MnM 2002 Motorcycle Trip – Day 4

Cruising down the Blue Ridge Parkway. That’s me over Mark’s shoulder.

After being on the road for a while, we stopped in Charlottesville at a motorcycle shop called Jarman’s Bike Shop to replace Mark’s headlight (the high beam had burned out the night before). The guys there were helpful and friendly and we even picked up a potential future contact in one man’s brother.

After Charlottesville, we rode on until we reached the end of Sky Line Drive, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. When we stopped to fuel up (we were warned that fueling stations were few and far between on the Parkway) Mark noticed that his right side saddle bag had shifted and come to rest on his muffler – melting the underside of the bag fairly severely, but not through.

We removed the seat and the bags, re-threaded the leather to cinch them up off of the muffler, and created an improvised wheel guard from a piece of string.

Once the roadside repairs were done, we left the little country store/gas station (which was obviously only in existence because of the Parkway) and jumped on the Blue Ridge.

Just a few minutes on the Parkway and I knew I was in for a treat. The Blue Ridge Parkway twists and turns – dips and dives as it cuts in and around and in some places through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Around every bend and on every straightaway (the few spots that could be called that) were vistas that were nothing shy of breathtaking. Clear skies and virtually no traffic on the Parkway aside from ourselves made for an immensely pleasurable ride.

We reached one of the first pull-offs and met an immensely nice fellow who offered to take a picture for us, and hobbled out of his pick-up with cast and crutches, took our picture, and chatted with us a while.

Later that night, things got a bit frustrating when we realized how far we had yet to go if we were still going to make it to Mom and Dad Edmundsons in even close to enough time to spend 2 days doing some needed bike maintenance and shopping and still make it to Jazz Fest.

So I did something kinda stupid.

We had stopped for a little while because a fog had rolled in and had slowed us all the more. We were at a virtual crawl. The real problem was that we didn’t have the light we needed. We found that if we rode side by side with both sets of high beams blazing we could see well enough, but had to ride real slow because we were so close to each other that one false move would mean a certain wreck. I don’t recall which one of us came up with the idea, but we decided to follow a car or truck after it passed us. Their lights plus our own, made for decent visibility and we could follow in a staggard formation and make good time. The problem? When a car is out on those lonely stretches of the Parkway with a thick fog and not only one but two bikers pull out of nowhere and proceed to follow – no matter the pace- the driver tends to get nervous and they try speeding up to loose the bikers. However, there’s very few people out there who could manage the Parkway’s twists and turns in a car at the rate of speed which would be needed to loose a motorcycle. So we followed. And we made decent time for quite a while.

The experience taught me a couple things: 1) I could do it again if I had to. It was stupid to do in the first place and I know it, but I also know the ability is there should I need to call on it again. 2) It taught me that nearly anything can become akin to meditation. As I went speeding down those crazy roads, in the dark and with a decent fog the rest of the world faded away for me. Sounds kind of obvious, I know – “No shit the rest of the world faded – it was pitch black out and there was a heavy fog!?” – but that’s not what I am talking about. There were no errant thoughts that didn’t belong – nothing except me, the bike, and those tail lights ahead in the mist – and we were all the same thing. One entity careening through the night.

That is, at least, until I lost my nerve. I would be lying if I said that following a speeding car wasn’t nerve wracking. I was worried from the first minute. There was too much that could readily go wrong. So when I thought that we had traveled a sufficient distance I slowed and let the car pull away into the night.

We rode a short distance longer (roughly ten miles) to reach the campground at Rocky Knob. We had checked when we entered the Parkway as to campgrounds. We were told that it might be a problem as the Parkway wasn’t crowded enough this early in the season to fill the campsites, so some of them might not have opened yet.

When we arrived at Rocky Knob, we were greeted with a barricade with a “Closed” sign across the front. We lucked out however as we weren’t in a car or a truck (which is what the barricade was designed to keep out). So, we road around the end of the barrier, found a site that suited us (out of sight from the entrance), set up camp quickly and quietly, and went to bed.

MnM 2002 Motorcycle Trip – Day 3

Started out the day by using the first of two nicotine patches. I smoked one cigarette before putting it on, and felt a little nauseous for a short while this morning.

We ‘broke camp’ and headed back across the street to the restaurant / gas station / convenience store. Bought 2 disposable cameras to cover us until we can talk to Jeanine about hers. I also bought a new pair of shades. I found yesterday that mine just aren’t cutting it.

Stopped a short while after the restaurant at Kiptopeak State Park to get water and soil samples from the Chesapeak Bay shore.

Continued on and reached the Chesapeak Bay Bridge Tunnel right about lunch time. We stopped on Bridge 2 at the Seagull Pier Restaurant / Gift Shop for brunch. At the Seagull Pier we order a combination of meals which we split. Mark got the flounder sandwich (which was excellent) and I ordered 2 eggs, french toast, and grits (good, but not Momma Edmundson’s). Still haven’t smoked another cigarette!!

Continued on I-64 towards Richmond, and then I-5 when we saw some signs for plantations. The first of the plantations (“Edgewood”) we stopped at was currently a Bed and Breakfast where we stayed long enough to take a few pictures of an adorable litter of kittens.

Moved on to the second plantation which appeared a bit more traditional. No one from the plantation proper appeared to be around, so Mark and I payed our $2.00 entry fee and picked up a couple of guide booklets and showed ourselves around. We walked the grounds and gardens of “Westover Plantation” and Mark took a water sample from the river the plantation borders.

The place was built by William Byrd II approximately in 1730 – he was the founder of Richmond. Impressive site including a secret passage built as an escape route from the natives which lead to the water’s edge.

Near Westover (and on the grounds – though we did not visit) is the third oldest tombstone in America – that of Captain William Perry – died August 6th, 1637.

Personal note – Mark mentioned that he learned to water ski on that river in his childhood. This brought a huge smile to my face.

We stopped briefly in Historic Williamsburg, but before we left the bikes too far behind we reviewed our time table and realized that we had a very long way to go in order to make it to Mom and Dad Edmundsons’ in time, so we left Williamsburg behind for another day.

Later that evening, we pulled off the road into a Texaco gas station. Mark’s bike was 7/10 of a mile shy of flipping the 10,000 mile mark on the odometer. The guy who was running the Texaco didn’t understand what the big deal was. I did try to explain, but he still didn’t find it to be a call for celebration. Mark rode around the parking lot of the place to kill the 7/10 mile, and we took some photos. We would have liked to kill the 7/10 mile by going somewhere ‘cool’, but no place was open at time of night in that area. The attendant definitely thought we were nuts when we grabbed a cardboard standee of some sexy soda model and had her ‘pose’ with Mark and the bike. After all that we fueled up and headed out again.

That night we took a series of country roads (read as: gravel in the dark) to Small’s Country Camping. The sign read that all campers must register at the office. Kinda hard to do at 2am when everything is pitch black and no one is manning the front desk (even if we could find the office). So we found a spot in the dark, pitched camp, and figured we would find the folks in charge in the morning and pay then.

Editor’s note: I find it funny that I already started to slip into a more nature ‘voice’ in this second entry. Again – I will be updating/fleshing out these entries later on. Just trying to get the originals into a digital format first.

  • Current Location: on the road in my mind.
  • Current Music: Pink – Don’t Let Me Get Me (S K Y . F M – Top Hits Music – who cares about the chart order, less rap

The Start of the MnM 2002 Motorcycle Trip – Day 2

Mark and I stumbled on the Punkin Chunkin Trophy in a random hardware store stop. That made us pretty happy.

Wait, you say. Day 2? Yeah, that’s where my Trip Journal Notebook started. Not sure why I never wrote anything down about Day 1. Probably too overwhelmed by the whole thing.

I have photos from Day 1, and will eventually write up a post related to it, but for now, this is what I’ve already done, and I’m just trying to make my adventures accessible here.

Anyway. This entry was originally posted to my old LiveJournal, then moved over to my DreamWidth.org account, but here is where it really belongs, so here we are. Original entry follows.

* * * * *

This is just how my journal from the trip reads. It’s quite choppy and it starts on Day 2, but it’s what I have. I’ll be doing more ‘fleshed out’ versions of the dates later. If you’re interested in being a part of the Road Trip Filter, let me know, but this is probably the only post that I’ll do without the filter. 

As I mentioned, the journal really only starts on day 2 – but I do have 3 notes about day 1 – That we were at Dewey Beach, that my bike’s mileage was at 4575, and that I took my first soil sample. Mark and I had decided that we wanted to do something different as keepsakes. He would collect water samples from around the country and I would collect soil. The end result was a couple dozen or so very interesting looking test tubes in both our packs. One of these days I’m going to put mine into a worthy collection of containers and in a display case. One of these days…

Day 2

My girlfriend Jeanine and me in front of the Philly Art Museum before starting the trip. (taken on Day 1 – April 27, 2002)

Left Cape Henlopen State Park a little late in the day. We rode late into the day stopping just shy of the Chesapeak Bay Bridge Tunnel because of a severe thunderstorm. Taking shelter in a local restaurant (Sting Ray’s Restaurant) we reviewed our plans.

We hoped to make Richmond Va. to spend the night with a couple of Mark’s College friends (Lisa and her husband John). As we ate dinner (Philly cheese-steak and fries for me and Eastern Shore Clam Chowder w/ sides of broccoli casserole, yams, and apples for Mark) the storm passed over us. It did, however, significantly throw us off our timetable, and had not completely left the area. Consequently, we decided to stay the night in the motel across the street from the restaurant.

Took a cold shower in the motel – there was no hot water.

Called Mom and Dad as well as Jeanine briefly before going to the motel.