Jump to content
FromMaine

Expect the unexpected

Recommended Posts

Well, you just never know.

 

I have a friend who just got back into bikes after a 40 year hiatus. Over coffee one day he said both his kids were away this summer and he thought his wife would be fine with him doing a road trip out to Calf. and back for about 30-40 days. Well I had ridden with him a few times and noticed things like going into neutral at stop lights and signs, forgetting to turn off turn signals, relying on mirrors rather than turning for a look, that were worrisome. So I few days later while putting a new chain on his bike I bluntly invited myself along for the first few days to get him started. He really wanted to see Niagara Falls, so I said I'd turnaround there, or visit family in Erie. In 45 years of motorcycling I had never had the urge to go to Niagara Falls, but well, now I was.

 

On Wen July 15th I pulled up to his driveway at 0630. Our destination that day was Burlington VT, only 300 miles but almost all backroads. He had wanted to go through North Conway in NH and ride the Kanc, but I told him that's best done in early May or late Oct as in the summer its a 30 mile long Harley Parade. We headed out and picked up Rt 2 and headed for Berlin in NH through the mountains of western Maine. My buddy had never been there and was surprised at how nice the riding was and we had the roads to ourselves. We skirted Mt. Washington as we went through the White Mountains in NH and then into the Green Mountains of Vermont. It was a great start to the trip for my buddy as it wasn't hectic and I could gently persuade him of the benefits of being in first gear covering the clutch at stoplights. We pulled into the Doubletree Hotel next to College Hill, I've stayed here a number of times before, short walk into town, large clean rooms, and plenty of safe parking for the bikes. As I had been up until 0330 the night before it was an early dinner and early to bed for me, like asleep by 8pm.The pic is of my buddy as we did a liquid debrief of the days activities.

 

Next morning I was up at 0530 greatly refreshed, my buddy shortly after. Since I had fallen asleep he had booked our hotel in Syracuse, it was 15 miles out of town with various fast food as the only local option, hmmmmmm. Well they were calling for hail later in the day in that part of NY and the hotel had no covered parking, so we diched that and I booked the Crowne Plaza. Its within walking distance of lots of great places to eat, there is attached covered parking which they kindly never charge for when I'm on my bike and it was the same price. I've stayed there 9-10 times and never been disappointed. We headed out around 0700 to the south to take the Fort Ticonderoga ferry across Champlain. Well despite checking their web site the ferry was not operating so we back tracked to a bridge that goes over to Crowne Point in NY. From there we hopped on RT 8 and into the Adirondacks. It was an easy days ride through some beautiful scenery. My buddy was quite nervous about the weather and we pushed on as he was unimpressed with my solution of parking up at an underpass or gas station. We pulled into the garage just as the weather hit, there was wind, hail and rain, but it was over in an hour, it wasn't that bad. We walked into town and had dinner at a place called Francescas. At 5 pm we got the last 2 seats in the place, at the bar. The girl tending the bar was tall and blond and less than half our age, so I didn't hear much from my buddy for the next 2 hours 🙂

 

Next Morning was the big day, we headed out early and slabbed it to Buffalo and the Niagara Falls. With that off the bucket list My buddy had planned on staying in Buffalo, but after a look around he decided to join me on to Erie. I texted my nephew that we had booked a place and stop by for a beer after work. We headed off then got on a small road the ran along the Lake. Lots of vineyards and small towns, nice ride. In one of these towns I saw my buddy's right signal was on, we were going straight, I tried to get his attention when the inevitable happened, a woman in a pickup came to an intersection and seeing the turn signal on his bike pulled out. Well he didn't hit her as she stomped on her brakes and he slid by her front bumper. We had a little chat later  at the hotel......

I checked my messages when we got there and realized I had not hit the send button, so I called my nephew and he said "You're where?" Here in Erie I said, come by for a beer. He and his wife stopped by an hour later and took us to dinner. My nephew and I were chatting as my buddy charmed his wife. The conversation turned to his 12 year old daughter, my great niece and how it was a shame we couldn't get her to Maine last year. I had gotten called to a ship and spent most of my summer overseas. Well I said when I got back home I'll make it happen. "Why not on the motorcycle?" he said. Well I was speechless. I had 10 years ago taken my daughter cross country after graduation from HS to Calf where we took Rt1 and 101 from the Mexican border to the Canadian border then back to Maine. She was on for 26 days and 8,000 miles, no problem. I also have high sided and totaled  motorcycles on 2 continents, a VF700S in the mountains of NC which earned me 2 surgeries and 4 days in the hospital and a perfectly good Ducatti 750 Super Sport, which was not mine, in the mountains of Wales. The guys I was with would not take me to a hospital as that would involve the men in blue asking lots of questions so I was dragged to the home of one of them to have his nurse wife patch me back up. So I'm not exactly a choir boy when it comes to riding. When my nephews wife was apprised of our conversation she looked at me then her husband "We'll talk".  I didn't need my secret decoder ring to know what that meant...….

 

The next day we hung around the hotel and chatted before went our separate ways, my buddy had 2 days to catch a ferry across Lake Michigan, me I was going to have a look at my nephews sailboat that had some rigging issues, Despite being Sat, he and his wife had business commitments, so I headed of to repair a few things on their new to them 35 foot sailboat. Although I work on ships now I started on sailboats in the Caribbean 39 years ago. I was just fishing up at 530 pm when my nephew showed up on his 84 VF1000F, BTW, riding out to the boat and back to my nephews every single rider waved and they were mostly on Harleys and mostly initiated it. We got back to his place and were having a quiet beer, when I realized we had not finished our conversation from the night before. I leaned over and said I assume nothing is happening with my young niece and I'll head out tomorrow am. "No, no, we talked about it and we're fine" Well I did not see that coming. "Are you still OK with it?" I had a think and said I need to see all her gear she will be wearing and we need to figure out a backrest "No problem, we'll build one tomorrow"

The helmets were all way to big so my nephews wife got on the phone, a perfectly sized 3/4 showed up shortly after, leather jackets, nope, nope a snug fitting one, done, Jeans would have to do, at least they were real jeans, not fashion, the boots looked oddly familiar until I was reminded they once belonged to my daughter, check. Gloves were a problem until I remembered I had a spare pair, Kangaroo palms, Kevlar stitching and heel of the palm pad, carbon knuckles and a 3 point closure system I had personally crash tested in Wales with another pair, good to go. I called my wife to fill her in and I swear to God every single person in the neighborhood heard her say "You're doing what!!!!"

I'm going to break this up to make it more manageable.

 

Frist pic, liquid debrief in Burlington VT.

Second, my buddy loading up in Syracuse,

Third, me at the Falls, notice the shirt

Fourth, my nephew and I in his driveway 30 seconds before I found out I had a 12 year old passenger going back to Maine.

 

 

 

0716201613.jpg

0717200805a.jpg

0717201213.jpg

0718201924.jpg

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great write-up FromMaine, brought me back to my New England riding days. With me in western MA, my brother (ancient K75) living between Augusta and Belfast, and my best riding buddy (new bike every other year: 5th gen, 6th gen, FJR, ST4...) in Lexington MA, I spent a lot of time on those roads. 

 

One summer near the Maine coast we noticed that the rear Dunlop on my 6th gen was now a slick. Emergency calls led me to the Harley dealer on Rt. 3 just east of Augusta. Got me in and out in an hour, cheap, one of my best dealer experiences ever. You just never know.

 

 

Bike Trip 9.07 056.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The next morning my nephew and his wife and I had a quiet coffee in their back yard. I went through some of the logistics.

 

Although we share the same last name I wanted a photo ID. Passport, check.

Medical insurance, card is in the passport, check.

Consent form, in the passport, check.

Phone? yes.

 

I took out my Atlas and ran them through my route, which was just to retrace my route back. It was low risk virus wise, had lots of Hotels, restaurants and scenery along the way, and points of interest. My only deviation was to spend an extra day in Vermont so I could take her to the Ben and Jerrys ice cream factory.

 

That done I geared up and followed my nephew to his business. He owns a car and heavy truck repair shop and has all the kit needed for coming up with a backrest. after arriving we took off the seat and came up with a plan. We started at 10m and by 2 had the frame together and mounted. No pad yet but he said "I have an idea"

 

We arrived back at the house and shortly after my niece got wind that one of her Teddy Bears was going to be strapped to the back of the bike, well that quickly nixed that idea. So some fiberboard, shop towels and most of a roll of electrical tape stood in for the Bear.

 

The rest of the day was me unpacking gear so my niece had room for hers and checking the bike over, fluids chain that sort of thing. Last thing I said to my niece was please be showered, geared up and ready to go at 0630 the next morning.

 

A couple of shots of the backrest getting made.

0719201351a.jpg

0719201440.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great story and pix so far, thanks for sharing!

My wife and I have visited Niagara Falls a couple times the last few years, and this summer I thought about doing a solo ride up there one weekend, but never got around to it.  Maybe next year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amazingly my niece was ready to go at 0615. She wanted a picture of her bike with mine so we set it up. If you look at the right side of the pic you can see the back of my nephews 84 VF1000F. Wish I had taken a picture of it as its in amazing shape.

 

That done with I loaded up and I went over the rules, feet on the pegs always, don't get on/off till I say so, sit up straight, that kind of stuff.

 

I got on the bike, started it up and looked over at my niece. Well the full weight of responsibility hit me like a tractor trailer. I sat there for a full 2 minutes having a think. Right, lets get on with this. I planted me feet and said you can get on now. She put her foot on the peg and the bike started to wiggle and shake, I looked back and saw her lying horizontally on her belly across the saddlebags and seat trying to get upright. For all the world she looked like a baby Seal attempting its first beach landing. Mom and Dad were laughing, I tried not to and failed, and suddenly she was upright.

 

And with that tension breaking moment, we set off with a wave at my nephew and his wife. I felt better as I realized this was going to be a learning experience...……..For both of us.

 

I had picked a route that did not involve a lot of starting and stopping in traffic as I wanted to ease her into this in a pleasant way. So we were on small roads among the vineyards for the first 20 miles or so. At the NY border I headed for the Thruway, limited access, plenty of rest areas, make good time, and on an early Monday morning virtually empty.  No 150 miles between stops, I stopped every 50 or so she could stretch her legs, drink some water, etc. At the second stop we inherited a dog for about 15 minutes, which delighted my niece. Being on the slab had its benefits, interesting stories are not one of them.

 

We pulled into Syracuse early afternoon and pulled up to our Hotel. I had chosen a different one this time as I realized no hotels pools, restaurants, bars, breakfast buffets were open, So I chose the Jefferson Clinton which is in the center, a block from the restaurants that were open and some funky little shops for my niece to explore. We were checked in by the head manager who was the nicest woman. She asked my niece all sorts of questions about where we were going, how did she like the bike etc., she was so kind. The Jefferson was built in 1927 and has been carefully restored but many of the original features are still there, its a great hotel. I had only stayed there twice before as I could not normally afford it, but on a quiet Monday night I could and I definitely wanted my niece to have the experience.

 

It had been a blazingly hot day especially on the highway, so I left my niece to shower and primp while I went out and checked a few things on the bike. I called Francescas and was surprised to find they were fully booked, but if I showed up before 5 there might be a spot at the bar. I said I would and thanked them, thinking this will be interesting when a 12 year old shows up. 

 

I went up, got myself presentable and we headed out. Walking along we came across a store that specialized in English and French clothing, she went over and was looking at this dress, then walked in. Alarmed I followed her as it looked like something even Cher would not have worn in the 80's. She was pawing through the rack when the manager came up to me and said, "Don't worry, we won't have her size" which were the best seven words in the English language at that moment. Quickly outside again we walked along and she decided she wanted to send a postcard to Mom and Dad, That works I thought. Finally finding one we went back to the hotel and she wrote it out. 

 

Walking over to the restaurant she suddenly ran up to mailbox and was trying to put the card in when I grabbed it. Doesn't work that way I said. "Why?", needs a Stamp, "Stamp?" She has lived a sheltered life.

 

We got to the restaurant and the bar was full, but they had a hightop next to it that was free until 630, no problem I said. They were busy and there were Bottles of Prosecco, Aperol Spritz's, Negronis flying by along with Calamari, Mozzarella on impossibly red tomatoes and pasta that smelled like heaven. I have spent about 2 years living in Italy because of my job and I must say this restaurant is the real deal. Well with all the Sophisticates in attendance and the Cosmopolitan atmosphere my niece took notice and when the bartender came up to take our drinks order she looked at my niece who I could see was mustering every single atom of adulthood, or at least teenagerhood in her and said in the cutest little girl voice,"I'll have a Shirley Temple please, with extra cherries" I have never seen a bartender smile so big. She turned to me and I said I need a minute, "stop by when you're ready" she said. I don't even know how to say it, but as much as I love my niece she eternally endeared herself to me in that moment. 12 hours previous I almost binned the whole trip over concerns I had, now I wanted it to never end. About 30 seconds later I went up to the bar, the girl came over and I simply said Thank You, "She's pretty cute" she said. 

 

After dinner we went outside, the restaurant has a Vespa parked there and my niece goofed around a bit, then she asked me a question. Well a man has standards, a line in the sand you never cross. For me its things like French rap, Arab rock and roll and sidecars. They do not exist in my universe. Until your little niece asks you sit in a sidecar, a Vespa sidecar no less. That standard evaporated like a keg at a Frat party. 

 

 As we walked back to the Hotel there were a bunch of bikes parked by the street, all Harleys. As we came up on them we were close enough for us to exchange Good Evenings, 4 guys and a girl in folding chairs nursing beers. My niece wandered over to look at the bikes and the girl called over "what are you looking at?" The seats she said. Well the girl got up and walked over and my niece mentioned what we were doing. Next thing I know my niece has my phone and the two were comparing real estate available to Honda passengers vs Harley. I was the butt of many friendly insults as a result, but the owner of the business excused himself and returned with 2 bottles of cold water as it was pretty warm out still, it was a nice gesture. We sat on the pavement and chatted, my niece is gregarious, me no. She carried the conversation and it dawned on me she finally had a story to tell, and she was very comfortable doing it. 

 

It was a great day, the best I've ever had on a bike as it made me think, and think hard early on. Then realize you cannot have days like this unless you are open to them, and that's a difficult decision sometimes. Anyway it was a busy day and I was tired at the end. My niece had the corner room with a king, I had the sitting room with a couch, I could not have been happier. 🙂

 

 

 

 

0720200707c_HDR.jpg

0720201009a.jpg

0720201301.jpg

0720201647a.jpg

0720201753b_HDR (1).jpg

thumbnail_0720201756b_HDR.jpg

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TimC said:

Great story and pix so far, thanks for sharing!

My wife and I have visited Niagara Falls a couple times the last few years, and this summer I thought about doing a solo ride up there one weekend, but never got around to it.  Maybe next year.

With the Canadian side closed a lot of it was not available, so probably a good year to miss it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wonderful photos.   A refreshing change from ride reports (like mine) with photos of "the bike at the monument or at the gas pump", etc. 

 

I have to ask - the curiosity is killing me - what is that long/narrow red attachment to the 4th gen's frame just behind the clutch cover?

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Cogs:

 

 

Homemade frame sliders/tip over protection. Click on the links and the pics will come up.

 

They work well 🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The next day we headed down to the bike, I left the keys at the desk as there was no one there, honestly they probably only had 20 rooms rented. Well by the time we were loaded up the manager came out to say goodbye, she spent about 10 minutes with us and directed her attention to my niece, what a good person.

 

We headed out after the traffic thinned and got on rt 8 to head north through the Adirondacks. My niece seemed ambivalent to the nature around us so I gave up offering to stop at rivers or quaint towns.

 

A note, a number of these places have decided to call themselves "Hamlets", just like the people who move to my little town in Maine and decide to call it a "Village". Rather presumptuous. 

 

My niece was hungry so we stopped in a town called Speculator. The Pizza place was closed, the local diner was full of New Jersey plates, but the local Market advertised take out and was full of tradesman vehicles with NY plates and names like Joes Plumbing, Other Joes Plumbing, and Tims Towing and Lawn Service. Bingo. My niece ordered two slices of pizza, declared it the best ever and went in for two more.

 

Seeing that nature was not really her thing we moved on and crossed the bridge at Crowne Point and pulled into Burlington. I had booked the Doubletree again for all the same reasons. 

 

My niece went into the shower and I went to the lobby to check my phone. Message from my wife, call her. Well Maine had changed their Covid regulations, anyone from PA now had to quarantine for 14 days or get a test before they arrived.

 

She was not from Maine, So they would not test her.

Under 18, no test.

 

I looked quickly locally, but under 18 needed a parent present.

 

I live 8 miles from Vinalhaven where the locals famously dropped a tree across the driveway of some out of staters who felt the quarantine regulations did not apply to them earlier this summer.

 

I have a lot of trees in my driveway.

 

I had hit a brick wall and called my nephew and wife and said we would discuss it further tomorrow.

 

So we walked into town and had a great dinner at a Ramen Noodle place. I didn't say anything to her as well you never know, something may work out.

 

We walked around a bit a she found a store that sold socks. That's it. socks. Considering my Faux Pax from the day before, I was happy enough.

 

After we walked back to the Hotel for an early night.

 

Pics top to bottom.

 

Speculator NY

 

You may have noticed I was wearing that shirt in an earlier post. Well I washed it the night before and my niece saw it hanging to dry, "Who are they?" Mods I said." Where is that?" Brighton Beach. "Where's that?" England. "Have you been there?" Many times and I lived there for 8 months in 2015 and had a red motorcycle just like the one you are on (not true it was a 3rd gen). So... that morning I folded it up,  I put it on her pillow when she went into the shower with a little note. You would have thought I had given her one of Cinderellas gowns.

 

Socks baby, socks!

 

Top of College Hill at the University of Vermont, nice spot.

0721201143 (1).jpg

0721201725_HDR.jpg

0721201903.jpg

0721201951a_HDR (1).jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a great story. I am really looking forward to the next episode. Thank you for being so descriptive and providing photos to tell the story.
 

Love the Mod t-shirt. I only emigrated to Australia in 2006 and was born and lived in the UK so Mods and Rockers is part of my upbringing. Just born slightly too late to take on the full period to have owned a Lambretta with multiple side mirrors!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got up early and snuck out of the room so my niece could sleep in, Ben and Jerrys did no open until noon, so rush and I had some calls to make.

 

First my wife. Despite being a nurse at the hospital she could find no way around the testing thing, so it was quarantine if she came. No way I said. My wife then indicated that I could take as long as I wanted if I took her back, just let her know as I did have surgery on my left foot scheduled for next week. Oh yeah, had forgotten about that.

 

I called my nephew and they would come out and get her if I wanted or take my time bringing her home. Well, ok, maybe not all is lost.

 

Called my wife and asked her to reschedule my surgery for 2 weeks later then texted my nephew and said if his daughter wanted to go home now I would bring her otherwise we would make a trip out of it.

 

Everybody was happy, just had to sell the idea to my niece.

 

snuck back into the room, grabbed my gear and went out to find a hot breakfast for my niece which I served to her in bed, second time this trip 🙂

 

We got to the factory just as they were opening and walked around. The factory itself did not allow visitors anymore but the rest of it was open. First order was to get my niece an ice cream, then we wandered up to the Flavor Graveyard, down to the cows, over to the original bus they started out in and finally the gift shop where she became the proud owner of a Ben and Jerry's tie dyed t shirt. It was all over in about 90 minutes and I headed back to Burlington for lunch.

 

I asked her what she wanted to do after and the answer was "go to the craft store" She had spied a huge one across from our hotel, and she was going through what she had brought  fast, so it was time to Craft Up!

 

We walked into town and had a quiet dinner, on the way back about halfway I saw a bench and sat her down. I gave her the news we were not going to Maine tomorrow in fact we were not going at all. She was crestfallen, I felt like the most horrible person in the world. She eventually said "So I have to go back to Erie?" I told her her parents said I we can take as long as we want. "What about your surgery?" Postponed I replied. "Do we have to be on the bike every day?" No. "Can we go to the Corning Museum of glass?" Yes, which was going to be my only answer to any request for a while...….. "OK" she said. Thank God.

 

I had her call her parents right then and there to let them know and she seemed pretty excited, then my wife to let her know, then she called my daughter for good measure to get the inside info on what its like to be with me on a bike for a long period. Me, I had a smile on my face you couldn't wipe off.

 

Completely unexpected, unplanned and definitely unscripted.

0722201135.jpg

0722201144a.jpg

0722201219.jpg

0722201215b.jpg

0722201228b_HDR.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A trip to be long remembered.  What a lucky kid . . .  :bliss:

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome story! So many great memories for both of you. After the first post I was going to point out that the Falls are better on the other side😉, but you are obviously aware of that and the border was closed anyway. It'd be a good trip to take her on when life returns to normal. Thanks for sharing.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Cogswell said:

A trip to be long remembered.  What a lucky kid . . .  :bliss:

Thanks Cogs, I was very lucky also.

 

10 years ago I was lucky enough to take my daughter cross country after graduating High School despite my wife being an ICU/Med Surg nurse for 25+ years. That to was unexpected :).  When I pulled into my driveway I thought that I was lucky to have the opportunity as I would certainly never have it again. As usual I was wrong.

 

Trust me I swallowed long and hard while sitting on the bike waiting for it to warm up on an early Monday morning glancing over at my niece.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Dangeruss said:

Awesome story! So many great memories for both of you. After the first post I was going to point out that the Falls are better on the other side😉, but you are obviously aware of that and the border was closed anyway. It'd be a good trip to take her on when life returns to normal. Thanks for sharing.

I miss Canada, lived in New England my whole life and trips to the Gaspe, Cabot Trail, Baie De Chaleur, Quebec City Carnaval, Montreal were a part of my life. They were generally closer and less crowded than my options in the US.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm chuffed to see another vintage bike on a longer ride. Great trip. Thanks for posting.

 

So, when are you gonna take the bike to South Dakota? It's screaming out from your rider map.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/18/2020 at 11:50 AM, Gebruiker said:

I'm chuffed to see another vintage bike on a longer ride. Great trip. Thanks for posting.

 

So, when are you gonna take the bike to South Dakota? It's screaming out from your rider map.

I had a chuckle when I saw this post, Vintage? My 4th Gen is my second newest bike🙂

 

Yeah, SD, certainly have been by it enough, but it always seems to be just before, during, or just after Sturgis and I'm just not that guy. This is my 45th year of riding and to be honest I've had my fill of Posers, Trailer Queens, and Doo Rags. As I said to a guy next to me in traffic in South Carolina years ago, who was easily half my age, with a big truck and Harley in the back "Cant be much fun to ride if you have to stick in the back of a truck"

 

I did consider going with my buddy to SD on this trip as Rushmore was on his list, but the surprise addition of my niece on the back of the bike made it a moot point. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy.