Friday, July 28, 2017

Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

Up pretty early getting ready to head for Bernardsville, NJ. Figured I would leave about 8:15AM to meet up with my friend, picking up some places on the way. First stop was the Quibbletown Middle School just because it was on the way and is in Piscataway. The area was first settled in 1666 by Quakers and Baptists who had left the Puritan colony in New Hampshire. Notable person is Gail F. Shollar a 35-year-old Piscataway, NJ mother who was raped and murdered after being carjacked from a shopping mall in South Plainfield, NJ. She was one of the first people in New Jersey to be a victim of carjacking. The first carjacking in the United States had only occurred the previous year in Detroit with the murder of Ruth Wahl. The town is also the birthplace of some notable athletes as well.

Was meeting up with my friend at the Barnards Cate, which I drove right past, because I thought I was early to pick the Benard Train Depot.

Headed back to Bernards Café to meet up with Jim Jacobus< Jim was the drummer for a band I was in back in high school, originally called the Surftones, changing to Spring Fever when I joined. That change was their genre switch from the surf music of the Beach Boys to a more bluesy music of the Yardbirds / Rolling Stones / Cream genre. I was a brief member as rhythm guitar and definitely the least talented of the group, well that may be an understatement. No talent but had heart. We had not seen each other in 48 years. Friggin 48 years, really that is a lifetime, but at least we met and caught up on what has been happening with our lives. Without a doubt, compared to my accounting work years, Jim being a freelance drummer, played in the profession music industry, has far more interesting stories to tell than mine. If I had followed in the footsteps of Bob Newhart, "after the war, Newhart got a job as an accountant for United States Gypsum" (Wikipedia), maybe we could have over talked one another, but I really enjoyed listening to Jim's stories and experiences. One story was his frustration of not being able to find the right sound for a cymbal. From a lay person, who would have thought cymbals would have a particular desirable sound. From this experience, Jim has developed a sought after expertise on cymbals very much akin to my friend Harold (aka Butch) on Marshall amps. Hopefully it will not be another 48 years to engage in conversation again.

Picked up another school, Bernard High School. Notable residents are Tommy Dorsey (1905-1956), jazz musician who lived at "Tall Oaks" in Bernardsville from 1935 to 1941 and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, former first lady, who lived in Bernardsville with her husband Aristotle Onassis.

Yesterday I mentioned the Vauxhall was the epitome of what people think New Jersey is all about. The northwest section of New Jersey is quite rural with a lot of nice twisty roads. Found myself on Haclebarney Rd, which is either gravel, semi dirt or a road that is being repaired and repaved. Nailed my first state park in Jersey.

In Budd Lake targeted the Sinclair gas station for a Dinosaur, one of the general items for Americana Extreme. When I was a kid back in the 1950's Sinclair stations were quite common in the area, along with Esso, Sunoco and Getty. In the northeast there are only a handful of Sinclair stations left and I grabbed them all.

Next Up is Hopatcong State Park, which is about 30 miles from where I grew up. I remember friends saying they were going to Lake Hopatcong as kids. I was jealous of them, instead we went to West Orange Swim Club instead.

Making my north in Jersey heading for New York stopped a couple places along the way.

Crossed over the border of NJ to NY pulling into to Florida NY for a New York Fire Station and a Dinosaur. Florida was named after the state of Florida.

Passing the Harriman State Park into Bear Mountain State Park, I crossed the Hudson River on the Bear Mountain Bridge heading donw US 202/6. This is a great ride with spectacular vistas of the Hudson. Pulled into one of the scenic pullouts and grabbed a frame or two of the view.

Heading south stopped in Peekskill for the Train Station. It's 2PM and make a decision to blow off some V towns, since I already have all that I need for the Teamstrange Love and Merci Tour. While I didn't really save any mileage from Peekskill to Home, I am sure I probably saved quite a bit of time.

Pull up to Seaside Park in Bridgeport CT for the PT Barnum Statue. As I pulled thru the gates, I am stopped and told Motorcycles Are Not Allowed. I told the guard that I needed the picture of the statue and could I get a long distance shot from just past the gate and he said OK. You get caught they will ticket you thou. Grabbed my shot and then ask him that is PT Barnum. No that is further to the right over there. He said you can get see it better from the other gate, which I headed for.

The sign reinforced what the guard had said.

If you squint your eyes you can see PT looking out on Long Island Sound. PT founded the Barnum & Bailey Circus and died in Bridgeport.

Nearing the last stop of the day, on I95 at 5pm, Sunday afternoon, with all of the rest of the folks trying to get home I pulled into one of the Connecticut Plazas for gas. It really irked my as I say car after car, pull up to a pump, the driver get out and walk into the plaza for a Mickey D and a Starbuck not to return for 15 minutes or so. I looked around and saw a couple of more vehicles abandoned in similar fashion. So I pulled up behind a Toyota van with Washington (Evergreen State) places and watched the gentlemen insert his card multiple times and stand perplexed why nothing was happening. A girl at the pump next to him briefly tried to help, but the result was of no avail. Again he kept repeating the same process over and over, occasionally pulling out a different card from his wallet, taking a card from his son and repeat the process over and over and over. I pulled in more a break than gas, so I watched this gone on for about 10 minutes. I got off the Spyder and asked him if he needed assistance. I asked if this was an international card, which he nodded, and then proceeded to put the card in the slot. I touched his hand and said you are putting it in backwards, took the card from here, pushed it in, pushed a couple of buttons and got the desired results of approval and the Please Select the Grade sign on the screen. I handed him back his card and he started to put it in again and I went "WHOA WHOA you are ready to go, pulled nozzle off the pump, placed in the tank, and told him to select a grade. Viola the sweet smell of dino juice was swishing into his tank. My good deed for the day was complete and headed back to the bike. I see him trying to repeat the process and get off the bike, look he has nearly 15 gallons pumped and I tell him he is full. He nods and finally the family climbs into the van and they pull away.

With all of that said and done, I pull up, open the seat to expose the fuel cap, insert my card, put the ZIP code in. the pump immmediately displayed


Really, I immediately suspected that it was denied because I had filled up once earlier in the day and it is not uncommon for us motorcycle riders to carry multiple credit cards to thwart such circumstances. Having watched the previous gentlemen repeat the same process over and over to accomplish the same result I his approach.


What he experienced, I did as well. Keep repeating the same action, without any differences, the result should be the same. I didn't need gas right this sec, didn't want to dig out another credit card, wanted to use this card because of the points I would accrue and simply packed it up and went on my way. I really need to address the compulsion of mine about points and the credit card. It's a sickness I am telling ya.

Last stop of the day was the National Helicopter Museum in Stratford, CT.

Overall all miles for the day right around 325, and just about 700 miles for the 2 days.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Running out of Light, Running into Rain, Running on Empty

Up around 5am finishing off the weekends routes. Made some last minute changes that the GPS didn't like when I downloaded. I hate that when it happens. Big change was to cross the Hudson River on the Newburgh- Beacon Bridge versus the Tappan Zee in Tarrytown. Made some fixes, which the GPS accepted. Made reservations in Piscataway. We are good to go. Bike is packed and engine is running, give Crystal a kiss and say see ya on Sunday. No back roads to get started. Up RT 146 to the Mass Pike, off at Sturbridge heading into Hartford to pick up RT 44 and then RT4/44 to get me to the border of New York.

Not too far from the border is the Amenia Hairpin, which is at Best of New England (BONE on the NER website) scenic view. As I headed around the hairpin going up hill I noticed they made a cutout and a place to stop and take in the view.

Moving along I came across Lithgow, NY which I could use for the Teamstange Love and Merci Grand Tour. One great thing about the Spyder is the ability to pull over on any surface, don't have to worry about the lean of the bike on a kickstand and the easy dismount and mount to take a picture.

Pulled into Millbrook and instantly the Millbrook Diner caught my eye for the Americana Extreme tour. Pulled into the diner parking lot and positioned the Sypder for the diner and its sign for the critical camera shot. As I got off the bike, there was a gentlemen behind me and as I turned we made eye contact. "Can you spare a couple dollars ??", to which I responded, "No I can't !!. Got my picture, pulled the bike across the street, deciding it was time for breaklunch and checked my wallet for what bills I had on hand. Three Jacksons and a Washington. Pulled the dollar and walked over to the gentlemen and said I can't spare a couple of dollars, but I will give ya a buck if I can take a picture of you. What I did notice, this guy didn't seem to need money, he was clean, well dressed and probably looked a whole lot neater than I did. He agreed to the compensatory offering and sat very relaxed on the bench for the pic. As I ponder the juxtaposition of his money request and the looks, I figured he was a retired street person that found a place to live providing him with a bed and shower everyday. He did say that he was in town running errands for some folks, like buying cigarettes. I reached out my hand and said my name is Bill, which he responded I am Byron William Jenkins. We had about a 15 minute conversation, promising me that the dollar will not be used for drugs or alcohol. While the conversation overall is inconsequential, I will probably remember Byron well into my 80's. It's the little things in life they say.

The semi required food pic. Two eggs slammed over hard, corn beef hash, home fries and rye bread toast. nom nom nom.

From here on it is strickly business, grabbing Americana Extreme points and TeamStrange LOVE towns.

While I had the Millbrook Diner, fulfilling the DINER requirement (which was unscheduled) stopped at the Palace Diner in Poughkeepsie, NY anyways (scheduled). Spectacular chrome, glad I don't have to polish it. Open 24/7. I might have to come back here for a night shot, if the NEON is a prevalent as the CHROME, how could this pic be a miss.

New Windsor is the home of Orange County Bobbers, a small motorcycle shop that does custom work on bikes. I used this a stop for the Americana Extreme tour. Right around the corner is Orange County Choppers which I probably could have used instead but I think the spirit of the GLMC tour was to seek out the smaller guy. I pulled in, radio blasting some blues tune and dismounted, got the flag placed, aimed and fired away a couple of frames on the camera. As I was putting way the flag this guy comes around the trailer, sees the camera and with all rights starts questioning me on what the heck I was doing. I explained I was doing a tour for a motorcycle group out of South Dakota, showed him the flag and he seemed to loosen up abit. I introduce myself and he does the same saying his name is Bobbie. I spend about 30 minutes here while Bobbie who is a friend of the owner, showed me around. I asked him if I could take some pictures, which he seemed hesitant. I told him no problem and then he took me into the shop to show me some of the work being done. One notable work in progress was a custom Triumph being worked on, which was really nice. Couple more minutes walking thru, I gave him my email address and indicated if my picture turned out any good I would send it to them.

The picture kinds of sucks, but I might send it to them anyways.

Hit Bear Mountain State Park and the place is packed. Not a lot on street traffic, they were all picnicking, hiking, biking and other ING stuff. All of the parking areas are blocked indicated lot full. Grabbed one picture which I was not satisfied with and headed for the next stop with a sign. The entire road is blocked off with traffic cones, yellow tape and a truck with a half asleep worker in it making sure no one goes up the road on the left. Of course I pull around the cones and get the bike positioned for the shot.

The Americana Tour is looking for 2 State or National Parks per state. Right down RT 9W is Rockland Lake State Park, Quick grab and go.

That wraps the two state park limit for New York, however I targeted Tallman Mountain State Park in case the signs for Bear Mountain didn't work. You can't tell from the picture, but I almost fall down a small culvert backing up to get a more inclusive picture of the bike and sign.

After grabbing Tallman Mountain State Park, the GPS had me go right, where intuitively I felt left was the more appropriate direction on 9W. I haven't second guessed the GPS many times, never winning my sense of where I should be going over where the GPS said I should be going. I have learned to rely on it. As I am heading up 9W thru the trees and brief breaks in foliage I keep spotting the Tappan Zee Bridge off to my right. I really should have stopped to take a pic, but I didn't. I find my self heading onto I287, which I thought I had avoided, passed under a one of the new EZ Pass devices and it dawned on my I am heading over the Hudson River to Tarrytown. So how did this happen. Well I had a spot in Tarrytown that I was going to pick up for one of the tours, changed the route in Mapsource and downloaded to the GPS. Well I must have had a shaping point that I did not delete and hence the unnecessarily crossing of the Hudson and probably an extra 30 minutes of travel and $4.75 of tolls to boot.

Railroad stations are a category for the Americana Tour. This is Ridgewood New Jersey. The town dates back to 1698. Along with Johannes Van Emburgh, who built the first home in Ridgewood, Kevin Strahle better known as the L.A. Beast, is an American professional competitive eater. Think competitions like Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, which I happened to see on TV recently.

Couple more pickups like a NJ Motorcycle Shop

And then the Specific Americana Extreme point "Boro of Teterboro". That was the full description. I found something that I thought was appropriate. This is the kind of place that when you mention New Jersey, everyone thinks of.

A just in case photo.

Next up is Verona for a New Jersey Diner and a LOVE town. We are right in the back yard of my hometown, West Orange.

"The TV series The Sopranos was set in the area, thus the storyline often included scenes filmed in Verona. A Verona Rescue Squad Ambulance is seen when Livia Soprano dies in the episode "Proshai, Livushka", and Livia's house was set in Verona in the series pilot. In the episode "Cold Cuts", it's established that Bobby Bacala and Janice live in Verona." Wikipedia

Next up is Vauxhall New Jersey. We are in the heart where the NJ Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, Newark Airport and US 22 all come together. It is one congested place. Everyone is in a rush and the temperament of the folks is like Chris Christie, Governor of NJ, when someone asks him a question he feels is inappropriate. He will tell you where to go and just what he thinks. Ahhh Home Sweet Home. Gotta have thick skin here, both for the showah (shore) and the talk. As I putting camera away, I feel that first drop.

Some 20 miles away is Edison New Jersey. Home to Thomas Edison's Menlo Park to grab Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Museum or what is also known as the World's Largest Light Bulb. The tower marks the location of Edison's Menlo Park laboratory, the world's first organized research and development site.

Having picked up the World's Largest Light Bulb my next stop is the Home of the Pirates in West Windsor, NJ. It has started to sprinkle, but not enough to put my rain jacket on, and is kinda of refreshing with the 90+ temps. Got on US RT1 South and the rain picks up a little more. The GPS indicates that I will not arrive until 8:15pm. On the fly, I reroute to the hotel which is 9 miles away. With the cloudy sky, rain picking up, running out of daylight, only one point for the Americana Extreme Tour, I simply say to myself, head for the barn. About 5 minutes away from the hotel, the rain is not longer classified as a misty, drizzly type precipitation, it is raining. Good choice on my part to forgo that Pirates. I have to say the Spyder offers far more protection from the rainy elements than any of my previous bikes. By the time I pull up to the hotel, I am not soaked, but dry isn't a word I would use either.

Settle into the hotel room, which for $89 (before fees and taxes) was really quite nice, call Crystal, text a friend for tomorrow's meetup and phone for a pizza. I wasn't going back out. Full day, good captures, all in all a good ride.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Merci Charlie Brown

The main objective of our 2 day journey to Colchester, VT was to claim our first Merci Car at Camp Johnson. We have been here before for another Grand Tour a couple of years ago, but the guards wouldn't let us on base. I looked up the hours for the Vermont National Guard Museum and saw it was not open on Mondays. I called and spoke with the museum curator, Charlie Brown. He had meet some of the other riders for the Merci and Love Tour, telling me he would be at the museum and I could grab a picture. I was to come around 10:30am. When we arrived we still had to check in at the gate, and for a moment one of the guards said the museum was closed. I felt my anxiety level go up a bit, but the other officer stepped forward and asked if I was Bill Collins. Yes sir and he said we have been expecting you. The museum is not on the actual base, but over to the right. We got to the front door and it was open, we wandered in. Couple minutes Mr. Brown came walking down the aisle. I thanked him for letting us in and he took us to the car.

Yeah I had to be in it since it is inside and the Spyder wouldn't fit through the doors.

Merci Monsieur Brown pour nous avoir accueilli aujourd'hui

Rest of the day is a leisurely ride home, picking up a few bonii along the way. We paralleled I89 on RT 2 for quite a bit of the way. Just outside Montpelier I pulled over Dairy Crème for something and decided it was worthy of a snap.

In Barre we picked up Route 110. As we turned onto the road I did see a sign that said "ROAD CLOSED 13 MILES AHEAD", of which I have been known to ignore these signs before as if they didn't apply to me. Route 110 was a delightful back road, lots of scenery and another sign "ROAD CLOSED 5 MILES AHEAD". Hmmm maybe, naw. Then there was another "ROAD CLOSED 3 MILES AHEAD". Well third time is a charm and I said to Crystal, I saw a Detour sign back there, maybe we should take it. Turned the Spyder around and headed for the Detour. We found ourselves turning this way and that way following the detour signs, praying they were accurate with the GPS squawking "RECALCULATING RECALCULATING"

While the roads we were on were dirt, most of them were in great shape and offered some great scenic rural sights.

When we reconnected with RT110 in Chelsea, we hung a right onto RT133 another great road. We picked up an unexpected "V" town Vershire for Teamstrange.

Right off RT 113 in Port Mills Airport is Vermontasaurus. Brian Boland created this dinosaur out of scrap wood into a sculpture in 2010. At the time of the writing on Roadside America, Vermontasaurus had not give birth to the little one yet. I think the pile next to Mom and Baby is another creature incubating. I hear the guy has a interesting museum of stuff here. We will have to get back here one day and take a tour.

Crossed over the Connecticut River, leaving Vermont in White River Junction and hitting West Lebanon, New Hampshire. Just after the bridge is the 4 Aces Diner. I had forgotten that I picked up the Mt Pisgah yesterday and I had the waypointed so we stopped here for the Americana Extreme Tour. This is a 1952 Worcester Lunch Car Company #837. Crystal and I stopped back here in 2008 when we first started going out.

In Concord we picked up the Mercury Redstone Rocket which is a specific bonii for the Americana Extreme Tour. This sits right outside of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.

A little south and to the east in Bear Brook State Park. This knocked of the second state park for NH and also has the specific bonii of the Snowmobile Museum inside the park. This was also a Civilian Conservation Corps camp under the Roosevelt New Deal work relief program to put people back to work during the Great Depression.

The Snowmobile Museum, at least I hope this is the place.

At the entrance to where the Snowmobile Museum I pulled over to make a call to the Children's Museum of New Hampshire to see if they had a dinosaur on display outside the building since we would never make it there by closing. It's 4:20 and it closes at 5pm. 3 phone calls to the front desk, office and shop all went to voice mail. It's 40 minutes to closing and know one is picking up the phone. Frustrating, however in retrospect I am glad they didn't answer. I would have traveled the extra 30 miles east toward the coast, setting us up for a late night arrival home.

We jumped onto RT 3 to move along getting off briefly to pick a up Fire Station, Motorcycle Shop and a School, which is shown here.

Still out 65 miles or so, we hit RT 3 to I-495 to fast track it home. Right around 280 miles for the day and 540 miles for the 2 days.