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#511996 - 08/24/09 02:50 AM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Joe Frickin' Friday Offline


Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 17552
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI (USA)
Day 5: Thursday, August 13
Route: Lancaster, NH to Arcade Village, NY
Distance:559 miles

On Tuesday a group had gotten up at 3:30 AM to watch the sunrise from the summit of Mount Washington. They had been turned back at the entry gate due to heavy fog which would have made for a dangerous ascent. This morning, some of them tried again, and this time were met with success. clap

Me? I slept in. 3:30 would have been a bit much; I’ll see the sun rise some other time, some other place. Maybe on the internet. grin

Besides, I had a full schedule. I needed to get at least half way to Ann Arbor today, but I had a long list of things to see along the way, so an early start was important. After a tasty ham-and-egg sandwich at the resort diner, I finished packing up the bike, said my goodbye’s, and hit the road at about 8:00. Like yesterday, there had been dense fog when I woke up (not just in my head), but by departure time it had cleared enough so that street-level visibility was not a problem.

The first stop was just 30 miles down the road near Lyndonville, Vermont, where an open field had been festooned with a giant ball and jacks:

They appeared to be expertly made, but there was no sign or anything else to indicate who made them or why. There was also a giant key and keyhole, but I didn’t catch a photo of them.

A few miles away in the heart of downtown of Lyndonville, I searched for – but could not find – The Puking Pig. My bad, it looks like it was in the town next door, Lyndon Center. Oops.

As I was riding out of Lyndonville, I spotted a welding shop where the proprietor and his staff had gone a little nuts with creativity and assembled a bunch of sculptures from propane tanks and random pieces of steel:

A closeup of “The Vermonster:”

I thought the tax collection bucket (and blood spatter) were nice touches.

20 miles down the road, I arrived at the barn with a hammer-shaped weather vane, first mentioned on day 2:

Now you understand what I meant by hammer-shaped: it wasn’t just a passing resemblance, or a freak oversight, this weather vane was deliberately constructed to look like a giant claw hammer. I would have loved to get closer for a shot, but the horse-sized dog to the left of the barn vociferously forbade further approach.

36 miles further, I arrived at the Middlesex Cemetery, where a brief search led me to an odd grave marker:

The text at bottom reads:

On the opposite side of the marker, Mr. Crow’s name was accompanied by that of a lady, presumably his wife. It was difficult to find more information about this marker, but the one web page I found claimed that Mr. Crow had been the owner of the National Clothes Pin Factory in nearby Montpelier. One may also assume that he (or his family, at least) had an unshakeable sense of humor.

After leaving Mr. Crow’s clothespin, I went to Barre, Vermont, looking for something Roadside America had billed simply as “the whispering statue,” a statue whose esplanade was said to possess some interesting acoustical properties. When I arrived, it was not at all what I expected:

(click on image to open a full-sized panoramic photo in a new window)

Turns out this was a memorial to the nation’s war-dead. The inscription below the statue read:


I was a bit taken aback by the solemn tone of it all, which was not at all in sync with the expectations I had developed based on the “whispering statue” description. I finally left without looking into the aforementioned acoustic properties (supposedly a person standing at one end of the semicircular wall can whisper and be heard by someone standing at the far end).

My next stop was much farther away, about 160 miles. I followed the GPS down I-89, then west on VT107/100 and US4 into Adirondack Park. Eventually I was enjoying a scenic, twisty cruise along the western shore of Great Sacandaga Lake. Half way down the western shore, I stopped at the Four Corners diner, where I was served a surprisingly good cheeseburger for a hole-in-the-wall shack in the middle of no where.

After lunch I rode through Northville, then turned south on NY30 for a couple of miles, at which point I arrived at a house with a tree growing through it:

The house appeared to be abandoned some time ago, and the tree was clearly dead; I simply could not figure out how these two items had arrived in their present configuration, and since then I haven’t been able to find any relevant information at all. Berry, berry strange.

Unlike the whispering statue, my next stop was properly described by Roadside America as a 9/11 memorial. It seemed a bit odd to me that this memorial had been erected in DeWitt, a suburb of Syracuse about 200 miles from the World Trade Center site. Then again, maybe it’s a bit different when 9/11 happened in your own state.

The memorial was built around a steel-and-concrete beam salvaged from the debris of the World Trade center:

In a few places on the beam, some personal effects – apparently from victims of the attack – had been left behind:

After leaving the memorial I headed west on I-690 through Syracuse. Near the heart of downtown I passed by another Roadside America entry called ”Waiting for the Night Train. This is an abandoned train station in which a sculptor placed several ghostly, dirty white statues, all of whom are waiting for a train to arrive. Unfortunately the sculptures are only visible from the highway; with dense, fast-moving traffic, it’s impossible to photograph unless you’re a passenger in a car.

Further west in Syracuse I left the highway to check out an oddity in the Tipperary Hill district, a traffic light turned upside down:

As you can see, the red light is on the bottom. I waited and waited to take a second pic, but the light never turned green until I gave up and approached it on my RT.

The official history is that when the traffic light was first installed in the 1920’s, Irish fanatics in the neighborhood were offended that the green was on the bottom (and red, a color associated with the British, was on top); they smashed the original light, and several identical replacements installed by the city. The authorities finally relented and installed a green-on-top traffic light, to which none of the locals objected.

Before I saddled up to leave, I saw a mailman walking his route through the neighborhood. I had with me a postcard which I had bought at the summit of Mount Washington, filled out in the hotel room at the Un, and intended to mail to Masako. Since then I had searched a few times for a mailbox but been unable to find one, and now here was a real live postman, happy to take my card off my hands. (The post card made it home the day after I did. grin)

I headed northwest out of town, bound for Wolcott, 40 miles away. It was late afternoon, and I was headed approximately west; as such, the sun had begun its transition from “damn hot” to “blindingly bright.” Things hadn’t really started cooling down yet – the temp was somewhere near 90 – but the sun was getting low enough so that the sun was starting to get in my eyes. Ah, the best of all worlds. grin

Upon reaching Wolcott, I bore witness to the goddess Venus rising fully formed from the sea:

The plaque on the side of the fountain:

As pretty as Venus and her cherubs were, the benthic beasties what bore them aloft were somewhat more disturbing to behold:

After leaving Wolcott, I headed west on NY104 to Rochester. By now the sun was getting even lower, consistently blasting me in the eyes; I was grateful for my Shoei’s tinted visor. At Rochester I turned south on I-390, relieving me of that damnable solar glare. The GPS begged me to turn west on the I-90 tollway again, but I had learned my lesson days earlier, and wanted to see more of rural New York. I skipped I-90 altogether, and further south at US20 I turned west for a couple of miles, stopping in Avon for gas before heading south and west on NY39 and NY78. By this time the sun had begun its transition from “blindingly bright” to “dazzlingly beautiful” as it sunk low on the horizon and grew redder and dimmer. The temperature had dropped quite a bit, too: the riding was transformed from an uncomfortably hot means-to-an-end into a true pleasure cruise across sparsely populated farmland.

Somewhere west of Gainesville I spotted a wind turbine, and then as I crested a hill, many more of them. Big turbines. Really big ones, by the dozen. Finally I decided to turn off on a dirt road that seemed to lead to one near by. Before I reached the end, I parked the bike and took a couple of shots, since the sun and surroundings seemed perfect for a glamour photo or two:

Back on the bike, I followed the road another hundred yards or so to its terminus, and was very surprised to see that the tower was fully accessible to any visitor. No fence, no “NO TRESPASSING” signs, nothing. The tower had an access door at the bottom; I didn’t try it, but I would have been shocked if it were actually unlocked. The door is helpful in providing a sense of scale for this thing:

Opponents of wind farms sometimes claim that these huge turbines emit low-frequency acoustic noise from the big blades, but standing just 100 feet from the base of the tower, I didn’t hear much noise from the blades at all. About every minute or so a big electric motor at the top of the tower would run for a bit, presumably to adjust blade pitch or heading.

Further west in Curriers, I spotted The Little Engine That Could:

On the other side of the tracks, the Curriers Depot:

The track is active, with antique trains operated by the Arcade and Attica Railroad making a weekly stop here with a trainload of tourists.

As you can see from the locomotive picture, by this time it was starting to get pretty dark out. I saddled up and got ten miles south and west before stopping in Arcade for the night. This town had the only lodging the GPS could pull up that was reasonably close, the Arcade Village Motel. During check-in the middle-aged lady behind the counter was having trouble with the credit card machine. I finally scanned my own card for her, and joked that she should start a self-service hotel and just go on vacation. I laughed when she told me this wasn’t actually her hotel; she was running it for her daughter, who was in fact on vacation at the time. grin

At the end of check-in, I was handed an old-fashioned mechanical key:

Usually when I travel I stay in a major chain hotel. Over the past 20 years or so, all of the major chains have switched over to magnetic key-card systems on the rooms, eliminating a lot of the hassle, expense, and security problems associated with keys that get lost or kept by customers. The new-fangled key-cards certainly are more convenient, but with the disappearance of conventional brass keys, I feel like something ineffable has been lost. It’s a bit like the arrival of twist-off caps on beer bottles: no doubt the new technology is more convenient, but somehow I miss the ceremony/tradition of the old way. Last year I bought Tom Petty’s Highway Companion album, and it included a post card that evokes a similar nostalgia:

After a late dinner of beer-battered fish at the local restaurant across the street, I called it a night.

#512008 - 08/24/09 03:32 AM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: DavidEBSmith]
der Wanderer Offline

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 305
Loc: SW Denver, CO, USA
Originally Posted By: DavidEBSmith

I don't remember if I told the Canadian guy that I was at a motorcycle rally, or if it was in some database that I was at a motorcycle rally, but that was clearly the answer the US guy was looking for.

I travel internationally maybe a half dozen times a year or more. I have had a couple very bizarre conversations like that, very freaky. Big brother watching me and knowing things about me, and telling me they know...
2002 BMW R1150RT - she served me, time for me to learn to service her

#512030 - 08/24/09 05:01 AM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: der Wanderer]
der Wanderer Offline

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 305
Loc: SW Denver, CO, USA
Mitch, this is great reading. Thanks a lot!

I have been looking at your gear. You seem to be wearing some sort of reinforced jeans, presumably with some kevlar patches at the knees, etc; and impact protection at the knees. It actually looks much better than those I had seen to date. What brand is that?

Also, your "twin" and you seem to wear something with black stripes on your shoulders (but the pictures never let it be seen). Are those Camelbacks?

2002 BMW R1150RT - she served me, time for me to learn to service her

#512071 - 08/24/09 12:17 PM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: der Wanderer]
Joe Frickin' Friday Offline


Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 17552
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI (USA)
Originally Posted By: der Wanderer
I have been looking at your gear. You seem to be wearing some sort of reinforced jeans, presumably with some kevlar patches at the knees, etc; and impact protection at the knees. It actually looks much better than those I had seen to date. What brand is that?

They are Draggin' Jeans. You're correct, they have a Kevlar lining in the knees and seat. I bought them with extra length and an extra couple of inches in the waist so I could fit in CE-rated knee/hip armor, which attaches to the Kevlar. I also had one mating half half of a zipper stitched to the back so that I can zip my jacket to it; keeps my jacket from riding up.

Also, your "twin" and you seem to wear something with black stripes on your shoulders (but the pictures never let it be seen). Are those Camelbacks?

Ayup. (Look closer in those pics, and you'll spot the blue drinking tube coming over our right shoulders.) I do whatever I can so that I stop when I want to, not when I have to. A Camelbak or other hydration system removes thirst from the list of reasons to stop.

#512084 - 08/24/09 12:42 PM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Dr Ron Offline
Newer Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 17
That seat on your RT looks comfortable, which brand/model is it?
May the Lord bless You on your Path.. Don't forget to Pray for Me 'cause I'd rather be Blessed than Bad! If you see a little bald guy pass you by on an Apple Red GT... Wave!

#512101 - 08/24/09 01:19 PM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Dr Ron]
Art.. Offline

Registered: 04/27/01
Posts: 3443
Loc: NY State / NE PA
Hey Mitch, nice ride report. I missed the Un this year due to work obligations, but I did just do a New England tour over the last 4 days.

I rode Hurricane Mountain Road in the pouring rain. Fun road.

#512467 - 08/25/09 09:30 AM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
der Wanderer Offline

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 305
Loc: SW Denver, CO, USA
Thanks Mitch!
Indeed can see the details now, in particular that blue tube.
While I am at it, two more questions if I may:
- what brand jacket is that? I suspect that your "twin's" may be a Motoport, but am not sure. As a result yours might be as well?
- I tend to find pants over boots more comfortable for me; you seem to wear boots over pants. Any particular reason besides looks?

Edited by der Wanderer (08/25/09 09:39 AM)
2002 BMW R1150RT - she served me, time for me to learn to service her

#512490 - 08/25/09 11:59 AM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: der Wanderer]
hANNAbONE Offline

Registered: 10/22/00
Posts: 4977
Loc: Versailles, Indiana
sOME aWESOME tALES, my brutha - Good to see your twin Shawn was up for the trip and continues the "doubling"...crazy pair you two.
Nice pics..very cool trip for you, Mitch.!
h A N N A b O N E
.F.O.G.Member & Friend of Signman & Paul Mihalka

2012 Black Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere'
Versailles, Windy-Anna

#512505 - 08/25/09 12:38 PM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: hANNAbONE]
Joe Frickin' Friday Offline


Registered: 07/28/00
Posts: 17552
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI (USA)
Day 6: Friday, August 14
Route: Arcade Village, NY to Ann Arbor, MI
Distance: 407 miles

You know you’re in a small town when there’s a grain elevator right across the street from your hotel:

Nellie’s restaurant is connected (business-wise, at least) to the motel (I assume Nellie was the one on vacation…). At check-in the previous night, I was given a card that gave me a 10% discount at the restaurant, so I walked over for breakfast. Good stuff, although it felt a bit weird to be in there. The restaurant shares a parking lot with the motel, but it seemed to be mostly locals who were eating there, all of whom knew each other – and here I was, a solitary stranger in weird-lookin’ motorcycle gear, quietly slurping down coffee in the corner.

After breakfast I wanted to take a picture of the motel, but the battery in my camera had died. frown I bought some more before heading out of town, because I had more fun stops to make. lurk

The GPS was again suggesting main highways to reach my first stop, but by this time I was regarding its instructions as what NOT to do. Instead of heading west on NY39, I turned SOUTH onto county road 59. Mission accomplished: literally two blocks later I was out of town and headed through cow-and-corn territory. I zigged and zagged west and south on back roads, maneuvering through hills and valleys with the sun more or less at my back, dead-reckoning my way toward my first destination, the Griffis Sculpture Park near East Otto.

I was a bit worried as I progressed up the dirt road to the parking area. A big German Shepherd dog had stood up and begun staring as I approached. I didn’t know whether he was a stray, or just a nearby farm dog who had acquired some extra territory, and an RT facing the wrong direction (i.e. toward the dog) on a very rough dirt road wasn’t going to afford a quick escape if the need arose. Ultimately he got bored and wandered off in some other direction. Shortly after that I was amused to see, on the park sign behind him, a list of rules – the first of which was “NO DOGS ALLOWED.” rofl

The park had an appreciable trail complex to take visitors past a whole array of sculptures. Owing to time constraints I decided to only walk the first portion of the trail. After examining their website it seems I missed out on quite a few of the more interesting sculptures, but I did get to see a few neat pieces.

This was one of the first I saw:

It was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the surface was covered with an ornate contouring texture (more easily seen here in a full-sized view) that appeared to have been made with just a long series of weld beads. Pretty creative, thinks I. Second, when I touched it, I discovered that the whole thing was not fixed to its base: it had literally been balanced like a coin on edge. Maybe it was brand new, or maybe it was broken, I don’t know; it worried me a bit, because the first little kid to poke that thing is likely to get thumped by 60 pounds of falling steel. eek

Down the trail a bit, a giant wasp:

Nice work on the lace-wings. thumbsup

The trail took me over a stream on a footbridge. The stream was pretty modest, but there was evidence of a very recent, very large flood: ten feet up each bank, the grass and scrub had been beaten to a pulp and was all pointing downstream. Some parts of the trail where the flood waters had spread wider were still very muddy, too.

Across the river I found this cryptic obelisk:

It was a nice abstract piece, one I wouldn’t mind having in my living room. It had features on both sides; as you can tell by the sign, this was the backside, but the sun was facing the wrong way for photographing the front. C’est la vie…

Further on, I arrived at this piece, which actually creeped me out a little bit:

The idea of getting into (and taking up residence in) someone’s head – or maybe being a prisoner in your own head – was kind of unsettling. Nonetheless, the muddy witness marks on the seat told of a philistine raccoon that had found the place entirely agreeable.

Out in the field near the entrance, a piece called “Orbit,” a large, oblate spheroid constructed of cleverly stacked wooden pallets:

After admiring “Orbit” for a bit, I got back on the bike and headed north. I only got about ten miles before I encountered a work crew and a big “ROAD CLOSED” barricade. Huh. I sat there and fiddled with the GPS a bit to find an alternate route north, and eventually took off down a side road. A few miles later, another “ROAD CLOSED.” Another detour, and yet another “ROAD CLOSED” sign. eek What the heck? It finally occurred to me that this was probably related to the flooded creek in the sculpture park: my assumption was that the Cattaraugus Creek (visible on the GPS) had similarly flooded and washed out the bridges for all of these roads I was trying to ride on. The Zoar Valley Nature Society’s webpage (the creek flows through Zoar Valley) later confirmed my suspicions. Even today as I write this (August 18), their website is reporting the following:

- Forty Road is closed due to pavement buckling/washout. No access to the DEC Forty Road parking area.
- Deer Lick Preserve parking area is closed until further notice.
- Route 62 between Gowanda and Dayton is closed.
- Gowanda Zoar Road between Springville and the gorge closed in some areas due to washout conditions.
- Pt. Peter Road may be blocked/congested with construction vehicles due to reconstruction of washed out water reservoir. May affect Valentine Flats access.

That must have been one bad-ass storm.

Ultimately I ended up backtracking about ten miles southwest to the town of Cattaraugus before I could head north on an intact road.

Before leaving Cattaraugus altogether, I spotted the American Cutlery Musem:

Surprisingly, this little gem was not listed on Roadside America; it was just an added bonus. As exciting and enticing as it seemed, I declined to stop, as I wanted to get home at a decent time today.

A few miles later, I passed by a house that had been decorated with a barnstar:

There weren’t many of these in this part of New York, but up in New Hampshire and Vermont, it seemed like everyone had one, as common as mailboxes. Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else. rofl

Half an hour later I reached Silver Creek, on the shore of Lake Erie. After some searching (and ultimately a phone call) I located Valvo’s Candy, home of the Dotty Dimple statue:

As you can see, Dotty is a laid-back kinda gal:

Although they bill themselves primarily as a candy shop (and they do have a ton of candy!), they sell lots of other stuff too, including a vast army of statues suitable (well, some maybe not so suitable) for decorating one’s yard. And really, who wouldn’t want a hand-painted bust of Elvis greeting visitors on their doorstep?

Inside the shop, the smell was a bit…odd. And soon I noticed the carpet fans scattered about, blasting air all over in an effort to dry the floor. Clearly the place had flooded recently, probably at the same time the Zoar Valley bridges washed out and the creek in the sculpture park overflowed. I asked the staff when the flood happened, and they said it was the previous Sunday evening. That was the first night of my trip, when I had stayed in Canandaigua and my bike got hosed; it must have been the same storm system. She told me they only had a couple of inches of water and hadn’t lost any inventory, but the cookie factory down the road had four or five feet of water; they lost all their inventory and damaged a lot of equipment. Ouch.

I spent several minutes browsing around the inside of their store:

(click on image to open a full-sized panoramic photo in a new window)

Before leaving I bought a pound of bite-sized chocolates, each one filled with a fruit-crčme or fruit jelly center. I still had a few hundred miles to go before reaching home, and the day wasn’t done heating up yet; I was gambling that the chocolates would somehow stay cool enough in the sidecase to not melt and choclify all my clothes. dopeslap

Just ten miles west in Dunkirk I arrived at the last of my planned Roadside America attractions, a giant Indian head carved from a tree trunk:

It’s been there for a while; the artist donated it to the city back in 1973. Judging from his face, it looks like he’d rather be somewhere else.

With the last roadside attraction now crossed off the list, it was time to make tracks for my Michigan domicile. And so I found my way to I-90 and made good use of the cruise control. Erie, Ashtabula, and Cleveland rolled by before I stopped for gas. I stopped one more time at a service island somewhere between Cleveland and Toledo to stretch my legs and check in with Masako.

Finally, a little after 4:00, I arrived at Ann Arbor. Before riding the last mile home, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a bunch of roses:

Buying flowers ought to be standard practice for any gentleman who travels solo while his wife or girlfriend holds down the fort, awaiting his return (if your lady doesn’t care for flowers, you can safely disregard this unsolicited advice). Put one plastic grocery bag over the bottom of the stems, and another grocery bag over the top, with that bag wrapped snugly around the stems. Then tangle the stems (and top bag) tightly in a bungee on the rack of your bike, and the blossoms should be able to survive a mile or two, provided you don’t do much over 30-40 MPH.

A great homecoming, how nice to arrive at a big, air-conditioned Home and a happy-to-see-me Masako after melting my way across Ohio on I-80 (the chocolates, BTW, did just fine). An added bonus, Masako had just finished putting together one of my favorite dinners, chicken tagine:


Now all I had to do was grab a beer and tell stories to Masako for a couple of hours while it finished cooking. cool



This was the first road trip for the new R1200RT, and it did pretty good. Cruise control was a great improvement over the old bike, and the extra power was a nice plus as well. I have, unfortunately, less enthusiasm for the new Corbin saddle. The stock saddle was of course completely unacceptable for all-day touring; although the Corbin was an improvement, it was not nearly as comfortable as my 1100’s Corbin was, and – more importantly – not as comfortable as it really needs to be. Modification or replacement is forthcoming.

And the trip itself? A nice getaway. Always fulfilling to ride cross-country, to find twisty roads we can’t find here in Michigan, and to meet up with a big group of new and old friends at the terminus. As I mentioned on Day 2, my impression of New York has changed much for the better. Also, this was the first bike trip where I’d made a point of seeing roadside attractions in addition to the scenery and roads, and it was a hoot. I expect I’ll be doing it again on future trips.

Thanks for reading. wave

#512512 - 08/25/09 01:24 PM Re: Head East: My Unrally Tour [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]
Twisties Offline

Registered: 05/03/07
Posts: 5957
Loc: Brookings, OR
You have to wonder at the mind that would choose to shoot a multi-shot panorama in candy shop.... smile

Nicely done.

Looks like a lot of work went into the posting.


Sand Beige 2007 R1200RT "Flyer"

Blind Man Images on Facebook

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