During this last week before Christmas I have been spending a few days in my usual wandering mode, up early and on the road well before dawn. I really enjoy the solitary miles as they roll beneath my foot pegs, feeling a slight chill and gentle warm up as the sun breaks across the horizon, rising into a clear Florida sky. Very few other travelers are on the road at this time of day, and I wonder if they too are looking eastward to the pink glow and wondering what the new day will bring?
Brunswick, MD (July 10, 2011) - Tenting in a back yard tends to get me up and running early for a number of reasons. The largest is the desire not to intrude upon family routines of my hosts, espcially on Sunday mornings. With that in mind my gear was packed aboard and the Honda underway by 6:30 AM. The plan was to hit the last seven counties of West Virginia by early evening and spend the night with some new friends in Brunswick, Maryland. My first planned stop was just 14 miles up the road at Kingwood, the county seat of Preston County.
Fellowsville, WV (July 9, 2011) - One of the things that surprises me is that many other motorcycle riders consider me a long distance rider. I guess the confusion lies in how long distance is defined. I think an LD rider is one that routinely hits that 1,000 mile mark each day and just lives to wear tires off the bike. My average touring day is 300 miles, give or take 150 miles. The variations are usually dependent upon three things; weather, darkness, and distractions along the way.
Oscar's StoryJune 30, 2011 - Mom always taught me that no matter how bad things get it's possible, and very likely, that somebody else has it worse. Her admonitions were never the "Eat your food there are starving children in Africa" type, but more in the style of "Try to appreciate what you have, because there are those that don't have this much - and believe me, Kiddo, I've been one of them." My mother had been a child of the Depression Era, and from a broken home to boot. She knew full well what it was like to be shuffled from one house to another as my grandmother and grandfather struggled to make a living at a time when jobs were scarce and employers took advantage of the situation.
Monterey, VA July 11, 2011 - My host, Gene Hollar, was very generous with his time this morning. He delayed his normal departure for work in order to escort me to a memorial just a few blocks from his home in Brunwick. It's always a great feeling to bag another marker first thing in the morning - it almost guarantees I'll have a very successful day. Thanks again, Gene! I ran down to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to pick up a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. Veterans Affairs has classified me as disabled so I qualify for free access to national parks and reduced rates at most federal campgrounds. It's a welcome benefit that I've pretty much ignored, but there are so many federal camping areas along my routes that I would be foolish to not include them in my plans.
Beckley, WV- July 8, 2011 - I set out on a five day swing through West Virginia and Virginia this morning at 6:30 AM. The goal for this leg is to finish the remaining counties of West Virginia outbound and grab the western tier of counties of Virgina on the return to Gold Hill. The run will be over 1,300 miles and a good indication if my decision to turn to the 'Darkside' was right or not. The first segment from Gold Hill to Marion, VA, was a 170 mile stretch over rural roads to US-21 and then NC-16 and VA-16. Early morning traffic seems to be expanding further and further out from Charlotte, even in the Mooresville area at 7:30 AM it was busy. I'm making a mental note that from now on if I want to travel US-21 north I'll just go through Salisbury to pick up US-601 to Mocksville and jog over to Harmony. It's much more pleasant with less traffic and most of the road has recently been resurfaced.
A Leadership Lesson?
June 29, 2011 - Finally! After another four months of not be able to ride I fired up my ST1300 early Tuesday morning and put 480 miles on the odometer before stopping for the night in Conway, South Carolina. The next morning I again played tag with showers and thunderstorms in the area to clock an additional 388 miles in my quest to find veterans memorials. The two day effort moved 12 counties into the visited column and only 16 unattended in South Carolina. I suspect I'll be able to finish the state by the end of September, or I may wait until mid-autumn, when the temperatures are not scorching me with middle 90's. The hot weather is bearable, but as we all know, a 90 degree day in the Southern USA ends with thunderstorms everywhere.