Day 3
October 11th, 2003
Parkersburg, West Virginia

I wanted to get up early but wasn’t up to it.  The darkness outside discouraged me, and I went back to sleep.  I could tell it was cold outside, another reason to stay in bed.

At 730am I called station 2, and instructed Tim Petriet to go to mapquest.com and ask for the shortest route between Philly and Parkersburg.  He confirmed what I already knew,-US 50, I-79, I-68 and I-70 were the way to go.
I put the TV on ESPN to check last nights ballgame.  The Yankees and Red Sox are locked in a great series, and I wanted to catch the highlights.

I flung the door open and started loading the ST.  The computer said it was only 400 miles and the route all slab, except for a short excursion on US 522, just because I hated interstate riding so much.

The sun was out, and while I was strapping down my gear, a gentleman driving a sedan was doing the same.  He was in his 60s, short and stocky, and had on a gray Members Only coat, no kidding. The thing had to be 20 years old.  It was all I could do not to bust out laughing.  He looked at me, then walked over and said-

"I saw your Alabama tags, I’m from Rhode Island."

I was at a total loss for words.  I’ve been through Rhode Island a couple of times, but couldn’t really remember much about it.  I recalled it was a small place with funny dressed state troopers.  A Long Rider in a hurry could ride across it in about 15 minutes. "Well yeah thats nice." I replied as if I was impressed.

"yeah, my son married a girl from South Carolina."

"I coulda told him bout those southern girls, they have a way of reducing ya to such things as marriage"

He smiled through his gray moustache, "yeah, he’s even startin to talk like a southerner."

"Well remember, we have a language all our own."

I fired up the engine and mounted the ST.  For the first time I had a sweatshirt under the Roadcrafter to compliment the lined gloves.  The morning was cool, and I hoped it would warm up as the day moved on.

It was Saturday morning and the streets around Parkersburg were quiet.  The warm water of the Ohio was steaming in the cool air, making the area look like a nuclear generating plant.  I found US 50 East in the haze and took off for Pennsylvania.

US 50 climbs the hills, and the surface is good, like most of the roads here. Welcome to West Virginia brothers, home to one of the most influential men in politics.  Sen. Robert Byrd.  He has brought home more pork barrel projects to his home state than can be counted.  Everywhere streets, bridges, and highways are named after him.  I would like to know how much federal revenue comes this states way compared to how much they pay in.  My guess its better than 20-1.  Mountain towns, where most of the residents live in shacks, have new post offices, slick paved roads, and folks with do nothing government jobs.  Brand new federal buildings were everywhere.

The trees were not quite at peak in this section of the state.

US 50 is a interstate like time tunnel, and it felt good to be at highway speed again, after 300 miles of leaning yesterday.
I waved at a west bound 1150 RS rider.  He had a duffel bag strapped to the seat.

An hour later I reached I-79 and swung north.  I was running into ballgame traffic.  The West Virginia Mountaineers were playing at home today in Morganton, and it looked like a good crowd was on the way to see them.

Passing through Morganton a few miles later, I could see the signs directing folks to the stadium.  FOOTBALL TRAFFIC FOLLOW EXIT # 2, I moved to the far left lane and kept going.

After checking my notes, I went to I-68 East and entered Maryland.  Traffic was moving along at speed limit +10.
It was time for a break so I took the Frostburg exit, besides the fuel light was on.  I came off the exit and and went to a local mega mart thing. The place was packed.  All 12 pumps had cars waiting.  I found a empty machine to the right and went to it.  It was in a tough spot and none of the cages could reach it.  I zig zagged between 2 cars, set the stand, than flipped the lid.

I filled the tank, then pulled the ST to the side out of the way.  I called my son and checked in.  Even though he is 23, and working his way up the corporate ladder, we speak almost everyday.  We talk about everything, work, sports, finances and girls.  That about covers it for a 23 year old single guy.  He said he had to go in the office to meet a client but should be finished before the football games start.  He wanted me to call him later, he needed my input on the different benefit packages offered by Wells Fargo.

The break was good, time to get going.

I returned to I-68 East, with a full tank, empty bladder, and bloated tummy.  I was happy with the advice I gave my son, and felt like Fred McMurray, "On My Three Sons."  That joker dealt out some sage advice for his boys, all in different life stages, all with different problems, and not one ever got his head cracked at school by following it.  "Well Robbie you could do that, but there's a lesson to be learned by not calling her right now."  I wished every week one of the them would come to him and ask, "Hey dad ya gotta any advice on how to get to 2nd base with the girl in chemistry?" I mean, Fred McMurray couldn't get nailed in a woodshop, what was HE going to say?

I-68 follows the narrow strip of Maryland real estate separating Pennsylvania and the south.  The landscape was rolling hillside and rivers.  It wasn't bad, but I wanted to get off the interstate to see what I could find on the back roads.

At last I-70 North came into view and I veered north, finding myself in Pennsylvania.  I was across the Mason-Dixon Line, time to adjust to the different customs and mannerisms.  The first thing I wanted to do was find a diner.  Call me a sadists, but I love diner food.

I was only on I-70 a short time.  I HAD to escape the interstates if I was going to keep my sanity.  I thought about Uncle Phil's ride home from California last summer.  All 2,000 miles on the slab.  I don't know how he did it.  US 522 was my salvation, and immediately offered a welcome respite from interstate boredom.

Wasn't I here last year with Peter Menard?  So many roads ago, I can't remember.

The riding was good on US 522.  Traffic was not a problem, and things were fun again.  Suddenly, I noticed things looked different.  Farms and towns up north have a different look and texture then that of back home.  I looked around from the saddle, and tried to figure out exactly what it was, but couldn't do so.  

A few trees were entering their peak, but most looked a few days away.  

I stopped in a town called Needmore to snap a pic of bright red tree.  I left the highway for a quiet side street, and immediately 2 guys over a pick up truck took notice.  I could feel them watching me as I positioned myself for the picture I needed.  I quickly got out my camera, and captured the picture from the STs saddle.  I could hear them whispering, "why ya reckon he wants of picture in THIS town?"  If they had to ask they were definitely not Long Rider material.  

US 522 and SR 655 Needmore, Pennsylvania 

How do you name a town Needmore?  Needmore what?  People I would say.  Wasn't much going on when I came through.

The weather was spectacular.  Sunny, cool, and brilliant.  Perfect riding weather.  The Oakleys shielded my eyes from the bright sun, and I rode with the shield up, feeling the brisk air on my face.  I could feel the coolness on my nose and cheeks.  I enjoyed my ride on 522, it showed me what the real Pennsylvania is about.

Mconnellsburg was like a beehive when I arrived.  I made a right turn onto Main Street looking for a diner.  I went 2 blocks and found "Johnny's Diner."  I parked the ST out front, and locked my helmet.  Across the street a bunch of Harley folks were gathering at a McDonalds, and more than few were next door gassing up.  I assumed they were embarking on a ride.  In fact, I had seen a number of riders on 522.  No STs though.  

I went inside the busy diner and found a booth in the front window.  It was 1145am local time, and the place was not yet loaded down.  A friendly young waitress took my order for chicken fingers and fries.  A few locals were sitting on bar stools drinking coffee, and eating cake that looked so old and stale, it belonged in a museum.

A man saw my loaded bike out front, and asked where I was from, and where I was going.  

"West Chester"

He said I was not far.  Which I already knew, but played along like I was surprised.  " Really? Only a 120 miles?"
The chicken fingers were ok, I paid my 6.45 tab and left a 2 dollar tip.  

I was gearing back when several Gold Wings and a Valkeryie pulled in.  They parked beside the ST and we had the usual exchanges.  They were from Ohio out on a weekend ride.  They saw my bike and figured the place was ok.  I passed on the food was good, and to make sure they got the beef vegetable soup as a appetizer. 

Before I knew it, I was sadly leaving US 522 for the Turnpike.  I enjoyed my time on it. 

                                    It was a great, but too brief a ride on US 522

I pulled my ticket at the toll booth, and glumly got on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, one of the first such things in the country, and definitely showing its age.  

Long gone are the days when a guy could ride west to east in Pennsylvania without it.  Just too crowded in the southern part of the state for such a endeavor.  Traffic picked up considerably, as I rode the Turnpike eastward toward Philly. 
The highway is not fun, I just want to get to my Uncles house.   

I passed trucks and cars by the thousands.  Not many people were paying attention to the 65 mph speed limit, including me.  

A rest area just east of the city served as a butt break.  I called my Uncle Boots and said I would be there in about 45 minutes. 

The West Chester exit came into view a hundred miles later.  I paid 5 dollars something in toll and proceeded into the city.  A lady washing windows on her house looked really busy.  Everyone has their on way of spending time on  beautiful days like this one.  

Over the last few years I've over nighted here many times.  I knew West Chester pretty well, and found my Uncles neighborhood with no problems.  

I eased up in his driveway at 450pm, the place looks empty.  I walked slowly up to the door and my Uncle waves me in.  I remember the days when they use to greet me out front, now I'm old news.  

I rode over 400 miles today, kind of surprising.

My usual bed in the basement was open, and I made myself at home.  I watched football, and enjoyed my Aunt Connie's meatloaf.  

My aunt and uncle went to bed early.  I had a quiet evening.  Tomorrow I'll be hanging around.  Going to watch football, and sleep late.  About as strenuous I plan to be is looking for the clicker.  

I needed a day off from the road, and time to reload for the next phase of the trip.  The run up to New England.