a.k.a. OK God, Lemme Have It!!
During the entire off-season, which was filled with lots of wrenching, beer drinking, and carrying on about where to take trips to this year, something about the state of Maine was calling me. Try as I might, I couldn't deny the feelings that Maine, and New England, was the place that I had to take my first trip to.
Maine and New England in April? No, I'm not crazy, thank you very much, regardless of what people who know me will tell you. I knew I had the risk of freezing my ass off, and the risk of a late April snowshower was taken into account, but nonetheless, I HAD to get to Maine. Now. Must go, no way around it. So I did.
Before I left, I posted a message to the CBR list (www.katana.com), telling people that I was going to be heading up there. I was amazed at the response that I received. Many people were not only offering up their homes for me to stay at, but threatening loss of life if I rode through their area without showing my face. OK, OK, OK, I get the point! We planned a Saturday afternoon BBQ at Marcell's and Angela's house in Ontario.
Other than the loose plans for Saturday, and the thoughts of meeting up with Derek in Boston and Faune in New York, I had no plans for the rest of the week other than to ride. Perfect!! No timeframes, no schedules, no planned routes. Wherever the road leads is fine with me.
Day one way very uneventful. I showed up to work dressed in my best Darth Vader impression, much to the delight of my co-workers, who individually approached me during the day to question my sanity. See, it was raining pretty hard that day, and it was not very warm either. Nonetheless, I was ready to ride.
Once I got around the city of Chicago, and faught the construction traffic on I-294 south, the rest of the day was pretty good. After I crossed the Michigan border, the rain stopped and the sun actually came out for a while. My major test for the day was to figure out if my latest jetting attempt has corrected my mileage problem. After re-jetting initially, my mileage had dropped significantly where I was hitting reserve at 175 miles. I was very glad and relieved when I hit reserve today at 215 miles. Phew!! My mileage is back, and the bike is running great.
I got to Linc/XX's house sometime before 7:00 that night. Linc, being the gracious host that he was, immediately offered me a beer. Mmmmm, beer. We sat and chatted about bikes, cars, and stuff for a while, and then he fired up the BBQ and made some great BBQ pork shops and potatos. After dinner, we headed out to a local remote-control car racetrack to watch some locals go at it. Those guys are damn good, and the technology in those cars is really cool. I had a good time watching the races.
After that, it was a few more beers, and get to bed. We had an early morning ride tomorrow.
Day 2: Day two started out pretty good. The weather was cooperating, which means it wasn't raining too much. It was a little cold. Linc and I stopped for breakfast in Port Huron, and then he rode with me to London, Ontario, after the border Nazi's questioned us heavily. I guess the couldn't believe that someone would ride from Chicago in this weather.
Once we got to London, we met up with Toastman/XX/Blazer and Dana, his GF. Dana had made T-Man drive the Blazer instead of the XX, since it was too cold out for her. I don't blame her, but T-Man was the object of many slams the rest of the day. Linc decided that he'd rather head back before the weather turned bad, so we seperated at that point, and I followed T-Man and Dana up to Speedy's place in Kitchener.
Here is a pic of Tad, Linc, and T-Man's Blazer
When we arrived in Kitchener, about 1/2 hour behind schedule, we saw a parade of bikes heading for a quick jaunt around town. We went to Speedy's place, and waited for them to return. After we all met up, introductions were made and we talked there for a while before heading out to Marcell's via some twisties. Unfortunately, right as we hit the good stuff, it started to rain, but the ride was good nonetheless. Plus, the rain wasn't slowing Paul from wheelying the hell out of the XX.
Click here for a group picture and description
Dave D. on the new F4
Doug, T-Man, Marcell, and Dana admiring Doug's new XX
After a great BBQ at Marcell's and Angela's house, and after Marcell finished grilling T-Man about his relationship with Dana (quick note - I've never seen anyone turn ghost white as quickly as T-Man did when Marcell asked him point blank "So, T-Man, is she the one??"), Paul, Doug, and I headed towards Paul's place via the QEW at relatively high speeds. When we arrived there, I met Paul's wife Jenn, and we all decided to stay there that night. We went to Niagra Falls and then Paul treated us to pizza and beer. After that, we went back to the falls at night to see the light show, which was incredible. I really appreciated Paul and Jenn showing me the area. After a cappucino at Tim Hortons, we went back to Paul's place where Paul and I stayed up for another 2-3 hours playing GT Racing on Sony Play-station while Jenn slept and Paul snoored.
Niagra Falls during the day
Niagra Falls at night with the colored lights
Miagra Falls at night with white lights shining
Day3: Day three started out with a quick ride up route 18 from Paul and Jenn's place. Paul, Jenn (on her R1), Doug, and I headed out early, and after a short ride (and a wheelie and stoppie or two from Paul on his RR), Doug and I seperated from Paul and Jenn and continued heading east. Thanks again Paul and Jenn for your hospitality!!
Click here for a picture of the four bikes along Lake Ontatio
Doug and I continued east towards his place in Rochester, said our farewells, and I was off heading east. It was great to meet everyone and share some roads, but now was my time to get lost in the experience. I headed east on 104 and was really enjoying the upstate New York countryside. I stopped north of Oneida Lake, which was a nice area, but nothing compared to what I was about to see in the Adirondacs. The Adirondacs were more beautiful that I could have imagined. I never expected to see snow-capped mountains in the Appalacian range, but they were there, and they were beautiful. In the higher elevations, the lakes were still frozen, but the cold did not take anything away from the experience. I spent the afternoon riding around the Adirondacs, enjoying the views and cigars, and ended up in Lake George that night. A truly great ride, and a very scenic area. I look forward to returning there someday soon.
My view, 1000 miles into the journey
A stop on the way up into the elevations, to enjoy a cigar
My favorite view of the day.
My CBR by a frozen lake in the Adirondacs
Day 4: After enjoying a morning ride along Lake Champlain, I headed east into Vermont. The scenery was great, but the road conditions were horrible. With the amount of snow that was left on the side of some of the roads, I can see why they were so bad. There were too many potholes and gravel, and I was starting to think that I made a mistake. There was a point where I was just cruising down a pretty scenic road when a brown Saab 9000 passed me over a double-yellow. "Hey, That's my job!!!" For the next 10 miles or so, I decided to keep up with him and see what he's got. He was swinging the corners wide, and cutting some nice lines. As we approached the next town, I slowed down, and he did not. I saw a cop sitting roadside just after the speed limit change, and he nailed the guy. I was waiting for him to pull me over as well, but he didn't. Phew!! Let's get the hell outa here.
A picture of a typical road through Vermont
The rest of Vermont for me was only OK. Just as I though the day was going to be a complete bust, I crossed over into New Hampshire. The scenery got even better, and the road conditions improved greatly. I took at route that my friend Jeff had suggested, and I was not disappointed. Nice turns, great scenery, and I was really starting to enjoy the ride. I stopped at an overlook for a cigar, and again had to force myself to get back on the bike. The scenery was so nice, I could have just sat there forever.
A view that I didn't want to leave
The nicer roads of New Hampshire, taken while riding of course
After that, I began heading further north. The mountains were getting higher, the scenery keep improving, and it was becoming more and more desolate. I stopped at an overlook of Mt. Washington, and had hoped to take the road to the summit. However, it was snowed in, so I continued north on route 16. The ride up 16 was fantastic, and there was nobody else around, which made for some great riding. I stopped roadside for a while, and during the 1/2 hour or so stop, 2 cars went by. It was great to be that isolated.
A view of Mt. Washington, highest point in N.H.
My isolated spot, just south of Errol, N.H.
Now it was time for me to ride into Maine. As I said, this was what I had been waiting for all of the off-season. I was certainly not disappointed. I stopped at the Maine border, and prepared myself for this part of the trip. I had no idea what to expect. As the sub-title of this report states, I got suited back up, sat on the bike, looked up, and ala Kent in "Real Genius" said "OK God, Lemme have it!!" I took off into Maine, and immediately the Eagles song "Take it to the Limit" was in my head. I sang the first verse, and got to the chorus: "So put me on a highway, and show me a sign, and take it to the li.." - Holt Shit, there's a moose. I slammed on my brakes, and I was 20 feet away from the first moose that I had ever seen. It just kinda looked at me like, whaddya want? Nice sign. Thanks. I saw 3 or 4 more moose as I rode through some beautiful countryside. Maine is and was all that I expected it to be, and more. The trip was coming together, and the memories were becoming more and more meaningful. What's my name again??
A stop at the Maine state line
The first moose I ever saw, in Maine
Day 5: At this point, I had no idea what day it was, no care about where I was at, and loved the fact that I seemed to be the only person in the world. It's quite a feeling of isolation riding around this area, especially during this time of year, when there are no tourists around. As I got further and further north into Maine, I felt smaller and smaller. Around each bend was another view, another moose, and less and less signs of life. This was a great morning of riding, capped off by a breakfast stop at some local mom 'n' pop place for pancakes and bacon. The locals were all very nice, and were interested in my travels. I love talking to small town people - they almost always tend to be very friendly, moreso than the people in metropolitan areas. Life is simple up there, as is exemplified by the motto on the Maine license plates: "Maine, the way life should be." I couldn't agree more.
An overlook heading north on US 201
Another moose standing at the roadside
From there, I headed across the state of Maine towards New Brunswick, Canada. The ride was very nice, but was getting less scenic as I approached the Canada border. Crossing the border was easy this time, and I started heading towards Prince Edward Island. It had started to drizzle a little bit, and it seemed that everywhere I looked, there was a rainbow. The Canada countryside was quite desolate, but once I got into metropolitan areas, it didn't look much different from the states. I rode a little bit into the night, and stayed about an hour away from PEI.
A little rainbow while stopped roadside in New Brunswick
Day 6: As I was riding toward PEI, I got my first glimpse of the Atlantic since two seasons ago. The sun was just starting to warm up, and there was still a mist in the air. Crossing the bridge to PEI, I found myself staring out into the Atlantic. It was great to see it again, but it would get even better later today.
I had heard that Prince Edward Island was a great place for motorcycling. To say that I was disappointed is a little strong, but I was disappointed. It did offer some very nice scenery, and I don't regret at all going there, but it would have been better if on a GoldWing, not a sportbike. Aside from the main drag up and down the island, the side roads were in terrible condition. I went to a few parks, and enjoyed doing a little off-roading to get to some nice isolated spots. The bridge is an impressive structure, measuring over 8 miles from shore to shore.
A view of a bay in PEI, red dirt dominating the island
Another bay in Green Park Provincial Park
My CBR with the Confederation Bridge in the background
A good view of the 8 mile long Confederation Bridge
After PEI, I started heading back west. I was going to head down into Nova Scotia, but the weather down there looked dark and dreary, so I continued west following the Bay of Fundy. I had been a little disappointed with PEI, and the Canadian scenery wasn't overly impressive, yet. Again, I was starting to think that the day wouldn't offer what the previous days had. I was totally wrong.
The New Brunswick countryside, with the Bay of Fundy in the distance
A covered bridge in New Brunswick
I starting heading west on route 114 south of Riverview, NB, and the ride suddenly turned for the better. Once I got away from the metropolitan area, Canada turned beautiful again, and I was very happy to have found this route. During the whole trip, I was playing the "What the hell" game. Do I want to go that way? Sure, what the hell. It had been paying off, and this time was no exception. I turned onto some side road that headed towards the Bay. After about 15 kilometers of 1/2 paved 1/2 gravel road, I found myself in the most isolated, most beautiful place that I had been yet. This is the place that did it to me. I was completely lost in the experience, didn't have a care in the world, and just wanted to stay right here forever and admire this view. I was standing on a couple-hundred foot high bluff, with a lighthouse, a few buildings, and a power line that disappeared into the horizon feeding this isolated lighthouse area. That was it. No other signs of human life existed. I enjoyed another cigar, and just stood there dumbfounded. The view was amazing, and even the slight drizzle didn't lessen my enjoyment of this place. After standing there for a while, I decided that I had to get going. I started to say my good-byes to this place, turned around, and BOOM! The most beautiful full rainbow that I have ever seen. I hadn't seen a full rainbow since I was about 5 years old, and the right side of this rainbow seemed to be reaching out from the middle of the Bay of Fundy. What a time that was. Needless to say, I didn't leave. I ended up climbing a nearby hill to get a better view of everything. Something was just so right about that moment in time. This feeling, and events like this, are exactly the reason that I take trips like this. One minute, you feel like the king of the world, and the next, you feel smaller than small. Cape Enrage, the name given to this place, is and will remain a great memory for me.
Cape Enrage Lightstation
The view from the hillside above Cape Enrage
Riding away, my last view of Cape Enrage, for now
The ride down the coastline from Cape Enrage was surreal. I still couldn't believe how beautiful this place was, and next thing I know, I'm riding through Fundy National Park, which was incredible. Eventually, after taking about every coastline road that I could find, I made it to Saint John for the night.
The view from Fundy National Park
Day 7: Day 7 continued where day 6 left off. The ride down the coast was brisk, but very nice. Just before crossing back into the US, I stopped at Carmen's Diner for a breakfast of bacon & eggs. The scenery there was very nice, though I was not sitting anywhere near a window. :-)
I crossed back into the US, and continued down the coast on US 1. The Maine coastline was just as I had imagined it to be. The rocky shoreline was like nothing that I had ever seen before, and the ocean was a deep shade of blue. As I approached Acadia National Park, the mountains started to come back into view. Acadia National Park was spectacular. A year ago, a friend, Jeff, had been up this way, and insisted that I go to a place called Otter Bay. When I got there, I understood why he liked this place. I took out a big ol' stogie, sat my ass down on the rocks, and watched the waves roll in for an hour. The ocean was beautiful, and it was great to be sitting on the shore of the Atlantic again. Otter Bay is another of those places and memories that will remain for years to come. I will be back there again.
The Maine shoreline as I imagined it would be
The view entering Acadia National Park
The waves crashing against the rocks in Otter Bay
Otter Bay, Acadia National Park
Across the bay, a view of my sitting place
After Otter Bay, I was heading up to the summit of Cadilac Mountain, per the suggestion of Jenn a few days earlier. Thanks for the suggestion, Jenn. Both the view, and the ride up to the top via the switchbacks was fantastic.
The view of Otter Point from the summit of Cadilac Mountain.
The view of Bar Harbor from the summit
My CBR at the summit
After spending the better part of the afternoon riding around and seeing Acadia National Park, I continued down the coastline via US 1, and found myself stopping for gas in a seaside town called Belfast. I rode down to the wharf in town, and had myself a big bowl of very good clam chowder. It was a really nice town, with the surrounding hills filled with old houses, and the bay a deep shade of blue. I walked down to the pier, past the harbor master's station, and sat staring out into the bay and Atlantic. I can close my eyes anytime I want and see this view - the remains of two or three piers eroded away over the past decades, the hills surrounding the bay, a few lone sailboats swaying in the waves - sorry no picture available of this one. This is my memory.
Day 8: What day is it?? Damn, I gotta get moving. I left Augusta, ME this morning, heading back into the mountains of western Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Unlike the northern route that I took a few days before, here the lakes were unfrozen, and very blue. However, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, and it was in the low 40s. The ride was very nice, and I was starting to realize that the trip was almost over. Just after crossing into New Hampshire, I stopped at another overlook. I had seen Mt. Washington a few days prior in northern N.H. I started talking to a local who was sitting there enjoying the view, and he pointed to a snow cap off in the distance and asked me if I had seen Mt. Washington. I told him, yeah I saw it a few days ago. He told me, "Well, there it is again." Over 100 miles from where I was standing, I could clearly see the peak of Mt. Washington.
A stop at Poland Beach, ME at a clear blue lake
Another blue water lake in Maine
A view from the overlook near Alton, N.H.
same overlook, looking north at the peak of Mt. Washington
Later on that day, I stopped roadside in New Hampshire to eat a Lunchables(tm) that I had picked up at a gas stop, and began trying to remember all that had happened. All the days had run together, and I had a mass of memories of the view and scenery that I had seen rambling around in my head. This view was soon to be added to those.
My lunchtime view in New Hampshire
As I continued across New Hampshire and Vermont, reality continued to set in. I called Faune, from the CBR list, and we picked a spot to meet up the next morning to ride through the Catskills. I also gave Derek a call letting him know that I had to pass by Boston without stopping. I had lost track of time, and needed to head home if I wanted to get home by Sunday night. Sorry Derek, next time man.
Day 9: This morning, I left in plenty of time to get to Kingston to meet Faune (1000F) at the courthouse at 11:00. After a breakfast stop at the Crossroads Diner near Hillsdale, NY, I headed south, and took a short jaunt into Lakeville, Connecticut. I got to Kingston at 10:30, and proceeded to spend the next hour looking for the courthouse. I had re-invented the term lost. I finally met up with Faune, and after intros and Dunkin Donuts coffee, we were on our way into the Catskills. Faune, being a city rider, does not have the fear of traffic that I do. My heart was in my throat watching him make some lane-splitting passes!! He's definitly a confident rider. We took a number of side-roads through the Catskills, and ended up on route 10 just north of the park. It is on a road like this that the 1000F shines. 40 and 45 MPH sweepers are what the 1000F calls home, and both of us were living it up. We stopped roadside for a quick chat, where we were joined by a rider on a TL1000S all decked out. He gave Faune some suggestions for routes home. After our few hour ride, it was time for me to start heading west again. Faune - it was great meeting you, and I'll see you when I head back there again.
Faune and the two 1000F's along route 10
At this point, I was seriously thinking about Iron-Butting it home. It was only about another 1000 miles home. I began riding across Pennsylvania, totally ignoring the insanely slow speed limits. The scenery was quite nice, and before I knew it, I had ridden another 200 miles. It was starting to get dark, and I filled up with gas. I asked the attendant if he had heard a weather report. He told me that it was supposed to get down into the 20s that night. Ummmm, where's a hotel. Never mind the Iron-Butt.
Day 10: The end was here, and I had about 700 miles to ride home. I got an early start, and had to wipe some serious frost off the 1000F. The first 150 miles were very nice, as I rode through Allegheny National Forest. I hit I-80, filled up with gas, and prepared myself for the slab home. I had music going through my head all week, but hadn't plugged in the mini-disc player yet. I put in the first of three discs that I had made for occasions like this, and took off. As the songs changed, my mind wandered to another time and place where I had that song in my head. It was all coming together - what I had done, what I had seen, what I had experienced. I enjoyed the drone of the Interstate by keeping my mind back where it belonged - at the lookout in the Adirondacs, the first few miles of Maine, Cape Enrage, and Otter Point.
Somewhere along the trip, I started thinking about an old Beavis & Butt-Head episode where they learn about Hi-kus. After laughing about it for a while (it's strange the things you think about and talk to yourself about when you're on the road by yourself for an extended period), I came up with my own. It pretty much sums up this trip, and riding in general for me:
On the open road
No cares or worries with me
I have found my home.
I hope you enjoyed reading this trip report as much as I enjoyed writing it. I will not soon forget about this one.