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.

Getting Home – OBX Part 6

oops ball bearings popping out

So Diana’s 2008 Dyna Super Glide blew a wheel bearing a few yards from Katie and Alan’s house after we safely navigated over a dozen major bridges with sometimes no railings and crossed the mother of all bridges: the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel (23 miles long). You can see in the above picture the sealed maintenace free ball bearing is no longer sealed and the ball bearings are popping out. I rode Diana’s motorcycle slowly the rest of the way to the driveway while Diana went inside to defrost. Thank God for Alan who restocked the fridge again with ice cold Yuengling for us! We needed it! I also thank God for making sure Diana got safely across the bridges before her wheel bearings decided to all pop out the right side.

Alan served up an awesome dinner as usual! Tilapia seasoned with fresh rosemary accompanied by wild rice. We discussed some of our options on what to do about the broktified Harley-Davidson Super Glide. Diana took a hot shower and we went to sleep. I weighed our options in my mind and decided I would like to stay with Alan and Katie two extra days until Alan could trailer us the rest of the way home. We were still 4.5 hours from home.

Unfortunately Diana did not want to wait two days to take action. She had commitments back home and papers to grade. A teacher’s work is never done, not even on spring break! Alan’s schedule changed and he would not be able to trailer us on Saturday so I had to review our options again.

I called the Virginia Beach Harley Dealership and was put on hold. Then I was told the service manager would call me back. He did not. I was told that they did not have their own towing service. Although they are the closest dealership it would be back across the 23 mile bridge and tunnel with expensive tolls to go back there. The next dealership north was in our home state 130 miles away and they didn’t have any tow service available either. If either dealership had told me “no problem, we’ll pick you up and fix your motorcycle right away” I would have been all for it. My HOG and Progressive roadside assistance would take me to the closest dealership and I didn’t want to go back across the bridge and tunnel not knowing if the motorcycle would be fixed right away or in several days. To have them tow me 130 miles would be very expensive.

Diana had mentioned looking into U-Haul the night before and it started to sound like a good option. It was the only option that didn’t involve us riding home two up on my motorcycle and we currently had too much luggage on the two motorcycles to get it all home on one. It was the only option that got everything to our house including us, the two motorcycles and all our luggage. It was the only option that gave us full control, kept us on schedule and together. Our only option was a 17′ 48 hour rental for $250 that would get us all the way home and we could have the truck for two days and return it to the gas station in our neighborhood. We could get home, sleep and then drop off the broken motorcycle at the repair facility of our choice.

U-haul tot he rescure witha big pink squid

I called Derek at Turner Tech in Bear, DE at 302-222-7673 and told him what had happened and that we would be renting the U-Haul and dropping off Diana’s bike the following morning. Katie took us to Cape Charles to pick up the U-Haul. They rented the same truck to us that Katie and Alan used to move there three years earlier from Arizona! Crazy coincidence isn’t it!

Two Dyna’s loaded in the U-Haul

jay and the Arizona pink squid u-haul truck

We got the motorcycles into the truck. Alan had three monster industrial size tie downs we used to secure the motorcycles in place. I think we left at 3:00pm, stopped for dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s in Salisbury and were home by 8:00pm. We got one car from the house, drove the truck and car to my work. Unloaded my motorcycle with some help from my coworkers on the nightshift. Unloaded all luggage and gear into the car. Only left Diana’s motorcycle in the truck and locked it and left the U-Haul in the work parking lot overnight. I rode my motorcycle home and Diana drove the car. We went to bed. Home sweet home! Our cat was pissed, but she would have been more pissed if we stayed in Cape Charles for two more days!

The next day Diana drove me to the truck and I drove the truck to Turner Tech. Derek had a hard time getting the bearing out of the wheel but he did it. he put new bearings and new brake pads in but had me order a brake disk rotor, rotor bolts and a spacer. At the time of this writing we are waiting for the stupid spacer to come from Harley-Davidson. Hopefully by the time this is published we will be back to having two motorcycles in the garage.

Considering the “what ifs” I am very happy how this turned out. It was a fantastic vacation and in the overall scheme of things $250 for the truck rental is not bad in comparison to what tow companies charge. I’m glad we didn’t get hurt, we stayed together and had the luxury of deciding what to do at Katie and Alan’s house. It would have really sucked to have the motorcycle towed back across the bridge and tunnel to find out we had to wait a week for a stupid spacer! The cost and headaches that would have resulted in far exceed $250 for a U-Haul rental. So that’s the six part OBX story that has been three years in the making and ends with our first mechanical breakdown on the road. I think this puts us up another notch on the experienced biker scale for having survived mechanical failure on the road and handling it 100% on our own and not having to call friends to come get us.

Click here to see all the vacation pictures.

I think we’ll be returning Alan’s tie downs in person, visiting Karen and possibly saying goodbye to Virginia’s Eastern Shore one final time after Diana’s motorcycle is back on two good wheels. That place is bad luck for us, it’s like the Bermuda Triangle! Hopefully in the fall we’ll be telling you about a road trip to visit Katie and Alan at Skyline Drive aka Shanadoah National Park! Cheers!

Thanks for reading,

Jay Green

PS – it was scarey as crap trying to roll my motorcycle backwards down that skinny U-Haul ramp. I could do it on a bicycle but not an 800 lb motorcycle that is as wide as the ramp with it’s saddlebags on. I had to get 4 guys to spot me.

PSS – I knew from watching Fix My Hog DVD’s that the bolts have to be replaced when you replace a disk brake rotor and I told our mechanic that before he had a chance to tell me. From reading my service manual over the winter months I understood exactly what was broken. Good thing I learned what I did when I did. Don’t ya think?

Fix My Hog Banner 4

Back to Cape Charles – OBX Part 5

Bodie island Lighthouse

We got up late and ate our leftover breakfast snacks on Wednesday morning. It was time to pack up the motorcycles and say goodbye to the OBX beaches and our magnificent view of the ocean. Diana seriously wanted to stay another day. It was cold and windy and not the best day for riding. But it was time to check out and head back north. We stopped at one more lighthouse before leaving OBX. This was the Bodie Island Lighthouse. I insisted on a new route that I thought would be more scenic passing through the Great Dismal Swamp. This route took us over a lot of long bridges. Who thought there would be so many bridges?! On a windy day like this we dreaded the approach of each bridge and had to have crossed at least a dozen significantly sized bridges. Some barely had any railings at all! We were freezing and fighting the wind all day.

diana at the Bodie Island swamp

Bodie island Swamp viewing deck

The Bodie island Swamp View deck with Diana

Diana in front of the Bodie island Lighthouse

Bodie island Lighthouse from swamp

Yeah swamp day!

the other swamp view

We stopped at a McDonald’s to warm up and eat lunch. Diana told me to check her rear tire because it made a pop sound when she made a right turn into the parking lot. It looked fine to me and I thought she must have run over a pebble in such a way that it popped out and made a noise. I checked the tire pressure after we ate and it was fine. We both switched to our winter gloves. Diana’s are battery operated and she turned them on for extra warmth. I plugged my electric jacket liner in to take advantage of the additional heat. Diana put her rain jacket on keep the wind out of her mid-weight jacket she was wearing.

As we got close to Virginia Beach again we stopped in a parking lot to take off our winter gloves and go back to our normal gloves. That way we could handle our controls better on the wild west interstate through Virginia Beach and get onto Rt 13 crossing back across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. Diana had to take off the rain jacket. The three jackets she was wearing was giving her difficulty moving her helmet from side to side. Her head could move but the helmet wouldn’t and it was causing difficulty in checking from side to side before making lane changes. So she was freezing again. Leaving the parking lot after fixing our gear Diana’s motorcycle made another pop sound but she didn’t tell me. We did battle again on the highway. We got onto the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel again. The wind was challenging across the 23 mile span and Diana felt her motorcycle do a little side to side dance across the bridge.

We got to the end of the bridge and were looking forward to another home cooked meal at Katie and Alan’s house. We got off Rt 13 and entered the Eastern Shore of Virginia’s Wildlife Refuge where Katie and Alan live. We slowed down to about 10 miles per hour and Diana was in front of me. Every once in awhile a noise caught my attention. Diana’s rear disk brake would rub against the pads and then it would stop. I couldn’t tell for sure if it was really happening. We made another turn. Diana’s bike went a little wide. As Katie and Alan’s house came into view Diana’s rear wheel gave out and started to wobble. I called up to her on the CB and told her to stop because something was definitely wrong with her motorcycle!

Diana poses in front of the Bodie Island Lighthouse in North Carolina

Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke Island OBX Part 4

sunrise on cape hatteras with a beach branch

Tuesday was the fun day! There was no real traveling to be done. Just a day of pure biker tourism for a couple of hard working middle aged Americans in need of an escape to a remote beach.

Diana and I have done our share of traveling with groups from our HOG chapter. When you travel with a group you have to adhere to schedules and try to keep evryone in the group happy. This was our vacation and we were finally traveling on our schedule! We like to sleep in late, warm up slowly and eat breakfast when most people are getting ready for lunch. The trip was going great in that regard and it was refreshing to vacation like that.

the sun peeking behind clouds

The sun rise cape hatteras over the ocean

We woke up early to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean. We took pictures for about an hour and then went back to sleep. I woke up later and went to pick up breakfast at the general store. I had OJ and muffins in hand when Diana woke up. After breakfast we saddled up and rode down to the end of the long barrier island. Our next destination was Ocracoke Island and we had never been past this point before either by motorcycle, mini van or other vehicle. As we approached the line of traffic waiting to board the ferry we were waved ahead of everyone. We boarded the ferry with no problem. The ferry ride to Ocracoke was awesome (and free and leaves every hour)!

The Ocracoke ferry

Diana onthe Ocracoke ferry

Packed in like sardines on the ferry

Ocracoke Life Saver

By bye to the mainland

Ocracoke is an isolated island of undisturbed beaches. Again Rt 12 is the only way in and out of the island with one lane in each direction, no shoulder and sand dunes running right up to the edge of the road. The cars took off like a bolt when released from the ferry. We were last off and that was cool because there were no cars behind us and we could cruise down Rt 12 and really enjoy the isolated beach island. There were mammoth sand dunes on our left, sand drifting across the road and island wilderness to the right. We rode all the way as far as we could go on the island before heading to the Ocracoke Lighthouse.

Riding on Ocracoke Island

Jay at Ocracoke Lighthouse

Then we went to Howard’s Pub for lunch. Friends of ours from our HOG chapter told us we had to go there so we did. I am so glad we did! This place is beyond awesome. I had a blackened mahi mahi sandwich that totally rocked! Again each motorcyclist participating in this lunch had one alcoholic beverage (Yuengling) before switching to diet cola. We went up to the sky deck and took some pictures before getting back on our motorcycles. Then we visited the wild Ocracoke ponies and took pictures of the pony pen and the beach across the way.

Howard’s Pub Sign

Inside Haward’s Pub

Maryland Sports Pendants

Diana relaxing on top of Howard’s Pub

Welcome to the wild pony place

Our motorcycles at the Ocracoke Pony Pen

Almost wild protected ponies

Ocracoke pony coming to say Hello

Rt 12 Ocracoke Island

Ocracoke Island beaches

Diana soaking it in

Then we mounted our motorcycles and headed back for the ferry. Again we were waved to the front of the line and had an awesome ferry ride back across the ocean. There is nothing like the ocean air, island views and wild seabirds to create a coastal vacation experience.

waiting for the ferry back

We are back onthe ferry

churning waters of the Ocracoke ferry

Seabirds follow the ferry

Birds!

By bye Ocracoke Island

Ocean tumbleweed

Once we got back on the main island we headed up to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to take more pictures. Then we went back to our motel and were hungry again. But instead of going to dinner we took a two up sunset ride up the island to take more pictures before dinner. It was romantic to ride two up along Cape Hatteras Island at sunset. 

Diana and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Jay at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Sunset cruise along Cape hatteras

Along route 12 in Cape hatteras

Beach houses on cape hatteras island

Stop along Rt 12 to look at the ocean

Diana Cape Hatteras Ocean Beach Waving

Jay on a sand dune

Diana in front of OBX bush

Heading back through the island to the motel

Sun setting during our cruise back

Sun setting in cape hatteras on Rt 12

When we got back to the motel we walked to the Diamond Shoals Restaurant where we again ate tons of seafood. I tried the Shock Top Beer and thought it was a pretty good summer beer. After dinner we went back to the motel to enjoy the hot tub again. Then we finished off our two leftover Yuenglings. We had no problem falling asleep!