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Sunday, August 7, 2011

OBX for Lunch - The Long Way

101 degrees! That was the high today. A little much for 335 miles on a motorcycle.

We started our Sunday at the monthly meeting of the BMW Motorcycle Club of Hampton Roads at the Golden Corral.  Record turnout today. Well, I don't know about a record, but there were a lot of bikes there today.


For the rest of the day, I had a route planned out that took us to the Outer Banks for a late lunch. Especially late, since the trip there was about 220 miles, the long way there. The GPS did a good job today. I think I figured it out. When I laid out the route on MapQuest, the quickest route was only 80 miles. In order to pick up a few extra counties in North Carolina, I had to set via points on the map which would lead us the long way around to the Outer Banks. What I think I've discovered is that when I import the map to the GPS with "via" points, the GPS decides that it is not the fastest way and changes it. However, if I change the "via" points to "way" points, meaning it is a place I want to visit, it works. I can do that very easily on MapQuest before sending to the GPS and it works.

Today was so hot, we definitely had to stop quite a few times just to stay hydrated. I can't imagine taking a long-distance trip in weather like this. Just too hot. And the roads we took were rather boring, the best of them wrapping around Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde county and Engelhard was a neat little fishing town, though it seemed like a ghost town. We passed a lot of burnt swamps, if that makes sense.


We went to Goombays for lunch, got there about 3:30 p.m., but since we had Golden Corral for breakfast, as anybody knows, that can last all day. Goombays was suggested by a friend of mine. We like to find the places that are not a franchise, this place was great. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the bikes in front of the restaurant, so I've done a little improvising and embellished a bit using Photoshop. In the journalism business, this would be an obvious no-no, so it's called a photo illustration.


So, that was our day. We came back the direct way and surprisingly, didn't have too much traffic, even though it was a Sunday evening. I kept hoping it might rain on us to cool us down, but never happened. Stayed at 100 degrees the entire trip today. In keeping with tradition, we added a bumper sticker to the collection. 


Friday, August 5, 2011

Trailering the Bikes

video

This was our first overnight trip with the trailer. The trip was over Mother's Day weekend this year, so it was a few months ago. We haven't gone out again overnight since. The trailer doesn't have an air conditioner, so it will really be a spring, fall, winter recreation. The video above shows what the trailer looks like to us as we pack it up.


As you can see, we have the perfect truck for pulling this trailer. I'm pretty sure we can pull just about anything with that truck. It's a 2011 Ford F350 Super Duty Diesel which gets about 20 mpg during normal traveling and about 11 mpg when towing.

For this trip we decided to head to the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Va. We stayed at a campground called Misty Mountain Camp Resort.


The 10x10 tent became the carport for our bikes. One of the benefits of this kind of camping is bringing the dogs with us. They thought it was pretty cool, too.


The trailer has a sink, refrigerator, microwave, and wet bath (meaning a toilet and shower not separate). We still don't really know anything about RVing, so we have not enjoyed some of the full benefits, like not having to walk all the way to the bath house in the middle of the night. Since we bought the trailer on Craigslist, we didn't get the obliged lessons from the RV dealership on how to use the different water tanks: black water, grey water and fresh water. We'll figure it out eventually.


I was a little concerned that towing the trailer with the bikes would leave a residual smell of gasoline and that inside would pretty much smell like a garage. Surprisingly, that wasn't the case. There are enough vents to help draw the air out while traveling. And enough windows to keep it aired out when camping. When the bikes are out of the trailer, the two beds fold down to either couches or beds. This was quite comfortable, especially compared to sleeping in a tent.


The purpose of this trip was to find some little, less traveled roads, and hopefully some fun off-road opportunities. Both Steve and I want to get better at the off-road riding, just in case we are ever in a predicament on some way out of the way road in Kazakhstan on our trip around the world (way in the future). We got started going North of I-64 on the eastern side of the mountains. The Skyline drive is on that side and costs a bit of money to ride, and we've been there, done that. So our goal was just to have fun on some of the forest roads and small roads in the foothills. We had a blast. Found some technically difficult roads, which we ultimately decided not to continue up. The video shows Steve riding my bike to see if one particular area was too difficult for our abilities. My bike had knobby tires and is a bit lighter than his. We did not continue up this road, I was sure I couldn't do it.




While we were out and about, we left the dogs in the trailer, opened all the windows and had a fan blowing on them. We put their dog beds in there, left the radio playing some soft music, lots of water. They were pretty set up. We came back at lunch time and they were very grateful to have been allowed to come with us on this trip.  


One of my favorite things about camping is the campfire. I love sitting by the fire in the evening. It did begin sprinkling a bit during the evening, so we sat just under the 10x10 with the fire ring just outside. Dogs were loving life. We thought we would have to tie them up while we were hanging around the camp site, but these dogs were awesome and very well behaved. Only time we put a leash on is when we ventured out of the camp site and visited with other campers. Life was good for Belle and Tanner.
We continued our motorcycle venturing on Sunday, which was Mother's Day. It's so much fun just finding some of the small roads. In this case we also decided to travel for a while on the Blue Ridge Parkway, even though we've been there, done that. It's just such a fantastic ride. We then found a small road off the BRP to take back down to the valley. It was a very twisty road leading down, highway 56, a scenic byway. On this road, we happened upon Crabtree Falls. Unfortunately, so did a bunch of other people. We decided not to stay as this is not what we were out to do, but instead we wanted to find our own private adventures. 

While we didn't come across water falls, we happened upon a large dam at the base of the mountains and some pretty neat streams. 

This was a really great trip for a weekend away and a test run on our trailer. We plan to take the trailer on a longer trip in October to get a little farther west into West Virginia, Tennessee, and maybe a drive into Kentucky. Should be cool enough by then considering we don't have A/C. We may have to learn how to use some of the amenities that the trailer offers, especially if we decide to do any back country trips where there won't be a convenient bath houses.                                                                                      

I'm also missing my bike as it's been about a month since I've been out on a ride. Steve and I plan on a ride this weekend down to the Outer Banks for lunch. Of course, we can't just go straight there, we have to take the long way there to capture a couple more counties.You know, making a 75-mile trip into a 200-mile trip.