Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Time is right around 6:30am or so, stumble out of bed, wondering where I am and remember I am in Vermont. Walk to the window, pull back the curtain and all I see is what appeared to be rainy mist. Dang, I thought it was suppose to be nice today, matter of fact forecast has bright sunshine predicted. Get dressed, gather up the gear and take it out to the bike. The seats are soaked, so wet I don't dare put any bags down on them. Pop the front and rear trunks, stow the gear, mount the GPS, start the bike and head back to the room for a towel to wipe the seats down.

With the bike started, look at the on board temperature, 55. Brrrrrrrrrr. Seats wiped down, drive the bike over to the office where breakfast is. Watching the weather and it is confirmed it will be bright and sunny, this is just how the mornings in Montpelier start, cool, misty and damp.

First stop is the Vermont State Capitol, for the Teamstrange Strange Election Tour. It is a safe bet that Vermont will go Democratic in November so the Blue flag is used. The Capitol is the third structure to hold the Vermont legislature. This one was built in 1857-1858, and occupied in 1859. The dome was originally painted a dark terracotta red to suggest Tuscan tile. The dome is topped by a statue named Agriculture, a representation of Ceres, an ancient Roman goddess of agriculture.

10 miles south is Barre, VT where I have the Vermont Racetrack, Thunder Road to pick up for the Americana Tour. Yesterday I came across another racetrack, so I have 2 now and will decide which one to use when I submit my travels to the Rally guys.

Headed east on US2 towards St Johnsbury, VT passing this barn. Now there was nothing special about this barn, but traffic seemed light and I decided to pull over to take a picture of it. This thing was just so huge, still wondering why so big.

RT2 was a little more busy than I thought when I pulled over. Got honked at by one truck as he waited to go around me. Crossed the street to take a better picture without the lines in it and heard some more honking. When I turned around there were 3 semi stopped on the street waiting to go around me. I ran back to the Spyder, jumped on and turned off at the next available spot.

I am on quest to grab as many National Historic Landmarks as I can during my travels. Been doing this for at least 8 years of so. Just a way to pick places to visit and learn some history. In St Johnsbury is the St Johnsbury Athenaeum.

The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, is significant because of its construction, the American landscape paintings and books from its original role as a public library and free art gallery, and funding by Horace Fairbanks, manufacturer of the world's first platform scale. Wikipedia

On the outskirts of St. Johnsbury is the Sewin' in Vermont Store that has run out of 3 in 1 oil for sure. The building just grabbed my attention is of no real importance. Looks like an old boarding home, maybe for the candlepin factory.

Turning onto RT135 the Moose Reservoir and Dam comes into view. The dam was built in 1956, creating the reservoir. The dame is a hydroelectric plant producing 192 megawatts of power.

Turning off on Rt 116 just on the edge of the White Mountain National Forest is Bethlehem NH. The town was a Gilded Age resort for the rich and famous. Every year, people from all over the world send Christmas cards to the Bethlehem post office to have them postmarked. In 2000, it handled 56,000 Christmas cards.

Just as you are about to leave Bethlehem is the Indian Brook Trading Co. with some pretty neat sculptures out front.

Making my way up to my next destination this scenic view has Mt Washington off to the right hidden by the trees. Just a nice stop with the road following the curvature of the Ammonoosuc River.

Another scenic vista along RT 115 in Jefferson, NH

This motel, The Mount Jefferson View, just caught my eye with all of the colors. From a marketing standpoint the colors must work, it made me stop and turn in.

In Gorham hung a right onto RT 16, traveling south for about 9 miles, grabbed the entrance to the Mt. Washington Auto Road. I have traveled all over New England for the last 10 or so years and have yet to climb Mt Washington. Today I will make that still true. Being out west on the bike this seems like a hill, even if it is the highest peak in the Northeast at 6,288 feet.

Continued down RT 16 thru Intervale NH, stopping briefly to grab this vista. Intervales is just north of North Conway and Conway, where I picked up US 302 and headed east for Maine

US 302 crosses into Maine just outside of Fryeburg, home to Fryeburg Academy and the Fryeburg Fair. The fair attracts well over 300,000 visitors during its 8 days of being open. It also can cause massive traffic jams since US 302 is a 2 lane highway. I had the pleasure last year of taking 4 hours to go 5 miles.

Maine will go Democrat in November, hence the Blue flag.

In Fryeburg center US 302 heads south into Bridgton. Picked up the Civil War Memorial in Bridgton as a Veteran Memorial for the Americana Tour

As I traveled along US302 I passed signs "Men Working Ahead", "Reduce Speed" and finally the sign "PAVEMENT ENDS". Having traveled in Maine before, when they say pavement ends in Maine, it ends. For the next 10 miles I traveled at a reduced speed, weaving in and out of loose gravel and wet mud. While really not that bad, my rear tire was approaching 15,000 miles and didn't want to hit anything that make it worse. Really loved it when the water truck passed on the other side, nicely coating the lower half of the Spyder with a nice spray of stuff.

In Naples caught this mural out of the corner of my eye and needed one for the Americana Tour. While I had one waypointed in Portsmouth you never know if they paint over the wall and it is no longer there. That happened to us in Savannah, GA.

Casco Maine had the President Sign I needed for the Americana Tour. Casco is home to Sebago Lake a favorite camping park for many.

Hitting the coast of Maine in Yarmouth stopped a Erv Bickford's open-pavilion displaying some the Mack, Kenworth and Brockway trucks he collected over the years while in the trucking business. There are a total of 300+ trucks in his collection. I stumbled across the collection, knowing this would qualify as SOMETHING COOL for the Americana Tour.

Also in Yarmoth and the reason I was here was to pick up the Delorme Globe as one of the specific sites for the American Tour. Before GPS's Delorme maps were the Cats Meow for maps. In 2016 Delorme was purchased by Garmin. Eartha, the revolving globe in the building is the world's largest revolving globe.

Since I picked up the mural in Naples I skipped Portland ME all together and headed directly for Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough.

The track was opened in 1949 by Jim McConnell, an airplane mechanic. In 1981 it was bought by the Cusack family. It became a NASCAR sanctioned track in 1995. Wikipedia

In Alfred ME is the York County Court House, which completes the 5 general items in Maine. The five categories are Veteran Memorial, Mural, Race Track, Court House and Something Cool

One more stop and I can head for the barn. In Portsmouth, NH sits the USS Albacore right off Bypass US 1. Unfortunately for me the Bypass Bridge is under repair, so I had to bypass the Bypass, travel south on US1 and come thru Portsmouth proper to come in at a different angle. There is no way I was going to let a little detour keep me from getting the last stop.

USS Albacore (AGSS-569) was a unique research submarine that pioneered the American version of the teardrop hull form (sometimes referred to as an "Albacore hull") of modern submarines. The revolutionary design was derived from extensive hydrodynamic and wind tunnel testing, with an emphasis on underwater speed and maneuverability. The Albacore was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989 - Wikipedia

This completed the stops for the day. I figured I had covered a lot of ground and saw enough scenery for the day, I simply brought up home on the GPS and punched GO. Just around 96 miles to home.

Some 389 miles for the day, covering 4 states.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rollicking thru the Green Mountains and Adirondacks

Was suppose to leave on Sunday and a gather the closing sites for the Americana and Teamstrange Tours, but Crystal was under the weather and checking the weather, upper Vermont and Adirondacks could see some heavy rain, so I put it off a day. Up at 5am Monday, and Crystal is still under the weather so I am heading our by myself today.

Crossed Massachusetts heading up RT 140, picking up RT12 thru Keene and then on I91 getting off just north of Bellows Falls. Thought about heading the couple of miles south to grab breakfast at the Miss Bellows Falls diner. Right off I91 picked up this barn and mural.

As I headed further north I came across Okemo Resort. I remember back aways I always wanted to ski here. I gave up skiing before I ever made it to this mountain.

Backed off the grass and headed up the mountain. Made it to almost the top where the road turned to gravel and dirt with some apple size stones thrown in and decided discretion was in order, having 14K on the tires figured I wouldn't chance it. Stopped a grabbed a panoramic of Ludlow Overlook. Worth the trip up the mountain for sure.

In West Rutland, along RT133 / Clarendon Ave is the West Rutland Art Park and the first stop for the Americana Tour. The link provides some history and development of the park. Another worthwhile stop while you are in Vermont.

A part of the West Rutland Art Park sits by the road: a full-size locomotive made from different bits and pieces of junk metal. Very unique and kinda takes you by surprise if you are coming from downtown. The park is open for free to the public and built on a hill that you can drive right up to the very top. There are more large art pieces there, but the locomotive is the eye-catcher. - Roadside America

An early morning rooster crowing away

The house on the hill in the park

Starting out as a block of white granite, a little grinding and viola

Moving north along RT22A came across Devil's Bowl Speedway. I wasn't looking for this particular spot, but I did need a RACETRACK for one of the categories in the Americana Tour for the state of Vermont. I have learned after years of doing these grand tours, grab the first one you see, because we you have marked as a waypoint may not be what you expected.

Rolled into the town of Orwell, VT. No grand tour objects here, but I do chase buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Great way to route yourself on a trip and learn some history along the way. The First Congregational Church was built in 1842 and is high style Greek Revival. There are much prettier and older churches in New England.

I found the Town Hall right next door to be more impressive. Orwell motto is "First in Revolution, First in Recreation". In the early 1990's one of the fast food franchisee tried to obtain a permit to put in a restaurant, however the town folks voted the request down, because it would ruin the rural charm of their town.

I was suppose to ride further north to cross into New York state by Crown Point State Park, but my GPS had thought otherwise and routed me to Larrabee's Point to cross Lake Champlain via a ferry. I am not that particular on what roads I travel, generally forcing the GPS off Interstates, keeping to secondary roads, other than that one road's adventure is the same as the next road's adventure. Quickly looked at the sign and the ferry was only $5 and figured it would save some time.

The ferry operated informally from 1759 and in an organized way from 1799.[10] The earliest ferries are believed to have been rowboats or canoes; "a double-ended sailing scow was in service by 1800. This vessel was about 30 feet (9.1 m) long, with a mainsail that would swing completely around the mast to provide a simple means of reversing course. Wikipedia

Hit the town of Fort Ticonderoga, placing me in the Adirondacks Preserve. As I moved further north, the GPS placed me on Tracy Road, which is one of the best motorcycle roads in the Northeast. Only 8 miles long (The Tail of the Dragon is only 11), it is a combination tight, technical turns to the big sweepers. Worth the ride, but I will admit it is easier on the FJR.

You can always tell you are just outside of Lake Placid when the twin ski jumps built for the 1980 Olympics appear.

The center of Lake Placid has the Herb Brooks Arena, which is a NY specific site for the Americana Tour. This is where the 1980 USA Hockey team beat the Soviet Union team, known as the Miracle on Ice. The USA team went on to take Gold in the 1980 Olympics.

Since I was up in this neck of the woods I had heard that Ausable Chasm is a place to visit. I thank Ed Conde of the New England Riders for putting together the Best of Northeast site, an invaluable tool for planning trips up this way. It was worth the extra miles to see the chasm.

Right above the ferry at Port Kent (which I did not take) sits the Elkanah Watson House. Nothing really special except the home has a great view of Lake Champlain and one more landmark ticked off the list.

Elkanah Watson (January 22, 1758 – December 5, 1842) was a visionary traveler and writer, agriculturist and canal promoter, banker and businessman. He was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts and died at Port Kent, New York. The house is a National Historic Landmark. Wikipedia

While I did not take the ferry above, because when I looked it up it was something like $30. Just a little south in Essex was a more reasonably priced ferry at around $11. When I was doing research for this trip, I read on the website the last ferry was a 6pm. I arrived just before 5 and saw the sign that said last ferry 9:30pm.

Once in Vermont headed for Addison for a big jug of maple syrup for the Americana Tour. Right down the street is the Rokeby Museum. No picture shown, no of particular scenic value. Actually the jug of syrup isn't that picturesque either.

Last place is Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream entrance in Waterbury. It's 7:15pm at this point, light is closing fast, so I opt to let the GPS figure out the fastest way to the Econo Lodge which is about 20 miles away. As predicted I89 is selected by the 1490, which at this point I am okay with that. I have seen enough for the day

The Econo Lodge sits up on a hill just outside Montpelier VT (the capital of Vermont). The motel itself looks a bit dated, but the rooms are clean and someone actually thought about people who travel and the plugs they need for their electronic gear. For this I give it an A+, for the rest a B and wouldn't hesitate to stay here again. While breakfast wasn't anything special the scrabbled eggs actually looked like eggs rather than those little round yellow things that are served at so many of the chain hotels and the sausages were actually cooked in a skillet.

Miles, just under 400 for the day. Hours in the saddle about 12.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Blowing Off Steam More Ways Than One

One thing bad about Red Roof Inns is many of them don't have breakfast. One of the best things about Red Roof Inn is they don't have breakfast. Given that we head out of Wilkes-Barre for Scranton to Steamtown National Historic Site for INK. We have been here multiple times and took the tour on one of our visits. Today will be a simple grab and run for the stamp.

Coming off the highway there is a Valero gas station facing us and we need gas. Pull in and to my right was river and this block of buildings sitting on the river. I thought this was the back end of Steamtown, however it is in fact General Dynamics.

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems boasts one of the world’s most modern forge shops. The shop contains six forge lines. Each line contains an automated, computer controlled, billet heating furnace and automated 3-step press line. General Dynamics website

Makes sense given the prominent building in the picture says Blacksmith Shop.

Right across the street is the Scranton Iron Furnaces, which have the remains of four stone blast furnaces which were built between 1848 and 1857. The furnaces are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It is still 20 minutes before Steamtown opens, so I bring up places to go have breakfast on the GPS. Krispy Kreme is right at the top, close and I have never been to one. I make a leap of faith, hoping they serve something other than donuts. As we head for the place we came across Sharon's Place and made a hard right turn without warning into the parking lot. Thank goodness it is early on Sunday just outside the downtown Scranton. There is no traffic to speak of.

Parking lot is relatively empty, which is not a good sign, but it has got to be better than donuts. Sharon's turn out to be a GREAT place. Food was good, it was cheap, the folks were friendly, the waitresses a hoot and sassy, all the ingredients for a great spot.

I didn't order anything fancy, 2 eggs flipped and broken, sausage, home fries and toast. Now it is really hard to ruin fried eggs, but it is an art when they are cooked to perfection, which there were.

We hit Steamtown and I regret now that I didn't take any pictures for this writing. It is really a worthwhile destination to going to. Click Here for more info

Next stop is Dingman's Falls, which is part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. This is where I took Crystal on our first extended weekend motorcycle trip together when we first met. It is special place for me. My guess Crystal feels the same.

Just around the bend from Dingman is the Franklin Mineral Museum that has the Zinc Miner tribute statue for the Americana Tour. This was an active mine until the mid 1950's extracting stuff like zinc and manganese

About 40 miles deeper into Jersey is Washington's Headquarters in Morristown. This was purely a grab and run INK opportunity. From there we headed for my home town, West Orange. First order of business is to grab ink at the Thomas Edison National Historic Site, where Edison had his laboratory. This completed the last stop on the Iron Butt Association National Park Tour. You can see the INK on the photo below in the lower right corner.

Out of the West Orange laboratories came the motion picture camera, improved phonographs, sound recordings, silent and sound movies and the nickel-iron alkaline electric storage battery. Wikipedia

From here I passed my old High School, where Tony Soprano graduated from in the series the Sopranos. I also drove past the home I grew up in West Orange. Great memories!! The area I grew up in really hasn't changed that much from the 1950's.

From here was a straight shot to the Garden State Parkway, Exit 145. Long standing joke about Joisey is a reference to the exit you lived off from the GSP.

One more diversion to another fond memory of my childhood.

Buy Em by the Sack, was Buy Em by the Bag, because we didn't have sacks in Joisey. Sacks is a mid-west term. 12 for 12 cents was the typical order for a grand total of 1.44. A chocolate shake was pretty much the norm to wash down the burgers. Still full from breakfast I had one White Castle and a chocolate shake. Crystal only had the shake. When I ordered 1 they made me repeat I only wanted 1. No one orders just one.

The building has changed, no longer the porcelain signs and stainless steel seats, counters and tables. The burgers are exactly as I remember them thou. Today they are called Sliders, but that name didn't exist in the 50's and to me they are White Castles.

One of the things I remember is watching the cooks placing a bed of onions on the grill, then the square burger with four holes on top of the onions, covering this with the bun. The onions kept the burger off the grill enabling the cooking by steam. The holes insured the burger was fully cooked in the shortest amount of time.

Time magazine credits the Slider as the most influential and important burger creation of all time. My guess Louis Lunch in New Haven Connecticut (don't ask for ketchup) would dispute this fact, since they claim to have invented the burger.

White Castle was the last stop, hitting all highway to get home at a decent hour, have work tomorrow. From here to home was about 220 miles for a total of 350 miles for the day.