|05-02-2013, 06:43 AM||#91|
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Somewhere around 10am, I think I've got things all buttoned up and tied down so I'm about to get on the road. Not knowing much about the area, I figure I'll ride I-80 till I can link up with Hwy 380 to Scranton.
Now the Quality Inn in Stroudsburg is practically on I-80. I'm warming the the Helix when I notice that I-80 is not moving. Oh crap! Do I want to get in that mess. Carl and his lovely bride, of 32 years, are standing nearby so I ask them about another way to go. They tell me about Route 611, a much nicer back road way to get to 380. They say that they're on their way to visit a candle factory that's on Route 611 and I should follow them. When they turn off, I should just go straight.
As they turn off, I beep, wave and ride on. This area must be known for it's candles because candle factories/showrooms are every few miles along 611. Just a few miles after Carl and Barb turn off I find this.....
I did see people going into the candle factory/store but it looked like the Haunted House was closed. I wasn't sure if it was closed because it was early in the morning or because they saw me coming. Later, I noticed that quite a few places had signs out front that said, "closed for the season".
Hwy 611 is a real nice road to ride. At Tobyhanna, Pa. Route 611 merges into Hwy 380. I ride north to Scranton. In Scranton, it's back on the interstate as I pick up I-81 heading towards Binghampton, N.Y.
I think I mentioned before that I'm a bit of a baseball fan. Not so much the major leaguers but everything below that level. Way back in North Carolina, I had wanted to stop and see the Durham Bulls play. The same Durham Bulls made famous, or more famous, in the Kevin Costner movie, Bull Durham. That never happened. In Stroudsburg, I'd search the internet for a baseball game in this area. There is a team in Scranton but they're playing on the road. All I can find in this area are the Binghampton Mets so now I'm headed to Binghampton to see the Binghampton Mets play. The Binghampton Mets, as you might suspect, are a minor league affiliate of the New York Mets. They're the Mets double A ball club.
At the ballpark, NYSE&G Stadium, I asked a guy who looks like he work's there who the Mets AAA team is. He says the Las Vegas 51's. I immediately say, no way. The 51's are the Dodgers AAA affiliate. He says, that was last year, they're the Mets AAA affiliate this year. He has no idea where the Dodgers AAA affiliate went but it isn't the 51's this year.
Years ago, I lived in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where the Mets single A club is located and saw them play many times. This year I got the AA club and before the year is out, I'll see the 51's play in Tucson. You might get the idea that I'm a Mets fan.....but you'd be wrong!
My 14th state on this trip.......
My nothward trek was supposed to take me as far north as Binghampton but.......
Do you know why we make plans? So we have something to base the changes on.
There have been so many changes in my original plans that one more won't make any difference. For a few years, I've been keeping track of a friends son through Facebook. I knew Derek way back when I lived in Florida. I think it's been around 18 years since I last saw him. When I first attempted to find him, he was working on a master's degree in Spain. After that, he moved to Mexico and was working in a hostel. I thought, great, I'll just ride down there and look him up. As I'm making those plans, I discover that he's moved to Carrboro, N.C.. Ok, no problem. As this trip was in the planning stages, I'll just ride to wherever Carrboro is and look him up. About a month before this trip, I check Derek's Facebook page. Oh crap, he's now in Ithaca N.Y. I'm just about to blow off the idea of looking him up when it dawns on me that I'm probably going to have some time to kill before the race starts.
In Binghampton, I try calling him, on the odd chance that I'll actually answer. He picks up!
"HI, is this Derek?"
"Hi Derek, it's Stan Scott"
"Wow, this is a call that I wasn't expecting" or words to that effect.
We yack a bit and I tell him I'm about an hour away and I'd like to see him, if that's ok. He invites me to Ithaca and to stay over at his house.
I think, wow, the kid must be doing good, he has a house.
I continue up I-81, blowing off the baseball game, and turn off on 79 for the ride to Ithaca, the home of Cornell University.
In Ithaca, I call Derek and we arrange a meeting place. His house turns out not to be his house but a big house that he sublets a room in. This being a college town, it seems that all the big old house near the university are rented out by the room. His "house" is a 5 bedroom house where mostly students rent a bedroom. His "room" rent is $550 a month. Can you say ouch?
This is the house he lives in. He lives in the room with the partially open window.
After yacking a bit, we walk up through the Cornell campus. When I say up, I mean UP. It seems like everywhere we walked was up hill. I was getting so tired, I thought it was uphill both ways!
On our walk through campus, I noticed these deer. They even stayed around for me to take the picture. I'm guessing that they're regulars here.
Now I know that this hill doesn't look like much from this point of view but, trust me, I was huffing and puffing by the time I got to this vantage point.
One of the many great old buildings on campus.
Somewhere on the top of one of the many hills, I told Derek to pick out a restaurant and I'd buy dinner. He picked a Korean restaurant. Funny thing, he's very good with chopsticks. I ate with a spoon as they have no forks.
Now, before anyone asks, this is the only picture I took that actually has Derek in it. Good picture, huh? What with all our talking and catching up, it just never occured to me. It's also a picture of the salmon dish that I had. It was very tasty but just ok to me. I guess I'm just not into Korean food.
Next morning, as I'm all packed up to go and can't really ride two up, Derek gives me the address to a little restaurant on the pedestrian only part of State Street, if anyone knows where that is. I ride down the hill and he walks. At the restaurant, whose name I don't remember, we meet up with Lauren, Dereks BFF, so to speak. (Lauren, I hope that's how I spell your name.)
After breakfast, we say our goodbyes, Derek heads off to work and I try to find another road out of Ithaca. Today I ride back towards Binghampton and the baseball game that I blew off yesterday. For the visit that I had with Derek, I was very glad that I blew off the game. I'm hoping that it's not another 18 years before our paths cross again. Maybe Derek will head off in search of America and one day come through Tucson.......here's hoping!
|05-02-2013, 12:12 PM||#92|
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
A few hours ago, I finished writing one of the great ride reports. A ride report that was destined to be inducted in the Ride Report Hall of Fame. I'd spent several hours putting it together. I'd edited out all the boo-boos. Just as I hit post, ADVrider had a problem. Yes, it was actually ADVrider who ate the greatest ride report ever written. This time I can't blame it on the lousy wifi at any one of the low rent motels that I've been staying in on my trek around the country.
But, being the persistent person that I am and not wanting to let my very dedicated audience down, here goes my second attempt to post the Greatest Ride Report ever written. If, after reading it, you're not convinved that it is, in fact, the greatest ride report ever written, it's not my fault.
The Whiskey Dick Scooter Rally ended this past Sunday. Since there were no events scheduled for Sunday, most people were busy packing up, loading scooters on trailers, saying their goodbyes and hitting the highway for home, wherever home was for them. Me, I just loaded up, as hitting the road for home wouldn't be for another week.
I think I mentioned before that I'm quite the baseball fan. In my spare time during the rally, I'd try to see if there were and minor league baseball teams that played in the area. Yes, there's a team in Scranton, Pa., but they're playing out of town. Then I found the Binghampton Mets, the double A affiliate of the N.Y. Mets. Ok then, it's off to Binghampton, N.Y.
Now, the official motel of the Whiskey Dick Scooter Rally is the Quality Inn, which is located just off of I-80, my intended route out of Stroudsburg. As I'm loading up the scooter, I notice that I-80 has come to a screeching halt. Nobody is going anywhere. Loading up next to me this morning is Carl, and his lovely bride of 32 years, Barb. I ask about other routes out of Stroudsburg that will get me to northbound 380. They tell to take 611 north. As a matter of fact, they're headed out 611 to a candle factory, of which there are many in this area. They say I can follow them. When they turn left, I should go straight on 611.
Off we go. In a few miles, they turn left and I go straight....as told. in another couple of miles, I spot another candle factory/store/place, only this one has something extra.......
A Haunted House. As with most things on this trip, it's closed! I'm not sure if they saw me coming and closed early or, like a lot of businesses in this area, they just haven't opened for "the season" yet.
If pictures are proof, here it is, my most northern state on this trip. Thank goodness because I'm freezing and wearing most everything I brought with me.
My ride north through Scranton, Pa., carries a bit of an ulterior motive. In addition to wanting to see a baseball game, I'm hoping to finally be able to track down a friends son who I have seen in something like 18 years. Not since the mid 1990's. Heaven knows it's not for lack of trying on my part. A few years ago, I managed to track Derek down through Facebook. Derek has a somewhat unusual last name so I knew that I wouldn't have to go through 14,367 people to find him. As a matter of fact, his name came up quite quickly. At that time, he was in Spain studying for a masters degree. Over the next year or so, I kept checking to see where he was. On one of my checks, I see that he's living in Mexico so I start planning for a Helix ride through Mexico. Just as my plans are coming together, I discover that he's moved to Carrboro, N.C.. Great!
Ok, no real problem. This trip is taking me through N.C. so I'll just make a slight detour to wherever it is that Carrboro is. A few weeks before this trip is starting I discover that Derek has moved onto Ithaca, N.Y. Now I'm beginning to question how much I really want to track him down.
Knowing there's going to be a bit of down time before the race starts, I decide that I will ride to Ithaca. If that plan doesn't work out, there's always the Mets game. In Binghampton, I call Derek. (I'd bootlegged his phone number one time when he'd actually put it on Facebook for somebody else.) He picks up. The conversation goes like this.....
Hello, is this Derek?
Hi Derek, it's Stan.
Wow, this sure isn't a call I expected.
We yack a bit and I tell him I'm about an hour south of him, in Binghampton and, if he's available, I'd like to ride up to see him.
No problem and he says he has a house and a place where I can stay.
Wow, he has a house, the kid must be doing good.
After blowing off the baseball game, I ride north on I-81. Then I cut west on Hwy 79 for a very nice ride through the New York countryside. In Ithaca, I call Derek again and we arrange a meet up place.
His "house" turns out to not actually be his house. As with most of the big old houses around the campus of Cornell University, this house gets rented out by the room. Derek has the bedroom behind the partially open window.
His room rents for $550 a month. Can you say ouch? This house has 5 bedrooms.
Derek wants to show me the part of Ithaca that is Cornell. As we were walking up one of the many hills on campus, I saw these.....
They didn't seem real skittish so I'm guessing their regular visitors to the campus.
By the time we got to this vantage point, I was really huffing and puffing. I know it doesn't look that steep but, trust me, it is!
One of the many great looking buildings on campus.....
After arriving at the top of the hill/campus, I tell Derek to pick a restaurant and I'll spring for dinner. He picks a Korean place. I later find out that he's an expert with chopsticks. Since this particular restaurant doesn't have forks, I have to eat my salmon dish with a soup spoon.
Before anyone asks, this is the only picture I took that has Derek in it. What with all of our talking and catching up, it just never crossed my mind.
The next morning, with the Helix all loaded up and unable to carry a passenger, Derek gives me directions to a restaurant on the pedestrian portion of State Street, if anybody knows where that is and we agree to meet there. At the restaurant, we meet up with Lauren, Derek's BFF.
After breakfast, which I didn't take a picture of, we say our goodbyes and Derek heads off to work. I start looking for a different way out of town than I rode in on. As I ride out of Ithaca, I'm really hoping that it doesn't take another 18 years for our paths to cross again. Perhaps Derek will head out on his own search for America and his path will take him through Tucson......here's hoping!
|05-02-2013, 12:14 PM||#93|
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
A few hours ago, my great ride report got eaten. Now the new one got posted twice. I guess twice is better than not at all.
Double your pleasure!
|05-03-2013, 08:33 PM||#95|
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Tucson, AZ
I'm proud to ride with Stan here in Tucson. It's always a pleasure. Ride ON, Stan. Also, these are, indeed, great ride reports. Can't wait to sit and visit with you when you get back to the Ol' Pueblo.
|05-09-2013, 08:15 AM||#96|
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
It's been more than a few days since I last posted a ride report, let's see if I can catch things up a bit as I've now got some extra time on my hands.
After breakfast with Derek and Lauren, I ride around Ithaca a bit as I try to find Hwy 96B.
Being from Tucson, scenes like this one are extremely hard to come by.
Apparently, Ithaca is well known for it's gorges. I have a friend in Tucson who, when I called her, wents nuts when I told her that I was in Ithaca. She said that I had to look at ALL the gorges in Ithaca. Sorry Maxine, as free form as this trip has been, looking at ALL the gorges in Ithaca just isn't on the schedule. Besides, I can't do that, I have a baseball game waiting for me in Binghampton!
I was impressed by the number of flowering trees. It looks like spring has sprung in Ithaca.
I finally located a street sign which tells me how to get to Hwy 96B. When I'd left Derek's a bit earlier, I wasn't quite prepared for a spring ride through the hills of New York. After filling up with gas, I again put on most of the clothes that I brought as well as my rain jacket. There was no rain in the forcast by it helps with the wind.
Hwy 96B out of Ithaca, turns out to look pretty much like Hwy 79 that I rode into Ithaca on. Hwy 96B turns into plain ol' Hwy 96 eventually, which puts me on Hwy 17 for the short ride back to Binghampton and the Binghampton Mets game that I skipped the night before.
Her is NYSE&G stadium.....
.....home of the Binghampton Mets.
I'm noticing that the pictures are a bit blurry. Maybe the camera is developing a problem or the flurryness is cause by the fact that I'm shivering so badly. In this picture, there's a very little red dot on the outfield wall, under the light pole on the left field side, that is actually a digital thermometer that reads a very balmy 55 degrees. And, that's before the even game starts, it got colder as the game progressed.
After paying my $3 to park (parking at the triple A Tucson Padres games is free!), I park right next to where I paid my $3, figuring that the Helix will be safer there. As I'm yacking with the kid who took my money, a car drives up and the guy driving asks if he has to pay as he's a scout. They say no and off he goes.
In the stadium, I notice that he's sitting only a few seats away from the seat that I've staked out as the best seat in the park. I notice that he has the 2nd best seat.
I've been to a plethora of baseball games over the years and scene more than a few baseball scouts. As there are only few people in the stadium and no other scouts sitting in his vacinity, I decide to walk over and talk his ear off with a bunch of questions.
Turns out that he's a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the teams he used to play for. His name in Alan Benes. That name immediately sounds familiar to me. Later, I look him up on the computer. Turns out that I remembered his much more well known brother, Andy Benes. I knew that name sounded familiar. As a player, he was a pitcher and played 10 years or so. I asked him when he played and he says through most of the 90's. I say that you played with the kid from Port St. Lucie, Fl. He looks at me quizically. I say the pitcher who couldn't find homeplate during the World Series. He smiles and says, oh Rick Ankiel. Yup, that's him. I think Rick Ankiel now holds the record for most wild pitches in one inning in a Worls Series game. Rick Ankiel had a great throwing arm so, after the World Series, the Cardinals sent him back to the minors and retrained him as an outfielder. He later made it back to the majors as a centerfielder. From deep centerfield, he could find home plate with pinpoint accuracy. The last I heard, he had been released from the Washington Nationals organization. Alan said he was still playing but I forget where he said that was.
By the 5th inning, with the Mets losing by a score of 3-0 and that digital thermometer out in leftfield now reading 50 degrees, I do something I almost never do, I leave a baseball game early. Next morning, I look the game up on the computer and, as my luck would have it, I see that the Mets rallied to beat the Erie Seawolves by a score of 4-3.
In the morning, I'm intending to ride in a general easterly direction. It's now Tuesday, I've got nothing more on the schedule other than a quiet week waitng for The Real Cannonball race to begin on May 4th, in New York City. I figure I'll ride east, find an inexpensive motel, if that's possible, in New Jersey somewhere. A motel that's not too close yet not to far away. I want to be able to get to the race start in a reasonable amount of early morning riding time.
My search for America.....by Helix continues......
|05-09-2013, 12:20 PM||#97|
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
From Binghampton, I ride east on Hwy 17. On my old fashioned paper map, Hwy 17 looks like interstate highway. In riding it, that's exactly what it is, an interstate. I'm not sure how far I've ridden when I notice that I'm getting hungry and a bit tired of eating Clif Bars all day long.
I pull off the highway and into Deposit, New York, looking for a local cafe. I spot one but it looks a bit too artsy-fartsy for me so I ride around a bit. Nothing. It's the only place I see. I pull over and stop a young fellow walking down a local street. I ask about a good cafe in town and he gives me directions.....back to the artsy-fartsy place! I guess it's the only cafe in Deposit, New York. That, or it's the best cafe in Deposit, New York.
Here's a picture of Butterfield's Cafe. This picture was actually taken after I ate the best Western Omelet that I think I've ever eaten in my life...and that goes back more years than I'd like to admit! I actually got George, my new Deposit, New york BFF, to come out and take the picture for me. He insisted that I be in it. How could I refuse.
Here's the picture of the Best Western Omelet In The World!
If you live or ride in the area around Deposit, New York, Butterfield's Cafe is a cafe that you might ride past. My recommendation....don't pass this place up, you won't be disappointed. It's not very big so I don't recommend you show up with a very big group.
George and I talk a bit as I eat. He asks about my ride, where I'm from, where I'm headed, things like that. He says that since I'm headed generally east, that I should turn off Hwy 17 at Hancock and take 97. He tells me that it's real nice scenic road with lots of twists and hills that runs along the Delaware River. He tells me that it will get me to Port Jervis, New York. After that, he's not sure as he hasn't taken this road past there.
Off I go. I find Hancock without too much trouble and, even with my old fashioned paper maps, I manage to find 97. Earlier in the day, George had recommended the western omelet. Now I find that George is right again. Highway 97 IS a great road to ride.
In my life, I've done quite a bit of traveling, all over this country. One thing that always stands out to me is the fact that as I ride through somewhere, how that place will look like some other place I've ridden through. How some place in Georgia will remind me of roads around Cooperstown, N.Y.. How Deer Lodge, Montana will remind of an area in Kansas. Riding highway 97 doesn't remind me of any place in particular, it reminds me of everyplace. For some strange reason, on this particular road in New York state I feel like I've found whatever it was that I was looking for. And, I can't give you a reason. I just ride along, with the upper reaches of the Delaware River on my right, in a strange peaceful calm. A great ride, on a great riding road, with beautiful scenery everywhere.
As I ride along, in my own state of riding bliss, I notice a sign for a Zane Grey Museum. I'm somewhat taken aback because I've always thought that Arizona had a lock on Zane Grey. Turns out that Zane Grey and his family lived in this area for years. All Arizona had a lock on was a cabin that he lived on as he researched the west for material for his writings. (Side note.....Zane Grey's cabin, in the Payson area of Arizona, burned down in a forest fire a number of years back. So much for our lock on Zane Grey.)
Turns out that the Zame Grey Museum is on the other side of the river. That turns out to be in Pennsylvania. I have to cross this one-laned bridge......
This picture is taken after I rode across the bridge. your looking from Pennsylvania to New York. That blue building across the bridge is the original toll house for the bridge. It's the original tollhouse....but this was not always a bridge. Originally, this was an aquaduct across the river. It was one of four aquaducts that were built by the guy who would later build the Erie Canal. I'm not sure what happened to the other three but this one was converted to a bridge. On the left side, where you can see light poles, there is a walkway. It's about six feet above the road. The actual road surface is the bottom of the aquaduct.
Here's what it looks like from in front of the Zane Grey museum.
The house is quite impressive. An informational tract, left on the front porch, said that a few building modifications have been made to the house by later residents but it's a great place.
Sometimes I swear that somebody has installed one of those plastic electronic strip things that come inside packages that you buy that don't allow you to take the box out of the store without tripping an alarm. The one on my Helix links the Helix to a satellite so that touristy places know when I'm in the area and they can close up 15 mnutes before I get there.
At the bottom of the historical marker, it says that Zane Grey is buried within sight of his house. Great, another famous dead person to visit!
As with so many old churches, there's a graveyard right next door. A nice lady out in front of the church points out where he and his wife are buried. She admits to me, that in all the years that she's attended St. Mark's, she's never been to Zane Grey's grave.
After visiting the gave, and paying my respects if you will, I continue my ride south on 97. It's not long before I reach Port Jervis, N.Y. I cross the river into Matamoras, Pennsylvania. I didn't even know that there was a Matamoras, Pa. The only Matamoras I ever heard of was Matamoras, Mexico, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.
I stop in at the Pennsylvania Visitors Center see if I can pick up a map, oddly enough, of New Jersey. From where I'm standing, if you through a stone in three different directions, you'd hit three different states so I figure that they might have a map of New Jersey. Turns out, they do have a map that has all three states in it.
I grew up in southern New Jersey but I rarely admit that to anyone. Now that I've admitted it to all of you, I have to track down each and every one of you and, as Akmed the Dead Terrorist says, kill you!
In all my years in New Jersey, I'd never been to High Point, New Jersey so that's where I'm headed.
I think that this is my 15th state on this trip......
The High Point Monument. I think that when they refer to the highest point in New Jersey, they're referring to the point that the monument sits on, not the top of the monument. But, after all, this is New Jersey so I could be mistaken.
I took this picture below without realizing that we may be looking at all three states together. I'm standing in New Jersey and I think that's the Delaware River in the left center of the picture. That would put Pennsylvania on the far left and New York on the right. Wow, dumb luck. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then .
After High Point, I head in a southeasterly direction, looking for a relatively cheap place to stay for a few days until the start of The Real Cannonball and my very fast trip to the California coast. What I find is the Red Bull Inn in Bridgewater, New Jersey. This Red Bull has absolutely no connection to the other more famous Red Bull. It's an ok place, with the lowest rates that I could find in the area. MapQuest says it about 45 miles from the starting point for the race.
From the Red Bull Inn, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I'll have to get on highway 22, then 287 to I-78. In a few miles, I'll turn onto U.S. highways 1 & 9 (Pulaski Hwy) to the Holland Tunnel. I'll be trying to avoid as many tolls as possible. This way, I only have to pay $12 for the tunnel.
So, for now, I'm holed up at the Red Bull Inn......
|05-10-2013, 09:10 AM||#99|
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Houston, TX/Breckenridge, CO
Came across this report of the "Real Cannnball" by Alan Spears if you want to jump ahead http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...8#post21367918 to a report from near the finish. Though I find TusconStan's ride report far more interesting.
|05-10-2013, 01:19 PM||#101|
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: People's Democratic Republic of Tarsnakestan
|05-10-2013, 03:34 PM||#102|
Joined: Nov 2004
Location: Kingman, AZ
I didn't see any report of current status on this link either, I can't believe it would take more than 6 days to make the ride, should be something posted somewhere but I can't seem to find it.
|05-11-2013, 08:51 AM||#103|
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Tucson, Arizona
The reason for the trip has arrived!
When the idea for The Real Cannonball got cooked up way back when, in that motel conference room in Brawley, California, it looked so far out in the future that race day would never actually get here. Well, the day has finally arrived.
I had set the alarm on my cellphone but was so worried about sleeping through it or not hearing it, that I catnapped all night rather than actually getting any real sleep. I had the cellphone alarm set for 4am but was wide awake around 3am. I'd packed up all my gear Friday night so all I had to do was load up the Helix and get going. As I'm not carrying a bunch of electronic GPS gear, I'd studied MapQuest to try to memorize the route I needed to take to get to the Red Ball Garage.
Leaving the Red Bull Inn, I turn left on Hwy 22, merge left onto 287 and turn left again as I get to I-78. I'm on I-78 for around 30 miles, till I reach Highways 1 & 9. If I hadn't turned on 1 & 9, I would have gotten on the Jersey Turnpike with it's assorted tolls and tollbooths. Some people in the race had purchased an E-Z Pass thingy that they then tied to a credit card so they would be able to not have to stop to pay the tolls. In my research into trying to not pay tolls, I saw that by going my way, I'd only have to pay the $12 toll for the Holland Tunnel and you only pay that toll on your way into the city, there's no toll on the way out of the city. I guess that's for evacuation purposes.
As it seems like I the only person stupid enough to be up at this ungodly hour in the morning, the ride to the city goes much quicker than I expected. After exiting the Holland Tunnel, I head up town. I got a bit confused as I remember the address of the Red Ball Garage as being on 1st. As 1st is a one-way street that goes north, I have to ride around a few blocks because I think I've missed it. The next time around, I see that there in no #142 on 1st Ave. Good thing I took notes. I pull over and check, only to find out that the Red Ball Garage isn't on 1st as I thought but on 31st St. Well, I had half the number right, do I get partial credit?
I zoom off up 1st Ave, me and what seems like 5000 cabs. I can't help wonder why are there so many cabs on the street at 4:30 in the morning. I know that New York never sleeps but how many people are hailing cabs at this hour in the morning.
Before I know it, I'm at 31st Street. I turn left and quickly find the Red Ball Garage. Nobody else is there. I manage to park, probably illegally, at some crazy angle, in front of a car who I hope doesn't want to leave before 7am start of the race.
Alan had posted on Friday night that he'd like to have all the participants there by 6am. As I'm way early, as is my way, I head off, in the city that never sleeps, to find something for breakfast. About 1 1/2 blocks away, I find what looks like a fruit stand. In the back is a small grocery store with a deli. I order a chicken breast sandwich and get a gatorade to drink. As I don't want to get too far away from the scooter with all my stuff strapped to it, I take my sandwich and walk back to the Red Ball.
I know how everyone just loves pictures of food so here it is,
The Real Cannonball Breakfast of Champions, in front of the Red Ball Garage in New York City!
After breakfast, I just hang out in the area of 31st Street and 3rd Avenue.
As I'm standing there on the corner, it dawns on me that I might be in trouble. I'm standing on a street corner, in New York City, in leather chaps and a leather jacket. Hell, I look like one of the Village People! I might just get propositioned!
It's now after 6 and still nobody else has arrived. It looks like I might just be racing to California alone. Around 6:25, Alan arrives. A few minutes later, the Loopers, Bill, Debbie and Professor Hixson arrive. The Loopers, as they call themselves are from Ohio and are known for putting on the Lake Erie Loop race every year. It's a 650 mile, small cc motorcycle race around Lake Erie. If you're interested, you can look it up since that's about all I know about it. As a scooter racer, I don't think I'm eligible to run.
It's the usual greetings and introductions all around. Alan tells everyone to make sure to get the license stamped. A few pictures are taken. Final checks on scooters and motorcycles are done and people are getting ready to ride.
Side note.....Way back when, when this hair-brained idea took root, there were a number of people who said, "Hell yes, count me in!" As in most things, life jumped up and bit people in the ass. One entrant had cancer surgery and decided that they just weren't going to be able to do it. Another entrant sold her house and dropped out. A very brilliant scooter designer/builder/engineer lost a close family member and decided, at the last minute, not to race. An entrant from Florida was never heard from again. And there were several more entrants, all of whom got bit in the butt by life. So....that leaves two. Quite possibly, the two dumbest people left in the world!
At exactly 7am, everybody but me seems ready to go. They're all sitting on their rides, engines running. Then the Loopers, two on Ninja 250's and Prefessor Hixson on an Aprillia 50 with a 70cc kit. (Professor Hixson teaches at some college in Ohio and his ride is a college engineering class project. The students had done all the work, including getting sponsors to fund their race. Two of the students will follow in a van.)
As the Loopers ride west on 31st street, I walk back to where Alan is sitting on his scooter.
"Didn't you want to take some pictures?"
"No, we gotta go."
"Well, those guys are going through the Lincoln Tunnel and I want to go through the Holland Tunnel" I say, pointing to the Loopers as they disappear in the distance.
Excitedly, Alan says, "I want to go through the Lincoln Tunnel" and he zooms off behind Bill, Debbie and the Professor.
Here I am, standing in front of the Red Ball Garage by myself, wondering why everyone had to leave at exactly 7am. Doesn't anybody but me realize that this race is 3000 miles long? I don't think that leaving at exactly 7am or leaving at 7:05am is going to make a whole lot of difference 3000 miles from now. Oh well.....
I walk over to one of the Red Ball guys and ask the best way to get to the Holland Tunnel. He says to go straight across 31st, turn left on 7th and it'll run me right into the tunnel. Off I go.
I follow his directions. About halfway to the tunnel, I catch up to Bill and Debbie. So much for leaving at exactly 7am. I drop in behind them. I don't see Alan or the professor.
Exiting the tunnel, I retrace my steps to get me to I-78. As I swing to the left hand lane to pick up the Pulaski Highway (7 & 9), I hear Debbie as Bill, "Where's he going?" The light changes and I don't hear his answer.
On I-78, I head west. I hadn't gone very far when I see a rest area on the right. Hey, there's Bill and Debbie. Bill's adjusting, or fixing, something on Debbie's bike. I toot the horn several times and ride on. They would later catch up to me at the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border where I have to stop to pay an unexpected $1 toll. In no time at all, they pass me up.
Right about here, I want to say to those of you who say, "If there ain't no pictures, there ain't no trip", that, from here on to California, there are very few pictures. I'm going to try to paint you a picture with words. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this ride report is going to get very, very long!
I stop for gas a couple of times. Since the toll plaza, I hadn't seen anybody. I pulled off the interstate and into a Sunoco station. As I'm filling up, I hear the high pitched whine of a two stroke engine. In pulls Alan, all by himself. I ask him about the Professor. "Right after we pulled out of the tunnel, he took off like a shot and left me like I was standing still."
We decide that we'll ride together for a while. I pull off first and head onto the interstate. Now I've never been fond of riding with anyone and this is no exception. Periodically, I check beyond me to make sure he's still back there. Then....when I check the rearview mirror, nothing but highway. He's not there. I rock side to side, checking both mirrors, trying to see if he's in a blind spot. Nothing. Ok, now what do I do? About that time, I notice a car on my left, running the same spped as me. The lady on the passenger side has the window rolled down and she's mouyhing the words, "He lost his muffler". Great. Again, I ask myself, what do I do now? Do I leave him there, since this IS a race? Or, do I go back and at least try to help him? I picture that he's just standing on the shoulder of the road, next to his broken scooter.
I decide that I just can't leave him there so, in two miles, I exit the interstate, cross over and start back. Just after I've turned and committed to enter the freeway going back north, what do I see out of the corner of my eye......Alan, headed south on the freeway at, what looks like, full speed. Great, I guess his lost muffler wasn't as big a problem after all. For me, I'm now committed to ride the 10 miles back to the previous exit, exit, cross over and get back on going south.
A couple of miles after reentering the freeway, I spy Alan's muffler laying on the shoulder, just outside of the white line. Now, I'm asking myself if I want to stop and pick up the muffler? Why didn't Alan pick it up? If it's not important to him, why's it important to me? If I stop and get it, will I see Alan again? I check the rearview mirror. All I can see is grill. I figure that if I stop, I'm going to be the hood ornament on a very big rig. Since Alan rode on, I ride on too.
At the next exit, where I'd turned around a few minutes earlier, I slow down to try to see if Alan has pulled off there. Nothing. At my next gas stop, I check my phone to see if he's tried to contact me. Nothing. Oh well, I guess he's ok. At every stop I make for the rest of the day, I check the phone. Nothing.
The miles drift by. Everything seems normal.....but boring. I sing a few songs, only halfway through because that's all I know. I solve a few of the world's problems and start writing the next great American novel.....in my head.
I ride till dark. It was my intention to right into the wee hours of the morning. Forty miles north of Greeneville, Tn., it begins to rain. I ride on. The road seems to be brand new. In the pich black of the night, the road looks like a sheet of ice in the reflection of lights. As I ride on, I realize that, in the wet darkness, there a big possibility that I'll hit a piece of truck tire rubber that's lying on the road, invisible to me. Now I'm petrified. This has just turned into a white knuckle ride. At the next exit, I pull off and into a Super 8 motel. It's almost 11pm!
At the Super 8, I turn on the TV, to the weather channel. They're showing a huge low pressure center over eastern Tennessee that, they're saying, will cause it to rain here till Tuesday. This is Saturday night.
My search for America.....by Helix is going to be wet.
|05-11-2013, 11:40 AM||#105|
Joined: May 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL
Your last installment didn't need no stinkin pics. Your story was quite interesting without them
klaviator screwed with this post 05-11-2013 at 06:38 PM
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