Day 6
October 14, 2003
Albany, New York

I knew better than to set my watch for anything earlier than 7am, who was I going to fool?  Myself?  It is cold and dark up here in the mornings this time of year.  Instead, I slept to 7:30am, then made 2 trips downstairs to load the ST.  First trip, bring the clothes bag and the tent.  Next, the sleeping stuff and anything else I couldn’t take on the first.

I got on the road about 8:30am and took the interstate through the city to SR 7, which took to me to Troy.  Every state in the east has a city named Troy. Traffic lined the main thoroughfares in the borough, and I maneuvered around cars and delivery trucks.  I was stopped at a light and noted a car ahead to the left with a tag from somewhere in the southwest.  It was too far away to see the name with my bad eyes, but the colors told me the region of origin. States from the southwest have colorful plates with oranges and yellows leaping out at you.  I crept a little closer to bring the name into focus.  NEW MEXICO.  And I thought I was a long way from home.  I wonder if they were impressed at all the green landscape around them.

SR 7 transported me east away from the Albany metro area, and soon I was in countryside.  I passed a house with colorful Halloween decorations in the front yard.  They were those big inflatable things that seem to be popular up here.

The sun was out, but clouds were chasing me from behind.  Weather guessers had predicted by days end the front behind me will be parked over the northeast, and dropping rain.  For now it was partly cloudy, and cool.  I layered the Roadcrafter with a sweatshirt and made sure all vents were closed.  I kept the unlined leather gloves out though.

The ride this morning was soothing and slow, and I was in Vermont before I realized it, passing by the Bennington Battle Monument.  Normally, I would stop to check such things out, but not this time.  I had to be in Lebanon, New Hampshire at 2:30pm to rendezvous with ChrisK.  A brother rider and ST jockey.  We met last year in the Blue Ridge.  He was going to show me around the White Mountains, and tomorrow we were riding south together.  Both of us were attending an informal gathering of ST riders in the Blue Ridge starting on the 16th.

Bennington was crackling with activity when I arrived.  Colorful trees were everywhere and the ground was covered in leaves.  Like tireless worker ants, yard men blew, vacuumed, and raked the lawns of residents.  Tidy, fresh painted houses stood along Main Street, their white picket fences standing more for decoration than purpose.  Folks in sweaters walked the sidewalks, I could pick out the tourists by the cameras around their necks.  Most of the shops had wood signs hanging over the sidewalk, they were colorful and original.  The whole scene looked something out of Jimmy Stewart movie.

A Dunkin Donuts appeared and I stopped for a jelly filled and coke.  This place was busy, and old folks sat in the dining area drinking coffee.  I picked a table out and called my wife.  She was at work and sounded put out when I described the scene to her.  She said it was going to be 82 humid degrees in Alabama today.

An old man was working crosswords next to me, he looked puzzled, but I offered no help.  He was going to have to ask if he was that stuck.

I joined SR 7A out of Bennington to begin a truly memorable ride through the Green Mountains.  The farms looked more prosperous than those of NY, and the meadows climbed high up the rolling hillsides.  The sun was behind the clouds now, but it did not dampen the mood I was in.  There was color everywhere- trees the color of mustard and rust, meadows of gold and green, large white barns and blue lakes.  Here and there I saw roadside stands selling squash and pumpkins.  Fall in New England is a celebration, a big party before the realities of winter set in.
​The images of a New England fall last a lifetime.
The rural areas of Vermont surprised me by the number of small houses they possessed.  Some not more than shacks. I guess work was hard to find in Vermont.  The state has hardly any towns or industry.  The biggest city is Burlington, a city about the size of Prattville.

Londonberry is situated on SR 100, guarding the east approach into the Green Mountains.  I noticed the mailboxes had good old fashioned New England names on them.  Names like Elijah so and so, Nathaniel whoever, and Edgar whoyacall.

The highway had a few curves and I twisted the ST north.  The scenery was better than the leaning, so I kept my speed down.

Equinox Mountain looks imposing from SR 7A, and stands at 3,816 feet.  It overlooks the town of Manchester, another village in the middle of peak fall season.  I geared the ST down when I entered the city limits and took in the sites.  Tourists everywhere taking pictures of the tree lined streets.  A Civil War monument stood in the middle of town, and churches with white steeples camped under yellow leafed trees.  All the B and Bs displayed NO VACANCY signs.  The tunnel of fall trees looked fit for a calendar picture.  I stopped for pictures, and strolled the town.  A young couple was taking pictures of each other under a strikingly beautiful red leafed tree.  I offered my services for a shot of them together, and they eagerly thanked me.  Everyone was friendly. It was a nice diversion.
​Manchester, Vermont
I took SR 11 to SR 100 and the road became challenging.  I eased along the twisties, but still had to pass several slooooooooow leaf peepers in white sedans.

I took pictures and traveled slow.  I wanted to be sure I didn't miss anything while on SR 100.  I brought home lots of good memories from this day.  I know in my heart there will be a day I will look back on this ride with joy and pride, so I was very thankful to be in this place at this time.  I said a prayer of thanks for allowing me to be so lucky.  I thought about the thousands, who would give anything to be doing what I am doing RIGHT NOW.  
When I came to the Calvin Coolidge historical site, I turned and made the short ride to the top of a hill to check the place out.  Cars were parked in the lots and streets.  I guess a number of people were desperate for something to do.  I mean, you really have to be bored to take a tour of the house Calvin Coolidge once lived in.  "Ok this is the room he use read in, this is the room he kept his underwear in etc."  I rode by the house, than up the street. Unimpressed, I went back to SR 100.
​I was off taking pictures, and when I returned  this solitary leaf had
found its way to my dash.  The Lord shows his blessings in many ways.
I placed the leaf in the sleeve map pocket under my notes.

SR 100A connects 100 with US 4, a short cut that saved me a few miles.  The road was irregular but scenic.  
At US 4 I went east into more New England grandeur.  The highway ferried more traffic than earlier routes and I bogged down.  I got stuck behind a RV with Florida plates.  In fact, I've seen a lot of Florida tags this trip.  I don't blame them for wanting to flee the state this time of year.  Can you imagine Florida in the fall?  "Palm trees look to have a good year", the reports say.  "The bushes in Orlando are nearing peak, and will bloom in Dec. a few more cool nights of 75 degrees will bring out the green really well."  The joker in the RV was just like any Florida driver.  Oblivious to anything except what was 5 feet in front of him.  It doesn't matter where you see a Florida driver, he is going to drive the same.  Terribly.  They are just as bad in Denver as they are in Jacksonville.  I see them all over the country.  Most are retired with good incomes, and have the time to travel, so punish us to NO end for taking the handicap places at Wal Mart.  This guy creped along at 20 mph locking down 10 vehicles, and he never once thought about giving us a break.  

It took a few minutes to get through Woodstock.  Lots of tourists and scenic bus things.  It reminded me all the more why I stick to backroads.  Most US highways are tied to urban sprawl, and congested, and lately I've been trying to avoid riding them.  US 4 is not a bad route, but this time of year it was crowded.

I glanced down at the STs clock, I should make the meeting point right on time.  US 4 bumps up to I-89 and I went south.  The rallying point is the McDonalds at exit 20, if I remember correctly.  One of the first exits after crossing into New Hampshire.  

As soon as I crossed into Vermont the pace of life picked up.  Things in New Hampshire seem to move along faster than in Vermont.  I dropped down off the interstate, quickly finding the Mcdonalds.  Chris wasn't here yet so I went inside and made a few phone calls, and checked pictures.  I'm starting to get the hang of the Sony cybershot.  I should have went digital a long time ago.  

Ten minutes later the Black Knight (as he is known on the ST board) came in.  He said he was hungry so we picked up a snack before heading back out.  That joker took a double quarter pounder like a aspirin.  When I came back from getting a straw he was already finishing up.

After that we went down the street to a Exxon station to fill up.  I was short of cash, and but so far all was good.  My wife said she hadn't made it to the credit union yet to switch some money around, but not forgotten.  

With our gas tanks full we shot up north on 91 and went to SR 10 in Hanover, to begin some of the best riding of the trip.  It was nice not to have to worry about routes or signs.  I was able to relax, and just follow the bike in front of me. 

The quiet STs didn't even raise a eyebrow when passed the busy streets of Dartmouth.  The campus was bustling, and students on bicycles were everywhere.  New Hampshire was also decked in the best fall show in years, and many were out enjoying it.  
​Chris pulls up a bench in Bartlett,  New Hampshire.
The afternoon was waning, so we got back on the saddle and pressed on.  We left Bartlett on US 302 for more mountain riding.  I was getting to ride roads most Long Riders miss, I had the advantage of a local leading me.  
The White Mountains looked higher than the their attached signs said.  

US 302 took us by Mount Washington, this is the road I missed in 2001.  That year the area was socked by snow with announced temps on Mt Washington at 14 degrees.  I was glad I was able to come back here and see what I missed.  

The Mount Washington motel was an impressive looking place.  You can find it at the foot of the mountain.  I wonder what it costs to stay there this time of year?

We cruised on down to where the Old Man in the Mountain use to be.  Not long ago the bluff of this mountain looked like the face of a old man.  I know, saw pictures of it.  We pulled to the overlook and Chris announced, "well that's where old man mountain use to be."  A couple of years ago the rocks that formed the face just fell off.  All that's left now is a blunt rock.  In a way its funny but its not.  New Hampshire plates has the old face on display.  It use to remind me of Abraham Lincoln's profile before it fell off.  Now, you have all these guys running around with old man plates, but in reality he's gone.  I guess drivers in NH can keep them to honor the old man, but I think they should go back, and just place a picture of that blank wall on the tag.  
​"We cruised on down to where the Old Man in the Mountain use to be. " 
Chris said 2 workers showed up one morning at the mountain, called in and said, "hey boss the old man is gone, whatch wanna us to do?"

  "Whaddya mean he's GONE?" 

"He ain't THERE." 

"Look, quit foolin around and get y'alls butt to work."  

It was growing dark when we left the Old Man site to hook up with I-93 south.  It was a quick trip south.  I remember a 50 mile downhill ride to Concord.  A guy in a Integra was pushing the pace and we were glad to oblige him.    

I followed Chris to the surface streets of the city and we pulled to a Comfort Inn to get squared away for the night.  "What's the rate?"  "149.00 plus tax"  "WHAT???!!  I walked right out and got on the phone.  I found a Red Roof Inn not far from from our location.  Chris said he knew where it was.  I followed him to his house to take care of some things and to pick up his SUV, his 16 year old son was accompanying us to supper, and wasn't riding pillion, then we went across town to Longhorn Steakhouse.  

The steak was good and we chatted about the next mornings ride south.  We were both aware rain was moving in.  We'd wait till morning to see what things looked like before making a final decision.  It could very well be I will going in a holding pattern in Concord.

After supper it was a quick ride to the Red Roof Inn, where I checked into a much more reasonable 49.95 room.   It was just 3 miles from the Longhorn, near the race track.

 I rode 380 miles for the day.

Once again, I was on the second floor, and it took 2 trips to get my stuff inside.  A man saw me coming through in the Roadcrafter and asked if I'd just flown in.  I guess he thought I parked my F18 right outside and just strolled in.  He thought the Roadcrafter was a flight suit.

A big gas mart was next door so I went over for some Dew, popcorn, and a Nestle bar.  I munched down while I watched TV, and was saddened when I got the news-the storm was here with rain and high winds and was not scheduled to clear out till the next afternoon.  Not good.

I told Chris to call me in the morning and we would decide what to do then.  If its bad, nothing either of us can do about it, but adapt.

I stayed up kind of late, and went to sleep about 12.