Friday, October 7, 2016

Still more to see in Pennsylvania

(I'm so behind.  I hope I get this finished  by the time I leave on my next vacation in March.)

By Tuesday, July 19, we were back in the saddle, and headed to Dubois Harley as I needed a service. 

A grand-looking building of brick.

A mural painted on the wall depicts the owner getting a haircut.  We chatted with him for a bit and found out he's fought to keep this shop the way it is, and to not have to go to a new style.  It's an awesome place, with nooks and crannies containing fun things to see while you're waiting.
We wandered around the shop as it’s a museum in itself, an old-fashioned type of shop, the type you mostly no longer see as so many are now a cookie-cutter style.  The horn on my bike was no longer working, and I was thinking my finger no longer works that well either.  They found a horn on another bike and I was back in business.  Across the street was a restaurant, so we made the most of it while we waited.

Now there's a pancake.  I could only eat half of it.
Once the bike was ready, off we went to the Elk Country Visitor Center. There are about 1,100 in the herd, and they issue 125 hunting permits a year.  While it was a nice ride, and a fun place to visit, there were no elk to be seen as it was too warm.  Oh well.  My mission of seeing a big bull elk in the wild is one that still eludes me. And while it would have been great, the riding in Pennsylvania made it A-okay.  The country is beautiful, with wonderful, winding roads made even better with local friends to go with us.

The big bull elk, but not a live one.  Another time.
We spent our last day riding some great roads, and even found one of my personal favorites, a metal-grated bridge.
Alas, it was time to move along.  We’d been with Greg and Deb for three nights, and my mom always told me that “after three days, both fish and guests stink.”

But the pond that provided so much relaxation was hard to leave behind.

As well as the ducks that provided so much entertainment.

And the home and good friends that had provided us with wonderful hospitality for a few days.  But, I'm sure we'd be back another time because there's still so much Pennsylvania to see and roads to explore.
Rockin’ Rita and I headed off toward Michigan, July 20 (Wednesday).  It was a riding and Harley-shop-visiting kind of day, with us ending up at her and Butch’s friends (Ray and Sylvia) for the evening.  We pulled in just at dark, and I was certainly glad for the GPS on her bike.  We’ve used a combination of maps and GPS’s on her bike and the one on my phone to get us places, and while we’ve wandered around a bit here and there, we’ve always eventually found our way to our destination.  Or some other destination.  And that, my friends, is how we get all those miles.  Haha.

Sylvia and Ray were our wonderful hosts for the evening.  It's been so nice to be taken in, road orphans that we are.

Breakfast with Flat Rocky, Sylvia and Ray, before hitting the road again.
Our visit here was short as we were headed on to Minnesota to my cousin reunion.  Today’s ride (July 21) had us with a donkey butt coming over into our lane deliberately.  I realized my finger was still working as I let him know he was Number 1. 

Once again we found the big storm and sat it out under an awning at a gas station.  We got saddled up again and were looking forward to an early evening with an excellent dinner.  No such luck for us.  We found some construction that was backed up for miles with a single lane.  Good grief, they must have been taught by Alaskan construction crews.  And then the storm hit us again … hurricane-style winds and heavy rain. 

Eighteen miles from our hotel, we sought shelter at yet another gas station.  As it appeared we’d be there for a while, we walked across the street to a bar and grill for some dinner.  There was a young couple holed up there also, 50 miles from their destination.  They had no protection of any kind … no jackets or even hoodies.  The young lady and gentlemen were both wearing tank tops.  They were tougher than I am.  Or just young and dumb.

We finally decided we had to make a run for it as we were tired and needed to get off the road.  Besides, it was only 18 miles.  It was dark now, and the rain was a bit lighter, but still not a great night to be riding.  Trucks were going by us at warp speed.  We were running 60 mph with our flashers hopefully with them lighting us up enough for everyone to see us.  We ended up on a toll road that cost us $1.90.  The price was worth it as the road wasn’t bad. 

The rain stopped, but there was still a lightning show all around us when we chose to take a look.  It was everywhere and often.  But no rain now was a definite plus. 

We finally made it to our home for the night.  Even the cherry Coke, coffee and tea couldn’t keep me awake.  Zzzzzzzzz.

Back on the road (Thursday, July 22), we ran through Hillsboro, the Czech capital of Wisconsin.  Come to find out, Wisconsin is the state with the most “Capitals.”  It claims to have more cities and towns claiming to be the Capital of something or other than any other state.  For instance, there’s the “Jump Rope Capital of the World,” “Muskie Capital of the World,” “Hog Wrestling Capital of the World,” “Toilet Paper Capital of the World (Green Bay),” “UFO Capital of Wisconsin,” “Horse Radish Capital of the World,” and “Buffalo Roast Capital of Wisconsin.”  There are so many I can’t name them all, but it’s pretty cool, and we went through some of these towns. 

And we found yet another town of Galena.

Barn quilts always intrigue me, and Flat Rocky and the gang were pretty impressed, too.
There's nothing like a day of sunshine, cornfields, and a good friend in your rearview mirror.

Unless you find another bridge.  No metal grate this time.

We rode for miles without seeing other cars ... just fields, corn and a cow now and then.

I'd never seen a mail drop like this one before, in memory of a beloved person.
Today I missed the “photo of the day” or perhaps the month or year.  It was an Amish barn-raising.  There was the wood frame of the barn and there were men on top, along the sides.  It was a beautiful sight and one I wish I could have photographed.  But it may have also been an invasion of their privacy, so we rode on.

The barn raising was similar to this photo that I found online by one legged
But I did get a photo of the horse and buggy. 
It was a great day of riding, a one-day streak without riding in the rain.  Yay.  We didn’t make Brainerd but will still have to pay for the room.  I didn’t want to run 170 miles in the dark on roads that would most likely have lots of deer running around.  We made it to Baldwin, just as night fell. 

While we rode late, we did see some a beautiful sunset.

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Full Day of Pennsylvania

The next day (Sunday, July 17), we forewent showers just so we could rock in the porch swing some more before we hit the road.  Drinking coffee and rocking … enjoying the morning … the sound of birds twittering, the smell and taste of freshly-brewed coffee.  It doesn’t get a whole lot better, at least not until we got on the road.
Coffee and a porch swing.  What a great way to relax.
It promised to be a full day, running with Deb and Greg, sightseeing.  There’s a lot to see and do in this part of the country, and I’m sorry we don’t have even more time.  There’s never enough time because you see and do a few things, and find out about even more things to see and do. 

The first place we stopped was at Fallingwater, a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935 for the Kaufmann family.  The home is in a rural area, about 43 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
What a gorgeous setting.
There were so many flowers it was hard to decide what to photograph, or use.
The smell of hundreds of flowers filled my nostrils we walked the path toward the home.  There are more than 300 windows in this house that hangs over a waterfall using an architectural device known as a cantilever.  Wright described his style as “organic,” being in harmony with nature.
Deb and Greg are the best kind to ride with here ... they know all kinds of cool places to visit.
While there are all these windows, it appears that the people are sheltered inside the stone walls, kind of like being in a cave, and are a part of the environment.  It fits very nicely, and has multiple doors and pools.  

As hot and humid as it was, I'd have loved a dip in the pond.
The unique home in a picturesque setting was beautiful, with only the sound of the water falling to lull you, giving you the feeling you were in your own world. 

But it was humid.  Sweat ran down my face, it dripped from my nose and was running into places you don’t even want to know about.  The only way to cool down and dry it up was to get back onto the bikes and head down the road to our next destination. 

From a beautiful home, to a bridge tour, we were seeing a lot of history of this part of the state.  Greg and Deb took us to two covered bridges in Somerset County, the Kings Bridge and the Barronvale Bridge.

Kings Bridge was built in 1802 (although in looking for information on the bridge, it’s apparently incorrect), and rebuilt in 1906, possibly, and 2008.  While closed to vehicle traffic, you can still walk across it.  It’s 114 feet long, and 14 feet, 6 inches wide.  It’s made mainly from white oak, and was retrofitted with nail-laminated arches in 1906.
From the outside of Kings Bridge, it's a beautiful sight.  From the inside, not so much with all the graffiti.  But you can see the arches that act like a canopy when you wander through it.
Barronvale Bridge is also known as Barron’s Mill Bridge.  Supposedly it was built around 1845, but has a date above it saying 1830 (although I’ve also seen a build date of 1902).  It’s near Rockwood, Pennsylvania, and is the longest covered bridge in Somerset County at 162 feet, 3 inches in length.  The wooden arches were added when repairs were made to the bridge in 1907.
The Barronvale Bridge didn't have the graffiti the other one did, and was pretty pristine both outside and in.
These are two of the 10 covered bridges left in Somerset County.  While they are now bypassed with steel highway bridges, they still stand as beautiful reminders of how you crossed rivers back then. 

You never know what kind of patch you'll see somewhere.  I'm into photographing them, with their permission, of course.
After seeing a couple of awesome bridges it was time to ride a while and head to Stoystown.  This would also be history in review, but it wouldn’t be joyous like seeing bridges.

We were going to the Flight 93 National Memorial, the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 that was hijacked in the September 11, 2001, attacks. 
The memorial is somber, a grim reminder of treachery, wickedness and evil.

This is an overview of the site.
The memorial has a recap of that day, and a timeline from when the flight took off, to when it crashed, brought down deliberately by our own heroes, a slap in the face of those that would do more harm to our country and citizens. 

Twenty minutes ... that's all ...
While the passengers of Flight 93 did what they had to do, I could only see the sorrow and feel the sadness through the mementos left, the photos of those who were on that flight and the phone calls you could listen to (but I could not) of those calling their loved ones knowing they would not survive.

Flight 93 hit the ground traveling 563 mph, and carrying more than 5,000 gallons of jet fuel.  It exploded on impact throwing debris into a nearby hemlock grove, and leaving no survivors.  The 155-foot-long aircraft was reduced to nothing but fragments ... wire, metal, insulation, as you can see here, that were scattered across acres of field and woodland.
Outside, the day was sunny and warm.  We rode around to the other side of the area where you can park and then walk and view a large rock that now marks the crash site.  The rock was put there as a marker as the vegetation has reclaimed much of the area. 

A path is cleared so one can see where the impact was.
A wall with the names of the 40 passengers and crew are inscribed

Along the walkway there are niches where mementos have been left, including “Never forget, 9/11/01.”  Every year there’s a closed memorial service for the survivors of those heroes … It’s a reminder to us that there is evil everywhere, and we really must be vigilant and watchful, and aware of what’s going on around us.

There are so many who have left something of themselves here and it's heartwarming to know people have not forgotten.

All I had to leave were a few coins from my pockets.

Never forget.
The visit was eye-opening to one that had only seen the television reports, and I was glad we’d gone there as I’d wanted to see it.  But I was also glad we were now going on to things that were of a happier tone.

Our next stop was in Punxsutawney, home of that little ground hog, Phil, that determines if there’s more winter or not.  We were privileged to find a postal ground hog.  Haha.  Couldn’t help taking a photo of it for our postman friend, Richid. 

The mailman ground hog was awesome.  Loved him.
There are a number of ground hogs located around the town so we had to walk around and take pictures of some of them. 

This was my favorite ... a Liberty Phil.

Rockin' Rita, Deb and me.  Legend has it that Punxsutawney Phil appears every Feb. 2, and forecasts the weather for the next six weeks.  A shadow means six more weeks of winter.  No sunshine, and therefore no shadow, means that spring is just around the corner.  We also learned that Phil's favorite meal is dandelion leaves in early spring and that he weighs about 18 pounds, and is 22 inches long.
While we also saw the “live” Phil, he wasn’t in any mood to come over to the window of his pen to greet us.  Oh well.  It was time to head for the bike barn.

A momentary break.

We made a stop at a business before getting to the barn.  Greg is with Car Mate Trailers, that manufacture specialty enclosed and open trailers.  This name caught my eye.

And I liked this one because it's red, of course.
The bike barn is off by itself, and houses way more than motorcycles.  There’s farm equipment, mowing equipment, a man cave.  

That there is one damn fine bike barn.
Yep.  Time to unload for a few days.
And their home is an old farmhouse built in 1847.  There’s a pond with ducks, and a barbecue pit complete with seating so you can watch the ducks.  What an awesome and peaceful setting.  We even saw deer, so my day was complete.

The following day was kind of lazy, and we didn’t ride with the threat of rain everywhere.  We wandered around but spent a nice relaxing day that’s needed now and then after riding for a number of days. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Running with Friends

The next day, Saturday, July 16, we ran Highway 19 with Greg and Deb.  I’m thinking there’s not a straight road in either Virginia or West Virginia, and I was having fun on them. 

There's a lot of green here.  Sure am enjoying it.  I've seen nearly no beetle kill trees like at home.

The New River Bridge, completed in 1977, is the world's longest single-arch steel span bridge.  At 876 feet above the river, it is America's second-highest bridge.  The Cor-ten steel used rusts slightly on the surface, inhibiting a deeper rust that protects the steel and eliminates the need to paint .  It also  provides the beautiful color that darkens over time.
Flat Rocky and Quackers, along with Deb, Rockin' Rita and me, all had to have a photo with the bridge.  Who knew that Quackers was mooning everyone.  Bad ducky.
Once again we worked to avoid the rain and did a good job of it.  But we saw the damage that had been caused by a flood that had come through here just a week or so ago when we’d been north and dealing with our own rain issues. There’d been 8 inches of rain in this area in just a few hours, and it had left a trail of destruction behind it.  Trees were tossed like matchsticks, you could see where the rivers had overflowed and there were remnants of mud on the road.  The top coat of asphalt had been stripped from the road and there were lots of patches, making the road a challenge. 

There were piles of debris.  It was a sad sight.
While we were watching, a truck pulled up and began unloading more debris.  I could see what appeared to be mattresses ... from someone's bed, their home.  It was a horrible reminder of what Mother Nature can do.
Our ride took us by houses in various states of repair; others appeared to have no damage at all.  People had piled debris neatly along the road for pick up in some places, and not-so-neatly in others.

While we were riding we saw a silver car passing to the left of a black one.  That wouldn’t have been so bad except he wasn’t passing in a lane.  He was on the far side of the road, on the rumble strip, and couldn’t hold it.  He ended up in the grass, fishtailing.  I figured we’d see him go end-over-end or something, but somehow he held onto it, and got back on the road in front of the black one.  That was the worst case of stupid I’d seen so far on this trip.

Almost got the perfect shot.

Got 'em all in this one.
We stopped for lunch, and Greg amused us with his fly catching talent.  Who knew someone could slap a menu shut and kill a fly?  Deb just rolled her eyes while we laughed.  Ick. 
Greg, the Flycatcher.  I wonder if he has a road name?  See the black spot, on the right side of the left-hand column?  That's the fly.  Ugh.  Not reading that menu.
 A small motel was our home for the night, and the pleasant part was having a porch swing.

Having a coffee pot, a Keurig no less, delivered to the room wasn't half bad either.

Rockin’ Rita and I spent a lot of time rocking that night, enjoying the evening, visiting with Deb and Greg, and watching the fireflies when they came out.  It was another great day of riding … and enjoying a friendship that was now cemented for life.