Day 1 Cambridge, Massachusetts to Endicott, New York
Dachary and I both had plenty of paying work that had to get done yesterday, and we still hadn’t packed the bikes. Fortunately, we had a checklist… a six page checklist. Unfortunately, the checklist didn’t include spare keys, which we didn’t discover until half an hour down the road. Dachary asked if we should go back or be “irresponsible”. I said “fuck it.” I wasn’t going back, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
Tired from a long day, we packed until probably 11PM and went to bed, before waking up at 5:45. We were both nervous and excited I think. The first order of business was shaving my head. I didn’t want to have to deal with any more hair in my eyes with the helmet on, and fearing the impending temperatures in the midwest I wanted the best opportunity to stay cool. The result is totally dorky looking, and Dachary says I look my age, which is somewhat sad because usually I’m pegged for about 10 years younger. :(
We showered, packed up the bikes, ate a good breakfast, and finally set out at 11:00 AM. A stop at the ATM (cash is good) and a last minute purchase at REI (collapsable bowls to save space) and we were finally, officially, on the highway at noon with no reason to stop beyond food and gas.
The highway was… highway. Having gotten a late start we wanted to make up for lost time and took the toll filled I90 west.
We ate lunch at one of those on-the-highway “service areas” where we met a couple out camping for the weekend in a station-wagon packed to the gills with gods only know what. The bikes and dogs also got fluids. The Ural was especially thirsty.
A little ways down the road and we saw three fire engines, a bunch of troopers, smoke billowing, and geysers of water being sprayed at it. A tractor-trailer had caught fire, and gotten so hot that it managed to leave nothing but a pile of slag and… whatever it is that you call the thing your wheels mount on to.
A few minutes after that the Ural ran out of fuel in the main tube and Dachary had to reach down and flip the petcock while driving. Fortunately, she is a wise and observant woman who had predicted this just after the fire, and had found the petcock switch and practiced flipping it while riding before she actually needed to.
We have a roto-pax with a gallon of spare gas, and the shoulders were pretty wide in that part of NY so I wasn’t too concerned. Mostly I’m concerned about the fact that the range on this thing is absolute crap, and fueling it is going to be inordinately expensive. I don’t think there’s any way we can do around-the-world in this without installing a fuel-cell or carrying a lot of spare jerry-cans.
On our penultimate gas stop we encountered Marty Sullivan and his band of intrepid National Guardsmen (and woman). Actually, I’ve no clue what Marty’s rank was relative to anyone else’s there. But, we’d found shade, and one of their trucks had broken down, so they joined us and we chatted for a bit.
We love these random encounters with interesting people, but we were already running behind and had miles to go, so we politely excused ourselves and suited up. One unexpected discovery during this rest stop was a pair of clip-on sunglasses for me. I lost the old-people over-glasses glasses that I was using previously, so I was pretty excited about this. They are of course shaped like your classic cop-style sunglasses, which combined with my new haircut looks totally…. something. Dachary hasn’t seen them yet.
As 7pm approached we’d done nearly 300 miles and were passing through the towns just before the campground and feeling really grossed out. We did not like these places at all and I was scared the “campground” was just going to be some lot behind an industrial plant with a pile of RV’s on rocks, but the buildings gave way to trees, our hopes started rising, and we found a surprisingly decent campground. The only weirdness, besides wanting to actually see the rabies certs. for the dogs, is that the gate closes along with the office at 8PM and there’s no getting back in unless you’re a permanent resident (all RV campgrounds have permanent residents as far as I can tell). This isn’t such a problem for the BMW but the Ural just doesn’t fit around the gate.
Dachary and I threw the tent up, and I took off to find food at a local restaurant while she finished setting up camp, because we were just too bushed to deal with cooking.
The chicken I grabbed from Pete’s Chicken turns out to be the best damn chicken either of us have tasted. This isn’t just good chicken. It’s “Fucking Good” chicken. It’s excellent. I wouldn’t drive 300 miles to get it again, and the towns preceding it are scary, but if you happen to be in the area…. it’s good.
That’s about it for the night, beyond discovering that we’d also forgotten to bring AAA batteries or put any in our tent light, which is a bit of a luxury we admit, but it’s very nice to have when you’ve got to sit around typing up a post and reading your notes from the day in the dark.
Dachary’s note: UDF, or Ural Delay Factor, is something we’ve already experienced with our rig… but it appears to be amplified by the dogs, all the gear and the custom sidecar cover. When we stopped at REI to pick up collapsible bowls, I stayed with the rig and the dogs, and we met Peter (Motorcycle Marketing Resources – MMRsite.com). He was very interested in the rig, and we had a pleasant chat.
When we stopped for gas/lunch, we met a couple on their way to a bluegrass festival in NY (whose names, I stupidly did not get)… and when we stopped for another gas break (the Ural takes a lot of gas!) we met Marty Sullivan and his fellow National Guardsmen that Kay mentioned above. Lots of pleasant chats with friendly, interesting people… we love the interactions with people, as it’s these encounters you remember long after the trip – but I forget to account for the extra time.