Joined: Jul 2007
Day 2: Sunday 8/22/10-Winchester, VA to Oxbow Lake, NY, 487 miles
I was up early and ready to ride, but slowed down some when it was clear that my wife didn’t want me to rush out the door. Leaving on a trip like this is always tough on those at home, but there was an extra layer of anxiety this time around after my wreck in western Montana last season as I worked my way back from another trip above the border. I was running solo on this trip, and that didn’t help either. I had a SPOT in the map window of my tank bag, had set up the tracking link, and tested it the previous day. It’s surprising how much comfort watching that track march across a digital map can provide. Well worth the cost from where I sit.
Time to go, goodbye, and I’m off adventuring once again. Starting on down the road on a trip like this feels like you kept a flask of adrenaline in your hip pocket just for the occasion, pulled it out, and drank it up in one long pull. All of it. If you’re not feeling alive at this point, as in absolutely and urgently alive, please consider staying home. I’m convinced that this heightened state is what allows your return, maybe not unscathed, but certainly alive.
In my younger days, I would turn the ignition key on whatever and 1000 miles later I’d look around and say “Where the hell am I, and how did I get here so fast?” Not today. I only want to get up near the Canadian border somewhere in New York. I had several possible routes in mind and would just pick one when I got closer. I might end up stopping short if I found rain anything like being reported.
I had been crossing into Canada since before the United States had a peanut farmer for a President. If you don’t remember anything about that particular debacle, I’ve probably been in Canada since before you born. I’ll be there tomorrow, and hope the Canuckistanians will still let me in. I’ll try that Red River, and promise not to use Molson instead of milk on my granola cereal.
I fuel up before the march north on I81, people still kinda eyeing those fuel cans. It must have something to do with the numbers. If I said I needed to run 400km between fuel stops, people would say “Ok, now I understand why ya need them cans”, but if I said I needed to travel 240 miles, they would say “Whatcha need them things fur?” So when people in the States ask, I’m giving them the metric version and the discussion can move on to the other hot topics. Canuckistanians will take a look at the bike with the extra fuel, automatically ask how far it will go, and almost never ask how fast it will get there.
Out on I81 and running 80 in moderate traffic. I had quickly gone from partly sunny in Winchester, to cloudy, and then light rain. I would have liked to get farther up the road before the rumba started in earnest, but when I look that direction I know that won’t happen. Immediately north the sky was shading darker, and beyond that it was already a dark fissured marble color. Buckets, cats ‘n dogs, or enter your own description. It was really freakin’ coming down.
In Pennsylvania I stop for fuel. I was soaked from head to toe. My boots were full of water. WTF? There must have been some raucous laughter or snickers at the various factories when they stitched those waterproof labels on my gear. Waterproof? Sure, like a fucking screen door in a cat 5 hurricane. My gear is so soaked I might have to find a wet vac to suck the water out. The guy on the other side of the pumps asks “Where ya goin’?”, and when I say “North.”, he responds “This crap is solid all the way to upstate New York, just saw the radar at home.” I’m in trouble now, my tan is going to fade for sure.
I take a look at the map and decide to run I88 east and then pick a spot to turn north up into the west side of the Adirondacks. Now running 80 east and the wind has picked up, pushing the bike around. Some kind of cruiser bike goes by on the west side with a gal on an odd pillion seat which put her upper body way above the windscreen. Bet she was having a ball. If the guy sitting nice and protected behind that big windscreen had dreams of wild monkey sex that evening, forget the gal on the back. Never happen after that ride.
North at Oneonta, and I make my way through some small towns, still raining hard. I’m kind of in the middle of nowhere when the fuel light comes on, a surprise. I’d burned a lot of fuel running 80 into the wind. Not a drop in the saddle tanks, I didn’t want the weight. Now I get to see how dumb that decision would turn out to be. I slow down a little, make the next town and find the only open station. Just put 3.96 gallons in my 4.2 gallon tank, no problem…in the rain, on Sunday, roads empty.
I leave the bike at the pump, and go inside for coffee. A Harley goes by, turns around, and comes back. He makes half a dozen circles around the bike trying to figure out what he’s looking at and then comes in for coffee too. A heavy equipment operator, he was on his way back to Vermont. He was in New York for a memorial ride honoring his recently deceased father. Strangely, the ride involved some kind of turkey shoot competition at multiple locations. The Harley guys were going from place to place with their shotguns strapped across the bars until a trooper flagged down the whole group and asked them to cut it out. No laws broken, but they were scaring the heck out of everyone.
We’re both on our way, and I head for Herkimer, then Poland. Finally I’m on 8 and into the west side of the Park. I wanted to get to TupperLake, but with no daylight left, I wasn’t going to get there. I suppose I could have tried, but with rain and dark, it didn’t seem like the best idea. I passed a small motel, turned around and went back. There were three cruiser bikes in front and that seemed like a good recommendation. The Oxbow Lake Motel, neat little place, but nobody around. There was a board with keys on it, just pick a key and find your room. Ok.
Gear off and spread all over the room to dry. TV on and the weather guys says that the 5.25” of rain they had today was an all time record. Much grass, just when I decided to ride in here for a visit. Wet gear everywhere, the room was starting to get a cave like subterranean feel. A long and wet first day on the road. Not a single photo outside Virginia. It would have been like holding the camera underwater while you tried to shoot. Canuckistan in my sights....
(To be continued…)