Poetry

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Hppants
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Poetry

Post by Hppants »

Prologue: For this ride report, I'm going to post one or two days at a time instead of the whole thing at once. We will see how that goes.

Poetry
September 2021

I recently returned safely from a wonderful motorcycle tour. By the numbers, it was 13 days, 12 nights, and 4600 miles spread out over 10 different States in this incredible country. My Yamaha FJR flipped 80,000 miles during the journey, and except for an untimely run over a stick that took out my rear tire, the bike ran flawlessly and gave me terrific service.

In the southeast, September is usually a good month to ride, and this year, it did not disappoint. With very little exception, I had dry sunny skies over me. It was a tad warm at times, creeping into the mid-80s during the afternoon. But as the sun set, the temperatures fell to more comfortable levels and the mornings were very nice on this trip. I did get one full day of off and on rain, but it was tolerable under my rain gear.

I camped 8 out of the 12 nights and opted for hotel rooms for the other 4. The campgrounds I chose were good, but I enjoyed the Army Corp of Engineers campgrounds the best. They are always spotless with large spread-out sites, good clean hot showers, nice paved roads, and amenities fit for duty at the site. If you are a camper, don’t pass up the ACOE campgrounds whenever possible.

Logistically, I left the house alone and had 3 days to myself to explore and enjoy. On the evening of day 3, I arrived at my good friend Josh’s house in southern Illinois. Josh then led me on a wonderful adventure through Indiana and Ohio, two States I had previously not seen. On Day 7, we arrived in Flatwoods, West Virginia for the 2021 Eastern Owners Meeting (EOM) of the FJR Riders Group. We found some familiar friends and made new friends over the weekend as we enjoyed the gathering very much. On Day 8, Josh returned home and I continued by myself for the rest of the trip. I think it was the perfect combination of time with friends and time alone.

I’ve been doing this for a while now. And the more I do it, the more I like the way I’m doing it, and indeed, seek to do it more often. My method is straightforward: make as few plans as possible. I simply do not like trip planning for the motorcycle. First, there are way too many variables that can stifle the plan. Things like weather, mechanical issues, and rider health make it better in my view to be open and flexible for each day. Perhaps more importantly, the unknowing is fascinating and welcome. Your mind is free to wander and take in wherever you go. So I bring enough gear and clothes to handle a big range of temperature and weather. I bring the maps and the credit card. Then I wake up each day, and I wing it. And it’s pretty darn cool.

A self-proclaimed literary idiot, for some strange unexplainable reason, I’ve taken a recent liking to poetry. I don’t care to write my own poems, but I do enjoy reading some of the classics. By definition, a poem allows for the expression of feelings and ideas through the use of style and rhythm. During this trip, I was thinking about that, and it occurred to me that riding the motorcycle is sort of a poetry in its own rite.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Day 1: Lafayette, LA to Harrison, AR, approximately 525 miles.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/5hBLJDSXbZS3bgzH7

“These woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.”

Robert Frost

I packed my horse the evening before. I woke up rested and excited for the adventure ahead. At the last minute, I decided to switch to my mesh jacket and brought both the quilted and windproof liners. The forecast was warm and that proved to be a good decision.

I took the big slab north to Alexandria, and as the sun starts to rise, I’m on Hwy 167 steaming toward Arkansas.

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By late morning, I cross the border and in Camden, Hwy 7 turns to 2-lane and the curves start to appear. I enjoyed riding through the Ouachita River flood plain, full of rice ready to be harvested. The nutty aroma in the air is nice.

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I got to the southern part of Hot Springs about lunch time, and this place caught my eye.

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The gang there were rocking the open kitchen, and my chicken sandwich was pretty good.

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After lunch, I routed myself around Hot Springs to avoid the traffic and in Jessieville, reunited with the scenic Hwy 7 and continued north. Mt. Nebo is looking quite well today.

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Late afternoon, I stopped at the overlook south of Jasper. They call this the Arkansas Grand Canyon and today, the view is very good.

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I arrived at Shady Oaks Campground just south of Harrison about 5 pm, and set up my camp at my usual spot. This is nice place to camp in the region.

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With plenty of daylight left, I decided to ride to dinner. On a clear day, the Ozarks are really nice.

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Dinner was only a mile or so from the campground.

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Grabbed a “local” brew (Little Rock, I think) and ordered the wings.

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Back at the campground, I poured myself a shampoo snort. My wife made me homemade cookies for the trip, and I enjoyed a couple of these as I sat by the fire.

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Today, I was hoping to make miles north. I wanted to get into the higher elevations and start enjoying some cooler weather and twisty roads. 525 miles is a bit much for my normal liking, but a lot of that was on the 4-lane, and truthfully, the day was very pleasurable. Emphatically, Mr. Frost reminds me that in my life, I’ve got many more miles to go before I take the big sleep. There is much left to do and I look very forward to doing all of it. And unlike my younger years, I think now I’ll enjoy the miles much more.

But for today, I was content with my journey, and look forward to whatever tomorrow will bring.
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Re: Poetry

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Day 2: Harrison, AR to Pilot Knob, MO, approximately 350 miles.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/rxg6TkYcM8FpHpX8A

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.”

Walt Whitman

I slept good in my tent. Since it was warm, I used the sleeping bag as a blanket over me. I made coffee, had breakfast, and then broke camp. Soon I was heading north toward the Missouri border.

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The sun is shining brightly, and I’ve got the world all to myself.

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I couldn’t resist a stop at this vista to take in the view.

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But that stop cost me another ½ hour because when I got to the Peel Ferry, I just missed it going away. Oh well, I’m in no hurry.

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I caught the next ferry and was on my way.

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Let me say something about the riding in southern Missouri: It is fan-friggin-tastic!! The roads are in wonderful shape, as I do not remember hitting one pothole anywhere. As you ride through these small hills, the banking on the curves is confidence inspiring and quite frankly, addictive. Honestly, the whole place reminds me of one long wooden roller coaster. You remember – the kind that has the smaller rises and falls, but wiggles and shakes you left and right as you go up and down.

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I was freestyling it and having a ball. I’d check the map and take whatever looked twistier. In Wasola, I stopped for gas. The sign at the station said “deli”, but it was more of a fried chicken, stale pizza place. I asked the gal if she could make me a sandwich, and I think it was a decent lunch for the middle of nowhere.

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During lunch, I talked with a guy from Hill Country Texas riding a Gold Wing. He asked a lot of questions about my bike and I let him sit on it. He was a nice man.

Today, I’m running in and out of the Mark Twain National Forest. There are sections of the forest scattered throughout the southern half of Missouri. In between forest sects, the farmland is quite nice among the rolling hills.

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Mid-afternoon, I entered the Ozark National Scenic Riverway. There is still plenty of water here, considering the time of year.

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Then I turned north on Hwy 19 (excellent road) and crossed the famous Current River. This is a beautiful clear stream in the Missouri hills. When I was a kid, my parents took my siblings and I here and we paddled the Current River. I don’t remember that trip, but I imagine it was good fun.

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Now getting later in the day, my camping options were limited. I found this State Park and grabbed a site for the night.

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The sites are nice and spacious, and the concrete pad was convenient. But they charged me $34.00 for this site, a bit expensive.

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The other thing is that this park is no less than 20 miles away from anything to eat, restaurant or groceries. So after I setup camp, I rode into Pilot Knob and grabbed a Jimmy John’s sub along with a cup of ice for my evening tottie. Went back to the campground and lit a nice fire.

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It was another good day, one that was filled with two kinds of sunshine. Besides the obvious good weather, today I resisted the temptation to look back on any shadows. Rather, I was content to just enjoy the sunshine in front of me, and to soak up the rays of those Missouri hills for the beauty that they are. Nearly all of the road today was uncharted water for me. The newness of that was exhilarating and I often found myself quite giddy about whatever might lie around the next curve or over the next hill.

I’m in the zone now. It’s only going to get better from here.
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Re: Poetry

Post by LKLD »

In!!

Joey, I agree about southern MO roads. Absolutely wonderful roads to ride, and….no one else on them! Great to hear that it hasn’t changed.
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Re: Poetry

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Day 3: Pilot Knob, MO to Georgetown, Il, approximately 350 miles

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/XFBgmEr6uwbYdap3A

“A friend is a gift you give yourself.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Shortly after I fell asleep last night, I was awoken by some commotion. I quickly grabbed my eye glasses and my head light to discover a raccoon on my picnic table. It figured out that I forgot to lock my Givi top case, had grabbed the package of bagels, and was making a run for it into the woods. I yelled at it in vain, and as I peered outside of my tent zipper, the little rascal turned around with the bag of booty in its mouth as if to say “see ya sucker!!!!”.

Regardless, it was a good night, and I slept even better than last night although it is still a bit warm for my liking. Had to make do with a can of peaches for breakfast, along with a tablespoon of peanut butter with no bagel.

Today I’m riding to Josh’s house. Josh is a great riding buddy, and an even better friend. We met a long time ago on the motorcycles, and even though we are separated by about 1000 miles, every year we try to find each other and spend some time together. When I started kicking around this trip some time ago, I decided that if he’d have me, I’d ride to his house and see his home. As it worked out, Josh has some time off to burn, so tomorrow we will track together for a while and see what we can see.

I packed up and checked the map for anything interesting. As it turns out, I’m close to the highest point in Missouri, so I might as well start there. This is Taum Sauk Mountain.

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I climbed the fire tower stairs for a better view.

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Back on the bike, I started moseying east and came upon this place.

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The name was intriguing and as it turns out, there are granite formations in Missouri. I had no idea.

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I guess if one was to imagine openly, he could infer an elephant in this?

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This is a nice place to wander and stretch your legs at.

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Some of the early speculators laid claim to some of the rocks but couldn’t figure out how to retrieve them.

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A good morning walk.

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I got back in the saddle and pointed the horse east. The county roads in Missouri are labeled by the alphabet. These are just as nice as the State highways and I enjoyed zig zagging through many of them. It does get a little confusing at times as you can cross the county line and be faced with a road by the same name as the one you just left. Fearing not though, as I am in my element: wandering without a care in the world, taking in my environment as it comes.

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About lunch time, I pulled into St. Genevieve.

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As a south Louisianian, I enjoyed this place and learning about its French laced history. It resides on the Mississippi River and was once a huge trading post.

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I found a café to my liking and walked in for lunch. The clerk there raved about his Cuban sandwich, so I took a chance. I wouldn’t call it authentic, but it was quite tasty, and the “Jelly Brick” for dessert was damm fine.

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There’s a strong Catholic influence here, but I was surprised to learn from the locals that most here now are actually of German dissent, and hardly no one speaks French.

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After lunch, I rode the short distance to the ferry. Here, Old Man River is not so mighty to me.

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I crossed into Illinois, this is the 2nd time I’ve been to this State, but the first was a long time ago. Josh gave me some ideas for getting to his house, and I generally followed his advice. One such idea was to stop at Fort Kaskaskia

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It’s a pretty nice place with a long history. Lewis and Clark found it some time ago too.

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After that for the most part, the next 175-ish miles were more or less like this:

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A whole lot of corn growing in the fields.

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In the late afternoon, it was approaching 90 degrees and I decided it was time to hit the slab and get to Josh’s.

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My friend was easy to find and I was happy to see him as always. As I pulled in, he was putting new tires on his FJR in anticipation of our ride. I jumped right in and gave him a hand.

Josh gave me the dime tour of his place. I learned that I would be sleeping in the basement, accommodations that were so foreign to me. Don’t get me wrong, everything was first class down there. It’s just the idea of going below ground that got me to thinking. Back home, to do this would require a life jacket personal floatation device!!

Regardless, Josh and his wife Amy have a lovely home, and it was nice to meet her and their children and talk with them.

Another new thing for Pants is the discovery of Black Walnut trees. We don’t have these where I live, and if I’ve ever seen one before, I don’t remember it. The nuts on these trees are huge!!

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In the evening, Josh got to work on dinner for us. Now my friends, let me offer an observation. Quite simply, Josh knows how to grill a steak. I’ve had his steaks numerous times before and trust me, this puppy tasted every bit as good as it looks.

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After dinner, we sat around and chatted a while. Ms. Amy washed my dirty clothes for me, a task I was greatly appreciative of. As I sat and talked, I thought about where I was. This little town that my friend calls home is the quintessential essence of the mid-west in our great country. Families and farmers co-existing in a sea of strong values, helping each other wherever they can. I heard stories about a mother that died of cancer, and the town getting together to help the family.

I sure am glad that a long time ago, I gave myself the gift of Josh’s friendship. Tomorrow is another day.
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Re: Poetry

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Day 4: Georgetown, IL to Hillsboro, OH, approximately 350 miles.

Route: Unknown (Josh – I need some help)

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


The basement was terrific – a cool 68 degrees under a soft blanket, I slept like a baby. The muffins were great for breakfast, as was the fancy pants coffee that Ms. Amy drinks.

Josh’s neighbor has a large apple tree, and I insisted that we check it out.

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It’s loaded with fruit, and I can’t remember ever seeing an apple tree loaded with fruit ripe for harvest before. If you are wondering whether or not I sampled the apples, then you really don’t know Pants very well (delicious).

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When I told Josh I was coming, I made it abundantly clear that I was making NO plans for the days thereafter, and that he was firmly in charge of the itinerary, the route, and everything in between. This is one of the best things about visiting a motorcycle friend at their home. It gives them a chance to show you their good stuff. Whatever it is that they like, I want to see it. Furthermore, I’d prefer it if we took the path less taken. Get me off the beaten trail and show me what ya got.

We leave town and start heading east. Soon, Pants finds himself in a new State to go with my wonderful state of mind.

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In all my years, I’ve never been to Indiana. From the moment I crossed the State line, I liked it. Southern Indiana is not at all what I expected. Rolling hills and farmland for sure. But also clear streams, bluffs, wooded hills, and most surprisingly, curvy roads!! It was so exciting to just sit back and let my friend take me to the fun.

Josh knows I have a thing for bridges, and he purposely made covered bridges a part of our route.

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In Louisiana, we have ZERO covered bridges. I suppose we don’t have to worry much about snow on the bridge deck. This bridge was built in the late 1870s and for approximately 150 years old, it is in terrific shape.

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The structure is exposed for all to see. The size of these wooden pieces is astonishing. The craftsmanship was very good. Whoever built this bridge took a lot of pride in what they do. I respect that immensely.

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We got back on the bikes and crossed the famous Wabash River. Josh was orienting me to the regions watershed. I enjoyed listening to how each smaller stream/river dumps into a larger one, and eventually, everything goes to the Ohio River. At home, many of our Bayous and Rivers empty into the Gulf of Mexico, although some go to the Mississippi River.

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I’m having a great time, my friend.

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I really enjoyed riding through the entire area. The homesteads in this area are impeccably maintained. Some of them are 75 years or older, and yet they are all in great shape. I did not find one spec of litter anywhere in Indiana. Some of the barns are painted colorfully. Others have faded paint from an old advertisement – the barn was used as a primitive billboard. Still others had unique and interesting penta-star patterns painted on them – like a quilt pattern of some sort. At one stop, I asked Josh about a feature on a barn that we don’t have back home, and he explained to me how it is used to load/unload hay. I love learning about how other people live.

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Josh took me to another covered bridge. I’m sorry to say that I don’t know exactly where it is, but it’s way cool, none the less.

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Who thinks this is Indiana? Not me, for sure.

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So cool, man…..

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And then we are back into the fields for some more miles.

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Even the little towns we cross are in good shape. I like looking at the architecture of the older buildings. The brick work is impressive and most have some decorative work that I like. Back in the day, a mason must have been a highly respected profession.

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You got that right, my brother from another mutha!! Indeed, it is the journey.

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This is next to a State Park in Brown County. I do remember that much.

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Oh yeah, look and lean, baby!!

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We turned off the State highway and onto a county road that follow a creek. It was terrific under the canopy of the trees. Soon, we arrived in Story, IN. I’m sure that there must be quite a “story” behind the origin of this place, but sadly, I don’t know it. Josh intended for us to eat at this cute historic inn, but unfortunately, it was closed until later in the afternoon. Still, I had to take a picture. This is one of my favorites from the entire trip.

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And just like that, we are off into the countryside. Hang on, I’m coming buddy!

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We are absolutely on the path less traveled, and the trail we are leaving is stupendous!!

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We got to Madison, IN about 1 pm. This is a beautifully restored town located on the Ohio River.

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Looking quite well, my friend!!!

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We picked this place to eat lunch.

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Pretty good sandwich. Josh paid for my salad – hell yeah!

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After lunch, we stopped at the Ohio River so that I could take it in. This is a great area to just hang out and I liked it very much.

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We crossed into Kentucky.

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I’ve ridden in Eastern and Southern Kentucky before, but today we are in the northern section and I was enjoying it very much.

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I didn’t stop to take a picture, but I did see tobacco growing in the field, as well as drying in a barn. That’s a first for me. Josh was doing a terrific job pulling me through the path less taken.

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Late in the afternoon, we ran into a little bit of rain. No sooner than it started raining, we found a nice unoccupied cover to pull into and stay dry. When you’re good, you’re good.

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The front is coming through, but we are just on the edge of it. So I put the rain gear on and we pressed through it. It wasn’t much to worry about – maybe 10 minutes of moderate rain and before long, we were back on the banks of the Ohio River in Augusta, KY.

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For $2.00 each, the ferry toted us across the river. Nice guys working the ferry – I got the impression that they enjoyed their work.

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You are doing a fantastic job, my friend. I’m having a terrific day!

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And across the ferry, Pants arrives into Ohio, and again, a first time for me.

We get to Hillsboro, OH. Now, I’ve been in the saddle 350 miles today, and a good bit over 1000 for the trip now. We get to a stop light, I look over at Josh, and emphatically declare: “I need a beer”. Josh finds a local place and we run to it. They have a nice IPA and I ordered a 32 oz Growler. Being the resourceful person he is, Josh ask the kid at the beer store about dinner possibilities. Of course, being the 20-something person that she is, she suggest pizza. So Josh calls the pizza place and learns that they will deliver a pie to the campsite. Score!!!!

We set up camp and in perfect timing, dinner arrives.

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I grabbed a few sticks in the nearby woods, and we made do with a small campfire after dinner. Josh was smart enough to get a bag of ice from the pizza peeps, so we were able to have chilled cocktails after dinner.

Today was stupendous – better than words can describe, really. I put myself in my friends’ hands and trusted him to show me whatever he likes. I had no expectations whatsoever, and by association, was totally blown away at virtually every turn of the road. The excitement and newness of everything for me was intoxicating. I soaked it up like a sponge. We took the path less beaten and blazed our own trail accordingly.

Today was the kind of day that riders dream about.
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Re: Poetry

Post by Cav47 »

Hppants wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 9:59 am Day 4: Georgetown, IL to Hillsboro, OH, approximately 350 miles.

Route: Unknown (Josh – I need some help)

Before Lunch 202 Miles
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/210+Tim ... 390042!3e0

After Lunch 151 Miles

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/The+Red ... m0!1m0!3e0
Hppants wrote: Tue Oct 05, 2021 9:59 am
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I often have found myself when I was not looking, nor did that discovery take place where I thought it would!

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Re: Poetry

Post by BkerChuck »

Thoroughly enjoying riding along via the computer!

Pants, you might just have to visit PA sometime. I've got around 90 covered bridges mapped out in Basecamp so far and I'm not done.
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Re: Poetry

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Day 5: Southeast Ohio Loop Ride, approximately 375 miles

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/Ct7uTBgBwax5jhHY6

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced”

John Keats


Good night’s sleep again. This is a good campground on a fishing lake, but it’s spread out and Josh and I have plenty of quiet space. Josh decided that we can just stay here tonight, so we don’t have to worry about packing the camping gear.

Rather, we can boil some water and have coffee. And tea – I packed some fancy tea bags I swiped from my wife so that my buddy can have morning tea.

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We got the bagels toasted proper over the fire.

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While he plots today’s adventure, I’ll just look at the lake and enjoy my coffee.

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And then, we’re off!!

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Looking good!!

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Today, I’m going to ride Southeast Ohio. This is a true rite of passage for any motorcyclists. I’ve heard about the riding here, but never had the opportunity to try it. Josh knows this area well so I’m stoked about doing this.

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I’m really excited that this is happening. I truly believe that life is meant to be experienced. I’m quite tactical in nature, and for Pants, seeing is believing.

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We stop in McConnelville for lunch. The name of this restaurant is appropriate. I have NO idea where we are.

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Josh says that the burgers here are good. He was right.

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And then after lunch, it’s back into the hills.

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We stopped at the Miner’s Memorial. There, the bucket from the “Big Muskie” was on display. This thing is huge!

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And then shortly thereafter, we caught Highway 555, otherwise known as the “triple nickel”.

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Now, I have over a quarter million motorcycle miles under my belt. That doesn’t make me an expert, but I’ve ridden places. I can say that without a doubt, southeast Ohio was the most challenging riding that I’ve ever done. We’re taught to ride to the vanishing point of the curve. Focus your eyes ahead on the curve, and the bike will follow. Well, that works fine and dandy until the vanishing point of the curve is right in front of your face. Here, the road turns sharply left or right just AFTER the crown of a hill. So it’s very hard to see where you are going until the very last second. This was unnerving at times, and Josh expressed the same sentiment.

Still, I greatly enjoyed the experience, and thanked my friend wholeheartedly for bringing me here.

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At times for the past two days, we come upon an Amish person in a wagon. Josh gives them plenty of room, and I follow his lead. Instinctively, I waive to them as I pass, and they waive back. They seem like nice people, and I get a feeling that I’d like to meet them and talk to them.

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We get back to Hillsboro and stop at the grocery for supplies. I don’t feel much like searching for firewood, but the campground host let us take some of his stash. Score!!

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Tonight we are going to have a simple meal: grilled chicken salad. While Josh gets the fire going, I seasoned the chicken thighs with my Cajun seasoning.

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Aw yeah, babe – this is going do just fine.

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We split the pecan and cherry pies for dessert. No point in wondering what the other taste like.

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After dinner and a hot shower, Josh got the fire going, and we enjoyed it under a full moon.

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Today was another awesome day. You can hear about the good stuff. Watch videos on it. Read about it. But until you EXPERIENCE it, you have no idea. Some of my best moto-riding buddies ride SE Ohio all the time. Now I know what they like about it. I’ve been there, and I’ve done that.


Day 6: Hillsboro, OH to Flatwoods, WV, approximately 300 miles

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/YSWJGr7JvXcDyctj9

“Forever is composed of nows.”
Emily Dickerson


Again I slept well as it cooled off earlier than previous nights. As they always do, the crows executed their alarm clock with precise timing, about 15 minutes after daybreak. I packed my tent quietly while Josh slept in a bit.

Today we will have a more substantial breakfast.

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It’s only 3 ingredients, but it does make for a good warm breakfast at the campground.

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We loaded the Sherpas and pointed them East. Today we are going into West Virginia. To save some time, we resorted to the 4-lane of Hwy 50, a good stretch of pavement that spans the entire country. I’ve ridden many sections of Hwy 50 and find the US Highways in our country to be a terrific alternative to the Interstates. In general, the traffic will be very light, and you get some entertainment from riding through the countless towns and villages.

Plus, it’s a safe way to snap a couple of riding pictures.

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At Oak Hill, we turned south onto Hwy 233. As we start approaching the Ohio River Valley, the topography changes and I enjoyed watching the countryside.

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For Pants, this is the true essence of touring on the motorcycle. Whenever I go somewhere, I want to see the land. This is MOST important for me. I want to look at the map to get a decent idea of where I am. And then I want to look at the land. I want to see what crops are grown/raised there. What is the topography? What rivers and other water sources exist? Do rocks appear there, and if so, what kind? As I pass through towns and cities, I look for the major businesses and try to correlate those to the surrounding land. Without seeming rude, I like to look at the people and consider how their environment has affected them. When I stop, I try to convey a sense of friendliness and approachableness to anyone looking my way. I really enjoy talking to an older local who is willing to tell me anything about the history of where I am. Some people do their “people watching” from their front porch. For Pants, I’d prefer to go to your place and watch you live your life.

We cross the Ohio River into West Virginia and start migrating through the eastern bank flood plain. I’m not paying much attention to plan or route. We stop for whatever reason, I pull out the map, find a squiggly road, trace it with the highlighter, and then off we go. Somewhere thereafter, I ran past a sign that caught my eye:

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I pulled over, glanced at Josh giving me a “thumbs up”, and we circled back for lunch. Fajita Taco Salad was pretty good.

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On the road, I have a few dos and don’ts that I try to stick to with respect to food. Almost without fail, you can’t go wrong with Mexican. However, I will NOT eat Asian of any kind unless someone I know/trust tells me it’s good. Finally, when all else fails, ride to the center of town. If it’s a county seat city, then invariably, there will be a courthouse with a square surrounding it. There will always be one local diner there. Look for the pickup trucks and if plentiful, eat there. No self-respecting farmer is going to leave his land for crappy food.

After lunch, we start freestyling it in West Virginia.

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Peace be with you, my brother.

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Let me share something with all of you regarding how we ride. At times, we pass people on the double yellow. Now – let me clarify that. We don’t go rogue and start performing blatantly dangerous squid-like moves that put everyone in grave danger. In the twisties, I generally like to run 10-ish over and when I approach a vehicle from behind, I usually put myself squarely in their side mirror and wait. I’ll hold for about 20 curves and in many cases, the vehicle will pull over and let me by. If that happens, I’m sure to waive thankfully for the gesture, even though I’m very quick to move by and their inconvenience is only a few seconds.

But sometimes they will not pull over. When that happens, after about 20 curves, I look for a decent straight and I move fast. The FJR has such incredible acceleration that I can usually get around a vehicle in about 150 feet. Now, most people don’t give that much thought, but some people get torqued about it and then it becomes an issue.

That happened on this day. We got behind a guy in a red pickup truck with a Volunteer Fireman sticker on the rear window. We passed him cleanly on the double yellow and oh my goodness, he did NOT like that. Farther down the road, Josh missed a turn and we got behind Fireman Crapshow again. Shortly after that, Josh passed him AGAIN on the double yellow, and that was the straw that broke is flimsy back. When it was my turn to pass, he weaves across the double yellow as I’m approaching the side of the truck, and he pushes me toward the oncoming ditch. I immediately grabbed the brakes and held behind him. At the next opportunity, he did the same thing. This went on for 10 plus miles. Even on a lawful passing zone, he’d weave back and forth to prevent me from passing. I decided that I wasn’t going to die today, and just held way back. We got to the interstate and Josh pulled over until the self-appointed lawman idiot moved on.

Now late in the afternoon, we decided to just slab it a short way toward our destination for the weekend.

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The FJR Riders Forum is having their annual Eastern Owners Meeting this weekend in Flatwoods, WV. I was excited to meet and re-meet many of my friends that I’ve made over the years. Looks like this year, the turnout is pretty big.

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We had stopped at the grocery and picked up some Horse Divers for the evening festivities. My good friend Dan from Florida seems to enjoy the pickings.

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I set the table on Jwilly’s motorcycle.

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The hotel was nice with a spacious back patio for gathering and socializing.

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I look back on that day with great fondness. I did what I’ve been preaching to myself to do for years now. I allowed myself to be immersed in the “now”. I purposely decided that I would not think about yesterday, nor dwell on tomorrow. Rather, I would free my mind of those things and concentrate wholly and totally on today. I cared not where we went, nor what we hoped to see. I accepted the undeniable truth and when I ride the motorcycle, EVERYTHING is good. I am with my friend, the weather is gorgeous, and we are enjoying our ride. That was way more than good enough, and we reaped our reward for our effort.

As my retirement becomes imminent, this is how it’s going to be from now on. Forever.
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Re: Poetry

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Day 7: Loop Ride around West Virginia, approximately 250 miles

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/Yw1s4XvdoyKi4vt76

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”
William Butler Yates

The mattress at the hotel was terrific. After a few nights on the ground, I was in tall cotton and woke up rested and excited. In the parking lot, everyone is gathering and chatting about motorcycles and riding, some of our favorite topics.

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There are more than 50 of us, all seasoned riders from all over the region. People generally parse off in small groups and spend the day together. Today, I felt like sniffing more and riding less. I’ve been to West Virginia before, but not this section of the State and looked forward to checking it out. A long-time friend Bobby from Arkansas approached us in the morning and asked if he and his friend Joey could ride with us.

And so we were 4 for today’s adventure.

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The roads in West Virginia are great. They are in good shape and are maintained very well. I took a peek at the map and employed one of my best techniques for a day trip: Follow the water. I look for the creek, stream, or river, and then pick the State hwy adjacent to it. Just as the water winds down the mountain, so do the roads.

We stopped at a bridge that crossed Gauley River.

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Joey rides that KTM Adventure S in the sweep position. It’s got a not too obnoxious pipe on it and it sounds good. The luggage is spacious and when I sat on it, the bike felt balanced. It’s a nice bike.

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Late morning, we go the New River watershed area and I thought a picnic would be nice. So Bobby paid for the groceries and we rode to the Hawks Nest Overlook.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip.

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This looks like a nice place for a sandwich.

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Josh is doing a good job with the avocado.

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Not to bad…..

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After lunch we ran up and down Hwy 60 for a bit, and I enjoyed playing on the roller coaster with a spunky Camaro. This is a good road to rip with a heavy bike. And it’s a nice place to visit.

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A friend at the EOM gathering posted some nice pictures of an old Grits Mill she visited yesterday. I thought it looked pretty cool, so I asked the group if they would like to check it out and we headed in that direction.

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It is pretty cool…..

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We walked into the mill and a gentlemen told us how it works. At times, they run some water through it and actually run the mill for demonstration purposes. Not much water flow today, so we will have to check it out another time

Back on the road, Josh found a pipe coming out of the mountain spewing clean artesian spring water, and he stopped for a drink.

Then I turned us south for a short loop through the New River Gorge. This is good riding with nice predictable curves, very little traffic, and stupendous views.

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There are no strangers here. Ride on, my friends.

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The New River Gorge is a relatively new National Park. The bridge there over Hwy 19 is magnificent.

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It’s hard for me to explain the affection I have for bridges. The structure is open – with bridges, there is no smoke and mirrors. Everything is there to see in plain view. Also by definition, a bridge is what is used to connect the two sides. A bridge makes it easy to find out what’s on the other side. For a wanderer like me, bridges are awesome.

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We rode down to the river for a better view.

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Cheers to you, my new friend.

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This has been a great motorcycle. I’ve had quite a few over the years, including other FJRs, but this one is my overall favorite by far. This bike has taken me to California, West Virginia, and thousands of points in between. Riders develop associations with their bikes that goes beyond the inanimate. We cherish them with great affection. I like my red FJR.

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We come up on top of the big bridge and circle back to the park headquarters for a Pants tradition.

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From there, we bee lined it up Hwy 19 to Flatwoods, arriving at the hotel about 5:30 pm. Time flies when you are having fun. We cleaned up and I’m sorry to say that Josh and I missed the group photograph as we misunderstood the meeting time.

The banquet was shortly thereafter, and it was a nice gathering and a good meal.

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The “program” was also great, with the group raising some money for a worthy charity. Wayne and his wife made all of the arrangements for us and they did a wonderful job of making this part of the trip special. Wayne did announce that the rider who came to the gathering from the farthest away was … me. Even though he spotted the Google distance to home at about 1,000 miles, by then, I was well over 2500 miles into this trip. It’s the journey, not the destination.

After dinner, we gathered at the back patio for festivities.

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These people may not realize it, but I owe them a great deal of gratitude. I joined the forums some 9 years ago and was welcomed whole heartedly from day 1. I’m not a stereotypical motorcyclist. I don’t care much for “kicking tires” and hanging out at the bar. My motorcycle is not loud and I’d prefer not to draw attention to myself. To be clear, I’m a rider, not a poser.

I found from these forums that many others are like me. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know many of them and they are among my very best friends. I’ve been to their homes, and they have come to mine. They do inspire me to adventure on the bike, and their presence all over the country is some assurance that if I have trouble, help is never too far away. Josh has a saying that “true friends can be separated for long periods of time and then pick up right where they left off”. I think that is profoundly correct, and when I attend an FJR gathering, I’m reminded of this 10-fold.

I’m having a very good trip.
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Re: Poetry

Post by LKLD »

Simply awesome RR!
Being alive, is not living. R.I.P. Don & Petey レイクランド
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Re: Poetry

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Day 8: Flatwoods, WV to Watoga State Park, WV, approximately 200 miles
Route: https://goo.gl/maps/9S8758epxyPHR5qF7

“Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.”
William Wadsworth

It’s Sunday morning and I’ve been gone for a week now. I woke up early as always, but noted dense fog in the parking lot, so I rolled over and slept in a while.

Today we are thinking about a walk in the woods. Tyler and Julie, friends at the EOM gathering, were telling us about this cool State Park not far from the hotel. So we packed up and headed out for more adventure. We rode a short distance to Holly River State Park.

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We checked in at the Ranger station and she told us how to get to the waterfalls. It’s a very short walk to the upper falls.

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A snack always tastes better in the woods.

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Back on the trail, it’s a short hike to Shupe’s Chute. This place is real cool and it was neat watching the water chuting through the rocks. I took my shoes off and waded in the pool.

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The water has been working on this limestone for quite some time.

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The trail continues along the creek, and I am enjoying this very much. The lower falls are even nicer than the others.

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There is something to be said about the nature of waterfalls. For a man that lives his life 24 feet above sea level, at home, if I want a waterfall, my only choice is to get in the shower. Whenever I go to the mountains, I gravitate to waterfalls. The white noise of the water is soothing to me. The air seems just a bit cleaner as the trees and plants are releasing oxygen for me. Symbolically, the waterfall itself is therapeutic. As I watch the flow, I find it quite easy to lay my burdens down. I give it to the water and without prejudice, the water carries those burdens downstream and away from me.

Nature does this for us. It invites you to visit and rewards you with peace and solitude.

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This is a very cool place to explore.

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We get back to the bikes, gear up, and head north into Buckhannon, WV. This is a neat little college town.

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The downtown area has been restored very nicely.

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We stopped for gas and I asked a local where she likes to eat. She told me this place.

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I picked a juicy IPA to go with my lunch.

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The pork tacos were delicious.

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Josh has decided to go home today. He’s got some pressing work matters and there is still enough day left for him to get home. So after lunch, we parted ways. I very much enjoyed being with my friend, and look very forward to our next trip together, whenever that may be.

Now, with nowhere to go, and the rest of the day to get there, I started wandering.

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I wiggled a bit east to Hwy 219. I’ve ridden this road before and it’s fantastic. You run along this valley between two big mountain ranges, and the views are endless.

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In Marlington, I picked up some supplies and rode the short distance to Watoga State Park.

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I’ve stayed at this park before in a cabin, and the campground is on the Greenbrier River. I grabbed a nice site on the river just in time for happy hour.

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Yeah – this most assuredly does not suck.

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Finding firewood in the park was no problem.

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I had a piece of cheese, some crackers, and a piece of fruit for a lite dinner. Then I lit my fire, grabbed another beer, and sat down and relaxed.

Today I got back to Mother Nature. I gave her a chance to hold me, and she hit it right out of the park. Life is good.
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Re: Poetry

Post by fontanaman »

Excellent ride report Pants. Thanks for sharing. Yeah the best photo is the one you like most. Calendar worthy for sure.
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Re: Poetry

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Day 9: Watoga State Park, WV to Elk Park, NC, approximately 300 miles

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/niTLiVHE9QJQVtQ38

“I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.”
Carl Sandburg

The white noise of the running river was a wonderful sedative and I slept soundly all night. I made coffee and breakfast and brought my chair back to the riverside to sit and reflect. I packed my horse and as I taxied out of the park, I stopped one more time to peek at the Greenbriar River.

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Since Hwy 219 was so nice yesterday, why not continue south?

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Why not, indeed.

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I run through these little towns and villages, enjoying the architecture and the beauty.

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The ride is really good. There is little traffic and the cloud cover is keeping temperatures quite comfortable. I really don’t know where I am going. To clarify, I am most assuredly not lost. There is a difference to be sure. I know where I am, but I’m allowing myself the adventure of no plan. I’m just wandering instinctively and generally south, looking forward to what’s behind the next curve, and every one thereafter. This is the way to do it. I’ve found my zen, and it is amazing.

I pull into Tazwell at lunch time, stopping at a well-known establishment.

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The “Back of the Dragon”, or hwy 16 runs just south of here. There will be time for that later, but right now, I’m interested in the eye candy in the parking lot.

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I’ve been playing with these guys with the “Savage Rally” here and there for a couple days now. All exotic sports cars, these guys and gals run the twisties from Washington DC to Florida every year.

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I ordered a burger and talked with some of the Rally guys while my lunch was being prepared. They were nice and very approachable.

After lunch, I left to ride the Back of the Dragon and found myself behind two Lamborghinis, an Audi S10, a Ford GT40, and a Porche 911 Turbo. Suffice it to say there were NO opportunities to take pictures, cause we were ripping it pretty good. That GT40 sounded amazing in the mountains. We stopped at the top to check out the overlook, where other Savage Rally cars were stopped. I chatted with them a short while, and then took off with another group of cars.

A vendor was taking photographs. I grabbed a couple of screen shots they took of us from their website.

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In Troutdale, VA, I turned right onto Hwy 603. I’ve ridden this unpopular road before and this is a well-kept secret.

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I crossed into North Carolina and continued into Banner Elk, where I stopped for gas. Now it’s getting later in the afternoon and the clouds up ahead are getting kind of dark. It’s time to think about where to sleep tonight. I know of a good place not far from here, so I plugged it into the GPS and off I go.

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About 5 pm, I pulled into Elk Park, NC and the Mountain View Motorcycle Campground:

https://www.facebook.com/Mountain-View- ... 078583390/

Janine and Mark have a nice place in the middle of some great riding areas, and I’ve stayed here before. Mark is a motorcycle mechanic, and his shop has been sectioned off to provide a bunk house for guests that don’t want to tent camp. I pulled into the patio cover and it started raining. So I decided to just grab a bunk for the night. There were 3 guys from South Carolina already there. Two riding Goldwings and one riding an ST1300. They were nice guys and I enjoyed getting to know them. As experienced riders themselves, we shared our love for some common travels we have experienced.

About dinner time, it was raining pretty hard. My new friends brought some Catfish stew with them and asked if I wanted to join them. Uh yeah – this will work just fine.

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Back home, we would not call this a “stew”, as it had no roux in it. We would call this a catfish creole. Regardless, it was pretty tasty and I was grateful for the meal.

After dinner, we sat around and discussed the meaning of life. Today, I did myself well. I got lost in my imagination and found myself in the road. I’m starting to miss my wife. The end is closer than the beginning.

Day 10: Elk Park, NC to Dyersburg, TN, approximately 500 miles.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/MEDn8EbiN6jErdLS9

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

So one of those South Carolinians snores like a lumberjack. Thank heavens for good ear plugs. No worse for the inconvenience, I woke up to the smell of fresh coffee brewing. I poured a cup and checked the weather. The forecast here is pretty crappy as they are calling for two straight days of rain, and the possibility of severe weather tomorrow. The radar shows the current situation as wet, but it’s mostly light rain in my area. Well, I consider my options. I could just hole up at the bunk house today and get some rest. I could gear up and ride the area in the rain. I decided to pack up and just start riding West until I got on the other side of the frontal system. I’ve been to this area many times before and will have numerous chances in the future to return. In the end, I’d rather ride in good weather.

I used to pay razor sharp attention to the weather when riding. Now, when you are going to be gone for two weeks, inevitably some days the weather will not cooperate. It’s better to just pack good riding gear and go with it when you have to.

I geared up with my rain suit and my waterproof gloves and started west. The rain was steady in the morning, and at one point, I conceded to the interstate just for the sake of making miles. In these conditions, I find it safer as I am less visible and at least we are all going in the same direction.

My friend Jenifer says that with good gear, a ride in the rain is quite enjoyable. I see her point on this day. I’m perfectly dry and content to just sit there and twist that. As I move along the big slab, my mind starts to wander a little. A feeling of humility and thankfulness comes upon me. I know that I’ve got it good, far better than most. I have a beautiful wife of nearly 35 years. While she worries that the unthinkable might happen on the motorcycle, she totally understands my NEED for this, and supports me none the less. We’ve got two incredible children, both young adults with the whole world in the palm of their hands. They are educated, independent, and I think… happy. They make us very proud. I’ve got friends too numerous to count. They live all over this great land and I’m blessed to know them.

And I’ve got the means to travel and explore, I’ve got my health and ability to do it, and perhaps moreover, I’ve got the gumption to do it while I can and not “wait until”. I’ve seen things and I’ve seen people. On this trip alone, I’ve had more fun that I fear most men have in a year, if ever. I’m a lucky man, indeed.

I got past the worst of the rain west of Nashville, so I exited the big concrete and took Hwy 70. I ran through some familiar sites of piles of trash and debris stacked at the road. At a stop light, I asked the person next to me when the flood occurred, and it was 1 month ago when the Tennessee River overflowed its banks here. I hope these people get help soon.

Late in the afternoon, I found a cheap room with good reviews in Dyersburg, TN.

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The kid at the counter said the best place in town was the Mexican joint (no surprise), so I ordered some grub and took it back to the room.

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I called my wife and had a nice conversation with her. It was good to hear her voice.

Tomorrow is another day.
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Re: Poetry

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Day 11: Dyersburg, TN to Clearwater Lake, MO, approximately 250 miles

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/CyrMx7C5VLBUjSBw5

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost

The room was quiet and clean, and I woke up rested and relaxed. During the night, the weather passed completely through and this morning, its 54 degrees and severe clear skies. So I loaded up the Sherpa, and took off toward Ole Man River.

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Last night, I spread the maps all over the hotel bed. I kept remembering how much fun Missouri was last week, and I decided I would explore that State some more today.

Like all river floodplains, the soil here is rich and fertile. This milo is looking ready to harvest.

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And these soybeans are a beautiful deep green. Unlike my home, they are not dried enough yet for picking.

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Perhaps my biggest surprise here was that they grow rice this far north. I would later learn from a local that Budweiser beer is made with rice. The nutty aroma at this place was very familiar to me.

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I stopped for gas and a drug store need in Poplar Bluff. Then I checked the map and started wandering northeast along the Black River.

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On some county “alphabet” road, I came upon a bald eagle. It took off and was flying low above me as I rode slowly along the road.

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They are beautiful birds.

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Again, I’m just freestyling it through the Mark Twain national forest. This is nice riding in these parts.

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I came upon Clearwater Lake, formed by the Army Corp of Engineers damming the Black River.

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As I rode across the dam, the campground down there looks quite inviting.

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I rode down to the campground and grabbed what I was told was an available site. I set up my tent and site, and right when I was done, the campground host came up to me and told me that the site was reserved, but the one next to me was open. I was a little perturbed but moved my tent easily over and paid for the stie.

With most of the day left, I took off to see what I could see.

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I asked a lady at a gas station where to eat, and she suggested this place.

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For $8.00, I got a decent flat top burger, some waffle fries, and a root beer. As I was sitting at the bar eating my lunch, the lady from the gas station that recommended this restaurant walked in and went behind the counter. Turns out she owns the place. Well, she said it would be good and it was. We laughed a bit at that.

After lunch, I just started riding.

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I was purposely looking for the path less traveled. I believe this is where one finds the good stuff. The stuff he wasn’t counting on or even knew existed. He finds these things when he least expects it. The very best stuff just appears out of nowhere.

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You know it when you find it.

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Yeah… this is the good stuff.

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I crossed the Black and St. Gabriel Rivers several times.

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Later in the afternoon, I stopped at a grocery to get something to cook. On the way back to the campsite, I found some good wood in the park to burn.

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I pull into my site, and immediately my neighbor ask me where I got the firewood. I tell him up the road inside the park. Then another neighbor walks over from across the way and ask me the same question. Soon a 3rd person stops on a golf cart.

(golf cart) “Where did you get that firewood?”

(Pants) “OK, I’ve had enough of this. Why is everyone so interested in where I got this firewood?”

(Golf Cart) “We have an invasive insect that is killing our Ash Trees. You must only burn wood found inside the park.”

(Pants) “Oh – I didn’t know. Well, this wood came from just up the road, definitely inside the park.”

(Golf Cart) “Very good – have a nice evening.”

I cut up my wood with my nifty camp saw. Looks like I’m ready for the evening.

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When I got here earlier, I met a retired dude camping a few sites over. I asked him if he would chill my beer while I was gone, to which he was happy to do so. This one is brewed in Memphis – very tasty.

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I walked over to the lake for Happy Hour.

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The sun set, I lit my fire, and started with dinner.

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Not too bad, if I don’t say so myself.

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Even had a nice dessert by the fire.

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Today, the path less traveled revealed the good stuff to me. Tomorrow, I head south. It’s time to go home.
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Re: Poetry

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Day 12: Clearwater Lake, MO to Nimrod Dam, AR, approximately 350 miles.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/fw9dnBDKsUZ3AVdQ8

“I exist as I am, that is enough.”
Walt Whitman

It got a bit chilly last night. I actually had to get into my sleeping bag and zip it. It was kind of nice in the morning, so I stoked up my fire from last night and warmed myself a bit.

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The brisk air got me feeling like taking a walk.

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It’s a nice paved walkway and I’m all by myself listening to the birds.

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I think it ended up being about 2 miles out and back, and it was good to get some exercise.

Back at the campsite, as I packed up everything, one of the neighbors walked over to chat. He said he and the other old goats were in disbelief that I could get all of this stuff on my motorcycle. Indeed, this is impressive.

I stopped at the spill way on the way out of the campground. The air coming off that water was very warm.

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I rode south toward the Arkansas border, and when I came upon hwy 160, turned west. This section is just as nice as the other one I rode last week, although around one particular curve, I stumbled upon this big girl that had gotten loose. She wanted nothing to do with me, and the feeling was most assuredly mutual.

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I rode up to the farmhouse and told the lady there that she had a cow loose. She thanked me for the information.

This is a pretty cool name for a river, and its namesake is interesting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleven_Point_River

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As I travel under the cloudless sky, my mind again started wandering. I’m getting ready to retire in less than a year. The thought of it makes me so excited. My wife retired 3 years ago, and we are looking very forward to traveling and playing together. I am also looking forward to the days when I don’t have to watch the clock. When I am not tethered to the phone and the email and the bullshit. When I can just “exist”, and that will be more than enough. Indeed, those days are going to be good.

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I crossed the border into Mountain Home, AR. Seeing as though I’m so close to Push Mountain Road, I might as well ride it. This is the White River.

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Push Mountain did not disappoint but I have to admit, I didn’t rail it wide open like I usually do. I’m 4000 miles into this trip, and admittedly, I’m tired. An experienced rider knows his limits, and always rides within them. I was content to back off 20% and just enjoy it.

I stopped in Big Flat, AR for my afternoon treat.

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Then I decided to take Hwy 27 south toward Russellville. This is a less traveled terrific alternative to running Hwy 7 when going north/south.

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This is nice running in and out of the mountain.

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South of Russellville, I stopped at Walmart and picked up some food. Then I rode south to the dam at Lake Nimrod (no joke – that is what it’s called). This is another ACOE campground. I pull into the campground and was met by a very pleasant lady. I tell her that I’m going to check out the campground, pick out a site, and return to pay for it. On the way back to the site, I rolled over a stick just the right way, and my rear tire immediately went flat. Crap.

While I was paying for the site, a gentlemen named Mike walked up and offered to help me with my tire. He’s the husband of the lady at the reservation station. A very nice man, he let me know that he has an air compressor and some tools. I rode the flat to my site and setup my tent. Then I returned back to the front and found the hole in my tire. I put two plugs in it, but when I tried to air it up, it leaked almost immediately. I then tried to put a 3rd plug in the hole. This time, when I got to about 30 psi of air, the tire spit out one of the first two plugs. This is not going to work.

Now I’m stuck 25 miles from anywhere. At that point, Mike informed me that he needed to go to Russellville in the morning to run an errand. I told him that I could remove the tire and he offered to give me a ride to find a new tire. I put the bike next to his trailer and used his tools to quickly remove the wheel.

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Mike said he’d like to leave about 9 am, and I told him I’d be ready on time. I took a hot shower and walked over to the dam and called my wife. With any luck, I should be home tomorrow.











Day 13: Nimrod Dam, Arkansas to Lafayette, LA, approximately 400 miles.

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/tmVbEZFvM41sWpEb9

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last night, I was a bit restless. I must admit, I went to sleep concerned about my tire situation. I’m a long way from anywhere.

I woke up early and made myself a decent breakfast.

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I packed up all my gear just in time for Mike to ride by on the golf cart. He happily toted all of my stuff to his trailer, where it could stay safe while we were gone.

Last night, I called a motorcycle friend who lives in Russellville, and he suggested that I take the wheel to the Honda dealer there. When I called the shop, they immediately told me that they would not work on a Yamaha. But when I told them I had the wheel off and was in a bind, they agreed to help me. They had a tire in stock, and so Mike and I went straight there. While I got the tire changed, Mike waited patiently in his car in the parking lot.

They had some cool stuff in the showroom.

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Russellville Honda fixed me up in no time – good people over there for sure. After that, Mike and I started back toward the campground. I asked Mike about his own errand he had to run, to which he replied “Oh, I can get to that later”. Then it occurred to me: there was no errand in the first place. A retired railroad worker, I enjoyed listening to Mike tell me about his life. He and his wife Bonnie volunteer for the campground for free. They do it because they like helping people and feel it is related to their religious ministry.

I’m reminded that this is who we really are inside as a people. Human beings wanting to help one another. I was so thankful that Mike was willing to help me. Frankly, without his help, I don’t know what I would have done. At a minimum, I likely would have been delayed another day or two.

We got back to the campground and I made short effort to re-install the tire and pack the motorcycle. Right about noon, I told Bonnie and Mike a heartfelt “thank you” and rode off to the south.

Just north of Hot Springs, one last glimpse of the mountains. So long and farewell. I’ll see you again soon.

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I crossed Lake DeGray – the weather today again is gorgeous.

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Stopped in Arkadelphia for a late lunch. I’ve eaten here before, and it’s good, but I’ve had enough Mexican to last me a while.

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Now running due south on very familiar road, I’m making time. Not pushing it, mind you, but taking the road in big chunks.

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That was the last picture I took on the road. Late in the afternoon, I found the 4-lane Hwy 167, and I-49 a few hours later. I got home just before dark and was ecstatic to see my wife. It was indeed a wonderful trip.

The next day, I put together my maps for some perspective of my ride. I’m missing Indiana, and the maps are not all to the same scale. But I think this is a pretty cool picture.

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So another adventure is in the books. I had great fun exploring our country. I had time with friends, and time alone. Aside from a tire blowout, my bike performed flawlessly.

The ride is the rhyme, ebbing and flowing
The beauty of the trip is the unknowing
And so until we meet again….
…. Around the next bend.
Stay thirsty, my friends.

Pants.
senecahome, LKLD, danh600 and 2 others loved this
"I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living. Or get busy dying."
- Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption

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Panman
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Re: Poetry

Post by Panman »

Pants, you write a damm good ride report. A lot of your thoughts sit in our in a lot of ours I'm sure.
Thanks for the poetry and taking us along, Pan.
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fontanaman
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Re: Poetry

Post by fontanaman »

Excellent ride report Pants. Thanks for posting.

Retirement is grand. My wife and I have plans to leave Spokane a couple of times this winter that don't involve the motorcycles and I am content with that. Bring the golf clubs, hiking shoes and maybe a bicycle.
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gixxerjasen
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Re: Poetry

Post by gixxerjasen »

Good stuff pants. Excellent ride and report. I still find it hilarious how different folks can be and where they find stress and relief from it. For me, if I don't have a plan and a reservation for a place to lay my head at the end of the day my stress will be super high. Folks like you get stressed when there's a plan and a schedule to keep. I suppose it all keeps it interesting, and it's good to read about others taking that carefree ride that I wish I was able to take, but it does not mesh with my personality. Again, a great report and photos riding in a direction I need to ride one of these days.
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Festus
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Re: Poetry

Post by Festus »

Very much enjoyed the report. I should have commented far earlier, I felt bad when you put all the effort into it and didn't get many replies. I can speak for myself in saying, it wasn't because it wasn't enjoyed, it was because I didn't want to interrupt your story, I was hanging on every word.

Well done!
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Re: Poetry

Post by fjray »

Another great Pants report. I doubt I'll ever get east to ride so at least I can see what I'm missing
All things are simple when approached with a simple mind.
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