Day 13
September 16th, 2005
Inn of Six Mountains
Killington, Vermont

Coop and I both were up right on cue.  I was anxious to get on the road, 4 days in one spot has drawbacks for a guy like me. 

Most of my stuff was pre packed so not much to do but get dressed and load the bikes.  Coop had all his stuff layed out in such a manner I hated for him to mess it up. 

I flipped the TV on for some weather clues.  It was raining to the west, and it looked I would turn south before hitting it.  Andy and Coop would not be as fortunate.  I kept that news to myself and turned the tv off.  No need to put them in a bad mood before breakfast.

After checking out I brought the RT to the parking zone and started loading.  Coop and Andy were doing the same.  We were the first guys out of the motel.  It was 5:30am and we were finished by 6, and on the road at U.S. 4 west.  The sun was not even up.

There are days on the road you just tolerate things, and then there are days like today.  I was not looking forward to the ride to Virginia.  It goes against my entire riding philosophy, but riding back roads in the Northeast seaboard could put a man in an institution.  Traffic, urban sprawl, shopping centers in run down cities so choking a Boa Constrictor would feel at home.  North Dakota is not so bad when you spend a little time riding these roads.  I longed for the open spaces out west, and thought back to my times riding those wonderful desolate roads.

Instead, I was riding in the darkness of U.S. 4 to Rutland.  Cooper took the point and I settled in between the 2 Hondas.  Fearful of deer in the early morning hours we kept our speed down.

The city was just coming to life when we arrived.  The Midway Diner looked good so we pulled in the parking lot for breakfast and a final get together.  We were early, and had to kill off 10 minutes before a smiling waitress reversed the closed sign, and let us in. 

Daylight was breaking exposing a cloudy, gray sky.   A few other patrons shuffled in behind us.  

The hostess showed us to our table and when our waitress came over I put my hand on Andy's shoulder and announced-

"hey baby, see this man right here?" 


"He just hit the lottery a few days ago"

"oh yeah?! 

How much?"

"16 mil"

 Andy corrected me, "no, it was 15"

"Anyway, he's gettin the check"

A while later she came back with our food.  "So didja really hit the lottery?"

I had to think quickly while on my feet, something people say I'm pretty good at.  In 10th grade I was sent out to the hall for talking in class, the principal came along and asked, "so whata ya doin out here?"  "They're votin for class president."  "oh," and kept right on walking back to his office.

I spoke before Andy could respond. "Of course he did baby, he bought us the motorcycles outside, and now we just ride the country looking for fun."

Breakfast was a order of jelly toast.  

After we ate we said our good byes, but still had a few miles before our trio would have to split up.   We continued on U.S. 4 and crossed into New York.  The area was dominated by the bluish humps of the Adirondacks in the distance.  School buses were common as they went about their business of taking children to school, giving their mothers a welcome 8 hour break each day.

Whitehall, New York is typical of the cities you find along the upper Hudson Valley, crowded, old, and somehow void of anything cheerful.  I reasoned the Chamber of Commerce had a difficult time selling anybody on the merits of the town.  The town was busy with everyone going to school or work.   Near the center of town, a large brick building served as a National Guard Armory.  Recruiting signs hung over the doors and it looked cold and depressing.  The windows were dark, and I thought how the interior must look, with old tile floors, and walls needing painting.   We fought our way through, and emerged out the east side.  

A few miles later Andy Purmals veered off towards home.  He gave us a long last wave and disappeared into traffic.
Coop and I went I-87 South.  It was still cloudy and a few miles later we hit the first bit of rain.  We were able to stay together for a few miles, and I was sad to see him turn west a few miles later.  He told me he was on his way back to Wisconsin in one fell shot.  Over 900 miles before his ride ends.  

As for me, I was alone now, and paying my tolls to get south.  I passed 3 Harleys with Florida tags, they were packed down cruiser bikes rumbling along about 65 mph.  The RT whistled by them at 85, following at least 3 rabbits.

North of the city a state trooper was in the median eye balling traffic.  Everyone was running 15 over and he didn't blink an eye.  I guess he figured it was hopeless, and was content just to make sure no one does anything crazy.

I missed my exit in Albany.  I saw it, but doubted it for some reason, I was forced to ride a few miles and double back.  I was pissed for being so dumb, but the signs were confusing or perhaps I just read too much into them.

I had to pass the 3 Harleys again, because they took the correct exit at the junction of 87, 88 and 90.  It was embarrassing when I came around AGAIN.

I-97 runs parallel to the river over hills and through a few mountain gaps. Traffic was moderate and moving.  A contractor in a van, with ladders on the roof,  pushed into my lane.  I let him have it, and found someplace else to go. 

A rain shower south of Albany appeared and I splashed through behind the excellent protection of the RT, which has to be the best of any touring bike.  At speed, only a minimum amount of water reaches the rider in a moderate rain.

At last I-87 bumps into I-287, the outside loop road around the congestion associated with New York City.  The stuff inside the loop are things of nightmares, I could not imagine what it must be like trying to live there.  

I'd bumped the ESA from normal to comfort, a little soft but it does a good job of soaking up the cracks and bumps.  I took position in the far left so I only had to watch my right, and sped on.

The exits of New Jersey clicked off.  I thought about taking I-78 and going west to escape the turnpike, and come in to DC from the south by Front Royal, but it was significantly longer in miles, so passed.

The skies were turning partly cloudy, and the temp soared into the low 90s according to the RT's gauges.
The reserve light was blinking so I left 287 at one of those ugly New Jersey exits.  There is no easy on easy off, you have to work your way into the township.  I found a Exxon station by a big mall, and topped off.

I pulled into the New Jersey Turnpike toll booths about 300 miles from Killington, I snatched my ticket and took off.  There is not much to say about the turnpike, one of the oldest such creations in the country.  I like the fact trucks are separated from cars, but that's about ALL I like about this road.

About 20 miles from the booths my worst fears came to pass.  A back up.  I was reduced to a slow stop and go crawl.  It was painful.   In 15 minutes I'd gone less than a half mile.  I was getting warm, I still had leather gloves and a sweatshirt under the Roadcrafter in 90 degree temps.  Until the back up I hadn't noticed.  I kept asking, "Why did I ever choose to come this way?"  I resolved in this traffic jam never to ride the corridor again.  There was nothing left for me to see in the Northeast anyway.

Thirty minutes had passed so I called out to trucker next to me, "how far does this go?"  "About 21 miles."  I was floored.  At this rate it would take hours.  The whole tarmac was a massive parking lot, even the northbound lanes were backing up.  It was Friday, and I wasn't sure it would ever clear up.  The RT is oil and air cooled, I kept my eye on the gauge, it was higher than normal, but not at the over heating point.

My left said, "split the lanes and save yourself."  My right responded, " The RT is wide, and the spaces narrow, too close, no room for error, and you might get a ticket."  "Man cops have a lot more on their mind right now, then worrying about him splitting traffic, and if he does see us, how's he ever gonna get a cruiser through here to catch us?"  I took my chances and took off, splitting cars like a banana, or as they say in the UK, I was "filtering."  I'd filter for a mile and come back in to catch my breath, then go back out.  It was tedious work, always scanning ahead for a guy with big mirrors or some car wanting to change lanes.  A few got pissed off at what I was doing and blew the horn, powerless to do anything else.  I kept the pace up to make sure I was around quickly before someone could block me out of frustration.  It was the most massive traffic jam of all time. 

It still took me almost an hour to reach the front of this 20+ plus mile Armageddon.  No doubt my filtering saved 3 hours of time.  And the cause?  A guy rear ended a van with carpet hanging out the rear door.  Nothing serious but it disabled both vehicles.  In this part of the country, all it takes to snarl thousands of cars.  When the blue lights came into view, I ducked back in, and came by like I'd been stuck in the traffic jam just like everyone else.

What a exhilarating feeling when I broke free and went to 80 mph, knowing ALL those cars were behind me.  

By mid afternoon I was hungry, so took a service exit for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I went to a machine for a diet coke and returned to the back of the parking lot to sit on the grass near the RT.  My enthusiasm was quelled knowing I still had to get through Baltimore and then the Beltway on a late Friday afternoon.  

I got back on the road, determined not to stop again till I landed in Lorton at David's driveway.

I finished off the turnpike, paid my 6 dollars in tolls to New Jersey, put my hand back in my pocket to pay to cross the Delaware River and enter the state.  My last toll; in the south they don't tax you twice, but up here they charge you to cross every creek and walk way. Total bill on tolls for the trip came in close to 100 dollars. 

Traffic was thick but moving as cars out of Philly merged in.  A guy in a dark colored Ford came abreast of me and I glanced over.  He looked me over and gave me a thumbs up.  I acknowledged his tribute and kept moving. 

My space was next to impossible to defend, and I was forced to ride too close to the guy in front.  I was cut off and tailgated to no end.  

A quick ride through Delaware put me in Maryland, and I had to make another call.  Through the city or take the long 685 loop around?  I went with the former, just because I felt lucky.  I reasoned the commute was going out, and I was going in.  I called it right and made it through with no back ups.  I did have to pay ONE more toll to cross the bay.

Always scanning for trouble I spotted a cement truck with a leak.  Mix was pouring out the back and I swept the RT hard to the left and made it with no problem.  The truck had just left a construction zone and was leaking a small but steady flow.

I was out of Baltimore, fighting my way through the chaos to DC.  I looked at the maps earlier and could see the routes through the city to avoid the long loop around on the Beltway.  But my goal is Northern Virginia, and I know the region to be the main area for DC workers.  I was sure it would be hard to cut through the District in Friday afternoon traffic. 

Nobody much works on Fridays, and the day is always log jammed with cars no matter what city you find yourself.  No, on Friday it's best to have a tent on a quiet spot in the Bitterroots of Idaho.

I've been this way a number of times and knew the routine.  Ride the Beltway to I-95, take advantage of the HOV lane, and book for Lorton.  Traffic backed up a few times on the Beltway, but I kept moving.  

The I-95 South signs we're a welcome sight.  I pointed the RT in the late afternoon for the appropriate ramps, got on 95 and the HOV lane, and took off.  Traffic out of the city was jammed, but I flew right on by in my custom lane.  Cutting off at least 30 minutes to Lorton.  On this day, because I was on a motorcycle, I saved almost 4 hours by skipping past back ups in the Northeast Corridor.  

The Lorton exit popped up and I left 95 for suburbia.  The areas around DC are growing so fast every time I come here I have to take a different course to David's.  I took Silverbrook Road and went past the volumes of up scale houses that fill the neighborhoods.  

A mile from the house I took a break at a CVS store.  I was tired, hot, wrung out, and thirsty, and I wanted some Gatorade.  I went inside the busy store and bought a 32 oz and gulped it down under a small tree.  It felt good going down.  I was glad to be finished with the tough riding.  From here, the ride home will be easy, over familiar farmland and back roads.  The big cities were behind me.  I conquered the tough Northeast corridor in one piece.

I took it easy the last mile home, and turned in the driveway.  I know the code to get in and had just opened the door when Cathy pulled up with the kids.  My niece Megan, ran to greet me.  "Uncle Guy, Uncle Guy, lets go play, what do you want to do?? Let's skate, watch me dance, come! come!"  She was all excited.  She's like most 8 year olds, full of energy.

I finished the day at 542 miles.

Inside I took a shower, then took my nephew Michael to the local high school game.  Cathy dropped us off, while her and Megan went to take care of some shopping.  The local team is a new school and were beaten badly by the team in the movie, "Here Come the Titans."  I half expected Denzel Washington to step out from the locker room at any minute.

We were at the game when David called me and advised  he had Debbie and would meet us.  They found us, and a nice reunion followed.  It was good to be back with family.  We went back home and enjoyed the company and the kids.  Supper was pizza delivery.

I used the computer to oversee my checking account, and to send out a few emails.  Saturday will be a low key day of soccer and watching college football.  I spent time with Debbie telling her about my tour so far.  She said her flight from Birmingham had been routine.

You can tell it had been a lackluster day.  I didn't take a single picture.

Next- family day