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.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Curves, curves and more curves

Monday came (July 11), and we were packed and ready to ride. 
Bye, Goldie.
The deal was Richid would get us to the Holland Tunnel and we’d be on our own after that.  We made it, waving our good byes and setting out in the big, bad city. 

It's a beautiful city with lots to do.  But I wouldn't want to live there.

I'm so grateful we had Richid.

Still smiling, kind of, even in all the traffic.

And there was a lot of traffic.

This is where Richid left us ... the Holland Tunnel.

And we popped out the other side, going to Jersey City, New Jersey.  Another state for Rockin' Rita.
And on we rode, like we knew where we were going.
We wanted to get to Pennsylvania.  We had a detour, or two, and wandered in some fields that had no signage, but we always get where we’re going.  This time it took some talking to an old guy sitting on his porch at the corner of two pasture roads to get us headed in the right direction.  I’m sure he was wondering what two women on motorcycles were doing in the middle of nowhere, and why one was coming up his walkway. His directions to us were perfect.  We were only one turn away from where we were supposed to be.  It was interesting as our detour was not well marked.

There's always something to see, including creative use of an old vehicle in the landscaping.
Another first for me came on Tuesday, July 12, as I got us lost in a roundabout.  We had to go around it twice as there was only one way out … to me that’s not a real roundabout.  It’s supposed to have multiple outlets, not just one at either end.  Oh well.  We just practiced going round-and-round.

It was a day of what was supposed to be easy, pleasant riding on Skyline Drive down through Virginia.  It’s a beautiful ride, and I was enjoying showing Rockin’ Rita that there’s sure a lot more than a north or south road like at home.  It was a great ride. 

The lushness of the area always amazes me.

And a personal favorite ... tunnels.

We still had nice weather at this point.
There were two bears, although I only saw one of them.  It was perched on the top of a stone guard rail right next to the road as we came around a corner.  How exciting.  We also saw a deer and a groundhog.  I sure do love seeing that wildlife as long as it’s not in the middle of the road when I’m coming through a turn.

We could see the rain in our future.
Once again we got our daily portion of rain.  Some of these roads are not where you want to have rain … Skyline Drive isn’t the worst place, but it sure isn’t the best with some of the cornering you need to do.  The rain was hitting so hard it bounced back up.  It hit us in the eyes even with glasses and the pain made our eyes react and slam shut.  There was no bad juju as nothing jumped out in front of us.  And I was glad there was no lightning or thunder as there’s no place to really stop except some turnouts and there’s no real cover at them except for a few trees where you do not want to be standing.

We came up fast on a bike about 15 miles from the end of Skyline.  It looked like another female on a white bike, a braid of hair falling out from under the helmet.  The bike was going considerably slower than we were, but we followed it to the bottom.  It pulled over, as did we.  It turned out to be a guy.  He’d seen us come up behind him and thought we were guys.  Was it due to our great riding ability in the rain?  We were certainly used to it by now.  Haha.  Maybe he didn’t think women rode in the rain?  Or maybe women didn’t ride at all?  Who knows.  We were all wrong in our assumptions of who was who.

We made a few phone calls around and found a hotel for the evening.  Then we got lost getting to the hotel.  It seems it was a day of lost effort but it makes for a lot of excitement.  Then we tried to get in the wrong hotel room.  Guess what.  The key didn’t work.  I believe we were very tired.

The next day we slept a bit longer.  (Wednesday, July 13)  We needed a bit extra, but it didn’t seem to help as I still seemed to be tired, washing my hair in body gel and conditioning it in hand lotion.  Wow.  Yep.  I’m tired.  But we needed to hit the road and get onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Another Iron Horse.
We weren’t going to have the time to run the entire Blue Ridge but something is better than nothing.  This is another incredibly beautiful ride with some gentle, sweeping turns, wonderful scenery and places to stop and enjoy the views and smell of the trees. 

A beautiful stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Yep.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is worth the time.
Some of the trees arch over the road and make for a setting out of a movie.  We were loving it.  We were even stopping now to take photos with Flat Rocky.  Flat Rocky is the latest mascot from Women on Wheels.  It used to be a new stuffed animal yearly that would get mailed to a number of locations and the WOW groups would take photos and submit them for inclusion in the annual slide show at the Ride In.  That was pretty cumbersome.  Someone came up with printing a picture and putting it on a stick so everyone can have one and take it places and it easily fits on a bike taking up nearly no room at all.  What a great idea, and we were totally into taking photos with him.
Flat Rocky and Quackers enjoyed a moment at a pond.  Quackers couldn't wait to get into the water.
Along the way, Flat Rocky acquired a new friend, Quackers.  Quackers is a biker duck that came to us from a hotel that left little rubber ducks in the rooms.  They had biker ones, and so we ended up with a whole package of them from the maid who took a liking to us.
Enjoying the Blue Ridge Parkway.
What a great road to ride this one is.
We got off the parkway for gas and then headed back to the scenic highway.  Whoops.  I’d forgotten to pay for my gas, so we turned around and headed back as I didn’t want the cops and us having a chase scene on the highway.  Partway back, I realized I’d paid with cash which I never do.  Whoops.  Let’s turn around again and head back to the parkway.  Good grief.  We MUST be tired with the silly mistakes being made the past few days.
We'd taken a rest break.  Guess they don't like refilling these things too often.  It's amazing what you see sometimes.

It's beautiful country, but you could see the storm clouds gathering up in the distance.  Oh, yay.
Our daily ration of rain showed up and we were just so excited to be riding in it again.  This time we were treated to the wind and thunder we’d missed the previous day.  At least this time there was no lightning so we weren’t in any danger from that.  It was a heavy rain, though, and the wind was tossing debris on the road that we were having to dodge. 

Then our ride got really fun.  We came up on some construction with a pilot car.  The only thing that made this even better was riding in slippery dirt and gravel.  We’re getting it all on this trip, and we were now feeling so at home with the rain and construction we were hitting.
There was a real bright spot in the whole construction zone.  There was a guy running up on a truck ahead of us and it was going into the merge-to-one lane.  The truck didn’t back down and the other guy had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting the construction cones.  It gave us our laugh for the day.

Who knew we'd ride by the Bristol Speedway in our travels.  NASCAR fans, this one's for you.
We found our hotel for the night and guess what.  This time we tried to get into our room on the fourth floor.  Once again we were trying to get into the wrong room.  Ours was on the third floor.  I was figuring we were still pretty tired.  The every-day rain is draining, and we have had more than our fair share on this trip.  In fact, I’m quite tired of it. 
The following day, Thursday, July 14, we headed to the Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina.  Rockin’ Rita wanted to ride it, and I was certainly in as it’s a fun road, but don’t let your attention lapse for an instant or you, too, could be a statistic on the Tree of Shame. 
Our dose of rain showed up but we fooled it this time.  We were at a Harley shop so we just went and had lunch until it passed.  Haha, Mother Nature.  Gotcha this time.

A former Alaska WOW member, Dana, lives near the Dragon and let us know she was up for meeting us and riding it with us.  Yahoo.  I love how there’s someone in most states that will come and see us, ride with us, or even want to have us stay.  We thought we were supposed to meet her at the Harley shop near where we had lunch.  Nope.  It was another one, a T-shirt shop at one end of the Dragon.  So we rushed on over there, and there she was.  It was so good to see her.  She’s been down here a while, and missed.  But it was nice to have a friend in the area. 

There's our Dana.
There goes Dana into the corner.
There comes around the corner, Rockin' Rita.
Yep.  A selfie on the Tail of the Dragon.  It can be done.
The Tail of the Dragon was splendid.  We had a great time and at Deal’s Gap we did the usual … patches, pins, shirts, photos.  And sat and enjoyed a cold drink.  It was a ton of fun and we had a wonderful visit.  While we were there a guy came in looking for a phone.  A single motorcycle accident.  A guy slid out on a corner.  Apparently he wasn’t hurt too bad and who knows if any of his parts and pieces ended up on the Tree of Shame.

Thank you to Butch, who purchased photos for us from the Tail of the Dragon ride.

The curves show a bit better here.

Gotter dun.  Slayed that old dragon ...
No Tree of Shame for us. 

This one's for you, Biker Bill (Marine).

There's always room for a dragon photo, especially one that talks about Highway 129, and 318 curves in 11 miles.

The Dragon.  Slain!!!
We outran another storm and quit early in Bryson City, North Carolina.  We were sure covering a lot of territory on this trip.  And we were nowhere near done.  We’d barely gotten started.
We stopped at a little convenience store/gas station.  This was a sign on the door.

We’d heard about a few other rides from Joanna in New York City … the Back of the Dragon and the Claw of the Dragon in Virginia.  On Friday, July 15, we headed for the Back of the Dragon.  This one is 32 miles of curves, just like the Tail, except nearly three times the length.  Woo hoo.  Fun, fun, fun.  We had a blast, and got our patches and pins.

Been there, done that now.

And signed the wall.
The Claw is made up of five different rides, and we didn’t have the time to run them all, just a piece of one as we were meeting up with Greg and Deb from Pennsylvania.  We’d ride with them for a day or so, and then spend the night.
I’d met Greg and his friend, Doug, on the Blue Ridge Parkway several years ago.  They were stopped along the road so I stopped to see if they were okay.  I don’t do that.  But I did that time, and it’s blossomed into a couple of great friendships.  The boys were running to do the Dragon and some other well-known roads in the area such as the Diamondback, so I ran with them and did it all.

Greg had been inviting me to come visit and stay, so this was the year.  We were going to meet them at a hotel in Bluefield.  We looked and looked for the hotel and couldn’t find it.  Back and forth on the highway, down into town, and back up to the highway again.  Well, no wonder.  There’s a Bluefield, Virginia, and a Bluefield, West Virginia, only 10-15 miles apart.  We finally got there, and they’d arrived before us, wondering where we were because we had been so close when we’d talked.  But, we did add a few extra miles that way.  It was my first time to meet Deb, and I felt immediately comfortable with her.  We hit it off well, and I knew we’d made a good choice to meet up with them.

We had no rain, avoided it all, although we’d ridden in overcast weather.  That was okay as it wasn’t so hot that way.  And I’d sure rather have overcast than rain. 

Dinner was an awesome barbecue place; I learned that you have to have a smoker out back and a pile of wood.  Otherwise, it's not real barbecue because they're probably using Liquid Smoke.  And, yes, the day was pretty much perfect.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Bonafides Ride On

The Bonafides left Gettysburg Friday, July 8, heading to Niagara Falls, New York.  Smudge told us there was a fireworks display on Friday evenings at the falls, so Rockin’ Rita and I decided to tag along.  We just kept adding to the things we wanted to see, to do and to ride.  At the rate we were going we’d need six months to do it all.

You never know what you will see on the road.  I need one of these to pull behind the bike.
Lucky us.  We found rain again, about 65 miles outside of Gettysburg.  It took us three hours to go 100 miles.  We weren’t making much progress to Niagara as we’d holed up for about an hour.  The storm passed and on we went.

Where we hung out for a while was quite breathtaking.  Imagine what it would be like on a sunny day.

But luckily we had a small pavilion we shared with a few others to wait out the storm a bit.
I was soaked.  I really don’t care to put on rain gear.  I sat forward on my seat trying to get air to my underwear and the back and seat of my pants so they’d dry some.  Not much luck there.  Oh well.  It wasn’t too cold.

We arrived at Niagara Falls just in time for the fireworks.  The crowd was huge, and the whole area was alive.  It was like Vegas with that type of party atmosphere. 
The falls are lit up at night.  As I'd been there before during the day, seeing them like this was a real treat.
What a beautiful display.  The crowd cheered their delight and clapped their hands.  There are lights on the falls, and fireworks were lighting up the sky.  It was awesome. 
This is the kind of fireworks display I like ... big and held for an event rather than shooting over my back yard.
It was a spectacular display.
We weren’t there long, but it was long enough.  It seems like we spend about 20 minutes somewhere before we ride on to the next attraction, and Niagara Falls was no different.

Off we went to find the military housing for the night.  We ended up at a gate that had been closed and Smudge called to find out where we needed to be.  In the meantime, the Military Police showed up.  I was glad I hadn’t headed into the weeds to take care of a nature call.  There were probably cameras all over anyway.  Hold it.  Hold it.  Hold it.

We charmed them and they told us we just needed to go left down the road and go left again.  That was the easy part.  The hard part is always finding the guest housing once you’re on the military installation.  But again the Bonafides prevailed. 

On our last evening together, I remembered something that happened a few days prior.  We had commented on Rabbit Ears having three moms.  Rabbit Ears threw it right back at us … “It’s more like two moms and one angry old aunt!”  That just cracked me up.  In fact, I laughed out loud.  I do believe I like that title, and I used it more than once before we parted ways.   Too soon we’d be separating, and his quirky sense of humor would be lost to us til we got home.

So up and at ‘em, on Saturday, July 9, as Rockin’ Rita and I set out on our own.  It was scary.  We were only half of the Bonafides now and we missed our other traveling companions.  Are we now the Bonatwins?  The run has evolved into something else now … the Friends and Family, Patches and Pins Run.  We’re on a mission to ride, but to also visit people and some Harley shops.  There’s a lot to do, but we’re up to the task.

We were headed to New York City to Flailah and Richid’s for a day.  Richid was going to come meet us as there was no way we wanted to be wandering about that city on our own.  

Once again we hit rain.  We stopped a bit.  It lightened up and we rode on.  I had foot spas in my boots.  I don’t think they’ll ever get dry again.  Maybe it’s time for new ones.

Richid came to meet up with us at a Harley shop that was closed.  Crap.  It was one I’d not been to before.  We were standing around talking when this guy came over to see if we needed some help.  Turns out he’s a friend of Joanna’s from New York City, so we needed a photo for proof. 

There we are with Richid and Joanna's friend, at a Harley shop that should have been open so we could get our pins.
At least the weather going into the city was dry.  Weather was the least of our worries.  New York City drivers are crazy and there are thousands of vehicles.  We’d stopped for gas and some guy asked Rockin’ Rita and me if our license plates were real.  Hah.  Really? 

Here we are.
Somehow Richid got us safely to their building and into the parking garage.  We unloaded and got up to their apartment.  Home and a dog fix for a night, or two as it turned out.

Dog fix.  Goldie had to wear a cone as she'd had some surgery ... but we sure worked around that.
But there was more to the evening.  Richid had set it up for Joanna to come by.  She didn’t know we were there.  He brought her to the laundry room to see Flailah, or so she thought.  Richid had her pose for a photo with Flailah and Rockin’ Rita and I photobombed it.  Actually, we photobombed a video.  It was the best surprise and we screamed our delight like kids, laughing and hugging.  She stayed and visited for a bit but she had to get home.  It was nice to see her and so awesome for Richid and Flailah to arrange the surprise.  Thank you, both. 

The next day (July 10) we decided to go into town.  I really wanted to see the 9-11 memorial and also Lady Liberty up close and personal.  I didn’t need to get on the island.  I didn’t need to climb up in her.  I just wanted to be close to her.

So how were we going to get there?  This would be an adventure.  The New York City subway.  Flailah was going prepared with an extra shirt to keep between her and everything else.  Her advice to us was, “Don’t touch anything.”  That was our mantra for the day.  And we were armed with hand sanitizer. 

Subway ... beneath the ground.  Kind of dark, but we managed. 
Off we went, walking down the street, going down, down, down, to the subway.  How do we get tickets?  We’re the newbies here and don’t know nuttin’ ‘bout nuttin’.  Haha.  Our NYC friends took care of us, and through the gate we went.  Don’t touch anything.  We didn’t, cept for our clothed butts pushing through the entry gate.

Flailah's handling the tickets.  Don't touch anything.

Flailah, Rockin' Rita and me ... riding the subway.  We're still upright, no muggings going on here.  I'm sure we scared folks.

Flailah said our best defense is to act crazy.  We can do that quite well, thank you.
Onto the subway we went, without touching anything.  We hung onto the poles, using our elbows rather than our hands.  We didn’t want any germs.  I looked around.  Well, some of these folks looked rather normal.  Did we look normal?  Hard to say. 

We found our stop and got off, and wandered up to the street above.  We were near the 9-11 memorial site.  I’d wanted to see the memorial, but there really isn’t a whole lot to see as it’s mostly walled off because they’re putting up a bunch of buildings.  The sculpture of the dove is not easy to make out, and I was disappointed.  It wasn’t what I was expecting, and not the memorial I’d hoped to see.
Move along, folks.  Nothing to see here.
This is the only side of the dove I could get.  Oh well.
I took a few random people shots.  Only because I thought the people I saw in New York City were interesting. 

I felt very safe with the Counterterrorism boys there.

I liked this lady's outfit.
So, how would one get this vehicle out of this parking spot?  They park a different kind of way in New York City.
We wandered into the church across the street.  St. Paul’s Chapel, built in 1764, was the tallest building in New York City at the time.  The church is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan and while currently undergoing renovations, was still open to the public. 
The church is hidden in beautiful trees ... a gorgeous setting.
Even undergoing renovation, it's beautiful.  Churches are some of the most spectacular architecture there is.  In 1789, George Washington prayed at St. Paul's after his inauguration as the first president of the United States.
There were a lot of memorials for 9-11 inside, and I even saw some from Alaska.  That made me proud.  Originally the memorials were outside on the church grounds but eventually moved inside.  The chapel officials erected a number of panels, estimating they’d need 15 of them.  They ended up needing 400. 
Our Alaskan kids.  There is hope in this world.

This is just one of many panels of the memorials sent here from around the world.

The Bell of Hope.  This bell was presented to the people of New York City on the one-year anniversary of 9-11, by the Lord Mayor of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  It was created  by England's Whitechapel Foundry, that also cast the Liberty Bell and London's Big Ben.  The pedestal base was built locally from eastern brownstone, and beneath the bell, inlaid on the pedestal, is a brass footprint of the World Trade Center Towers.  The bell is rung every Sept. 11, symbolizing the triumph of hope over tragedy.
Outside, the headstones were set in what seemed a haphazard manner but it’s a beautiful church, and was untouched by the 9-11 tragedies, without even a broken window, although the organ suffered smoke and dirt damage.  That has since been refurbished and is in use again.
The headstones at the church ... haphazard?  Some type of order?
We wandered across the street and found the reflecting pools that are a part of the 9-11 memorial site. The names of those who died in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 2001 attacks, including those who died not only at the World Trade Center, but also at the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, are inscribed on bronze panels that edge the pools.  
The pools are an oasis in the middle of the city, and there were lots of people around enjoying them.
The waterfalls and pools are each about an acre in size, and are set within the footprints of the original Twin Towers.  More than 400 trees surround the pools, giving those who visit a feeling of peace and serenity.  A calm flowed over me as I watched the water flowing down into the pool, but I also felt a great sadness as I thought about the loss of so many.  I was grateful for the pools as I’d been bothered because the other portion of the memorial was not what I’d imagined. 
The city around us fascinated me.
There are beautiful buildings, but I don't want to live amongst them.

Great to visit, but it was time to do something different.
I do the love the buildings, tall ones, short ones.
This was another park, with all kinds of globes.

Each globe had some part of the world on it ... and this one had buildings sticking up.  They were pretty cool.
From there we wandered to see about a boat ride out to Lady Liberty.  We bought tickets from street vendors.  Turns out we couldn’t use them as we’d been told and it was this big, ugly fiasco.  Those tickets are being disputed.  Richid decided to go back home and take care of the animals and Flailah stayed with us.  The three women were on the streets in New York City.  Look out.

Every city seems to have its homeless population.

This guy was pretty patriotic, though.
In the meantime, we found tickets that took us out to the island and seeing the Statue of Liberty was everything I’d wanted to do and exactly how I’d imagined she’d be. 


She's big, she's bold and she's one of the most beautiful sights I've seen.
The Statue of Liberty ... is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.  She's made of copper, wrought iron and steel.  She was dedicated Oct. 28, 1886, and was supposedly a gift to the United States from the people of France. It appears to have been more of a joint effort between the countries to commemorate a lasting friendship.  There are a number of stories ... that she wasn't a gift of France, that she nearly ended up in Boston or Philadelphia, she was supposed to be a lighthouse.  No matter the story, she is a true marvel and symbolizes liberty, freedom and democracy.
I never dreamed I'd see the Statue of Liberty as close as this, and she brings tears to me even now as I think of everything she means to those that have come to this country in the past, including my ancestors, I’m sure. 
The NYPD boat makes me think of the TV show, "Blue Bloods," a favorite.

The skyline is crowded, but I sure enjoyed looking at it.
Flailah had waited for us in the park and did some people watching.  Then it was back to the subway and the apartment as we needed to get ready for our departure the next day.

Yep.  We were staying in Queens.