Friday, April 6, 2012


Today is Good Friday; however the Good Friday has a different meaning and purpose for me. It will be a day running USA towns, BBQ places, National Parks, and maybe a tag or two. MeAsWe has decided to stay home and finish a baby shower gift. The USA Grand Tour sponsored by the GLMC organization is finding towns that start with U or S or A. You can only use a town once and must find a sign in the town with the name on it. Post Offices and "Welcome To" signs are excluded.

I pass this place all the time, but figured I stop and see how the new camera and panoramic software handles the pics. I am using Hugin software as the panoramic software for those that are interested. For free software it is quite sophisticated. Ya gotta click the picture to see it enlarged, this is true for all the photos as well.

First USA stop is Sandersdale, MA. This is a pure pass thru to see if I can find a sign with the town name on it. I caught something out of the corner of my eye, but the turn around turned up zilch.

Off to Southbridge. While I have a target so that I don’t walk away with nothing, I will take anything with Southbridge on it. The target Southbridge Savings is nice but since the letters are gold against a brick building I settle for a more mundane pic.

The corners of my eye are working double time and I head back around the block to pick up an unscheduled BBQ place. As I am making the turn I come across an old train depot that is the RMV now. I really like the old depots. They bring back very old memories of my Dad getting on trains in Penn Station for a business trip.

Pick up the BBQ place and this mural across the street.

Head off for the Theme Tag which must have the word CRACK in it. When this came up I immediately thought of Cracker Barrel.

Sturbridge Village is an affiliated National Park and has a stamp. I got one back in 2008 for my first National Park Tour. The stamps are usually located in the book / gift store. When I asked these people didn’t have a clue, but were nice enough to take the time to find out. They said it was located at the museum across the walkway. They had the stamp. The last time it was used was March 18th. When I tried to set the year the last year on the spinners was 2009. A bit outdated. When I made that comment, they said that the National Park wanted to charge them for a new stamp and they couldn’t afford it. First thought was come on now you charge 24 for an adult and 8 for a kid. While I was getting the stamp, which took all of 10 minutes, they racked in well over 300.00 in admission charges. Again the thought bubble said, come on you can afford a new stamp. However a lot of these museum really do run on a shoestring budget and teeter with closing all the time.

Of course there are more scenic aspects to Old Sturbridge Village. To me the stamp has a certain beauty to it.

During the first part of this ride the temps are hovering in the 40’s. A far cry from the 80’s we had a few weeks back. My guess the trees and flowering plants are really pissed at Mother Nature for making they come out of hibernation so early just to turn brisk. It feels more like an October riding day than April. Riding thru Brimfield where last years tornado took its path, the trees look like snapped in half toothpicks stuck in the ground. With no leaves on the trees you can really get a good idea of how bad the devastation really was. I didn’t take any pics, because there is really no way for this amateur to capture the wreckage.

Picked up Nick’s Sports Shop for the “N” Tag.

Famous Dave’s is my next target for the Smoke Chasing Tour. We passed a bunch of these out west last year, so this was my virgin experience with Famous Dave’s. These places are kinda of neat inside. Lots of neon and car memorabilia. The general manager sees me walking around the place taking a bunch of pictures and said snap away, be my guest. I ordered my brisket sandwich and sat in my seat taking pictures. After I finished my sandwich, the general manager, Rush G Blankenship, came over to chat. I showed him the Smoke Chasing Flag and explained that we were a bunch of people running all over the country taking pictures of BBQ joints. As we were talking Rush made a statement that rang so true. BBQ places are more than just a place to eat, but they are about the atmosphere and friendly conversations that happens at these places as well. Rush gave me a Famous Dave’s hat, which is now proudly displayed on my motorcycle wall.

I feel like a politician in this one.

A couple of the inside stuff

The amateur photo guy trying to get off a good shot

The Springfield Armory National Historic Site is where they manufactured, invented and stored the Springfield rifle. The armory was founded in 1777. It houses the largest collection of US military guns in the world. You can read more about the place here If you are a gun enthusiasts, this is a place worth visiting.

Some more gold

This is an organ made out of Springfield Rifles

The highlight of the trip was the Agawam Motel. I felt like I was in the TV series Breaking Bad where all the addicts live and hang out.

Stopped at Harley Davidson of Southampton for the Southampton for the USA tour. Got talking with Derrick, a young rider and salesman about a couple of the Harley’s. They had two really pretty ones, but of course these were the 36K bikes. He was expressing his frustration with not having anyone to ride with, so I told him to just get out there and go. Explained the Smoke Chasing and USA Tours to him and I think I saw a light go off. He was looking at the FJR and I told him to throw a leg over the bike and to consider the Sport Tourer in addition to the many fine HD bikes for a future bike. I am not sure I made a really good impression on the sales staff at HD.

Last year the GLMC Tour (USA Tour) was an “Affair with Water”. I had the Congregational Church of South Hadley Falls as a target. Never did find it and here it was again on the list. I picked up the South Hadley library for a town starting in “S”, and the church was supposedly only a 10th of a mile away. Charge up the GPS, rounded the corner and there it was. Why I couldn’t find it last year, not a clue. South Hadley and South Hadley Falls are 2 different towns and can be used.

Decided to head to the barn at this point. Sun is dropping along with the temps and it has been a good day of riding and capturing stuff. Picked up my last pic of the day to provide a Theme for a tag, plus it has really neat neon.

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