Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A new day, a new rule.

New rule: no stopping without getting gas.

Wish us luck - it's still raining.

Here are pics from the the last couple of days. I had some great ones of Montreal but for some reason the camera didn't save them.

The thing about an adventure is....

It's not reeeaaally an adventure until something doesn't go quite as planned.

Yesterday morning in Montreal James and I took a bit of time seeing some of the city before hitting the road. It was going to make for a late night, but we figured we could do it and still make our destination. Enter the rain. We rode in the rain for almost 3 hours yesterday. Big, heavy rain drops that stung when they hit. At one point we pulled over to a Walmart to get some Rainex because it was getting hard to see in the rain as it was getting darker. You know you are in a small town when Walmart closes at 5 on Sunday.

Huddled under a gas station we decided to keep going for a while longer. As 8:00 rolled around we passed a sign for a camp site. I pulled in front of James so I could hail him over. I told him I would either set up camp in the rain or in the dark but not both (I have my standards!) and that we should stop and make camp for the night.

Side note: If there are any couples out there that are wondering whether they are with the right person and if they should get married, I have some advice for you. If you want to find out if you have the kind of relationship that could last, get on two motorcycles, ride all day with 3 hours of it in the rain. Then stop to make camp in the rain, while it's getting dark, and you are getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. IF, and I do mean IF, you can get through that then you're golden.

Back to the story.... It rained all night and into late morning. It took forever to pack up everything that was wet but the rain finally broke. We put on our wet riding gear - uck - and headed out with what we thought was clear skies and a nice clean day of riding.

We were making good time even though we stopped at every over-sized obnoxious animal statue we ran across. There was a small town every 30 miles or so and things were going well. We hit a town called Hearst. Hearst is a logging town and incidentally had not one, but a gaggle of over-sized animal statues. We just had to stop. We took the picture and not wanting to slow things down any more (priorities people!) we opted to wait till the next town for gas. We had gone about 50 miles when we started to get worried. My gauge was reading 20 miles till empty. Pull out the map - 80 miles to the next town - 50 miles back.

Nothing makes you feel like a bigger jerk than running out of gas with two empty gas cans strapped to your motorcycle.

So there we were, on the side of the road. I had the bright idea of splitting up. One person stay with the bikes and one person go back for gas. Looking back we should have stayed together. The bikes are just bikes. Soooo, (Mom, close your ears)I hitched a ride the 50 miles back, both gas cans in hand. The person that drove me to the gas station offered to take me back up as far as the next rest area - 10 miles past the town. How hard could it be to hitch a ride while carrying 4 gallons of gas??? Well, 2 miles into the walk, shoulders burning under the weight of the gas cans, 38 miles to go and after the only 6 vehicles that had come down the road had pulled as far away from me as possible, I got to thinking.... What if I couldn't get a ride? What if I was stuck in moose-land walking all night with 4 gallons of gas and no cell phone coverage? Aside from the obvious concern about getting picked up by a crazy or not getting picked up at all, the mosquitoes were becoming a real issue. If I HAD to sleep on the side of the road, would I have any blood left in the morning? Luckily (or is it the guardian angel coin my aunt gave me?), a police officer looking for speeders happened by. I hitched a ride back to James in the safety of the back of a cop car.

Once back with James, who had busied himself playing with camera equipment to stave off the panic and regret at having let me drive off with a complete stranger, we fueled up and headed back to Hearst to get a hotel room for the night and regroup.

Did I mention it was raining again as soon as we ran out of gas?

Anyway, we are okay and about to get a good night sleep so we can catch up tomorrow. Send some sunshine our way!

Pictures of obnoxious animal statues to come.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Settling in for the long haul

We did it. It's hard to believe, but we actually got all packed up and on the road today. And only 3.5 hours later than our planned departure - that's almost a record for us!

The thing about starting a big adventure ride is that it starts the same way as any other ride. Well, aside from the gear laden bikes and months of planning. You hop on and start out of your driveway, down your street and through your neighborhood. It actually takes quite some time into the trip before it really starts to set in that you won't be "there yet" for a long while.

Today's ride was from Cape Cod to Montreal. We hit New Hampshire and Vermont on the way up to Canada. Vermont looked amazing. It seems totally underrated as far as I'm concerned. You never hear of people going to Vermont for vacation, but it really is quite stunning. We were midway through Vermont when the sun started to set. You know that perfect light? The sun was illuminating the white poplar tufts that were hovering softly in the air, weightless, and it almost felt like time had stopped but we were still moving. Does that make any sense? Have you seen it in movies where everyone else is in slow motion except for the main character? That's what it felt like.

James and I, who are convinced that we'll miss every momentous childhood photo moment when we do eventually have kids because we never quite get it together to take pictures, have made a concious effort to take photos along the way. Matter of fact, we may have gone over the top with 2 still cameras, an HD camcorder and a GoPro sports video camera that can mount to the bikes or helmets.

Anyway, at one point we passed a river and dam in Mistook, Vermont. It drew us and it was time for a break anyway. We managed our way off the highway to the back end of the dam where hiked a bit following the sound of the water and climbed over the river on train bridges to get a better view. Here are some pics of today's ride:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Being shot out of a cannon will always better than being squeezed out of a tube."

Or so says one of my favorite writers, Hunter S. Thompson, who quickly followed the statement with "That's why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba."

Hooray for fast motorcycles and hooray for motorcycles that will help you get to the arctic circle and back!

Shockingly, there are only two days left before we depart for Alaska. I'm vacillating between uber excitement and staving off the surge of panic that inevitably comes with taking 34 days off from work to ride over 11,000 miles across country - much of which will be cell phone/internet dead zone. Oh the horror! Oh the joy!

So much to do, still. I realize that that amongst my few ramblings here I have not devoted anything remotely close to what would be considered an appropriate amount of information on our bikes of choice.

Ah, the BMW F800GS. Two of those babies are currently nestled in our garage. They've been farkled, lubed, given fresh oil changes and are currently getting all the beauty rest they can before Saturday when they will finally get a chance to stretch their legs and do what they were bred to do - adventure riding.

They were not simply "made." They were bred. Someone did not show up one day at a motorcycle factory in Germany and decide to spit out an F800GS. Oh, no. Like a fine equine line that has seen generations of breeding for just the right height, speed and form, the F800GS is a product of fine selective breeding. It's paralell twin engine creating enough power while not being too big and unweildy. A fuel tank situated under the seat to keep the center of gravity low. Shave off 50 pounds compared to the bigger 1200GS and you have what Goldilocks would be exclaining is "just quite right."

You can check out more here on the bikes if you like. I've also included a standard picture of what Jame's bike looks like. My bike, Ludwig, is the dark magnesium metallic color. I chose that color because at some point I'm going to add big hot pink GS stickers on the side. I chose the name so that it would sound manly enough to be able to suffer the indignity of being adorned with something pink. Be on the lookout for pictures of the bikes loaded and ready to go in the next day or so as well as pictures of the trip and updates along the way. I hope you'll join us. I hope you'll enjoy what we can share of the trip. And well, if I rample too much I hope you'll forgive me.

On that note, for all you other Hunter S. fans out there, "Ho, ho.... we are motorcycle people."