Friday April 12, 2013, first ride of the season. It has been a very long winter and I was itching to ride. I work until 3pm and it was raining with heavy sleet, windy and 44 degrees Farenheit - 5 Celcius, bbbrrrrr, cold. I was looking for any excuse to postpone the ride until the next day. I texted Vicki letting her know that my stomach is in "knots", expecting someone to knock some sense into me. Funny, her response was, "you know your limits and when to stop, inch by inch". Well, I was not expecting that response, anyone else would have said, "ride in the morning." I loved her answer and it boosted my spirits. Fantastic, that was the response that I needed, no sympathy!! I quickly loaded the bike and off I went into the rain. It was pouring rain, one mile down the road, my right mirror gets loose. I pull over to a Jiffy Lube and ask the guy for a wrench and he was useless. Did not want to get wet, said he had none. Good thing I carry tools, I just did not want to dig them out in the rain, it would have been quicker if that guy just loaned me one, idiot!!
I was heading west Massachusetts Interstate 90 into the New York Thruway, towards Buffalo NY, it was around 8pm. 5 hours into the ride and the rain would not stop with heavy fog. I continued riding and getting very, very cold, it was around 31 degrees Farenheit - 0 Celsius. I did not want to stop riding. It gets darker and darker. I stopped for gas and I was shivering, SO cold. Checked my iPhone for the time, noticed a text message from my son. I replied to him to let him know how cold I was. He says, "Mom, you need to get off that highway and stop riding, it is too dangerous". Worried son, he knocks some sense into this woman. I thought, "ok, will stop". Checked iPhone for a hotel nearby and called one, the lady was super nice and said my motorcycle will be secure in the parking lot. 10 miles down the interstate, it seemed like an eternity, "yes, I could feel the warm blankets already". It took me a few hours before I stopped shaking from being so cold.
Morning, no sun but forecast says rain will stop. It was windy, blustery and I was full of energy as usual when I am riding. I love to get up fresh, look out the window from the hotel to see my bike. Is it still there? The fear of my motorcycle getting stolen is always a concern. I am off to meet Vicki, a couple of stops for gas and arrived a few minutes late where she is waiting for me. I wrote a separate blog about meeting Vicky. Click on the black and white photo to read the blog entry.
Ginger (bear) and I were now in Pennsylvania after wasting over 2 hours going around in circles in Buffalo New York. The same thing happened to Vicki on her way home after our meeting. What is up with that? The GPS had me going around in circles and I could not get out, I paid the same toll 3 times trying to get out, it was very frustrating. Finally, the sun came out showcasing Ginger's nice red lipstick. I was feeling fantastic wearing my new helmet sponsored by MOTORESS. During the cold ride in the rain, my fingers were so cold, I tried to adjust the volume on my Scala Rider and somehow I pushed it back and it flew off my helmet. The gift from MOTORESS was a blessing. The new helmet provides a better sound system that I will not be able to break as easy, so happy!!
The ride continues and I was riding as fast as possible trying to make up wasted time. Weather was getting better, still a little windy from the storm, but so much better than the past two days, it was so welcomed. I found myself in West Virginia, hungry. No time to stop for food. A good family friend (truck driver) taught me that the best food is found at truck stops. Yes, he is right, I find one, load up on some carbohydrates and vegetables and off into the heart of West Virginia. It was getting dark again but I didn't want to stop. The highway was not so friendly with frequent hotels as in NY and Pennsylvania. It felt like I was in a forest. I was concerned. I was deep into the Appalachian Mountains. Here is a Wikipedia link about the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. Beautiful highway even though it is a major interstate. It has winding roads through the mountains providing beautiful color as the trees at that time of year are blossoming with flowers.
It was dark, so I decided to find a place to rest for the night. As usual, gas up, search my iPhone for hotel, nearest one is around 30 miles into the forest and very expensive. Aarrgghh, but I had to stay somewhere and pay so much money. I headed towards the hotel via a dark winding road. I noticed a cheap looking motel. Looked like the typical trucker stop and there were quite a few pickup trucks in front. My infinite wisdom told me to stop and ask if they have a room. The though of paying so much money for a hotel was killing me. I walked into the office and it was the owners home. The door had a spring and mosquito netting. Then the door slaps behind me with a loud thump. A man greeted me and I was very concerned for my safety. There was a big sign behind his desk, $35 for the night. I explained to the nice man that I was riding alone and looking for a safe haven. His wife hears me from the living room and she comes out to greet me. The sweetest lady you would ever meet. Her husband quickly disappears. She noticed that I was concerned about my safety and my bike then says, "I have a room that we don't usually allow only one person but will make an exception. It is right next to our house and has a nice bright light for protection to your bike. You can move your bike right next to the door so the light will help." My heart stopped beating so fast and I felt at ease. I agreed to take the room, heck, $35 versus $150 in who knows where in that forest!!
The room was clean, old, but a place to stay for the night, no lock in the back window; major concern but I needed rest. I felt the springs on the old bed, but got some sleep that night. Look at the photo, big light next to my bike overnight. Also, notice the house of the owners, next to my room. I made it through the night, safe. The lady had mentioned a restaurant within walking distance. It started to rain again, I was so tired of the rain following me. I loaded the bike, right up the street is the restaurant. I ride 100 yards to it and it has not opened. A man was waiting in front and says, "it should open in 1 minute". I walk in and they are still setting up the kitchen area. The same man that spoke with me outside, pours himself a cup of coffee and says, "Would you like one?" I asked, "do you work here?" He says, "No, I am a customer". I sit at the counter and it was very uncomfortable. So, I moved to the table near the door. A few minutes later, the waitress starts serving and more men fill the place around me. I am sitting at this table and a man walks in, looks at my table where I was sitting and gives me the dirtiest look. He stood there staring at me very hard. His face was going to explode. I look at him and said, "From the looks on your face, I took your special table, huh?" He says, "Yes, you did". I said, "Well, join me, there is plenty of space here, I will move my helmet". The waitress yells from behind the counter, "Honey, if you say that, soon you will be surrounded by all of them". Sure enough, the men moved to my table, yikes!! I am a Marine Mother and wear my "Proud to be a Marine Mom" button on my jacket. The men notice and start talking to me about their service in the military as most of them fought in the second world war. Very interesting conversation.
Little did I know that I was going to be immersed in West Virginia culture. They explained that they are hillbillies with big hearts. They start talking about the issues with their water and all sorts of interesting topics. I quickly eat my breakfast, (which was horrible by the way) and back on the interstate heading south towards Charlotte North Carolina. I was planning on meeting a woman whose name I will not reveal. When I was about 130 miles from Charlotte, I sent her a text message giving her my status. She replied and says, "Keep riding to your cousins house in Fort Bragg, I will not be able to meet up with you". I wish she had said that a few hundred miles before, I would have planned my route different and saved myself tons of money on gas. But then again, I would not have had the opportunity to meet fine men teaching me all about hillbilly country as they labelled it.
I was riding south on that beautiful highway, I-79 or I-78. I really enjoyed the highway with all the twisty roads through the mountains (yeah, a major interstate!! shocking); I pull over on a rest area because my music stopped playing. Must have music on these long stretches of highways..... I pulled over and there is another Triumph motorcycle guy taking a quick rest. We strike a quick conversation he was headed to Kentucky. We agreed to ride together. Uh oh, MissRIDER cannot ride slow. Poor guy could not catch up to me, so off I went. I had so many more miles to ride, no time to wait for anyone. To be honest, I don't think the guy could not catch up to me, he was riding a new Triumph Tiger, fast bike. I think he was more concerned about getting stopped and getting a ticket.
GPS re-routed towards Fort Bragg and it felt like an eternity down some back roads. It was getting dark and finally I arrived at the base that my cousin said to enter. The entrance was closed, more nonsense, I was so tired and hungry. My cousin had been waiting since 6pm, it was now 9 pm. I could not find the entrance to the base, so she and her husband had to come out to escort me because strangers are not allowed onto the base without proper id. I arrived at the gate, the soldiers searched my bike in detail. I was thinking, "I ride this motorcycle all the way to the Panama Canal, cross 16 borders and NEVER was my bike stripped like that and searched". I was very agitated but maintain my self control. The soldier says, "did you hear what happened in Boston?" I said, "No, I have been riding all day". He shared the horrible news with me about the attacks at the Marathon. Very sad.
I tried not to allow the bad things happening in Boston ruin my visit with my cousin. The family was super happy to see me. The next day, we went into the base to take a few photos. I had such a wonderful time with the soldiers on base. Then, during that evening, I receive a call from my son explaining that my nephew was in a horrible motorcycle accident and was dying. I composed my feelings and the next day, rode with a heavy heart home. I rode as fast as I could trying to reach my nephew. Finally, I arrive at the trauma center and he is in a comma. They did not know if he was going to live but only time could tell. A few weeks later, he starts breathing on his own and is doing better now. Long rehab ahead of him, but he is alive.