Before we begin:
I had a thread here at BMWMOA asking folks for input on this trip, back when it was in the planning stages. LOTS of people posted, and some sent emails and PMs, giving me all manner of great info. I want to offer my sincere thanks to all of you. I really appreciate it. The trip wouldn't have been the same without your help!
June 2012. Almost two weeks and 3100 miles. Pennsylvania, New York State, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec.
Me, my GF Cynthia, AKA The lovely Miss C, my buddy Lannis, and his wife Fay, AKA Miss Fay.
The bikes: Lannis' Moto Guzzi Stelvio, and My 2002 BMW K1200 RS.
Go grab a beer, coffee, scotch, or whatever suits ya, and ride along with us. Enjoy!
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Ya know how sometimes when you're dreaming out loud about something - just trash talking maybe, over a coupla beers? And then the dream comes true, and you find yourself wondering exactly what you've gotten yourself into?
That NEVER happens to me. Tho I'd almost bet it happened to the Lovely Miss C once.
NO, but really. It all began last summer, when some friends were visiting from England. A bunch of us were all dug in at the Country Retreat of some other friends in Pennsylvania, hanging out and having fun. My buddy Lannis and I were going over his "new" Moto Guzzi Stelvio, and he commented about how his wife just LOVED it, and was actually asking him why they can't go on some longer trips.... I was all, "Well, let's ride up to Nova Scotia together then." Lannis responded with positive noises and raised eyebrows, nodding his head with a dreamy look in his eyes. "Could happen. I've always wanted to go to Nova Scotia." (or words to that affect)
And so it began, out of a bit of chit chat. It really sounded so... so... easy. Simple. Painless. FUN even, which it really was. It grew into the epic, 3100 mile adventure that would leave our butt-cheeks screaming NO NOT AGAI... well never mind THAT, let's focus on the positive aspects.
Things like beautiful scenery, good food, fantastic roadways, great motels, and an unexpected Vintage Motorcycle Museum. The shared joys of friendship and sweet running bikes, and well, The Cabot Trail at the zenith of it all... HMMM. Thinking back, the Kancamagus Highway held up to its rep too. And Cadillac Mountain was also pretty fanflippntastic, while we're at it. Sure, there was the mundane woven into the weave as well- like those first hundred miles out of the house- that seemed to take forEVER. The mad two-day dash from Cape Breton Island to Riviere Du Loup in Quebec, that had poor Miss C in tears. The CRAZY 500 + mile run out of Quebec City down to Seneca Falls NY- when I got us "off track".
Yes, dear readers, our heroes were UP! Quite literally- up in the mountains- and yes, they were also DOWN- Again, literally- as in when my flppin GPS routed us over a hill on a dirt road tryin to get into Lunenburg- and Lannis accidentally dropped his bike..... ON HIS FOOT (can you say OUCH)! From the the old, weary mountains of Pennsyltuckey to the shores of Maine. From the splendoriferously abrupt White Mountains in New Hampshire to the docks, waterways, and beaches of Nova Scotia. From the Shores of the St Lawrence River up to the Hotel Frontenac. AND from the grape jelly "Jersey" omelet to endless seafood, from McLobster (I kid you not) to Lobster Rolls, From the Village Diner to Tim Horton's to Toast! restaurant- we were up, down and up and down. Again. Some more. Out of humble beginnings, great things are born.
This, then, is the tale of such. It was great. It was Epic. It was an ADVENTURE. It was, dear readers, all that AND a bag of chips. We have, quite literally, BT&DT. We got the hat (Lannis bought a cap in Quebec), and we got the shirt (I bought a T-shirt at L'Epopee de la Moto), and we all got the saddle sores. Our weather was AMAZING!!! Out of 3000 some-odd miles, I'd estimate a total of 15 minutes of that which resembled rain- but wasn't REALLY what you'd call RAIN- like not proper rain, just a little shower... well TWO little showers. Mostly, it was sunny and fantastic! Well, OK it was fantastically HOT at the end. Could it have been better, though, in all honesty? I can't imagine how.
So, Stay tuned for a bit of photo-documentaion, from A to Z. Of course I'll insert some commentary as I weave the yarn, along the way.
The weapons of choice:
Lannis' Guzzi Stelvio, and my K1200RS, packed, stacked, and ready for the off:
That first day, we rode from our house in South Central PA up to Grafton Vermont. We wound up thru the local mountains, on one of my fave roads, to US hiway 209, which we took all the way up into New York State. Then began a succession of route changes that would boggle the mind- IF one HAD such a thing as a mind... I mean, maybe it's more like mind over matter- If you don't mind, it won't matter? I don't know! Hey, ROLL with me people, ROLL with me.
Along the way we wound thru Pennsylvania towns like Coaldale- where we saw a sign that said "Everbody's Goal Is To Mine More Coal"! Seriously, I mean, you really can't make this stuff up! I think it was the town motto or something. AND we rode thru the famous Delaware Water Gap, coming up along I-84 just west of the PA/NY border- where we found the AMAZING Village Diner. A stop for lunch was a TOTAL no-brainer! We couldn't get off the bikes fast enough.
It was everything one hopes for in a diner. A real, live, actual vintage diner that has been there since the 1950s- no trumped up nuevo wanna-be diner schtick, but pure diner chic- honest-to-goodness, complete with waitresses from New Jersey! Well, except for one girl, who turned over her shoulder and said LOUDLY, "I AIN'T FROM JERSEY!" Snookie would have smacked her sideways, believe me.
Lannis, being the brave and adventurous soul he is, HAD to have the New Jersey Omelette... which featured both American cheese and GRAPE JELLY!
I had a reuben
and I think the girls had breakfast. (I'm really kinda off kilter here, as my pix got COMPLETELY scrambled like so many eggs, when I loaded them into this thumb-drive ) The Village Diner was pretty doggone good- as good as one could expect from a fantastic slice of roadside Americana. Perfick! -in other words, to borrow a phrase from a friend from England whose pen name is The Kent Correspondent. I recommend that f you're ever headed east on I-84 in PA, and you're about to cross into New York, exit off, and button-hook back a few feet to this diner. You won't regret it guys. Have the Jersey Omelette and say hey to the girls. Tell 'em I sent you.
The rest of the afternoon was great, as we found our way up into New York, riding across a big bridge into the Rhinebeck area. We passed many many cool old bikes- so I assumed it was time for the AMCA club's Antique Meet up there, which I know some of our BritBike buds would be at or near- but we were on a mission, so no time to lolly-gag about. We rocked in & out in darn near the same breath, as the weather started to look like showers building. We did get a bit wet as we crossed the very edges of a thunder storm, but it wasn't bad and we kept on going, due north now, towards the NY-Vermont line, and the town of Bennington, on the very southwest corner of Vermont.
From The Vermont line over to our stop for the night it was a hop, a skip, and a jump.... then a BIG LONG STRETCH over the river, thru the woods, and WAY past grandma's house to the sleepy little village of Grafton, where we spent the night at my Girlfriend's folks' place.
The added excitement of the last few miles ON A STATE NUMBERED "HIGHWAY" being DIRT roads (!) made getting off the bikes even sweeter than it would have been otherwise- after 380 some mile of travel- tho it's a wonder that we all didn't have to be pried off the bike seats simply due to the sheer pucker power X 4, after that last stretch, lemme tells ya. Well, I SAY "dirt" roads- but actually it was MUD after all the rain that had passed thru, and that WE had passed thru. Hard-packed, slick LOOKING mud. BUT- we made it without incident. Vermont is great, with all the country charm you'd expect, and Grafton personifies it in pure form. Old school, too with the dirt state "highway". Again, 100 pre-cent Americana, with a Yankee twist.
Here we are the next day, ready to launch- after coffee and fresh-baked muffins at the Grafton Village Store. Folks, it don't get much more real than this! I mean, we actually had to darn near Indian leg-wrestle all the old codgers who came down, just to see who'd get first shot at the coffee and muffins!
What more can one do than "stick a feather in your cap and call it macaroni"? Seriously.
What a way to begin another great day of mo-sicklin!
The ride from Grafton To Bar Harbor, with the Kancamagus Highway and (believe it or not) Maine Bar-B-Q!