Part 4: Trip ’12 (June)

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June 1 2012 – About a week left
I am in some town in South Carolina called Lugoff. Only made it 40 miles today, there was a load of traffic trying to get through Columbia and then there was rain, lots and lots of rain.

The way home is pretty simple and clear cut. I am on Route 1 right now and that will take me all the way to Route 15, which in turn will take me back to Gettysburg. From Gettysburg it’s less clear cut and I’ll have to pick a new set of highways every night. But I’m glad that for a few days I won’t have to pay attention to much of anything except staying on one road.

There was an hour delay to get the meds this morning, which was fun, but hey it worked out. One thing about Mass Health which sucks is it only works in Mass. So as a result my most necessary medication cost $400. That’s the one where I take twelve 300mg pills every day.

I’ve unsubscribed to Obama’s email thingus, that guy asks for money more often than Saint John’s haha, and I have none. But its mildly reassuring in a way as the idea that if the people instead of the companies are giving the most election money then maybe just maybe they’ll be the primary concern. I don’t know, I’m pretty disillusioned by all of them. I’m also somewhat tired of Democrats attacking Republicans and vice versa. I think we’re all fucked until people find common ground. Labels are stupid in general, how do you mass thousands of people together based on a single label for religion, sexuality, politics? How does that work? I am a bisexual christian democrat. But do I really fit any of those perfectly? No. Do any of those actually describe me as a person? No. Its silly and stupid. I think the day when we don’t feel a need to have a label for everything is the day when we’ll have actually grown up as a society.

Enough soap boxing, that has nothing to do with motorcycles nor the trip. Just me ranting I guess. I did a new mockup of the Ural, this is how she’ll look in a couple months:

Alloy fenders, solo seat, high pipes, etc. That’s my bike in the picture, and I swiped the bits added from profile shots of the bikes I’m stealing them from, so its accurate and to scale.

For a while I was concerned about the engine. They don’t make parts for it anymore and I was thinking I’d have to change it or majorly rebuild it or something. But I don’t have to worry about it, it is silly to do so.

For one I think the engine will be just fine for years. There are also a lot of options for keeping her going that I don’t think a lot of people think of.

A solid example of this is the pistons & barrels. At some point I am going to make alloy barrels for it using pop’s old lathe. I can bore them to pretty much anything I want and sleeve them with pretty much anything I want. So basically if I am worried about 650 pistons availability then when I make new barrels I will just build them to take pistons from a different motorcycle, one that will be readily available, pistons made for 650 Triumph’s for example. Its not quite as simple as that, but then again yes it is.

I also want to get into castings at some point. Meaning I want to learn how to make my own castings, or at least make my own molds and pay someone else to make the castings. Once I learn how to do that, other things on the bike that could fail or could use improvement will become simpler.

The heads for example. If I could have my own castings made then I could have heads made out of an easier cooling metal. I could machine them to accept valves from a motorcycle with a more steady parts supply – Norton, Triumph, BMW, etc. I could machine the carb mount to accept Amal carbs which means that my JRC’s could be fit straight to the head without the need for a rubber flange. I could machine the exhaust ports to accept screw down flanges for holding the head pipes in.

This is the sort of stuff that has always interested me, and the more work I do on the bike, the more parts I build myself the better at this I’ll get and the longer I’ll be able to keep her going. As to castings, another bonus of that is I’d be able to make my own pistons if I was so inclined and at that point possibilities become limitless.

Thats the thing about having a metal lathe and knowing how to use it, and learning old arts to metal work. Possibilities are only limited by your skill, and skills can be improved with practice. Can’t afford a set of alloy barrels that cost over a grand for the pair (or simply aren’t available for your bike)? Make your own. Can’t get a bushing or don’t want to pay $50 for one? Make your own. Don’t want to pay $100 for a set of valve guides? Don’t like the material they are made out of? Make your own. Want a head that has 2 spark plugs instead of 1? Get the idea?

This is a picture of pop’s lathe:

I sold it and the rest of the shop to a friend after dad died – and after I’d decided to go to Phoenix for school, I didn’t want to leave a shop in mom’s basement as I didn’t know when/if I’d be coming back.

The friend I sold it to ages ago gave me a broken 1976 Kawasaki KZ1000 A1:

I have done most of the work to it that it needs to be a runner again, and the remaining work isn’t hard. The plan is to simply trade him the running KZ for dad’s lathe.

Anyways, that’s the update, more tomorrow. Got to get ready for bed, want to be on the road early tomorrow, want to make some miles!

Before I go I want to say that this is both the best and worst documented trip I have ever been on. I usually take a mass of photographs, but I have come to feel that the things I want to take pictures of – can’t be captured on film in the same way that my eyes are seeing them. I rarely look back on the pictures I took of past trips because they don’t remind me of what I saw, they can’t. Its the writing that captures everything, the mood, the feel, the wonder..

I forget who said it, some frenchman from the 18th century, but one of my favorite quotes is “the spoken word dazzle and deceive, but black words on a white page are the soul laid bare”

June 2 2012 – A Push

When dad and I drove to Mexico, on the return trip we hit this point where we decided it was time to go home and we drove from South West Texas to Worcester in 3.5 days.

I’ve hit that point where its time to go home. Its 7:15AM and I am getting ready to hit the road.

There are a few things I have to do first.
1. Try Plan D for stopping the oil leak where the alternator used to be. This is pretty simple and involves Gorilla tape.

2. Get breakfast. Lethal as it is, there is a McDonalds in the parking lot, so that’s pretty simple.

3. Put air in my tires and get gas.

After those are accomplished, which they should be well before 9am I am hitting the road. As you can see from the picture above I have a few destinations in mind, basically I’ll see how I feel as I hit each one and depending I will push on to the next.

I won’t make it to Frederick unless there is a miracle, but if I can get up to or past Fork Union I can shave a couple days off the trip.

Remember I am about 900 miles from home, so if I can go 400 today then in theory I could be home by Wed if not sooner.

So lets see what happens.

Right, out to fix the bike, then food, air, gas, and GONE!

- hahaha oh well
So I didn’t make it more than 100 miles. The foam on my seat has completely collapsed, I think it was that last rain storm that killed it. So now sitting on the seat is litteraly like sitting on the metal pan which beat the hell out of me. Mom’s going to mail me the tractor seat on Monday, so I’m here till Wed. Have to give this place credit, 4 nights in their motel is costing me $110. I realllly like that. I’d much rather be on the road home.

Also the gorilla tape gasket works pretty good, loosing almost no oil at all now.

Anyways thats the quick update.

June 4 2012 – First time I have ever abandoned a motel
So there’s a good excuse for being awake at 5am. The Motel 6 here in Aberdeen North Carolina has cockroaches. Lots of them. First night wasn’t so bad, only saw one and killed it after it got too close, then slept fine. Earlier tonight in the same room I killed 3 more, then when I saw 2 more dive under my bed I thought “To hell with this” and went down at 11:30pm and got a new room. Checked the new room out from every corner to make sure it was good before moving my stuff in. About an hour goes by and there goes a cockroach across the wall. How the hell? Turns out they just walk in under the door, there is no way to keep them out, I’d use a bath towel except the room only comes with one. In this new room the one died quickly, but the next one had the lovely idea of crawling across the ceiling right above the bed and loosing it’s grip and landing in my lap.

This was around the time I began searching for a new place to sleep. The bivy bag on the floor was out because the AC wouldn’t cool the room below 80 degrees and I’ve discovered that I wake up in a pool of sweat if I do that, which on the road I don’t care about, but in a motel room, if its so bad I’m resorting to a bivy bag, but also so bad that I can’t make it at least a comfortable temp, well then it’s time to leave.

Found a hotel up the road less than a mile that was willing to take me as a customer at 4am. How very nice of them. No bugs in here! Even better the internet actually works. Now I’d not complain about Motel 6 having crappy internet if it was free, but I had to pay an extra $2.65 a night for crappy internet – and thats just not cool.

Still have to go back later today, didn’t bother checking out nor packing up all my stuff because I paid for the room till Wed morning, so I wasn’t going to bother. I just sealed up all my bags and such so nothing could crawl into them before I left.

Anyways, its bedtime. The new seat gets mailed out today by mom, and I’ll have it tomorrow, so today is when I’ll go find the stuff to attach it and whatnot. Didn’t have the motivation on Sunday. Should be quite the interesting setup as I don’t want to buy a drill…

June 5 2012 – More Waiting, so more rambling
So I’m in Aberdeen North Carolina for a few more days, and then I can start pushing north again. So for the time being I guess I’ll ramble a little bit about the Ural’s future, and modifications to her current setup.

You already know about the new headlight waiting at home, but for anyone who hasn’t seen what I am talking about, it’ll look like this:

Getting the wiring, speedo, idiot lights, and ignition switch all in one clean looking location really appeals to me and has for some time. So thats going to be good, for more than just style, its cleaner and more protection against the elements.

The seat that is on route to me as we speak, and will be here Wed morning looks/is identical to the seat on this bike:

Something which you wouldn’t know is that I have sourced another gastank that is also identical to the one in that picture. It won’t hole quite as much gas, but it does away with the welded seam around the tank, and has a place where I can stick my pipe/cell/wallet or whatever on those days when it’s just too bloody warm for a jacket. The one I got is a bit rough, surface rust, couple minor dents. But the price was right and it’ll allow me to clean up the tank really nice, then paint it with Brent’s help the same way he’s painted the tub in my absence which has paint that’ll hold up under the elements significantly better. Also will allow me to get the bottom of the tank set up so that it’ll accept two old style fuel taps with filters built into them (they cost $15 each) just like the ones I used on my Triumph’s. All this can be done on the cheap, and my bike will still work while it’s being done because I have my current tank.

There is also some slight mods to the controls in the Ural’s future. A throttle and levers that look like this:

As well as older style but good quality switches. Will allow easier control, will look better, and so forth.

Not much else is going on. Haven’t talked to Will in a while, nor really anyone from back home. I quite want to go home. The beauty out here is still staggering, but I’ve just reached that point where I want to be back in Worcester with my friends and family. I have been on the road since late March. A Lot of time by myself, which I’m generally good with, but usually there is some interaction with people, and I have been lacking that for a while now.

June 6 2012 – Solo Seat
So I figured out the mounting yesterday at Lowes. I bought a piece of Pine thats 1″ x 12″ x 30″ as well as four 1/4×20 1.25″ bolts, nuts, and washers. I will fix the board down to where there are 4 bolt holes in the frame in the same area the seat should go. These 4 holes – 2 on either side of the frame – originally were for mounting the Igniter box from the original Russian electronic ignition.

So I’ll mount the board to those and then cut off the side that needs trimmed off. Some of the extra wood will go towards making yet another plug for the alternator plate, but I think this time will be the winner. Its got enough mass to it where clamping it down should seal all the way round.

I plan to wrap the board with Gorilla Tape, I did this to the rear rack I made for my old KZ1000P which you can see in this picture:

The Gorilla tape proved water proof and saved the board for my 5,000ish trip. So I’ll do that again for this.

Then the tractor seat will be mounted to this board. That’ll work until I get home and Jake can mount it properly.

So yeah, this will be updated later today with pictures!

- Seat Install and pushing forward
Welp, the new seat got here this morning, which means I can leave tomorrow morning! So before I launch into that, lets post the new seat pictures, and whatnot.

The board and the saw.

The place to mount the board, these 4 holes used to hold the “igniter” for the old Electronic Ignition.

Cut to size.

Pardon the one extra hole, I was using a nail in place of a marker and got slightly confused.

Four new holes drilled with my four 5/16″ bolts, washers, and nuts.

Mounted!

Almost got it centered hahaha

The seat is Very comfortable, around town at least, tomorrow is the big test. But shifting is now easier, the extra inch and such below me is giving me more leg room and makes operating the controls easier. Also don’t feel the smaller bumps nearly as much.

So tomorrow I am on the road again! I plan to head North, I will take Rt 501 which runs with 15 for a while but eventually splits off on its own. 501 leads directly to a town in southern Virginia called West Boston. What kind of a New Englander would I be if I didn’t go to South Boston? So Thats tomorrow’s destination, and not far from there I can pick up Rt 15 again so that’s good too.

Not too much else going on. I have ordered the last of the bits for the Ural’s overhaul when I get home. This last batch consisted mostly of shocks and bearings. I am still running the original shocks in the rear of the bike and on the sidecar. The steering head bearings are beyond antiquated, and I can feel it when I turn the bars, they are worn out. The replacements are Ural OEM roller bearings which will be a nice change. I also ordered new brake shoes for all 3 wheels, and the springs that go with them.

I am about 800 miles from home at this point, not sure if I’m going to push myself hard or not these next few days, but either way I should be home in a week or less. God it’ll be good to be home. I miss my cat, my family, my friends, the Owl Shop, and the Boulevard Diner. That said if I could afford to physically and money wise, I’m not sure I’d ever go home. There is just something magical about bumming around on a motorcycle.

I am most definitely stopping in at Barnstorm Cycles on the way back to my house though, I want Jake to see the bike as it is right now, because once I get home I’m going to start the overhaul, which will alter its appearances more than a little bit. Alloy fenders, and so forth. Its all about setting the bike up for the next few years. Assuming the engine doesn’t commit suicide, this’ll set me up for the next 4-5 years at least.

Anyways, I’m done, I’m shutting up. Going to take a bath and pack my stuff up so I can load the bike as soon as I wake up.

June 7 2012 – Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Didn’t make it quite as far today as I’d hoped. Somehow got turned around in Chapel Hill and got a bit lost, and then there was traffic and I decided to end the day when I saw a Holiday Inn sign. I’m a pushover when it comes to that sort of thing.

So 70 miles and the new seat has been a real blessing, its perfect, exactly what I’ve needed.

The two pictures have a pretty simple explanation, it occurred to me that I post a lot of working on the bike and whatnot, but I haven’t really had a – this is what she looks like fully loaded – since I left MA, so this is what she looks like going down the road.

Each time I stop I explore the fenders to figure out how I will attach the aluminum replacements. See my current fenders have sidewalls and some of the mounting points are consistent to that.

Basically the plan is to cut out the brackets that are welded to the current fenders and then bolt them into the proper locations on the new fenders. Any brackets will be painted the same black as the frame. I have it pretty much worked out in my head, which is all that really matters.

I am really looking forward to this opportunity to work out the various weak spots I have decided on through the last couple of years. The big heavy steel fenders that can rust need to go. Shocks & bearings must all be replaced, the solo seat is now installed but will need to be done better when I get home. High pipes and a bash plate for trail riding. Some other stuff.

Anyways, I am beat, going to order dinner and get some sleep.

- Plan for Friday (and home)
Right so tomorrow I have two destinations which it could go either or, I like to have a short and a long idea of where I’m going. So the wanted destination for tomorrow is Fork Union VA, which is where that military academy is. The short day would be South Boston VA. South Boston is 100km from here, Fork Union is 160km.

To get to South Boston I’ll take 54E to 751N to 501N. That will take me all the way through South Boston. Assuming I’m motivated to keep going I stick with 501N out of town until I hit 360E which I follow along until it merges with 15N – which will take me all the way to Fork Union.

So thats tomorrow’s itinerary, subject to change as easy as the wind.

The general idea for the next few days is as follows:

Friday – Fork Union VA
Saturday – Gettysburg PA
Sunday – Stroudsburg PA
Monday – Hudson NY
Tuesday – HOME.

That like anything else is subject to change without any prior notice. Last night at this time I’d mapped the same exact series of days out as follows:
Thursday – South Boston VA
Friday – Gainesville VA
Saturday – Allentown PA
Sunday – Danbury CT
Monday – HOME.

So you see how that works, this is probably the best thing this trip has taught me. Plan a very non specific route, make no bookings prior to arrival as theres a 7 in 10 chance I won’t arrive in the town I booked the room the day (if ever) I’d planned to get there. Before this trip I always knew where I was going to be 4 days in advance. I’d never just roamed before.

This is mostly due to growing up with dad, he always mapped things out quite carefully, but then when I say always, what I really mean is that that is how he planned trips from the time that I knew him. I suspect things were different before he had family obligations, and a mortgage, and car payments, etc. Our family vacations were so very thoroughly mapped out because dad had a very specific number of vacation days, and we had a very specific budget. We literally could not afford to just wing it.

However that method is so deeply engrained into me that even now, even knowing full well that I almost never make it to where I say I’m going to, even being a month behind schedule… despite ALL that, here I am figuring out the next 5 days in advance. My progress is that it no longer pains me when I roll into a totally different town than the one I thought I was going to sleep in.

Speaking of sleep…

June 8 2012 – Wretched Day
Spent a Lot of time on the bike and I think I made it about 45 miles northeast of where I started, more east than north. Lots of construction, lots of detours that only had 1-2 signs posted, so I’d roll into a 5 way intersection, or into a rotary and there’d be no sign indicating where exactly I was supposed to go from that point.

Thanks to help from Stevie and Al I actually made it to a hotel. The deep cycle is almost totally drained (won’t run the bike with the headlight on) so thats in my room on the charger.

Even on a wretched hard day though… I’m still out on the road on a motorcycle instead of stuck in bed. So how wretched a day was it really?

June 9 2012 – A Better Day
Before I forget, I saw this on FB, its not photoshopped, some guy actually made a cloud in his studio. Absolutely beautiful, and awesome.

But I digress.

Made it to Keysville Virginia. I am at Sheldon’s Motel. Tis a nice place. I took some pictures of my bike and I made a video, I’ll work that up soon and add it to this. If there is no video linked come back in like a day and check it again, the wifi here isn’t encouraging for uploading a video.

This morning I couldn’t get the bike to start for the life of me. Kick Kick KICK with people watching. So I set about trying to diagnose it. Well, see there is a bundle of spliced and capped wires that connect the bike’s harness to the switches on the bars. One of the capped wires had come in contact with the left pipe and melted to it – grounding the wire to the exhaust which is bolted to the frame. Soon as I pulled that wire and taped it the bike ran perfectly! Success! hahaha I love stuff like that, the simple but off base issues.

Listening to State Radio, a band out of Boston. I have Wingnut to thank for introducing me to them, and he has Will to thank, so I guess I just have Will to thank haha.

Another benefit of today was the switch that adjusts the setting of the Power Arc ignition came loose and was dangling. I taped it to the frame with electric tape and then some gorilla over that to protect it from the elements. Anyways I noticed it was in the “ON” position. See this ignition has 2 curves, one for daily running, the other is for heavy loads and steep hills and whatnot. The first is quick and more power, the second is slow and steady. The switch has been in the On position since we installed it. This was great for the ride down with the GS500, but since then she’s been sluggish and I couldn’t fathom why. I flipped the switch to “OFF” and the bike has balls again. Still don’t go over 50, but I think the engine is MUCH happier in 4th gear than it was before.

The progress of today was only about 100 miles, but thats good progress considering I couldn’t sleep last night. Same old nightmares that have been keeping me awake at night for over 15 years. Ha, just can’t shake them sometimes. Doesn’t help that I’m working on my book again. The vicious cycle of it is that lack of sleep, it intensifies the physical pain. The pain linked to physical contact almost doubles. and the sharp pains in my hands, knees, shoulder and ribs become much more intense. This is the real explanation to why I’ve been riding since March to do a trip you could do in 4 days with a car, or on a bike and a healthy body. So 100 miles, thats a Good day all things being equal.

I’m about 650 miles from home. So if I could just do two strong days, or rather three strong days I could be HOME in three days. But I don’t think I have the strength to do 3 hard days. We’ll see what happens.

I don’t… Hahahaha I just leaned over to change the music and now I don’t know where I was going with that. But yeah, OH! So I don’t have to pay attention to directions for a bit, I’m going to ride 15N all the way to Harrisburg, THEN I have to start to tape directions to the tank again.

It’ll go something like this:
15N
22E
A bunch of roads I don’t know
20E
9 – for Barnstorm Cycles
HOME.

2 Hour Break

sitting here in my room on the bed, hands are greasy from going over the bike. Checked the oil in both the engine and the gearbox – both are exactly where they are supposed to be! Also checked the bolts under the oil sump, adjusted the rear brake and the parking brake (yes my bike has a parking brake). Cleaned up a lot of the oil film on the cases, cut off some Gorilla tape and added some more in certain places, over certain seams.

Everything is as it should be, well almost. Left cylinder has a different sound to it than the right, so I’ll adjust the valves tomorrow evening. I’m too worn out to do it tonight.

Also been spending the last couple hours waiting on this video I made, well I made 2 and spliced them together. Also when I talk about the aluminum barrels and changing the bore, I know there is a cast iron sleeve in there that is actually the tube the piston runs in, I know I’ll be boring the barrel out to accept a sleeve. I was running on empty when I made the vid, so brain was kind of off.

One part I did buy that I don’t technically need (there is more than one, but hey, who’s counting? Besides Brent) which is basically what you’d call a Suicide Shift. But its not. I’ve read a lot of write ups on Ural/Dnepr/Chang Jiang sites about people who have the tank shift for which ever copy of the war department BMW they might have – and a Lot of them say they find it safer, easier, and the folks with the new gearboxes say that Neutral ceases to be a bitch to find because the other lever by the tank (reverse) can be used in any gear with the clutch in as a Neutral Finder, pull the lever half way and BING you’re in Neutral! I miss my 650 gearbox for that, I never missed neutral on that bike, and often would be in it as I was drifting towards the red light. Now its impossible. Worst neutral shifting I’ve ever had, and thats a fairly broad range of over 35 bikes… yes I know, I have a problem. hahaha

So these are pictures of what you get with the kit. I should note that it keeps the ability to shift with your foot if you’re so inclined, or in traffic that requires fingers over clutch & brake constantly.

Right so, this is the kit/what you get

Here is a bike that actually has it installed, doesn’t come with the Skull, which pleases me.

The whole kit mounted on a stripped down 750 Ural

Detail work on the foot shifter and how the tank shift engages the gearbox.

Under the barrel

Up top

Here is the Reverse/Neutral Finder

The modified lever for the reverse gear, that bar runs right back to the lever in the picture above.

As I describe in the video that isn’t online yet, instead of having your standard turnsignal switch, what I want to do is copy an idea of BMW which I discovered on that R65 I had for a while ->

What they did is had 2 turn signal switches, one on either side of the handlebars. Confusing as hell until your thumbs get used to it. I want to do that, but take it a step further – and in doing so ensure that I’ll never forget my signals are on.

I want to take two of these, which were primarily used as horn and kill switches. Its only engaged when you press down the top which has a spring below it.

So when I want to signal a turn all I have to do is thumb the button and the signal is on, for as long as I keep my thumb there. True self canceling blinkers =P

At any rate, I’ll shuttup now hahaha, the video will be added today or tomorrow.

June 10 2012 – Fork Union
Welp, I am back at the motel next to the military boarding school in Virginia. Today was a good ride, with two excellent conversations in a Lowes parking lot. I actually only pulled in to give the cars behind me a chance to escape 45mph, and to buy some soda.

The first conversation was with the fellow riding a Cam-am 3 wheeler set up like a Morgan. We had a great conversation about this and that. He’s not totally my kinda person, won’t ride in the rain despite the fact he can’t fall down. But all thing being equal he was pretty cool and fun to talk to. This is a shot I took of his bike and mine

The one hilarity was that he was another person – the 3rd I’ve talked to – who thinks that Cam-am was the first company to sell a 3 wheeler with 2 in the front. Silly people, Morgan (and BSA) was doing that in the 1930s

Back then in England 3 wheels was taxed like a bike which was less than the cost of a car. So Morgan made sports cars, economy cars, and even delivery trucks that only had 3 wheels. I have always wanted a Morgan 3 wheeler. The M on the engine is for Matchless – they also used JAP engines which were identical to those Brough Superior used for a while.

The next awesome conversation was with an older fellow who spent his 20s in Germany and rode motorcycles 4 seasons over there. He was more a Harley fellow, but owned up to having a ’66 Norton Commando, and was only minorly defensive when I pointed out Norton didn’t make Commando’s in 1966. I’d have let him slide on that if he’d not told me that Harley didn’t make any right side shift bikes in the 1970s – which is wrong because Jon Balducci has one, a ’74 1000cc Sportster with right foot shift. If he’s going to treat me like an idiot, then I might as well call him out for his screwup as well.

Remember, I treat everyone the way they treat me. Thats my deal with the world. I won’t be an asshole if you treat me like shit, because I don’t like being an asshole, but I won’t show an asshole any respect, because they don’t deserve it.

At any rate, its been an excellent day all in all. Hot as hell, but excellent. The bike started 1st kick this morning which was glorious because it was already in the 90s and I was sweating the instant I walked out to the bike.

Tomorrow I’m going to make a break for Gettysburg. Its 180 miles north of here. Just as I am spending tonight in a motel I slept at on the way south (same room even) I plan to spend tomorrow at the Gettysburg Hotel – not because it was nice, but because the place to eat on the first floor – McLellan’s Pub – had the best steak I have eaten since the Cattleman’s Ranch in Texas. THAT is worth 5+ hours on the bike! Also to be done with Virginia is worth that much riding time. If I can make Gettysburg tomorrow then I will Feel so much closer to home.

So thats the report for today. I wish I could show you how staggeringly beautiful the country is down here. But digital pics won’t do it justice, and I left the real cameras in Worcester.

Time to practice the Banjo.

June 11 2012 – Thursday

I think this is possible. Its time to go home, and while I’ll still be seeing the sights on 15, I’m now up for making miles. So it’ll be between 150 – 180 miles a day. That on the Ural means a solid 5-6 hours on the bike, which will hurt some, but I’ll be able to sleep it off at night.

So Gettysburg tomorrow, well today actually. I’m going to bed in about 10 minutes, and setting the alarm for 8 hours, I’ll be on the road by 11am at the latest, 9:30am at the earliest.

Goodnight!

June 12 2012 – Gettysburg… and stop
On Monday I made it to Gettysburg just as I’d hoped. It worked pretty well, the weather was nice, took me about 6 hours, and only the last 30 minutes or so were beginning to hurt a lot.

If things had gone according to my plan I would be in Stroudsburg PA today. But its raining, really quite hard – all day today and apparently some of tomorrow. So I’m not leaving Gettysburg until the rain stops. I just won’t do it, to hell with that.

Generally speaking I actually love riding in the rain. You can sort of slide the bike around corners, its easier to break the rear tire loose, its just fun. I enjoyed it just as much before I had a sidecar, but now that tiny fear of laying the bike down in a corner is gone, so I love it all the more. That said I don’t enjoy being in the rain for more than about 20-30 minutes. After that its less fun, and after about an hour its just annoying, and after 3 hours I tend to want to just go to sleep. So the idea of doing 6 hours in the rain when I don’t actually HAVE to, just seems idiotic.

So I spent last night in one hotel, but they were booked today and tomorrow, so I literally switched to the hotel right next door, which was slightly annoying with the rain

This hotel is hands down the nicest place I have ever stayed. The lobby is huge, there is a civil war cannon in the center of the lobby. There is a gift shop that sells things I can’t afford. The high back chairs in the lobby are all leather, and there are two working fire places down there. Its really quite nice. They also have apparently a really fine restaurant here, huge plus as I am getting really tired of pizza.

Just had a jaw dropping moment when I glanced over and see one of those sprinklers that come on during a fire, and there is a little sticker under it warning you not to use it to hang things with a coat hanger… Who would do something that stupid? I mean how does that strike anyone as a good idea? Someone must have done it, wouldn’t need stickers otherwise. Thats just… mindboggling.

Anyways I shall leave here either Wed or Thur – depending on the rain situation. Then I’ll ride to Stroudsburg (or something near it). The day after will be to Hudson NY, and the day after that I’ll be home.

Was listening to Josh Ritter’s Hotel Song yesterday and the lines

They say the highway is for Lovers, but he ain’t no friend of mine
Every time I find my heart I lose it to that long yellow line.

^ May not be word for word, but its just perfect.

June 13 2012 – Gettysburg Continued
The last couple days have been some of the nicest of this trip – or better put the most pleasant parts of the trip when I’ve been on my own. This hotel is glorious, I mean there is a cannon in the lobby.. But mainly the happiness has come from some wonderful rambling conversations with various guests – all of which took place out by my bike.

Last night I spent two hours talking to a group of guys who ride BMWs mostly, though there was one Brit who’s a Triumph guy, and another fellow who rides Harleys. There’s some conference for Nuclear Engineers going on and the place is crawling with them. It was just a wonderful conversation as they crawled around my bike noticing all the changes and fixes and there was laughter to the point of tears at times. I can’t begin to remember the conversations but they were just motorcycle conversations among motorcyclists. Its a very special kind of conversation, when you get a group of strangers together who love the same thing. Stories, memories, tips. For example I now know that if I do eventually put in a BMW engine I should just go with my base instinct and get an R80 engine. Apparently the R100s need an oil cooler up by the steering column to keep them from overheating. I did not know that.

Today I talked to a fellow who’s lusting after Triumph’s new 900cc parallel twin cruiserish looking bike. Not quite my style, but I can appreciate that. He has owned a 1970 Royal Enfield Interceptor since it was new.

Lovely parallel twins. Pop said they shook worse than the Atlas, but this fellow says they are pretty smooth. I’m weary of which person to believe, my instincts are always to go with dad, but then dad couldn’t remember a solid portion of the 1970s so on the other hand hahaha.

This is also the first hotel I have ever stayed at where they will actually bring you a tray of food to your room. Its incredible, I can understand why people like five star hotels. I’ll probably not stay in another for years, because its just too nice for me, but I can appreciate this.

My mood is back to roaring spirits. I was in a lull for a bit after I left Savannah and Will because I really just wanted to be home, and it was back to a solitary ride. But now that I’m only a few days from home, man I’m just flying again!

Spent some time today out by the bike cleaning up some wires and whatnot with electrical tape. Just getting her set up for the last hurrah which begins tomorrow with a 150 mile ride to Stroudsburg PA. I am now just over 400 miles from home. I have been on the road since the last days of March, and it has been a hell of a ride. I am a human being again. What joy.

So Thursday I will ride to Stroudsburg PA. Friday to Hudson NY, and Saturday I shall ride back to Worcester. Stopping in Spencer MA at Barnstorm Cycles so that Jake can fail my bike’s inspection hahaha. Once I get home I can spend some time with Mabel and be able to help mom out with the house a bit.

We have decided (again) to stay in the current house until it sells before we buy a 2 family. So that’ll be interesting. I am going to get my kitchen in the basement at last. Ikea stuff, free standing cabinets – let me find a picture to show what I mean.

So cabinets like this:

When we buy the 2 family I will simply bring my kitchen with me and put it in the new house. In the basement it’ll look pretty rustic, concrete floors, unfinished walls, steam pipes overhead. But I’ll be able to cook and clean and it will make living easier and cheaper on my end.

The Ural will gets some attention as I have been promising her for some time.

All in all this is fantastic, a great way to end this trip, and a great way to start the summer. Also mom is finally getting to retire! I am so very happy for her. She’s earned it.

So much to look forward to. I have not felt so alive since before dad died. I am finally happy again. I have also been practicing the banjo and for once I am finally getting the hang of an instrament. Its a cheap one, but I figured with my long line of things I never learned to play I should get a cheaper one to start.

Life is good.

Anyways, my food is here. I shall update tomorrow.

June 14 2012 – One or Two more days
This will be short because the internet here is scarce. I’m in Stroudsburg. Tomorrow I am pushing on to Sheffield MA for sure. Perhaps even to Worcester. It’ll take me 6 hours to get to Sheffield, it would take me 7 to get home. We’ll see. Battery is charging as we speak, up to 85% which is more than enough if I can leave the headlight off until mid afternoon. I did that today and 150 miles barely effected the battery at all.

June 16 2012 – Home
Well, I made it! I shall write something more worthy later. Have to go out and pay some attention to the Ural.

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