Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Documentation, Application, Submission

Well the end of the year is here and the end of the riding season is all but over too. Over the last couple of days, I spent some time (understatement) putting my package together for the Iron Butt Association's National Park Tour. There are three levels of certificates, each one progressively harder than the previous one. The Master Traveler's certification's basic provisions are 50 National Parks in 25 states within 1 year. The Silver is the same as the Master Traveler, but 4 of the states must be Washington, Florida, Maine and California and the GOLD must have a National Park from Alaska, California, Florida and Maine.

My certificate, if I qualify, will be the Master Traveler one. I covered 31 states, 1 Canadian province, gathered 235 stamps, at 152 locations, spanning from Maine to Georgia west to Oklahoma and north to Minnesota and Michigan.The miles covered were somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 to miles with most of them on the back roads of America.

The documentation can be as simple as sending in a photocopy of your cancellation stamps. Like many of the people I have come to know via the internet thru the NPs Motorcycle Touring forum at delphi forums, I felt I should send in a little more than just the copies. So what will go to the IBA is of course the photocopies. Now there will be 2 sets of the photocopies. One set I stamped using a blank hard bound journal book that I got from Barnes and Noble. This was a self journaling book because you place the stamps essentially in chronological order. The next set is the copies of the same cancellation stamps, however I used the official National Park Passport stamping book. I do have a 3rd set which I used 4X6 index cards so that I could maintain a record of which stamps I got a what location. Yes that means I stamped each one of those 235 stamps 3 times.

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Webshots was offering a special deal on 4X6 prints, which I took advantage of. I had prints of the Visitor Center and Entrance for each park made. While I was in the VC (visitor center), I collected the official brochure for each park and any other important literature that the National Park Service produces. Can you tell where this is leading ? The index card, the photos and the literature are all neatly filed into a plastic index box with dividers for each stop. OK you are starting to think OCD issues aren't you? Let me tell you future Inker, this little tool has proven to be invaluable because the memory banks in my head are getting kind of full, so I can't remember all the little nuances that this ride entailed.


Here's a couple of nice shots of the whole set up

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Let's not forget MapSource, the mapping program that comes with Garmin GPS units. I had to update the waypoints in MS from Green Flags to Blue Pushpins so that there is a visual separation between those places visited and those that still need to be visited. Then there is the wall map I purchased on a whim and the pins to shove into the map, which is another way to show me where I have been.

Mich Map MS

OK I am getting off point here.

So we have the 1 set from the Black Book, 1 set from the Passport book, which provides the stiffness to the package and weight too. There are 29 pages for the Black book and 20 pages for the Passport book.

In addition, I listed all the cancellation stamps I obtained in 2008 in an Excel spreadsheet. On the Black Book copy, I numbered each page and sequentially numbered the stamps on the pages,providing a cross reference (page nmber and stamp number) on the spreadsheet. Just in case the person that will be verifiying my trip needs this. Anyone have any bets on this ??


You will think this would be enough, but nooooooo WhyAmIStillReadingThis person. For those locations that were closed, you can get credit for the location if you submit a picture of the Visitor Center with your bike in front of it. There were 6 locations like this. We have a really nice color printer at work, which I used to make copies of the pictures I took.


Think I am done, not so fast oh speed reader (I am impressed if you got this far and flattered too). There is an application you must complete from the IBA website, so they know who you are and what information will go on the certificate if they decide you met the miniumum qualifications. One of the things you have to decide on is what name will you use. For my SS1000, I used Bill "NomadWillie" Collins, so I decided this one would be Bill "Willie" Collins.

Almost done, but there still something missing. Oh yeah I decided to provide a DVD of the Excel spreadsheet and photos of the closed locations. Of course for the locations that dont have a page and stamp number because they were closed, I just had to provide a hypertext link to the photo so that the reviewer only has to click the photo number and viola the picture should pop up automatically. I thought this was a nice touch and I was very tempted to put all of the entrances and VC's on the DVD with hypertext links, but I thought this was a wee bit over the top, especially since it would have been very appropiate to also take pictures and neatly crop the actual cancellation stamps and provide links to them as well. After all, a DVD can hold over 4gig of data.


Hmmmmmm, I have a year to do this tour in and I started in April and it is only December and it is going to be a long winter and you do not necessarily have to submit within a year and whoooaaa there BillWillie I have to start planning next year's trip to Florida. Yeah thats the ticket.

I sure hope I don't forget the check to the IBA.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A hint a hint you say

Tis a hint you are Beggin
Could be Burton or Cragin
Measure a mill
Five sizes to fill

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Obelisk Connecticut Tag

Are you looking for this. Try N41 18.980 W72 03.973


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Housing is for the Birds

Subject says it all. This place is at the intersection of US 6 and Santa Cir in Johnston, RI (N41 49.981 W71 33.143) if you want to fly the coop and see it for yourself.








Sunday, October 5, 2008

First Cache Short Changed

Does one have to fail to succeed. Is there a silver lining in the clouds. Do you have to know how to toot the tin horn to play on the bandwagon. Which came first the chicken or the egg. Did the Wright Brothers get their plane off the ground the first time.

Well I went out to find my first cache. Location was N 42° 05.625 W 071° 38.251. I followed the instructions closely. The additional clue said "focus the search where the 2 walls meet".

I climbed, I clamored, I stood on my toes, got down on my knees, jumped off walls, got poked in the eye by a tree branch, brushed leaves away, walked in circles. Gave up and decided I just didn't look hard enough. Repeated everything 2 or 3 times and finally


Happens sometimes. So what did I gain from the experience. GeoCaching may not be just going to the coordinates and viola you find the gold. As in motorcycling, it is not always the destination but the journey to get there. If I had not tried finding the cache I would have missed out on this.


I did learn that it is not uncommon for caches to be muggled

to muggle (third-person singular simple present muggles, present participle muggling, simple past and past participle muggled)
(transitive) (in geocaching) To remove, deface or destroy a geocache.

Whitin Pond cache is now under investigation for the muggling event.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cashing in on the Caches

The days are getting shorter, winter is right around the corner, and I can feel the onset of PMS (parked motorcycle syndrome). As you may have gathered (rather presumptious of me to assume anybody else is reading this), I am a bit over zealous about chasin stuff. (God forbid I used the word compulsive). Over the past year, I have been casually researching another form of treasure hunting, but really have done nothing about it other than just read. Well I finally decided it was time to stop testing the water with my pointer finger and to dive in. I got one of these.

I really should buy stock in Garmin, since I seem to buying all their stock. But alas I digress (which is my prerogative, afterall it is my blog). So now I am equiped with the equipment to execute this new hobby. (and I thought simply buying a motorcycle would be the only purchase for that hobby). So what is this new obsession, I mean passion to see the world.

G E O C A C H I N G !!!

Yup I am gonna go out in the woods and walk around and get healthy and be one with nature and associate with the Audobon Society and become a member of the Sierra Club and maybe join the NRA and the Peace Corp and and ...hey hey I am gettng a carried away here. I am just gonna search for stuff and of course I will use the Connie for getting to those places that are simply too far to walk to (anything over a 1/4 mile)

There are a couple of sites that I have found which assists (read enable) one to partake in this endeavor.

For Geocaching click this part of the sentence, see you have already started to get the hang of it, you found your first treasure

Geocaching is the hunt for caches that people hid in various places around the world and provide the coordinates to find the caches. The caches are containers, hopefully weatherproof, and can be be as large as a Gallon jug or as small as a thumbnail. Heres some examples of the containers. According to the above site there are 673,265 sites hidden, so I shouldn't run out of places to find any time soon

The caches contain things such as log (a small note pad) for signing, a pen and pencil, and other trinkets. I have seen notes on some caches that say a Hamilton for FTF, which my interpretation is $50 for the First to Find. Caches can contain TravelBugs and Geocoins, which travel from cache to cache, gathering stories along the way. Each one has an unique ID and is logged into the Inet so you can follow it around the world.

Included in the GeoCaching world is another from of caching called Benchmarking. These are official markers placed and verified by the National Geodetic Survey ("NGS") that can be found using the yellow thing above. The following is an example of a benchmark. You can find benchmarks at the Geocache site too


Oh its the little brass thing next to me. Benchmarks can also be a church spire, the dome on a building, an antenna or any type of marker that can be located and relatively permanent.

Waymarks were once part of GeoCaching called virtual caches, however they have been established as their own sport called Waymarking. There are tons of categories of waymarks which can be found here.

We then have a sport called Letterboxing, which has their own site too. As described best by the site "LETTERBOXING is an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a charming "treasure hunt" style outdoor quest. A wide variety of adventures can be found to suit all ages and experience levels."

Yup a new hobby that fits right in with riding, just a little more gear to take with me, but alot more places to go.

If you're going to Shelburne Falls you Don't Need to Wear Flowers in your Hair

because they have plenty.

I have been in this area a ton of times on the bike, but never to the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. If you are in the area this is a must stop. Here's some pics from Shelburne Falls















Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gunnin' the Delaware Gap

This weekends' destination was the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area but of course there were a few diversions along the way. Headed out the Mass Pike to Exit 2 Lee and headed for Red Hook. Couldn’t resist stopping for this picture of a dam.


In Woodstock, NY stopped at the HD shop to get another double shot glass


This was somewhat unusual so of course I had to snap the button


Into the Catskills via RT28. Stopped at Brio’s for one of their infamous burgers. Now I have been here before, but didn’t stop for lunch because the place was too busy. Today it was a perfect day outside and very little traffic and Brio's wasn't over crowded

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Came across this Post Office. It was suggested to me that this place is where they are keeping the remaining Tax Rebate Checks, until the government can back the checks with some Lehman Brother and AIG funds


Now for the important stuff. Stopped in Narrowsburg PA visitor center for the Upper Delaware River area, and headed south of NY 97. Quick stop at Zane Grey NHS and the Roebling Aqueduct Bridge. It is one of the oldest surviving wire suspension bridges in the US and was supervised by the Roebling of Brooklyn Bridge fame. Zane’s place is right across the river.


Zane's Place


Ended the day’s journeys at the Carriage House in Barryville NY on the RT 97. Had some of the best Hungarian Goulash I have ever had. I stopped here about 2 years ago and it my guess the current owner had just purchased the property and it was ungoing some major renovations. It is quite impressive what he has done with the place, especially the bar and dining room. I believe the gentleman is also a rider, so supporting his endeavor as a fellow rider makes it all that much more worthwhile. The rooms are very reasonably priced.


Bright early on Sunday was a quick run back up to Narrowsburg for INK and then headed south on 97. Brief stop at this place and my traveling buddy spotted these guys across the river. Nice, but I would have rather seen an eagle.



Of course if you are in NY on RT 97 one is compelled to stop here and take some pics


At the bottom of 97 as you turn right onto RT 202 the Erie Depot sits, right next to it is a Historic Landmark the Erie Turntable. This was a major facility in it’s hey day



Dingman’s Ferry is on the agenda for INK. If you are don’t miss the 2 awesome waterfalls. One is only a 100 yards from the VC and the other maybe ¼ mile and well worth the walk. This place is chocked full of Rhodendrons, which according to one of the Park Rangers are in full bloom at the end of June [Note to myself return here in June]



At the bottom of the Delaware Water Gap NRA is Kittatinny Point VC. Last INK of the day.


Finished the day at the Gap Diner. Good food at good prices. It was then a bee line home on the slabs. The Upper Delaware and the Gap has it all. Twisty roads, scenery, INK, sweepers, panaromic views high over the river and valleys, plus it has look and feel of a time gone bye when scotch coolers, kingston charcoal, swim clubs and wood paneled cars were at their peak.