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Old 05-01-2011, 05:49 AM   #1
ddavidv OP
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Location: Elizabethtown, PA
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KLR Chronicles - noob day trip in middle PA

Preface: Thanks to this site , in August of last year I bought a very ugly KLR to get back into riding. Yeah, I know, all KLRs are ugly. This one particularly so since it had the 1980s decal package and had obviously been used pretty hard in it's prior 20k+ miles before I got it. The upside was it had a ton of new parts and useful upgrades, and also being a KLR the running gear still had another 250k miles of life remaining. So for a paltry $1200 I was ready for adventure.

Time being the valuable commodity that it is, I haven't had much opportunity before the cold months to really go for a ride. I mean, I really need to get some miles under my butt before I ride off for a week, or on the TAT, or around the world (on my $1200 bike ). Finally yesterday, the weather appeared to cooperate, I had a route loaded in my PN-60w and I was eager to become an ADVenturer! The trip was created out of an actual multifold purpose: one, I needed to determine if a certain dirt road was gated for a future history-following ride I wanted to do that was 3 hrs away. Two, I wanted to follow the route my family always took to our former weekend vacation property in Sullivan county to see what had changed (it's probably been 10-15 years since I last drove that route). I didn't really need the PN-60w for this, but I planned an alternate, meandering route back on new roads and of course wanted to track distance, etc as well as avoid getting hopelessly lost.

So, with that long-winded preface out of the way, let's get going.

Well, not so fast. My 8am departure turned into 9am as I getting the DeLorme to do what it's supposed to. I love the map program and the graphics, but I swear, the user manual is . Ok, so on the road finally, pointed in the right (north) direction. And about 10 minutes into the ride from my house it tells me to turn onto a 'road'...that leads into a PA Turnpike service area...and that I'm supposed to follow the Turnpike. OK, so maybe I'll just go the way I know and let the GPS "recalculate" for the next hour (A.D.D. moment--why does it take the DeLorme forever to do route recalculations?). And off we go, on a relatively boring ride north from Lancaster county, through Hershey, onto I-81 (yeah, I know, we'll get to the reason for the slab in a bit) on our way up to the Minersville exit (Route 901) and the start of my "return to teen years trip down memory lane". The weather was supposed to be sunny and 70 but currently it is CRAP; very cloudy, damp and enough wind to make highway riding unpleasant. So I stop to adjust my attitude, clothing and test out the SPOT tracker. Photo at an appropriate place for you inmates:

What a gorgeous bike. Admit it, you guys are all jealous.
I head up SR42 through Centralia and skip the obligatory photo on the melted portion of road (Centralia is nothing new to me...been going through that town since it was, well, a town). Since I'm an hour behind on my 300-ish mile route I don't want to stop for too many pics. There's a wife with a steak dinner motivating me to stay mostly on time for my return, so I err on the side of moving. Through Catawissa where I'm stunned the gas station my family always stopped at (the Coastal, at the main intersection in town) is boarded up. I don't know why that bothers me that much, it's just another gas station/convenience store but it was a place we always stopped to top off. Bummer.

I continue up 42 as the sun comes out...suddenly. The clouds break all of a sudden and go from dark gray to puffy white. The birds chirp. The squirrels and rabbits wave at me from the side of the road. The edges of my lips begin turning upward slightly. This may be fun after all. Just before I reach the junction with 239 I see something on my left that is photo worthy. There's not much I like more than rusty old vehicles, and this 1940s vintage Ford has lots of character. It's parked in the yard of a predictably run-down home with other junkers, but this one is front and center, not having been there according to my feeble memory. It's been placed with apparent purpose. I assume for my personal enjoyment, but still waste no time in snapping the shot before the shotgun barrel might appear through a curtain.


A.D.D. moment--Somewhat prior (I think...this RR is already in turmoil), having been bummed by not getting to stop at the Coastal station to fuel up, I found Dog Gone Good Fuel. Since I have 3 dogs, their marketing approach appealed to me. Great decor. I think this will be my new fueling station. Provided I ever come this way again.

Continuing up 42 at Muncy Valley, I remember a landmark that has bugged me for years. In the family car climbing the mountain out of town (good twisty road, BTW) we'd always shoot by it at 50 mph and all I ever got was a glimpse. Sure enough, it was right where I remembered it, looking completely out of place in relation to the surrounding terrain. Tough to get a photo of it, since there isn't much shoulder here and traffic rounds the corner pretty suddenly, but I got off the bike and investigated The Mystery Bridge:

Apparently, it was a road bridge. The original road was much higher than the current roadbed which goes through a rock 'cut' and removed the prior version of the road. Hence, why this bridge looks completely out of place, at least at the height it's at above the current road surface. As usual, I pondered the amount of work it must have taken to build such a thing back in the days of steam trains and horses with wagons. Those guys were men. I'm always in awe of their accomplishments (and typically done faster and more aesthetically appealing than current gov't run projects...but I digress). The water goes under the 'new' road here via a culvert and exits on the opposite side (where I parked), giving a nice steaming waterfall view as you perch upon the hillside and pee (which I did). A worthwhile stop, and boyhood mystery answered to my satisfaction.

Intermission
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KLR Chronicles, list of my Ride Reports in PA/MD:
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Old 05-01-2011, 06:48 AM   #2
ddavidv OP
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noob on a KLR, cont'd

Still with me? Lordy, you must be bored.
Now, where were we...oh yeah, I leave 42 for 154 and ride through Loyalsock SF and World's End SP. World's End is a great place and I need to go back and spend some time there. The ride along the Loyalsock Creek to Forksville is always enjoyable, and unfortunately too brief. Obligatory photo of Thumper at the Forksville covered bridge:

Back in my younger, head-full-of-hair days SR154 was one of my favorite roads. I had a few chances to drive my old Ford Fiesta on it (highly modified and tons of fun) and it was my version of the Tail of the Dragon, before I knew anything about Deal's Gap. It is fun on a bike also. In no time at all I'm in the big city of Shunk (that's sarcasm). Obligatory photo of the old garage, now apparently seeing some activity at last. Fairly boring personal historical sidenote: the garage, the multiple times we passed by it, never had anyone around it. When we first started going up here, there was no sign. Then, inexplicably, an old non-functioning neon "Kaiser-Frazer" dealership sign appeared out front. Through the grapevine I heard an endless number of people would stop at the store across the street and ask to buy it. The sign has again disappeared, but a collectible vehicle (Packard?) now resides under the carport. The '56? Ford sedan delivery was actually being worked on when I went by. More unsolved mysteries.

Additional, not likely fascinating trivia: Down in Lancaster where I live we had a Datsun dealership owned by Ed Fisher. Mr Fisher also had a motorcycle shop down around Coatesville, and my father and Ed were hooligans who grew up together and did unspeakable things to motorbikes in their youth. Mr Fisher has since retired to the greater Shunk area. Years prior to this, a rather rare Nissan Patrol jeep was parked at this garage. The Patrol is now parked at the garage adjacent to this one. I suspect that ol' Ed has his fingers in these establishments, still playing with cars.

Yet one more way OT, useless trivia bit of blathering: My grandfather owned a Matchless motorcycle, the last of several bikes he'd had while living on his farm. Upon his death, the farm was sold and the contents auctioned, including the Matchless. I was about 5 at the time, so don't tell me I should have bought the thing. Ol' Ed purchased it and kept it in his 'collection'. It was still there when my cousin went looking for it, having become interested in bikes several years ago. Cousin and Ed made a deal, and it's now back in the family. I need to get down there and get a photo of me on it to go with the one I had taken when I was 4. Sorry, A.D.D. moments over.

Back to the ride. I continue up 154 past the location of our once family retreat; a long since removed mobile home. The lot is grown up a lot. Only thing to indicate anything was ever there is the utility pole. It looked like that last time I'd been by, but across the street...good gawd. The land we rented from a local farmer, and his 3 offspring each had a mobile home along the same road. The one directly across from us was a very tidy rental kept by another family. Apparently, the farmer's ne'er do well sons or their offspring have since taken over possession of it and turned it into a trash dump with a residence in the middle of it. Dad did well bailing out of our place when he did. (The motivator for that was when our lawn mower gas cans kept being stolen. Not too hard to guess where they were going.) A brief ride up the road to find that the gate I was concerned about in post 1 was indeed still firmly in place. A.D.D. moment--what is it with the PA DCNR and their precious gates? Isn't it public land? How the hell am I supposed to access the land I pay to maintain when there's a gate across it?

Back to riding...
I head back to 154 to Shunk and plug in my return trip route. Now, when I did this at home I just randomly picked a route based more on general direction and mileage than anything else. So imagine my glee when I find out that I selected a number of dirt roads without even trying. Right out of Shunk I take Fox Twp route 408, a road I rode (illegally) many times on Dad's old Honda Trail 90 in my pre-license (the illegal part) days. A.D.D. autobiographical moment--My folks (judge for yourself whether they were 'good' parents or not) would let me take the (legal) Trail 90 out to ride on the gravel roads around our place. There was no police patrol, and I had a helmet, so what could go wrong? The intention was that I would ride the very-close-to-camp roads, but I can tell you I would be miles away, riding paved state roads with no license, a tee shirt, shorts and sneakers. I think about it today and cringe with the thoughts of all the things that could have gone wrong, but the upside is I became a pretty proficient dirt rider thanks to all of those miles. Haven't dropped the KLR yet.

408 is in rough shape and has a lot of tight turns (coupled with exciting, sphincter shrinking drop offs) but also allows for photos like this:


After some very tight, slippery S's it dumps onto Hoagland Branch Rd, another one I've ridden/driven countless times and enjoy immensely as it runs through State Lands along a creek, with several bridge crossings. The fishermen are out in force along with the turkey hunters, though the latter are all calling it a day near as I can tell. A.D.D. autobiographical moment--Dad took me hunting twice. I never understood the attraction of carrying a heavy gun around the freezing cold woods hoping to shoot something very heavy I'd have to drag back to the road. I called it quits after the second time and have never longed to do it again.

From here it's a brief run west on SR87 to Ogdonia Rd, one that I actually don't believe I've ever been on. A real pity, because I freaking loved this road. Smooth, wide, and lots to look at. Samples:


After awhile I come to Deer Lake, totally unexpected. Several geese are in residence and you may be able to spot a few black blotches in the first pic.

Obligatory "my bike in front of something scenic" shot:

(Please, please try to keep the drool off your monitor. I know how sexy Thumper looks).
Wait...what's that? A solid looking pole about the right height for a self-portrait? I'm sure all the ADVers will be anxious to see a photo of the author. (Actual likely inmate commentary: "Get the F out of the way, we can't see that gorgeous KLR dripping with awesomeness, you stupid bald old fart!")

Yeah...that pose was the result of the camera being a tad too far away. Gave me just enough time to get in the shot before it clicked, judging by the way my foot isn't on the ground and my expression. Trust me, by this time I was pretty much grinning constantly inside the helmet. Couldn't have been a much nicer day.
Pretty much around now I realize I'm hungry, and there's not much on the horizon. I follow Mr DeLorme to SR220 and putt my way into Picture Rocks (don't blink or you'll miss it) and eventually into Hughesville, where there are several selections for the hungry traveler.

Intermission
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KLR Chronicles, list of my Ride Reports in PA/MD:
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...2#post18782262
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Old 05-01-2011, 07:25 AM   #3
ddavidv OP
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noob on a KLR, cont'd

Now where...oh yeah, FOOD!
I came into Hughesville from the north. At first there wasn't much to choose from. I wasn't in the mood for a bar, didn't want a serious sit-down experience and also didn't want chain fast food (which you can find as you leave town from the south, BTW). Finally spotted this place:

It's now about 1:30. If I can be out of there by 2pm I'll still likely be home before the steaks hit the grill. I figured just a couple of slices or a sub would be good, but one of the specials was the Buffalo Chicken Salad With Bread. Now, I'm a sucker for anything with "buffalo" and "chicken" in the name, plus I have the added bonuses of a) traveling alone and b) riding a motorcycle, so the after effects of buffalo sauce on my aging innards won't offend anyone, including myself. So yes, I'd like that please.

(photo taken sans flash, because I frankly felt a little weird about photographing my food in a restaurant while sitting alone surrounded by families and the wait staff)
It was yummy! Nice big hunks of chicken, good sauce, no stupid black olives and a side of nice, soft bread. Wow, I feel better now.

Back to riding.
Unfortunately, my original mapped route left town from the east and took back roads. I expected Mr DeLorme to redirect me back to the route from where I was (slightly south) but noooooo...he decided to put me on I-180. A smart guy would have turned around and gone back, but not I. Realizing my stupidity, I get off at the next exit (Turbotville) and head down 54, a smooth but fairly dull road. I did stop for a look at this ruin, very visible from 54:


A huge house, once a grand structure I'm sure. Much like the bridge, I contemplate who built it and when, the size family it must have contained and how it fell into such disrepair. There's certainly a story here but one that I'll likely never know.

I continue on to Danville and get back on my original route. I've missed all the 'good stuff' and at this point didn't have a very interesting path laid out as I expected I'd be concerned about the time factor. I take 61 down to Shamokin and pick up 125 which I always enjoy riding. But...before I do that I take a side journey straight where the road goes left just outside of town and get to this sign:

Thinks I.
Bear Valley Rd quickly deteriorates into a coal mine area, unpaved, in pretty horrible shape. I try to determine from the DeLorme just how long this road is and where it goes (I really would have liked to ride it) but it looks looong and my fuel is questionable, so I bail. I do take a photo of the abandoned power house for everyone's amusement:

Turns out is was a wise move on my part; had I chosen the wrong direction I could have ridden real far only to find a dead end. Perhaps another day I can explore the whole area.

I take 125 to 209 and then Gold Mine Rd and avoid I-81. Both of these roads are a real joy with lots of twists, switchbacks and elevation changes. I was getting to around 220 miles on my tank and figured I'd have to hit reserve. Sure enough, climbing the first hill on Gold Mine Rd Thumper gasps to a halt (not quick enough on the switchover, me). I thought better of trusting the reserve and went the mile or so back to the intersection and threw in a few gallons.

A nice ride on 443 to Ft Indiantown Gap and a uneventful commute back to home turf. I made it home prior to steak searing, so aside from a few GPS flubs it wound up being a good day of riding. Stats, for those who are into such things:
Total miles 301.0
Moving: 6:47
Stopped : 2:04
Avg speed: 44.3
I figured about 8 hrs riding time. Had I actually done the 'correct' return route, that likely would have been accurate. This 'first run' was very educational in figuring out the GPS (mostly), how long it actually takes to go distances and some idea of how much time 'breaks' eat up. I've got a few more day/weekend trips planned already, so if you found this the least bit entertaining look for future installments of "The KLR Chronicles". Thanks for reading.
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KLR Chronicles, list of my Ride Reports in PA/MD:
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...2#post18782262
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Old 05-01-2011, 07:25 AM   #4
dustfilter
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Keep it coming

I am very much enjoying the RR. Have always loved your part of this beautiful country and am really enjoying your well written report and beautiful pictures.

And yes I am admiring that KLR
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Old 05-01-2011, 11:01 AM   #5
SteelB12
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That pizza place you stopped at: I don't know if its some kind of chain or what, but I can think of two places in Virginia with the same name and exact same sign.
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Old 05-01-2011, 11:20 AM   #6
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Loved it when I went through PA in the Summer of '02. Like your old KLR also. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-01-2011, 11:36 AM   #7
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Enjoyed your report as I sit on the couch today! Yes, every KLR is both ugly and beautiful. I think it depends on the lighting LOL
Thanks for taking us along for the ride!
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Old 05-01-2011, 11:47 AM   #8
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You've sure got some purty country to explore out there. Loved the ride report and the pictures of the bike in front of things.
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Old 05-01-2011, 06:52 PM   #9
apexeric
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Nice ride report! Worlds End is one of my favorite places. I've been going there since the '70's! There is great food on the other side of that bridge at the Forksville General Store. Awesome garlic fries!
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Old 05-01-2011, 07:40 PM   #10
Fire44
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Nice RR. I too love that area of PA. If you plan another ride and would like a fellow KLR rider to come along, drop me a PM. If the timing works out, I would love to explore the area with someone who knows the area.
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Old 05-02-2011, 03:52 AM   #11
ddavidv OP
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Thanks for the comments so far. Keep them coming. It makes the time spent creating the report worthwhile. I can't imagine how these multi-month reports ever get done.

I'll absolutely be making more trips up that way, hopefully for some weekend/2-day things allowing me time to really retrace my Trail 90 paths. I know a lot of roads in Tioga also. For my next journey into my childhood I plan on visiting an actual cabin we used in Sinnamehoning, Cameron county, which is in a pretty remote area. I haven't been there since about 1972 but still have vivid memories of time spent there. It's still there on Google satellite.
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KLR Chronicles, list of my Ride Reports in PA/MD:
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Old 05-02-2011, 02:27 PM   #12
apexeric
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fire44 View Post
Nice RR. I too love that area of PA. If you plan another ride and would like a fellow KLR rider to come along, drop me a PM. If the timing works out, I would love to explore the area with someone who knows the area.
Ditto.
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Old 05-02-2011, 04:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apexeric View Post
There is great food on the other side of that bridge at the Forksville General Store. Awesome garlic fries!
Yes,,,, what he said!!! You passed that up to eat at OIP????
Once, you're forgiven,,, just don't let it happen again!
You'll have a nicer ride to Sinnemahoning if you hit Wykoff Run on the way!
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Old 05-02-2011, 05:53 PM   #14
AST236
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Older KLR's are much less ugly than the new ones.

Nice RR. It always amazes me how much fun I can have just by getting on my bike and riding around in the sticks.
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Old 05-03-2011, 03:58 AM   #15
ddavidv OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scootac View Post
Yes,,,, what he said!!! You passed that up to eat at OIP????
Once, you're forgiven,,, just don't let it happen again!
Hey, who knew? I'll know better for next time. It was a little early for lunch, but I should have known I wouldn't find anything for at least another hour.
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KLR Chronicles, list of my Ride Reports in PA/MD:
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