The Sandbar at Rolph’s Wharf

The Sandbar Bar & Grill

I got this book called Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay. It includes in-depth profiles of 150+ waterfront restaurants and/or tiki bars in Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay and it’s tributaries. Cool, over 150 waterfront destinations! Fill your tank, lets ride!

crab decks too

Listed as the southernmost destination in the Upper Eastern Shore chapter I felt like this would be a first good trip to try out from the book. It wouldn’t be too close but it was a fairly short ride for us. The Sandbar at Rolph’s Wharf in Chestertown is really on the Kingstown side of the Chester River. I wouldn’t call this a tiki bar but it is definitely a sandbar! It’s on a little marina beach at Rolph’s Wharf Marina behind their swimming pool. The ride is a straight shot from Chesapeake City down to Chestertown on Rt 213. Bang a right on Rolph’s Wharf Road and follow it to the wharf. It’s an easy ride!

The Sandbar on the beach in Chestertown

If you want to ride to a casual waterfront bar this is a super cool place! Boaters float right up to the beach in bathing suits and mosey on up to the bar and/or grill area. Their kids and dogs play on the beach in the water while Mom and Dad enjoy a cocktail and lunch. Several bikers will come and go while you’re there. Adirondack chairs with umbrellas line the beach. Picnic tables are spread out on the sand lot and a stage is set up for night time entertainment. The coolest thing about the bar is – it’s really a boat! They converted a boat with a big hole in the bottom into a bar!

Diana at he sandbar

the bar is a boat!

This place is not about the food. They serve steamed shrimp, crab cakes, hot dogs, burgers and other things but the food isn’t that great. I tried my first fried oyster sandwich and Diana got a chicken salad sandwich. My first bite produced a deep fried oyster shell! Both sandwiches were on rolls that were so dry they crumbled apart. The atmosphere and comfortable breeze on the beach was so relaxing we didn’t want to leave even if the food was disappointing. I wouldn’t take anyone here for lunch so it is not good for HOG Chapter rides. But it is a unique destination worth discovering. It’s a great place to ride to if you like to stop for a cold beer and try to chill out on a hot summer day. Definitely an awesome place for boaters!

A Hot Anniversary

Saturday July 7th was our 5th wedding anniversary and the final day of our celebratory Fire on the Mountain Trip. It was supposed to be the hottest day and as expected it was. We had ridden up Skyline Drive and stayed in Winchester, VA overnight thinking that was a pretty good way to stagger this trip and leave the shortest amount of riding for this final day which was sure to be a scorcher. The Travelodge offered a continental breakfast in the lobby. Between the breakfast and the swimming pool this was a decent place to stay and the rates were very affordable.

We started the day by going down to the lobby for bagels and orange juice. The news was on and reporting that with the heat index the temperature would be 104 degrees! For a few bucks we could have just stayed another day and swam in the pool but we usually stick to our plans being the overly organized anal couple we are. So we rode home where there were no more cool mountains and forests to protect us from the heat. We did some expressway (but not Interstate) riding and some back roads, but it was like riding in a convection oven the whole way home.

We stopped at a Dairy Queen just north of Frederick, MD and stayed inside for icy drinks for about 20 minutes enjoying the air conditioning. It was still early and we are not sure if they were officially open for the day but they served us as if they were. Our second stop was the Royal Farms in Gamber, MD and again we stayed inside to enjoy the air conditioning and ate lunch. We stop here so often if feels like a second home away from home. I think we should have also planned our next stop at a place with indoor seating but we stopped at our usual Wawa and stood outside in the blazing heat for our third rest popping inside to use the restroom twice before hitting the rode. I kept wetting myself down in the bathroom using the sink like a bird bath. Diana soaked her doo-rag in the sink and wrapped it around her head still dripping with cold water. We would have been smart to take another rest before reaching home, but being creatures of habit we stuck to our normal resting points, this being the last one. As we got closer and closer to home the feeling that one more minute out there in the heat was going to drive me mad kept increasing.

Somehow we arrived home without suffering heat stroke. We put the bikes away, unpacked and checked in with the cat. She was pissed that we left her for so long, but got over it quickly. We had a great trip, enjoyed celebrating our country’s birthday and our 5th wedding anniversary and were back home… it was a good feeling to be home again. Especially with the air conditioning cranked up!

US Rt 250 and Skyline Drive

motorcycle on skyline drive coming throughtunnel

On July 6th it was still hot but we had some of the best roads in the mid Atlantic region ahead of us. We woke up and went downstairs from the Bear Creek Lodge to grab breakfast at the Route 66 Outpost in Cass, West Virginia. We handed over the keys to the room and ordered grilled breakfast sandwiches. They were good! I mean really really hot off the greasy grill good! And cheap too! I didn’t know it at the time but we had some very challenging twisties ahead of us and Diana was nervous. She didn’t seem nervous and I just didn’t know. In fact I completely forgot how challenging this kind of riding is to a less experienced rider. For me I love the cambered hilly S-turns of West Virgina, but Diana had never been on roads like this before. She took the turns extremely slow and I chugged along behind her trying to focus on how enjoyable it is to be riding these beautiful roads with my favorite riding companion; even if I couldn’t take the turns as aggressively as I would like to. We rode along Rt 250 in West Virgina and into Virgina with our destination being the famous Skyline Drive. Riding Skyline Drive would also be a first for Diana and it would be a little more comfortable for her with its 35mph speed limit.

mountains and more mountains

motorcycles at skyline

We had to drive through Staunton to get to Skyline Drive and that was the only crappy part of trip so far. We hit traffic and traffic lights and it was scorching hot. The heat off the road and our motorcycles was horrid in the stop and go crap. We missed a turn and had to turn around and were getting hot under the collar and everywhere else. Finally we got through town and then into Shenandoah National Park. Once on Skyline Drive we kept moving. As long as we were moving it was comfortable but it was too hot to stop. In addition to the heat it was very buggy at all the rest stops. To make matters worse a bad storm had recently come through and the power was still out at the rest stops. No gas pumps and no air conditioning at the rest stops in the park. Good thing we had filled our tanks and were able to buy warm Gatorade. The good news is it was a sunny day and riding on Skyline Drive makes you feel like you are on top of the world! The scenery is hard to beat along all 105 miles.

Diana on top of the world!

The closer we got to the end of Skyline Drive my sore ass, my sore back and my stomach started to take over. They had enough riding in this heat and were complaining to me. They wanted to get to the Travelodge in Winchester, VA pronto! There was a swimming pool waiting for us and by the time we got there the heat had really grilled us good. It really sucked checking in, unpacking and parking the bikes. I had just had it after riding all day and cooking on the road. After a dip in the pool life was good again! Then we walked over to the Texas Steakhouse & Saloon. After some tall Yuenglings, a good steak and a sweet potato I was good to go… good to go to bed that is!

hey I’m in a tree on skyline drive

majestic views line skyline

During the day there were three different times that deer had either crossed in front of Diana or waited for her to go by before crossing. No close calls or anything but just unusual for us to have that happen three times in one day. I also came along a turn on Skyline Drive where a car in the opposite lane was stopped for no reason. Then I realized the people in the car were watching a black bear cub in the woods to my right. I was pretty excited to see my first bear while riding, even if was just a little one. Another time we came upon another stopped SUV in our lane but couldn’t figure out why it was stopped and never did. We had to pass that idiot.

Click here to see all our pictures from this trip.

Seneca Rocks, Greenbank and Cass West Virginia

On the morning of July 5th we woke up a little on the late but not so late side knowing we were only traveling about 2 hours into West Virginia from Deep Creek Lake. If we were smart we would have left early to avoid the heat but we like to get our rest. We got breakfast at the hotel restaurant and then hit the road. The riding between McHenry, Maryland and anywhere in West Virginia is pure heaven. Riding down through Canaan Valley is especially magnificent as the mountains lay out majestically in front of you. As we rode off heading to Seneca Rocks the sun was starting to come out but by the time we got to Seneca Rocks it was scorching hot as the sun was directly overhead with no cloud cover. We parked our motorcycles in the only shady spots we could find, tried to walk in the shade when possible and went inside to enjoy the air conditioning of the visitor center.

parking in the shade

shadey spot with a view of seneca rocks

We drank one of our bottles of Gatorade and then went outside to take some pictures of the rocks and then went back inside to soak up a little more of the air conditioning. This was our first time in the Seneca Rocks Visitor Center and it was really nice. Then we hit the road again heading for Greenbank to see the GBT.

Diana Green at Seneca rocks Vistor Center

jay Green at Seneca rocks Vistor center

Seneca rocks from the visitor center

More awesome West Virginia twisties brought us into a valley where the world’s largest movable land object loomed over the tree’s like an alien spaceship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was the GBT! The Greenbank Telescope is a huge radio telescope but you can call it The Great Big Thing.

 Close Encounters or the GBT

We pulled into the parking lot of the National Radio Astronomy Observatoryand sat down at a picnic table to enjoy more Gatorade with some snacks. After our snack we went inside to sign up for our tour. Being a math teacher Diana enjoyed the clever science items in the gift shop.

The NRAO

lets eat before the tour

had to buythis t-shirt

The tour started off with an interesting video and presentation. Then we boarded a small diesel tour bus and headed over to the observation platform which is as close as you can get to the radio telescopes with electronic devices. We snapped some pictures, turned everything off and got back on the bus.

tour time totake pictures of the GBT

Diana and the great big thing in Greenbank, WV

Jay and the Green bank Telescope

Then we entered the radio free zone! It was like entering area 57. The gates lifted up and passed by several radio telescopes that I wanted to take pictures of but couldn’t. All of them were the larger than my house. They are the size of two, three, four and five story buildings. Then of course we came to the GBT, the hugest most massive erector set ever built. It was awesome!

After our tour we mounted back on our motorcycles and rode a short distance to Cass, West Virginia. Nestled in the crook of a turn in front of the Greenbrier River 9 miles shy of Snow Shoe Ski Resort was our lodging for the evening: The Route 66 Outpost aka The Bear Creek Lodge. There were some hunters staying at the lodge and also some powerline workers. Our motorcycles looked a little out of place in the gravel parking lot.

Route 66 Outpost in Cass, WV

Bear Creek Lodge in Cass, WV

Normally you would expect the locals to get excited about two Harleys but the locals only got excited when a fully decked out 4 wheel drive Jeep with a monster truck lift kit pulled into the lot. The Bear Creek Lodge is 8 rooms over the outpost at only$69.99 per night. The Rt 66 Outpost is a country store, two women working the grill area and a few tables to sit and eat at. We weren’t sure where to check in for the hotel and found out the ladies at the grill handle everything. We checked in, unloaded and settled into the room. We turned the air conditioning on in the room and were torn about the curtain placement. We wanted the room to cool down but the view out the sliding glass doors over the river was beautiful. the room was pretty hot and so were we so I pulled them closed because the sun was shining right into the room. The room was surprisingly nice and decked out in a hunting cabin theme which is probably the standard decor for most of West Virginia. As I spent more time in the room it dawned on me that it was really very nice. I would have to say it was outfitted newer and nicer than most private mom & pop motels. It was one of the nicest rooms I have stayed at that wasn’t a frachise and the only bad thing about the room itself that comes to mind is the walls were kind of thin. We got to listen to some country music before going to bed, but it wasn’t by choice.

cozy little room at the bear creek lodge in west virginia

We changed into comfortable clothes and laid the wet clothes from the night before on the patio railing. We went downstairs to get some beer and grub. The first order of business was to find out if they would let us buy a six pack from the store and drink it in the store while eating our dinner. Not only was the answer yes but they thought we were strange for even asking… they told us to keep our six pack in the cooler and only take them out as we drank them so they stay cold! We were happy about this arrangement but bummed that they only had Yuengling in 12 packs. We went with Michelob Ultra which was refreshing with our meal. I got the Rt 66 Steak Sandwich advertised on the front of the building and it totally rocked! They put A1 Sauce on this version of the Philly Cheesesteak. The food was really really good and having it with ice cold beer put me in a super happy place. We also got some of the home made fudge also advertised on the front of the building to top off the meal. Then we wandered down to the river and dipped our feet in the water for a little bit while the sun started to dip down. We went up to the room over the store and out on the patio. We sat in some chairs and finished digesting our meal as the sun started to set and the evening started to cool off. Shortly thereafter we hit the bed and went to sleep.

creek behind bear creek lodge in cass, wv

I recommend you stay at the Bear Creek Lodge if you visit this area but my experience with them paying by credit card was a little exercise in patience. After a week or so of phone calls and e-mails we got everything straightened out. Please bring cash if you stay here. The food was super good and for the cost you can’t go wrong… as long as you pay cash. It was worth it, I enjoyed our visit to the Rt 66 Outpost very much. It was like living a half a day in the life of a West Virginia local out in the country. I look forward to going back.

Fire on the Mountain on 4th of July Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

After slaving away both in the planning and execution of the Maryland/Delaware State Rally for 2012 we were ready to visit Deep Creek on our motorcycles as a trip just for us. I was originally planning to stay in Deep Creek for a few days and actually ride the routes we made up for the rally. We haven’t been able to ride them on two wheels. But I mentioned to Diana we could drop down into West Virginia from Deep Creek and then a plot started to unfold in her mind.

She plans great trips although they sometimes get a bit challenging.  Someday they may chill out and get a little more relaxing. This trip would be an epic 4 day journey. Day one would be called Fire on the Mountain! We would travel to Deep Creek Lake Maryland from Delaware without taking any interstate highways and not going through any major towns like Frostburg or Cumberland. Not an easy task but if anyone can figure it out it would be Diana. We would stay at Wisp at a steeply discounted price as a thank you for the work we did on the rally. We would get to see the 4th of July fireworks at the Wisp Ski Resort called Fire on the Mountain!

It took us 10 hours to cut across Maryland, shoot up into Pennsylvania and then down into West Virgina before cutting back into Maryland to Deep Creek but we did it! It was a hot day to be covering 290 miles but we were in and out of forests and shade most of the day. We stopped often to drink Gatorade and eat snacks we brought with us in a small Igloo cooler mounted to my passenger seat. I got the cooler at Rite Aid the night before our trip for about twelve bucks. It kept the Gatorade cold for half the trip.

After suffering the scorching heat all day we got into the mountains of Maryland just as the sun started to set. With about forty-five minutes to an hour left in the trip the temperatures started to get downright nippy. As we got closer to our destination I started to get cold and then it started to rain! Figures! We ride all day in scorching heat hoping for a little rain to cool us off and then when it starts to get cold it then rains! Worse yet, we did all this and now we might miss the fireworks! We pulled over to put the rain covers on the luggage and CB radios. I didn’t bring my raingear so I didn’t offer to let Diana put hers on, not to mention I was in a hurry to get to the hotel and off the road as soon as possible. Deer and bear cause a lot of road accidents up here and I wanted to get off the road ASAP. The closer we got to the hotel the harder the rain came down. There was lightning and thunder. We found out later that some of the area got hit with hail! We arrived at Wisp safe but soaked to the bone at about 7:45pm.

We checked into our room and unloaded the bikes. The rain started to let up. We put on dry clothes and went down to the bar to order Yuengs and wings! Nothing like cold Yuengling and great chicken wings to wrap up a day of riding. We finished up the wings and took our beers outside at 9:30pm to catch the fireworks which were still on! Even though I was walking around in sopping wet Timberland boots I was having a very satisfying evening. It was a good long ride and we got to see the fireworks! Awesome! It was a great start to celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary.

Fix My Hog Banner 4

Sorry for the lack of pictures but it was just too hot to mess with the camera that day.

Feeling Rusty

Jay and I have not had a chance to ride our motorcycles much this year partly due to the roll we played in helping plan the 2012 Maryland/Delaware State HOG Rally. Most of our weekends were filled with trips and meetings that didn’t work with our idea of motorcycling. So we spent many hours in the Toyota Corola. After driving 2000+ miles in the Toyota scouting out ride routes and destinations for Maryland HOG Rally participants to enjoy we were eager to actually get a chance to ride some of these roads on two wheels.  Pretty much the only motorcycling we’ve done all year was our trip to the Outer Banks over Spring Break.  So after the Maryland/Delaware State HOG rally concluded, we planned a four-day trip that would take us back to Deep Creek and into five states and encompass events from the 4th of July through our 5th wedding anniversary on July 7th. 

ready to ride

We would take in the “Fire on the Mountain” fireworks display as Wisp Resort in Deep Creek Lake Maryland (host site of the rally), visit Seneca Rocks in West Virginia, see the Green Bank Telescope and take a tour of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and explore Skyline Drive along the way back home.  It was a rather ambitious plan (if not aggressive)…especially for a week of 95-100 degree temperatures.  But we were aware of the risks and managed them appropriately.

seneca rocks

green bank telescope

The part of the trip that I did not anticipate was just how nervous I would get after the second day.  We were cruising along WV-32 and US-33 between Blackwater Falls and Seneca Rocks when we came upon a couple of 15-mph downhill 12% grade hairpin turns.  I have very little experience riding in mountains like these, but what I do know is that “when riding in West Virginia, if it says 15-mph, then you needs to slow to 15-mph!”  …so I did.  This required downshifting, braking, and then downshifting some more so that I could get to the perfect entry speed.  To say that I did not feel comfortable on these turns (particularly with the “locals” in monster pick up trucks barrelling down on my ass) would be an extreme understatement.  Teetering on the edge of control just as I was teetering on the edge of a cliff is probably more like it!

I knew that I would be rusty because of the very few miles I’ve ridden this year, so this was not exactly a huge revelation.  But what I did not expect was just how much this would freak me out later.

That night I awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat (which was pretty difficult considering it took four hours for the AC unit in our motel room to knock the temperature down to below 80).  I tossed and turned for hours with this horrible feeling like a rock in the pit of my stomach.  All I could think of was the extreme curves on the map as we were to enter unfamiliar territory and ride across US-250 from Green Bank, WV to Staunton, VA the next day.

Below is only a 3-mile sample of the road we spent nearly 2 hours riding!

4 mile stretch of road US-250

It occurred to me that this was what Jay must feel like when he worries that something might happen to me.  Well, I was sure that he was already worried enough, so I decided not to share my nervousness with him until after it was over.  (After all, we were in Cass, WV.  We had no choice.  The only way out was to cross a mountain range or two!)

So in the morning, off we went.  It was actually a bit brisk when we left, but by lunch time it had climbed well into the 90s again!  The cool temperatures had a way of calming my fears as we hit the road.  After about 40 minutes we arrived at the first mountain peak.  We climbed a dozen switchbacks in succession, and as we approached the summit I actually announced on the CB radio “I could do that all day!”  Then we started going downhill…

I felt like an amateur in a professional’s arena.  I was in the lead this time, so the cages were on Jay’s ass, not mine (thank God).  I felt like I was in way over my head.  But yet, I knew in my head that I really wasn’t.  I know how to to this.  I may not get much practice from riding all the long, straight, flat roads in Delaware, but I do have the knowledge.  Outside-inside-outside.  Slow to the appropriate entry speed then throttle through the turn.  Don’t brake while leaning!  I was going so slow sometimes Jay thought my bike would fall over.  But I knew my bike was stable, and I wasn’t going to fall off any cliffs! 

hairpin turn US-250

By the fourth mountain peak (yes, I counted them) I was starting to get a bit more comfortable looking all the way through the turns.  I still like going uphill way better than downhill, but my anxiety attack proved to be groundless.

Lessons learned: (1) Don’t go ride in West Virginia when you are rusty, and (2) Even seasoned riders with tens of thousands of miles under their belt can get rusty!