Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Call me Johnny Utah

Point Break

30 days after I left Los Angeles I was heading into the state of Maine with 45 degree air trying to creep through any imperfection in my hand made riding suit. I found myself following Erica who was leading to a surf shop in Kennebunk, ME where the owner had contacted Erica via an online forum with a place to stay and gear to surf. I have never surfed before.

It was around 6pm by the time we arrived and introductions were postponed because we were going to try and surf before it had gotten to late out. Before I was even able to extend my hand to greet the couple that offered to shelter us I was handed a wetsuit. I know people surf in chilly weather but it must have been in the 40s as the sun was going down and I'm sure the Atlantic wasn't going to be much warmer.

Nanci and Marc didn't waste any time getting Erica and I to the beach. I was handed a a long surf board and Nancy gave me a brief explanation of what I should do. Then I found myself running into 50 degree water with no real idea of where I was or what I was doing.

It was great.

Erica trying to get her suit on moments before running into the water.

By the time I wrestled my long board past the breakers my feet and hands had already adjusted to the water temperature and I felt completely comfortable. Though the waves weren't very large that night they were still big enough to surf. You just had to wait for the right ones and with only the moon light lighting the horizon it was a bit difficult to see them coming.

The way I spotted the right wave was when Marc and Nanci would shout "Go Jeff, paddle..." I paddled and caught my first wave and jumped up on the massive beginner board that I was handed and surfed into the shore. All I thought was, "great another expensive hobby."

Leaving Vermont

Helen and Shawn road us out the Kancamagus Highway towards Maine.

Maple Creamies

Shawn and Helen in front of their home located in Montpelier, VT.

After a long cold day in the rain, Erica and I received a warm welcome from a loving couple, three dogs, five cats, and two ponies. Shawn and Helen live in a beautiful home that was converted from a 180 year old farm house. They both enjoy taking weeks at a time touring on their individual BMW R1200GS's (see the Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman photo from my first post) and taking care of fellow adventurers as ourselves. They opened both their door and refrigerator to Erica and me that night.

The next morning with Maine in our sights and french toast in our stomachs, Erica and I say our goodbyes and think about the road ahead. Until, we noticed that Erica's BMW was leaking engine coolant and our plans changed instantly. Shawn and Erica pulled the bike into the barn to diagnose the problem. After a few phones calls, spilled coolant, and a futile attempt at leaving again we ended spending the day in Montpelier and the second night with Shawn and Helen, which I was excited about.

Montpelier, we have a problem.

Vermont is definitely a state that takes care of their own and produces some of the finest maple syrups, cheeses, and ice cream around. Shawn took us around the Capital of Vermont as sort of an impromptu tour. It ended with Maple Creamy ice cream cones from Morse Sugar Farm, so good.

A Vermonter staple

Helen's two ponies

Kittens are ridiculously cute

With a bit more confidence in the condition of Erica's bike we will set out towards Portland, ME where she can get her bike looked at while we spend a couple days exploring Maine. Thanks again Shawn and Helen for taking care of Erica and me as if we were your own.

Late night blogging. Photo by Erica.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Express site seeing

Still have a smile on my face.

Erica and I plan on riding to Maine together and then just go our separate ways. Everyday we have ridden together has been wet and in the 50s. It does get hard to stay positive when the clouds are pouring down on you relentlessly and the water starts to seep through your gloves and you wish that you had waterproof boots instead of the ones that looked cooler. Spirits could have been higher as we plowed through upstate New York towards the Adirondack Region. Neither of us looked forward to camping in the rain so Erica contacted a fellow ADV rider ( who had been following a forum she started about her trip. Shawn and Helen offered their warm and dry home to us, but it was in Montpelier, VT, and we were in the Adirondacks, and it was getting late. It was either set up the tent in the rain or push through a couple hours of night riding while it was wet out. We made it through the ride to Vermont that day after about 11 hrs of saddle time.

Even though we didn't have much time to explore the Adirondack Park Preserve it seemed like no matter which road you took it supplied amazing views of the forest and lakes that are scattered all over the park.

On the beaten path in the Adirondack Park Preserve.

Roadside view

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our side is better

Niagara Falls

Bike maintenance

According to the weather radar it didn't matter which direction we travelled in because it seemed to be raining everywhere in the Northeast for the next week or so. We continued north to Niagara Falls to see 'em from the American side and again when we got there the weather cleared for a couple hours while we walked around Niagara Reservation State Park. We stayed at the Hamlin Park Beach on Lake Ontario that night just east of where the Falls are at.

Father keeps an eye on his son who looks out over the Falls.

Pit stop along the way.

A farm along the route in upstate New York.

Campsite in Hamlin State Park, NY.

Sunrise over Lake Ontario

Sunrise at Hamlin Beach

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Allegheny National Forest

What started out that morning in Jellystone Park as a light sprinkle turned into the worst rain storm I have ridden through yet. From Mill Run we rode north into the Allegheny National Forest and had some deserved fun exploring a few dirt roads and a short break in the weather.

Allegheny National Forest

More desktop shots

Beverly's Diner, New Bethlehem, PA. The ribbon means they've returned from service over seas.

Erica and I decided to stay in Jamestown, NY and instead of roughing it under the stars we roughed it in a local motel. Also allowing me to dry my clothes that got pretty wet under my waterproof riding suit.

Erica in the rain

Budget Inn. Great parking.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Heading east for the 2nd time

Blogging in traffic trying to get out of Ohio.

With some great route suggestions from Matthew (same friend who helped switch my tire a couple weeks earlier) Erica and I set out with a general idea of where we wanted to end up that night. She thought it would be a great idea to travel into southern Pennsylvania and visit two homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright which are now National Historical Landmarks. Unfortunately, we arrived in Mill Run, PA a bit later than we had hoped and would have to camp out there in order to visit the houses during business hours.

We spent the rest of the evening cruising around Ohiopyle, PA (I know, right) and walking along the Youghiogheny River (I don't know either).

We found the giraffe Matthew.

Youghiogheny River

Camped at the award winning Jellystone Park. Hooray for leisure systems!

Setting up camp for the night.

We woke the next morning to rain. And it didn't stop.


Chairs at Fallingwater

Driveway to Kentuck Knob

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Howdy Partner!

Erica arriving in Strongsville.

You really won't believe how easy it is to meet up with a friend when you are both a few thousand miles away from home. Erica, who also lives in LA, has been traveling across the country for over 40 days and 10,000 + miles. Just before she arrived to meet me in Strongsville, OH she was fortunate enough to get a couple days of work in Michigan which gave me a chance to head to Chicago and spend a few more days with some friends I don't get to see very often.

Bria, in Chicago, performing an emergency buncha Crunch purse cleaning.

I also got a chance to eat at some of the old favorites.

Kuma's Corner

Hot Dougs

New favorite, iCream

Chicago is getting rid of parking meters and using ticket stations for street parking. Some meters get left behind.

Endless beverages at the local liquor store by Hunter's new apartment.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

You have a friend in Ontario

Robert and his Wife. Hamilton Pier, Ontario, Canada.

I had the intention of cruising west through Southern Canada and cross back into the USA from Windsor into Detroit but I was so underwhelmed by the drive along the northern coast of the Great Lakes that I came back through Niagara Falls and Buffalo. Just south of Toronto on the coast of Lake Ontario I stopped at the Hamilton Pier as the sun was setting. I had heard before that Ontario has some of the friendliest people in the world and as I pulled off the interstate to check out the view at night from under a dark overpass I found out for myself that the rumor is true.

I met Robert and his Wife who were spending a little time from home in their home away from home camper. He gave me a bit of insight about the differences between Quebec and Ontario because I had just left from Montreal that morning. Thanks again Robert for sharing with me and being an ear to talk to. I wish you all the best.

Hamilton Pier, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Robert.

I was anxious to get back to Cleveland, OH so I drove into the evening and spent the night just south of Buffalo, NY in Hamburg, NY. The next day I had a short trip into Ohio. I returned to my parents' home in Strongsville, OH and took the time to do some much needed maintenance on my bike.

Total miles traveled so far is 4,600 miles.

Oil change on a makeshift bike stand in my Father's garage.

Wildlife in Strongsville, OH.


The plus in the heart is French too

Originally I had planned on going east towards Maine from Vermont but decided to make a detour through Canada first. My friend Erica is also traveling across the country on her BMW GS650 and we have been trying to meet up at some point but it hasn't worked out. The day I was leaving Vermont she suggested going through Canada and looping back to Cleveland, OH to meet up and then head east towards Maine. At first I thought it was a crazy idea but after thinking about it for a 100 miles or so I decided to do it.

I went straight north and crossed the border into Canada. I had never been in Quebec before and knew that people spoke French there but didn't know that every road sign was in French only. It doesn't take long to learn what nord, sud, est, and ouest means. I was running low on fuel by the time I made it to downtown Montreal and a gentlemen on a scooter I met at a traffic light lead me to the closest gas station in the city.

While I was fueling up trying to figure out where I was going to stay and realizing that I couldn't use my phone to help me get around another motorcyclist from Ontario pulled up to fill up. He told me about the area and offered to show me around town and help me find a place to stay. Shannon is a Firefighter from Ottawa and had family who worked in Montreal so he knew the area quite well. We drove through Old Montreal at night which still has cobble stone roads and old stone buildings. It looked like we were in Europe. I ended up staying right in downtown Montreal and it felt very much like the viagra triangle in Chicago but French and with younger women.

Here is the link to Erica's adventure.

Just off the SR-100 in Vermont on my way toward the border.

More wildlife in Vermont. I wonder if it was the same coyote that scared the shit out of me at 3:00am.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Green Mountain National Forest

Traveling along Kelly Strand Road.

From New York City I headed north into Vermont to the Green Mountain National Forest. This was the first day of riding that wasn't a lot of miles and with no specific way to get there. I entered into the Green Mountains through the west on Kelly Stand Road, which is a dirt road that travels from East Arlington, VT through the forest to Stratton, VT. I was fortunate that it had been dry the previous week. I followed Kelly Stand Rd all the way to Grout Pond where I setup camp for the night and spent the rest of the evening exploring the countless trails along the route. You can easy spend a week in this area and find something new everyday, it was so beautiful.

Green Mountain National Forest

Grout Pond campsite

Hiking through bear country.


This is either a baby bear or a massive beaver. I was actually afraid to follow where it went.

Sunset over Grout Pond.

Stars in Vermont