Tuesday, July 26, 2011

3 Hot Days around New England

I was toying with other names of this ride, one being "Guardian Angels Do Exist", but decided against that, as that was only a few seconds in the few days.  I will get into that story in a bit. And then it could have been named "Jack went on Vacation", as my gps decided to black out on me this week.  Having bad luck with electronics! The title I chose has something to do with how plans can change from one minute to the next. This ride was originally supposed to take me to Wisconsin, (I hope to see my photo at the HD museum some day!) but with dangerously high heat out there this week, it became Plan B, then Plan C...D etc.  It was not until just 48 hours before I got on my bike did I finalize this trip. The second idea was to meet a bunch of riders in Pennsylvania, but the high heat was coming there too...then it made its way to New England, and the one place where it was promising to be a little bit cooler was north. I had not been in Vermont yet this year, so this was a fine idea to go chasing lower temps.

My friend Bob was also going to ride to PA, so I offered up the alternate idea and he was good to go north. Kick stands up around 8am, and we were off through the lovely back roads of north-central MA, heading towards VT.  It was cloudy, looking like it might want to rain, but the clouds held onto their water for the most part as we rode around the north side of the Quabbin Reservoir.  The road had been paved in the last year, so it was delightful!  I had the directions for the 3 days all written in big letters in my map case so that I could read them easily.  I was not overly concerned about getting lost, Bob's gps had my route in it.  He was giving me directions from in back. Most of the time it worked, between my hand written directions and his turning on his blinker in plenty of time for me to see.  The one time I missed the turn (in both directions no less), getting back to the route took us on a gravel road for a while.
A nice change from the paved road, I always enjoy gravel.
haha :)

My Shame On You Award goes to the town of Conway, MA, a little town in northwest MA. This is a new award, made up just for the occasion, but I can think of a couple of candidates for it, one being Dragonfly Cycle Concepts and the defective stereo deck they sold me with my fairing. This trip was a test ride for a new Kenwood marine stereo, that I had to buy because the last one died. Dragonfly Cycle, in my opinion, should have recalled it as they knew the decks were failing, and stopped selling them almost immediately after I bought mine.
That is just bad business! But I digress...
Anyway, back to Conway, MA... a long descending hill approaches the town center on Rt 116, nearing the bottom is a 20mph speed limit sign giving this indication, but that was all. I don't ride my brakes, preferring to downshift as I approach traffic or situations like this. It makes for smooth riding, most of the time.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a car was suddenly in front of me, entering the road from my right without stopping. The cross road was blind.  I pulled hard on my brakes, and instinctively veered to the right, toward the back of the car.  My back tire locked up, and my bike went into a full skid, the back tire was swinging out to my left.  I was about to smash into that car and told  myself to get ready for a crash, but in the next split second, decided I did not want to crash.  Released the brakes and somehow rode the bike around the car, with only 2 feet of clearance. Then a swerve to the left to keep from going up the granite curbing and launching into a short wall surrounding a garden.  I don't know how I pulled this off, most surely my Guardian Angel was with me.  I parked the bike, shook a bit and then got really angry.  I mean, really really angry... the car did not stop, for one. And the cross road did not have any sort of stop or yield sign! 

The town hall just happened to be sitting at that intersection, so I went in there and passionately (putting it mildly) asked them if they knew that this intersection had no stop sign.  (of course they know, but they claimed to be unaware) They did however hear my tires skid and were trying to sit the hysterical motorcyclist down on a chair. I wonder just how many skids they hear during a work day?  I am still incensed that due to this town's negligence, my life was put into danger, as well as any other drivers coming down that hill.  This is the intersection,looking back on it, where the road behind the triangle meets South Deerfield Rd, I came down that hill.
The brick building is the town hall.
No signs at all.
For the rest of the weekend, Bob would occasionally shake his head and say that he was amazed I didn't crash. I think it was on a continuous replay in his mind's eye.

This made for the perfect time to look for a place to break for food.  What I soon found was Shelburne Falls and their Flower Bridge. Rather than tearing down an old trolly bridge, they have made it into a gorgeous oasis over the river. This little town is worth finding!

It was time to turn north, to Route 100 in Vermont, one of my favorites. It winds north/south through the whole state through small towns, along rivers and up and down mountains. You don't ride route 100 if you are in a hurry. Not a lot of stop signs, but slow speed limits.  
One place we had to stop, was Vermont Country Store in Weston.  A good old fashioned place, fun to poke around- clothing, penny candy, jellies, toys, and beauty products from 'the old days'...like perfumes that you cannot find anymore. Vermont Country Store reminds me of what LLBean used to be before it went global.

We stopped in White River Junction for the night, made for a good 300+ mile day of back roads, and the day was made complete with overeating at a Chinese buffet. I set my room AC on super cold and promptly conked out. It was a hot day, well up into the 90s. 

One thing that made the heat a little more bearable was my HyperKewl vest.  It gets soaked in water and then the evaporation keeps your core quite a bit cooler.  I was the height of motorcycle fashion with this sexy number! Especially when you take into account that I always had a wet butt in my jeans.

Day 2 started with a quick jaunt back to Quechee Gorge (kwee-chee). The high heat has the river running pretty low...but still an impressive sight from the bridge! 
 The road this morning took us by way of the Moosilauke Highway (118), in Warren NH, which has potential for a favorite road if it is ever repaved- I was glad to see the end of it because of the countless cracks and frost heaves that made the bike chatter and bounce.  The next turn was onto the famous Kancamagus Highway, running through the White Mountains.

Some beautiful views and I am disappointed to report that I missed the one moose sighting.  I was in Motorcycle Nirvana and sailed right past it... Bob tried to make me feel better by saying it was a just little moose, but I was still pouting for a while!

Crossing into Maine and tucked away on a winding back road, this little mom and pop place was a welcome ice cream stop and a resoaking of my vest (and my butt) from their garden hose.
 Not much later, I saw a sign for a road stating that is closed in the winter: Route 113, between Stow and Gilead.  Past the gate, this section is now my most favorite New England road! It falls into my category of what I describe as 'story book roads,'  those kinds of roads that are forested, dappled with sunshine, usually winding along a river. I found a few of them on my travels last summer out west. With no traffic to speak of, it was serene and cool, a much welcomed change from the intense heat blanketing the area- look how narrow it is!  It is the kind you wish went on forever.

Back out to the main roads, we decided to change the route a bit, make a bee line (haha) for a motel in Brunswick, unload the bikes, cool off a bit and head back to Boothbay Harbor for dinner. But not before seeing this sign:

Who knew Maine had its own United Nations thing going on? :)

It was a brilliant plan, the air had cooled down quite a lot. A haddock fish fry and peach shortcake were on the menu at the Ebb Tide, one of my favorite places to eat, small, old fashioned and really proud of their business.  Fresh and delicious!! 

The peach shortcake was to die for. :)

An early morning sit by the ocean at Reid State Park, (I don't need to remind you all about how I love to be here, right?)  

It was time to head home, with the temps predicted to go to 99 degrees later, a direct shot was the best plan rather than back roads. But first, a quick stop at my other favorite eatery in Portland Maine for lunch, Becky's Diner. I had a nice spicy scrambled egg and veggie sandwich, Bob had a giant bowl of gorgeous fresh fruit, granola and yogurt. I was envious, but got to have some for my dessert :)
We jumped on the interstate, fought a bit of hot heavy traffic, but made pretty good time.  I waved bye to my friend and I arrived home around 4pm with over 800 miles on Dirty Girl's trip meter. 
A fall into the swimming pool was the perfect end to a nice trip. :)

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Lovely Trip to Acadia Maine

I am a member of a  motorcycle forum called The New England Riders, an eclectic group of accomplished riders that just love to ride and eat.  Of course, this is what bikers live for!  The NER often has organized events, that once there, one can ride an assortment of lovely day tours, then gathering for a group dinner with good food and lots of laughter.  This trip proved to be just that, a long weekend in Ellsworth, Maine, with roads and views to delight the senses.
Anyone that knows me, knows that this landscape is where I am happiest, it holds a deep sense of the spiritual world for me. I will find a niche in a big rock by the ocean and just sit and be quiet for a while. It is worth a few hundred miles just to do this.
Friday morning, I left home at 5:30am, meeting Mannie for the ride north. Excitement was in the air, for me, a couple of days on the road to the ocean and for Mannie, his brand new to him Goldwing.

This was to be his first trip on it.  I swear I could hear his giggling behind me the whole way there.
Great time was made, stopping in Portland, Maine for breakfast at my favorite place, Becky's Diner for my requisite cinnamon raisin french toast and hot coffee.  (their website has fun sound effects-click around)

It tasted heavenly after a couple of hours on the road!  Mannie had a very handsome omelet,  I think he was pleased too. The plates were all but licked clean. :)

As you are riding through Bath, Maine, and you start over the large bridge, be sure to look off to your right and look at the Bath Iron Works. Still a very active ship building yard and impressive to see.  As recently as May 2011, a new ship was christened. The next stop was to my most favorite place in the world, Reid State Park in Georgetown, Maine. My grandparents had a sailboat in these waters when I was a little girl, this land and seascape are very dear to me.

Reid is a small park on the ocean, with a famous long sandy beach and a big pile of rocks to climb and sit on. This is where I find my peace. When I see this stairway, I immediately begin to relax...

The tide was out, and the water quiet... it was peaceful and beautiful.  The boulders are marbled with quartz crystals, little chunks jutting out of the bigger rocks as one stone erodes faster than the other.

It is most alive in inclement weather, with wild ocean waves crashing on the rocks, but I also find tremendous beauty in the calmness of today.  I sat for a while... talked to God, said some prayers for friends and family. Time feels like it stops but before I know it, it is time to roll northbound again.

June in Maine means that the lupines are in bloom...gorgeous spikes of purple, pink and white blossoms crowd along side the roadway for miles and they are absolutely beautiful!

I am hoping to find a patch of them to park Dirty Girl in front of for a photo op.  Riding and scanning, riding and scanning, the highway is too busy. It will have to be on a local roadway and I hope they are also in bloom up in Acadia Park, still another hundred miles or so north...

The next stop is Camden.  What a sweet little town this is!  My first reaction is that I would love to live here. The downtown is built over a river that spills down a double waterfall into the bay. We had a delicious lunch at a deli that sits atop the waterfall, looking out at all the boats in the harbor, the ducks, seagulls and cormorants bobbing around the water. The edge that this seagull is perched on, is the top of the waterfall, shown in the following photo:

  The shops are quaint and creative. Being an owner of a gift shop myself, I love to find treasures in other shops in my travels. Christmas shopping has officially begun! ho ho ho!

We arrived in Ellsworth late afternoon, most the other riders were still out. There were only a couple of motorcycles in the lot. I was glad for the chance to have some quiet time in my room and unwind. I love it when the hotel I am staying in makes up the beds in fluffy white linens with lots of pillows! It really makes me feel like I am at luxurious spa... (I also think that camera timers are one of the best inventions ever!)

I spread out with all my comforts of sketch book, summer reading, and ipod. And if I have plan ahead, some sort of junk food like Twizzlers, which regretfully, I forgot on this trip...boohoo.

 Not directly related to motorcycling, this is one book I am reading and journaling about. The last chapter is this week's assignment, 'Recovering a Sense of Faith'...perfectly timed with this ride along the coastline that feeds that part of me the most.  It was a lovely way to relax from today's ride and be quiet for a little while.

A scrumptious supper was had at Galyn's in Bar Harbor, which looks out over the park and the harbor.  It is still early in the season, school has not let out yet, so we all had the comfort of not having to beat lots of crowds through the weekend.  For some reason, I liked this boat...

I made notes where I wanted to come back the next day to go shopping. This little town has so many offerings of the retail kind that it is irresistible to someone like me. Bar Harbor did not disappoint!  My favorite shop is called Spruce and Gussy, an eclectic shop of home dec, and hand crafted fiber arts. I spent a lot of time in here chatting with the owner- and leaving with a large bag that suddenly made me wonder how I was going to transport it home. It took a little rearranging of bike bags, I was starting to hope that I had a spare bungee cord somewhere, just in case!

Happy Girl, buying lots of stuff :)

Saturday morning dawned beautiful, cool and bright. We had SO lucked out with the weather for this weekend. Ed planned this trip way back in January. The fact that we got such glorious weather was an incredible stroke of luck. Or maybe someone actually was making offerings to the weather gods, I don't know!  Ed helped me transfer the route to my gps, as I had somehow overlooked uploading it myself. I thought I had done it, but mid-day Friday, it suddenly occurred to me like a knock on the head that I had not seen 'Acadia' in my ride menu.  Sure enough, when we landed, I checked and argggh!!! It was not there. But there is a reason that this riding group is called the NERds.  In not too long, I had someone who had the information and the know how to upload it by using the memory sticks.  *phew*  (thank you Ed, again!)

Acadia park lived up to its famous beauty. It is the second most visited national park in our country.

And to think it is so close to me and at age 51, I am seeing it for the first time. (shame shame) This is a most perfect road for motorcycling!  Rolling, twisting one way roads that weave in and out of semi-forested patches to wide open ocean views that take my heart away are the definition of this park. It was still early in the morning, and not a lot of traffic yet as the road looped around the park. Pure delight!!

The road up to Cadillac Mountain at the heart of the park was also sweet as can be. I loved the 'guard rail'... squared off chunks of granite, like little Stonehenge walls. 

The elevation is not high, only about 1500 feet. But the mountain is essentially a bald with lovely views of the rugged Maine coastline. Lots of photo ops at the top:

One of the information boards named the little hills at the base of the mountain, one being "The Beehive."
Of course, a photo HAD to be taken. See?  I'm pointing it out for you.   :)

Somehow at the base of the mountain road, I took a wrong turn, even with the gps trying to get me on track. Remember how I mentioned the one way road...a big loop?  Imagine how happy I was to find that we were again riding up this road to the park gate. I started singing 'Charlie on the MTA' , thinking that I might have to circumnavigate the whole park again...pretty, but I had other places to go. But the helpful park ranger let me turn around at the booth and go down an access road to the town.  The timing was just right to park the bikes and find those shops I had made mental notes about the night before.  And eat again. That other thing that bikers love.

Oh, and yes, I DID get that photo that I was hoping for! It was in Acadia, actually passing it a second time clued me in that I had made a wrong turn.... first, here's two bikes and lupines...  

Here's DG all by herself, because she's demanding like that... 

And then finally, to complete the series... here's the picture of me taking her picture, haha!

Lunch, shopping, a huge home made ice cream cone at Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium (Irish Mudslide...Bailey's ice cream with brownie bits), watching the boats in the harbor, people watching and feeling the salt air on my face made for a perfect afternoon. I  love it when there is no agenda. We lazily watched a 4 masted schooner slowly raise her pink sails...

I made notes that I would like my husband to come up there with me. I think he would really enjoy it too.  I don't think he's seen Acadia either. (shame shame...native of New Hampshire!) I was even rewarded with a 'plen aire' painter with his easel set up on the sidewalk..it was delightful!

We got back to the hotel to meet up with the 50 or 60 other riders for a festive night out at the Bangkok Thai restaurant nearby. The owners graciously closed their little place to the public for us. We filled the dining room up and just had a ball! 

The food was amazing!  So many vegetarian choices for me, it was difficult to pick, but I settled on a spicy sweet and sour veggie plate with deep fried tofu over rice. Check out the garnish, made from a carrot. All the plates had something festive decorating them! 

My mouth is watering at the memory of it....  I think it might just be worth a 6 hour ride to go there again!!
(My husband just told me that he is retaking the rider safety course this weekend to refresh his skills and who knows, maybe a bike in the future...Bangkok Thai, here we come!)

Sunday dawned wet and... well, wet.  It was not supposed to do this! But of course, it was a guarantee that at some point I would be riding in the rain because I had chosen to leave my full faced helmet at home. (the forecast was THAT beautiful)  All us NERds enjoyed a leisurely hotel breakfast, many opting to wait out the rain for a bit.  The radar was promising that it was not going to be a total downpour the whole way, so we set out for home after breakfast.  It was not actually raining at that moment, so ever hopeful, I decided to only wear my rain pants. Of course, again, this was the guarantee that in not too long, the sky would open up.    

(WHEN will I ever learn?)  A quick stop so that I could finish gearing up (Dan and Mannie were already set), another one later for fuel, and finally, south of Portland, we pulled into a very nice, very busy rest area.  To our delight, we bumped into about a dozen other NERds, and enjoyed a nice hot beverage and snack before the last leg home.  This is Ed and Debbie, our lovely trip coordinators extraordinaire.

I finally stopped shivering... it was just one of those days that once I got chilled to my core, warming up was a big challenge. And for those who have the question on the tip of your tongues...no, I did not pack my heated gear, it was June for heaven's sake!  hahaha.  It is amazing just how much difference it makes to have even the tiniest bit of solar warming! 

Even with the ride home in the rain, this weekend was just about as perfect as a riding weekend could possibly be.  Beautiful scenery, the ocean, great friends, delicious food, and good riding. It's what makes the heart of a motorcyclist race!

And on behalf of my blog and all my fans that like to read it, I want to thank my good friend, Mannie for his maniacal picture taking skills! His photos have added a lot of depth to this story. thank you thank you! 
and of course, here is HIS photo, next to the lupines :) 
Thanks for reading! 
love, kate

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The days surrounding Memorial Day 2011

What a week! 
About 2200 miles, lots of scenery, lots of friends.  
I am back at work today, not sure really what to do first.
I think I am just recuperating for a bit.  :)
Saturday May 21, kick stand up at 5:30am. Gave my hubby a hug and a kiss and hit the road.  The weather had been rainy all week, and this morning dawned misty but promising, it was worth the risk to not wear rain gear.

My friend, Mannie rode with me for a few hours, destination- the Alexis Diner in Newburg, NY. We had a hearty late breakfast and then I ventured on solo, my destination Frederick, MD to have dinner with another friend. 
About to push on solo from Alexis Diner.

The 520 mile ride was uneventful, arriving at the restaurant at 4:20, very pleased to have made it that far and still have daylight. The trick for me is to leave at dawn, as my energy level is best before noon. I think I could do another couple hours IF I had to,
but 10 hours on the bike is about my limit.  
I was invited to stay at my friend's home that night.  I got to meet a couple of his pets... The orange and black guy is named Harley!  My brother had a big python in our house so these little guys were easy.
With only a couple hundred miles on Sunday, it was a welcomed short day. Before leaving, Michael took me to breakfast and to meet a friend of his who has an enviable collection of bikes. His choice for the day was a Honda CB500four, I think a '72. This was my mom's first bike back when I was a teen, so a photo had to taken! 

Rolling toward Virginia, my gps, Jack, said 'turn right and board the ferry.'  Cool!!!  I had no idea I was to do this, it was such a surprise, I almost didn't get my camera out in time before boarding, the ferry master was waving me on as I approached White's Ferry to cross the Potomac River.
I had so much fun, you'd have thought I never cross a river on a ferry before, taking a bunch of tourist type photos. It was a short scoot across the river and into Virginia...

The weather was gorgeous when I left, but approaching the mountains, the skies were threatening to do something. It seems that every time I ride into Roanoke, it rains!!  But thankfully, a short lived stint in my rain gear and it was clear riding to my next destination, New Castle Virginia, for a relaxing few days of riding the mountains with friends. How welcome the curvy mountain roads were after so much highway! 

 Farm after farm, rolling hills, wildflowers and the occasional deer looking at my loud bike from the woods was the order for the day.  I love this photo... it makes me think of time's passing in a gentle way:

We rode to a village called Burke's Garden, I don't know if it is a full sized town or not, so village seems to fit better. Take a quick peek at the link, see it from the air and read the paragraph about it. Bikers all love the road called the Tail of the Dragon, and that's fine and good, but there are hundreds of equally spectacular tight twisty roads in these hills, and the road up to Burke's Garden is one of them. If I could have, I would have taken pictures of the switchbacks, but I was too busy. :)  Woodsy and dark, it winds tightly and steeply up the mountain, 

opening up to a lovely farmland. Everyone's name is painted on arrow shaped sign posts with mileage to their houses. I understand that you cannot buy land up here unless you are related to the family. At the top is a sweet little store, where we stopped for a little bit, had a sandwich on the porch, before turning back down. There is only one way up, one way down. 

The days are all rather blurry at this point, so here are a few more photos to show you... 

A quaint covered bridge from 1916. I wanted SO much to back my bike into it and take a photo, but the obvious road blocks at each end told me that was a no no. It did look like someone else caved to the desire though and dragged the railroad tie to the side. 
This is the little town of New Castle from the top of the mountain. There's a small grocery, a gas station and a Subway... a few other small businesses.  People come here for a relaxing summer by Craig Creek, the cabins were just starting to be opened for the season.
A typical, serenely beautiful misty morning from the porch. I love the ocean, it goes straight to my soul, but I can understand how one can lose one's heart to these mountains. 
If I spent more time here, the ocean and mountains would have a fight for first dibs on my heart.

One of my favorite stops was at Blue Collar Joe's. Mark pulled into the lot and asked, "you want a donut?" I said, "are they good here?" 

His answer was that yes, they are awesome and they make a donut with bacon on it.  I laughed and made the very firm statement that if a donut exists with bacon on it, I would eat it. Of course I did not believe him.  I have been a vegetarian for 20 years, so this is not something I toy with. We went inside and wouldn't you know... their best selling donut is called the Blueberry Pancake Breakfast. A blueberry donut, maple frosting and smoked bacon crumbled on top.  I could not stop giggling. It was an amazing sight to see all these interesting combinations. 
Check the link and look at the menu :)
 And I will admit, I liked the Blueberry Breakfast Donut... although I liked whatever amazing chocolate one  better :)  If you are going down I81 in Virginia, north of Roanoke, this unassuming donut shop is well worth the detour!
 And here's some coffee to go with those donuts... I take mine with cream and Splenda.  A fun tree on the road into New Castle. :) 
 I liked this picture of my bike... a very Dirty Girl, I might add. Road dust, bugs, rain spots and mud gave her a lot of character this week. I think a chisel will be necessary to get it all off.
 Next stop, was back north a little bit, to meet with friends for Rolling Thunder 2011.  After a whole bunch of emails, texts, phone calls and messages, we all finally got coordinated in Lynchburg VA. This year was the first time that a bunch of us were finally going to be in one zip code.  Big Daddy (Gary) flew in from Houston (left) and stayed with Mickey (right).  Two big guys with big hearts!  I came to Lynchburg a day early to surprise Big Daddy at the airport, to which he stated that he knew I would be there.
pffft...suuure he did. :)

A hearty grilled supper at Mickey's home with home brew on the back porch was just what the doctor ordered.  Oh, I have to say grilled because I have been corrected that when down south if I said a barbecue, it would have meant a certain kind of meat. Apparently we use it as a verb up north, down south it is a noun. And then there's the word supper...I got corrected to say dinner. A lively discussion as to what defines the two words ensued, and as you can imagine, no resolution, so another beer was the answer. :) 
The next morning, the 4th in our group arrived from St Louis, Missouri. Ranger rumbled up on Leroy, his Roadstar, ready for a hearty breakfast. 

 Bodies and bikes fueled up, we were on our way to Springfield VA, a suburb of DC.  We had three bikes and a truck/trailer. I was the ride leader, and was just praying that Jack had chosen a good way to get there. All in all, not a bad ride, a turn or two that approached quickly, a jockeying for position with a panel truck that left the truck driver more flustered than I was I think.  I could go the rest of my life not riding on I-95 again and it would be too soon. I have yet to see such a cut-throat section of highway as that one was going into DC. Very aggressive driving like none I have ever seen. It was difficult to stay together as a group.  Thankfully it was only about 30 miles of it. 
We arrived at our hotel, chilled for a bit with a cold beer, met other riders as they came in. 

Soon the parking lot, protected by an overpass was filled... 

That evening, the hotel shuttle took us to a nearby pub for supper... this poor van, it was stuffed like the clown car at the circus!  I don't really know just how many got into it, thankfully it only had to take us a few blocks. 
Every square inch had someone jammed into it. We laughed a lot that night!
Saturday, we went to Arlington National Cemetery and The Wall.  Last year was my first time at these two sacred places, they were very moving. This year was a little more challenging to overcome the stress of waiting an hour on the highway off ramp to enter. 
I bet we all sweat off a few pounds..... 

 The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is emotional and powerful. One young soldier who was talking with some veterans about helping to change the wreath, did not look to be more than 24 years old. On his jacket was a purple heart.  It brings tears to my eyes to see just how young the people are that answer their call to serve with all their heart.
 It affects everyone in their own way...

We then rolled onward to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or simply, The Wall. The commons all around the memorial were crowded with motorcycles, also known as Thunder Alley.  They allow the bikes to ride up onto the sidewalks and park anywhere there is space. Great thanks should be given to the police department for this luxury!  They calmly ride horses all around the area, very calm horses, I have to add.

 In my hand was a scrap of paper with a name and a few letters and numbers on it.  My friend's uncle was killed in Vietnam and I promised that I would find him. It did not take very long, and thankfully, it was within easy reach to make a rubbing of his name, Amalio Gonzalez.
 Big Daddy's cousin's name is also on the wall, Doyle McShan, killed at the age of 21.  I could not help but cry with Gary as he told me Doyle's story.  His name was up fairly high and we needed the help of a volunteer to make a rubbing of it. They graciously lug step ladders back and forth all day to help those looking for names. Thank-you...  

We were all pretty tired at the end of the day, happily hanging out at a local eatery with some old friends. It was an awesome surprise to see Joyce and Jim, an unexpected suprise!  They brought with them their beautiful family and grandbabies...
Back at the hotel, the week suddenly caught up with me and I kind of hit my own wall.... I did not feel as though I had the energy to go through another hot crowded day and made the decision to go home rather than ride in Rolling Thunder this year.  It was an unpopular decision, but as I rolled homeward on Sunday, I felt it was the right decision.  I saw those people that were important to me, experienced the memorials and got the name off The Wall for Mannie.  
526 miles home to family hugs. :)

Ranger followed me to my town, to meet my family. DG had very rare company in the garage...Leroy was settled in for the night.

We had a nice little visit, some great home cooked food from my mom. It was wonderful to sit with feet up in the back yard, listening and watching the birds. Monday was iffy, threatening to thunderstorm, so we waited a little bit, then took a little country ride to a beautiful Veteran's memorial cemetery in Winchendon, MA.
Had to stop at Honey Bee Lane! 
The memorial cemetery is lovely... the grounds feel much like Arlington, with how the headstones line up. 

There is a peaceful monument dedicated to all the armed forces, I love to sit on the grass and listen to the 8 flags softly flying in the wind, their ropes gently tapping against the flagpoles.
I got to thinking that were weren't all too far from one of New England's meccas for bikers...Kimball Farm.
Heavenly, fattening fried foods abound here, big plates of onion rings, fish and chips, and lobster rolls. And of course, ice cream!
I am thankful there was no photo taken when my ice cream fell off the cone into my lap. haha :)
Back in Holliston, I showed Ranger one of the local photo ops.. the Arch Street Bridge, one of the smallest arch bridges anyone will ever see. Too bad for the graffiti, but the photo if fun. A neighborly neighbor came out of her house to take our photo- Mudville is the friendliest village in town! 

I was really grateful that Ranger was able to see one of our local memorials, one that is installed twice a year as long as it is necessary. Unfortunately, it is still necessary. 

One of our own Vietnam veterans makes posters of all the US and allied troops that have been killed during war, in the time between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. It is poignant and moves me to tears each year, as I drive by, reading and saying aloud the names of those who have died and noting their ages. Mostly young, but then you see someone in their forties...and think about the high likelihood of young children at home... 
I will be happy when these wars are over!

All in all, a great week!
Thanks to all:
my family, my friends, and the military who serve our country.
Thanks for reading, 
God Bless,