After the rally it’s all a bit of an anti-climax. The job is done, now what? For most people it’s back home, for some it’s staying at the hotel for another day or two, for us it was moving on. While we were packing the bike I spotted this rather splendid specimen of workmanship. [After we’d got back to the UK Kevin was idly Googling and discovered the trike has a name – The Patriot – and the owner has a blog.]
Before coming to the US we wondered whether we’d ever want to get on a bike again after the rally but we needn’t have been concerned. We had plans, so after a wonderful lie in we packed up the bike and headed east towards Connecticut and our friends Kris and Scott. They were about 500 miles away and, whilst this was a relatively short hop, we weren’t entirely decided whether we wanted to wander slowly over a couple of days or just get there.
The weather was kind, neither too hot nor rainy, and we made good progress, stopping when we felt like it; bliss! At around 16:00 Kevin was in need of an Iron Butt Motel sleep so we pulled over into a rest area where there were some handy shady benches to sleep on. Kevin slept and I kept an eye on things.
I love people watching and had a good 15 minutes or so watching this couple walk round the bike pointing bits out. They hung around for a long time and I think he would have liked to stay to chat but eventually they ran out of things to look at and drove off. I did feel a bit guilty watching them and not going down but I had ants to deal with.
After his sleep Kevin was raring to go again and the nearer we got to Kris and Scott’s the harder it would have been to stop so we carried on and rolled up their drive at around 21:00. I can’t remember ever being made so welcome. We had a very enthusiastic hello from Kris, Scott and their three dogs – Stumpy, Oxford and Pete.
Kris also has two and a half horses (one’s very tiny) and she keeps them in the back yard, handy for the odd bit of hosing down.
When arranging the visit Kris had asked what we’d like to do while there and sitting on the porch chatting was our preferred option as we knew we’d be tired after the rally. Kris and Scott were like family and we settled in to a relaxed couple of days that included plenty of ice-cream from their local farm. Some time during the rally we lost Kevin’s razor and to save him looking like Desperate Dan we had a bit of retail therapy. On the ferry to Galveston one of the guys who spoke to us suggested we should try the special towels from Lowes that retain the water and keep you cool. There was a Lowes in the local mall so we bought some to try. To date they do seem to stay wet longer but until we get back west where it is really hot we can’t say whether they are any better than just using water on our buffs or sleeves. I’m hoping using these will mean we don’t need to put ice cubes down Kevin’s front any more.
Scott is a gun enthusiast and he kindly took us shooting. Neither of us has ever shot a hand-gun before and we loved it. We weren’t very good but with some training and practice I think we could get the hang of it. We shot .22 to start with, progressed to the whopping Magnum 34, Scott’s .35 (not sure what type it was) then a semi-automatic .22 but we all preferred the Dirty Harry .34. It really felt and sounded like a gun that meant business. We were going to do some clay pigeon shooting as well but the weather wasn’t kind, it just poured and poured, so we had to give that a miss.
The bike had only had an oil, filter and tyres change in 12k miles and needed a service. Our next ride was to be a slow’ish amble to the Acadia National Park, Maine, where we intended to spend a day, so Kevin called dealers en route trying to get a service this week or next. The dealer in Maine said he could fit us in in a fortnight, the dealer in New Hampshire said mid-August, neither of which was any good to us.
We were planning to visit Neil and Grace in Toronto after Maine so he tried BMW Toronto. They were busy the following week but Kevin suggested we could get there by the end of this week if that was easier. BMW Toronto are always keen to help travellers so they said they could squeeze us in on Friday; result! There’s a short route from Connecticut to Toronto through Niagara but having got National Park stamps in the south-western and south-eastern states I was keen to get the north-east one as well so that meant going to Toronto via Maine which is a bit further. As this was Tuesday that didn’t leave us much time so with heavy hearts we quickly packed up and said our farewells to Kris and the dogs (Scott was at work) and headed north. We were nice and relaxed in Connecticut and recharged our batteries. To be honest we’d have loved to stay for a few more days.
Thanks Kris and Scott for a lovely couple of days. We were really sorry we had to leave in such a rush and had a great time with you.
We stopped for a quick National Park stamp in Lowell at a cotton mill which was huge. Unfortunately, once again our schedule meant we were unable to spend any time there.
We had a good ride up through Massachusetts and New Hampshire in glorious weather. We jumped off the interstate early as we were bored and enjoyed some two-way roads with bends.
We spent the night in Belfast at the newly refurbished Yankee Clipper Motel which was very comfortable. A short walk up the road was the Nautilus restaurant with views over the river where we enjoyed a properly cooked meal; no McDonalds for us tonight!
The nearer we got to the the National Park the busier the roads got and the park itself was heaving so perhaps it’s just as well our revised timetable meant we couldn’t stay. At the Citco petrol station just east of the park was a rather unpleasant woman. I think she must have missed out on the ‘customer service’ part of her training. After being rather short with me when I went in to pre-pay for the fuel (a peculiar US custom that drives us up the wall) she practically threw the change at me afterwards; very rude. Ah well, I was obviously having a better day than she was.
We were experiencing some loss of air from the front tyre again. We’re not sure why this is happening, there’s no sign of a puncture (valve maybe?), but it was a good excuse to stop for ice cream.
What we didn’t know was we were about to experience one of the best days of riding we’ve had for a long time as we headed for Canada via Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont – spectacular scenery, twisty two-lane roads and little traffic. The road surface left a little to be desired but it’s for this reason we ride a GSA. We had a great day.
We stopped for a bite to eat and another air fill for the front tyre, early evening, fairly close to the Canadian border. Another long-distance rider who owns a GSA stopped to see if we needed any help or tools. We had quite a chat with him and he really helped us with the routing round Montreal by giving us directions to a new road that completely bypasses it and is not in the Garmin map database. If you should ever read this, thank you for stopping and for the routing assistance, I’m sorry we didn’t get your name.
Just after we got into Canada the heavens opened but it didn’t last for long and as we travelled west we were treated to another glorious sunset.
Early the next morning we rode into the Thousand Island national park (yes, Thousand Island Dressing does apparently come from this area). There are lots of tiny islands, many of which have been built on – a house and a boat shed – and no, we didn’t count them. Occasionally we’d see an island that had been left alone and was covered in trees which gave us a glimpse of what the original area once looked like.
Eventually, via the infamous Toronto Collector (which, as I said earlier, Kevin really enjoys), we found ourselves in Toronto looking for BMW Toronto. This time we managed to follow the SatNav’s instructions until right before our turning when Kevin overtook a lorry and found himself on the Expressway. Fortunately the Don Valley Parkway is one of the few turn-offs that connects directly to the Expressway, phew! The SatNav took us right to the front of the dealer’s building but unfortunately the road was being dug up and we had to do a 10 mile detour to get to the other side.
Neil picked us up and we arranged to collect the bike on Monday morning. Bliss, a compulsory 3 days off.