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Monday, October 10, 2011

October Update......... Life is Good

Wow, it's only October 10th and I'm worn out! Last week was so unbelievably busy at work, it just wasn't funny, and by Friday, I'd had it. BUT there was a birthday party going for both my kids that night, and the party must go on!

And a party it was! Plenty of cheer for all, with a proper amount of Harley goodies sprinkled on everyone! Kenny rides, Mar is often (always?) found on the back of one, and Dad (that's me) has been riding forever. Motorcycles are a family thing, and I was on my first Harley, a 55 Panhead chopper, when I met their Mom, Barb, so there's that's how it all got started!

Saturday was a day set aside for chores. With all the Texas stuff going on, I'd let things go around here, and first on the list was getting the safety inspection done on the Porsche that was due last July. So I threw some clothes in the washer and set out for the garage, rolling the 911 out for a run to the inspection station. And while walking away to shut the garage, I glanced back noticing that the damn tags had expired too! Damn, damn, damn. I could have chanced it and drove over, but without a current registration, they won't inspect so I was screwed.

Expired 2 months ago....Woops!

A footnote to this tale is that just a few weeks ago, my Bro Sol and I took the Carrera on a Need for Speed run to Hooters, using 495 exits for tire adhesion tests. We had that car lit up! I never once thought to look at the tags. I now wonder how big the stack of tickets would have been had we got stopped....... Yikes!

Life goes on.......

So now I can't get the car inspected, so what's a guy to do, right? Finish the laundry? Hit the grocery store? See if I can find the bottom of my closet? Hell, no! I rolled out the Harley Softail Custom and hit the road, stopping for just a second at the condo to get a jacket and a sweatshirt. And just in case, a toothbrush. 

And with no more planning than that, I hit the road for Luray, Virginia for the afternoon, figuring once I got there, I'd come up with another destination. So first stop was Uncle Bucks in Luray (that's Loo-ray), VA, for a turkey sandwich and gravy...... Burp!

With still no plan in mind (no kidding now....not a bit), I started up the bike in front of Uncle Bucks, looked right and left, and decided to make a left to see where Rt 211 went. Not long after, I crossed the Shenandoah River South Fork bridge and decided to take a closer look at the river I've kayaked so often.

Pretty spot along the river, just north of the bridge, and yep, this river flows north.

Same spot, looking in the other way. It's hard to find a spot in the Shenandoah Valley that isn't scenic.

After a little sightseeing along the river, I jumped back on Rt 211 heading west, seeing a sign saying it went to New Market. That sounded pretty good since I'd never been there. And that lasted all of about 10 minutes until I passed another sign that said Rt 340 the town of Shenandoah. Hell, I'd never been there either, and didn't really know there WAS a town of that name. One U-Turn later, I was heading south. New Market could wait.

Shenandoah, VA

Shenandoah, like many of the small towns along that stretch of 340, isn't much more than a wide spot in the road, but it's got it's own version of Southern Charm which you can't miss. The town isn't all that far from Washington, DC, but it might as well be on another planet. In fact, I'm sure the folks in Shenandoah think DC folks ARE on another planet, but that's another story.

South of there lies the larger town (city?) of Elkton and it was about there when I realized I really didn't know where the hell I was. I was still on 340, but not sure of much else except that I'd run pretty much along the river. So with that much to go on, I just made a right in Elkton on 33, or maybe it was 35. Whichever it was, the signs then said Harrisonburg, VA, was the next major town.

Now that was a surprise. Harrisonburg is a little bit of a hike, and I was having so damn much fun, I'd ridden a lot further than I expected to. This meant that the toothbrush was going to come in handy, and I'd be stopping somewhere to spend the night. Hey! How about New Market? Remember that?

I got over to Harrisonburg, passing over the dreaded Interstate 81, where the semi-trucks rule, hogging both lanes and caring nothing for other traffic, and maybe even less for a bike. Well, that might be harsh, since many truckers are also bikers, but damn if it isn't hard riding when surrounded by trucks. Just saying'.

From 35 (or 35), I turned north on Rt 11, finally making it to New Market.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm sure New Market is a very cool place, but there just wasn't much there to hold my interest. Few motels to choose from (I saw just one, except for another that looked country-club-ish), and they didn't even have a Hooters. Fuck that. I kept riding.

As you may be able to tell, my style of running ain't for everyone. I know people who would choke me for changing my mind so often, and for that reason I prefer to travel alone now and then. I just go with what feels right, when it feels right.

The next town was Woodstock, another gem of a town, and after that Strasburg, which is an antique hunters paradise. No room on the Softail for a Louis the XIV chair so I kept rolling, no longer sure where I would be staying. Nothing was looking promising. At this point, in a hurry to get someplace, I even jumped on I-81, figuring I should find a place to stay before the sun started going down.

Figuring Winchester, VA, had more lodging choices (and probably a Hooters!), that became the next destination. Or it was until I hit the 81-66 split, where I'd decided I'd had enough, and Front Royal was nearby. My right hand was cramping, and I damn near couldn't see through the bugs on my sunglasses!

First stop in Front Royal was the Hampton Inn where I decided to treat myself to a nice comfy room and a soft bed. Wrong. They were booked up. After riding past a few other local offerings that also looked crowded, I found myself passing the Twi-Lite Motel which was pretty much empty, so back I went. Vacancy? Sure, sign here, payment in advance please! 

In all fairness, it was clean, but this place hadn't been upgraded since I was a child, and that's been a while. 

Twi-Lite Motel

Junk in the Trunk

One of the few other tenants was perched outside her room on a plastic lawn chair giving me the evil eye if I appeared to be glancing at her young daughter playing outside. Now look lady, I like the young ones, but I do draw the line at around 12 or 13! Who does she think I am anyway! Some pervert?

 Bugs...Lots of bugs.

And so I spent the evening in Front Royal, eating a pretty decent pizza at the Melting Pot, almost across from the Twi-Lite, and flirting with the cute little waitress, who didn't really want to escape, even to just across the street. And no, Front Royal didn't have a Hooters.

North of Delaplane, VA, near Sky Meadow State Park

Next morning, I was off to Winchester, following RT 52 for another nice ride. I hit US 50 east, turning south on RT 17 to Delaplane, another very scenic spot. There are more radar activated speed limit signs on this stretch of road than anywhere else in the world, so I decided not to push my luck and did another U-Turn heading back north to US 50. 

From there, I rode through Upperville, Middleburg,and Aldie. All these towns are just awesome, and each worth a stop to look around. Each played a prominent role during the Civil War and were haunts of the fabled Gray Ghost, John Singleton Mosby. Middleburg has a biker friendly place called the Red Horse Tavern, and you'll always see bikes parked out front. Can't miss it.

And Middleburg is also usually crawling with classic cars. I saw two original Cobras parked outside the Red Horse once. This is horse country, and the place reeks of money. Except for on the seat of my bike. Poor me. :-) Fuck 'em. I've got two Harleys!!!!!

Sadly, as you get east of Aldie, the road widens, you start hitting traffic lights, and Asian drivers with thick glasses appear out of nowhere, each Hell-bent on running you off the road. So saawy biker-san.....

And that was it. 304 miles of no-plan fun, and a beautiful weekend to see the Shenandoah Valley. If you're into it, get to Warrenton, VA, and start there. Take 211 West, up over the mountain, heading back down into Luray. 211 is one awesome road, and though the twisties are shorter, it's like a high-speed Tail of the Dragon as you go up, and back down, the mountain. From 211, take 340 South and make it up as you go along after that. you can't go wrong.


PS One more thing. Just before I started writing this tonight, my friend Amanda was chatting with me, online, about her latest experiences on the Heritage Softail she just bought. Stories about her sidekick pooch, Fiona...stories about riding in the rain....finding out about kickstands on wet ground.....police stories....and so on. 

It's just great hearing the excitement and enthusiasm, even when she's talking about the cops! (PS You got pulled over because you're so darned cute!!!) 

It's that excitement that only comes from riding, from a new rider, and it's all made more special on a Harley. Good for you Amanda! This is what it's all about, and listening to you makes me remember back to my early days of riding. These are stories you'll remember, and re-tell, forever.