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,


  1. I love that little road coming and going from White's Ferry :)

  2. You have the gift of words. Once again I am glad that we shared the experience. Wish things had been different on Sunday. As I told you you have to do what is in your heart.

  3. I love your writing, love that you got the rubbings of my Uncle's name, thank you so much. Happy that you got to ride in the beautiful country side of America. You are an Amazing Person, Friend, and Motorcyclist!

  4. Having just got off the phone with dear friends in Virginia I promised to send your blog onto them and low and behold another great adventure! I think I might have to stop into Bartells and drop your name around some more! Thanks for the ride along!