Friday, April 30, 2010

Hello from Lexington.

Not much to say this week, just a quiet couple of days in Lexington, VA, visiting my friend Robert and his family. I'm going to be traveling for the next few days, without a computer, so the next update will probably be sometime after May 10th.

Meanwhile, here's a couple pictures from the last week.

Waterfall at Camp Creek State Park, West Virginia.
From West Virginia

A stuffed chicken in the front window. Why not?
From West Virginia

Same house: a cannon on the front porch.
From West Virginia

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sometimes I feel like I'm hiding. I'm not, of course, but it feels that way. Like this last week, where I've been camping at a small state park in West Virginia. No cell coverage, no Internet access, no neighbors. A state-wide burn ban (including campfires) and a chance of rain has kept most people out of the parks.


Having some coffee, waiting for the air temperature to come up a bit...
From West Virginia
The past few days have been filled with riding, exploring, and checking out the small towns that West Virginia seems to have so many of. There are a lot of empty stores, and I find myself wondering when were the times were better? Why did they close, where are they now? How did they take the bad news, did they pack up and hit the road? Do they spend their days wondering what might have been?
From West Virginia
From West Virginia

Despite highly detailed (but slightly out of date) maps, I managed to get lost and ended up near an active coal mine (but not underground). Big trucks, biggest front-end loader I've ever seen, and some very nice (and patient) people who explained that the road I thought I was on no longer went through. Going back was my only option. My hundred-mile ride became 160. Getting back to my campsite meant retracing the entire route, or go very far out of my way, several hours worth. As I parked the bike next to the van that afternoon, it started raining. Perfect timing.
From West Virginia

It's easy to fill the days. The scenic views never end, the traffic is light and the roads feel like they were made for just for me. Every day is a vacation.
From West Virginia

From West Virginia

People of WV have their own sense of style. What do you do with your old bowling balls?  Or is this where they grow them?
From West Virginia

From West Virginia

I'm staying in WV for a couple more days, waiting for the sun will come back out. More news later.
From West Virginia

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

From Charlotte
After having enough of Tennessee, I motored east to Charlotte, NC, to hang out with one of my oldest friends. Back in 1985, I finished my only year of college and bought my first motorcycle. Which helped me more over the years? The little bit of education I received is long since forgotten, but the motorcycling has defined a large part of my life and helped me meet friends who have made my life so much better. The therapeutic effects of riding a motorcycle have gotten me through some rough times, when the life seemed conspired against me. And when relationships went sideways, the motorcycle always went forwards.

From Charlotte

Scott is also a rider, which is how we met back in 1985. Over the years we have always seemed to live on opposite sides of the country but managed to keep in touch and it was great to hang out with him for a few days. Not surprisingly, we made time to take a motorcycle ride on some of the sweetest roads I've seen. I took the camera along but the pace of the ride precluded any photography!

I'm leaving Charlotte this morning, heading for the mountains and then up to Virginia.

Some debate over the name of this tree (I think it was a Yellow Locust). Thorns up to 4 inches long guarded the trunk.
From Charlotte

School bus chicken coop. "Ain't nobody goin' ta skool anyways..."
From Charlotte

Friday, April 9, 2010

The beard is gone.  It did put a temporary end to people saying "You don't look old enough to be retired!" 
From Natchez Trace

I've been hanging out in the Meriwether Lewis Campgrounds for about a week but I'm thinking about moving on. The camping is free but there are no showers which helps make people want to move on after a while. Or helps make people want me to move on after awhile. Most of the guests are in RVs so they bring their own shower. And most are snowbirds heading home. Last night at the community campfire, there were two Americans and about a dozen Canadians.

From Natchez Trace

I've pretty much decided against trying to hike the Appalachian Trail this year. Maybe a couple weeks worth but not the entire thing. There are just too many things I want to do and see to devote myself to five months of just walking. Also some exciting opportunities have presented themselves recently, and a five-month walk would get in the way of other possibilities. More information to follow as things become more certain. Meanwhile, I will continue to update you with tales of my wanderings.
From Natchez Trace

(Tied for most common questions: "How do you get up there?" (it's called a ladder) and "Where do you put the motorcycle?" (seems kind of obvious but inside the van).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

The Natchez Trace is done.  Or I am done with it.  Something like that.  I'm still a little tired from the past few days of riding.  
From Natchez Trace

For the second half of the ride, my old friend Paul joined me.  The two of us put in some long days on the bike, fighting a headwind most of the time.  But the sun was out nearly every day and other than around Tupelo and Jackson, MS, the traffic was light.   My total was about 680 miles, maybe a bit more if you add up all the side trips.  .  
From Natchez Trace

From Natchez Trace

We camped a couple times, split the cost of a cheap hotel room a couple times, and had a great time.  By the end, we were both thinking about changes we'd make to the equipment we were using and where the next tour will be.  The Blue Ridge Parkway seems like a good choice.
From Natchez Trace

Yesterday we went separate ways, Paul back to his home in Michigan and his job and family, me to a free campground to relax, do some laundry, and get ready for the next adventure.  Not sure yet what that will be.
From Natchez Trace

From Natchez Trace

From Natchez Trace

From Natchez Trace