Sunday, July 25, 2010

Down to the Bear Bones

If you think I’ve made a spelling error in the title, then you’ve never been to the Bear Bones Bash In Lowell Vermont. To be honest, I haven’t either, but I became a bit more curious about the event when I tapped Tony on the shoulder at the gym and asked how he’s liking his new motorcycle camper. Tony volunteer that he and his wife had just returned from an annual event called the Bear Bones Bash held each year just a stones through from the Canadian border at Hazen’s Notch Campground. Getting any more information than “I had a great time” soon became a struggle.

Tony easily divulged that Gordy, the owner,” just likes to have a good time.” Each year he holds a bash just for bikers. For $25, you get to camp for the weekend and are treated to a barbecue too. That’s when Tony clammed up. Despite using my charm to coax more detail, he hemmed and hawed. All he would offer me was “what happens at Bear Bones, stays at Bear Bones.”

Now my curiosity is at an all time high. Tony however is staying mum on what really goes on all weekend. He kindly sent me a few photos. And very few they were. I sat on these photos a while and only revisited them today. True, at first blush they seem innocent enough. There is Mrs. Tony all comfy in the camper, a few of his buddies shown camping and an idea of the general setup. When reviewing these seemingly innocent pictures it occurred to me that one of the photos just didn’t fit. Is this a clue?

I’ve posted them below for you to help me decipher. Do any of these seem odd and out of place? Someone went to a lot of trouble to pack a few things on a bike don’t you think? If; and I could be very much off base, these photos hold a clue, I'll need more research on blow-up sheep to get down to the bear bones….err.. bare…the facts!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Quick Fix

Like a drug addict needing a fix, I take to the road Sunday on Blaze. With Andy in the lead we navigate a very long and circuitous route to Salem Massachusetts. Why Salem? Well to explain that one I’ll need a few words about motorcycling and adventure for those not particularly familiar with what makes a great ride.

For me a decent ride must include a number of factors. First, there has to be a decent number of miles. When a person is in dire need of a fix, a loop around the neighborhood just will not do. Second, when you reach the turn-around point, there should be something worthwhile to see to make the ride a good excuse. Of course one has to eat, so local fare is a necessity, and of course a stop for ice cream as well. Since we are in the midst of a heat wave, we think a cool breeze off the ocean will be just the ticket! So why Salem as a destination when there are plenty spots along the coastline to choose from? Why INK of course!

The heat has us dreaming of the beach, which is our first inclination. However, our original destination makes us think “traffic” and heat rising off the engine to roast us even more while stuck in it doesn’t seem appealing. Then Andy asks what National Park is near the shore where I can get another stamp in my National Park Passport book and with a quick look we notice Salem fit all the requirements for the day. This is now filling the first and second requirement of a decent ride according to the Pat scale of decent destination rides.

We head south on route 13 from Milford and then along 119. When I spot route 225 I decide I want to check this route out as it heads right to the office. I so deplore the route I take now, that options are always a good idea. This route proves to be a pleasant surprise and I am inclined to give it a try for my commute soon. From there we wiggle our way to Salem and arrive around noon. We find the Salem Maritime National Historic Site Welcome Center where I make sure to get my book stamped. In talking with the park ranger, we are made aware that for five bucks you can get several tours and a self guided tour of the merchant sailing vessel the Friendship. The next ranger tour begins at 1:15. Just time enough to satisfy another requirement. Food!

We passed an interesting eatery on the way to the Welcome Center so we backtrack to that spot for lunch. Capt’s Waterfront Grill and Pub has plenty of atmosphere and we are seated right near the keyboard player whom we enjoy while we wait for lunch. We both selected haddock of course, except Andy likes his fried, and I like mine baked. Then we wait, and wait some more. I say to Andy that the chef must have had to go fishing first, and as if on cue, our waiter arrived with apologies.
“Sorry. The chef had to catch it first.”
We have just enough time to swallow and make our way back for the first tour.

National Park tours are an underrated experience in my opinion. The Rangers do a fantastic job in recreating the period and seem to posses more knowledge about the subject than one would imagine. I am not disappointed. We tour the Customs House and two typical residences, one of a normal working class and the second of a prominent and successful period business man. In between, we board the Friendship, where Andy is promptly reprimanded for ringing the ships bell! This working ship is not to be used as a toy and Andy’s faux pas could have resulted in the crew thinking an emergency was at hand. Contrite and respectful, we continue on to inspect this replica in detail.

Riding home the breezes off the coast cool our flesh on the outside, and the stop at a seaside park for ice cream cools our insides. We sit quietly contemplating our existence beneath timeless willows as we watch the gulls dip and rise as the air currents take them. Andy finds a few roads that satisfy our need for twists and turns. Along one such stretch I could have sworn the sign read “Caution. Cheese Turns Ahead.” ( I have not been successful in finding such a sign explained in my internet search so I can’t really be sure what was printed. I do know that the little diagram was not a squiggle, but a depiction of the road ahead as at right angles to each other. Maybe it was just time for supper.)

Once in Lowell, we stop at Heritage Farm were the bike nights are held each Tuesday during the summer months. Being Sunday, we don’t expect a lot of bikes, but the place is hoping with activity. The Cambodian Festival is in full swing in the state park across the street. We eat our biker required diner style meal, enjoy the music and head for home. While this day proves a satisfying fix, like a quickie, you are left wanting to do it all over again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


It’s late morning and I’m rubbing sleep from the eyes as I sip my second cup of coffee. I’m suffering jet lag and trying to adjust to east coast time. The newspaper arrives on schedule and I scan the local news to see if I missed anything this past week. As I peruse the paper my eyes suddenly catch the words “Second Wind.” The cup stops mid way between table and lips as I read with interest about the demo rides patrons enjoyed the day before on the line of Triumph motorcycles at the Second Wind BMW/Triumph motorcycle shop in the next town over. Once again, I’m full of self pity at missing another motorcycle event, especially one so close to home.

My mind wanders as my eyes continue to scan the article. I’m thinking about the opportunity I turned away from this year when I was invited to ride and blog about Victory bikes. I still feel the sting of that one especially since if I had really put my mind to it, I’m sure I could have worked out a solution with the boss for time. Once again I have limited my options with my own limited thinking. Are not opportunities in full abundance all around us? Is it not our own tunnel vision that keeps us from finding ways to take advantage of them? Then as the article concludes, the writer invites us to stop by again today as demo rides will continue from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

“GET UP ANDY! We’re going riding!”

Poor Andy is roused and ushered out the door with not even a drop of coffee to dispel the sleep from his own jet lagged brain. We arrive and are told showers kept the morning group from riding and no more names are being taken as the weather has tuned. I did see a few rain showers at the house, but nothing that would keep me off a bike, but when I look around, I can see that the ground here is very wet. Yet I can’t leave. Andy patiently takes to the shop for some food from the small table inside. I feel glad that he at least can get some nourishment since I’ve dragged him out on a wild goose chase. Still, I feel that if fate has me here, then fate will see to it that I get to ride that nice red ‘09 Thunderbird leaning on the kickstand in the second row of bikes.

A rider heads out to test the roads. Andy is gone for second helpings after asking if I want to head back home. I’m not ready to go. The rider will be back and the decision will be made about an afternoon ride. When the rider returns, the crew puts their heads together. You can tell by the hush that the crowd is collectively holding their breath. Then a hand comes up and calls the morning riders. There is only on 10:00 person still here. There are three 10:30 people still here. On goes the checklist. It seems most gave up the wait and went home. There will be bikes available for late comers like me! HEE HAA!

I pull my license out, fill out my form and off to the nice red Thunderbird I go. Fate is good to me this day. We take our loop through some nice little twists in Hollis and all we get are a few sprinkles. I can’t believe I’ve gone from “no ride opportunity” to riding the exact bike I wanted to test. I’ve been triumphant this day! It’s a treat when you actually get a chance to test a high end bike like this to see just what all the hype is about. While I did enjoy the Victory, the engine didn’t seem as smooth as my own beloved Blaze who purrs each time I start her up. Overall however, the Thunderbird did quite well, hugged the road, had power to spare and felt very comfortable. If you are looking for a decent touring bike this would be the one, especially since the larger gas tank lends itself to long distance riding.

With the need for a ride fix behind me, I head home on Blaze. The rain begins in earnest, and we are soon soaked to the bone. Yet, it’s not a cold rain. I chuckle as I remember those who like to say to me “I’ll ride in the rain and I’ll ride in the cold. But there is no riding in the cold AND rain.” I guess I’m one of them because the rain is not cold and I’m not bothered. I’m home again and tending to the luggage, laundry and pile of mail. My curiosity is satisfied. I’m happy to have a great bike like Blaze patiently waiting for me to take advantage of the next great riding opportunity.

The next opportunity to try a different bike will be July 30 and 31 when the BMW Demo truck visits Merrimack. Check the Second Wind website for details.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pathetic 3,000 Miles

On the first day of each new riding season, before I roll the motorcycle out of the shed, I reach over for the pencil on a string and write down on the shed wall the beginning odometer reading. If you follow this blog you know that my work life has taken a new turn, the family is growing, and obligations are insisting on my attention. So it was with great surprise and dismay when I rolled Blaze into the shed yesterday after my commute home, I looked up and realized I had a mere 3,000 miles for the season! It was a shocking testament to how little saddle time I’ve had this year.

My time is filled with living the riding season vicariously through friends and acquaintances on two wheeled adventures. There’s our new friend Bob Q and his son Matt heading from the South Carolina to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and on to Newfoundland. The photos and descriptions of his motorcycle trip are helping, if only a little, to know that at least someone is on a great adventure. I hope to catch up with Bob and Matt as they make their way back south and pass through Utica New York. It will be a great weekend ride it we can coordinate our schedules.

I’m also watching Kate (the Bee) take a solo cross country trip on her fabulous Harley. There isn’t a soul who meets Kate along the way that will ever forget her. She’s a vibrant woman with a signature bike coupled with a signature smile. Follow Bee’s adventure on her own blog, Bee in the Wind. While I’ve traveled to many of the places Bee is visiting, I have never viewed it from the saddle. If my Western adventure two years ago is any indication, I’m sure she is having one heck of a trip to “bee” envied.

I’m not giving up on a trip of my own. I’m working to clear the work schedule for time this season for a week of my own on Blaze. The research and planning is progressing. The new Zumo is getting waypoints plugged into it for all the spots I need to stop, investigate and to snap photos. What’s the plan? This season, with only a week left for me to squander will be used in visiting all the lighthouses in Maine a motorcycle can get close too. We will start at the most Northeasterly lighthouse in the US which sits in Calais. Other highlights include the light at the point in Maine where at certain times of the year, the sun rises first on this good old US of A. I’ve been thinking of this trip for some time; have talked enough folks ears off about it to, so that Deb in Framingham found reason to send me a lighthouse cookie cutter for Christmas. I’m thinking I should make a batch for the trip to munch on the road.

For now, I’ll sit back in my seat here on Southwest Airlines, watch the country pass beneath me and dream of the roads I’ll one day take to inspect this great country up close and personal. I’m thinking ahead already to next year and a road trip to Sturgis. I’m going to connect with Jeff and his pals who rode out themselves a few years ago, and get some tips, like where to stay, what so see and what to avoid. It’s a place I’ve been too also, but never on two wheels and Jeff’s advice will be invaluable. In the meantime, dreamin’ is as good as it gets!