Retirement Ride I
For many years, I have thought about taking a long motorcycle ride when I retired. Well, the time has finally come. My teaching schedule for the summer has most students on Mondays. Since many were going to be gone or busy over July 4th, I was going to skip a week of lessons anyway. Spencer is in summer school getting classes out the way so he can have more selection of classes later in school, and Beth is taking classes Tuesdays and Thursdays, so they know I'm gone.
Where should I go? I’ve often joked about riding off into the
sunset, but I really don’t want to go west from here. It’s a LOOOONNNNGGGG boring ride across
How to get from my home
(20 miles east of
My bike, a 1993 Honda 750 Nighthawk, is equipped with a fairing (windshield) and saddlebags, but it is not one of the fancy touring bikes with TV sets and refrigerators like you often see on the interstates. It’s more of a mid-size “standard” bike. So, 500 miles is a long day, but not extreme.
My original plan had me
coming in through the southern part of the state near
All loaded and ready to go!
Approaching from the southwest, I entered WV
just about 50 miles from
my destination of
Being the early riser that I am, I awoke at 3:30 am and had breakfast. After double-checking the bike and saying good-byes, I was on the road at 4:15 am. Since it had been in the 90s for several weeks, I was dressed for hot weather (my long-sleeve, lightweight T-shirt and leather jacket). However, I found myself stopping less than a mile from the house to put on a sweatshirt under the jacket. It felt good to be cool. That’s one nice thing about traveling at night in the summer!
The traffic was very light at 4:15 am. I usually avoid the interstates (boring!) but I wanted to cover a lot of ground today. I-64 was almost deserted. It was interesting that the first vehicle I saw was another motorcyclist about ¼ mile ahead on me as I got on the interstate. I only saw about 20-25 cars on my side of the road the entire 100 miles to the Indiana border, which I crossed at 6:00 am. I am on my way!
It was nice to see night
turn to morning as the sun came up at the
The first 40 miles is
4-lane with enough curves to keep it interesting. The last 35 miles or so is 2-lane, with
mostly gentle curves. It was on the
I’m back in
a motorcycle in WV for over 20 years.
It is surrounded by beautiful mountains, which are even
more captivating in the fog.
From left to right: Me, Eddie Eiland (local saxophonist in the band), Liz Spurlock, Don Elkins and Elnora Elkins (who own and operate Don Elkins Music Store in Logan and were also both in the Annie band with me in 1984).
The orchestra pit of the Liz Spurlock Amphitheater, where I spent
the summer of '84 as Music Director/Conductor/Pianist of "Annie".
A view from the seats. What a beautiful setting.
We're off to see the
Wizard, and I'm off early tomorrow to see the rest of
For more information, check out the Aracoma Story website:
I awoke at 6:00 am on
Wednesday, packed and stopped for a quick Egg McMuffin
before heading out of
Heading southeast out of
so popular among motorcyclists from all over the country.
Rt 85 near Oceana.
Hmmm…., based on the condition of the sign, I think I'll pass on this restaurant.
A common sight around
I stopped for lunch at a
pizza shop in
out across the street at the local
folks looking across at the bike and probably wishing they had
done what I'm doing this week when they were younger.
Continuing out Rt 60
eastbound, I stopped at Hawk's
for a nice overlook of the
overlook is a rollercoaster bike ride -- lots of 15 MPH corners. Sorry, but there
was not a safe place to pull off and get pictures.
Next stop was the
Arching gracefully across the
At 876 feet above the
For more information: http://www.nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/nrgbridge.htm
I had planned to head
northeast to spend the night in
It's a steep, rough road to get into the camp. I started down and felt like I was riding on marbles,
so I slowly turned around and parked at the top of the hill. Brian gave me a ride down in his Jeep.
This is the smooth section of road.
Brian's cottage is the one in the middle. The church refurbished it quite nicely.
The students live in a large cottage to the right, and there is also a large school/dining room cottage.
The students at the school all have chores and responsibilities, including taking
care of some animals and working in this huge garden.
For more information: http://www.jsboardingschool.com/contact.shtml
After visiting with
Brian a while, I was off for
I pulled into
I had planned on this
being a day of rest, after riding over 880 miles the past 2 days. However, the weather forecast said today
was supposed to be beautiful, and tomorrow it would rain. Hmmm.
I decided to take my Day 4 trip a day early and rest on Day 4
instead. I wanted to ride the route
Here we go!
This is Rt 33 eastbound coming out of Elkins and up into the mountains.
For a 4-lane, it's a pretty enjoyable ride. Luckily, it changes back to
a nice 2-lane after about 6 - 8 miles. Scenery is A+.
I can remember passing this old cave (limestone?) since
I was a wee lad on the way to my grandparents' farm.
The last mountain before
Seneca Rocks is the
The next picture was taken about 1/4 mile ahead looking back this way.
This is on Rt 33 at the top, facing back to the west.
Rt 33 eastbound before Onego. Great riding road, great scenery.
Civilization (sort of). Harper’s Old Country Store is located at
Seneca Rocks and the Junction with Rt 55/28.
The old Honda looks good, eh? Fill up with gas and ride on!
I had to stop to see Seneca Rocks. We used to bring my grandparents here for Sunday picnics, and I will always remember passing the rocks on the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s when I was a kid. Lots of good memories here. I have written in my will that I want my ashes spread from the top of the rocks, where Beth, Spencer and I have climbed twice.
Inside the Seneca Rocks Visitor's Center.
My grandparents would sit here for hours watching the climbers way up on the rocks.
For more information: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/mnf/sp/senrcks_txt.html
After Seneca Rocks, it
was up Rt 55/28 North to
Destination: My grandparents’ farm, 8 miles south of
15 years ago, but my parents still keep up the house and spend quite a bit of time here.
The old house. Built almost 100 years ago. There used to be several sheds, corn cribs, chicken houses,
an outhouse, a cellar, and 3 or 4 gardens. Now, it's just one big yard surrounding the house.
When I used to spend my summers back here when I was a kid, I would sit out here on the porch with my grandparents in the evening and watch the bats fly around the evening sky. We had no television or phone at the time, so we knew how to carry on a conversation for entertainment. Now, the deer come out of the woods and eat apples that have fallen off the trees. It’s common to see deer less than 100 feet from the house.
The old water pump in the back yard. With no running water, we pumped all we needed for drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry, washing dishes, etc. etc. The outhouse (torn down a few years ago) was just down the hill to the left. My parents finally had running water put in when the county pipeline made it down Rt 220 past the farm a few years ago.
I can still remember my grandma pumping water as I rinsed shampoo off my hair while holding my head under the nozzle.
As I had done hundreds of times before, I walked up the mountain road. This time, though, it was to visit their cemetery in the woods. I really miss them both, and cannot walk this road without thinking of the times we all walked it together.
Here is a home-made-with-tape panorama of what the farm looked like back in the '70s.
This picture was taken from the hill behind the house, looking out toward the road.
My grandparents: Herb and Mernie Alt - taken in the '70s.
After resting a bit in the shade of the porch, I was on my way again.
This is Rt 220 about 10 miles south of our farm.
It’s a great ride for 22
One road I HAD to ride
was Rt 33 from
The sign reads: "In
defense of the South
Branch after Fort Upper Tract and
destroyed by Shawnee Indians under Killbuck April 27-28, 1756.
Rt 33 through
with a 10% grade thrown in for fun!! Who needs Deal's Gap?
On my way back over the mountains from Seneca Rocks to Elkins, I stopped for this photo by a county road that goes up to Spruce Knob, the highest point in the state (4861 feet).
The ride home was fun
but uneventful until I got to the
A VERY fun day’s ride! As good as it gets.
God is good!
Visiting Friends and Sightseeing
I spent several days visiting friends and going back to see my old hangouts.
I drove out to see Betty
McWhorter on Friday afternoon. She was
my organ teacher when I was in high school.
She is a fantastic organist, and was organist at the
The Creative Arts Center at West Virginia University, where I spent a lot of time trying to learn how to play the piano (when I wasn't out at Cheat Lake diving off the bridge!). I used to park my motorcycle under the canopy, but I didn't want to risk a ticket today.
This brought a tear to
my eyes – the Frontier Bakery. When I
I also visited with Imogene Foster, who lived next door to me with her husband and 2 small boys when I was in school. Now, her 2 small boys are both grown and married. Makes me feel old. Her husband, Roger, who was out of town the day I visited, also had a motorcycle years ago and used to ride with me over to see my grandparents at Petersburg.
When I got back to
That evening, it was
time to pack and get ready for Day 6, the start of riding back to
I double checked the bike, and filled up with gas. Ready to roll.
Day 6 -
Route started in
north-central WV and moved clockwise southward to
I originally planned to
ride about 275 miles today and stop in
Rt 50 eastbound from
Nothing like the boring Rt 50 in Illinois.
It’s like this for 30
miles from Grafton to the
Look out for that 15mph hairpin curve. Whoo-hoo!
Yep, I'm still in
OK, OK, I'm really in
Redhouse and start south on Rt 219. Still, almost as nice as WV.
I followed Rt 219 South
From Harmon, I once again passed over the mountains to Seneca Rocks (see Day 3). Since this was a familiar road (and a great biking road!!), I decided twice was OK. From Seneca Rocks, I headed south on Rt 33 to Judy Gap. Before heading south on Rt 28, though, I made a quick run up the mountain from Judy Gap to the overlook of Germany Valley on Rt 33. (Again, see Day 3). This time, though, I was not alone at the overlook.
When I got to the
Rochville Harley-Davidson/BMW/Yamaha/Ducati in Gaithersburg MD.
He has ridden out near
I made a quick stop at Green Bank to see the radio telescopes.
However, I had a lot of miles to cover, so I skipped the tour.
About 5 miles past the main facility at Green Bank Observatory, you can
see one of the large dishes just to the right of the barn.
For size consideration, remember the dish is about 5 miles away.
For more information: http://www.nrao.edu/
After turning west on Rt
66 (state route, not the famous one out west), I was quickly in
For more information: http://www.cassrailroad.com/
From Cass, I followed Rt 66 west for about 15 very fun miles through some good twisties. For you non-bikers, twisties are tight curves you DO have to slow down for, as opposed to sweepers. Rt 66 from Cass to Snowshoe is a definite “must ride” if you are in the area.
A little West Virginia roadside humor. (It's a fake person)
South of Marlinton, Rt 219 starts to straighten out and become less interesting.
Once I passed
After passing through
I hit hard rain for
about 30-40 miles through Welch and north almost to
About 15 miles from
My friend Liz Spurlock
and I went out to Bob Evans for a big dinner and to catch up on 21 years of
news. Liz is an interesting person and
fun to be with. If you’re ever in
I hit the bed about 10:00pm and slept like a baby until 4:30am.
Day 7 -
I awoke at 4:30am and decided to get an early start before the holiday traffic and heat. After a quick shower, I packed my stuff and headed over to McDonalds for an Egg McMuffin (my favorite road food) and OJ. I had planned to only go to Ft Knox, KY (halfway home) today, but the weather forecast showed it clear all the way through Kentucky, Indiana, and only raining in Illinois late in the evening. I figured I would be home by 4:00pm, so I would beat most of the rain.
By 5:45am, I was fueled and fed and on the road.
Rt 119 south out of
I love the early morning!
Shortly after this, I
was back on the
This time, there was no rain, and very little traffic. Nice!!
By 10:00am, I had passed
Ft Knox, KY (my original stopping point for the day) and was across the
The fun roads were quickly disappearing in my rear view mirrors.
The view for the next 300 miles is pretty much the same.
As I neared home (only 23 miles to my exit), the sky suddenly turned BLACK and I saw several bolts of lightning ahead. Lightning and motorcycles don’t mix, so I got off the next exit and ducked under the canopy of a Shell gas station. Within 2-3 minutes, the strong winds and heavy rain hit. I had a perfect spot on the back (east side) of the station, so I was blocked from almost all of the storm. I just bought a soda and sat on the little picnic table and watched it storm for about 30 minutes. Then the sun came out and I headed home. All was not over, though.
Just a couple of miles before my exit, the sky turned black AGAIN! Oh well, I figured I’m only about 7 miles from home, so I can get home before the worst of it hits. As it turns out, I was right (for once!), but only by a few minutes.
This is the scene when I parked my bike in the garage. Just moments later, the tornado sirens went off. We had very strong winds and heavy rain for over 30 minutes. The next day, we found out a tornado touched down less than 5 miles from our house. That was too close!
Well, I’ve looked
forward to this ride for many years, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was an exciting 7 days, and I got to see
a lot of friends and familiar places.
Riding a motorcycle in
My Honda 750 Nighthawk was a great ride. It goes to show you don’t need a ½-ton Winnebago-Wing touring motorcycle with television and refrigerator to ride cross country. Yes, my saddle got sore after a long day’s ride, but that’s part of the adventure, isn’t it?
I hope you enjoyed the
travelogue. If you are a biker, I
would highly recommend