Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pissin' and Grinin' White Mountain Style

The Tour of Honor involves tracking down certain predetermined memorial sites, riding there and taking a picture of your bike, memorial and flag. Most states have only 6 sites to capture, but New England has 4 sites per state and 6 states in its territory, thus 24 hits. I decided if we are going to be serious about completing this one, we needed to get the northern ones in NH and VT.

With that in mind, the northern VT is in Colcester and the northern NH one is in Colebrook. Since we had been up to NH last weekend for 2 others, and have traveled this area many times, I laid out the first part of the trip to use our fine interstate system, at least up to Sharon, VT

Before we hit I-91 we stopped at this place in Westmoreland. The sign on the top of the building that says Pancakes, works. This place is owned by 2 guys that have been friends since grade school.

While we waited for breakfast they had a sign on the door that said come on in and watch us make syrup. I have never gave it any mind about the processing of syrup, so I took advantage of the time. These guys are only filling bottles versus boiling off the moisture in raw syrup. They explained the process to me. It takes something like 40 gallons of stuff from the trees to make 1 gallon of syrup. 

The processors for boiling off the moisture. Those 55 gallon drums are filled with syrup which is used to fill the bottles. They have to heat the syrup to get it to pour into the bottles. These guys don't have their own trees, but buy the raw syrup from other people.

The mother, in the above picture, says they also do dairy farming. My guess this is their place which is right across the street.

First 2 stops Sharon Academy and a side track to Strafford, VT. In my sick way I actually had these places targeted versus a random ride into town and find a place. Good thing on the Strafford one, cause we would have rode for quite awhile.

Sharon Academy

Strafford Saddlery Shop
Next stop is Randolph VT, Global War on Terror memorial

A shot from the road

A stop in Waitsfield VT, just before we ride VT 17. When I am doing these tours, I really don't plan the roads I am going to hit, I let MapSource figure that out. We have been on this road many times, bu it was a nice break from the interstates. One of Vermont's finest.

How could we miss RT 17 we have this on one end

And this one the other end.

We made our way up to Burlington, VT. MeAsWe liked the presentation of this shops merchandise. It is pretty colorful.

Right outside of Burlington is Colcester, VT that has the Fallen Heroes Memorial. This sits just beyond the gates of Camp Johnson. I pulled up and dutifully stopped, the guard telling us we are not permitted inside the camp. I show him we are on a motorcycle tour. He looks at the paper and hands it back, Sorry can't let you in. I ask if I can take a picture right outside the gate. His response was I was not permitted to point the camera in the direction of the camp.  This flashes me back to the time I was doing OSJ Treasure Hunt, pulled up to Hanscom Air Force Base, pulled out my camera, snapped off a pic and then saw 2 cars flying out of the entrance. I was surrounded by MP's asking me what I was doing. Long story short, they did not confiscate my camera, but they did make me format the SD card. With that memory, I was not going to push this guy at the gate.

Off to the side is a military museum and I asked if I could take pictures there. He nodded and he said yes as long as you don't point your camera toward the base.

Right behind the tank is the guard stand. Oops

This guy simply does not belong here. Do Camels make good pets. I doubt they are any good in the snow. He or she is located just east of Richmond VT on US 2.

For the night we landed at the Stowe Inn. We got a really good price from Priceline, something like 55.00, but our A/C didn't work that good and the breakfast that was suppose to be offered, no one showed up for work. On the A/C, the windows opened, so that worked. The inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so I will be able to Waymark it.

We did eat dinner in the restaurant and had some of the best salmon I have ever had.

After a good night sleep we headed down to the Commodore Inn, where the NERs were staying. We never planned to go to Vermont this weekend, it just happened. We chatted with a bunch of NER folks and then headed off for the Fisher Bridge which is one of the Tour of Honor memorials. I had this place waypointed on the wrong side of Wolcott. Because of my waypointing skills, we rode back and forth on RT 15 a couple of times. When we pulled into Wolcott, I opted for a Human GPS and asked if anyone knew where this place was. They pointed east and we found it. I have been here before so I knew it was someplace up here.

Having exhausted our energy and food stores we stopped at the Village Restaurant in Hardwick, VT. If you are in the area,  a worthy place to eat. BBQ places have become scarce up this ways. Matter of fact restaurants have become scarce.

At this point we are way behind schedule (not 15 minutes, a couple of hours) and grab our turning point south. I didn't even try to get the 45th Parallel sign. Already been there a bunch of times.

We begin to notice there are an inordinate amount of bikes out on the road. It is a beautiful day, temps just about perfect, but there are tons of bikes outside the bars. When we stopped for gas, I asked about the traffic. It was the Blessing of the Bikes. I said Oh and where was that taking place. Well apparently they all were going the same place as We were.

By the time we got there, the blessing part was over and for most, it was Miller time. They all headed for the saloons. We headed for the memorial.

It is 2:20PM and we still have alot of miles to go for home. Staying overnight is not an option, I have to work tomorrow. With that said there is one place that I have been meaning to capture for a couple years and it is only 8 miles down NH 26. Only 16 miles round trip. I hmmed and hawwed, and finally headed back into the center of Colebrook and hung a right.

I have been pursuing these puppies for about 3 years. This is not the most northern one, that one is in Pittsburgh, NH and I got that sometime last year. This one has always just eluded me. It is now in the bag.

We took a ride up and down the notch, which is really not that long

Just before you head up the notch sits the Balsams. This was a turn of century (20th century) White Mountain grand hotelresort. This is also the place where the folks of Dixville casts their votes in the national elections at midnight to become the first town to call in their election results.

We drove up the road and both of us found we had to relieve ourselves. For a high price hotel, I don't think the communal bathroom went over well the guests. The place is closed.

The place was recently sold to 2 guys in Colebrook for 2.3 million. It is closed for renovations, but they have run into some environmental problems. The guy that expanded the place in the 1900's also owned rubber factories. He figured if his idea for the hotel failed he could always produce rubber products here. With that in mind he did have some manufacturing facilities on the 15,000 acres he owned. The place is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After hanging out at the Balsams it was time to wind down US 3 to I-93 and head home. All in all we had a good 2 days, covering some 720 miles of the White Mountains, captured 4 Tour of Honor sites, added 5 BBQ joints and grabbed another 10 USA towns. We ended pulling into the drive way just before 9pm, keeping my promise not to ride at night.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New Hamshire Launches into Space

Today will a lil' bit of everything, BBQ, Tour of Honor, National Park, and USA Tours. We actually got an early start for us this morning, 8AM. Used to be I was on the road by 630.

MeAsWe was feeling hungry so we stopped at Mama Dukes in Troy NH.

First USA stop is Swanzey Diner. I really don't consider this a NE diner. I see nothing that remotely resembles a diner. I have never stopped here to eat because of this. Funny how little things can manifest themselves.

Right after Keene we hung a right and headed up 123A to capture some more USA towns. First stop was this place.

For future taggers this place could be a tag. The Dragon of Acworth

N43 13.137 W72 17.600
Today's main purpose was to hit Saint Gaudens National Historic Site and Marsh Billings Farm in Vermont for the National Park Tour. We have been at Gaudens numerous times, so we grabbed the stamp and this pic.

Coming out of Gaudens we headed into Windsor for a Smoke Chasing spot.

We found ourselves in one of the Ancient Eight towns. It was really busy, but I think this was more of Alumni coming back to remember when life was so easy.

Hanover NH
N43 42.129 W72 17.386

This door had such a luring quality, which we didn't resist

Met this couple which MeAsWe spoke to much of the time, To our right was another couple from Maine that I spoke with. They were riders and he collected Moto Guzzi's. No pictures of them.

Having had my fill of water at 3 Guys and being at the northern apex of our day trip, we headed back out into the crowds. Heading south we stopped in Sunapee for both the USA Tour and Smoke Chasing.

In Boscawen was our first Tour of Honor stop. Took a little while to find this monument. It is on the right as you head into the Veteran Cemetery.

The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center is in Concord. This is a replica of a Redstone ballistic missile. This particular one is a mock up of the one that carried Alan Sheppard into space in 1961. I remember watching that on TV. Seeing it for real, it really is much smaller than I imagined. There is another one of these things in Warren, NH, which is a real one.

Made our way down to Manchester for another BBQ place and headed home. We did try to pick up a BBQ Festival (Ribfest), but there was indication of BBQ on the signs. KC is a really good place to eat, however tonight we are not hungry, so just grabbed a pic.

365 miles for day and got home at 9:38PM. Not a big day, but not a short day either. The day tally was 2 National Parks, 8 USA towns, 2 Tour of Honor sites and 9 BBQ Joints (you can view all the BBQ places at the link)