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Old 08-09-2012, 08:32 AM   #31
8gv OP
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Joined: Nov 2009
Location: North central CT
Oddometer: 2,344
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

It was getting late and the easiest thing to do was camp at Douthat again. I called the park and asked about the consequences of arriving after their office closed. On the phone it was the same jolly lady who checked us in a few days earlier and she remembered us. She was fine with us settling up in the morning. I didn't want to be pushy so I asked for a spot in the Whispering Pines area again. I should have asked for a lakeside site but I didn't.

After a very filling spaghetti and meatball glutten (and gluten?) fest we arrived at Douthat and konked out. The next day I discovered a hitchhiker.



He seemed to have no interest in dining on me. Further proof that on ADV rides, personal hygiene should be optional.

8gv screwed with this post 08-10-2012 at 08:45 AM
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:44 AM   #32
8gv OP
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Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The backtracking was was limited on this day due to our interest in Skyline Drive. On our way up to the planned cut off I had a negative wildlife encounter. You may have noticed the Bzzzzzzzzzzzz in the title line of the last few posts. Well you got more warning than I did!

Lets talk about bees. I don't enjoy getting stung. Maybe some of you S+M grads do, but not me. I especially don't like it when I'm blasting down the forest road and I can see this big ass bee heading straight for me, stinger first.

So the bee hits me in the nose and starts stinging me. I get on the brakes and hear Garth locking them up right behind me.

Let me digress to the riding for a moment...

Last July when he bought his bike, Garth was a total noob. He now rides as well, if not better, than me. I suppose mountain biking combined with mountain climbing are good prerequisites for dual sporting. I know his suspension is better than mine but he has progressed well and it was evident on this ride. Every time I'd start to push myself to ride faster or on the rougher terrain, Garth was right there. I couldn't lose him if I tried.

Back to the bee attack...

I couldn't get my helmet off fast enough. In my panic I tried to take it off wearing the gloves. All the while he's still stinging the shit out of my nose. When I finally got the helmet off I looked for the bee and he was gone. My nose started to swell up inside and it felt like he was still stinging me. I figured the stinger was still in me but I couldn't see it.

Having achieved mono nostril status, I rode slower for the rest of the day. It was distracting wondering what was going to swell up next.

I have no pics of the bee or its kin folk. You don't want to see a picture of my nose. Here you go, cows on hold:











Sent from a dial up connection and my rotary phone.

8gv screwed with this post 08-15-2012 at 09:30 PM
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:58 AM   #33
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Location: North central CT
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Reservation rant....

In a perfect world we would just show up and get the campsite of our dreams with no prior arrangements. I'm here to tell you, the world is not perfect!

First, cell service can be spotty in the middle of nowhere. Second, unlike a car trip, it's pretty hard to make calls while negotiating the terrain on a bike. So the campsite reservation process is done during the frequent but short fuel stops.

The last thing you want to do is be on hold with a national reservation center!

Our attempts at reserving a site in Skyline Drive proved futile. First you get the "for this, push this" menu which includes being Mirandized on the subject of cancellation penalties. Then, after a lengthy "we love you but you we're experiencing higher call levels" wait, you finally get a human on the phone.
Fully expecting a close encounter of the third world kind, I was surprised to get grandma. Unfortunately she was also a great and likely a great, great grandma. I suspect that near death experiences were part of this lady's daily routine.

Do you have any campsites on Skyline Drive tonight?

"Is that in California?"

Um, no. It's in Virginia.

"There is no Skyline Drive in Virginia"

Ok, how about the Shenendoah National Park?

"There's no camping available there"

Ok, bye.

Really? Four massive campgrounds and not one open site? Come on lady I've been not moving for a half hour with 60 miles of slab ahead of me and that's your answer? Having a pricey phone is a strong deterrent to throwing it off the cliff. My old Razor would have been yelling "Geronimooooooo!" by then.

So without a reservation and with faith in my eternal good luck, we slabbed it southeast to the southern entrance to SLD. The route was 250 East and the first part over the mountains was a joy!
There were EPIC paved switchbacks on which Garth and I did our best crotch rocket imitations. Zooming our 250's around the corners, sitting on the tank to keep the front tire glued, it was more crotch and less rocket but fun nonetheless. When we reached the high point and started down there was a truck in front of us going slowly. The speed was fine for me. I know there is BBQ out there yet to be conquered so I had no interest in passing.

Following the truck was fine spectator sport. HFS!!! The truck tractor completely takes up the opposite lane on every blind inside corner. I was wondering what happens when, surprise, here comes another vehicle, and just then the truck suddenly swerved back into its lane. The rear trailer tires were all but in the ditch as the rig leaned over precariously. I fully expected to witness a double fatal as the oncoming truck hugged the outer edge. No paint was exchanged. These guys must do this often.

It was one hell of a GoPro moment though, for which unfortunately, we were not prepared. That's the trouble with battery and data limits. You never know when to run it and when you do, it's generally just after or just before you should have. Garth and I joked about critters and mayhem always knowing when the camera was off.

Without any photographic evidence of this part of the trip I offer you this consolation millipede:



8gv screwed with this post 08-15-2012 at 09:36 PM
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:51 AM   #34
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Bzzzz?

The SLD toll booth had a sign indicating vacancies everywhere in the park. We considered staying at the Skyland Resort but, being the tree huggers that we are, we chose Loft Mtn CG instead. The views were great:



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Old 08-09-2012, 10:02 AM   #35
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Bzzzzzzz

For the unfamiliar...

SLD is a 105 mile two lane road that winds its way through the Shenandoah Mts.

There are many scenic overlooks and there is wildlife aplenty.

Some riders feel that the 35mph speed limit is too slow. Riding a 250 loaded with 80 pounds of crap will fix that for you.

More SLD:

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Old 08-09-2012, 10:18 AM   #36
8gv OP
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Bzzzzzzzzz

Our steak dinner remained elusive. Nobody from SLD could verify the existence of grates over the fire rings. This and the possibility of having to stay in a hotel room kept us from buying the steaks. After checking in to Loft Mt CG via proxy, we found many excellent tent sites with grated fire rings!

WE COULD HAVE HAD STEAKS!!!

At the camp store we faced a now familiar dilemma. Do we buy eight hot dogs and waste four? Buns too? Not in bear country. It was to be a Ramen night.

Our campsite:


8gv screwed with this post 08-15-2012 at 09:38 PM
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:29 AM   #37
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Bzzzzzzzzzzz

While perusing the firewood at the camp store, the clerk there suggested that many campers forgo the purchase of wood in favor of scavenging leftovers from vacant sites. I thought it was odd to have leftover wood. We usually toss it all on there and hit the sack. So we bought two bundles which we carefully hauled back up to the site. The wood made the bikes quite top heavy. After the riding we'd been doing, crashing at the camoground would really suck.

While Garth headed to the showers I sought out steak alternatives:

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Old 08-09-2012, 10:36 AM   #38
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Location: North central CT
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Bzzzzzzzzzzzz

Yes, they really have no fear of us. Deer were everywhere, munching on their veggies, smiling for the cameras.

At this point my nose was running from the inside and the outside. It seemed like the stinging sensation had stopped but I was still a mono nostril. Being the analytical guy I am, I decided to evaluate the relative loss of air flow to the afflicted side of my nose. I exhaled hard and guess what popped out...

THE FRIGGIN' BEE WAS IN MY NOSE FOR OVER 100 MILES!

No, I did not take any pics of the bee. I was relieved though.




8gv screwed with this post 08-15-2012 at 09:40 PM
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:52 AM   #39
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The campsite at Loft Mtn was the best all week. There were deer, bunnies and dogs on leashes everywhere. Garth and I both have dogs that are treated like family members. When on vacation, petting other folks' dogs fills the gap.

Grumbling that we could have had steaks, Garth started the fire. Well, he sort of started it. The squaw wood, straw and leaves all burned readily. The store bought wood would not. I started ribbing him, calling him Cody Lundin and suggested that the use of an accelerant was indicated. He would not relent. As I cooked Ramen with my JetBoil, he tried and tried to get the wood to light. Even with his excellent mountaineering skills and some verbal lubrication, it was futile.

It was time for a more traditional approach to fire starting. We soaked a bunch of napkins in his gas tank and there it was! A ball of fire rivaling the sun...but still not hot enough to light the crappy camp wood.

GOOD THING WE DIDN'T BUY STEAKS

The offending wood as it sat the next morning:



So I guess we now know why there is wood left behind to scavenge.

8gv screwed with this post 08-15-2012 at 09:41 PM
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:05 AM   #40
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There were signs posted directing us to take bear precautions. "Keep your food in the trunk of your car!" Ok, I've got a gas tank and a crankcase but no trunk. There were bear boxes down below us at the sites used by the Appalachian Trail hikers but we had other plans. Not wanting to wake up to a shredded bike, Garth put his food in a bag and hung it from a tree. My plan was was more simple. I ate all my food, or at least most of it. The bear would have to eviscerate me to get any of my chow!

The next morning, Yogi was out and about:


8gv screwed with this post 08-10-2012 at 08:57 AM
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:07 AM   #41
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This guy was quite tame and if I ever figure out how to post video here you'll see more of him.

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Old 08-09-2012, 11:11 AM   #42
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What's interesting about my bear encounter at the camp site is that I walked away being less afraid of bears. Having spent a few nights in the wilderness of the White Mountains of NH, bear paranoia had been with me for a while. Now they don't scare me, but probably should!




8gv screwed with this post 08-09-2012 at 11:22 AM
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:16 AM   #43
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Leaving Loft Mtn we had 80 more miles of SLD. With so many scenic overlooks, I was charged with picking the right ones to pull into. After trying some lesser ones I skipped a few, which with an over the shoulder glance, appeared to be the best ones. The sky was getting cloudy anyway:


8gv screwed with this post 08-15-2012 at 09:44 PM
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:21 AM   #44
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Deer were everywhere. You pull up to them, have a conversation about BBQing Bambi and they just don't care.

We had a great no GoPro moment when a slightly larger, potentially less tame bear jogged across the road ahead. We have no photographic evidence of this but we saw it with our eyes and that's good enough for me.

Here's a consolation bunny:


8gv screwed with this post 08-10-2012 at 08:59 AM
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:39 AM   #45
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Leaving SLD we had to ride 340 north to rejoin the route. The original plan was to arrive at Duncannon Friday night, sleep there and go home on Saturday. That would require more slab and no chance to ride the sections we missed on day one. We were having such great weather and riding we decided to change it up a bit. Most of all, we wanted steaks over an open fire!

So we cranked it up a bit as one is prone to do with the finish line in sight.

The tracks file showed Greenbrier MD SP close by. We called the reservation line and %<}+^%<}@&$. I called the park directly and someone actually answered the phone! It was first come, first serve with little availability so we pushed hard to get there quickly. After checking in we inquired about locating steaks.

"Turn left and then left again at the second light." Accurate it was, but the second light was eight miles and a world away. We had just descended from the forest and now found ourselves in a 95* parking lot packed with Friday night shoppers and sub woofers rattling our bikes. I'll take the bears thank you.

Not likely to be seen on the cover of Food magazine but still a real live steak pic:




Our campsite at Greenbrier the next morning:


8gv screwed with this post 08-15-2012 at 09:46 PM
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