Archive for the ‘Motorcycle Rides’ Category

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Twisting and turning through the West Virginia panhandle counties of Jefferson, Berkley and Morgan the Washington Heritage Trail is a lot of fun on a motorcycle.  Riding through an area that George Washington surveyed, fought for during the French and Indian war and represented as part of the Virginia House of Burgesses was very interesting. 

Leaving the house about 9AM we decided to stop for breakfast at McDonalds in Bunswick, MD.  The McDonalds is just off a roundabout and, as you know, traffic coming into the roundabout must yield to traffic in the circle.  Well as most of us in this part of the world knows, traffic rules do not apply to operators of Maryland automobiles.  A gray haired lady nearly took us out by not yielding the right of way.  Luckily, being aware of the fact that the rules of the road do not pertain to Maryland drivers, I was paying close attention and was able to turn tight against the inner curb allowing for a near miss. This was not our only run in with a Maryland driver that day. 

 After breakfast we headed out and, after crossing the Potomac and Shenandoah,w3 were quickly riding our motorcycle on the Washington Heritage Trail. There are a lot of places to stop and take in the history and culture of life in the West Virginia panhandle but for us this day was about riding the motorcycle.   

Riding our Daytona Blue Harley Davidson through the towns of Harpers Ferry, Shepardstown and Martinsburg was a ride through the rolling hills and country roads of the Shenandoah Valley.  Bucolic county side, cattle in the fields and sadly decaying main streets made for a visually stunning ride.  

It was in Martinsburg that our second run in with a Maryland driver occurred.  Sitting at a traffic light, the first in line, we waited for the light to turn green.  At the green I released the clutch and started through the three way intersection when the pickup truck waiting across the pavement decided that left hand turns had the right of way.  Not this was not a close as the incident at the traffic circle but having a pickup pull up short when they realize they are in the wrong is not a fun moment.  The truck was no less than half way into our lane.  The young girl at the wheel thought it was very funny and was laughing as I shoot her my strongest “dirty look”…..it must not have work. sigh 

w1 (2)Our motorcycle tour of the Washington Heritage Trail started into the Appalachian Mountains shortly after passing through Martinsburg on WV Route 9.  Steep accents and deep valley roads brought us to the little town of Berkeley Springs.  This town was once the regions greatest tourist destination due to its famous springs and “baths”.  Lots of little shops dot this downtown and you can spend an entire day just wondering around town.  But, as I mentioned earlier, we were about motorcycle touring today, hanging a left we headed out of town on Valley Road. 

It was not long before we turned east off of Valley Road and onto Big Oak Tree/Shanghai Road.  This would be a great road for motorcycle riding or touring if it were in better condition.  I am only guessing but, I would think that the elevation from Valley Road to the top of the mountain had to be over 1000 feet.  Some of the 160 degree (or more) switch backs had you gain or lose dozens of feet of elevation in a single turn.  Sadly the road is poor shape, the patching of patches on top of other patches to the tarmac make for a rough and tumble ride.  It is worth it in my opinion but take it under advisement.   

Coming down the other side of that mountain leads you into the town of Shanghai,WP_20170904_12_58_57_Pro WV.  A four way stop intersection and a blink and you have rolled past.  Climbing and deciding another mountain and we were back into the Shenandoah and heading towards the 136 mile marker and the end of the Washington Heritage Trail. 

 All in all, our motorcycle tour of the Washington Heritage Trail took about 3 hours.  If one were to stop and enjoy the towns, parks and points of interests this ride could take all day, there is that much stuff to check out.   

The Washington Heritage Trail is just one of the many roads comprising the amazing American Byways. If you have not checked out the website please do, you just might find an amazing road in your area.

A mashup of GTA and some home footage!  Made me smile!  Make sure to watch to the end…the giraffe seems to be sad that the ride was over.

 

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Location – Lock 8 

Milepost – 8.4

Historical Comment – The lock house has been converted in to a mini-museum called the “River Center”.

Ride to the Site – Very easy.  This point on the canal is near Washington D.C.  Although traffic might be an issue during the “rush hour” phases of the work day.

Amenities – There is a picnic area but no rest rooms. At the time of our visit there were no trash cans in the picnic area.

Road Conditions (from main road) – This lock is directly off the main road.  But there is steep, rocky trail down to the lock area itself.  

Railway Situation – no railroad tracks or crossing.

Parking Lot Condition – All paved with about 10 parking spots.  

Main Attraction – The River Center open weekends May to October

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Debbie and I decided to take a quick Sunday morning motorcycle ride this past weekend.  Our ride took us to three national parks in about 5 hours!

Leaving home about 8AM we headed out to the George Washington Parkway (a national park). It took us about an hour to get to the southern terminus which is also Mount Vernon home of George Washington. Riding north on the parkway gives the rider a wonderful, at times panoramic, views of the Potomac River and surrounding country.

Coming abreast of Washington D.C. the view is remains panoramic as well as breath taking. The Washington and Lincoln Monuments clearly in view, the Kennedy Center and the spires of Georgetown make the few minutes you ride past the city quite awe inspiring.  Just past those sites you come across Theodore Roosevelt Island.  This is an often a much under looked memorial to a great president.  Take the time to walk across to the island and view this memorial. We did not stop this time…the parking lot was full, otherwise it would have been 4 national parks in 5 ½ hours.

The second park of this motorcycle ride was the C&O Canal National Park.  If you follow this blog you will see that I am attempting to get to all the motorcycle accessible stops along the canal.  I have knocked out a few but there is a lot of stops remaining.

Lastly we stopped in and took a look at Glen Echo National Park.  Just a short distance from the Clara Barton Parkway (named after the founder of the American Red Cross) this National Park started life in 1891 as a school and in 1911 transformed in to the premier amusement park of the great D.C area.  In 1971, shortly after the amusement park closed the Park Service took over and it is now a national park!  The park is an easy motorcycle ride coming out of or into Washington D.C.

Leaving Glen Echo we returned to the Clara Barton Parkway and headed west towards home.  All in all…a great day for a motorcycle ride!

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Location – Lock 10

Mile Mark – 8.8

Historical Comment – One of the few locks to use the Drop Gate Lock system.  See the picture below for details.

Ride to the Site – Very easy.  This point on the canal is near Washington D.C.  Although traffic might be an issue during the “rush hour” phases of the work day.

Amenities – There is a picnic area but no rest rooms.

Road Conditions (from main road) – This lock is directly off the main road. 

Railway Situation – no railroad tracks or crossing. 

Parking Lot Condition – All paved with about 10 parking spots.

 Main Attraction – The Drop Gate Lock system.

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If you follow me on FaceBook (which most don’t as I don’t really push it) or Twitter you know that I collect Harley Davidson Motorcycle Dealership Pins.  Debbie and I also collect pins that remind us of our motorcycle rides to various destinations.

This year we collected motorcycle ride pins during out nearly 3000 mile vacation ride, touring along a couple of the Great Lakes and into New England.  Neither of us had been into the northeast United States for anything beyond a business trip, so that is why we chose to go there this year.  You can read about our rainy, soggy, drenched motorcycle vacation starting here.

We rode to so some pretty cool places along the way.  On White Face Mountain we got to see the inside of a rain cloud and at Ben & Jerry’s we tasted a new ice cream that is not yet on the market.  All in all we had a great time touring and these motorcycle ride pins will be conversation starters moving forward.

After this last motorcycle vacation we have “knocked off” the entire east coast of the US and Ontario, Canada.  We have truly enjoyed the touring we have completed thus far and are looking forward to exploring the western regions of the US next.

Maybe we will do something in the Rockies next.

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Well during our 2017 Motorcycle Vacation ride I was able to get the wife to two more “old world” cities!  Not sure if she still thinks this is funny.

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WELL…. Pulling out of the B&B and heading south on the Maine coast in a blue sky morning was just a picture perfect motorcycle vacation, too bad it did not last. With Boston and New York on the horizon we were not thrilled with the thought of the traffic that lay ahead.  Our intention was to ride around Boston on I495 and then head south west toward New York. 

Those plans did not really hold hard due to a series of rain storms.  With rain drops the size of small birds smacking me in the face and my glasses fogging up repeatedly we decided to pull off early and find a room… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  It seems that every hotel along the I95 corridor was sold out!  WARNING….do not travel on the I95 corridor during the summer vacation season if you are free-styling (i.e. no real plan). 

Luckily for us our daughter jumped on the computer and started looking for a hotel while we were riding.  During one of the stops, attempting to hide from the rain, she called and told us we had a room….in Rhode Island. The hotel was about 50 miles away and it was raining hard, sigh.  BUT (insert a choir of angels going AHAAAAAA) all of a sudden the clouds cleared and the rain stopped.  According to the weather radar that was not what was supposed to happen.  Not looking a gift horse (Trojan horse) in the mouth we quickly remounted our steed and took off.  The rain, and some hail, resumed almost as soon as we were checked in.  I really did not ride faster than my guardian angel could fly! 

WP_20170628_09_09_30_ProSeveral band of storms later we woke up to another beautiful morning and the weather radar showed that there was no rain anywhere!!!!!!!! Our new plan was to ride cross county to Hartford, CN then down to Danbury then on to Orange County Choppers headquarters in Newburgh, NY.   

The stop at Orange County Choppers was a blast.  Regardless of your thoughts on the WP_20170628_16_02_47_ProTeutul’s, the bikes they produced during the run of their show are just so cool to look at in person.  Too soon it was time to get back on the road.  Making it to Scranton, PA we stopped for the night.  The next morning we made the push for home. 

2982.6 miles from Virginia to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Niagara Falls to Lake Placid, Bar Harbor and back.  Even with all the rain we endured this was a great motorcycle vacation.  If you have not stepped up to long distance motorcycle touring it is something you should consider for your future.  What you feel, see, and hear while riding your motorcycle is so much more intense and impactful then riding in a car. For me it is being in the movie not watching the movie through your windshield.

 

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Continuing our motorcycle vacation, we pulled out of Bangor early to make it Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park with enough time to enjoy the sites.  Our original plan was to spend the night in Bar Harbor but we ran out of steam before making it to Ba Habr.

WP_20170626_13_04_42_ProIt took about 90 minutes to get to downtown Bar Harbor.  We dismounted and took a walk around town, down by the harbor along Main Street and looked into some of the shops.  After about two hours we decided to ride the Acadia Loop.    

WP_20170626_11_07_17_ProOnce on the loop I soon released that that we were fully in tourist season.  Cars were lined up for miles and every parking lot was over filled.  In the first half of the loop we were sharing the park with about 100,000 of our closest friends.  The second half of the loop was a lot less filled with tourist, not including me of course.

Part of the Acadia National Park is Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the island.  Riding our Harley Davidson motorcycle to the top of the mountain we WP_20170626_12_32_00_Prowere again inundated with cars and tourist, again, not including me!   But, event with the crowd the views from the top were spectacular.  If you want to go to Acadia and Bar Harbor I highly recommend that you study the tourist season and go at the low points.  There were just too many people to truly enjoy the ride.

Making it back to Bar Harbor we decided to have lunch, buy a few trinkets and get back on the road WP_20170626_19_54_38_Proheading south.  It was a bit warm at this point but the water cooled motorcycle just putted along without any issues.  About 5PM we decided to call it a night and after looking at a few different spots decided to stay at the Spouter Inn Bed & Breakfast.

The Spouter Inn (built in 1832) is in Lincolnville Maine and is right across the road from the local beach and pier. The view from the rocking chairs on the front porch looking out was idyllic.  The breakfast part of the B&B was divine, Don and Erin are a pair of great Inn keepers.  I have to say that both Debbie and I loved our stay it was the best of our 2017 motorcycle vacation.