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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

October 11, 2010

Maine and the Mighty USA

We started our USA portion of the journey South in Maine and what a great place to start. BMW MOA helped us out immediately and we got to meet and stay with some fantastic and interesting people. I’d like to say thanks to the folks there for their hospitality, time, good food and the outstanding array of micro brewed beers.

Micro brewed beers represent a particular type of refinement which seems to preclude the excess or abuse that is seen by the bulk brands of beer. It also tends to represent a broader view or sophistication among its connoisseurs. What you might find in Maine at any of the fine restaurants is that the menu doesn’t even have the bulk name brand beers, they’re just not offered! Good stuff Maine!

We enjoyed our days there thoroughly but I should have gone to that Yoga class with Doug and worked out some of the tight spots I have developed over the past months. I accomplished my first Chain and Sprocket change without error and in good time, that was satisfying. The shop that did Deya’s valve tune up was excellent to deal with and well recommended. I would even recommend them for any East coast Canadian’s needing BMW work to head down to Portland drop off the bike and hang out. Find the Yosaku Japanese restaurant, I’ve eaten in a lot of good Japanese joints and this should not disappoint.

The riding in Maine is very nice as well and a lot like the Maritimes but of course we had to leave. As it seems to go we end up in rain when we leave a place and there was a large front moving in North and East of our position. The hope was that we could hammer through it in a westerly direction. The riding was pleasant but it was getting cold and as we entered the Catskill Mountains we would get hammered by hard rain.

En route to the Catskill Mountains we stopped for a snack in Massachusetts, a fellow named David and his grandson CJ gave us a horse and cart tour around the cornfields. It was a nice ride and they were a good pair of troublemakers. Dave is hoping to do a long off road trek with his horses and cart with the grandson when he retires, I hope they do it. When we returned to our bikes there was crowd of people around the bikes. As we approached I asked what everyone was standing around for and they replied, “We’re waiting for Charlie and Ewan to show up”, I laughed and said sorry to disappoint you but we’re not Charlie and Ewan, we are merely Brian and Deya. And so they commented on how the boxes where the same but since I haven’t seen the movie yet I couldn’t comment other than to say they are common. It was a pleasant distraction but we had some miles to make up and weather still to deal with.

Of course we are nearly water tight with heated grips and many layers so when we passed a lone bicyclist swearing and grinding up a very tall grade, soaking wet and nearly blinded by the bitterness of the pounding rain, I felt better about myself. Half way up the hill we stopped under a shelter to take a quick break, eventually being met by the trooper peddling up the hill. Rosey was British lass with a good attitude and character. She had covered a similar trip on her pedal bike as we had and was heading to South America as well. I hope she does well and I bet we’ll bump into her again, I hope we actually do, she will have some interesting stories for sure.

We camped on the outskirts of the Catskill Mountains that night in our degrading tent. We are up to three broken and modified tent posts with about six significant and duct taped tears. Despite this we camped fairly comfortably. The only real trouble I’m having is hip and hip-flexor pain, the other parts I’m used to. The cold seems to get me every morning around 2-4 am but I’m okay with that, it’s a nice reminder. An interesting development is the numbness and tingling in my left hand that’s plagued me for a long time while riding is now completely gone. I’m feeling healthier and more relaxed than I have in a long time. I still get uptight once in a while but usually only when it’s time for a snack or sleep, but that is not new.

On our route Southwest we planned to ride the Skyline Drive onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the head of the route BMW MOA landed us with some more fantastic folks, food and conversation in Front Royal, Virginia. Cornpone is the new treat for me here, like cornbread but sweeter, and I loved it. We had some great conversations and insight about politics and cultural perspectives. I love to talk about political views in relation to cultural perspectives as most Canadians do but it can be a touchy subject and needs a lot of caution not to disturb the Zen of a host’s home. Mostly though, I like to try to understand the general perspective while appreciating the individual’s thoughts. Definably I’m starting to see a significant difference in the mindset and culture of the American people versus the Canadian people and it is certainly vast. I have to admit though I’m appreciating what the people of this capable country go through and their challenges going forward.

On our way through Virginia we stopped for gas and had an engaging conversation with a fellow who loved to talk. He was very interesting to me and I could have parlayed all day with him about world politics and points of view. Caution is of course important and the general rule is no talk of sex, religion or politics, to avoid any unpleasant debates. This however was less sophisticated and when the statement came out about the Second World War and, “If it wasn’t for the might and prosperity of the USA, Canada and most of the European countries would not even exist” I just about lost it. Deya said my face went red when I started to calmly recap history as it happened and explained the political scene at the time that the United States came into it’s own, the reason for the Statue of Liberty and it’s particular importance to the existence of the USA as viable and liberated country in a time when support from a super power, like France, would make or break a place. Deya dragged me away as we were patting each other on the back, though I was enjoying the duel as was he, but his quote is unfortunately burnt into my mind.

The Skyline Drive cost 10 bucks PER motorcycle! Now I can’t say that it wasn’t nice place but certainly the route that parallels is almost as good and a little faster. Certainly it does not, in my mind, compete with the Blue Ridge Parkway which has National Forests, free camping, great roads and scenes and is free! We did however meet a great lad, Retired Special Agent of the FBI, who was also on a BMW and enjoying the Parkway. We leapfrogged past each other over a few days along the road; hopefully we’ll get to visit him in his neck of the woods on our way back. It’s funny because we meet a lot of people but not too many, and many of the people we meet seem somehow connected, I cant elaborate fully because I haven’t got a fix on it yet but there is something to it I think.

The Blue Ridge Parkway as mentioned was good, I would recommend it as a worthwhile ride or drive or cycle and there seems to be a lot of that. One of the beautiful parts along the Parkway is the National Forests. Four hundred feet of the roadway you can camp for free and we did. One night we camped out near a trail head in lieu of something more secluded. I had toured a couple miles down the side of the mountain to see if I could find something a little more appropriate but just found steep banks and sketchy roads. It gets dark about 7:30 pm and by 10:30 pm it’s just black out. So when a truck came from the sketchy road in the complete darkness we stirred to take a look out of our tent. Deya was hoping they would not stop.

Of course in the night when you are tenting you never really know the intentions of others and you are vulnerable. So when the truck stopped and someone got out with a flashlight we really didn’t know what to think. The dark figure lumbered about in the darkness searching around the front of our area, obviously seeing the motorcycles parked in the trees. The lone figure approached the tent, maybe ten paces away, slouched slightly, his flashlight shining on us, a clicking sound and some shuffling in the dirt, so I unzipped the tent and asked if I could help him with something. From the darkness we heard the most surprising thing, the sweetness of a seventy-seven year old woman’s voice asking if we would mind if she camped near us because she was lost.

I could barely say yes before Deya was outside asking questions and offering solutions, obviously relieved at not being at the mercy of some midnight killer. It was funny but surprising as she asked if I could back her vehicle into position. We helped her with a few small details of the set up and then planned coffee in the morning. Trudy and Rascal (her little dog) had been travelling around for a long time in her camper and ended up lost on the back roads. She’s amazing example of a determined lady who never got to travel much while her husband lived and when he passed on she took up the challenge, with Rascal, to head out and see the world. At the tender age of seventy-seven she packs and unpacks her gear, climbs ladders, unhooks clips on the top of the camper, cranks the roof up and generally does a lot of physical work. She’s not tall so everything is a stretch, mentioning how much she’s shortened over the years. We both hoped she would write a BLOG to inspire folks younger than her to quit making excuses.

The next day we shared our breakfast and had coffee at her place, it was a lovely visit and she wanted to hook up with us at another campground that evening, Deya would give her a haircut. It was out of our way but we decided it would be fun as we really enjoyed her company. It was a good drive and we had a late start so as we showed up in the dark we couldn’t find her there. We had hoped that since we stayed on the Parkway and moved slowly she might have got there first. No such luck, but as we searched the campground a family of RV’ers helped us look for her, took us in, fed us some great food and campfire. I was hoping Trudy had found a safe place to stop and both Deya and I were feeling really worried about not seeing her there. We planned to go to the ranger station in the morning and have them ask the other campsites in the district if they could locate her.

By about 10:30 pm in the darkness Trudy arrived, modus operandi as it seems, and from the fire side Deya was off running. She ran the length of the road banging on the camper as Trudy drove along. I jumped on my bike to give chase but Deya had her stopped by the time I got there. Trudy followed me around and I parked her truck again in a nearby spot and helped a bit to set up. Mostly she would not let you help her, she says she needs to keep doing it herself or she will become lame like the younger kids stuck in their homes. Funny, stubborn and admirable. When we opened up the back of her truck everything was asunder like a sailboat in bad storm. I asked what happened and she said she had an adventure getting there. She drove off the road at dusk and into a ditch, as she was 4x4ing out when a Sheriff showed up and sent her in the wrong direction. So she showed up late after heading off to North Carolina (bad Sheriff’s directions) and got turned around coming back, the road of course was twisty and dark.

The next morning the folks that took us in made a fabulous breakfast of biscuits and gravy, tenderloins and pork chops, coffee and all the fixins. I ate too much, thank goodness, and we went on our way with best wishes. It was windy all night but the comfort and companionship of the people there made it a very enjoyable experience. Our goal now was to get to Jud and Sharon’s place in Georgia. We had met Jud in Hyder Alaska two years earlier and have been in contact since, he’s a special kind of guy and we like the goals and direction of both Jud and Sharon.

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