Virginia Beach to Cape Hatteras – Pt 3

two harleys at the sandbar and grill in buxton, nc

Crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel on Monday morning following Easter was quite a way to start the day. The bridge is a modern marvel of engineering. It is 23 miles long and has two tunnels where the bridge dips down underneath the bay and goes for a mile under water before you come back up on another section of bridge. It was a sunny morning with blue skies. Not as windy as the day before. My thoughts were with Vic, Karen and Joanne. Karen died in a motorcycle accident a few miles before the bridge in April of 2009. We were on that trip with our friend when she was killed. Vic was a Harley-Davidson enthusiast from Pennsylvania who died of cancer in November 2011. He loved the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel and here I was enjoying the ride for him and talking to him as I crossed the majestic span. My thoughts were also with Joanne, a member of our HOG Chapter who died in a motorcycle accident about 48 hours before this leg of our trip. While crossing the bridge and entering a tunnel a speeding tractor trailer decided to tailgate me. At one point Diana couldn’t even make me out in her rear-view mirror as I got swallowed up by the front grill of the truck. Finally we emerged from the tunnel with it’s one lane in each direction and came out onto the bridge with it’s two lanes so the truck could now pass me.

Once we crossed the span and entered into the Virginia Beach area we had to do battle on the interstates. My least favorite part of the trip. I hate highway riding, especially beltways around busy cities. Some crazy people in a green Pontiac got between me and Diana and were riding her ass and making it difficult for her to make the lane changes we needed to in order to get where we needed to be. Diana as usual held her ground and managed to not get run over or killed. But I’m still feeling the stress of watching these jerks put my wife’s life in danger as we tried to navigate our way around a strange city. Shortly after we found ourselves on the more peaceful Rt 168 leading to Rt 158 down the North Carolina shore to the outer banks. Yeah!!!

As we drove past the Wright Brother’s Memorial in Kitty Hawk I found myself disappointed. This touristy beach area was not much different from Ocean City, MD. My vision of the outer banks was less developed. At the end of Rt 158 we merged onto Rt 12 South, also known as Cape Hatteras National Park Road. This was more of what I had in mind and I breathed a sigh of relief and started to smile. The vacation part of the trip kicked in! We rode our motorcycles through vast areas of undeveloped shoreline with sand dunes that were as tall as the houses in my neighborhood. The barrier island is so narrow that in some places you see the Atlantic Ocean on your left and Pamilico Sound on the right. Rt 12 is the only road in and out with one lane in each direction. No shoulder, just beach sand on both sides. Giant dunes on the left and acres of wilderness land on the right. Once in awhile an impatient driver will pass using the oncoming lane. It pissed Diana off when someone almost took me out while making one of these pass moves. We would occasionally come into a small beach town with cool beach houses raised on stilts. We finally came into Cape Hatteras. It was too early to check into our room at the Lighthouse View Motel but we were plenty hungry. We rode past the motel and kept an eye out for a good place to eat hoping for a dining experience with a water view. We found it at the Sandbar & Grill in Buxton! We stripped off our chaps and riding gear and made a beeline for the rest rooms. Then we went upstairs to order beer and a heaping pile of deep fried seafood that again hit the spot perfectly after a day of riding (only one alcoholic beveridge was imbibed by each motorcycle rider before switching to diet cola with lemon). Then we poked around taking pictures before heading back to the motel to check in. Cape Hatteras is great getaway! Just a few motels, a gas station, several restaurants, several gift shops, a general store and a bait store. Definitely paradise for the avid fisherman.

jay and Diana at the Sandbar and Grill inside

Sandbar and Grill Sign

A great dinig experience with a waterview at the Sandbar and Grill

The view from the deck of the Sandbar and Grill

Diana behind the Sandbar and Grill

The Sandbar and Grillis right on Pamlico Sound

Pamlico Sound from the Sandbar and Grill

Diana is the mastermind of vacation planning. She found this terrific motel on the Internet that costs less than $100 per night. She got us a third floor room facing the ocean with a magnificent view. We unpacked and walked to the general store to pick up a six pack of Yuengling, a twelve pack of bottled water and other supplies. Then we changed into our bathing suits to relax in the hot tub. Diana’s true genius came out when she suggested we bring bathrobes with us for the outdoor hot tub.  It was pretty warm when we arrived and we didn’t need the robes to get in the hot tub, but I’m sure glad we had them when we got out as the sun set and the wind picked up a little bit. They took up a lot of valuable luggage space, but they were worth it! We were in heaven! We rode to Cape Hatteras, had an awesome steaming pile of deep fried seafood as a late lunch, checked into a great hotel with an incredible view right on the beach, had several Yuengling beers and then soaked in a steaming hot tub.

 The lighthouse view motel and cottages in buxton, nc

Parked at the Lighthouse View Motel

The parking lot of the Lighthouse View Motel

Nice rooms at the Ligthouse View Motel

The pool and beach are just outsuide the room of the Lighthouse View Motel

Sitting outside our room at the Lighthouse View Motel

Ralaxing after a soak in the hot tub

We put on dry clothes about mid evening and walked across the street to the Shipwreck Grill looking for a light dinner. We had soup and salad and then returned to our room to drink more Yuengling and watch American Chopper and Outlaw Garage before turning the lights out and sleeping very soundly!

Shipwreck Grill Sign

Jay shipwrecked

Daina shipwrecked in Buxton, NC

One Big Gun – OBX Part 2

cape charles sunset

Diana and I left a little later than we planned on the first leg of our five day spring break trip to Cape Hatteras. The first leg of the trip on April 8th was to Cape Charles, VA to visit overnight with Alan who is technically my brother’s father in law. My brother’s mother in law, Katie, was visiting with my brother and his family. We also decided to take the scenic route down to Dover before jumping on the expressways in order to ease into the riding pace and also enjoy a little scenery before battling speeding tractor trailers. Once we did get on the expressways we found it to be a terribly windy day making the ride a little challenging. We originally planned to arrive at the Eastern Shore of Virginia Wildlife Refuge where Alan works at 3:00pm but due to our slow start we arrived at 5:00pm. Since we have not put in any real riding as of late we were sore by the time we arrived. My left shoulder blade was not happy and Diana’s shoulders were in the same mood.

history on the move

Alan is an awesome host! He had our favorite beer, Yuengling, cold and ready for our arrival. He also had a roast with carrots, potatoes and onions cooking in the crock pot for us all day. He made gravy and served us a meal that hit the spot dead on after a day of riding. After dinner Alan showed us his project over at the Cape Charles, VA rail road yard on the western bay side shore of the Delmarva Peninsula in historic Cape Charles. The sun was setting over the Chesapeake Bay and the view was awesome, but that wasn’t what he wanted to show us. Alan has been busy saving a WWII historic battleship gun barrel. The Navy had 8 of these they were going to destroy. Alan has been working to salvage one that will be on display at the Wildlife Refuge. This gun barrel is a 16″ diameter 50 caliber Mark VII from the USS Missouri. The gun barrel is 68′ long and weighs 120 tons. It cost a boatload of money to have a barge bring it over to Cape Charles and unload it in the rail yard. Alan needs to raise $70,000 by August to transport it a few miles to the Wildlife Refuge and display it properly.

Alan making history move

Alana, Diana and Merlin and the big gun

one big ass gun

Diana posing with big gun with rusty nuts

rail cars in the yard

cape charles rail yard

more of cape charles rail yard

from on top of the big gun in cape charles

sun starting to set

the sun setting on cape charles rail yard

sun is setting over the water and the rail yard in cape charles

We had a great time visiting with Alan in the wildlife refuge. We woke up late. Alan left hot coffee and cinnamon toast for us to eat for breakfast before he left for work. We geared up again and were just about to leave when Alan came by to see us off. His timing was perfect. Alan coming by to see us off for day 2 of our OBX trip

It was about 10:00am as we rolled out of the park and directly onto the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel for the second leg of our trip.

Starting the Season Big – OBX Part 1

We didn’t get much chance to shake the dust off and get our motorcycle legs back before going on a five day motorcycle trip. Diana and I took the cold winter months off from riding this past year rather than riding with our HOG Chapter at least once a month as we have done in recent years.  On St Patrick’s Day Diana got her motorcycle out for the first time this year to participate in the MAV St Patty’s Day Poker Run. My motorcycle made a visit to Turner Tech for a new rear tire and rear brake pads the following weekend. We spent the next weekend doing our own maintenace and getting the motorcycles ready for spring. Diana’s spring break was approaching fast and we had plans for a 5 day road trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina aka OBX. Spring Break came quickly and Diana and I didn’t have any other opportunities to ride and give the motorcycles a shake down to make sure our maintenance was done correctly. We took the bikes out for a short local bop around White Clay Creek the day before our big trip. I was apprehensive about this, but that is normal for me.

Three years ago from yesterday we embarked on a trip to Kill Devil Hills, NC during Outer Banks Bike Week with our HOG Chapter. We planned the trip with Karen and Ed. On the way down there was a terrible accident and Karen was killed by a driver under the influence.  We never made it to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. We have since crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel on our motorcycles and visited the accident site every April. We have also participated in Cheriton Day in honor of the fire fighters and EMT’s who came to our side that tragic day. So we have been back to the area of the accident a number of times but we never made the trip to the outer banks on our motorcycles. We decided it was time to make the trip in honor of Karen this April and to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel in honor of Vic. Vic was a Harley-Davidson enthusiast from Pennsylvania who had cancer and passed on November 25th, 2011. He loved riding across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel on his motorcycle.

Shortly after the accident my brother’s inlaws moved into the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge  just a few miles down the road from where Karen was killed. We have visited several times so our ties to the area are strong but with a dark undertone. Katie and Alan’s house inside the wildlife refuge is exactly halfway to Cape Hatteras (our destination for this journey).

As if my apprehension about the trip wasn’t bad enough and the dark ominous undertones of traveling down Rt 13 were cause for emotional disturbance we received news that a couple who belong to our HOG Chapter had a bad accident the day before our trip and we had lost another friend to the unforgiving road.

On Easter Sunday Diana and I rolled the motorcycles out for a five day road trip. I said a prayer out loud before we left thanking God for this magnificent country he blessed us with and that beckens to be explored and appreciated. I asked him to watch over us and protect us and as we try our best to cast our fears aside and venture forth to live our lives with the spirit of adventure and freedom that all motorcyclists thrive on. And with that being said we shifted into gear and hit the road to visit Alan on Virginia’s Eastern Shore at the very bottom tippity tip of the Delmarva Peninsula. Hopefully this would be fun trip to the beach, a well earned vacation and a safe adventure. The story continues in 2 days.

Jay getting ready to leave for OBX

Diana getting ready to leave for OBX

We miss you Karen and we still think of you often.

In memory of karen fortner

Karen Baine Fortner was killed 4-24-09 by a driver under the influence of drugs. Karen was an inspiration, an orignal and lots of fun to be with. She was and will always be our friend.

Annual Rite of Spring

Each year in the northern Delaware area, the Motorcycle Accident Victims Foundation’s Saint Patty’s Day Poker Run marks the traditional kick-off of the motorcycle riding season.  With the mild winter we had this year there wasn’t much of an “off” season, but that didn’t make this annual rite of spring any less monumental.  The event was actually held this year on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, and kicked off at the Rommel Harley-Davidson dealership in New Castle, DE.

MAV St Patty 1 

The weather was fabulous for a mid-March day – sunny with temperatures rising into the low 70’s by late afternoon.  It was a perfect day to ride…and for me it was my first opportunity to take the handlebars since Labor Day.  It’s totally pathetic, I know, but work has been kicking my butt all school year.  Even my weekends have been spent doing hours of grading and catching up on some much needed sleep.  Getting my knees back in the breeze was nothing short of spectacular!

MAV St Patty 2   MAV St Patty 3

MAV St Patty 8 

The poker run route planned by M.A.V. led me down scenic Rt-9 though marshland past Augustine Beach and along remote Rt-15 below the canal.  There were stops at Rommel H-D in Smyrna and 301 Cycle in Middletown, with the final card draw at Just Mugs on US-40 in Bear.  Participants enjoyed free food, 50/50, door prizes, and of course camaraderie with fellow riders.  More than 200 participants on all makes and models of bikes enjoyed a fantastic day. 

MAV St Patty 4

MAV St Patty 7 

Special thanks go out to Vee Marshall and Spunk Amoroso (M.A.V. President and Vice President respectively) and all of the volunteers that made the event possible.  The greatest benefit of the day was all of the money that was raised to help M.A.V. continue their work in the motorcycle community. 

 MAV St Patty 5  MAV St Patty 6

Founded in 1994 by members of First State HOG Chapter, M.A.V. helps motorcyclists injured in an accident through no fault of their own.  They provide monetary assistance to make sure that the injured’s bills are paid and their families have food on the table while the rider is medically unable to work and waiting for the courts and insurance companies to work out a settlement.  For more information about M.A.V. (or to make a donation), log on to www.motorcycleaccidentvictims.org.  You can also donate through your United Way campaign at work like I do – use pledge number 9615.

As for me, my poker hand was less than stellar, I didn’t win any door prizes or the 50/50, and I spent money I didn’t really have at the dealership…but I enjoyed a wonderful day on two wheels with my favoritest guy in the world, and helped out a very worthy cause at the same time.  So overall it was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time!  I am looking forward to many more days with the wind in my hair and the sun on my face over the rest of the riding season!

Team Green Pit Crew At Work

Jay Screwing In Transmission Dip Stick

Diana cleaning drain plugs and installing new o-rings

Jay draining his fluids

Diana draining her fluids

Jay pouring fluids in

Fix My Hog Banner 4

Dark Custom Sinister Low Rider

Dark Custom Derby Cover, Timer Cover, Air Cleaner Cover

Christmas presents from Diana! She is the best isn’t she?! I wouldn’t spend a dime on cosmetic accessories but Christmas is a time to buy the ones you love something special they wouldn’t normally indulge in. So my wife got me these cool Dark Custom accessories for my 2007 Dyna Low Rider. The air cleaner cover on the left took several months to come in after being special ordered.

Here are the before pictures:

Not so evil Low Rider

Nice Clean Low Rider

The air cleaner cover is kind of funky the way it goes on. I didn’t think it was the right part. I had to make sure with Doug the Service Manager at Rommel Harley-Davidson and ask him how it went on. I was also surprised to find out the decorative timer cover really doesn’t cover anything at all except a hollow compartment. The derby cover requires the new flat round gasket part# 25416-99C.

Here is the novice mechanic at work wearing one of his Dark Custom caps (I should have worn my black one):

novice mechanic at work

Here is the primary side with new derby cover:

dark custom derby cover on 2007 dyna low rider

Everything went smoothly except… one of the screw holes in the timer cover… the threads just disintegrated. I didn’t apply any pressure and they just stripped right out. I’m glad this is strictly a cosmetic cover but the imperfection is driving me crazy! Please tell me what to do to fix this using the original screw and not tapping new threads. 

The motorcycle is looking evil and somewhat sinister and definitely dark and is now a little custom. So now the Transformer has become the Dark Sinister Evil Custom Low Rider with lots of practical removable accessories like saddlebags, windshield and sissybar.

Thanks for the presents babe! I love you because you make me omelets for breakfast every weekend, make the best ice cream deserts with strawberries and chocolate and caramel and whip cream, plan the best road trips and buy me cool presents like these. And you encouraged me to buy my first Harley-Davidson and always go for my dreams. Almost at the five year mark! I think you’re a keeper!

Multi-Fit Derby Cover Dark Custom – Part# 25562-09

Multi-Fit Timer Cover Dark Custom – Part# 32414-09

Multi-Fit Dark Custom Air Cleaner Cover – Part# 61300057