Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Sandbag Estate - Mural Collection

This video was made to post the remaining murals I had accumulated over the 2009 riding season for the OSJ Treasure Hunt

Monday, November 16, 2009

Turn Turn Turn

There is a time for riding, a time for resting, a time for the riding season to come to a close. It seems this weekend was the turning point for riding this season. Saturday was r ainy and Sunday was drizzly; we did not ride on either day. Instead we jumped in the car Sunday and headed for Lynn to capture some historic places with the first stop to be the Capitol Diner in Lynn. (note: click any image and they will open in a new window and be enlarged)

As we headed out and booking down the Mass Pike, I felt like I was on the FJR. I was darting in and out of the cars, and moving along at 80. I had to force myself to slow down and engaged the cruise control. I just don’t think the gray hair in a Chevy Malibu is gonna get me a break with the law. It might work on the bike, but not the car.

A quick call to the Capitol Diner to find out what time they are open until, only to find out we are going to make it there with 15 minutes to spare. Another call to the Salem Diner and we find we have plenty of time, so GPS is reprogrammed for a new location.

Now I spent the better part of the morning laying out NRHP in Lynn only to find we are gonna switch gears there too and concentrate on Swampscott and Nahant. Both towns have National Landmarks and Lynn has none.

I have searched for the Salem Diner every time I was in the Salem area and just never could find it. In the phone call to the Salem Diner, I also asked for their address. All this time I have been searching at the wrong number and maybe even the wrong street.

They are only serving breakfast at the Salem Diner and we arrive about 1pm. Parking is not over abundant spacewise at the diner and as we approached the door, seating apparently is not abundant either. The folks we passed indicated there is a wait time. Sure enough there is a line. I ask if anyone is gonna sit at the counter. No one is, we head for the stools, which in my mind, is the only way to eat at a diner, at the counter.

The Salem Diner is a very good example of a Sterling Diner and is on the NRHP. Most of the diners in Mass are. Breakfast was fairly typical for dinafare, reasonably priced and the activity completes the experience.

After breakfast we were off to our first stop Swampscott Fish House. This place is oldest active fish house in the country.

One thing I realized on this trip, it is much easier to do stop and go waymarking on the bike. You can position yourself on the bike and move around to snap your pictures away, but nothing beats the exercise you get by getting out of the car and walking around the site, but it also, at least for me, kills my knees.

The fish house done, I realize that I must have made a mistake in programming the GPS for the next few stops, so I abandon the route and simply ask to be taken to the next stop. The next stop is supposed to be the Elihu Thompson house, a National Landmark, but instead I found myself at the Swampscott Post Office and the Library. Snap some pics and off to the next stop.

Grabbing these other spots, I was not about to let the Thompson house go so easy. We brought the book with all the listings for Essex County with us. We plugged in the address and found ourselves at the Swampscott Town Hall. I had spotted this building when we were at the library and I had a sneakin’ suspicion that this was the site, but MeAsWe confirmed the location by spotting the infamous plaque by the door. She must have good eyesight.

Our travels took us off to Nahant to search out Henry Cabot Lodge’s residence, another National Landmark. Crossing the causeway, we made our way to the farthest end of this island or isthmus, climbing a hill, we rounded a corner and came to a breathtaking view. I stopped the car and got out for a photo. There is a gentleman standing by the road looking out over the scene I am about to take in. I asked “Do you get to see this everyday”, implying and asking at the same time, if he lives around here. “Yes, I come to watch the waves everyday; I have lived here all my life”. With that we struck up a 10 minute or so conversation about Nahant. He points off to a spot and says “That used to be the Lodge place over there, but the government came in and leveled it in the 20’s and then just left it. There used to be a beautiful library up there, such a shame. This used to be the summer homes for the Beacon Hill folks. Right over there is what we call Forty Steps, which takes you down to the beach”. You get the jist of the conversation. I just love meeting people this way, especially when I can say we have come to visit for historical reasons.

We found what supposedly is the Lodge residence at 5 Cliff Rd, but I have my suspicions there is an error in the information we got off the internet and the NPS site.

We grabbed a couple of more places in the smallest town in Massachusetts. If it were not for our quest to visit all of the NRHP’s in New England (as a start) I doubt we would have ever visited Nahant. We shall return on the bike to make a future TAG.

It is 3:30 and we will lose the sun very soon, our daytime quest for sites will come to an end. Lynn and its sites will have to be another trip this winter. We grabbed 2 more sites and headed home, but not directly of course. Just because we are in a car, we don’t have to take the highways. We followed RT 16 all the way into Wellesley picking up NEON signs, DD’s and some night shots along the way. It was a great day and maybe winter will be another Turn Turn Turn, there is a season for snow and a time for melting, and a time for riding again.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chasin Submarines and Town Halls

That is the penalty for going too fast on the FJR. It’s Sunday, an absolutely gorgeous November day out and not many left in this year. MeAsWe and I decide to head for the Submarine Base and Museum in Groton CT.

Now we can head out RT 16, pick up I-395 South and be there in about 45 minutes, but that is not the way the FJR wants to go. We could take CT 169, a national scenic byway, but we have been on that many times, so I plot a route using Town Halls between Uxbridge and Groton as points to vary our roads. The Vanilla Bean will act as a stop, maybe see Jack and Kathy there. They did mention they were going there from Leominster on the boards the previous night.

Our travels take us first to Webster. We pass Gracie’s Diner, we decide to stop for breakfast here. This is a no pressure day, we don’t have to be anywhere at any specific time or chase those OSJ treasures. This is a ride for riding that just happens to have some photo ops on the way. Gracie’s Diner turns out to be a great little place to eat, and as a bonus I figure I can turn it into a waymark somehow. Breakfast done we head for the Dudley Town Hall.

We never did find the Dudley TH so we headed off to Thompson, then Putnam and land ourselves at the Vanilla Bean. Dismounting we wander around looking at the various bikes. MeAsWe points to a table and Kathy and Jack are just sitting down. We wander over and spend the next 45 minutes or so talking bikes, kids and other subjects.

Pictures along the way to Pomfret CT

We stop at the Pomfret TH and then head for Hampton down RT 97 and some other back roads. What really neat about using little destinations such as TH’s, you end up on roads you would never travel on. Before Hampton we pass one of those CT historical markers and of course I have to make a U’ey and capture the mark.

We find ourselves at the Abington Meeting House, the oldest meeting house in CT (see above). This just has to be on the NRHP. Scotland is the next destination, along with Samuel Huntington’s Birthplace, a National Landmark.

Continuing a southerly direction, we head for Sprague and Norwich. Sprague is a bunch of little villages combined such as Versailles, Baltic and Hanover to make up the municipality. Heading further south we hit Norwich Town Hall. This is a really neat old building and has quite a bit of history associated with it. I circle the block a couple of times to capture all of this building. When I get home something went a flooey with my camera and only captured 3 out of at least 9 pictures I have taken. This has happened to me before where I snap the picture and somehow never gets saved on the card. What a disappointment, but Norwich is really not that far away and we can return.

Anchor outside Groton City Hall

Back on the road we pick up RT12 that follows the Thames River to the Sub Base. Waymarking has a category for military installations, however the last time I took a picture of the entrance of one of these places, I had 4 cars screaming out of the entrance, surrounding me and 4 military MP’s standing around me as I stood there with my camera in hand. The military is a bit sensitive about having their picture taken.

We pull up to the museum at the Sub Base to find it closed and will resume its schedule tomorrow. Disappointed yeah, but it really is a beautiful day and we can always come back here. Adjusting our route we head for the Groton TH and then coffee at Norm’s Diner.

Norm’s is one of the first diners I visited back in 2005, and is one of the original places that started this whole chase the place down thing. Norm’s has changed hands many times in the last 4 years, but still remains one of the last 24 hours diners in New England.

Coffeed out, about 3:30,we don’t have much sunlight left. Leaving Groton we had a little side excursion which can be read at Side Bar with the Law

The rest of the day was heading north grabbing towns like Griswold, Preston and some more marks like Smokey the Bear and Gurdon Bill’s Store.

Gurdon Bill's store and major stage coach way point

The sun disappears, the temps drop 15 degrees and we make it to RT 6 hanging a right. We stop to put on additional layers and find the closest highway for home. Damn these days are getting too short.

Something Gray Something New

It’s about 3:30 in the afternoon. MeAsWe and Me just finished having coffee and a snack at Norm’s Diner in Groton CT. The sun is heading for the horizon and it’s going to be dark within an hour or so. We mount up and head up RT 184 to pickup RT 117 to Preston and Ledyard. We stop at a traffic light, wait for green and throttle up thru 1st gear, shift into 2nd and maybe, just maybe I was a bit frisky with the throttle. The FJR engine responds very
nicely as we approach 6,000 RPM's and there there there, in the corner of my eye, I see it, a quick glimpse to the speedo and GPS, eyes back on the road, eyes to the mirrors, Is there anything there, no, phew. eyes back to the mirrors, sighhhhhh, I see that all too familiar sight of chirping blue lights. DANG DANG DANG.

I pull over to the side and immediately go for the buckle on my helmet. It unfastens very smoothly and I lift the helmet off and balance it on the handle bars and dash. Mission 1 accomplished. I go for the wallet and pull the license out. Mission 2 accomplished. I tell MeAsWe sit tight until the officer is by our side.

Officer: "Do you know what I stopped you?"

Me: "No I really don’t"

in as innocent voice that I can muster..of course I really do know the reason why else did I look down a the speedo

Officer: "Sir I had you clocked at 47 mph and you were in a 25 mph zone"

Me: "Really, I didn’t know I was going that fast" ..

with that humbled voice . I am sure the officer has heard it a million times.

MeAsWe adding her opinion, "It’s a new bike and I don’t think he has adjusted to the speed and throttle yet."

The Officer asks for my registration, which I tell him we will have to dismount, it is in the rear side bag. With the paperwork in hand the Officer returns to his car and begins the process of whatevertheydo in the car.

15 minutes or so passes by, which gives me plenty of time to pray for a hall pass on this one. Finally he gets out the cruiser and hands me back my papers and says,"Have a nice day and please slow down".

A reprieve WOO HOO !!!.

So I ask was it MeAsWe's statement about me adjusting to the new bike or was it the Gray Hair or was the Officer just in a good mood?