Family Motorcycle Trip Followup

I never did post a follow up to the family motorcycle trip starting post. It’s been a busy few weeks (and shows no signs of letting up so I guess now is as good a time as any).

We really didn’t go too far or do too much so I won’t bore you with hundreds of pictures, but I did start the trip out by riding to Indiana to meet up with the Family.

I went out a day early so I’d have a day to spend riding with my Best Friend CB (he’s commented here from time to time). We had a really great time riding together for several hours. We went to Tipton and visited my father’s grave, stopped by the house I grew up in (which is for sale again…but out of my price range) and the owners showed us around. They’ve really done a great job of upgrading and taking care of the place. We rode out to Windfall and visited the site of the elementary school we went to. Went by the house that CB grew up in, but no one was home. Just had a great day all around.

The next day I met up with the family and we began the family trip. CB rode with us to breakfast and was there to take a picture of us as a group. One of the rare shots that I’m actually in.

As I mentioned in a past post, we went to Cumberland Gap TN. My Dad’s family was originally from Claiborne County, near Tazewell and Cumberland Gap. As I mentioned before, The Wife drove her car from our home in VA to Cumberland Gap and met us there.

We still have some family there and many of our ancestors are buried there. We went not only for vacation but also to do some genealogy research. The Wife did a wonderful job finding the town archive of Tazewell and getting some very valuable information from them while we were there.

Have I ever mentioned that I had relatives named Whet Stone and his brother Flint? Actually Flint was Whet’s brother’s middle name, but you get the picture.

We had to do a little off roading to visit a couple of the cemeteries. They sure put grave sites in some out of the way places back in the day…

We did do some family visiting while there. We had a really nice visit with my first cousin once removed (son of my great-uncle). He had a couple of hummingbird feeders that were…well…humming with activity. I got quite a few good pictures.

That’s pretty much the extent of what we did…oh, I mentioned going up to the Pinnacle overlooking Cumberland Gap a couple of posts back.

Not real eventful, but a good trip with some good riding and good family visiting time.

After the rest of the family headed back to Indiana, The Wife and I drove south to Knoxville (actually stayed in Maryville just south of Knoxville). It was raining on Friday afternoon when we got down there so we went and watched Batman at the movies (VERY nice theater…posted no firearms but I can neither confirm nor deny whether I obeyed that particular edict) and just had a relaxing evening together.

Then on Saturday we rode out to Deal’s Gap on US 129 right on the border of TN and NC. Also known as “The Tail of the Dragon” and reknowned for it’s 318 curves in 11 miles, it’s a very famous motorcycle road. Long time readers will remember that I rode it with the family on another family motorcycle trip two years ago.

The Wife rode on the back of my bike this time, but next time she wants to be piloting her own. A goal to strive for.

They have professional photographers who take pictures of the bikes and cars that drive the road as they’re going around some of the curves. A few of the pix turned out pretty good so we’re probably going to buy some. I’ll try to remember to post a good one on the blog when we do.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it. We headed home after Deal’s Gap. made it to around Danville VA before we had to stop for the night and then finished the trip on Sunday morning.

Finishing mileage was 62151. If you remember the beginning mileage picture a few posts back, when I left home a week prior, she was at 59929 for a total of exactly 2222 miles in 7 days.

Not nearly as arduous as some of my trips, but respectable…and enjoyable, which is the point.


Cumberland Gap Inn

I’ve got some more to write about the recent family motorcycle trip, but one of the first things I want to do is a couple of reviews.

My family (on Dad’s side) is originally from Claiborne County Tennessee, just south of Cumberland Gap. My uncle wanted to do some genealogy research on our trip so we spent the whole week in the Cumberland Gap area.

As usual, click all pix to make bigger

During our stay in the area we occupied the Cumberland Gap Inn right in bustling downtown Cumberland Gap.

They don’t have a web site up yet so I can’t link, but they are under new management. We had the privilege of meeting the new owners (as you would too if you stay there, they actually run the place…no absent management here) and they were very kind, personable and just good people all around.

They’ve been working very hard to update and improve the rooms and I have to say we were very impressed. The hotel is well maintained and very clean, the rooms are large, the beds are comfortable, and they even have a quiet little “back porch” to sit at of an evening and relax.

Perhaps not as fancy and upscale as a hotel in downtown Seattle or Portland, but they made us feel very welcome and “at home” and the accommodations were, in my book, first rate.

If you’re ever in the area on vacation or just passing through, I highly recommend a stay at the Cumberland Gap Inn.

By the way…you see that outcropping of rock sticking out from the mountaintop just to the left of the top of the flagpole? That’s called the Pinnacle.

This is what the Cumberland Gap Inn looks like from way up there.

And zoomed in with a 200mm lens.

That red vehicle there in front is The Wife’s car.


And so it begins…

Started out at 5:20am at 59929 miles. This trip won’t be nearly as much mileage as past trips, but I’ll still keep track.

Here she is. She was paid the ultimate compliment the other day. I had the Fat Lady in the Honda shop getting the annual safety inspection. The Head mechanic there…the locally recognized guru of Honda that EVERYONE wants working on their bikes when they need it…said, and I quote: “She looks great!”.

It’s good to know that I’m not the only one…and even someone as respected and knowledgeable about bikes as the local Honda mechanic, thinks that she still looks really good for a 12 year old.

Today was just getting to Indiana. I didn’t take pictures of all the “Welcome to” state signs this year…I’ve done that a couple of times already. I did take a couple of scenery pictures. I love the Shenandoah Valley.

The weather was great. My earlier prediction about being in the mountains during the hottest part of the day was mostly right, although I was in the foothills of Kentucky by the time it got really hot, but the air was still fairly cool so as long as I kept moving it wasn’t bad at all.

This is the first time in years that I’ve made the whole trip without getting wet once. I guess there are some advantages to living through the worst drought in decades.

One last picture to leave you with. Sometimes you see the strangest things on the road.


What a great day…

…to start a Motorcycle Trip.

I’m leaving in a little bit, so I should be in the Mountains of West Virginia during the hottest part of the day. Hopefully that will keep it in check a little.

I know I haven’t been blogging much lately. Just haven’t had much to say and life’s been getting in the way. I’ll be taking lots of pictures as usual so, assuming I have an internet connection, I’ll keep you up to date on the trip.


The Journey is the Destination

Traveling by motorcycle is a much different experience than traveling in an auto. Not only for the obvious reasons of differing controls and half the number of wheels on the road, but because of the whole environment.

On a motorcycle, you are one with your environment. When it’s hot, you’re hot. When it’s cold, you’re cold. When it’s raining, you’re wet.

You are sitting higher, in general, than in a car and your field of view has fewer obstructions so you have a better view of your surroundings as well.

Because you can’t easily have a conversation with someone else…even a passenger on your own bike…while riding a motorcycle, there is plenty of introspection and you simply spend more time just looking and thinking about what’s around you and your place in it.

But what that also means is that, when you stop for a meal or for the day, you have plenty to talk about, discussing the sights seen and events that occurred while on the road that you couldn’t comment about except to yourself at the time.

It’s just an entirely different experience than traveling by car.

For those reasons and more, the title of this blog post really does say it all when it comes to a motorcycle trip.

Some of my pictures aren’t exposed exactly right because the sun was from the wrong direction, some are a little out of focus because the camera focused on the wrong thing, some may be a little off-kilter because I wasn’t holding it exactly straight,

but I hope that these pictures at least give a little bit of an idea what a motorcycle trip is all about and why riding for hours and miles on end, exposed to the heat, cold, rain and sun, is really worth it.

My dad used to say you don’t stop riding because you’re getting old, you get old because you stopped riding.

It truly is about the journey. The destination is just a good excuse.


The Journey Home

On Sunday, our intrepid group parted ways. Cousin’s bike was still in Vermont and he and his wife were still in a rental car.

It was decided that Uncle and Aunt (who are retired) would accompany them to Vermont. They’d return the rental car and then ride Uncle’s bike back to Indiana so Cousin could return to work. Uncle and Aunt would then remain in Vermont and, when ready, would ride Cousin’s bike back to Indiana.

Meanwhile, my Brother and I decided to head back to Mom and Step-dad’s place to spend an evening with them before heading home.

Boy, we sure can complicate a simple vacation, can’t we?

At any rate, we parted ways. Brother wanted to hit route 1 for a while and ride it along the coastline, so this we did.

The east coast version of the Coast Highway isn’t nearly as impressive as its western relative, but it was a nice ride and, at times, gorgeous. We even got to see a couple of Maine’s attractions like the Penobscot Bridge Observatory

and Fort Knox (the one that’s not in Kentucky)

For lunch, we stopped at the world famous Moody’s Diner for a snack and the best piece of Apple Pie I’ve had in years…including my own, which is saying a lot because I make a mean apple pie.

We stopped for the night in Fishkill New York. I asked the hotel clerk if she was embarrassed to tell people where she lives. She replied “not at all…then again, I don’t live in Fishkill, I just work here…”

The next day we continued on to Commodore PA and had a nice evening with Mom and Stepdad on their farm.

After one of Mom’s patented “you’ll gain ten pounds in ten minutes or less” breakfasts, I headed out the next morning and scooted for home. The GPS said travel time on the route it laid out was 6 hours and 35 minutes. I left at 10am and got home at 5:05. 7 hours and 5 minutes total. Not bad…but boy was my butt tired. I only stopped three times, twice for a splash of gas and once to check the GPS for a better route…didn’t find one.

By riding that hard, I was able to miss the various rush hours in the various cities I had to pass through and made really good time.

Anyway, back home again in Virginia safe and sound.

Final Tally:

Days on trip: 12
States Visited or passed through: 12*
Beginning Mileage: 51981
Ending Mileage: 55666
Total miles traveled: 3,685
Sights seen, camaraderie shared and families ties tightened: Priceless

Tomorrow I’m going to put up a final post with some of the other pictures and perhaps some thoughts…but mostly pictures.

*Unique visits not including home state of VA. The route took me from VA – WV – KY – OH – IN – OH – PA – NY – VT – NH – ME – NH – MA – CT – NY – PA – MD – VA for a total of 18 state visits.


Saturday, August 30

After a night back at the hotel in Bangor, we headed back to Bar Harbor on Saturday to do some souvenir shopping.

The day started out looking a little ugly, but quickly cleared off and became a very nice day.

We found some interesting artifacts including the moose antlers being modeled here by the Sister-In-Law. I picked up some toy lobster magnets for the grandkids, and got a good deal on a pair of hats and a pair of T-shirts for myself and The Wife.

We ate lunch at a really interesting place, the Bar Harbor Route 66 Restaurant, where I partook of Clam Chowder and a Lobster Roll.

The inside of the place was as interesting as the outside. The original restaurant burned in the mid-80’s; when it was rebuilt, some of the features of an old church that was being demolished were incorporated. The stained glass windows and fancy bannisters and railings provide a unique look.

Toss in a lot of ’50s and ’60s antiques and you get a pretty memorable atmosphere.

And the food was excellent too.

After lunch, we hit Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium for Ice Cream. I just had to try the Lobster Ice Cream, if for no other reason just to say I’d tried it.

I have to admit that it was…um…different. Probably not a flavor I’d go out of my way to get in the future, but definitely worth trying once.

After lunch, we hit the road again and did an even bigger loop around the perimeter of the entire Mount Desert Island.

Lots more great views and interesting roads and even included a stop at an operating Light House.

We made kind of an early day of it so we could get plenty of rest for the final leg of our journey the next day.

Next Time.


Friday (continued)

After the boat tour and lunch on Friday, we took a ride to the Acadia National Park. We decided to do the park loop road, but first rode up to the top of Cadillac Mountain.

As we approached the summit, we drove right into a cloud so the view from the top was less than ideal.

Although there were periods where the clouds thinned out enough for us to get a view of the surrounding areas.

We didn’t stay long at the summit and headed back down. As we drove out of the cloud at the top of the mountain, the views cleared and we stopped at some of the scenic overviews to take in the vistas.

After Cadillac Mountain, we continued on the road that loops the perimeter of the park, stopping occasionally to see the sights, like “Thunder Hole”

The tide was going out, so the booms weren’t as impressive as they say they are with the tide incoming, but it was still pretty neat.

We had a little excitement toward the end of the day. We hadn’t gassed up since leaving the hotel in the morning and, after riding the perimeter of the park, we were getting pretty low on gas. We all assumed that a gas station would be nearby, but the GPS said the nearest one was 12 miles away. We were pretty much going on fumes by the time we got there and are lucky that none of us ran out completely on the way.

BTW: After gassing up and heading back, we realized that the GPS didn’t have all the gas stations in memory, because if we’d turned right at one intersection versus left as the GPS directed us, there was a gas station about 100 yards from the intersection. We’d have had gas some 6 miles closer than the station the GPS led us to.

Oh well. At least we all made it.

More Later.


Thursday and Friday

Thursday was a pretty uneventful day, as we basically waited until about noon to see if Keith and Susan were going to be continuing with us or renting a car. As soon as it was obvious that they were going to have to go find a rental, my brother, his wife and I headed on to Bangor, Maine.

The drive was very nice, although seeing these signs every few miles was a bit disconcerting.

I’ve heard of people surviving motorcycle/deer accidents, but never a motorcycle/moose high velocity interaction.

Regardless, the scenery was beautiful, whether of a mountain vista in the distance

Or of a bubbling river running alongside the road.

We even got to Bangor in time to go catch the new Captain America movie before the rest of the crew arrived…half of them on four wheels.

On Friday, we headed to Bah Hahbah (that’s the local pronunciation, those who aren’t “r” challenged say it “Bar Harbor”) and took a boat tour of the area, some of the bays and the Cranberry and surrounding islands.

I won’t bore you with the hundreds of pictures I took, but I do want to show you a few. The wealth and opulence on display, both ashore,

and at sea, were staggering.

But, right alongside the playthings of the ridiculously rich, were the people who, through hard work and perseverance, make their livings from the sea.

The most interesting thing about the houses…some would say mansions…that line the coast, is that most of them are empty except for a few months during the summer. Just little summer cottages on the coast of Maine.

It was a very interesting tour of the harbor and we even got to see a few of the more colorful local residents, including the Osprey currently residing in “apartment 2A” as the tour guide called it.

We were out during high tide. The guide seemed to think it unusual, but there were plenty of seals sunning themselves on the low (or high, depending on your perspective) rocks in the bay.

And Cormorants and Seagulls were in no short supply.

It was a very nice tour and the weather couldn’t have been better after the morning fog burned off.

After the boat tour and lunch, we headed to the Acadia National Park for a ride up Cadillac mountain and around Ring Road, but I think I’ll leave those pictures for the next post.


Sorry it’s been so long

But better late than never I guess.

I was having serious trouble getting photos to upload from hotel internet connections. On a trip like this, words without photos are useless.

Let’s see, when I last left you, it was last Tuesday and we were in Vermont.

The bad news is we had a casualty. Cousin Keith’s Goldwing didn’t weather the weather very well and quit running in Vermont. They’re still trying to fix it, Keith and his wife Susan rented a car and have been tagging along on twice the recommended daily allowance of wheels (not healthy, but better than sitting in Vermont with a busted bike).

On Wednesday, Uncle Ron took those of us who still had operating motorcycles on a tour of the area of Vermont we were in. Among the sights were the Maple Syrup Museum

The Cabot Creamery

Where I finally got a good idea of exactly what it was Little Miss Muffet was eating, although I’m still a bit unclear on exactly what a “tuffet” is.

The Vermont Capitol Building which, although small, is very interesting.

The Ben and Jerry’s factory

And the Trapp family lodge, site of the Von Trapp family home (please refer to the musical “The Sound of Music” if you don’t know who the Von Trapp’s were/are)

On Thursday, after waiting around for a while to see if Keith’s bike was going to get fixed (it didn’t), we headed out and made it out of Vermont, all the way across the vast state of New Hampshire and into Maine, landing in Bangor for the meat of our vacation.

We headed into Bah Hahbah (Bar Harbor) both Friday and Saturday to take in the sights and headed out for the final leg of our journey on Sunday.

In order to keep this post from getting ridiculously long, I’ll hold off and post more pics and narrative on the later days in future posts.