Well, KLR Katie was up to no good last night. We left in LiberiaDaughter's car for a late dinner and when we returned to the motel room here's what we found... and an Army bike at that! You know what they say about soldier bikes. At least he's a rich one. Mrs. Liberia's only comment was about the large size of the passenger seat. I think she broke one of the 10 Commandments in her mind.
This morning I met the Army bike's owner. They are from Wisconsin and he's on a 5,500 mile trip. I'm not sure where all he's been but he is heading to Boston, then a round-about way back home. He camps but grabs a hotel room every 3 - 4 nights. He seemed to almost apologize for the size of his tent/pad/sleeping bag pad by saying he liked to be comfortable when he camped. Anyone who can ride 5,500 miles camping 75% of the time is welcome to take whatever he wants as far as I'm concerned.
LiberiaDaughter spent the night with us again last night and had to be up and had to be up at 6:30 so she could make it back to work on time. Those of you with children can identify with the difficulty of moms to say goodbye to children when it's time to leave. We managed to part without tears (at least on the outside). She will be home September 3 or 4 so there's something to look forward to at least.
Today will be our hardest day of riding. We have a 415 mile trip that, with stops, will likely take us 10 hours. We'll be in 6 states today leaving Massachusetts and travelling through New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and ending up in Winchester, Virginia. Mrs. Liberia has begun to have second thoughts and keeps asking, "This will be okay, right?".
We left the Lenox Inn (I grew fonder of it as time went by) and headed east on Hwy 20 to Hwy 7 Alt which took us back through the historical downtown area of Lenox. Mrs. Liberia has mentioned several times that she could live here. She loves the arts (theater, dance, photography, sculpture, potter, etc.) and is a very skilled potter, a very good amateur photographer and not a bad metal sculptor. Lenox is very picturesque with nice sculptures scattered throughout the town.
Exiting Lenox we hang a right on Hwy 183 for about 5 miles and then turn onto Hwy 102 which crosses back and forth under I-90 a couple of times.
We come to Highway 22 which takes us into New York State and through the Harvey Mountain and Beebe Hill state forests. These are beautiful, low traffic back highways that are tree covered with beautiful scenery, slow speeds and gentle sweeping curves with mild elevation changes as you wind through the Berkshires.
7 miles later we get on the Taconic State Parkway for a 62 mile ride down to I-84. I can't say enough about the Taconic. For the first 40 miles or so we almost had the entire road to ourselves. Maybe seeing 10 cars on our side and, with trees obscuring the northbound lanes, hardly realizing that there were lanes there at all. What a wonderful, beautiful highway. The speed was limited to 55mph which was perfect to cruise along enjoying the sights.
I want to point out something in the preceding photo beside the fact that Mrs. Liberia is playing with the new compact camera (all pictures today were taken with the small camera). What you should notice is how much taller I am than she is. I'm 6'2" and she's 5'4" (on a good day). But most of my height is from the waist up. Thus she sees nothing in front of us as we move along.
We've travelled 80+ miles so we stop for a bottle of water and to rest for a few minutes before getting onto i-84. Mrs. Liberia begins to discuss the discomforts that she's experiencing. I knew the stock seat would be a challenge and it is for me as well. Riding 2 up provides minimal space for shifting around. The challenge will become greater as we go along.
Then we're on I-84 for where we quickly take an exit for fuel and breakfast at a Cracker Barrel. Their corporate headquarters are in Lebanon, TN which is about 30 miles from our home. We've enjoyed their food and reasonable prices for well over 30 years.
We both had the same thing for breakfast, 2 eggs with grits and biscuits. Mrs. Liberia commented on the fact that they serve grits in "the North." I respond that Cracker Barrel is wonderful isn't it. Makes me think of a time when LiberiaSon and I were in Wisconsin and stopped at a Cracker Barrel. I ordered a breakfast for dinner and asked for country ham. The little girl that was waiting on us hesitated for a moment and then said, "You know, that meat is really salty." I assured her that I knew and still wanted it.
We also gassed up at this stop and I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were almost exactly on 53 mpg since filling up between Westborough and Lenox, MA. Two up, fully loaded travel really shouldn't give that good of mileage. But the very tall gearing due to a larger front sproket and smaller rear sprocket is apparently working well for highway travel. I do believe that it is hard on the clutch as I have to slip it to get started most times.
Riding along I-84 isn't too bad but it's certainly not the Taconic State Parkway. The large tractor/trailer trucks provide a lot of buffeting and it's hard to maintain a distance that is comfortable. Gayla says my head shakes like I have palsy. At times it even rocks my chest back and forth from the roiled air that comes off the back of these large trucks.
Soon we cross the Hudson River. I had never realized how large it was as this is my first time driving across it.
Near the end of our I-84 experience we enter Pennsylvania.
In Milford, PA we leave I-84 for Hwy 209. We'll be on 209 for about 42 miles (even more given all the trouble I had staying on the right road). It changes names, shares itself with other roads and generally is difficult to stay on. But it's an interesting road nevertheless.
Along the way we came up behind a motor home with a bike carrier on the back. Typically you see scooters on these. This guy obviously wanted a little more power when he was in an RV park.
It took me a while to figure out that Hwy 22, 33 and I-78 were all sort of the same thing. So I tried 2 times to ignore the fact that Hwy 22 becomes I-78 West. I knew we were in trouble when I pulled into an office park during one of these misfires, stopped the bike to read the map/gps and Mrs. Liberia went missing. I finally found her laying out on a grassy slope by the parking lot. She was hurting in every possible place. Mainly she had developed a terrible case of the monkey butt but having to have her legs sticking out around me for so long was causing some knee problems. She asked me more than once why people liked to do this. I knew I was in trouble with 3 more hours to go.
We finally made it to I-81 and headed south. As everyone on here had warned me, the truck traffic was heaving. So trying to stay out of the buffeting was really difficult. In Tennessee the Interstates allow 70mph which typically translate into 80mph. But it seems that every Interstate north of us much limit you to 65mph (I was on one that was 55mph!). In our case it helped that the speeds were lower. Most people were driving 70mph or less and Katie runs well at 70mph using 4,500 rpm to do so. Again, the tall gearing works good for highway use.
Quickly after getting onto I-81 we stop for gas. This tank was about 53.5mpg which was mostly higher speed driving. I'm still impressed.
Notice that Mrs. Liberia is not smiling in the above picture. We stop again exactly 60 miles later just to prevent a potential rebellion.
Soon we're in Maryland (state #4 for today)
You can't see it very well but that's the Maryland welcome sign. Mrs. Liberia wants to see the Hampton Inn, Winchester, VA sign.
We're in Maryland for a very short time and then it's on to West Virginia.
We're not in West Virginia all that long either and then we see Virginia. Almost there.
And here's what we both have been looking for (Mrs. Liberia a little longer than me).
It's been a long, uncomfortable day but we've seen some beautiful country and I'd like to visit this part of the U.S. again when there is more time to stop and visit the rich natural, historical and artistic sites.
After carting our luggage up to the room we made the decision to order in some Chinese food. Mrs. Liberia immediately drew a tub of hot water and disappeared until after the food arrived. Feeling a little better we ate way too much food and settled in for the night. I was soon asleep in a wonderfully comfortable bed. But before going to sleep I mentioned to Mrs. Liberia that we could skip the Skyline and upper Blue Ridge Parkway route and drive straight to Roanoke which would cut the travel time from 6 hours to 3 if that would make it better. She's going to sleep on it and see how she feels about it in the morning.