is no longer there. That happened to us in Savannah, GA.

Casco Maine had the President Sign I needed for the Americana Tour. Casco is home to Sebago Lake a favorite camping park for many.

Hitting the coast of Maine in Yarmouth stopped a Erv Bickford's open-pavilion displaying some the Mack, Kenworth and Brockway trucks he collected over the years while in the trucking business. There are a total of 300+ trucks in his collection. I stumbled across the collection, knowing this would qualify as SOMETHING COOL for the Americana Tour.

Also in Yarmoth and the reason I was here was to pick up the Delorme Globe as one of the specific sites for the American Tour. Before GPS's Delorme maps were the Cats Meow for maps. In 2016 Delorme was purchased by Garmin. Eartha, the revolving globe in the building is the world's largest revolving globe.

Since I picked up the mural in Naples I skipped Portland ME all together and headed directly for Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough.

The track was opened in 1949 by Jim McConnell, an airplane mechanic. In 1981 it was bought by the Cusack family. It became a NASCAR sanctioned track in 1995. Wikipedia

In Alfred ME is the York County Court House, which completes the 5 general items in Maine. The five categories are Veteran Memorial, Mural, Race Track, Court House and Something Cool

One more stop and I can head for the barn. In Portsmouth, NH sits the USS Albacore right off Bypass US 1. Unfortunately for me the Bypass Bridge is under repair, so I had to bypass the Bypass, travel south on US1 and come thru Portsmouth proper to come in at a different angle. There is no way I was going to let a little detour keep me from getting the last stop.

USS Albacore (AGSS-569) was a unique research submarine that pioneered the American version of the teardrop hull form (sometimes referred to as an "Albacore hull") of modern submarines. The revolutionary design was derived from extensive hydrodynamic and wind tunnel testing, with an emphasis on underwater speed and maneuverability. The Albacore was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989 - Wikipedia

This completed the stops for the day. I figured I had covered a lot of ground and saw enough scenery for the day, I simply brought up home on the GPS and punched GO. Just around 96 miles to home.

Some 389 miles for the day, covering 4 states.