Going to Canada, eh?


(August 15 - August 23, 2003)

Updated: December 4, 2007

[Map of the route taken during this trip.]


Daily Log
Date

August 15 (Fri)

August 16 (Sat)

August 17 (Sun)

August 18 (Mon)

August 19 (Tues)

August 20 (Wed)

August 21 (Thurs)

August 22 (Fri)

August 23 (Sat)


9 Days Total

Miles

439.3

315.6

356.1

295.5

340.8

421.3

369.7

417.7

187.6


Total: 3,143.6

Destination

Suffolk, VA

Hightstown, NJ

Kittery, ME

Barre, VT

Watertown, NY

Geneseo, NY

Martinsburg, WV

Jonesville, NC

Easley, SC

15 States Traveled
2 Canadian Provinces




With my desire to hit the continental US on two-wheels, I knew I head to get up to all the New England states and figured a simple ride up there and back would knock out a LOT of different states that I needed. My best friend, Wade, wanted to do these trip with me, if not for any other reason other than he wasn't able to make the trip out to South Dakota with me. All my friends and family liked this idea, because I'd have someone else with me, just in case something happened. We had gotten together a couple of times to discuss routes and to determine what we wanted to see along the way. The main goal was to have a good time, and this wouldn't be difficult to do. Our agenda was to ride up the eastern coast of the USA while hitting the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, New York City (to see the Statue of Liberty), ride the length of Long Island, see the lighthouse at Cape Neddick in Maine. Once Maine was accomplished, if all was going well, we'd continue over toward Vermont for our list of states, and if time, weather, and the bikes allowed, we'd shoot over to the top of Mt Washington in New Hampshire, ride through the Adirondack Mountains, and go around Lake Onterio to Niagara Falls since Wade had never been to Niagara and wanted see it. We the possibility of going into Canada, we decided not take any firearms with us. Our daily agenda was that we wanted to ride 100-200 miles in the morning, sight-see, and then another 100-200 miles before calling it quits before dark.

Our first day started off with me taking a half-day off of work that Friday afternoon, and Wade met me right near work. It was bright and sunny and we hit I-85, heading north. Needing gas and being hungry, we were pursuded in Charlotte, NC to grab food and gas. Traffic was terrible, and the road construction wasn't helping matters. Our goal for the first day was to ride on I-85 to Hwy 58, just inside of Virginia, and head toward Norfolk, VA. Most of the ride through North Carolina was uneventful, but, once we got onto Hwy 58, the scenery was just much nicer. It was starting to get dark and we kept pushing on. We wanted to ride as far as possible that evening, but it turned out longer than we thought, as the hotel prices were outrageous at I-95. We ended up driving to Suffolk and got a hotel there. Between I-95 and Suffolk, I actually hit a bat, in mid-flight. He was diving after a bug that was in my headlight, and doing 70 mph, I caught the bat on my right side. I could heard the folding and smacking of skin of his wings. It was an interesting thing to happen. Wade and I found a hotel, at a decent price, and unloaded and grabbed a bite to eat. Before leaving for food, I'd seen where the "O" shaped nut for my ignition switch had vibrated loose and came off of the ignition. Fortunately, the keys held the part on the bike and I was able to tighten the switch with some tools I'd packed.

The next morning, we'd gotten up early and headed out, hoping to avoid any traffic in Norfolk. We were surprised at the lack of traffic in Norfolk and hit the Chesapeake Bay Bridge about 10-ish. This is a really cool bridge that is 17 miles long with two tunnels where you actually drive under the water! I had a friend at work tell me about it, and after doing some internet research, decided Wade and I had to ride on it. It was foggy, so visibility wasn't the greatest. It was really wild to ride on a bridge that went as far as you could see. I'd been on the "Seven Mile" bridge in the Florida Keys, but they didn't compare to this. We pulled over at the first store/welcome center and ran into two guys on Harleys from New York. They said they were on their way to Myrtle Beach and then back home. We told them of our plans, and their facial expressions were funny. They told us that they thought they were doing a really cool ride, but realized it wasn't compared to our palns. Wade and I laughed about this for quite a while after this.

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Most of the riding after we hit Maryland was ho-hum. We decided to shoot over toward the coast, and see if we could cruise along the ocean. This turned out to be a big mistake. We drove over toward Ocean City, MD. I was hoping for a coast-line similar to A1A between Daytona Beach and St Augustine in Florida, but this wasn't anything like it. It was like driving along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. There was stop-and-go traffic. Our clutch hands were getting sore and the bikes were running hot. We were hoping to catch the ferry over to Cape May, NJ, but we weren't getting there as quickly as we had hoped. I got so pissed off, at one point, that I pulled off onto a side road to settle down and let the bike cool off. We spoke with a local, and they said on Saturday and Sunday, they don't even attempt to drive anywhere because of the traffic. I think it took us close to 2 1/2 hours to travel 5 miles. We did, finally make it to the ferry, and didn't have much of a wait.

This was Wade's first time with the bike on a ferry and we both thought it was cool to be doing this trip. I think we were constantly smiling, since leaving Greenville, until we got halfway to New Jersey on the ferry. The sky got really dark, you could see the wall of clouds, and before we knew it, it was raining. The captain announced that we had rough storms to be looking forward to. The waters weren't too bad at all, but Wade and I went down to check on the bikes, and Wade actually tried to take a nap on his bike. Soon enough, we hit the shore.

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Oh, this wasn't good. The rain was coming down in buckets, and eventhough it was early enough that we should have still had sunlight, our headlights were definitely needed. We headed out to the Garden State Parkway, and were riding in water run off that was close to eight inches deep, we figured. The Parkway is a toll road, and after several miles of fighting the tolls and rain, we decided to jump off of the Parkway for a while. It didn't save us any time, and the traveling conditions weren't much better, so we jumped back on the Parkway. We were to stay at Wade's Autt and Uncle's place in Hightstown, NJ. We were running late, and we weren't going to be making up any time. We drove cross country to get there, and were abotu three hours later than we'd planned. After being taken out for dinner, we went to bed for some well deserved rest. We were hoping the next day, when riding through New York City, would be much better that today was.

The next morning, Wade's aunt asked Wade why he didn't have a license plate like mine. I have a personalized tag, and Wade just has a regular issued tag, but what his aunt meant was why did he NOT have a tag! Turns out that Wade's license plate frame had fatigued and broken off somewhere between Suffolk, VA and Hightstown. With me constantly leading the way, we had no idea that Wade had lost his tag. This was a major concern for us, mainly because we figured Canadian Customs would give us some grief trying to get into the country without the tag and registration. Wade called his girlfriend and told her he needed a new tag and needed it sent somewhere along our route. We were also a little concerned about all the riding we'd be doing without a tag. The registration shows the bike's VIN and it was obvious that the frame bracket broke, but a local, hick-town cop could easily delay us. Once a plan was derived for this, we loaded the bikes, thanked Wade's relatives, and headed toward New York City.

The roads were still damp from the day before, as we worked our way over to the interstate to head toward New York City. We had left early enough on this Sunday morning to, hopefully, miss a lot of the heavier traffic. As we got closer to the city, traffic got heavier, but not too bad. Our goal was to shoot across Staten Island over to Brooklyn and hopefully see the Staute of Liberty, maybe even take a picture of it, before winding up in Queens on our route across the length of Long Island. The bridges that we rode across were pretty cool, such as the shorter one into Staten Island from New Jersey, but the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was really a site. Traffic was getting heavier, the road conditions were getting worse, and we just kept the Harleys wound out a bit to keep up with traffic. We had a "club member" on a custom Harley come flying past us just before the Verrazano Narrows. We were chugging along at close to 75 mph to keep up with traffic and dodging potholes. This guy must have been doing close to 100 mph as he passed us. On top of this, he was NOT wearing a helmet. Wade and I both just figured he was too psychotic to know any better.

Traffic was not fun, at all, as we flew along the interstate. It was so bad that we had difficulties seeing the Staute of Liberty for fear of taking our eyes off of the road and the cars surrounding us. We took a wrong lane, or, kinda forced to stay in teh wrong lane because of traffic, and we ended up having to pay a toll to take the tunnel under the East River and wound up in Manhattan. We drove a little loop once on Manhattan and pulled over into a "No Parking" spot to figure out what we were going to do. There was a place where we could have gotten a small picture of the Statue of Liberty, but our main focus, now, was to get out of the city and survive traffic. We found a route taking the FDR, and when we got back on our way, we came to a stoplight at a busy intersection that just turned yellow on us, so, we did as any South Carolinian would do, we drove through it. That was a bad mistake, as I'd forgotten that in South Carolina, because of all the terrible drivers and lack of enforcement, we have longer yellow lights and delays between the red light on one street and the green light on the other street to try to avoid accidents. This yellow light lasted a total of three seconds before turning red, and whiel we were in the middle of the intersection, traffic was moving from the other road, and it seemed like the people were flooring their accelerators and trying to get the two out-of-state nuts on motorcycles. We got away from the opposing traffic and found out that our planned route had a construction detour that had us go through a neighborhood to loop back over to the interstate. There were signs, something to the effect of "no loud noise", as we drove through the neighborhood while getting evil looks from local residents as the drag pipes on our Harleys set off car alarms. We, eventually, got back on the interstate and back on course. We never did get a picture of the Statue of Liberty, but surviving traffic seemed more important to us, at the time. Here's a picture of the Statue of Liberty, just not ours.

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Interstate 495 was the route we took across Long Island. There was road construction all over the place, potholes that would swallow the front end of a Harley with it not even being an appetizer, and the traffic was thick and fast. It took several miles before traffic started to thin out and the asphault got smoother. We loosened out death grips on the bars and started to relax. We both dreaded the drive through New York City on the bikes, but we survived it. Now, to head to Orient Point, NY to catch the ferry into Connecticutt

We rode on I-495 until it ended and then rode cross-country on little two-lane back roads toward Orient Point. We initially went the wrong way and had to turn around, but we got some help with directions from some folks at a road-side fruit and vegetable stand. Driving on these back roads, despite the roads still being a bit damp in some areas, we quite pleasant, and definitely a good change of pace from eariler this morning, but it was a bit slower than expected. We finally got to Orient Point and didn't have long to wait until we loaded the ferry to go across the Long Island Sound into New London, Connecticut.

The ferry ride was really nice as we spent most of the time drinking a few beers and enjoying the scenery. We saw lots of lighthouse along the way. One was really cool, way off in the distance, and neither of us could zoom well enough with our cameras to make a picture worth taking. I think the ferry ride took about an hour and a half. It wasn't the quickest way to get to New London from NYC, but it was the least stressful and probably the most scenic. As we were pulling into the harbor at New London, there was a lighthouse on either side of us, one looking like an old schoolhouse on a concrete block. We also saw a naval facility where they do maintenance and such to submarines. We unloaded the bikes at the harbor and headed toward I-95, again. The cobblestone/brick parking lot and drive pulling out of the port was pretty cool to see. Northward we went, trying to see how far we we go before nightfall.

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Driving on I-95, once again, we were glad to see that traffic wasn't bad at all. We cruised through Rhode Island with the worse traffic after getting off the ferry being in Providence. We rode through a decent portion of Massachusetts and the scenery was getting nicer than what we'd seen since that small section of Virginia that we rode through two days earlier. The rolling hills and deciduous trees were nice to see. We eventually stopped for a bite to eat outside of Boston, near Waltham. It was here that we tried to make plans for the rest of the day's riding, as the sun was starting to lower itself onto the horizon. We wanted to get as close as possible to Maine, as we could, before calling it quits for the day.

The sun kept getting lower and lower as we kept on the throttle. I kept wondering when Wade wanted to pull over and get a hotel for the evening, but we had to pull over sooner than that so I could swap my sunglasses for my regular precription glasses. We just pulled over into the emergency lane of the interstate. Talking to Wade, we figured we were close enough, so we were just going to make the run for Maine. We jumped back on the bikes and ran them hard and steady until we got through the small section of New Hampshire and on into Maine. We made it into Maine in two and a half days of riding. The rest of the trip was going to be the "icing on the cake". We were glad to make it this far and a little surprised we did it in as little time, especially with the route that we chose involving the time-consuming ferrys.

This next morning we planned on heading up the coast of Maine for a little while and go see the lighthouse at Cape Neddick. This is supposed to be the most photographer lighthouse in the eastern USA, and Wade's father suggested to us to go see it. We rode on highway 1 along the coast, but, for the most part, wasn't able to actually see the ocean. Once we did, though, the shoreline was imply gorgeous. It wasn't a "blah" coastline of white sandy beaches as were were used to in South Carolina. It was rocky and sandy, much like some of the pictures I'd seen of the Pacific coast, excluding the cliff shoreline of the northern-most portions of the western shore. We stopped to take pictures of the shoreline and spoke with some of the passer-bys. We could see the lighthouse that we were shooting for, off in the distance, at the edge of this cape. We were back on our bikes and heading that way.

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The lighthouse was a pretty cool one, unlike the ones that I'd seen on my trip of the Outer Banks of North Carolina and of those that we saw in the bays when were were on the ferrys. We tried to get some pictures of the lighthouse with the bikes in the foreground, but they weren't perfect with the other vehicles in the parking lot and the people walking around. We were angling bikes in the parking space, wheeling them to the edges of the rocks to try to get the best picture we could. I remember us both sitting there in the sunlight, the ocean breeze coming in, and talking about how great it would be to live up in this area, on the shore. The winters are the only thing that would keep us from even considering something like that. The mountains aren't too far away, so we could have fun riding the sportbikes in the mountains, too. After basking in the sun like turtles on a summer day, we jumped back on the bikes and headed toward Portland. Our quest there was to hit the Harley dealer and then start heading west toward Mt Washington.

We made it to the Harley dealer in Portland and grabbed a few T-shirts, as is common practice on any long distance haul. They had a nice store but it was the number of police RoadKings that they had for sale that caught us offguard. We hung around long enough to peruse the shelves and racks, and as we were leaving, I told the woman behind the counter that I was surprised they didn't sell snowmobiles. She just kinda laughed and said it doesn't get cold enough there.....yeah, right. We gassed up the bikes a little ways down the road and turned our bike westward, heading toward the mountains and away from the salty air.

The roads and scenery didn't take long to make you forget that the ocean was just a few minutes behind us. The rolling hills started to get bigger and the landscape was starting to consist of more wildlife and trees. We started to see signs for moose on the side of the road. One, which we didn't get a picture of but wanted to, was a sign that read "Stop for moose. It may save your life". The one we did get a picture of was the caution sign with the sillouette of a moose on it. Interestingly enough, when we stopped to take a picture of the bikes at the "Welcome to New Hampshire" welcome sign, there were the remains of a moose in the ditch behind us. About the middle of the afternoon, we made it to the base of Mt Washington, and had just missed a rain storm that came through, so the roads for the last five miles, or so, to the entrance to the "Auto Road" to the top of the mountain were a little damp.

Wade and I paid our fees to head toward the top of Mt Washington and were each given a sticker that reads "This Bike Climbed Mt. Washington". The road was a two-lane, narrow one, with no lines to designate lanes and very few guardrails on the sides, some with very steep drop-offs. You aren't supposed to pass anyone while on the road, but some people in their minivans and tanks for cars were going so slowly that following them was a chore of clutch and throttle control to keep the bikes moving without bogging and dieing on us. We both got tired of it and passed a few cars. It was just soemthing we had to do. As we climbed to the higher elevations, the vegetation turned to more of a grassy type of weed and very few trees. The view was spectatular, but the cloud cover was fairly thick at times. To our left, there was a ski resort, and you could see the ski slopes and trails despite there not being any snow on the ground. We, eventually, made it to the top of the mountain and parked in the gravel parking lot. At the top of the mountain is a information center and scientific buildings and equipment.

The information center had a lot of information for those who are scientifically minded. It was at the top of Mt Washington where the highest wind speeds have ever been recorded and they state of the dramatic temperature fluxuations that they can get up there. One building, the "Summit Stage Office" had huge chains going across the roof to help hold the building to the top of the mountain in times of high winds. Also in the information center was a list of a lot of people who have died on the mountain, and, I believe, how they died, by such things as falls to hypothermia.

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Another interesting thing to see while there is the old, steam-locomotive, mountain train. I'm not too sure where you can get on this train at the base of the mountian, but instead of driving your car to the top of it, you can take this train. Because of the steepness of the rails, the bottom of the train has hooks/catches on it like a roller coaster when it goes up the inital steep climb. You can heard the train "clicking" as the safety catches perform their job. The other odd things abotu this train is the way boiler on the train is angled. The boiler is at about a 30-degree angle, so that it will be level when climbing the mountain. I'd never seen anything like this and thought it was really neat. To try to make it into a civilized area with hotels and motels, we headed down the mountain, but not before taking a few pictures of the bikes on the way down.

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Going according to the roads on the map, we took more two-lane highways through the mountainous country-side of New Hampshire toward Vermont. Something that caught us off-guard with these roads is that one of them, a fairly common road, all of a sudden turned from nice blacktop to dirt. Not even gravel, but DIRT. Appearantly, instead of just resurfacing the road, of maybe even taking a few inches off of the road and then resurfacing it, they torn the complete road up for a mile or two and were going to repave it from the dirt up. Our bikes weren't necessarily "clean", so the dirt didn't bother us too much. The only other site of interest on the way to finding a hotel for the evening was when we ran across the Silver Cascade Waterfall. We were cruising down this really nice blacktop road through the mountians. It was just absolutely beautiful, and then there was this little parking lot, "slow" signs, and people and cars all over the place. It ended up being this waterfall right off of the highway. We had to stop and take a picture of it.

We drove until it almost got dark and found a place to stay in Barre, VT. We couldn't complain at the price of this really nice Comfort Inn. Wade and I were glad that there was a nice restaurant (Applebee's) and a convenience store nearby. After unloading the bikes, we took off down toward the Applebee's and got some drinks and a bite to eat. It was here that we met an older group of people from Wisconsin riding toward the coast of Maine. This bunch was a rowdy, but very fun group to hang out with. We all drank and had a good time while in Applebee's. Wade even showed off his "bar rose" making skills where you make a rose with a stem and leaf out of a bar napkin. We stayed at the Applebee's with this group until they kicked us out at closing time.

We left the Applebee's and went to the convenience store to buy more beer. Wade, I, and the guys from the group stayed out in the Comfort Inn's parking lot near our bikes, drinking...and drinking....and having a great time. The guys from Wisconsin were bragging about how much they could drink and still get up in the morning and ride like it was no big deal. I got in well past midnight and set our alarm clock so we could be out on the road by 9am. The group from Wisconsin were going to try to get out by 8. When we fired up the bikes in the monring, all their bikes were still in the parking lot, untouched, and as our bikes idled, hung-over heads poked themselves out of windows to wish us a safe journey. Wade and I both joked about how these guys had bragged about their ability to drink the night before and get up and ride the next morning. I'm just glad we didn't drink any more, or we'd have slept in, too.

The morning air was quite cool as we headed toward the Harley dealer in Burlington, VT. Remember us discovering that Wade lost his license plate when we were in New Jersey? Well, he still didn't have a tag, and we still hadn't been stopped for it. It was quite amazing as we rode through New York City and several other fairly large cities, and over a distance of about 700 miles or so, we were never pulled over. Wade made plans with his girlfriend to send his plate, next-day delivery to the Burlington, VT (actually Essex Junction, VT) Harley dealer. Wade called the dealership enough in advance to inform them of the package they were about to receive. The license plate got there a few minutes before we did, and Wade went to work at zip-tieing the tag to his bungie net since he no longer had a license plate frame and bracket. While we were there, I topped off the water level in my battery because it was starting to get a little sluggish when cold starting and it was a little low. Back on the road we went, license plate on Wade's bike, and heading toward Canada, just to say we'd been in Canada on this trip.

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When we left the dealer we basically headed due north and decided to hit some back roads and enjoy the scenery. We went through some really nice country-side and skirted along the edge of Lake Champlain. I wanted to stop and take a picture of that, so we took a little breather. It was a nice view with the magnitude of this lake and then seeing the mountains forming the distant horizon. Our goal now was to hit the Canadian border and then drive in Canada for a few miles and come back into the United States on I-81 into New York state. We decided to take a small backroad into Quebec to make a loop with I-81. We missed the secondary road that we chose, and doubled back for about three miles to get back to it. We stopped, just before Customs, to take a picture.

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We had never been out of the country before, and chosing a secondary road with little traffic, riding Harleys, and being from South Carolina must have raised a few flags with them. We were told to pull over under an awning and the customs agent took out driver's licenses. We must have sat around for a good half hour while discussing how suspicious this must have looked and how much we really were hoping they wouldn't make us unpack all of our things. We were hiding anything, it was just the fact of having to unpack and repakc all of our stuff. Fortunately, they called in our licenses and got a clean bill of health from them and let us into the country. The quality of the roads dropped significantly and they had more crowning to them, but the interesting thing for us was that, not only were all the speed limit signs in kilometers, which made it difficult on bikes with non-metric speedometers, but all the signs were in French! We shot through the country and worked out way over to the interstate to go back into New York. We were originally thinking of shooting up to Montreal for Harley T-shirts, but figured the added distance and traffic that we'd have to put up with was not worth the effort. At Customs to re-enter the United States, the guy was pretty cool about everything. He asked a few questions about picking up anything while in Canada and what our business was, so I told him the truth. He asked me if Wade would tell him the same thing and I repsonded with a smirk and said, "I sure hope so". He smiled back and let me through. I pulled over and waited for the guy to let Wade through, which didn't take long at all.

Hurray, we were back in the States and now wanted to head toward Lake Placid in the Adirondack Mountians of New York. It wasn't too long of a drive before we got off of the interstates and hit secondary roads toward the mountians. Once again, the scenery was turning nicer as we got closer to the mountains. We had done some research on the area and found out about a train ride that you can take from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake or further, and we were hoping to take a breather from riding the bikes and take a casual train ride. We also were planning on seeing some of the Olympic sites in the area.

We rode through town and missed the sign for the train depot, so we stopped at a little convenience store for directions. Wade was in there for a few minutes, and I took this opportunity to call my father and let him know how things were going. When Wade came back out to the bikes, he said the women behind the counter were a little strange and were constantly smiling, but not necessaarily a "flirting" smile. He said it was just weird. So, we get on the bikes and ride back through town to the depot. It was here that we found out why the women were acting so weird.....the train didn't run that day. After Wade cussed a few times about the bitches should have just told him that the train wasn't running, we jumped back on the bikes and headed toward the olympic related sites in the area.

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Most of the event locations are scattered around the area, so it was a little more of a diversion than we'd originally thought. We did find the USA Olympic Training Center and took some pictures of the bikes at the sign. We saw a few other local things, but not necessarily the olympic things. We wanted to go see the bob-sled area, but ruled that out because of the distance we'd have to drive and the idiot drivers we were having to put up with. We soon headed back out of town and were looking to hit Watertown, NY by nightfall with the plan of getting a good night's rest and heading into Canada to ride around Lake Ontario in the monring. Just shortly was a really cool mountain/lake scene that I felt compelled to turn around to take a picture of. From what we could determine, it was probably the river section that ties Lower Saranac Lake to Oseetah lake where Hwy 3 goes over the water. I thought it was just too good of a picture to pass up.

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We arrived in Watertown well before the sun went down, but were amazed at the prices of the hotels rooms in the area. We happened to run across a decent deal on a room at the local Ramada Inn right off of I-81, but it didn't have air conditioning. Being from South Carolina, and the high for the day was about 80 and the low was going to be somewhere around 65, we figured it wasn't any big deal, at all, and took it. After unloading the bikes, Wade suggested we wash the bikes off since we'd been in the aslt air, rain, mud, and gravel, and the bikes were looking pretty rough. We went to a local car wash and threw some quarters their way. With the bikes nice and shiney, again, we went to the local Pizza Hut for dinner and went back to the hotel to call it a night.

The morning was a little cool, but the sun was up and it was supposed to warm up fairly quickly. Once the bikes were loaded and we were ready to go, we jumped on I-81 and shot north. It wasn't long before we hit Customs, again, and we were let into Canada without any delays. We pulled over to take a few pictures and make a few phone calls. I remember having to transfer some money into one of my accounts, I believe it was for a car payment, and my cell phone didn't get a signal and was acting very weird. I decided to use the pay phone that was there and used my credit card. I highly recommend that you do NOT do such a thing, as the fees are outrageous, as I found out later when I received my phone bill. Anyway, we jumped up to the Canadian interstate, or whatever they call it, of 401 and headed west toward Toronto.

I had been warned by a few people as to how flat and boring the ride around Lake Ontario was going to be. The more we drove, the more I realized these people didn't know what flat and boring was. I'd ridden from the east side to the west side of South Dakota and back, and this was NOT anywhere near as flat and boring as that was. The wind was substantially less than South Dakota, too. This area of Canada had mild rolling hills.....well, ok, not really hills, but it sure wasn't flat. At least we had tree to look at instead of thousands of acres of grassy plains. There were some spots where we could even see Lake Ontario and some of the shipping docks.

I don't know what my problem was, but I had difficulties keeping a steady pace and was getting a little ticked off about something. I forget axactly what it was now, but I got fed up enough that Wade and I just pulled over to the side of the road to sit there for a few minutes. There ended up being a gas station/food court area a few miles up the road, so we went to that to fill up with gas and grab a bite to eat. It was also here that we purchased a map of the Toronto area to figure out a route to get to the Toronto Harley dealer. Fumbling around with US currency to make purchases and getting Canadian currency back wasn't too bad, but we tried to keep the Canadian change to a minimum, since we knew we couldn't do anything with it once we got back home.

From this rest area/oassis, Toronto wasn't too far away and the road turned from 4 lanes out to 8 or so. Traffic got a little bit worse, but not too bad as we fought traffic to the Harley dealer. Once here, we went to looking at the various T-shirts that they had. This was the first time we saw an all stainless steel Harley gas grill for sale. The price? How is $7000?!!!! Oh, sorry, that's Canadian money. Took us a second to remember that, too. ha ha.....Wade had a washer come out of his dash and needed to find another one because the dash panel kept rattling. They didn't have one in stock, but one of their mechanics took a large washer and ground down two sides so that it would work. After a few attempts, he got it to the right size and gave it to Wade, free of charge. While waiting for him to grind down the piece, though, we stuck up conversations with the people in there, and they were amazed at how far we'd ridden on this trip and couldn't figure out why we'd go to Toronto. This was made more evident when we told them that we both had sportbikes and rode in the mountains all the time. What was really funy about this was that most of the people that worked there rode japanese sportbikes and would love to be as close to the mountains as we are. Then, to make matters even funnier about this is that the owner of the shop wouldn't let the guys ride their jap bikes anywhere near the front of the store. To ge their bikes to the service area, where most of them worked, they had to enter the dealership's property from a hidden side-road in an alley. Wade and I thought that was just too funny, especially the way the guys were talkign about it. We wrapped up our business there and jumped back on the bike and headed toward our next destination: Niagara Falls.

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We'd gotten back on the interstate about the time for 3 o'clock rush hour. Traffic was pretty bad as we cruised down the road, but got even worse when we drove near some of the automobile manufacturing facilities. Traffic became a near stand-still in a few areas, and as we got on the east side of Hamilton, the traffic started to lighten up. Soon, we were following signs to Niagara Falls.

As I stated earlier, Wade had never been to Niagara Falls, but I had. I was only one the United States side during my South Dakota trip because I was carrying a gun with me. Everyone had told me how much better the view was of the falls from the Canadian side, so I was going to experience this aspect of the Falls. It took a little while to get to the falls, and a little longer, yet, to find a parking space. Fortunately, the parking attendant let us both get into the same parking space and we were charged for only one vehicle. We grabbed our cameras and worked our way over to the falls. Being a little hungry, we went to one of the little restaurants that overlooks the Falls and grabbed a table at on the deck where we could get a good view. We ordered a few beers, from a local mico brewery, and, eventhough I thought the beer was good, Wade didn't care for it, so he switched to a domestic beer...US domestic, that is. For a side attraction, there were some small, wild birds that would get really close to you. They weren't very afraid of people and you could feed them bread crumbs and such. I think they got within about three feet of us. We kept trying to get them closer to get a really close picture of them, but they never got too close when the cameras were ready.

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After getting our "fill" of the Falls, we started heading back toward Buffalo to pick up some more T-shirts. Interestingly, the Buffalo Harley dealer has an outlet store that only sells T-shirts and other giftwares in a shopping center. Wade and I went here to get our shirts before heading toward Syracuse, NY. The traffic around Buffalo was fairly heavy until we got on the toll road, which is I-90. This road was really smooth and without much traffic, but the scenery was nothing to brag about. There were rolling hills and trees, but that was about it. For every 40 miles or so, you'd run across one of those gas station/food oasis places. We stopped at one of them to refuel ourselves and our bikes. We weren't sure how far we wanted to run into the evening, but it seemed the further the better for us. We opted on not going to Syracuse, but instead, were going to aim in the direction of Corning and hit Hwy 15 through the center of Pennsylvania. We were ahead of schedule on our trip and hit all of our sight-seeing destinations, so we wanted to stop at Gettysburg on the way home. We eventually wound up staying in Geneseo, NY as the sun dropped faster than we liked, but we'd traveled further than we had expected for the day.

After unloading everything, I grabbed a couple of bungie cords to get a 12-pack of beer while Wade took his bike apart in the parking lot. Wade had lost his speedometer, or, at least it wasn't reading correctly as it was reading faster than mine was. He first mentioned that it was reading funny as we were riding on 401 in Canada on the north side of Lake Ontario. While Wade was fighting with his speedometer, I was trying to find a cell signal. The hotel we stayed at didn't have a good cell phone signal for me, as I had to walk out into the outer edge of the parking lot to get enough signal to call my folks to let them know all was fine. Wade had taken the speedometer apart in the hotel room, and it appeared to be a lost cause, so he put it back together and just figured not to worry about it for the rest of the trip.

The end of our trip was getting nearer as we were now heading south, back toward home. All had been going well and we were having a great time cruising across the country. We jumped onto Hwy 15 right at after breakfast, and this road was going to be a nice one. We were driving through the country-side of Pennsylvania without much traffic on the road. The small mountains on either side of us gave us good views to our left and right as we rode through the valleys. Once we skirted around Williamsport, the road took us along side the slightly twisting trail of the West Branch Susquehanna River and the Susquehanna River. Riding in this river valley was really nice and made the 300 or so miles to Gettysburg not seem to take as long.

The only real traffic issues we ran across was getting through Harrisburg. Traffic was moderately heavey, but there was some raod construction areas we had to get through. Naturally, as Wade pointed out to me. I had a tendancy to run the speed limit or so in non-construction zones, but had a tendancy to speed through the construction zones. It usually was because of traffic, people trying to pass, or being jerks when we went to pass them. I was just in a hurry to get out of those zones. On the south side of Harrisburg, the four-lane highway opened up where traffic was concerned, and we started following signs to the Gettysburg battlefields.

Gettysburg was just breath-taking. Neither Wade nor I had been here before, and it was nothing like some of the little battlefield monuments and the like in this area of South Carolina. There were monuments all over town, monuments and plaques all over the field, and a huge museum with everything you could imagine to see about the battle of Gettysburg and the civil war, practically. Wade and I first went through the museum. I was really interested in all the displays with the long rifles and pistols. There was information on each gun. Things like the manufacturer, number of guns manufactured, and the years for that particular model being produced. I was amazed at the number of different firearms that were represented there. It gave me the urge to want to start collecting some of those old firearms in my collection. I'd thought about buying one or two, just to have, for many years, but this just made me REALLY want one of those old guns (Ed note - I still haven't bought one as of 11/10/04).

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There were lots of other displays, such as various state flags that were actually on that field during the battle, examples of uniforms worn by each side, rafters from nearby buildings that showed where cannon balls had gone through them, miscellaneous bullets and cannon balls, and even some bone fragments from unfortunate soldiers. You could have spent a full day just in the museum. For the rest of the area, you get a map with the route shown on it, with different spots of interest shown along that route. There were old cannons scattered throughout the area, and it was at one of these, despite having to stay on the paved areas, I drove my Harley over to one, parked it, and got a picture of the bike next to the cannon. I tried to get Wade to park his next to the cannon, and I'd take a picture of him and the bike, but he wouldn't do it.

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We walked around some of the areas that had several monuments, but also stopped at solitary monuments, such as those for the South Carolina and North Carolina solders. There is a watch tower on the one end of the field that you can climb and view almost the whole battleground. Wearing our leather and riding boots, going up four or five stories on these stairs, really helped show us how out of shape we were. The view from the tower was spectatular. You can spend days going through everything in Gettysburg. We spent a few hours there and never felt that we even scratches what there was to consume. We talked of going back, someday, and spending more time there. The sun was getting a little low, so we decided to leave Gettysburg and head back for the open road. We got to Martinsville, MD when we chose to stop. After several days on the road, it was time to do some laundry.

We unloaded the bikes and then reloaded them with bags of dirty laundry. An advantage of buying souvinere T-shirts along a trip like this is that you get to pack lightly when you leave the house. The problem is that you eventually still have to do laundry, and we'd gone about as long as we could. We went to a convenience store for detergent and found a laundromat down the road. They didn't allow alcohol, which was a bummer, and to make matters worse, it took forever for the drier to dry our clothes. Once back to the hotel room, we set out our plans for the next day.

At the Pennsylvania Welcome Center, we noticed that Pennsylvania had a lot of caves and caverns available to tourists. About two years prior to this trip, Wade and I rode our sportbikes to the Linville Caverns in North Carolina. We both recalled that there was a popular caverns in Virginia, but neither of us could remember them right away. Not too soon later, we remembered they were the Luray Caverns, so we looked for their location on the map. Turns out that they were pretty much right on our path home, and to make the situation better, the Skyline Drive was very close to them. The Skyline Drive ties in with the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we figured we'd hit the Caverns, Skyline Drive, and then the Blue Ridge Parkway home.

We hit the road fairly early with clean clothes and bright and sunny skies. After a temporty stop for breakfast at a Waffle House where the sweet tea was still not "true" southern tea, we came up on the exit to the caverns. We had thought that the caverns, from the map we used, would be right off of the interstate, but we were wrong on that one. The road was a nice, twisty and winding road up the side of the mountain until we finally crossed the gap to the other side of this stretch of mountains. Winding down the opposite side of the mountain, we finally hit the valley, drove another five or ten miles, and got to the entrance of the Luray Caverns.

This was still a weekday, and there weren't a lot of people at the caverns. This was to our advantage because we didn't have long to wait for our tour to start, and our group was fairly small in size. Our tour guide was a young woman, probably just our of high school, with the name of "Bethany". I have no idea why I remember this except probably because I've never met anyone with that name before, and her voice.....oh man, that voice was annoying. She used some story-book, PBS-type way of speaking and I often wondered if she actually spoke like this or if it was just a "tour guide thing".

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The tour was fairly decent in length and the highlight was the organ made out of stallagtites. They didn't play the actual organ, but they did play a recorded tape of it. This was pretty cool, and something different to stick out in your mind, especially if you've been to other caves or caverns. When we went through the Luray Caverns, I'd already been through parts of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky twice, the Linville Caverns in North Carolina, and the Wind Cave near Hot Springs, South Dakota. A bonus to this tour was that we got free tickets to the car museum that was right next door. Wade and I being the automotive enthusiasts that we are, went through that, too.

The displays of old cars was really cool, and they had some nice and rare examples of early American automobiles. There were a couple of early horse-driven buggies, but the earliest automobiles were neat to see. Some of the cars that were in there, I'd never heard of and many of them I had. We didn't spend a whole lot of time in the car museum because we wanted to hit some nice twisty roads on the Skyline Drive. A couple of pictures at the Luray Caverns sign, and off we went.

It was a short drive to the Skyline Drive, and, unlike the Blue Ridge Parkway, there is a fee charged to get on it. We paid the fee and headed south on it. The higher elevations were foggy, so the views weren't the greatest. I kept an eye out for a good, picturesque view to get a picture. None presented themselves, so I took a couple of pictures. Living near the southernmost part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, possibly the very best part of it, the Skyline Drive left a bit to be desired. The views were not particularly great, and the roads were worse than the Blue Ridge Parkway. Despite the speedlimit being 35 or so, Wade and I tended to travel in the 50-60 mph range, just hoping that we wouldn't get caught by a park ranger or some other representivive of law enforcement. We were in a nicely wooded section of the road when, out of no where, a bug came in at an angle and smacked me right in the eye. He kamakazied under my sunglasses and got me right in the lower eye lid. It hurt like hell, stung, and my eye started to water and swell to where I was having difficulties seeing. I had to pull over until the pain and watering subsided.

Wade didn't know what happened and ended up going a little further up the road. Eventually, he turned around and came to where I was. There was some darkening around my eye beginning to form, but the pain and watering slowly subsided until I was ready to hit the road, again. Wade went to start his bike, and it wouldn't even click. Oh crap, that sucked. It did this once before, but started up within a minute or two. This time it was being stubborn. There was corrosion on his solenoid preventing his bike from starting. A little wiggling, giggling, and scraping, and his bike started. This was something he was going to have to address when we got back home. The Skyline was not as fast as we were hoping, and, eventhough we were having fun, it was going to take far too long to drive this road and the Blue Ridge Parkway as we'd hoped. On top of this, the sky was getting some dark clouds in it. We soon got to an intersection on a lower evevation section of the Skyline and headed back to the interstate.

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We weren't on the interstate long before traffic started getting bad. It was near rush hour on a Friday afternoon. It got bad enough that we decided to try our luck on the Skyline Drive, again, so we took an exit and headed toward the mountains, again. We got about five miles off the interstate and rain had been there. The roads were wet and we changed our minds about riding in the mountains on wet pavement, so, we turned around and got back on the interstate.

The only other interesting thing on this day was when we stopped for dinner at a McDonald's before hitting North Carolina. The high-school aged girl behind the counter was about eight months pregnant and I couldn't contain myself. I kept smiling and snickering. I was just dieing to tell Wade something, but it was going to have to wait until we sat down. When we finally got to our table, I had to tell Wade what had me tickled. Being in Virginia, all I could think of, with that young pregnant girl behind the counter, was the urge to ask her if her brother was proud he's gonna be a father. hee hee

We rode until dark and pulled into a Super 8 in Jonesville, NC. We weren't there long before taking off to the nearest convenience store to stock up on beer and junk food. At the convenience store we got some bad news: we decided to stop in a dry county. Dammit! So, we jumped on the bikes, rode about ten miles north to the next county to get some beer and munchies. We took the scenic route back and relaxed through our last evening on the road with some nice, cold beer.

We slept in a little because we knew we didn't have long to go to get home. This would be our shortest day of riding, yet, but would feel like the longest. We took I-77 to Charlotte where we grabbed I-85 to take home. We parted ways in Greenville as I drove the last thirty miles alone. Eight days on the road and over three thousand miles......It was good to be home.