<shouts> Adventure Time!!! </shouts>
Just like the cartoon, I shouted this under my helmet as I headed out on a photo-moto-camping trip this past weekend. I've gotten the bug to do some touring after watching Long Way Round/Down and Neale Bayly Rides and reading a few moto touring books/blogs. Now I realize the 1978 Gold Wing isn't exactly an adventure touring bike, but it's also not like I live in an exotic locale like Mongolia, Kenya or Peru. (or so I thought.)
My buddy Kyle had his own adventure earlier this spring and blogged about it at fairingeast.wordpress.com. Him and his friend flew to his sister's house, got on Craigslist and picked up two older Gold Wings and couch-surfed/camped their way across the country home. I excitedly followed his journey and wished for my own. I'd taken a few day rides but didn't want to push my bike too far earlier this year because of some tech problems that were unresolved. After it was straightened out, I posted about wanting to go explore and Kyle chimes in, "I still have the bike and missing the open road. Let's do it." With that, the plan was underway.
In a few short weeks, I'd picked my Dad's brain for a good route to take. Exchanged a few emails of possible sites along the way and each plotted a Google Maps route. Most of this planning would shortly get thrown out the window. LOL.
Packing for a motorcycle trip is a bit different than a normal camping trip. While I always say that I'm taking too much, nothing shines a light on how little you can take until you have to strap it to the back of a motorcycle. I'm sure this what the backpackers deal with every time. With my minimal supplies strapped down I was ready to go (later realizing, that a few more supplies might be in order... luckily I was camping with a former Boy Scout. Motto: Be Prepared). As I was waiting for Kyle to meet up, I get a text message. "Bike won't start... Gonna find a bigger hill to push start it." Oh no. After a few fits, he got it running and said he'd be over and we are still on (unless it doesn't start back up at my house.) I admire his confidence in his ride and luckily, it kept churning along the rest of the weekend.
Fueled up, we get underway. A little behind our projected schedule. Fortunately, we had nowhere to be at an appointed time (aside from the gate closing on our reserved campsite in Elkins). This was going to be a little closer than we'd like. JUST outside of town, I feel something banging against my leg. I look down and there is my side cover flopping on my shin. The expoxied mount had finally come loose after all these years. So, we quickly pulled off the highway into a Rite Aid parking lot. This was more of a whim and first place I saw... (and all right turns so I could hold the cover tight with my left shin.) but it ended up being a smart move because they sell SuperGlue. After securing the bracket that came loose (but didn't fall off), it was time to put it back on. Trouble is, now that it's secured, it wont' fit past the seat. After removing the seat, I was able to get the cover back on and we were on our way again. This time, REALLY behind schedule.
We made our way to the Tilted Kilt in Hagerstown for a tasty lunch and then picked up 81 down into Winchester and then onto our first WV routes... Rt. 50. This was a cool road and the further you went, the more remote it got. It was quickly apparent that West Virginia DOT does not know what a straight line is and god bless em. Roads were constantly turning and twisting and going up and down mountains. We stopped in Romney hoping to find a brew pub that Kyle had remembered visiting years ago on a rallye that had great cheap food. We drove by what was supposed to be the address. While we were stopped a few locals walked by and asked to help us. We soon found out that Lost River Brewing is like 30 miles in the opposite direction and not in the town that Google placed it's "approximate location". Ok, moving onward then!
Stopping at the first Scenic overlook was incredible. Kyle shouted from under his helmet "THAT road was awesome." I agreed. I especially loved the sections that appeared they COULD have made them straight, but they resisted the urge and added a few extra "S" turns.
Our rest stops were getting shorter as we pushed on for Elkins. We journeyed into Thomas where we had another destination to visit. Mountain State Brew Pub. Thomas turns out is a small little town that is two 1 way streets cut into a slope. Aged shoppes with great names like the Flying Pig Breakfest and Lunchery, Purple Fiddle and Pickel Patch gave the town a vintage feel. We headed out of town looking for our destination and quickly found it at the top of the mountain (luckily, cell reception wasn't COMPLETELY dead... yet).
At Mountain State Brewing, we chatted with the bartender and a few locals curious about our trip. We told them we hoped to hit Elkins and they cautioned us about the setting sun, running dear... etc. "So where is a good place around here to camp", Kyle asked. "Camp 70... Head down to Davis. At the Shop and Save, go around back and there is a dirt road. cross the bridge and follow that about 2 miles and you'll hit a few camp sites. Just pitch a tent there. It's free." Sweet. I wasn't convinced it wasn't just a ploy to more easily attack us while we slept. But turns out the people in WV were probably some of the nicest people I've met in a long time!
We set up camp and head back into Davis (which was about 2 blocks smaller than Thomas... and that wasn't big to begin with.) We found 1 place open, Hellbender Burritos. Had a little bite to eat and headed back to camp. The West Virginia sky was just amazing. You could see millions of stars since there were no nearby city lights on the horizon. A complete darkness just fell all around. It was incredible. While I've camped almost a dozen times just this year, I still feel a bit of noob at times. Maybe it was the "remoteness" of it all, but it's amazing the stuff you hear when you can't hear the normal things... like traffic noise. Of all the animals you'd expect to hear in the woods, foxes are not a favorite (they sound like a woman or child screaming in pain.)
We awoke to a slightly damp tent from the overnight rain (good call on the rain flys), packed our gear and headed back into Thomas to hopefully find a place to eat. The Flying Pig Breakfest and Lunchery was our stop and had a great home cooked (and cheap) breakfest. We rerouted our Sunday at this point because we didn't quite end up where we wanted to be. We elected to adopt Kyle's route that he had originally mapped out but not before we made a quick detour for Rt. 72. This was a spasdic light line scribble on the map that was too tempting to resist. We both agreed, that has to be interesting. And as we made the turn onto the road, we quickly found out we were right. A large yellow sign greeted us telling us that for the next 15 miles, the road narrows, steep hills, tight turns and trucks were forbidden. Definately interesting!
Rt. 72 turned out to be a mostly farm road that wound it's way through Canann valley. I'm kicking myself for not stopping at the one far field that was situated dead in the center of a few mountain ranges with a field of horses out front. NEXT trip! The road lived up to it's expectation. You had to stay on your toes for on-coming traffic, gravel, steep drops and washed away road sections that instead of fixing them, they just put a caution sign up.
Back on a main route, we picked up pace and headed to Seneca Rocks for a stop at a general store and checking out the climbing supplies and tours. If I were a rock climber, this would be the place to visit. Very cool. As the day was getting away from us, we decided to hammer for home to meet up with the Sunday social crowd in Harrisburg, but not before we wound our way through more mountain passes on our way back to civilization. As we pull into a McDonalds to sort our route on our "old school GPS", we note that we are headed to Wardensville. Kyle mentions, "I think that's where that restaurant that wasn't in Romney is." Sure enough, it was. Kyle was able to revisit a stop he made on a road rallye previously. My how things change. Gone was the little greasy spoon with elCheapo food and drinks. It had morphed into a quaint little boutique brewpub that served up a mean pulled pork sandwich and served up a Wit PA (now called Harvest) with locally grown cascade hops. [fun fact: WV does not serve beer until 1pm on Sunday]
The ride up Rt. 81 was pretty uneventful but in contrast to all the twists and turns we had encountered for the last day, it was nice to just open up the throttle and pound out some miles. Stopping a few times to stretch the legs, we soon found ourselves "back in the burg" just in time to meet up with some friends.
With the trip a few days behind me now, I am more excited for the next one. I think my enthusiasm has gotten a little infectious. My youngest son asked if I was taking another trip with Kyle again soon because he'd like to go. In his defense, it's only because he wants to camp more often and it's less about the bike trip. Maybe we will find a short trip close by and give it a whirl.
- Next trip I will be a little more prepared with what I pack.
- Next trip I hope to make it at least two overnights.
- Next trip I'd "like" to have an adventure touring bike (instead of the cruiser touring bike I'd been drooling over) and add some "off road" to the trip.
- Next trip I will take more pictures.
- Next trip I will vary my GoPro mounts so I have more then one angle.
- Next trip I will take a paper map and not rely on my iphone map.